2022-2023 Catalog 
    Nov 27, 2022  
2022-2023 Catalog

Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (San Diego)

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School: California School of Professional Psychology

Modality(ies): On-ground

Calendar(s): Semester

CIP Code: 42.2801

Program Description/Overview

This program follows a Practitioner-Scholar model that emphasizes the application of theory and research to clinical practice. The program develops competent professional health-care psychologists skilled in delivering a variety of clinical services to diverse populations in varied settings. The program’s most distinctive component is its dual emphasis on clinical expertise and clinical scholarship. Our students take courses in a wide range of subjects, including statistics, theories of personality, psychological assessment, multicultural issues, and psychological practice. The Health Care psychology curriculum has four major areas of study: foundations of psychology, clinical and professional theory and skills, applied clinical research, and professional growth. Students may follow their own clinical interests and further their individual career goals by selecting a specialized series of courses, research, and field placements related to a particular area of practice.


The curriculum is designed to provide advanced doctoral students with the opportunity to complete coursework in an area of interest or to take electives to enhance the required course offerings. This study option into specific emphasis areas provides an entry to specialization which can continue at the post-doctoral level. Normally, two to four courses will be offered during the academic year from each of the emphases. Students who choose to pursue an emphasis area may be required to complete additional units beyond the 120 units required for the PsyD degree. Please consult with your advisor for more information.

Buddhist Psychotherapy Experience Area

Mindfulness and meditation-based practices have increased steadily over the past decades. However, scholars such as Jon Kabat-Zinn have commented on the independence of these practices from the original teachings and theoretical origins from which these practices have derived. The Buddhist Psychotherapy Experience Area aims to address this void currently in the field of psychology.

This experience area provides some exposure to the philosophical and psychotherapeutic aspects in the fundamental teachings of Early Buddhism as found in the Suttapitaka. Students will also be introduced to early Buddhist meditation practice and are required to participate in a 3-day silent mediation retreat at one of our CSPP campuses as part of their skill development. The goal of this experience area is to give students a practical and coherent framework to practice psychotherapy where secular early Buddhist theory of the mind and the theoretical bases of mindfulness are at the core and Western psychological principles and practice are integrated into it. Coursework and case consultation prepare students for further professional development and specialization beyond the doctorate.

Clinical Health Emphasis

The clinical health emphasis gives students the academic, research, and clinical training necessary to prepare students for work within the field of health psychology. Both coursework and practicum placements help students in acquiring knowledge and skills necessary for functioning as an allied health provider in an interdisciplinary medical setting. Curriculum emphasizes teaching empirically-based theories, research, and interventions, including but not limited to: psychological factors that affect physical health outcomes; assessment in medical populations; health behavior change theories, adherence and motivation; and coping with physical disease. The program integrates the life-span perspective throughout the coursework and examines age, cohort, gender, insurance status, and ethnic/cultural factors on health.

Family/Child Psychology Emphasis

This emphasis is designed for students who are interested in developing proficiency in evaluation, treatment and research with children and families. Courses cover the entire life span from infancy through old age and are presented from various theoretical viewpoints, including family-systems, psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral and lifespan development.

The program supports the study of ethnic and cultural issues as they affect the individual and the family. Faculty research interests include family violence, child abuse and neglect, adolescent development, childhood social competence and peer relationships, early childhood psychopathology, aging, child resiliency, divorce, child custody, step-families, and process and outcomes of family interventions.

Integrative Psychology Emphasis

This emphasis area exposes students to the basic principles of Integrative Psychology. An integrative, systems approach to health and healing brings multiple ways of knowing into psychological practice, encouraging practitioners to attend not only to cognitive behaviors, but also to cultural and spiritual concerns.

In many ways, integrative psychology refocuses attention on traditional healing practices that are concerned with the complex ways in which social context, body, mind, and emotions continually interact and influence well-being. Integrative psychology includes the study of spirituality, consciousness, imagery, somatic practices, expressive arts, human ecology, postmodern cultural psychologies, and the application of all these in clinical settings. At the same time, the field values mainstream psychological models and emphasizes research based on systems theory and integrated methodologies.

