Painting by Susan Wilkinson

Doctor of Clinical Psychology

Rooted in the practitioner-scholar model, our students engage in rigorous academic coursework and comprehensive clinical training, in addition to completing their dissertation.

Program Overview

Program Length

5 Years

Number of Units

99.1 - 110.4



Next Cohort


Our Approach

The Psy.D. program at CIIS is carefully designed to prepare students for practice-focused careers in clinical psychology. Rooted in the practitioner-scholar model, our students engage in rigorous academic coursework and comprehensive clinical training, in addition to completing their dissertation.

Classes are grounded in the philosophical foundations of psychoanalytic thought, psychodynamic perspectives on the therapeutic relationship, personal and social dimensions of the unconscious, and radical and critical approaches in psychodynamic psychotherapy. These courses are taken simultaneously with professional seminars in which students are taught to link theory and practice through in-depth discussion of clinical cases. The program also actively cultivates a dialogue between Western psychology and other wisdom/spiritual traditions. Students take electives in areas such as Buddhism and psychotherapy, mindfulness and meditation, comparative mystical practice, psychedelic studies, dialectical-behavioral therapy and other third wave interventions.

As part of the program, students also have the opportunity to conduct their clinical practicum hours at the Psychological Services Center, one of the six award-winning clinics at CIIS. Under faculty supervision, students provide individual, couple, family, and group counseling and assessment to Bay Area residents.

Career Paths

The mission of the Clinical Psychology program is to train students to become resourceful and integrative clinicians, skilled in the application of psychological theories and their specific interventions, capable in client assessment and diagnosis, and researchers able to produce scholarship that contributes to the psychological profession. With an understanding of human differences, and the deconstruction of the dynamics of power, privilege, and oppression. We provide extensive theoretical and practical experience so that our students graduate ready to make the most of any opportunities, which includes: 

  • Comprehensive preparation to sit for CA licensing exams.
  • Training and experience in clinical intervention modalities.
  • Expertise in all current assessment and diagnostic techniques.
  • Advanced skills in designing and conducting primary research in a range of clinical topics.
  • Skillset and mindset to lead at the forefront of evolving clinical practice.
  • Practical knowledge directed toward building a private practice.
  • Cultural sensitivity and experience to work successfully with diverse populations.


The Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology is an in-person program taught by experienced faculty who are experts in their fields. Students take three years of coursework in addition to two years of practicum starting in their second year. Upon completion of the core courses and the practicums, students will complete an oral examination for approval to begin the required 2000 hour pre-doctoral internship. Students are also required to complete and defend a dissertation before completion of the degree. Students begin writing the proposal in their second year, allowing ample time for topic development and research.

Clinical Training

Clinical training in our program is fully integrated with the academic work. Each student gains two years of practicum experience in community agencies, requiring about 20 hours a week at the training site. A minimum of one hour per week of individual supervision by a licensed psychologist, group supervision, and didactic trainings are offered at these off-campus sites.

At the same time, students complete professional seminar courses at CIIS with a core faculty member; "prosems" support integration of theory, research, and clinical materials from classroom learning with the real world experience of psychotherapy in clinical settings. Prosem is the heart of clinical training in the Psy.D. program. Read about the Contemporary Psychodynamic Training Model this program employs.

When all required coursework and practica have been completed, students may begin the clinical internship at an approved training site. Specific sites are listed on the California Psychology Internship Council website.

The internship may be one year of full-time or two years of half-time work and must be completed within two and a half years from the beginning date. In their internship, students deepen their skills in offering a variety of psychological services including treatment planning and psychotherapy, psychological assessment, case consultation, and supervision, often working in multidisciplinary teams, across the spectrum of psychopathologies.

Support for the process of selecting, applying for, and completing practicum and internship experiences is offered by the Psy.D. Director of Clinical Training and Field Placement Specialist.


Research and Training

The mission of the Clinical Psychology program is to train psychology practitioners rather than researchers. However, all Psy.D. graduates will have mastered research skills sufficient to produce a clinical dissertation and prepare them to be proficient consumers of psychological science.

Research training is conducted in the context of psychological science as the cornerstone of effective clinical practice. Students are also expected to gain a scientific understanding of how individuals interact with others, behave in groups, and relate to the broader contexts in which they live their lives.

Our Psy.D. program is notable in the breadth of research methodologies and topics chosen by students, for example: treatment outcome studies, applied program evaluation studies, studies of underserved populations, and studies of psychospiritual issues.


