Frequently Asked Questions



General questions:

Q: To what graduate degree does this program lead?
A: Master of Science in Psychology; Concentration in Clinical Psychology.


Q: How long does it take to complete this program?
A: Two years.


Q: How many students are admitted per year, out of how many applicants?
A: 8 students are admitted per year per year, out of a pool usually in the range of 120-180 applicants.


Q: How many students are graduated per year?
A: 8 students per year.


Q: Is this a full-time program? Can this program be done part-time?
A: This is a full-time program. Students enter the program and go through it in two, consecutive years. You cannot participate in the program part-time. Some students work part-time while in the program. However, work hours need to be flexible and arranged around program requirements.


Q: What is the goal/emphasis of this program?
A: To produce well trained theoretically grounded, ethically competent psychotherapists.


Q: What is the orientation of this program?
A: The theoretical orientation is psychodynamic, with emphases in family and community systems.


Q: How are internships obtained?
A: The first-year practicum is provided through the program in the Psychology Clinic and in an outside placement. The second-year internship is obtained through applying to internship sites and going through the screening and interviewing process of the internship site.


Q: What is the student/faculty ratio, and how much supervision do the students receive?
A: All first- and second-year seminars have approximately a 8:1 student to faculty ratio. All first-year students receive 1 hour of individual supervision weekly from a faculty member, as well as additional weekly supervision from adjunct faculty associated with the students' practicum. Second-year students receive at least 1 hour of weekly supervision from professionals associated with their internship. Second-year students receive individual advising with a faculty member while working on their master's project.


Q: Are there opportunities for doing research?
A: The program's primary emphasis is on clinical training. Students who wish to participate in research can do so, but research participation is done outside of and in addition to the full-time requirements of the program.


Q: What is the final completion requirement?
A: The Master's Written Comprehensive Examination. This is satisfied by successfully completing a master's paper, which is a demonstration of theoretical and clinical integration around a specified topic. Second-year students work individually with a faculty member to complete this requirement.


Questions about admission to the program:

Q: When is the application due?
A: Applications are due on February 1. Details are in the department application materials.


Q: Are late applications accepted?
A: No. Applicants should make every effort to see that their application is in the department and complete by the due date. After the due date, applications are sent out to the clinical faculty for review. Late applications are at a severe disadvantage.


Q: What if my application is incomplete on the due date?
A: The applicant is strongly encouraged to make sure their application is complete by the due date. Common slip-ups are transcripts and letters of recommendation not arriving by the application due date. Incomplete or late applications are at a severe disadvantage because faculty review happens quickly after the due date.


Q: How do I obtain an application?
A: Write or call the Graduate Secretary, Department of Psychology, San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132.     Phone: 415-338-2167; Email: psych@sfsu.edu; Online Application


Q: Do I need to take the GRE? What parts of the GRE?
A: All applicants, without exception, must take the GRE. Only the general portion of the GRE is required.


Q: Do my GRE scores need to be in my application on the date the application is due?
A: Yes. Applications without GRE scores are considered incomplete. Applicants must time their taking of the GRE so that the scores are in their application materials by February 1 or the specified due date.


Q: How much do the GRE scores count in admissions? Are there cut-off scores?
A: GRE scores are evaluated as part of the applicant's academic record but they are not the primary focus of the application review. Faculty members evaluate different aspects of applications roughly in this order of importance: clinical practice experience, statement of purpose (i.e., autobiographical statement), letters of recommendation, coursework, GPA, & GRE scores. The program does not have an absolute cut-off score for the GRE.


Q: Is there a minimum grade point average for admission?
A: The University requires a 3.0 grade point average for admission. Successful applicants to the program generally have a higher grade point average, but there is no specific minimum grade point average beyond this. We do read all applications to the program and in rare cases we will petition the university to override this GPA requirement when the applicant is outstanding in all other areas.


Q: Is a bachelor's degree in psychology a requirement for admission?
A: No, but it often helps as specific courses related to clinical psychology are either required (An upper-division course in Statistics, Abnormal Psychology & Theories of Personality) or recommended (e.g., Introduction to Clinical Psychology, Community Psychology, Cross-Cultural Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Psychology of the Family, Behavior Problems in Children, etc.). The program requires the applicant to have a bachelor's degree, but it does not have to be in psychology.


