General Admission Requirements
  • Baccalaureate degree from a regionally-accredited college or university
  • Overall GPA of at least 3.0
  • 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
  • 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 under Student Admissions, Outcome, and Other Data. If your overall GPA is less than 3.0 and/or your upper division GPA is less than 3.25 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.


Preparatory Coursework

In general, applicants with a Bachelor’s and/or Master’s degree in psychology (or a closely related field) from a regionally-accredited college or university should have taken the majority of the courses needed for success in our program.

Applicants, including those whose undergraduate degrees are in subjects other than psychology, should have taken upper division courses (or their equivalent) in the following areas:

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

Click here for examples of upper division courses in these areas from the SDSU and UC San Diego course catalogs. We realize that some of these courses are not offered at every college or university, and that these content areas may be covered in interdisciplinary coursework or coursework in other departments. If for some reason you have not had upper division coursework in one or more of these areas, 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 formal coursework in advanced experimental methods, working as a research assistant for an extended period of time (doing more than data entry) could demonstrate sufficient preparation in this area. For all areas, preparation could be demonstrated via advanced work in that area (e.g., publications and presentations).

Examples of Acceptable Preparatory Courses

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.