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Pacifica Graduate Institute MA/PhD in Clinical Psychology
Pacifica Graduate Institute

MA/PhD in Clinical Psychology

3 Years


Full time

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Blended, On-Campus


PhD in Clinical Psychology

Classes begin late September

The Ph.D. program celebrates its 30-year long tradition of offering clinical psychology doctoral education in-depth psychological traditions, which emphasizes radical theorizing, in-depth relational clinical education, and engagement in issues of social justice and care. The program prepares psychologists through the integration of diverse depth psychological traditions, human sciences scholarship, and community praxis.

Learn About the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. Program

About the Clinical Ph.D. Program

Students are prepared for professional practice as scholar-practitioners whose clinical training is enhanced by scholarship and enriched by the analytical and interpretative skills developed through research. Our curriculum is designed to lead to licensure as a clinical psychologist (based on educational requirements for psychologists in the state of California).

Human Science Model

Our commitment to a human science model of psychology – a viable alternative to conventional psychology’s natural science approach – emphasizes meaning as the fundamental component of psychological life. This focus on human meaning carried out in both qualitative research and clinical practice, yields an in-depth understanding of how things matter for people within their life-situations.

Acknowledging the cultural and historical character of meaning, human science psychology is deliberately affiliated with the humanities and cultivates multiple ways of knowing, such as imagination and meditative awareness, beyond the instrumental reason employed by the natural sciences. Accordingly, our curriculum is infused with the study of mythology, history, religion, philosophy, and the arts.

“I want psychology to have its base in the imagination of people rather than in their statistics and their diagnostics.”
James Hillman

Depth Psychological Perspective

Within a human science model, the Ph.D. program focuses on the traditions of depth psychology. Found in multiple cultural contexts and perspectives, including the groundbreaking explorations of Freud and Jung, depth psychologies are distinguished by their recognition of a latent or unconscious dimension of psychological life. This unconscious element, the depth dimension inherent in human experience, is understood as essential to the transformative character of the therapeutic relationship.

Our program is inspired by psychoanalytic, Jungian, and existential-phenomenological perspectives in their historical and contemporary formulations, including archetypal, relational, and hermeneutic psychologies. Significant attention is given to dialogue with related disciplines such as multiculturalism, postmodernism, feminist theory, gender studies, indigenous psychologies, complexity theory, postcolonialism, ecological studies, and Eastern thought.

“We need images and myths through which we can see who we are and what we might become.”
Christine Downing

Clinical Training

By emphasizing the importance of scholarship in the education of psychologists, the program continues depth psychology’s longstanding approach to clinical practice. The clinical orientation that infuses our curriculum, facilitates the engagement of theory and research in addressing individual, community, and global concerns.

Students receive comprehensive clinical training that is informed by Jungian, psychoanalytic, and phenomenological psychologies as well as contemporary depth approaches to psychotherapy.

Clinical instruction emphasizes the importance of the therapeutic relationship, particularly transference and counter-transference dynamics, the significance of dreams, attachment and trauma in early development as well as developmental stages across the lifespan, individuation as a process of psychic transformation, and the cultural context of healing. A critical dialogue is maintained with contemporary developments in the field, such as neuroscience.

“Psychological life in its texture, structure, and function is a metaphorical reality.”
Robert D. Romanyshyn


Our strong research curriculum is guided by depth psychology’s understanding of psychological phenomena. Hence, the courses focus on qualitative research methods that affirm the interpretative dimension of description as well as the unconscious dynamic between researcher and what is being researched. Student research encompasses the pursuit of knowledge, personal transformation, and the practice of social engagement.


Our goal is to prepare students to become constructively engaged in diverse clinical, academic, and community settings as researchers and clinicians who are grounded in deeply humane, theoretically sophisticated, and socially conscious approaches to clinical psychology.

The engaging beauty of the campus, an intense residency format & class cohort configuration all lend themselves to an experience of scholarly and personal development keenly attuned to Pacifica’s forty year mission of “caring for the soul in and of the world.”

Program FAQs

What is distinct about doctoral education in clinical psychology at Pacifica?

