Admissions Requirements: Clinical Psychology Programs

The application requirements listed here are applicable to the following programs:

  • Clinical Psychology PhD: Fresno, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco
  • Clinical Psychology PsyD: Fresno, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco
  • Doctoral Respecialization in Clinical Psychology: Fresno, San Diego and San Francisco
  • Joint Clinical Psychology PhD or PsyD and Organizational Behavior MA: Fresno

Emphasis Areas, Tracks and Strengths

Our Clinical Psychology doctoral programs offer the following concentrations, for most programs, specific to the program and campus to which you are applying. Please indicate your interest in one of these concentrations in the space provided on the online application. This is optional, except for applicants to the Los Angeles campus Clinical PhD and PsyD programs, which require applicants to indicate an emphasis area.

Clinical Psychology PsyD

Assessment Emphasis: SD
Child & Family Track: SF
Clinical Forensic Emphasis: F, SD
Ecosystemic Child Emphasis: F
Family/Child Emphasis: SD
Family/Child and Couple Emphasis: LA
Forensic Family/Child Track: SF
Forensic Psychology Emphasis: SD
Health Psychology Emphasis: F, LA
Integrative Health Track: SF
Integrative Psychology Emphasis: SD
Multicultural & Int’l Emphasis: SD
Multicultural Community Emphasis: LA
Multi-Interest Option: LA
Psychodynamic Emphasis: SD
Social Justice Psychology Track: SF


Clinical Psychology PhD

Clinical Forensic Emphasis: F, SD
Ecosystemic Child Emphasis: F
Family/Child Emphasis: SD
Family/Child/Adolescent Psychology Strength: SF
Family and Couple Emphasis: LA
Gender Studies & LGBT Psychology Strength: SF
Health Psychology Emphasis: F, LA, SD
Health Psychology Strength: SF
Multicultural Community Emphasis: LA
Multicultural Community Psychology and Program Evaluation Strength: SF
Multi-Interest Option: LA
Psychodynamic Emphasis: SD


Campus Legend: F = Fresno  LA = Los Angeles  SD = San Diego  SF = San Francisco

Application Requirements

1. Online Graduate Application Form: Required for all applicants.

2. Non-refundable $65 Application Fee: Required for all applicants.

3. Official Transcripts: Required for all applicants. Official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work are required. Transcripts must be submitted from each institution attended, even if transfer units appear on another document. If you attend(ed) an institution with pass/fail grades, please also include any accompanying narrative evaluations.

It is the applicant’s responsibility to see that all transcripts are submitted as a part of the application. It may be necessary to submit transcripts on which final grades have not yet been posted, in which case you should provide supplementary transcripts as soon as possible. If there is a delay in processing your official transcript request, you should submit unofficial photocopies of transcripts in the interim. Without a complete set of transcripts, your application will be considered incomplete. International applicants and those who received bachelor’s degrees and/or master’s degrees from higher education institutions outside the United States are required to submit official transcript evaluations. See the Graduate Admissions Requirements for further instructions.

4. Grade Point Average Exemption Petition: Required only if GPA is below 3.0. California School of Professional Psychology requires that applicants have an undergraduate and graduate (if applicable) minimum grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. If your undergraduate or graduate (if applicable) GPA is below 3.0, you must submit a petition requesting an exemption from this academic requirement. Please use the designated space in the online application to indicate which of the following options will constitute your GPA exemption petition:

  1. A brief statement discussing past special academic or personal circumstances explaining academic performance below 3.0
  2. Official copies of test scores (GRE) supporting academic ability (strongly recommended)
  3. A list of scholarly publications supporting past academic/intellectual achievement

If you choose to submit the statement or the supporting publication material, please do so in the GPA Exemption Petition field on the online application. If you choose to submit official test scores, please provide additional detail in the Test Scores section of the online application.

