Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

General Questions

Master of Science in Psychology; Concentration in Clinical Psychology.

Two years.

8 students are admitted per year per year, out of a pool usually in the range of 100-150 applicants.

8 students per year.

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.

To produce well-trained, theoretically grounded, ethically competent psychotherapists. 

The primary theoretical orientation is psychodynamic, with emphases in family and community systems. Students will have opportunities to learn about other clinical orientations via coursework and through certain community placements.

The first-year practicum is provided through a community-based placement and through the Psychology Clinic. For those working outside of the Psychology Clinic in the second year, the second-year internship is obtained through applying to internship sites and going through the screening and interviewing process of the internship site.  

All first- and second-year seminars have approximately an 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.

Yes. There are opportunities for participation in research labs on a volunteer basis (this is considered a voluntary addition to the clinical training requirements of the program). If you are interested in a training program with a primary focus on research, please consider applying to one of the other master's degree concentration areas (e.g., Developmental, SPA, MBB). Our clinical faculty can provider research mentorship to students in these other concentrations. 

More information on the research mentors and their areas of research can be found via this link.

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. All second-year students work individually with a faculty member to complete this requirement.  

Questions about Admission to the Program

Applications are due on February 1. Details are in the department application materials.

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. Applications submitted after the due date will not be reviewed.

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.

The application is available online here.

Questions regarding the general application process (at the University level) can be directed to the Division of Graduate Studies:; (415) 338-2234;

Questions about admission to the clinical psychology program can be directed to the Psychology Graduate Services Liaison, Lauren Riley (

No, the GRE is not required for applying to the program.

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.

No, but specific courses related to clinical psychology are required (i.e., an upper-division course in Statistics, Abnormal Psychology, & Theories of Personality). Additional courses are recommended but not required (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.

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.


Related experience is any experience, paid or unpaid, that is related to the skills needed to be a psychotherapist; this is the most important factor in determining the relative strength of an application. Examples include, but are not limited to: volunteer or paid work experience on a suicide or crisis intervention line, with an AIDS organization, as a teacher or behavioral technician (especially with children with behavior or emotional problems), in a hospital or community mental health organization, or in group or residential treatment facility. 

Successful applicants typically have at least one year of clinically relevant 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.

For the clinical training program, you do not need any research experience. 

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.

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 a maximum of 6 typewritten, double-spaced pages.

After February 1, all applications are distributed to the program faculty. Multiple faculty members review the applications. A subset of the strongest applications is chosen and these applicants are offered an interview on campus. This interview will consist of a series of meetings with faculty members and current graduate students, and will include both individual and group formats. From this interviewing process, 8 applicants are selected and invited into the program. Generally, this process takes several weeks. Interviews are typically in early- to mid-March. Admission decisions typically occur by the end of March.

Questions about Obtaining a Professional License

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.

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.

After graduating from the program the BBS requires additional supervised hours of experience. Consult the BBS website for details: 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


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.

People may choose a master’s program in one of the other concentration areas (e.g., Developmental, SPA, MBB) if they are interested in pursuing a Ph.D. but want additional time to refine their area of research interest and further develop their research skills. As noted, our clinical faculty can provider research mentorship to students in these other concentrations. More information on the research mentors and their areas of research can be found via this link.

Our program is a terminal master's program that has the curricula that meets the requirements of the CA BBS for the MFT licensure. Students come to our program to become independent practicing mental health professionals. Given this, and the fact that licensed graduates can practice independently with an MFT licensure, very few go on to additionally get a doctorate such as a Psy.D. or Ph.D. at a professional school (given that in most cases this would be duplicating graduate work).


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.