Doctor of Psychology

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) in Clinical Psychology


The Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) in Clinical Psychology degree program provides formal training in the science and practice of clinical psychology. In addition to broad and rigorous preparation in clinical psychology, the program provides training in theory and treatment inspired by positive psychology and both secular and spiritual concepts and interventions. Mindfulness as a source of both clinician self-care and treatment interventions is a core component of the curriculum.

After degree completion, graduates are prepared for a career as a licensed clinical psychologist, which may include work in substance abuse and mental health treatment settings, corrections agencies, private practice, supervisory and program development positions in healthcare settings, teaching, and/or research.

Advisors meet with each student quarterly for ongoing mentoring, advising, and review of students’ progress. Annually, advisors meet with each student for a formal review of student progress. When necessary, students will meet with appropriate faculty members, advisors, and the Program Chair for further discussion and recommendation.

Students may elect to receive the Master of Arts in Psychology (MA) degree while enrolled in the PsyD program after successful completion of a sub-set of the total PsyD requirements. Students may not apply for the MA or enter Sofia University with the intention of completing the MA alone. However, during the course of their studies they may petition for receipt of the master’s degree. (See MA degree program requirements below.)

Program Learning Outcomes

This program is not accepting any new students for 2022–2023.

Upon successful completion of the Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology program, students will be able to:

  • Analyze and explain human behavior using current theory, methods, and research in the affective, social, individual differences, and cognitive areas of psychology, and formulate appropriate interventions to serve the needs of diverse clients.
  • Summarize, assess, and apply the integration of positive psychology and spiritual diversity in clinical psychology theory, research, and practice.
  • Create ethical and legal interventions to human psychology problems by integrating sound reflective judgment, appropriate moral and ethical frameworks, and clinical psychology knowledge.
  • Summarize and explain the importance of and sensitivity to individual and cultural diversity in their academic, clinical, and professional work and relationships.
  • Communicate effectively, ethically, and sensitively using a variety of media and genres to meet the needs and intended audience in a variety of personal and professional settings.
  • Reflect upon their own whole-person development relative to the field of psychology and identify opportunities for continuing professional development
Degree Requirements

To receive a Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology degree, students must successfully complete a minimum of 120 units. The following are specific degree requirements:

  • 111 units of Core courses
  • 40 documented hours of Professional Development in the form of personal psychotherapy
  • 800 hours of Practicum Training
  • Passing the Clinical Competency Exam
  • 9 units of Dissertation Research conducted in sequence
  • Submission of an approved Dissertation
  • 1,500 hours of Internship

The Master of Arts in Psychology (MA) may be awarded as an interim degree. To receive the MA, a student must complete the following requirements:

  • Core Courses for Year 1 through Year 3 of the PsyD (111 Units)
  • Receive the recommendation of Program Chair after consultation with PsyD faculty
  • 40 documented hours of Professional Development in the form of personal psychotherapy

Core Courses (111 units)

Core Courses are distributed across four years and are required as follows (listed in order by course number and not necessarily the sequence in which courses are taken):

Item #
Sub-Total Credits

As part of the Core Courses, students obtain clinical training through a Practicum during Year 2 and an Advanced Practicum during Year 3 of the PsyD program. They are placed in training sites to see clients and receive clinical supervision. The practicum classes (PSY2049A, PSY2049B, PSY2049C) and advanced practicum classes (PSY2079A, PSY2079B, PSY2079C) provide education and supervision to complement the clinical placement.

Dissertation Research (9 units)

PsyD students must complete a minimum of 9 units to support their dissertation research:

Item #
Sub-Total Credits

Should the dissertation not be completed and approved at the end of the PSY6047 sequence, students may continue to research and write the dissertation by completing the following optional courses:

Item #

Professional Development: To ensure that students are able to be empathic to their clients and are prepared to be of service to the public, the program requires personal and professional development outside the classroom. This takes the form of 40 hours of personal psychotherapy during Years 1 and 2 that must be completed by the end of the second year of the program.

The recommended structure to completing the 40 hours is 20 hours in Year 1 and 20 hours in Year 2 so that students have support in the initial phases of their clinical development. The form to document these hours can be obtained from the Director of Clinical Training and should be turned in before the end of Year 2.

