California Clinical Psychology Doctorate Programs

This guide to universities that offer a PsyD degree in California will arm you with the essential information that you need to earn your doctoral degree in psychology in this state. There are many fine universities in California that offer a PsyD degree in psychology. There are both campus-based programs, and online programs that you should consider. Accredited, online PsyD programs are good potential fit for many students, as they offer a high degree of flexibility.

Quick Facts:

  • PGSP-Stanford University uses the Stanford University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences for its research and teaching facilities, which is houses at the Stanford University Medical Center – seeing 400,000 patients per year in psychiatry.
  • PGSP-Stanford University had a total of 153 PsyD students finish their program from 2007-14, with a mean of 5.18 years to finish the program.
  • Tuition for PGSP-Stanford University is $43,100 per year.
  • A total of only eight students left the PGSP-Stanford University PsyD program from 2007-14 without finishing their degree.
  • The University of San Francisco PsyD program consists of 1500-2000 hours of practica and a fifth year internship of 1500-2000 hours.
  • Admissions into the San Francisco program is only during the fall semester.
  • Annual tuition at Loma Linda University is $24,500.

Top PsyD Degree Programs in California

The following list of schools have programs available for a PysD/PhD in Psychology:

#1 The Chicago School of Professional Psychology (Los Angeles, San Diego, Irvine)

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology offers Psy.D. programs that go beyond theory. All of its counseling and psychology doctoral programs combine real-world experience with innovation. This advanced psychological education model will prepare each student to become agents of change in their communities.

The Chicago School offers three campuses in California where you can earn your doctoral degree in psychology. Below is more information about each campus.

Irvine and Los Angeles, California

These campuses offer the following Psy.D. programs. NOTE: The Ph.D. in Business Psychology is offered only at the Los Angeles campus:

  • Psy.D. in Marital and Family Therapy: Full time and part-time on campus. 57 credit hours are required. Three-year program. Courses include:
    • Community Clinical and Agency Management
    • Grant Writing and Publication
    • Teaching in Higher Education
  • Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology: Full time on campus. Five-year program. 106 credit hours are required. Courses include:
    • Psychopathology
    • Applied Neuropsychology
    • Interdisciplinary Interventions with Children and Adolescents
  • Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology: Full time, 50% on campus, 50% online. Four-year program. 71 credit hours are required. Courses include:
    • Psychopathology
    • Forensic Assessment
    • Violence and Risk Assessment
  • Psy.D. in Applied Clinical Psychology: Full time, 50% on campus, 50% online. Three-year program. 66 credit hours are required. Courses include:
    • Diagnostic and Clinical Interviewing
    • Advanced Psychological Assessment
    • Advanced Statistics and Research Design

San Diego, California

This campus offers the Psy.D. in Applied Clinical Psychology, which is a full time, on-campus program, and takes three years to complete. 66 credit hours are required. Courses include:

  • Diagnostic and Clinical Interviewing
  • Advanced Psychological Assessment
  • Advanced Statistics and Research Design

#2 PGSP-Stanford University (Palo Alto, CA)

The PGSP-Stanford Psy.D. Consortium’s doctoral program is headed by a top, award-winning faculty from both Palo Alto University and the School of Medicine at Stanford University. The focus of the rigorous curriculum is on three years of core classes that prepare the student for psychological assessments, ethics, diversity and culture studies, psychopathology and research evaluation. The program also has a robust foundation of psychological sciences. This program is accredited by the AMA.

This is a full time, five year PsyD program. It includes three full years of academic study; one year for the clinical dissertation, and one year for a full time internship. At every stage, the program fully integrates your academic classes, clinical training and research.

Required classes in the first year include Learning Psychotherapy I and II; Foundations of Ethics and Professional Psychological Practice; Critical Issues in Clinical Psychology; Psychopathology Across the Lifespan; Foundations of Psychological Science; Lifespan Development; and Biological Bases of Behavior.

For your practicum experience, you will be introduced to the concept in your first year, but you will need to complete three full years of this program from years 2-4. During your practicum, you will be introduced to consultation, supervision, and principles of clinical organizational management. This doctoral program will provide you with a great deal of practicum experience – at least 2000 hours before you start your internship in year five. Generally, the program has a stronger emphasis on treating the disorders of adults, but you also will be able to work with children and adolescents.

You will also be exposed to community-based practicum locations where you will work with many different theoretical orientations, such as including CBT, DBT, brief dynamic, family systems, and a more eclectic, multi-systemic approach. For some students, you will have the chance to use the PGSP Gronowski Clinic for your training. Others train at the Palo Alto VA Mental Health Clinic.