Since a psychologist’s own perceptions profoundly influence outcomes, the courses and credits included in this emphasis area are intended to ensure that professionals-in-training refine their values along with their skills and that they work to achieve educated intentionality and mindfulness in all phases of clinical work. This emphasis addresses a shortage of qualified psychologists with experience in the holistic balancing of health, suffering and death issues, psychospiritual counseling, and conflicting belief systems viewed in their cultural contexts.

Multicultural and International Emphasis

The Alliant approach to multiculturalism incorporates diversity in many respects, including race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, national origin and international status, age, social class, religion, and disability. Central to traditional clinical psychology is the examination of factors known to be relevant to mental health/mental illness as western society defines them. The goal of this emphasis area is to go beyond the traditional western, majority cultural viewpoint so that students might have the basic preparation to focus on cultural and international encounters in professional psychology. Whereas traditional psychology focuses primarily on individual psychological activity, multicultural psychology is based on the view that cultural and societal level influences on the individual can be best understood by incorporating societal systemic variables and cultural contexts. The emphasis provides students with opportunities to prepare for clinical licensure, research, teaching, and consulting in the area of cultural diversity.

Psychodynamic Emphasis

This emphasis provides students with a coherent practical and theoretical framework to practice general psychology in a variety of settings with children and adults. The psychodynamic emphasis curriculum gives students exposure to coursework and supervision integrating object relations, self-psychology, developmental psychology, existential psychology, and cognitive, science-based approaches to unconscious processes. Coursework and supervision prepare students for further professional development and specialization beyond the doctorate.

Military & Veteran Psychology Experience Area

The Military & Veteran Experience area is provided as an option to students who would like to focus some of their education & training in this specific clinical area. This experience area is designed to:

1. Provide students with an understanding of military and veteran culture for therapeutic practice with veterans and military personnel and their families.

2. Familiarize students with evidence-based interventions and resources available to clinicians treating these populations.

Trauma Focused Forensic Experience

Forensic Psychology is “the professional practice by psychologists within the areas of clinical psychology, counseling psychology, school psychology, or another specialty recognized by the American Psychological Association, when they are engaged as experts and represent themselves as such, in an activity primarily intended to provide professional psychological expertise to the judicial system.” (Council of Specialties in Professional Psychology, https://www.cospp.org/forensic-psychology, downloaded January 1, 2019). Because of the high prevalence and widespread impact of trauma in forensic settings, we have developed a Forensic Experience that includes exposure to trauma-informed assessment and case conceptualization.

Competence in performing forensic work requires specialized training and practice at the postdoctoral level and is dependent on underlying foundational competency in the science and professional practice of psychology. The Trauma Focused Forensic Experience (TFFE) prepares students who are interested in specializing in Forensic Psychology by augmenting their generalist training with foundational knowledge of the core principles of the application of psychology to the legal system, including:

  1. foundations of the legal system (e.g., types of courts, expert witness requirements, responses to subpoenas);
  2. basic legal principles that are relevant to Forensic practice (e.g., Constitutional rights, statutory provisions, case law);
  3. differences in methodologies between general clinical assessment and forensic assessment;
  4. assessment of insanity and competency (relevant laws, sample evaluation materials);
  5. assessment issues in trauma populations;
  6. ethical issues that arise particularly in forensic contexts;
  7. sociocultural considerations relevant to forensic practice.

Program Learning Outcomes/Goals

The program has adopted a series of three aims, nine competencies and related elements designed to implement its philosophy and meet the overall program aims. The competencies are met operationally through various academic and training activities that include courses, practicum and internship placements, and supervised research experiences. Multiple data sources are used to assess outcomes relative to these competencies. These competencies specify attitudes, knowledge, and skills that students are expected to achieve by the time they graduate from the program and perceptions, feelings, and professional achievements alumni are expected to report as they pursue their profession. The elements are the expected specific outcomes for each of the respective competencies.

