PhD in Clinical Psychology, San Diego


Clinical Psychology San Diego Degree Overview


The APA-accredited PhD program in clinical psychology in San Diego is designed to follow an integrated, scholar-practitioner model, in which research training and professional skill development are equally emphasized.

Throughout the doctoral program you'll learn from highly regarded and experienced licensed professionals who teach the how-to of empirically supported psychotherapy and assessment techniques. You'll engage in research labs working closely with established applied researchers and collaborate with them in a supportive and productive environment. As a graduate, you'll be prepared to pursue a professional career that includes direct clinical practice, research, program development and management, teaching, and consultation.

At CSPP, all faculty are committed to inclusion and anti-racism, and the student body is diverse in terms of cultural, educational, and professional backgrounds. 


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Faculty and Admissions

The faculty for the Clinical Psychology PhD in San Diego consists of renowned experts in their respective fields, from both research and clinical perspectives. Faculty members are past and current local, national, and international professional association leaders; test and intervention developers; journal editors; clinical trainers and consultants. Faculty areas of expertise include the following:

Faculty Areas of Expertise

  • Assessment 
  • Developmental psychopathology and family systems
  • Forensic psychology
  • Health psychology
  • Individual and cultural diversity
  • Meta-analysis
  • Neurocognition
  • Neuroimaging
  • Neuropsychology
  • Neurophysiology and electrophysiology
  • Psychopathology
  • Psychopharmacology 
  • Psychotherapy research
  • Trauma psychology



Degree Information

Emphasis Areas

All Clinical PhD program students obtain a solid generalist education and training in preparation for professional work and clinical practice. The PhD Clinical program provides advanced doctoral students with the opportunity to concentrate their elective choices in an area of special interest, if they wish to do so. There is no requirement to select an emphasis area, and students are allowed their choice of offered electives to suit their personal interests and aspirations. The Emphasis options prepare one to pursue further specialization at the postdoctoral level. Emphasis elective courses are routinely offered at least once a year for all emphasis areas. Emphasis options are as follows:

  • Family/Child Emphasis
  • Health Psychology Emphasis
  • Military & Veteran Psychology Experience Area
  • Multicultural/Diversity Emphasis
  • Trauma Focused Forensic Experience

PhD in Clinical Psychology Emphasis Areas, San Diego

Degree Aims

Through various academic and training activities needed to be a licensed clinical psychologist, including advanced coursework, supervised practicums and internship, and mentored research experiences, the San Diego PhD in Clinical Psychology program strives to achieve the following aims:

  • To prepare students to be effective professional psychologists who are skilled at evaluating psychological functioning and providing empirically supported interventions with diverse clients across a range of settings.
  • To prepare students to evaluate and conduct research in clinical psychology, and to contribute to the knowledge base in the field.

The curriculum relies on faculty expertise to attain these aims and to help students achieve competency in all clinical psychology profession-wide and discipline-specific areas, as described in the following sections. Ultimately, our students are trained to work in their preferred research and practice environments.  

Our full-time, in-person program is designed to be completed in five years, with the flexibility to help students attain their educational goals in a way that meets their professional and personal needs. Each student’s educational and professional background in large part determine the length of time they will take to complete the program. For example, the students who have had prior research experience are most likely to finish in five years or less. Most complete it in six years (which is the national average for Clinical Psychology PhD Programs), while some take seven or more years. The deadline to complete the program is eight years. 

Program Competencies

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

  • Research
  • Ethical and legal standards
  • Individual and cultural diversity
  • Professional values, attitudes and behaviors
  • Communication and interpersonal skills
  • Assessment
  • Intervention
  • Supervision
  • Consultation and Interprofessional/Interdisciplinary Skills

The competencies are met through various academic and training activities that include courses, supervised clinical training experiences in practicum and internship placements, and mentored research experiences. These competencies specify knowledge, attitudes, and skills that students are expected to achieve by the time they graduate from the program.

Discipline-Specific Knowledge

All students are expected to possess health service, psychology discipline-specific knowledge in the following four categories:

  • The basic content areas of scientific psychology, including affective, biological cognitive, developmental, and social aspects of behavior
  • Advanced integrative knowledge in scientific psychology
  • Methods of inquiry and research including research methods, statistical analysis, and psychometrics
  • History and systems of psychology

Clinical Field Training

Doctoral students in the San Diego Clinical Psychology PhD program have the unique opportunity to select from over 50 practicum sites from which to gain valuable, hands-on experience in a wide variety of settings and client populations. Under the supervision of expert clinicians, students provide evidence-based mental health services to diverse clientele, including under-served populations in the San Diego community.



The California School of Professional Psychology’s San Diego Clinical Psychology PhD program has been continuously accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the American Psychological Association (APA) since 1980. All accredited programs are required to provide data on time to completion, program costs, internships, attrition and licensure. Please follow the link below for that data. We hope this information will help you to make an informed decision regarding your graduate study.

Student Admission, Outcomes, and Other Data (.pdf)

The California School of Professional Psychology’s Clinical Psychology PhD and PsyD programs offered on the Fresno, Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco campuses are individually accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the American Psychological Association (APA).

* Please direct program accredited status inquiries to the Commission on Accreditation.

Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation
American Psychological Association
750 1st Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002
Phone: (202) 336-5979


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San Diego, CA 92131
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