General Admission Requirements
  • Baccalaureate degree from a regionally-accredited college or university
  • GPA of at least 3.25 in the last 60 semester (90 quarter) units attempted
  • Good standing in the last institution attended
  • GRE scores at the 55th percentile or above
    • For tests taken after August 1, 2011: Revised GRE Verbal >153, Revised GRE Quantitative >153
    • For tests taken before August 1, 2011: GRE Verbal >500, GRE Quantitative >680
  • Competitive score on the (required) Psychology Subject GRE

Please note, acceptance to our program requires high verbal and quantitative GRE scores as well as a strong overall grade point average. Averages for students admitted to the Program can be found here. If your overall GPA is less than 3.0 and/or your GRE scores are lower than the 55th percentile, you may want to reconsider applying to this program. While we do not rely exclusively on these scores to determine who our successful applicants will be, we have found both to good indicators of academic aptitude in our program.


Prerequisite Coursework

In general, applicants with a bachelors degree in psychology from a regionally-accredited college or university should have taken the majority of the prerequisites needed for success in our program.

Applicants, including those whose undergraduate degrees are in subjects other than psychology, should have taken the following upper division courses:

  • Physiological Psychology or Biological Bases of Behavior
  • Intermediate/Advanced Statistical Methods
  • Testing and Measurement
  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Life Span Developmental Psychology 
  • Social Psychology
  • Advanced Experimental Laboratory in Psychology

As long as the courses are upper division, they should be acceptable. Click here for examples of acceptable courses from the SDSU and UC San Diego course catalog. We do realize that some of these courses are not offered at every college or university. The prerequisites listed above are those courses that we believe are needed in order to be successful in this program. Therefore, if for some reason you have not been able to take a specific course, it would be beneficial for you to provide evidence that you have background or experience in that core content area. As an example, for students who have not had a formal advanced laboratory course, working as a research assistant for an extended period of time doing more than data entry may be sufficient.

Examples of Acceptable Prerequisite Courses

Advanced courses in perception and learning are desirable as are courses in biology, genetics, mathematics, linguistics, and other related areas (e.g. medical physics, and computer sciences).

Students will be given a screening test in statistics prior to the beginning of classes.


Advanced Degrees

Admitted students with graduate degrees (MA, MS, PhD) in ANY AREA (including psychology) enter the program at the same academic level as all other students. In other words, all students must take all required courses regardless of prior coursework taken elsewhere.


Concurrent Enrollment

According to UC San Diego policy, if an applicant is in a Master degree program at SDSU, they are expected to complete that program before entering the joint doctoral program.  If they have not received the MA degree by the time their admitted term begins, they either have to relinquish the MA degree, or reapply for admission to the joint doctoral program the following fall term. It is the  expectation of Dean Barrett that all students admitted into any graduate program (in this case the Ph.D.) are expected to devote their full-time and focus on that particular degree. 


Respecialization: This program does not have a “respecialization” curriculum for PhDs from other disciplines or other areas of Psychology who now wish to secure clinical training.