Q: Who should I ask to write letters of recommendation for my applications?
A: Letters of recommendation should be from professionals who are familiar with your recent academic and clinical practice experience. It is best that your letters of recommendation be spread across your experience, for example, one letter from a professor who knows your course work, one letter from a professional who supervised your work at a community agency, and one letter from a professor with whom you did research or teaching assistance.


Q: Can I submit more than three letters of recommendation with my application?
A: Yes.


Q: How much does ‘related clinical practice experience’ count for admission and what are some examples of these experiences?
A: Related experience is any experience, paid or unpaid, that is related to the skills needed to be a psychotherapist is the most important factor in determining the relative strength of an application. Examples include volunteer experience on a suicide or crisis intervention line, with an AIDS organization, work as a teacher (especially with children with behavior or emotional problems), in a hospital or community mental health organization, or in group or residential treatment facility (to name a few).


Q: How much clinical experience do I need?
A: The program does not have a minimum requirement. However, most applicants have at least one year or more of clinical experience. While the applicant should list all the forms of related professional experience in his or her curriculum vitae (academic resume), experience that is directly related to the practice of clinical psychology should be clearly emphasized in the application.


Q: Why does this program require an autobiographical statement for admission?
A: The program emphasizes training in becoming a competent psychotherapist. An autobiographical statement offers the applicant the opportunity to demonstrate that they have insight and perspective on their own development as a person - qualities that the program feels are essential in psychotherapy training.


Q: What should I emphasize in the autobiographical statement? How long should it be?
A: The applicant should emphasize those aspects of his or her development that were particularly significant in forming their character and personality and in creating their motivation to become a psychotherapist. The autobiographical statement should be three to five typewritten, double-spaced pages.


Q: How are the applications evaluated? Does this program require interviews?
A: After February 1 or the specified due date all applications are distributed to the program faculty. Each faculty member works with a team of current clinical psychology graduate students. Applications are divided between the faculty/student teams. After faculty/student teams evaluate the applications, a subset of the strongest applications is chosen and these applicants are offered interview. Individual interviews are then scheduled with these applicants. From the interviewing process, 12 applicants are selected and invited into the program. Generally, this process takes several weeks.


Questions about obtaining a professional license:

Q: What professional license am I eligible for after completing this program?
A: The Marriage Family Therapist license (LMFT) license (Previously named Marriage, Family, Child Counselor (MFCC) license). According to BBS regulations, once you have completed your master's degree at SF State you must complete post-master's hours to sit for your MFT license.


Q: What requirements for the LMFT are not offered by this program? How can I obtain these requirements?
A: The program provides all of the pre-master's academic components and clinical hours required for the LMFT with two exceptions: The Child Abuse Reporting and Human Sexuality requirements. These are readily obtained as weekend education seminars, which are offered by a variety of institutions.


Q: What are the post-master's requirements for the LMFT? How long does it take to complete these requirements?
A: After graduating from the program the BBS requires additional supervised hours of experience. Consult the BBS website for details: www.bbs.ca.gov In general it takes 1 full-time year or 2-3 part-time years post-master's to obtain these hours. LMFT regulations require that the entire pre- and post-master's gathering of experience not exceed 6 years.


Questions about doctoral degrees and programs:

Q: Does San Francisco State University have a doctoral program in clinical psychology?
A: No.


Q: Why do people choose to enter a master's program instead of a doctoral program?
A: Generally, people choose to complete a master's degree when they want to obtain their LMFT license and make a career as a practicing psychotherapist. People who enter doctoral programs directly or go into a doctoral program after obtaining their master's degree often want to include research and teaching in their career.


Q: Do graduates of this master's program continue on to doctoral programs?
A: Most students go into some form of clinical practice after obtaining their MFT license. Roughly a quarter or less of the graduates of the SF State Clinical Psychology Master's Program continued on to doctoral programs, either directly after obtaining the master's degree or after a year or more. Usually this is done to gain experience in research or teaching. However, this master's program does not prepare students for doctoral training in research oriented programs.


Q: Do doctoral programs give credit for work done in the master's program?
A: This varies a great deal by the doctoral institution. Some institutions credit up to a year of coursework while others do not allow any credit for master's coursework.