Aim 1: To prepare students as effective professional psychologists who are skilled at evaluating psychological functioning and providing empirically-supported interventions with diverse clients across a range of settings.

Aim 2: Train competent health service psychologists (HSPs) to deliver scientifically-informed psychological services to diverse individuals and groups.

Aim 3: Provide students with strong professional identities as licensed psychologists and the clinical skills, professional behaviors, and attitudes that reflect the highest ethical and professional standards in the entry-level practice of clinical psychology.

Program Competencies

All students are expected to acquire and demonstrate substantial understanding of and competence in the following nine profession-wide competency areas:

  1. Research
  2. Ethical and Legal Standards
  3. Individual and Cultural Diversity
  4. Professional Values and Attitudes
  5. Communication and Interpersonal Skills
  6. Assessment
  7. Intervention
  8. Supervision
  9. Consultation and Interprofessional/Interdisciplinary Skills

The competencies are met operationally through various academic and training activities that include courses, practicum and internship placements, and supervised research experiences. Multiple data sources are used to assess outcomes relative to these competencies. These competencies specify knowledge, attitudes, and skills that students are expected to achieve by the time they graduate from the program.

Discipline-Specific Knowledge

In addition, all students are expected to possess discipline-specific knowledge in the following four categories:

  1. History and Systems of Psychology
  2. The basic content areas of scientific psychology, including affective, biological cognitive, developmental, and social aspects of behavior.
  3. Advanced integrative knowledge in scientific psychology.
  4. Research Methods, Statistical Analysis, and Psychometrics.

Training Model

This is a local practitioner program. Special features of the program include a particular emphasis on evidence-based practice, a rich set of opportunities for gaining research and clinical skills in multicultural, child/family, forensic, and integrative psychology, and the integration of clinical practice with coursework.

Professional Behavior Expectations/Ethical Guidelines

Students are held to the standards of the American Psychological Association’s Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct.


All psychologists who offer direct services to the public for a fee must be licensed or certified by the state in which they practice. Applicants for licensure in the state of California must hold an earned doctoral degree in psychology, educational psychology, education with a specialization in counseling psychology, or education with a specialization in educational psychology from an approved or accredited educational institution. They also must have completed 3,000 hours of supervised professional experience (of which at least 1,500 must be postdoctoral) and have taken and passed the national Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) and the California Psychology Supplemental Examination (CPSE). In addition, they must submit evidence of having completed coursework in human sexuality, child abuse, substance abuse, spousal abuse, and aging and long-term care. Continuing education is required to maintain the license. CSPP doctoral course requirements are designed to fulfill the programmatic requirements for licensure in California.

Every state has its own requirements for licensure. Therefore, it is essential that all Clinical PsyD students who plan to apply for licensure in states other than California contact the licensing board in those states for information on state requirements (e.g., coursework, practicum and internship hours, supervision, or nature of the doctoral project or dissertation). Students seeking licensure in other states should plan ahead to ensure they meet all of those states’ requirements.

For further information on licensure in California or other states contact:

Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards
PO Box 241245
Montgomery, AL 36124-1245
(334) 832-4580, asppb@asppb.org


California Board of Psychology
2005 Evergreen Street, Suite 1400
Sacramento, CA 95815
(916) 263-2699, bopmail@dca.ca.gov


Practice Directorate American Psychological Association
750 First Street NE
Washington, DC 20002-4242
(202) 336-5979, apaaccred@apa.org

Programmatic Accreditation

This program has been continually accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the American Psychological Association (APA) since 1992. The program also publishes the following outcome data as required by APA:

  1. Time to Completion
  2. Program Costs
  3. Internship Placement Rates
  4. Attrition
  5. Licensure

Please visit our website to view the data.

