Graduate Programs Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

We offer two graduate programs in Psychology, a M.A. and a M.S., each with three unique concentrations. The M.A. programs include concentrations in Developmental Psychology, Social Psychology, and Mind, Brain, and Behavior. The M.S. programs include Clinical Psychology, School Psychology and Industrial/Organizational Psychology.

We also offer a School Psychology Pupil Personnel Services Credential Program. The credential is offered jointly through our School Psychology program and the College of Extended Learning.

The PPS Credential Program is the third-year internship program for students who have completed their two-year Graduate Program in School Psychology. Students from outside our own program may also apply to the PPS Credential Program, having already obtained a Graduate Degree in School Psychology or other related field but outside applicants require external evaluation before they can apply. Please email Tina Perdices ( for external evaluation. There is a set list of requirements you must have completed to be admitted, which is listed on the PPS Credential Program Application and their Program page.

Each concentration accepts on average 8 - 12 applicants per year.

Between thirty and two-hundred, depending on the concentration. 

None of the programs are currently accepting Spring admissions.

Please view Financial Aid's website for current tuition and registration fee information.

It really depends on which program you're applying to and how flexible your job hours are. All of our graduate programs are FULL TIME PROGRAMS. Some students work part-time during the academic year. Certain programs, like Clinical, I/O, and School Psychology, require you to do practicums or internships which require time commitments that may preclude holding even a part-time job (though the I/O internships and third year MS School credential internship are typically paid placements).

There are Graduate Teaching Associate positions in the department available to students, but they require a competitive application process and the number of positions are limited. Students in I/O do a typically-paid internship placement as part of their course work, and the PPS Credential (the third year of the School Psychology program) is primarily a paid internship as well. Some of the research labs offer research assistant positions that have paid stipends, but this varies by lab. For more information, contact the faculty member who runs the lab.

Our programs are unique, in that there is ample and immediate opportunity to do hands-on research that graduate students design and execute on their own, and that they often publish while still in graduate school (which makes you much more competitive when applying for PhD programs). The 3 MA programs (Developmental, MBB, and Social) are the most research-intensive programs, and usually require you to start doing research right away in one of our many labs.  However, there are also research experiences available through the MS programs (Clinical and Industrial/Organizational).

To find out more about our research labs, please visit the Research Laboratories page. There, you can find links to each faculty member’s lab and what their particular research focus is.

It ranges between nine and eighteen, depending on the program. Total semester units required for each program are listed below:

  • Clinical - at least 60 total semester units (two-year program)
  • Developmental - at least 30 total semester units (two-year program)
  • Industrial/Organizational - at least 36 total semester units (two-year program)
  • MBB - at least 35 total semester units (two-year program)
  • School - at least 55 total semester units (two-year program)
  • PPS Credential - at least 24 total semester units (one-year program)
  • Social - at least 33 total semester units (two-year program)

Application review usually occurs during the last week of February through the second week of March. At the very earliest, applicants will be notified between late February and early March, but this varies by concentration. The admissions process is done in waves, and so you may not receive your notice right away. You may even receive a notice as late as May or June.

Contact the Graduate Services Liaison, who can advise you generally on what each program focuses on. Each program also has a specific Program Coordinator who can answer more specific and detailed questions. Their contact information is listed below.

For admission, application, required materials, or prerequisite questions, you should contact the Graduate Services Liaison, Lauren Riley ( For specific program information, you should contact the appropriate Graduate Concentration Coordinator. Their information is listed below.

You can also obtain the Course Schedule and University Bulletin online.

No. For financial aid information, contact the Office of Financial Aid. For housing information, contact Housing & Residential Services (contact information provided below).

Yes, but only with the approval of the concentration coordinator and no more than 6 units.  Some concentrations do not accept any transfer units.

This is up to the individual professor's discretion. You'll have to contact the professor to make sure. We don't usually allow it.

The Application Process

For fall admission, the application deadline is usually February 1st.

The California State University system has transitioned to a streamlined application system, Cal State Apply, where you can submit both your University and Department required materials.

The departmental forms are on our Graduate Programs Application page. They are also linked in the Documents tab of the Program Materials section of Cal State Apply.

The Graduate Division no longer offers or accepts paper applications. Please apply online at Cal State Apply.

There is a $55 fee for submitting the Cal State Apply Application. There is a $150 fee for new applicants submitting the PPS Credential Program Application. For re-applicants it is $100.

The department encourages you to have all materials in before than the February 1st deadline. The application needs to be COMPLETE and submitted by February 1st in order for a candidate to be considered. Things like your official GRE scores, and letters of recommendation can come in after the February 1st deadline, but the sooner all your materials are turned in, the sooner your application can be considered.

The Division of Gradaute Studies no longer accepts paper applications. However, once accepted, you can send your paper official transcripts to Grad Studies. Their contact information is listed below.

Yes. In that case you will need to file a petition in order to enroll in the University. Contact Graduate Division for more details. Their information is listed below. 

Yes, generally with completion deadline dates.

You should contact the Graduate Services Liaison, by phone or e-mail before the February 1st deadline, preferably with ample time to replace something that may/may not be missing. Contact information is listed below.

Since the Psychology Department does not send written notification that your application is complete or incomplete, most likely the written notification came from the Division of Graduate Studies regarding your Cal State Apply Application. If you have questions, they should be contacted.

You do not need to fill out a special Application, but you may need to send the Division of Graduate Studies additional documents not included in the Cal State Apply application. Please contact the Division of Graduate Studies or the Office of International Programs (contact information is listed below).

