PhD in Clinical Psychology, San Diego


Degree Overview


Many Clinical Psychology programs have committed themselves to either research or practice. The research-heavy programs are dedicated to the training of future academics who intend to spend the majority of their time in the pursuit of grant funding. The practice-heavy programs are sometimes fairly criticized as neglecting the science base of the profession.

Alliant’s California School of Professional Psychology developed a truly integrated scholar-practitioner model for our APA-accredited clinical psychology PhD program in San Diego.


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Emphasis Areas

All Clinical PhD program students obtain solid generalist education and training in preparation for professional 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 Track and 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. The Track and Emphasis options are as follows:

  • Trauma Focused Forensic Emphasis
  • Health Psychology Emphasis
  • Family/Child Psychology Emphasis
  • Psychodynamic Emphasis

PhD in Clinical Psychology Emphasis Areas, San Diego


Degree Information


Students learn from highly regarded and experienced professionals who are able to teach the “how to” of the most empirically supported psychotherapy and assessment techniques. Students also join research groups working closely with established applied researchers who collaborate with them in a supportive and exciting environment.

As they progress through the program, students are able to choose a mentor in an area of interest to them. Well known research experts on the faculty run research groups on a variety of topics.


Research Group Topics

  • Autism
  • Biofeedback
  • Child/Developmental Disorders
  • Forensic assessment and eye-witness testimony
  • Health disparity
  • Individual and cultural diversity factors 
  • Meta-analysis
  • Mind-Body Disorders
  • Mindfulness and acceptance-based therapies
  • Neurophysiology and Neuroimaging
  • Neuropsychological and personality assessment
  • Schizophrenia and Severe Mental Illness
  • Traumatic Stress

San Diego Program Features

Students in the San Diego PhD in Clinical Psychology program have the opportunity to further direct their studies to suit their personal and professional aspirations by choosing among four emphasis areas, which include:

  • Forensic Psychology
  • Health
  • Family/Child Psychology
  • Psychodynamic

Doctoral students in the San Diego Clinical Psychology PhD and PsyD programs also have the unique opportunity to gain valuable, hands-on experience through a wide variety of training and fieldwork opportunities. Under the supervision of expert staff, students can provide real-world mental health services to a variety of under-served populations in the San Diego community.

San Diego Community Services and Placements page



The California School of Professional Psychology’s San Diego Clinical Psychology PhD program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the American Psychological Association (APA), which requires that we 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


Our Campus Location

Alliant International University
10455 Pomerado Rd.
San Diego, CA 92131
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School Performance Fact Sheet


Degree Aims

Through various academic and training activities, including psychology courses, practicum and internship placements, and supervised 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, therefore contributing to the knowledge base in the field.

Program Competencies

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

  • Research
  • Ethical and Legal Standards
  • Individual and Cultural Diversity
  • Professional Values and Attitudes
  • Communication and Interpersonal Skills
  • Assessment
  • Intervention
  • Supervision
  • 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:

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

Professional Clinical Training Opportunities

The Clinical Psychology PhD program offers a well-integrated model of education and training in which research and theory clearly inform clinical practice and in which observations made in the clinical arena inform research questions. The curriculum is a well-balanced articulation of the competencies required for productive scholarship and multiculturally sensitive, evidence-based, professional practice.

Multicultually relevant knowledge and skills are highly valued by the San Diego clinical faculty and are infused throughout the curriculum. In addition, all clinical PhD students take a required course in multicultural competency development followed by one advanced, multicultural elective. Our selection of clinical practicum and internship agencies afford excellent opportunities for our students to develop multiculturally competent assessment and treatment skills. Similarly, the diverse community provides excellent opportunities for multicultural applied research, and many students take advantage of this opportunity for their dissertation.

Field Training

Students learn applied professional skills through formal coursework and through clinical training experiences supervised by faculty and professionals in the community. Each student is assigned a professional training advisor who, along with the student’s core faculty advisor, helps the student to formulate an individualized plan for practicum and internship training designed to insure (a) that training experiences are consistent with the student’s growing skill levels and professional goals and (b) that the student is exposed to a breadth of training experiences with a variety of clinical populations and professional role models.

Clinical practica are taken in the second (800 hours) and third (1000 hours) years of the program after students have mastered the prerequisite knowledge and skills that provide the foundations on which to build clinical competencies. In addition to obtaining training and supervised practice at a minimum of two distinct practicum placement sites, practicum students enroll concurrently in campus-based clinical consultation groups offered by core and senior adjunct faculty. These groups augment the supervision received at the agencies, insure integration of classroom and clinical knowledge, support evidence based practice, and allow faculty to directly assess the development of students’ clinical competencies.

The internship is the more extensive training experience for advanced students. All San Diego clinical psychology PhD program students are required to apply for a full-time, APA accredited clinical internship that is taken in the fifth year of the program.

Students select their practicum placements from more than 80 agencies. Most of these facilities are within a 25-mile radius of the campus, but some are as far as 80 miles away for the benefit of advanced students who live in Orange County. These agencies have over 350 professional training positions. The Professional Training Office coordinates these experiences and provides continuous oversight to insure that students receive high quality clinical training experiences.

The knowledge and skills necessary to conduct independent clinical research are introduced during the first year of the program and built upon in the years that follow. Students select a core faculty member under whose direction the student participates in a first year Research Practicum experience. Students learn to design their own studies in the second year and simultaneously begin their enrollment in the dissertation research course sequence that continues through the completion of the dissertation. Students must complete their dissertation proposals prior to applying for the internship training experience.


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Why Alliant?

At Alliant, our mission is to prepare students for professional careers of service and leadership and promote the discovery and application of knowledge to improve the lives of people in diverse cultures and communities around the world. Our Vision is an inclusive world empowered by Alliant alumni.



The California School of Professional Psychology (CSPP) is Alliant’s cornerstone school and was built on a legacy of thought leadership, multicultural competence, and quality of care. CSPP’s programs pair hands-on professional practice with academic rigor in order to prepare the next generation of psychologists and mental health care professionals.


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