Clinical Competency Exam

The Clinical Competency Exam (CCE) serves a number of functions:

  • Provides students with the opportunity to integrate Years 1, 2 and 3 of doctoral course material with practical training and thus demonstrate their ability to function as a practitioner-scholar.
  • Requires students to integrate clinical and research data using theories and methods acquired in the classroom and at practicum to demonstrate knowledge of case formulation, assessment, and treatment.
  • Gives students the opportunity to demonstrate that their professional judgment processes are flexible, ethical, and sensitive to client needs.
  • Enables faculty to evaluate students' progress toward expected learning outcomes.
  • Allows faculty to evaluate students' readiness for Internship and their ability to proceed in the program. Students must demonstrate these skills through a written case report and an oral examination, which includes a case presentation and a clinical vignette.

Clinical competency includes the ability to work semi-independently and handle the ambiguity and stress of a major professional hurdle in a mature and effective manner. Students who have the most positive CCE experiences have nurtured clinical curiosity, have confidence in their own learning abilities, produce written exams that match well with the CCE guidelines and rubrics, have practiced their presentation skills prior to the exam, and used sound academic strategies for handling major projects. Additionally, students who appropriately seek guidance and support from faculty and peers, and approach the exam as a learning opportunity tend to have a positive experience.

CCE presentations are scheduled at the end of Fall and Winter Quarters so students know well in advance if they will be presenting in the 2nd or 3rd quarter of their PSY2079 Advanced Clinical Practicum Seminar. The time and place are coordinated in collaboration with the Director of Clinical Training, and the exam is conducted outside the seminar class. The student is responsible for scheduling and convening the exam committee, which consists of the student’s PSY2079 Advanced Clinical Practicum Seminar instructor and one additional faculty member selected by the student.

Fourteen days prior to the date of the oral presentation, the student provides the PSY2079 instructor and the additional faculty member with:

  • Part 1 - A copy of a written case report (length 15-20 doubled spaced pages)
  • Part 2 - A psycho-diagnostic assessment battery (as an appendix)
  • Part 3 - A transcript of a video- or audio-tape of a full client session, according to the formats described below. Transcripts should include a parallel commentary section in which the student identifies strengths and weaknesses of the session as well as any insights into transference and countertransference patterns.

Cancellation of the CCE must occur no later than 14 days prior to the scheduled exam date. Failure to submit materials 14 days in advance of the scheduled exam will result in a No Pass. Students should take this into consideration before scheduling the exam.

Two faculty instructors form the CCE committee. The PSY2079 instructor serves on all committees, and students select another faculty member from the Clinical Training Committee. The committee evaluates the written reports and communicates results to the student after Part 3, the oral examination. The student receives a numerical rating for each of the 10 sections of the written case report and for each of the 3 parts of the exam (see below). The student may invite peers and colleagues to the oral presentation, and these individuals may participate in the question-and-answer section. The student receives an overall Pass, Provisional Pass, or No Pass. The minimum passing score is an average rating of at least 3.0 in each of Parts 1, 2 and 3, described above.

A Provisional Pass is granted if one of the parts is scored below a 3.0 average. A No Pass is granted if two or more parts are scored below a 3.0 average. For Provisional and No Pass results, suggestions for improvement are given, and the student has an opportunity to correct these specific areas using the same client on a second exam administration. Only the specific areas cited need to be addressed in the second exam administration, but students must submit a revised written case report addressing all feedback and concerns. Instructors may ask for additional writing or another transcript as part of the second exam administration.

Failure to pass the CCE the second time requires students to complete a remediation plan which may include taking Advanced Practicum Seminar (PSY2079C) during the summer and extending their current placement in order to accommodate the write up and presentation of a second clinical case with another client. The student’s CCE is forwarded to the student’s practicum supervisor. The 3rd attempt of the exam must be completed before the summer course is complete. Students must use the same procedures for each exam administration.

The CCE may be attempted a total of three times. Failure to pass the CCE upon the third examination administration will result in automatic dismissal from the PsyD program.

Dissertation Proposal

Students are expected to complete their dissertation proposal by the end of the third year. Students are expected to prepare their proposal through the Year 1 and Year 2 research class series. Students develop their dissertation proposal as part of the following Core Courses:

Item #

While enrolled in the PSY4081 class, students identify members and form their dissertation committees. Once the Dissertation Office has approved a committee, students work with that committee in completing their dissertation proposal. Following the approval of their dissertation proposal by their committees and the Dissertation Office, students may begin conducting their doctoral research project.