Curriculum Highlights

PSY 6146 Psychodynamic Work With Dreams (2 units) In psychotherapy, dreams provide an opportunity for therapist and client to encounter unconscious material together. Consequently, dreams are crucial to the psychodynamic approach. Psychodynamic theory concerning the nature and purpose of dreams will be surveyed in this course. Building on that foundation, and using clinical case examples, the course will focus on methods of working with dreams and the transference/countertransference implications of dreamwork. Issues of assessment and of trauma in dreams will be addressed.

PSY 6203 Psyche and Technology (2 units) This elective course considers the current impacts of technology on psychological and relational experiences as well as ways in which our psyches and relationships inform and drive technological innovations. In this course, which is part philosophy, part technoethics, and part anthropological exploration, we will consider the current technological context in which the therapeutic endeavor occurs. This course will also prepare students to address common clinical issues, such as parenting dilemmas and technology, connections and disconnections in communities and relationships and technology, dating and hookup apps, problematic porn use and technology use, and technologically assisted psychotherapy, among other relevant and contemporary topics.

PSY 6724 Buddhism and Psychotherapy (3 units) The course surveys principles and practice of major schools of Buddhism—Theravada, Zen, and Tibetan—to bear on contemporary varieties of psychological suffering. Central themes such as the nature of self, impermanence, suffering, insight, and liberation will be explored from both Buddhist and Western psychotherapeutic perspectives. The specific Buddhist and psychotherapeutic approaches to be highlighted in the course may vary depending on the expertise and orientation of the instructor. Likewise, the extent of experiential exploration of Buddhist meditation and its use in psychotherapy in this course may vary depending on the instructor.

  • Essential Aspects of Clinical Psychology 
    PSY 5601    Psychopathology (3.0 units) 
    PSY 6010     Professional Standards and Ethics for Psychologists (3.0 units) 
    PSY 6201    Lifespan Development (3.0 units)*

    Theory and Practice
    PSY 5502    Theories and Practice of Psychotherapy: Psychodynamics (3.0 units) 
    PSY 5504    Theories and Practice of Psychotherapy: Humanistic-Existential (3.0 units) 
    PSY 5506    Theories and Practice of Psychotherapy: 
    Cognitive-Behavioral and Emerging Treatments (1.0 unit) *

    Culture and Context
    PSY 5002    Culture & Ethnicity in Clinical Practice (3.0 units)*
    PSY 6144    Gender and Sexuality in Clinical Practice (3.0 units)
    PSY 6961    Advanced Seminar in Cultural Psychology (2.0 units) 

    Clinical Skills 
    PSY 5705    Foundation Clinical Skills: Children and Family (3.0 units) 
    PSY 5704    Foundation Clinical Skills: Adults- Individuals and Couples (3.0 units) 
    PSYL 5704    Foundation Clinical Skills: Adult- Individuals and Couples Lab (1.0 unit) 
    PSY 6774    Foundation Clinical Skills: Groups (2.0 units) 
    PSY 7033    Supervision and Consultation (2.0 units) 

    License Portability Series**  
    PSY 6001    Biological Bases of Clinical Practice (3.0 units) 
    PSY 6110    Statistics (3.0 units) 
    PSY 6192    Social Psychology (3.0 units) 
    PSY 6301    Cognitive and Affective Foundations of Behavior (3.0 units) 
    PSY 7174    History and Systems of Psychology (3.0 units) 

    Assessment Series
    PSY 6331    Psychological Assessment I: Psychometric Theory (3.0 units) 
    PSY 6332    Psychological Assessment II: Cognitive and Intelligence Testing (3.0 units) 
    PSY 6333    Psychological Assessment III: Personality Assessment (3.0 units) 

    Professional Seminar Series
    PSY 6732    Professional Seminar 1a (2.0 units) 
    PSY 6733    Professional Seminar 1b (2.0 units) 
    PSY 6734    Professional Seminar 2a (2.0 units) 
    PSY 6735    Professional Seminar 2b (2.0 units) 

    Depth Psychology Series
    PSY 6925    Depth Psychology Seminar: The Therapeutic Relationship (3.0 units) 
    PSY 6930    Depth Psychology Seminar: The Unconscious as Personal & Social Process (3.0 units) 
    PSY 6935    Depth Psychology Seminar: The Transpersonal (3.0 units) 

    PSY 5401    Quantitative Methods (3.0 units) 
    PSY 6115    Qualitative Methods (3.0 units) 

    Proposal Writing
    PSY 9800    Dissertation Proposal Writing I (1.0 unit)
    PSY 9801    Dissertation Proposal Writing II (1.0 unit)
    PSY 9802    Dissertation Proposal Writing III (1.0 unit)

    Students select 5.0 units of elective courses to complete the requirements of the degree. These electives may be taken through the PSYD program or any other graduate-level degree at CIIS.
    Offerings may include such courses as:
    PSY 6145    Psychedelic Studies (2.0 units) 
    PSY 6147    Jungian Psychotherapy (3.0 units) 
    PSY 6150    Somatic Psychology (3.0 units) 
    PSY 8513    Perspectives: Trauma-Informed Care (3.0 units) 

    *These courses are eligible to be waived upon admission if previously completed in another accredited Master’s or doctoral program leading to a mental health professional license. This reduces the total number of units required for the PSYD.
    **These five courses are not required by the State of California for licensure as a professional psychologist; however, many other states do require them. A student wishing to take additional elective course work may work with their advisor and obtain permission to substitute other CIIS course work for these courses.


