Information for Prospective Students

Thank you for your interest in our graduate program in clinical psychology. We seek to train top clinicians in the field to serve a clients from a variety of cultural backgrounds with varied clinical problems and value community based psychotherapy from an evidence based practice approach [pdf].

Our application cycle begins in October with a deadline for submitting all materials on February 1 using CalStateApply (visit the Application page for instructions on how to apply).

Please review the following sections to learn about the requirements for admission:
Application process
Writing in English 
TOEFL requirements
2-year full time program
Tuition and fees
MFT & LPCC licensing
Admission requirements
Coursework requirements
Clinical Experience requirement
Felony conviction statement

Overview of the Application Process

As described on the Application page, although you can submit your materials beginning in October, we will not review applications until after the deadline in February. All applications are reviewed at one time (after Feb. 1) to build a cohort to enter in the Fall. There are no early admissions, and we only offer admission for Fall (i.e., there are no applications for beginning in Spring). Applications are not re-reviewed after decisions have been made by the committee. Due to the large number of applications we receive, we cannot provide feedback on individual applications.

We interview students who continue in the application process in March and offer admission to applicants in mid April. We typically have 12 students in each cohort. 

You can reference our University's domestic application steps to admission.

For international students we have international application steps to admission.

Full Time Study over 2 years

We only accept students into full-time study. While this brings less flexibility, particularly for those with full time employment, the current MFT and LPCC track takes two years to complete all of the degree requirements to become a registered intern. This full-time track requires students to enroll in 5 courses per semester, and these courses are taken in a set sequence. There are 60 total semester units taken.

The program lasts for two years, though some students graduate in the summer of their second year in order to complete pre-degree licensing requirements (particularly for the LPCC). 

Tuition and Fees

We are currently one of the most affordable institutions from which to obtain a graduate degree with respect to tuition. Current costs for tuition can be found on the main University website. Here, you will find information on total costs per semester. See the column called "Post-Bac/ Grad" for full time study. There are always four semesters (60 total semester units) required for the program. You will also find information on the additional per-unit fees for non-California residents and a link to learn about residency regulations.

The university now publishes estimates for the costs of the degree with housing, books, transportation, and so on. Given the cost of housing in the San Jose area, you are encouraged to consider these costs in your decision to apply to SJSU. 

MFT & LPCC Licensing

SJSU's MS in Clinical program offers all of the coursework for both pre-degree licensing requirements for all of the Marriage Family Therapy (MFT) requirements and those for the Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) with one exception required for the LPCC, Career Counseling. This course can be taken before or after graduation at SJSU, and will complete all course requirements for the LPCC. SJSU currently offers this course through the graduate Educational Counseling (EDCO) program, and students pursing the LPCC take this course in their second year.

See the MFT and LPC Licensing page for more information about these requirements.

It is important to note that, in addition to the educational requirements for licensure, one must also have completed 3,000 hours of acceptable supervised experience and pass the examinations administered by BBS. The entire process from entry into graduate school to licensure takes a minimum of three and one-half years if one proceeds with graduate training and internship on a full-time basis.

Minimum admissions requirements

A. Meet all University graduate admissions requirements.

B. Have a baccalaureate degree (BA or BS) in Psychology OR any baccalaureate degree
(BA or BS) and a minimum of 30 semester units (45 quarter units) in Psychology.

C. Have taken the REQUIRED six courses in psychology from the list provided below.
These are to be included in the minimum 30 semester units (10 semester courses).

D. Have a minimum GPA of 3.0 in all Psychology coursework AND a minimum of 3.0 the last two years of academic work attempted (60 semester or 90 quarter units). International students and those applicants from universities that do not use the 4.0 GPA grading system MUST have their transcripts translated to this system by a profession credential evaluation company. You can use the Psychology GPA calculator and Last 60/90 units GPA calculator (also available on the Application page) to determine if you meet the minimum requirements.