#3 University of San Francisco (San Francisco CA)

The PsyD program at the University of San Francisco will prepare you, the aspiring clinical psychologist, with a practitioner-scholar based program that is deep in scientific and theoretical foundations. You will learn how to apply a variety of evidence-based interventions across many populations, problems and contexts.

After you graduate, you will be able to develop a proper focus in the field of integrated behavioral health that will let you work in a highly effective fashion with people and organizations of all backgrounds, independent of economic, socio-cultural or psychological background. Also, you will have a better sensitivity and understanding of people who have come from a challenging background related to their race or gender, as well as their religion, sexual orientation and disability status.

Some of the classes that you will take in this program include those on cultural and mental health; biological psychology; psychopharmacology; professional ethics, qualitative research design, integrated behavioral health; community health disparities; and assessment and treatment of substance abuse.

PsyD students will be afforded the opportunity to take some classes with students who are earning their Master of Science in Behavioral Health, Master of Public Health, Doctor of Nursing Practice, and Master of Science in Nursing.

You will complete your second and third year clinical rotations in a variety of community settings in the San Francisco area, such as medical centers, mental health facilities, university counseling centers, hospitals for children and also in patient treatment facilities. You will provide extensive psychological assessments and treatment for adults, families and children.

Further, you will have the chance to study and research a clinically important topic using several methods. The faculty of this program also do active research themselves and often public in the field of clinical psychology. You will be able to work on research teams on some of these research projects.

#4 Loma Linda University (Loma Linda CA)

Loma Linda University offers both a Ph.D. and PsyD doctoral program in clinical psychology. The PsyD program follows the practitioner-scholar model and puts a great deal of emphasis on clinical training and practice.

Just as with PhD students, PsyD students take several foundational classes in psychology as well as empirically supported treatment programs. However, a key difference is that the PsyD student shall start to work in clinical settings at the end of the very first year of the five-year program. You will have the chance to work with individuals, families and couples in a psychology clinic throughout your second year. Also, you will work in several clinical environments at the local university medical center in years three and four.

Training sites will offer you the chance to work with many types of clinical patients. For instance, you may provide clinical psychology services to people who have substance addictions. Or, you may work in hospice and palliative care, or in student counseling. Some current students work in community behavioral health, and some also work with sex offenders.

All students will have the chance to select one of four professional concentrations. These are clinical child psychology; clinical health psychology; neuroscience and neuropsychology, and social cultural behavioral health psychology. All students are strongly encouraged to try to obtain clinical experiences in their chosen concentration, especially in the year before their internship commences.

Another key part of this PsyD program is your doctoral project, which can be completed at any time. Most students choose to do their dissertation at year three or four. This project is supposed to be conducted in concert with a member of the faculty. The topic should be something in which you have a strong interest, and also one in which one member of the faculty has extensive expertise.

How to Become a Practicing Clinical Psychologist in California

To become a licensed and practicing clinical psychologist in California, you first need to earn at least a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field.

While you are in your bachelor’s program in California, you should look for opportunities to gain research experience at your university. Undergraduates who work with professors as research assistants in psychology have the opportunity to gain work experience.

You then may earn your master’s in psychology, possibly at one of the programs above.

After you earn your master’s, you then move on to earn your PsyD. Earning your PsyD degree will take 4-5 years, which includes an internship.

After you graduate, then focus on getting your clinical psychologist license in California. There are several steps involved after you have graduated:

  1. Complete background check and fingerprinting: The Department of Justice and FBI must clear you before the Board of Psychology in California issues a license to you. You also will need to have your fingerprints scanned to check for any criminal history. You can find Live Scan fingerprint scanning locations in California here.

  2. Verification of your pre- and post-doctoral experience: You should have up to 1500 hours of predoctoral professional experience, but only after you have done 48 units of graduate work in psychology. You must have 1500 hours of post doctoral supervised experience that occurs after you satisfied all academic requirements for your degree program. You must use the California Psych Board’s Supervision Agreement and Verification Form to prove that your work experience meets the mandates above.

  3. Pass the California psychology licensing examinations: You must first pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology, which is administered by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards. Next, you must pass the California Psychology Supplemental Examination, which was developed by the California Board of Psychology.  Use the California Psychology Examination Request Form to request to take both of these tests, as well as submit payment.

  4. After you have completed all of the above and passed both exams, you then need to fill out the Application for Licensure as a Psychologist in California, and mail it in with proper payment.

California Clinical Psychologist Salary and Job Outlook

The median pay for clinical psychologists in California is  $77,000. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean salary in this field in California is $81,000.

The salaries here are 7% higher than in other states. Job growth here is expected to be at least 12% in the next decade.