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A Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) is one of the highest psychology degrees available and a necessary credential for professional clinical psychology practice in California. There are dozens of accredited PsyD programs in California that can prepare you for work as a skilled practitioner, opening a range of opportunities in a state employing more clinical psychologists than any other state.
This guide has everything you need to get started on your search for a quality PsyD program in California. You’ll find a list of the best programs, learn about accreditation and programs with convenient online coursework, get answers to your key questions, and see how much can potentially earn as a psychologist in California after graduation.
Best APA-Accredited PsyD Programs in California for 2021
The following profiles highlight some of the top-ranked APA-accredited PsyD programs in California for 2021. Each school administers a robust, comprehensive curriculum designed to deepen your expertise and ready you for licensure as a practicing clinician. Explore these program offerings and check back for our full ranking later this year.
Loma Linda University
How Important APA Accreditation Is for PsyD Programs in California
APA Accreditation is an industry-wide indicator of quality and excellence. A leading scientific organization in the U.S., the APA establishes key guidelines in psychology and works to advance its knowledge horizons and professional applications. Its credentials carry a lot of influence and are considered the gold standard for education in psychology.
Though most states require a degree from an APA-accredited program for licensure as a psychologist, this is not the case in California. State regulators only require attendance at a school with institutional accreditation. Students should also complete course prerequisites in key knowledge areas outlined by the CA Board of Psychology.
If you plan to use your PsyD in roles other than as a licensed psychologist, the same general accreditation rules and best practices apply. Potential schools should hold institutional accreditation from an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
What to Know About Online PsyD Programs in California
Online delivery is available in California, but it’s not prominent. Among schools with these options, only a few provide 100% online delivery while several have online/hybrid formats to provide a convenient, accommodating, and balanced course of study tailored to students’ needs.
Online programs typically include intensive courses administered in 7-week terms using both synchronous and asynchronous technologies (e.g., videoconferencing, discussion boards, etc.). Some schools augment online courses with in-person instruction for certain content areas. Others offer face-to-face networking opportunities and other learning-based events. Many use face-to-face delivery for internship and practicum placements.
Licensure requirements in California make it easy for aspiring professionals to look further afield for online programming. For example, a school like Capella University that focuses primarily on distance education delivers online PsyD programming that meets all the approval and accreditation requirements for practicing psychology in California.
Top online California PsyD programs are highlighted below. See our guide to online psychology programs for more information on how virtual learning works.
Online California PsyD Program Spotlight
Other Quality Examples of Online PsyD Programs in California
FAQs About PsyD Programs in California
Financial Aid and Scholarships for PsyD Students in California
Scholarships and financial aid can significantly reduce the cost of your education. Several of the best PsyD programs in California offer scholarships and other awards to new and returning students. La Verne, Cal Lutheran, and Azusa Pacific, for example, each extend psychology or PsyD-specific scholarships to qualified applicants.
Professional organizations like the APA also sometimes offer opportunities and provide tips for students looking for ways to fund their education. If you already work in the industry, check with your employer about aid possibilities. For more information on financial aid and scholarships, see our main financial aid page and our detailed scholarships guide.
How to Become a Psychologist in California
Graduates of CaliforniaPsyD programs interested in work as professional psychologists must first obtain licensure. This means fulfilling certain eligibility requirements and completing the steps outlined by the California Board of Psychology. We’ve detailed each step below to give you a solid idea of what is required for licensure as a psychologist in California.
Education and Hands-On Training
The first step for all licensees is completing an approved education and training program. Unlike other states, California does not require completion of an APA-accredited course of study, but your doctoral degree should come from a school with institutional accreditation. Additional requirements include at least 3,000 hours of qualifying supervised professional experience and key course prerequisites. Prerequisites classes can include human sexuality, substance abuse, child abuse, spousal abuse, and aging and long-term care.
Once you finish an approved education program and complete the other training requirements, you can move to the testing phase. This involves two assessments. The first is the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) administered by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards. A two-part assessment, the EPPP measures competency in key skill and knowledge areas specific to psychological practice. It includes multiple-choice and scenario-based questions that look at treatment, diagnosis, and intervention.
Once you pass the EPPP, you can prepare for the California Law and Ethics Examination (CPLEE), a state-based test that assesses your knowledge of applicable laws and regulations. While the EPPP evaluates your proficiency in psychology as a broad discipline, the CPLEE evaluates your competency in how psychology is practiced in California. The exam is administered by PSI and looks at compliance issues pertaining to mandated reporting, confidentiality, duty to protect, and cultural competency.
Fingerprints, Fees, and Application Submission
Once applicants successfully complete both exams, they move to final steps for initial licensure. At this stage, you need to submit official fingerprints to the Department of Justice in California. The Board of Psychology also requires a comprehensive criminal history and background check. Applicable fees include costs for exams, the application, and the license itself. Once official documents are reviewed and fees settled, candidates submit an application for initial licensure by examination and await official approval.
Continuing Education and Renewal
The process is not over once you obtain your license. The California Board of Psychology mandates that practicing professionals renew their licenses every two years. This includes completing professional development and continuing education requirements. To keep their licenses active, psychologists must complete at least 36 hours of continuing education per cycle, and those hours must come through an approved provider and include training in suicide risk assessment. Once completed and certified, you can submit a renewal application.
Job Outlook and Earnings Potential for PsyD Psychologists in California
Job growth potential and salary prospects remain encouraging for graduates of PsyD programs in California.According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), California enjoys the highest levels of employment for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists by a sizable margin. Cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco rank among the top 5 metropolitan areas with the highest levels of employment for those professionals.
In terms of pay, California is the top paying state for PsyD professionals in clinical or school counseling. In fact, 7 of the 10 highest-paying metropolitan areas identified by the BLS are in California. They include Santa Rosa, Los Angeles, San Diego, Oxnard-Thousand Oaks, San Luis, Modesto, and Napa.
Job Outlook and Earnings Potential for PsyD Psychologists in California
|New Jobs Created |
|Job Growth Rate |
|Average Annual Openings |
Source: Projections Central
Annual Salaries for Clinical, Counseling and School Psychologists in California
|10th Percentile||Median||90th Percentile|
|Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA||$58,950||$107,470||N/A|
|Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA||$48,860||$103,930||N/A|
|Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA||$60,660||$104,220||$163,010|
|San Diego-Carlsbad, CA||$69,560||$102,510||$206,920|
|San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA||$47,450||$101,900||$167,110|
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA||$69,660||$112,790||$159,010|
|San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA||$85,510||$125,330||$143,340|
|Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA||$43,090||$76,000||$145,760|
|Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA||$55,730||$119,610||$158,480|
|Santa Rosa, CA||$88,850||$131,740||$181,890|
|Yuba City, CA||$46,070||$79,510||$104,770|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020