Application review for our program is holistic, and all applications are reviewed. See below for everything we consider when reviewing applications. 

Given the large number of applicants in the field of clinical psychology, the selection process is designed to identify the best from among many highly qualified applicants. Thus no minimum set of qualifications in any way guarantees admission.

We receive several hundred applications a year and interview approximately 35-40 applicants (~5%). Each year we aim to admit between 10-15 students (all of whom are funded). See our Financial Support page for more information about funding  

Research Experience

Our goal is to provide outstanding education and training to scientifically oriented research professionals, who will subsequently make significant contributions to the field of clinical psychology in their areas of specialization. Students are actively involved in research activities throughout their stay in the program. As such, research experience is heavily weighted in our admissions decision process and we look for students who have had ample research experience including publications and conference presentations. On average, our students have approximately three years equivalent full-time research experience when they enter our program. Most students who enter our program have post-baccalaureate research experience (averaging 2.5 years). All entering students have presented at national/international conferences. Over the past five years, most students admitted to the program have at least one peer-reviewed journal publication (first- or co-authored). 

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.

Our program is open to accepting well-qualified students whose undergraduate or Master’s degrees are not in psychology. For such an individual to qualify for admission, they must have taken a variety of advanced (upper division) psychology courses in topics such as Abnormal Psychology, Biological Bases of Behavior or Physiological Psychology, Cognitive/Affective Bases of Behavior, Life Span Developmental Psychology, Social Psychology, Intermediate/Advanced Statistical Methods, Testing and Measurement, and/or Advanced Experimental Methods.

You will be expected to take doctoral level courses in the areas listed above. Therefore, you will need to demonstrate to the Admissions Committee that you are ready for our program (either through coursework, research experience, etc.). If you have not taken upper division coursework in one or more of the above areas, it would be beneficial for you to provide evidence that you have background or experience in that core content area (note: courses taken at a community college are not upper division). 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.

A Master’s degree is not required for admission into our program, however it could be beneficial to students for various reasons including those who do not have an undergraduate Psychology degree or for students who are looking for more research experience. Approximately one-quarter of the students admitted each year enter with a Master’s degree.

Fit with a Faculty Member’s Interests

A list of JDP Faculty interested in taking a student for Fall 2023 admission is now available at

Another factor considered when admitting students into our program is how well a students’ research interests align with the faculty member(s) they are interested in working with. Students enter the JDP to become scientist-clinicians, and a key component in their training is their four to five years of intensive research experiences in the labs of their mentors.

The list of faculty members interested in taking a student for Fall 2022 is posted on our website at the link above. If/when you decide to apply, this is the list that you should use when selecting which faculty member(s) you are interested in working with on your Supplemental Program Application. Not all faculty on this list will end up getting a student so it is important to make sure that what you list as your research area is very clear so that if there is another potential match for you, we can evaluate your application with that in mind.

For a list of JDP faculty and their research interests, visit our website at

GPA and GRE Scores

Note: The SDSU/UC San Diego Joint Doctoral Program has decided to waive consideration of all scores from the GREs (General and Psychology Subject Test) for the 2022-2023 application cycle (for entry to the doctoral program in Fall 2023). We will not review any GRE scores for admission to the program. Please refer to our Application Procedures page:

An update regarding the 2023-2024 application cycle will be posted sometime in June. 

Statement of Purpose

In your essay, please state your purpose in deciding to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology. Describe your scholarly and research areas of interest and your plans for your future profession. You are encouraged to indicate specific research interests and potential JDP faculty mentors with whom you would be interested in working during your graduate training. In addition, briefly describe characteristics of your background or training that speak to your likely success in graduate school and in your chosen career path. You do not need to re-state your CV. Instead, highlight the experiences you view as most relevant, formative, or illustrative of your potential and any aspects of your experiences that may not be summarized well on a CV or in a checklist.

In addition, we are interested in learning about any challenges or adversities you have overcome during your academic journey. Further, describe any aspects of your personal or professional background that demonstrate your commitment to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. Examples include advocacy, community service with diverse populations, and research examining inequities.

Please limit your statement to no more than 3 pages, single-spaced, 12-point type.

Letters of Recommendation

Recommenders may include:

  • Supervisors or managers
  • Professors
  • Colleagues from professional organizations
  • Colleagues from charitable agencies with which you are affiliated
  • No friends or relatives, please.