5. Resume/Curriculum Vita: Required for all applicants. Submit a current resume or curriculum vita, which includes your experience relative to the field of clinical psychology, including volunteer work if applicable.

6. Essay: Required for all applicants. Applicants to all Clinical Psychology programs must submit an essay as a part of the application. Please respond in one comprehensive essay of 6-7 double-spaced pages to the following, using distinct sections for each part. Include your name and the page number at the top of each page.

A. A brief autobiographical sketch. Discuss your life up to now: your family, friends, home, work and community. We are particularly interested in those experiences most relevant to your interest in professional psychology and how those experiences have helped formulate your career goals (at least 3-4 pages).

B. Since many different graduate programs exist, and the choice is such an important one, explain specifically why you have chosen to apply to the PsyD program at CSPP, and which aspects of CSPP, its programs, its approach to diversity, and its mission have attracted you to the school (1 page).

C. For PsyD Applicants: What applied clinical problem would you most like to focus on in your PsyD studies and in the PsyD clinical dissertation/doctoral project? Tell us something about your knowledge of the relevant theory and concepts, research, and the application of that scholarship to clinical practice. (1-2 pages)

For PhD Applicants: What research or applied clinical problem would you like to explore in your PhD dissertation? Please be specific. Tell us something about your knowledge of research methods and other investigative formats, integration of the professional literature on the topic, and the application of theory and scholarship to this research problem. We are interested in your own past activities and experiences as a scholar or researcher, and encourage you to draw on those experiences. (1-2 pages)

D. In what emphasis, proficiency or academic area would you choose to concentrate your studies at CSPP? Please relate this to your career goals.

7. Course Descriptions: Course descriptions are required in the following two instances:

Graduate Entry Requirement: If you are using courses to meet the graduate entry requirements for a program, you must submit course descriptions if the courses you are using to fulfill the required subjects are titled differently from program requirements. Appropriate documentation includes copies of course descriptions, outlines or syllabi. This information should be submitted with your application material.

Clinical Psychology Graduate Entry Requirement: Preparation in Psychology

You must have completed one of the following three options prior to matriculation. All coursework used to fulfill graduate entry requirements must have been completed prior to beginning the program. All coursework must have been taken at fully accredited institutions. Please use the designated space in the online application to indicate how you are meeting the graduate entry requirement.

Option #1: Earned a BA/BS degree in psychology. (A master’s degree will not fulfill this requirement.)

Option #2: If the BA/BS degree is not in psychology, you must have completed coursework in the following four areas with a grade of “C” or better:

For Fall 2016 starts and beyond:

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

Option #3: Earned a score in the 80th percentile or better on the GRE Psychology Test. Official test scores are required for this option.

Content for the coursework option is as follows:

ABNORMAL PSYCHOLOGY/PSYCHOPATHOLOGY: Major disorders, personality disorders, sexual disorders, psychophysical disorders, adjustment reactions, alcoholism and drug abuse, child psychopathology, organic brain syndromes.

EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY: Introduction to scientific procedures and methods in psychology. Directed experience in research design and control, analysis, bibliographic and report writing techniques. May include a specific research techniques course in perception, physiology, learning, or complex behavior (social, cognition).

LEARNING THEORY: Broad theoretical coverage of such learning theories as classical and operant conditioning, Gestalt, functionalism, mathematical learning theory, information theory, technology of instruction. Theorists include Pavlov, Thorndike, Guthrie, Hull, Tolman, and Skinner. Should not be limited to a single theory or theorist.

COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGY: Survey of cognitive psychology: how people acquire, represent, transform, and use verbal and nonverbal information. Perception, attention, imagery, memory, representation of knowledge, language, action, decision making, and thinking should be covered.

SENSATION/PERCEPTION: Acquisition of information about physical world through basic sensory mechanisms and perceptual processes. Perception of objects, surfaces, space, motion, and events. Connections between information, computations, and biological mechanisms in vision, audition, and other systems.