E. Provide evidence of a minimum of 100 hours of paid or volunteer applied clinical experience working with persons in a counseling/helping capacity (e.g., volunteer on a suicide prevention and crisis telephone hotline, provide interventions based in applied behavior analysis ("ABA therapy") to autistic youth, work as a clinical staff/technician in a residential or inpatient treatment program).

F. Three letters of recommendation are required. One reference MUST be from a clinical supervisor (see above), and one must come from a professor. Your additional reference may come from former instructors or from supervisors of previous work in volunteer placements in the clinical field (see the Application page for more specific requirements).

Writing in English

Writing in English is an essential aspect of graduate training in clinical psychology. These skills are used daily by professionals in the field. It is essential that applicants to the program and graduate students possess adequate proficiency in graduate level writing. For those students not yet comfortable with their skills in written (or spoken) English, we strongly encourage you to take additional coursework in writing prior to beginning your training here in the MS Clinical Program. The writing demands on graduate students are intense, and we want all of our students to have a successful experience in the program.

Students are required to pass a first semester course that satisfies the Graduate Writing Assessment Requirement set by the University. Proficient writing in English is required by both the University and the Clinical program. 

TOEFL Requirements

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) test is often required for international students or those who earned their degree from a university outside of the United States. The current requirements for the TOEFL are 100 (Internet Based), 570 (Paper Based), 240 (Computer Based). Please see the University TOEFL site for specific information on requirements. We do NOT require GRE scores for the application. 

Undergraduate Coursework Requirements

In addition to having a basic undergraduate background (at least 30 semester units or 45 quarter units) in the core areas of Psychology (i.e., research methods, statistics, introduction to psychological measurement, learning, etc.), the applicant is also expected to demonstrate knowledge in areas such as counseling, personality theory, abnormal psychology, and theories of counseling. It is required that the courses listed below or their equivalents will have been completed prior to entrance into the MS Program. The goal is to be sure that your courses meet the content requirements of these prerequisites. We want to be sure you come in to a masters program with a strong background in these courses.

It is required that the applicant has completed the following courses or their equivalents as suitable background for admission to graduate-level work. This coursework MUST include the following six classes:

1. General or Introduction to Psychology (SJSU code PSYC 1)
2. Elementary Statistics (SJSU code STAT 95)
3. Introduction to Research Methods (SJSU code PSYC 18, PSYC 118, or PSYC 120)
4. Psychobiology or equivalent (SJSU code PSYC 30)

Each of the above four (1-4) may be taken at the community college or university level and may be lower division courses

5. Upper division course in Psychopathology/Abnormal Psychology: either Adult Psychopathology (SJSU code PSYC 110) OR Child Psychopathology (SJSU code 142) 
6. Upper division course in Clinical Psychology or Theory and Methods of Counseling
(see below for equivalence issues; SJSU code PSYC 160 or 165)

Each of the above two (5-6) MUST be taken at the University level and MUST be upper division courses.

Generally, successful applicants will have completed all, or all but one, of the prerequisite courses at the time of application. Applicants must complete all prerequisite courses prior to beginning the program.

Students who have already graduated and are seeking to take undergraduate courses that are prerequisites for admission to a graduate program may fulfill those requirements by taking courses at any community college or university. Typically, lower division courses may be taken at the community college level, and upper division course work is completed at a university.

Course Equivalents for the Required Courses

The Psychopathology (abnormal psychology) courses need to cover the nature, causes, assessment, and treatment of a range of common emotional and behavioral problems in adults and/or children, including mood and anxiety disorders. Please note that courses with a primary focus on child development or developmental/learning disabilities will not meet this requirement.

With Clinical Psychology or Theory and Methods of Counseling, a variety of courses cover this material, but the course needs to have specialized in this topic. For example, at some universities an Introduction to Clinical Psychology course will cover theories and methods of counseling. However, simply taking Abnormal Psychology or Personality Theory courses will not meet this requirement. This course equivalent needs to be an overview of clinical psychology to expose students to the concepts of theory, assessment, ethics, and issues related to service delivery.