Pacifica Graduate Institute has a 40-year long history of providing training in depth psychology within a human science model, and remains one of the few institutions in the world to offer degrees that bring together education in clinical psychology together with rich traditions of depth psychology, which draw from such fields as humanities, mythology, philosophy, cultural studies, and human sciences. In addition, Pacifica’s education emphasizes the dynamic contemporary visions of understanding human experience, which include somatic, spiritually-grounded, indigenous, multicultural, neuropsychological, and community-based approaches.

Does receiving a Ph.D. from Pacifica’s clinical psychology program meet the qualification needed to be licensed as a Clinical Psychologist in California?

Our curriculum is designed to lead to licensure as a clinical psychologist (based on educational requirements for psychologists in the State of California). In order to receive the California Clinical Psychologist’s license, students must also have met the post-doctoral clinical services hours and examination requirements of the State. As part of receiving the degree from our program, students are required to complete pre-doctoral internship hours that meet requirements of the California Board of Psychology. The eligibility requirements for the formal internship programs in California are set by varied organizations, including the California Psychology Internship Council (CAPIC) which governs many clinical sites that embrace depth psychological treatment modalities. Pacifica is a graduate school member of CAPIC, and students will be guided through the formal process of application to all such sites. Following receipt of their degree from Pacifica, students must follow state’s requirements, which include post-doctoral supervised clinical hours and passing scores on the national and state exams (EPPP and CPLEE). Applicants and students are responsible for following and adhering to the licensure requirements of other states or countries, in which they wish to reside and practice, which may differ from California requirements.

Requirements for Graduation

Degree Requirements for Graduation

  1. Students must complete a total of 105 quarter units to fulfill the unit requirement for graduation.
  2. A minimum grade of “B” is required in each completed course. A cumulative grade point average of 3.0 must be maintained.
  3. Students must meet attendance requirements as articulated in the Student Handbook.
  4. Students must submit and defend an original dissertation accepted by the faculty.
  5. Students are required to complete a minimum 1,000 hours of practicum, 1,500 hours of internship, and 60 hours of personal therapy.
  6. Students must successfully pass the Comprehensive Portfolio at the end of the third year.

Clinical Training

A minimum of 1,000 hours of practicum and 1,500 hours of internship are required. Students must obtain Internship through a competitive application process. It is highly recommended that these internships be completed in a multidisciplinary setting offering a variety of training experiences. Pre-doctoral internship in clinical psychology is a supervised summative training experience, which integrates academic learning and previously applied clinical training at the practicum level. Upon completion of the academic program, comprehensive exam, dissertation, and 1,000 hours of practicum training, students in good standing are required to complete 1,500 hours of pre-doctoral internship in clinical psychology. Students from California may participate in the California matching system for internships through the California Psychology Internship Council (CAPIC). Candidates for the internship must demonstrate readiness to apply for the internship to the Director of Clinical Training.

For a full description of all requirements, consult the current edition of the Pacifica Student Handbook, the Clinical Training Handbook, and the Dissertation Handbook.

Faculty Mentorship

Each student is assigned a Faculty Advisor for mentorship throughout the program. Faculty Advisors meet regularly with their student advisees to monitor their academic performance, discuss research interests, oversee clinical development, assist with dissertation decisions, and provide personal and professional support.

Preparation for Clinical Psychology Licensure

This curriculum is not intended to meet all the requirements of each state for licensure in clinical psychology. Students that seek licensure in California acquire regional accredited doctoral training making them qualified to pursue licensure as a clinical psychologist in the state of California (because requirements may change, students are responsible for maintaining awareness of licensure regulations by the state). Students may need to meet additional licensure requirements in their home states. Each student is responsible for determining and remaining current on their state licensure requirements.

For important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attend this program please visit the Gainful Employment page. Pacifica Graduate Institute’s Psy.D. and Ph.D. programs are accredited by the Western Association of School and Colleges (WASC) and the Department of Education to offer financial aid. Pacifica’s doctoral programs in Clinical Psychology are not accredited by the American Psychological Association.

About the School