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San Diego PhD in Clinical Psychology Program

A Scholar-Practioner Model

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. We have developed a truly integrated scholar-practitioner model for our APA-accredited program. In their clinical training, 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 topics such as traumatic stress, mind-body disorders, biofeedback, autism, neuropsychological and personality assessment, schizophrenia, pediatric psychology, mindfulness and acceptance based therapies, neuroimaging, and multicultural psychology.  

Goals and Objectives

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 goals:

  • To prepare students to be effective professional psychologists who are skilled at evaluating psychological functioning and providing effective interventions with diverse clients across a range of settings
  • To educate students to conduct applied research and to contribute to the knowledge base of psychology
  • To prepare students to be ethical and responsible professional psychologists who are committed to lifelong learning and productivity

Frequently Asked Questions

Am I a good match for the CSPP San Diego PhD in Clinical Psychology program?  The admissions committee of the CSPP San Diego PhD program looks for students who have a strong academic background, evidence of interest in a future career in clinical psychology, and a belief that rigorous research training can provide one foundation of effective clinical work. 

What is the difference between the PhD and PsyD training?  While both programs provide excellent clinical training, the PhD in Psychology program provides skills that will allow the graduate to integrate other activities (such as clinical research, program evaluation, teaching)  into their repertoire.  Our students have chosen careers such as tenured teaching positions, program evaluators, research coordinators, directors of clinical centers, often in addition to private practices. Learn more about the difference between PhD and PsyD programs.

How are statistics and research design training handled in the program? In our program research foundations are covered by four courses. Each is taught by a core faculty member who has developed a successful method of conveying the material. Students rate these courses positively.

What the class sizes?  Class sizes range from six to 15 depending on whether the topic is foundational or advanced. 

How involved are the core faculty in direct teaching of the foundational courses? The majority of foundational courses are taught by core faculty to ensure that students get consistently superior basic knowledge necessary for success in the field.

What are some typical dissertations? 

  • The Effects of Heart-Rate Variability Biofeedback on Breast Cancer Patients (Stages I, II, III) Undergoing Chemotherapy Treatment
  • The Generalization of Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback Videogame Training and Physiological Arousal in Response to Psychological Stress
  • The Utility of Oral Reading In Assessment of Premorbid Neuropsychological Functioning in Hispanics
  • Comparing the Effects of Total Sleep Deprivation on fMRI Brain Functioning and Behavioral Performance in Older and Younger Adults during a GO-NOGO Task
  • Development and psychometrics of the Dissociation Continuum Scale II
  • Dissociation, fantasy proneness, and suggestibility in participants with varying levels of trauma exposure

Will I be able to present and publish my work? Students are mentored in writing for peer reviewed journals and presenting at conferences. Our objective is to see each and every student in our program submit a paper for publication before graduating from the program and have at least two conference presentations or posters during their graduate career.

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 six emphasis areas, which include:

  • Health
  • Family/Child Psychology
  • Forensic Psychology
  • Multicultural and International Psychology
  • Psychodynamic
  • Applied Behavior Analysis

Doctoral students in the San Diego Clinical Psychology program 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. For more information, visit the 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.  


Questions related to the program's accredited status should be directed to the Commission on Accreditation:

Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation
American Psychological Association
750 1st Street, N.E., Washington, DC 20002
Phone: (202) 336-5979
Email: apaaccred@apa.org
Web: www.apa.org/ed/accreditation

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