Questions related to the program’s accredited status should be directed to the Commission on Accreditation:

Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation
American Psychological Association
750 First Street NE
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 336-5979, apaaccred@apa.org

Internship, Practicum, and/or Dissertation Information

Field Training

Students receive four years of practicum and internship experiences. Placements are available in more than 75 agencies. Most of these sites are within a 25-mile radius of the campus, but some of these are as far as 80 miles away for the benefit of those students who live in Orange County. The selection of practicum sites for each student is guided by:

  1. CSPP’s requirement for a broad range of diverse and rigorous professional training experiences,
  2. CSPP’s commitment to education and training in multicultural competence,
  3. The rules and regulations of the California Board of Psychology, the body charged with the licensing of psychologists in the State of California, and
  4. The American Psychological Association’s criteria for practicum and internship training.

Entering students are placed at a practicum agency for 10 hours/week (plus one hour of on-campus supervision) during the school year (total of 300 hours). Practica in the second (800 hours) and third year (1100 hours) are chosen by the student from a list of pre-approved sites. Students will interview for each practicum position and the selecting agency makes the final decision. Practicum students meet with their site supervisor a minimum of 10% of their time at the site. One of the hours must be individual supervision and the rest can be individual or group. Students must have live supervision at least once each semester. Students keep a tally form which is signed each week by the supervisor.

The final internship is an APA-accredited full-time internship in the fourth year. All Clinical PsyD students must apply for a minimum of 11 APA-accredited internships.

Research Training

Students in this program participate in Proposal Development and Clinical Dissertation groups. These are intensive year-long seminars that integrate practice and directed reading in small group formats and prepare students for the Clinical Dissertation - an applied scholarly work in the chosen area of advanced competency. Student must be advanced to candidacy before they can officially form a dissertation committee. The student presents the dissertation plan (i.e. proposal) and their final dissertation in oral defenses to the faculty of the department.

Dissertation proposal orals usually occurs in spring of third year in the program. The student’s committee - made up of dissertation chair and reader - must accept the written proposal before the student is allowed to apply for APA internship.

Credit Units

Total Credit Units: 120

Total Core Credit Units: 105

Total Elective Credit Units: 15

Total Concentration Credit Units: Varies

Credit for Previous Work

Entering students may be eligible to receive transfer credit for previous graduate work.

  1. To be considered for transfer credit, the student’s graduate coursework:
    1. Must have been taken in a regionally-accredited master’s or doctoral program.
    2. Must have been completed prior to entering our doctoral program.
    3. Must have resulted in a grade of B or better and have been completed within the last 7 years.
    4. Must have been completed on ground or in a hybrid course in which at least 50% of class meetings were on ground.
  2. Courses eligible for credit include:
    • Social Bases of Behavior
    • Cognitive and Affective Bases of Behavior
    • Biological Bases of Behavior and Psychopharmacology
    • Developmental Bases of Behavior
    • History & Systems of Psychology
    • Statistics
    • Research Methods
    • Advanced Psychopathology
    • Theories of Personality
    • Cognitive Assessment
    • Personality Assessment I and II
    • Advanced Therapy
    • Multicultural Competency
    • Chemical Dependency
  3. In addition, students who have met the following requirements may be able to receive 2 units of transfer credit for the required first-year practicum:
    1. Have completed and be able to verify 300 hours of supervised experience or professional experience of a psychological experience over a 9-month period.

Degree Requirements

  1. Writing Proficiency Assessment: please refer to the Writing Proficiency Assessment  requirement in the Academic Policies section for more information.
  2. Program Meeting: During G1 Fall semester, students will engage in a semester long required Program Meeting.

  3. Supervision Experience: a required weekly meeting in the fall and spring of the first year.
  4. APA Internship Preparation: required meetings through the spring of the second year and fall of the third year.
  5. Comprehensive and Preliminary Examinations (passing both is required for advancement to candidacy):
    1. Assessment Preliminary Examination taken in August at the end of the second year, following completion of Personality I, II, and III sequence and Clinical Inference.
    2. Comprehensive Examination in Research Methodology taken in January or August of the second year.
  6. Advancement to Candidacy is required before applying to internship.
  7. Clinical Proficiency Examination (CPE) (Written and Oral Examination) is taken in the spring of the third year. It must be passed before graduation.
  8. Personal growth requirement: 40 hours of individual psychotherapy (or another form of therapy if student has completed 40 hours of individual psychotherapy within 5 years of enrollment) with a psychologist who has been licensed in California at least three years is required prior to graduation.
  9. Six hours of continuing education must be completed each semester prior to internship.

