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California Psychology Doctorate Programs

Individuals who feel driven to help other people cope with and overcome emotional and mental health issues will likely find fulfillment in a career that lets them do just that. And there’s no doubt there’s a great need in society for compassionate, highly trained professionals who can address mental health problems, anxiety, addiction and the day-to-day stresses of life. This is a major reason why the Doctor of Psychology degree, or Psy.D. for short, was developed in the late 1960s, and today this degree is among the most rapidly growing graduate degrees.

SEE ALSO: 5+ Best Online PsyD Programs

The good news for students in California is that there are several excellent programs in the state that offer a range of Psy.D. degrees and focuses. Let’s take a look at what prospective Psy.D. students in California should know about their educational options and what goes into becoming a professional psychologist.

What’s On This Page

  • Quick Facts
  • California PsyD Programs
  • California Psychologist Requirements
  • California Doctorate Salary Outlook

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.
  • Nearly half of PysD programs are based in Southern California

List of PsyD Degree Programs in California

About a dozen colleges and universities in the state of California offer Psy.D. degree programs that have earned accreditation from the American Psychological Association, which is the gold standard of academic accreditation for psychology programs at all levels.

Let’s take a look at vital statistics about the 13 APA-accredited Psy.D. programs offered across California.

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

The Chicago School’s Los Angeles campus only recently earned APA accreditation and dating back to the first year that graduates exited the program (2013), 132 Psy.D. students have earned their degrees from the L.A. campus. Students in other areas of California are served by two other Chicago School campuses, in Irvine and San Diego, though the programs there haven’t yet earned APA accreditation.

PGSP-Stanford Consortium

Formerly the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, Palo Alto University is home to the PGSP-Stanford Consortium, a unique program offering a Psy.D. that draws from faculty and expertise at both Palo Alto University and the Stanford University School of Medicine. The group’s Psy.D. first earned APA accreditation in 2006, and since the 2009-10 school year, 274 students have completed their Psy.D. degrees. The program’s licensure rate for graduates is an impressive 94%.

  • Institution type: Private, not-for-profit
  • Main campus: Palo Alto
  • Annual tuition: $50,451
  • Degrees offered: Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology
  • Accreditation: APA
  • Visit school: Click here

University of San Francisco

One of the most recent California schools to earn APA accreditation, the University of San Francisco’s School of Nursing and Health Professions started conferred Psy.D. degrees in 2018, and 12 students have completed the program since then.

  • Institution type: Private, not-for-profit
  • Main campus: San Francisco
  • Annual tuition: $48,475
  • Degrees offered: Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology
  • Accreditation: APA
  • Visit school: Click here

Loma Linda University

Loma Linda University’s Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology is structured as a five-year program, including an internship, and the program first earned APA accreditation in 1998. Over the past 10 years, 87 students have earned their Psy.D. through the program, and 88% of them have gone on to earn professional licensure.

  • Institution type: Private, not-for-profit
  • Main campus: Loma Linda
  • Annual tuition: $30,300
  • Degrees offered: Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology
  • Accreditation: APA
  • Visit school: Click here

Alliant International University

Offered through the California School of Professional Psychology, Alliant International University hosts five APA-accredited Psy.D. programs spread across a wide geographic area in the state, from Sacramento to San Diego. All five campuses have been accredited by the APA since the early to mid-1990s, and their programs average a professional licensure rate over the past decade of nearly 70%.

  • Institution type: Private, for-profit
  • Campuses: Fresno, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco, all APA-accredited
  • Annual tuition: Ranges from $37,975 (Sacramento and San Diego) to $49,000 (Los Angeles)
  • Degrees offered: Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology (all campuses); Psy.D. in Marital and Family Therapy (Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Diego); Psy.D. in Organization Development (Fresno)
  • Accreditation: APA
  • Visit school: Click here

Pepperdine University

Starting in their second year, Psy.D. students at Pepperdine University begin gaining hands-on experience in clinical mental health settings as part of a program that first earned APA accreditation in 1990, making it one of the first in the state to carry the APA’s endorsement. More than 250 graduates have completed the program in the past decade, and they have earned professional licensure at a 78% rate.

  • Institution type: Private, not-for-profit
  • Main campus: Los Angeles
  • Annual tuition: $64,200
  • Degrees offered: Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology
  • Accreditation: APA
  • Visit school: Click here

Fuller Theological Seminary

Fuller Theological Seminary’s diverse academic lineup ranges from Doctor of Ministry (DMin) degrees to similar degrees offered in Korean and Spanish, and the nondenominational Christian institution’s School of Psychology has offered an APA-accredited Psy.D. since 1972. Over the past decade, 130 students have completed the Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology, and 85% of program grads have become licensed psychologists.