Your letters of recommendation can be sent electronically through Cal State Apply directly from your letter writers. If you want to drop off physical letters of recommendation, or if your letter writers would like to mail them directly to the department, the letters need to have the evaluator's signature over the closed seal of the envelope. You can have your official transcripts sent to Graduate Division either electronically or through the mail, and you will upload your unofficial transcripts via Cal State Apply for your department application.

No. All applicants are required to waive the right to see letters of recommendation in order to apply

No. Instead, you can put "See uploaded Personal Statement" in the text box. The university does not require a separate Statement of Purpose. It only requires a Department Personal Statement, which is uploaded in the Program Materials section of Cal State Apply.

GRE Scores/Prerequisites

The following programs are requiring the GRE requirement for those applying to join the Fall 2024 cohort:

  • Mind, Brain, and Behavior

The following programs have waived the GRE requirement for those applying to join the Fall 2024 cohort:

  • Industrial/Organizational
  • School Psychology
  • Social, Personality, and Affective Science

The following programs have permanently removed the GRE from their application requirements:

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology

Up to five years old from the semester of enrollment noted on your application.

No. It cannot be waived.

If the PDF of your unofficial scores report is locked/encrypted or if Cal State Apply keeps telling you the file size is too small, then take a screenshot of the first page of your unofficial score report and upload your report as a JPEG image file. Another solution is to print out your score report and then scan and upload the printed copies as PDF document or JPEG image file. If you continue to run into issues, contact Cal State Apply at or email the Graduate Services Coordinator (whose information you can find at the bottom of this page) for more assistance.

Some programs have prerequisites that are required for admission. The ideal applicant will have all of the program-specific coursework listed below completed. All courses must be upper division (from a four-year university) and approved by the concentration during the application process. The only exception is the 15 units of Psychology credit for I/O Psychology, which can be lower or upper division and come from a community/junior college as well as a four-year. Prerequisites for each program are listed on their individual websites, and if any specific course prefixes are given, they are for courses offered at SF State.

This depends. If you only have one or two prerequisites remaining, then you should be fine to apply to any of our programs and then take the remaining courses over the spring/summer before you would start the program. However, the grades for prerequisites do factor into the admissions process, meaning that your application is more competitive if you’ve completed them. And depending on the program, certain pre-reqs are necessary for admissions (For example, research methods for MBB; Social Psych for Social; Lifespan Development for Developmental, etc). Please check with the Concentration Coordinator for the program you’re applying for to be sure.

Yes, you can. However, you must make sure the course(s) you intend to take are equivalent with our own. You can do this by sending your Concentration Coordinator the official course descriptions from the University's handbook. At that point we can verify whether or not the course(s) is equivalent with our own. Also, please be sure the institution is a four-year institution. These prerequisites must be upper-division or in other words junior-level or higher. It is impossible to take upper-division courses at the junior college/community college level.

There are two ways: one is to go through the College of Extended Learning, a.k.a. Open University. The benefit of this is there is no University application process required. The bad news is, it is around $1000 per course. The second way is to apply to the University for a Second Bachelor's degree in Psychology. You don't actually have to go through and complete the degree and this would allow you to take any undergraduate courses in psychology that you see fit.

Both the Clinical Psychology program and the School Psychology program have very specific applicable field experience requirements. The Clinical Psychology program requires at least one year of experience in a clinical setting, and the School Psychology program requires at least one year of experience in an institution such as a school or other service-oriented setting involving children.

MBB also would like you to have some scientific research background, but this does not necessarily need to be in Psychology. For I/O, it’s a big plus to have some work experience, particularly in HR or organizational consulting, but it’s not necessary to have in order to be admitted.

Other Questions

Yes. There is an MS in Counseling that is offered through the Counseling Department. They can be contacted at (415) 338-2005. Their program also requires the GRE, and includes an application fee and a mandatory orientation that occurs monthly between September and December. They allow you to take courses part-time, unlike the Clinical Psychology program.

You can apply to any one of the graduate programs to obtain experience and advanced training in research that will make you more competitive for a PhD program in Clinical Psychology, particularly if you complete your graduate thesis with a faculty member whose research is relevant to clinical issues. If you would like to gain intensive clinical training in addition to obtaining research experience, the MS in Clinical Psychology offers a select number of opportunities each year. More information on the MS in Clinical Psychology is available here

Important Contact Information

Department of Psychology

San Francisco State University

1600 Holloway Avenue, EP 301

San Francisco CA 94132

Tel. (415) 338-2167

Fax (415) 338-2398

Division of Graduate Studies

1600 Holloway Avenue
Administration Building, Room 250
San Francisco, CA 94132

Tel. (415) 338-2234


Office of International Programs

Tel. (415) 338-1293


Office of Financial Aid

Tel. (415) 338-7000


Bookstore (Catalog/Bulletin Ordering)

Tel. (415) 338-2665

Housing & Residential Services

Tel. (415) 338-1067


For Faculty Office hours, please see current department schedule

Lauren Riley, Graduate Services Liaison


Dr. David Gard, Clinical Psychology Coordinator

Tel. (415) 338-1440


Office: EP 235

Dr. Jeffrey Cookston, Developmental Psychology Coordinator

Tel. (415) 405-2132

Office: EP 501

Dr. Christian Wright, Industrial/Organizational Psychology Coordinator

Tel. (415) 338-7555


Office: EP 301A

Dr. Mark Geisler, Mind Brain and Behavior Coordinator

Tel. (415) 338-6026


Office: EP 325

Dr. Diane Harris, School Psychology Coordinator

Tel. (415) 338-7064


Office: EP 234

Dr. Charlotte Tate, Social Psychology Coordinator

Tel. (415) 338-2267


Office: EP 218