Prerequisite Courses

Students entering the program must have had an undergraduate major in psychology or four (4) prerequisite courses (with grades of B or better) for students without a psychology major:

  1. Statistics
  2. Abnormal Psychology or Psychopathology
  3. Experimental Psychology/Research Methods
  4. Physiological Psychology/Learning/Memory, Cognitive Psychology, or Sensation/Perception

Emphasis/Concentration/Track Requirements

The following courses are required for the emphasis areas in addition to a dissertation in the area and at least one practicum experience in the area.

Clinical Health Emphasis


  1. Dissertation is expected to have a clinical health focus.


  1. At least 2 health practicum placements, or 1 practicum and internship (one placement need to 30% supervised service delivery in specialty and second needs to be <50% of supervised service delivery in specialty).

Family/Child Psychology Emphasis

It is required that students take at least one year of professional training placement in a setting that emphasizes interactions with children and families. Dissertations addressing family/child issues are also required and are common at the San Diego campus. In addition, students are expected to take one Clinical Consultation course in a group emphasizing family or child issues.

Integrative Psychology Emphasis

Candidates are expected to participate in Center for Integrative Psychology colloquia, workshops, and social events (see www.integrativepsychology.net). Candidates will conduct dissertation research from an integrative perspective.

Military & Veteran Psychology Experience Area

Requirements: (1) two courses designated for the experience area; and (2) one field placement focused on military personnel, veterans, and/or their families (Note: Students will need to apply and go through the regular application process for the related field experience placements, i.e., APPIC/APA internship application process. The program does not guarantee a field placement in the experience area.)

Course options include:

Multicultural and International Emphasis

Students in this emphasis take coursework in these broadly defined multicultural and international areas and complete a dissertation relevant to some aspect of multicultural or international psychology. They must also arrange for at least one of their practicum/internship professional training placements in a setting serving a culturally diverse population. The large majority of our training sites serve such populations. Students are expected to take one of the Clinical Consultation courses in a section emphasizing diversity issues.

Psychodynamic Emphasis

Students in this emphasis area are required to complete at least three courses among the psychodynamic offerings, complete at least a one-year practicum with psychodynamic supervision, complete a dissertation in an area pertinent to psychodynamic theory, research or application, and enroll in one PSY85510 - Clinical Consultation Group - Practicum III  section incorporating a psychodynamic emphasis.

Trauma Focused Forensic Experience


At least one of the two required practicum placement involves 30% clinical contact with clients who are frequently seen in forensic settings (e.g., incarcerated individuals; patients in forensic hospitals or pretrial defendants; individuals diagnosed with a serious mental illness; children and families of divorce; clients with trauma histories).


Students are encouraged but not required to develop a research study or their dissertation in a forensic and/or trauma area.


Elective Requirements

15 elective units are required for completion of the program:

  • Therapy elective/Clinical elective (6 units): PSY75013A-C, PSY76020 , PSY75030 , PSY76042 , PSY76043 , or PSYXXXXX             
  • Cultural elective (3 units): PSY76100A-F                                           
  • General elective (6 units): PSYXXXXX                        

Curriculum Plan

Semester Calendar

Academic Year 3 - Semester 2 (15 units)

Academic Year 4 - Semester 1 (11 units)

Academic Year 4 - Semester 2 (11 units)

Academic Year 4 - Semester 3 (8 units)

Half-Time Internship Option

Academic Year 4 - Semester 1 (5 units)

Academic Year 4 - Semester 2 (5 units)

Academic Year 4 - Semester 3 (5 units)

Academic Year 5 - Semester 1 (5 units)

Academic Year 5 - Semester 2 (5 units)

Academic Year 5 - Semester 3 (5 units)

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