  • Institution type: Private, not-for-profit
  • Main campus: Pasadena
  • Annual tuition: $33,610
  • Degrees offered: Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology
  • Accreditation: APA
  • Visit school: Click here

Biola University

Founded in 1908 as the Bible Institute of Los Angeles, Biola University’s Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology has been accredited by the APA since the early 1980s. This nondenominational evangelical Christian program prepares practitioners who feel called by a higher power to practice psychology. More than 120 people have completed the program since the 2009-10 school year, and the licensure rate is 84%

  • Institution type: Private, not-for-profit
  • Main campus: La Mirada
  • Annual tuition: $37,757
  • Degrees offered: Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology
  • Accreditation: APA
  • Visit school: Click here

The Wright Institute

The Wright Institute is a hyper-focused specialty institution that offers academic training only in psychology, hosting two degrees, the Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology and an M.A. in Counseling. The Psy.D. program has been APA-accredited since 1998, and 79% of the 583 Psy.D. graduates over the past decade have earned professional accreditation.

  • Institution type: Private, not-for-profit
  • Main campus: Berkeley
  • Annual tuition: $37,650
  • Degrees offered: Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology
  • Accreditation: APA
  • Visit school: Click here

Azusa Pacific University

One of several Christian colleges and universities to offer Psy.D. degree options, Azusa Pacific University first earned APA accreditation for its clinical psychology doctorate in 1990. Over the past 10 academic years, 240 graduates have completed the program, and their licensure rate is 81%, which is among the highest for California Psy.D. programs.

  • Institution type: Private, not-for-profit
  • Main campus: Azusa
  • Annual tuition: $42,978
  • Degrees offered: Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology
  • Accreditation: APA
  • Visit school: Click here

John F. Kennedy University

JFK University’s Psy.D. program first earned APA accreditation in 2003, and by the end of 2020, it’s expected that the program will begin operating under the National University System after an affiliation agreement that started in 2009. The Psy.D. program itself will retain the prestige that it earned after becoming APA-accredited, and more than 200 students have earned their doctorates in clinical psychology since the 2009-10 school year. Program graduates have a licensure rate of 70% over the past decade.

  • Institution type: Private, not-for-profit
  • Main campus: Pleasant Hill
  • Annual tuition: $38,098
  • Degrees offered: Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology
  • Accreditation: APA
  • Visit school: Click here

University of La Verne

Housed in the College of Arts and Sciences, the  University of La Verne’s Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology has been APA-accredited since 2003. A total of 147 students have completed their Psy.D. training at La Verne since the 2009-10 school year, and they have a licensure rate of 79%.

  • Institution type: Private, not-for-profit
  • Main campus: La Verne
  • Annual tuition: $37,600
  • Degrees offered: Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology
  • Accreditation: APA
  • Visit school: Click here

California Lutheran University

Though it’s affiliated with the Lutheran Church, California Lutheran University’s Psy.D. program does not exclude members of other faiths, agnostics or atheists from its five-year, APA-accredited degree track. California Lutheran’s Psy.D. is one of the most recent California programs to earn accreditation, and since 2015, 43 graduates have completed the program. More than 80% of individuals earning their Psy.D. at California Lutheran have gone on to earn licensure.

  • Institution type: Private, not-for-profit
  • Main campus: Oxnard
  • Annual tuition: $28,560
  • Degrees offered: Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology
  • Accreditation: APA
  • Visit school: Click here

How to Become a Practicing Clinical Psychologist in California

Being able to work as a professional psychologist in California is a several-step process that for many people begins with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. But that’s certainly not the only way to go about it. Let’s explore what steps are needed to become a psychologist in California.

  1. Get your bachelor’s degree in an applicable field, most often psychology. Depending on the program you select for your Psy.D., you may not need to earn a master’s degree first, but if you are coming in with only a bachelor’s degree, schools will need to see that you have a basic education in psychology. So if not a major in that field, then your bachelor’s transcript should show a focus in psychology or a related field like biology. And some Psy.D. programs do require students to have a master’s degree, so be sure to find out what’s expected before you apply.
  2. Earn a doctoral degree. While we’ve focused on Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) programs in California, many schools in the state offer a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in the field as well, and this type of degree also could serve as the necessary doctoral component to earning licensure. But it’s important to note that most Ph.D. programs, even those in clinical psychology, won’t have the same internship or practicum requirements that are part of Psy.D. education, so those who earn a Ph.D. in psychology may need to complete additional internships to gain those real-world hours.
  3. Meet state requirements. The California Board of Psychology processes and grants licensure applicants for psychologists. Prospective candidates must pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology, as well as the California Psychology Law and Ethics Examination, in addition to verifying your completion of postdoctoral experience that’s part of most Psy.D. programs. Additionally, the state requires that applicants submit to a background and criminal history check, including a fingerprint scan.
  4. Remain licensed, and keep up with requirements. Once a psychologist in California has earned their license, they must be sure it remains valid so they can continue practicing, and this means getting your license renewed every two years.

California Clinical Psychologist Salary and Job Outlook

Clinical, counseling and school psychologists in the state of California have the second-highest average annual salary among all their counterparts across the nation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their average annual salary is $111,750, and on the very highest end of the scale, they can expect to earn more than $195,000 per year.

Over the next decade, it’s expected that all jobs across the U.S. economy will see a steady growth rate of about 5%, but for clinical psychologists in California, that rate is expected to be much higher — 12.5%.

SEE ALSO: Clinical Psychologist Salary in California

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