    After completing PSY 9803, students are required to enroll in PSY 9999 for 0.1 units each semester until their dissertation is complete.
    Students who have achieved Candidacy for the doctorate are not required to enroll in the Summer semester unless they are defending their dissertation.

    Clinical Training

    Foundational Skills Practicum (2.0 units) Spring and Summer of Year 1
    PSY 6775B    Foundational Skills Practicum    1.0
    PSY 6775C    Foundational Skills Practicum    1.0

    Practicum and Internship (9.0-12.0 units)
    Students are required to complete two years of practicum. Students are required to enroll in the appropriate coordinating course while in a clinical setting. This is determined by the terms of the student’s placement contract with the site. Students must be enrolled in a Practicum class every semester that they are in a placement setting. All practicum activities take place in California.

    In a case where either the student or the Director of Clinical Training determines that a third year of Practicum would be beneficial to the student’s development as a clinician, a third year of Practicum may be required before the student is permitted to apply for Internship.

    Internship Students are required to complete an internship, either full-time for one year or part-time for two years. Students are required to enroll in the appropriate coordinating course while in a clinical setting. This is determined by the terms of the student’s placement contract with the site. All internship activities take place in California. 

    PSY 6776A    Practicum I (1.0 unit)
    PSY 6776B    Practicum I (1.0 unit)
    PSY 6776C    Practicum I  (1.0 unit)
    PSY 6777A    Practicum II (1.0 unit)
    PSY 6777B    Practicum II (1.0 unit)
    PSY 6777C    Practicum II (1.0 unit)
    PSY 6778A    Practicum III (1.0 unit)
    PSY 6778B    Practicum III (1.0 unit)
    PSY 6778C    Practicum III (1.0 unit)
    PSY 9699A    Internship (1.0 unit)
    PSY 9699B    Internship (1.0 unit)
    PSY 9699C    Internship (1.0 unit)

Entry Requirements

The Psy.D. program at CIIS is for students who hold a bachelor's degree in the field and wish to pursue a broad and general training in clinical psychology that prepares students for the professional practice of psychology. 

  • Online Admissions Application: Begin the application process by submitting an online application and paying the non-refundable $65 application fee.

    Degree Requirement: A B.A. or B.S. from an accredited college or university.

    Minimum GPA: A GPA of 3.0 in previous coursework is required.

    Transcripts: Official transcripts from all accredited academic institutions attended where 7 or more credits have been earned. If transcripts are being mailed to CIIS, they must arrive in their official, sealed envelopes. Transcripts from institutions outside the US or Canada require a foreign credit evaluation through World Education Services (WES) or CIIS will also accept foreign credential evaluations that are in a comprehensive course-by-course format from the current members of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES).

    Academic Writing Sample: A writing sample of eight to ten pages (typed, double-spaced) that demonstrates your capacity to think critically and reflectively and demonstrates graduate level writing abilities. A sample that uses outside sources must include proper citations. You may submit copies of previous work, such as a recent academic paper, article, or report that reflects scholarly abilities.

    Two Letters of Recommendation: Letters of recommendation will be accepted from academic advisors, professors, professional supervisors, or someone able to attest to your maturity, motivation, and ability to undertake the work required for the Psy.D. program. Recommenders should use standard business format and include full contact information-name, email, phone number, and mailing address.

    Professional Goal Statement: A one-page statement of your educational and professional objectives. Please be sure to address the reason(s) you believe this Psy.D. program will be a good match for your goals. 

    Autobiographical Statement: A four to six page (typed, double-spaced) self-reflective, lifespan autobiographical statement discussing your values, emotional and spiritual insights, aspirations, and life experiences that have led to the decision to apply to the Psy.D. program.

    An Up-To-Date C.V. detailing your educational and professional experience.

Our Department in Action


Attend the Virtual Fall Open House on October 14, 2023 to get to know your Admissions Counselors and learn more about CIIS' Bachelor's, Master's, and Ph.D. programs.

Decorative image
Decorative image