1. What is the program's curriculum?
The Program is 90 semester units, and has a strong emphasis on therapeutic practice and spirituality. Six of those units are used for the completion of the dissertation. We have three required courses that address spirituality as a content area. These are:

  • Religion and Spirituality in Clinical Practice (PSY 5019)
  • Neuroscience and Spirituality (PSY 6664)
  • Buddhism and Psychotherapy (PSY 6724)

Electives in this and other important areas are offered regularly. Students may also take electives in other programs at CIIS. For more information about specific course listings, please see our Course of Study page.

2. What is the curriculum for an Advanced Standing student who already has a Master's Degree in a related field?
Full time students who enter the program with Regular Standing (those who enter with a BA) typically take three to four years to complete coursework. This is followed by the internship, which takes one year if it is a full-time internship (about forty hours a week), two years if it is a part-time internship (about twenty hours a week). The dissertation also follows coursework and, while it is possible to complete the dissertation in one year, students typically take two years to complete and write up their research. Realistically, a full time student admitted with Regular standing can expect to complete the degree in five to seven years, depending on their choice of internship and the nature of their dissertation project.
Advanced Standing students (those who enter with a Master's degree in Psychology, or the equivalent) have the option of completing the program in four years, with three years of reduced-load coursework and concurrent dissertation work, followed by one year of internship. The majority of Advanced Standing students take four and a half to five years to complete the degree. Students with qualifying graduate work may receive up to 30 units of credit toward our degree. A Faculty Advisor will work with each Advanced Standing student to produce a program plan detailing which of the required courses can be waived because of previous graduate level coursework. If your Master's Degree included a field placement you may be able to waive the first year of our practicum series.

3. What are the field placement and internship requirements?
While they are taking foundational coursework in clinical skills, first year students also move through a structured series of clinical experiences at our Psychological Services Center, training clinic affiliated with our program. In the second and third years students work in practicum placements throughout the Bay Area, usually with a 16-20 hour a week commitment and frequently in Community Mental Health clinics and programs. After completing most of their coursework students work at a full-time year-long or a two-year part-time internship. More information on internships is in question # 9.

4. What kinds of dissertations are acceptable in the program?
Students may pursue dissertation projects using the qualitative, quantitative, or mixed research methodologies. Dissertations involving Program Development and Evaluation and Integrative Literature Review are also possible. Some dissertation topics from recent years included:

Some dissertation topics from recent years include:

  • The Effect of Mindfulness Meditation on Mother-Infant Bonding
  • Slavery and the Intergenerational Transmission of Trauma in Inner City African American Male Youth: A Model Program
  • Applied Ecopsychology for Adults: Outcomes of the Kamana Nature Awareness Training Program and Sensory Awareness Practice
  • Trauma Research & Treatment of Combat Veterans: An Evidence Based Integrative Literature Review

5. Is the PsyD program accredited?
Our program applied for accreditation by the American Psychological Association on June 1, 2016. We have been approved to schedule an APA site visit during the Fall 2016 semester. CIIS is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WASC-SASC), which is one of six regional accrediting associations in the United States. A degree such as ours, from a regionally accredited institution, is sufficient for licensure in California and many other states. Please see Question # 8 for more information about licensing.

6. What is the APA?
The American Psychological Association is a professional organization whose members are doctoral level Psychologists in the United States and Canada. Not all Psychologists belong to the APA. Although APA is not a government agency, APA Commission on Accreditation has been approved by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit doctorate programs in clinical psychology. For more information about APA Accreditation, please see their web page.

7. What does the program plan to do about APA?
Our program submitted its application for accreditation by APA on June 1, 2016. We expect to hear back from the APA Commission on Accreditation about the status of our application by the end of August 2016. 

8. Can I get licensed as a psychologist in my state without a degree from an APA accredited program?
Graduates of the PsyD program at CIIS are eligible for licensure as Psychologists in California and many other states. Students interested in applying for licensure in states other than California are encouraged to refer to the state-by-state listing of licensing requirements available at www.asppb.org/pubs/handbookusr.asp.

A handful of states have more stringent, APA-specific requirements, according to the ASPPB (Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards) Handbook of Licensing and Certification Requirements.


  • Florida accepts only APA-accredited doctoral programs for those who graduated after 1999 and requires internships to meet APA standards.
  • Mississippi requires internships to be accredited by APA or the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA).
  • Oklahoma accepts only APA-accredited doctoral programs for those who graduated after 1997.
  • Utah accepts only doctoral programs and internships that are APA- or CPA-accredited. (Grad Psych, 2004)

*This list of states could change so it's important to keep yourself updated if you intend to practice in another state.

9. How will APA accreditation impact internships?
Most California Psychology Internship Council (CAPIC) and some Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) internships are open to students in non-APA accredited schools. APA internships are generally unavailable, although an occasional student has been able to secure one. Our students typically train at CAPIC and APPIC internships and they have been very successful in obtaining these placements. For example we have, or will have next year, interns at UC Davis Medical Center, UC Davis Counseling Center, the San Francisco Jung Institute Clinic, and a number of San Francisco County Community Mental Health Clinics.

10. Will graduation from a non-APA accredited school impact job prospects?
If your goal is to establish a private practice, then all that is needed is a license to practice, which is available to our graduates in California, and in many other states. Graduates seeking work in such settings as community mental health agencies, hospitals, county school systems, civil service, and college counseling centers will find that each employer establishes its own job requirements, and many do not require graduation from an APA-accredited program. Please be advised that the Veterans' Administration and Kaiser facilities do require graduation from an APA-accredited program. Agencies and clinics practicing alternative and/or holistic healing modalities are rarely concerned with APA accreditation. Most academic jobs at the BA or MA level will not require an APA approved degree but a Faculty position in a PsyD or PhD program will almost always require an APA approved degree.

A useful exercise to get a sense of typical job requirements is to do an internet search for current job openings for clinical psychologists and review the ads.  This will allow you to see how many jobs require APA-accredited degrees.

11. What financial Aid is available for applicants?
For more information, visit our Financial Aid page.

You can also contact the Financial Aid office 415-575-6122 or email them at finaid@ciis.edu.  
Some scholarships are available.

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