If a course you have taken meets this description, it likely count towards fulfilling the prerequisite. Be sure to check your college catalog. You may show a copy of your course syllabus and the course catalog description to the program director (via email) to determine that one or both meet the requirement.

Applied Clinical Experience Requirement

Applicants are required to have 100 hours of applied clinical experience. This requirement was temporarily made more flexible in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, but applicants are now REQUIRED to have this experience again.

In order to help ensure your interest in serving clinical populations and evaluate your readiness for our graduate program, we require you to have applied clinical experience in order to apply for admission (see below for detailed information).

In fact, one of your letters of recommendation must be from a supervisor who can write about your clinical experience. See Applications for more information on letters of recommendation.

You MUST have at least 100 hours of volunteer or paid applied clinical experience before you apply to the program. This number of hours will allow you to be trained (training hours count toward that 100) and to engage in some amount of supervised intervention so that your supervisor can write a letter evaluating your skills.

Your volunteer or paid clinical experience must be with clinical populations in a mental health setting. This does not mean you are providing psychotherapy; it does mean that you are working around populations with psychological distress or psychopathology.

Examples of these types of positions include working for a crisis call center, grief counseling center, domestic violence shelter, rape crisis center, working with children or adolescents facing mental health challenges and/or developmental disabilities (e.g., autism), and others. You must be doing this work after having been trained AND while a mental health professional supervises you. Note that we require at least one letter of recommendation from a clinical supervisor in addition to the two other required letters.

In the Santa Clara Valley area, some examples of agencies that provide on-going supervision include the YWCA Rape Crisis center, Bill Wilson Center (their Center for Living with Dying and their Crisis Call Services), KARA (their grief support services) and Suicide and Crisis Call Services (SACS, through the County). Other opportunities include working with children diagnosed on the autism spectrum by being trained as behavioral specialists doing ABA interventions.

Teaching, tutoring, mentoring, office assistance, respite care, and babysitting do not count for this prerequisite experience, though we all agree these are good things to do and will provide you with valuable experience. The applied clinical experience must be delivering some type of mental health service that you have been trained to do and are supervised while conducting. 

Please review our Applied Clinical Experience Guide [pdf] for a more thorough explanation of this requirement and suggestions for ways to identify opportunities available to you

Felony Convictions

It is important that you are fully aware that there are possible consequences of having a prior criminal conviction(s) as it relates to your ability to successfully complete the MS Clinical Psychology degree program, clinical internships, and later licensure as a psychotherapist. 

In order to obtain licensure in California as a psychotherapist as well as obtaining some pre- and/or post-degree internships, you will be required to complete a Department of Justice (DOJ) fingerprinting process/criminal history background check. 

The nature of the criminal conviction could impact your ability to obtain an internship and complete your required pre-degree clinical hours. You cannot complete the MS Clinical Psychology program if you do not complete your pre-degree required clinical hours.
Internship sites may refuse to accept you as a trainee at their site or may interrupt and terminate your internship if you have been or are subsequently convicted of a crime substantially related to the qualifications, functions, and duties of an or intern working at one these sites. Please note that this can include driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

According to the Department of Justice California Penal Code 667.5 or 1192.7 and pursuant to Education Code Section 45125.1 or 33192, you could be precluded from working on school grounds, which may impact your ability to work at many internship placements.
Finally, there are potential implications for post-degree intern registration or licensure in California by the Board of Behavioral Science as a Marriage and Family Therapist if you have a criminal conviction (see Section 4982 of the Business and Professions Code). While you may be able to earn your graduate degree in the program and compete your required pre-degree clinical hours, this does not guarantee that the BBS will grant you an intern registration or license in California.

As part of your application, you will be asked to sign a statement about your understanding of this information and whether you have received a felony conviction in the past. Please see this FAQ page [pdf] and visit the BBS website for more complete information.