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 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 Admissions/Financial Support page for more funding information. 

Research Experience

Our goal is to provide outstanding education and training to scientifically oriented research professionals who will subsequently make significant contributions to 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 of 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 had 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 most of the courses needed to be successful 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 must demonstrate to the Admissions Committee that you are ready for our program (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 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). For example, students without formal coursework in advanced experimental methods may work as research assistants for an extended period (doing more than data entry), demonstrating sufficient preparation in this area.

A Master’s degree is not required for admission into our program; however, it could benefit students who do not have an undergraduate psychology degree or students looking for more research experience. Approximately one-quarter of the students admitted each year have a Master’s degree.

Fit with a Faculty Member’s Interests

The list of JDP Faculty interested in taking a student for Fall 2024 admission will be available by the end of August 2023.

Another factor considered when admitting students into our program is how well their 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 the four to five years of intensive research experience in their mentors’ labs.

If/when you decide to apply, refer to the list of faculty members interested in mentoring a student when selecting which faculty member(s) you are interested in working with on your Supplemental Program Application. Not all faculty members on this list will end up mentoring a student, so it is fundamental that your requested research area is clearly stated so that if there is another potential match for you, we can evaluate your application with that in mind.

For a comprehensive list of our faculty and their research interests, please visit our People/Program Faculty webpage.

GPA and GRE Scores


Applicants should have earned a Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university with an overall GPA of at least 3.0 and at least 3.25 in the last 60 semester (90 quarter) units attempted. They must be in good standing at the previous institution attended. On average, successful applicants to our program have an overall undergraduate GPA of 3.7.


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 2023-2024 application cycle (for entry to the doctoral program in Fall 2024). We will not review any GRE scores for admission to the program.

Statement of Purpose

In your essay, please state your purpose in pursuing a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. Describe your academic 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 school and your chosen career path. You do not need to restate 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.

Additionally, 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 highlight 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 three 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.