Advancement to Candidacy

 Advancement to Candidacy is a process in which students meet certain requirements that are an indication of their level of skill in academic writing, critical thinking, and independent conduct of doctoral-level research. To complete the Advancement to Candidacy process, students must do the following:

  • Have an approved and signed-off dissertation proposal
  • Successfully complete all Year 1, Year 2, and Year 3 courses

It is expected that candidacy will occur by the end of the third year. A failure to complete any step of the Advancement to Candidacy process may result in the student being put on probation or asked to exit the doctoral program. Students are expected to make continuous academic progress throughout their enrollment at the University, including their work while completing the dissertation.

Once doctoral students have entered Candidacy, they are required to make continuous progress in completing the dissertation. See above for the listing of required and optional dissertation courses.

If students anticipate a gap in completion of the dissertation, they may be required to withdraw from the program until it becomes possible to complete the dissertation. For further details on Withdrawal in Good Standing, see the Enrollment and Graduation section of the catalog.


PsyD students must complete one full year (1500 hours) of clinical internship. To apply for a pre-doctoral internship, a student must have completed a minimum of 72 units of Board of Psychology-eligible psychology coursework.

The goal of internship training is to promote students’ greater understanding of clinical practice and theory as well as increased professional, ethical, and social responsibility. During the internship, students develop advanced skills in assessment and intervention. To advance to internship (PSY6086, see below), students must successfully complete all required coursework for Year 1 through Year 3. Students must also hold and pass the dissertation proposal meeting before being approved to apply to external sites for Internship.

Although the recommended course of study encourages students to complete their dissertation in Year 4 and their internship at a full-time site in Year 5, some students choose to undertake a part-time internship during Years 4 and Year 5 while simultaneously completing their dissertation. Students should consult the Program Chair and Director of Clinical Training regarding these two options.

The internship must be at a site approved by the California Psychology Internship Council (CAPIC), Association of Psychology and Internship Centers (AAPIC), or the American Psychological Association (APA). Students must register for the internship course and submit appropriate forms, including the Internship Contract, before beginning work at the site.

Item #

Students may repeat the above courses if participating in a half-time internship. Although the courses do not yield units toward the degree, students must complete a minimum of 1500 hours, which must be documented.

Supervision Policy

Students may not represent themselves as Sofia University’s trainees in doing any clinical work that is not supervised through the University. To protect our students, the University, and the public, all students who are working with clients with or without pay, including working with other students, as a psychotherapist, counselor, or spiritual guide-in- training, must be in supervision and registered for the appropriate coursework as part of their clinical training. The supervisor must be approved by the Program Chair or Director of Clinical Training through the Internship Contract. This includes supervisors with training in any psychotherapeutic or related modality, such as hypnotherapy, shamanic counseling, or movement therapy. In the case of coaching, consulting, bodywork, and similar activities, some practitioners clearly work in a psychotherapeutic mode while others do not. Nonetheless, if a student includes elements of psychotherapy in work with clients, the student must be in supervision.

Failure to comply with this policy is a serious violation of the University’s ethical code and may result in suspension, dismissal, or other corrective action.


Laws in each state regulate the professional practice of Clinical Psychology. Requirements differ for the respective licenses, and the requirements are subject to change by action of each state’s legislature or by the licensing bodies. Students intending to practice outside California should consult the licensing body of that state before beginning study to ensure completion of all requirements.

The Psychology License administered by the California Board of Psychology (BOP) is the highest non-medical mental health practitioner license available in the State of California. A doctorate is required to apply for the Psychology License. The licensing exam is taken after graduating from the PsyD Program. The BOP requires course work in a variety of clinical areas in preparation for the psychologist examination. The PsyD program endeavors to offer training in all of the required areas of study. However, completion of any coursework or degree at Sofia University does not guarantee licensure in California or another state, or authorization to sit for a licensing exam, and it is the responsibility of the student to remain informed about educational and other requirements. The Psychology License in the State of California is granted at the sole discretion of the BOP. Students should contact the BOP with any specific questions about licensure:

Board of Psychology
2005 Evergreen Street, Suite 1400, Sacramento, CA 95815-3831
(916) 263-2699, (866) 503-3221

Total Credits