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Best Clinical Psychology Grad Programs in California
Find the best online and campus clinical psychology programs in California and learn how they can start you on your path to a rewarding career in behavioral and mental health.
Last Updated: 09/20/2021
Whether your interest is in doing research in Los Angeles or working with clients in San Jose, this guide takes a comprehensive look at the numerous graduate-level clinical psychology degree and certificate programs offered throughout California. You’ll find key information on the various types of degrees and certificates available at public and private universities, plus our picks for the very best schools. You’ll also learn about online clinical psychology programs, the importance of proper program accreditation, where you can get help funding your studies, and much more. So keep reading to get started on your path to earning a quality clinical psychology credential in California and launch a meaningful career in behavioral and mental health.
2021 Rankings: Best Clinical Psychology Programs in California
Listed below are three of the top schools currently offering clinical psychology programs in California. These selections are based on several important program features, including accreditation, affordability, curriculum comprehensiveness, course options, flexibility, and access to faculty and student support services. Knowing what the best programs offer will give you a better understanding of what to look for in a quality program. These spotlights also provide a preview of our full rankings of California clinical psychology programs coming later this year, so be sure to check back to learn more.
Alliant International University (AIU)
California Lutheran University
University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA)
Top Online Clinical Psychology Programs in California
Just a few clinical psychology programs in California currently offer online coursework. This is due primarily to the nature of clinical psychology practice, which requires face-to-face interaction between psychologist and patient. Additionally, clinical psychology degree programs typically include a substantial number of in-person supervised professional practice hours that are a prerequisite to become a licensed professional counselor (LPC) or licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) in California.
Students opting for one of the limited number of online clinical psychology programs in California (including the three spotlighted below) will complete all or part of their academic coursework online, combined with in-person clinical training experiences (practicums and internships). Most programs also require students to attend one or more face-to-face residencies (orientations, seminars, conferences, etc.) on the school’s campus or at other designated locations.
To learn more about the best clinical psychology graduate degree programs available online in California, be sure to visit these STEPS guides to online clinical psychology master’s programs and online clinical psychology PhD programs.
Fielding Graduate University
Types of Clinical Psychology Grad Degrees in California
California colleges and universities offer several types of graduate-level clinical psychology programs, each designed to prepare graduates for specific psychology careers and each with its own set of admissions and graduation requirements. Keep reading to find descriptions of these clinical psychology credentials along with examples of California programs currently available for each:
Accreditation for Clinical Psychology Programs in California
Accreditation is the process by which postsecondary education programs–and the schools that offer them–are determined to meet specific standards of academic quality. Proper accreditation is how you can be sure that the clinical psychology degree or certificate program in California that you choose is worth your time and money. There are two types of accreditation to look for in your search of the best clinical psychology programs in California: institutional and programmatic. Institutional accreditation concerns the vetting of a school’s academic quality as a whole. It is an absolute must for any school offering a graduate-level clinical psychology program. This is especially true for master’s programs because clinical psychology master’s programs in the U.S. are not programmatically accredited. Institutional accreditation of California colleges and universities is administered primarily by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
Programmatic accreditation refers to the vetting of specific degree programs. The primary accrediting body of clinical psychology PsyD and PhD programs in the U.S. is the APA. In addition, a small but growing number of clinical psychology PhD programs in California are accredited by the PCSAS. Consider only those clinical psychology doctoral degree programs that are APA and/or PCSAS accredited.
Financial Aid for Clinical Psychology Grad Students in California
Paying for a clinical psychology degree or certificate program in California is a major issue for almost every college student. Fortunately, most clinical psychology grad students in California have access to several potential financial aid resources. The biggest source includes scholarships and grants, assistantships and fellowships, and student loans (particularly federal student loans). Clinical psychology programs and the psychology departments that offer them often have dedicated funding opportunities specifically for their students. Examples include UCLA and the San Diego State University/University of California San Diego Joint Degree programs.
Contact the financial aid office of each clinical psychology program and school in California that you’re considering to find out about specific financial aid opportunities. And be sure to visit the STEPS scholarships guide and financial aid guide to learn more about ways to fund your education at the best clinical psychology programs in California.