Psychology Programs in California

UC Merced
UC Merced at night

Why Choose to Study Psychology in California?

California is one of the best job markets in the country for psychology graduates. There are more than 150 psychology schools in California that offer some type of degree program for you to pursue. While deciding on an area of specialty may be somewhat challenging, you will never have a shortage of options.

Top-Ranked Psychology Schools

U.S. News and World Report ranks seven California schools in the top fifty of its list of graduate psychology programs; California schools occupy the top three spots on the list:

  • Stanford University; Stanford, CA – #1
  • University of California Berkeley; Berkeley, CA – #2
  • University of California Los Angeles; Los Angeles, CA – #3
  • University of California San Diego; San Diego, CA – #13
  • University of California Davis; Davis, CA – #26
  • University of Southern California; Los Angeles, CA – #26
  • University of Irvine; Irvine, CA – #36

These programs are known for their outstanding academic standards, research output, and career placement, making California one of the best states to pursue a psychology degree and related career.

Booming State Economy

In 2018, California’s economy surpassed that of the United Kingdom to become the fifth largest in the world. With a 3.1 trillion dollar gross state product, California’s economy ranks just behind Germany and ahead of India.

With such a massive economy, California offers a wealth of job opportunities. In the economic expansion of the 2010s, California added more than 3.13 million jobs. As a result of COVID-19, California’s economic numbers took a dip in 2020, but the state is now on track for a faster recovery than the rest of the nation as a whole.

Cultural Diversity

With 39.5 million residents, California is the most populous state in the nation. This massive population is as racially and ethnically diverse as it is large.

Among California residents:

  • 39% identify as Latino
  • 36% identify as White
  • 15% identify as Asian or Pacific Islander
  • 6% identify as African American
  • 3% identify as multiracial
  • Fewer than 1% identify as Native American or Alaska Natives

California’s racial and ethnic diversity has increased every year since 1970, providing a rich cultural tapestry for its residents.

The Weather

California offers temperate, sunny weather, avoiding temperature extremes during most of the year. This might seem like a shallow consideration, but studies indicate that students perform better in pleasant climates, and California certainly fits the bill.

Salaries in California for Psychology Professionals

California offers competitive salaries in the field of psychology when compared to other states. The average compensation varies somewhat between different positions in the field.

  • Psychologist – California offers the highest average salary for psychologists in the U.S. at $117,610. Three of the top five cities for psychologist pay are located in California: Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Fresno.
  • Psychiatrist – The average income of a psychiatrist in California is $261,093. Riverside ($282,400) and San Jose ($280,270) rank as the second and third highest-paying cities for psychiatrists in the U.S.
  • Psychology Professor – The average income of a psychology professor in California is $114,386; the typical salary range for this position runs from $90,739 to $215,467.
  • Counseling Psychologist – The average income of a counseling psychologist in higher education in California is $79,491, with a range of $69.915 to $90,024.
  • Clinical Psychologist – The average income of a clinical psychologist in California is $118,102, with a range of $106,268 to $132,634.
  • Psychotherapist – The average income of a psychotherapist in California is $69,525, with a range of $60,482 to $78,210.

Job Prospects in California for Psychology Professionals

Psychology-related jobs are expected to grow at a rate of 3% over the next decade. The level of demand depends on education level and specialty.

The psychology specialties expected to see the most demand are clinical, counseling, school, and especially industrial-organizational (IO) psychologists. IO psychologists study behaviors in the workplace to determine ways to increase productivity, communication, work environment, satisfaction, and workplace safety. The demand for this branch of psychology is expected to continue to rise as companies seek ways to improve performance and reduce turnover.

Experts also expect a continued rise in demand for geriatric psychologists. As the population ages due to longer life expectancies, the need for specialized study in aging will continue to grow.

California Psychology Licensing and Certification Requirements

California holds rigorous requirements for practicing psychology in the state. To practice in the field, an individual must meet the following prerequisites set by the California Board of Psychology:

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology from an accredited school.
  2. Earn a master’s degree in psychology from an accredited school.
  3. Earn a PsyD or Ph.D. in psychology from an accredited school.
  4. Undergo 3,000 hours of supervisory professional experience, at least half of which must be post-doctoral.
  5. Take pre-licensure courses in the following areas (may be included in degree curriculum):
    • Human sexuality
    • Alcohol/chemical dependency detection and treatment
    • Child abuse assessment
    • Spousal or partner abuse assessment
    • Detection and treatment of alcohol and chemical substances
    • Aging and long-term care training
  6. Pass two exams: the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP), then the California Psychology Law and Ethics Examination (CPLEE).
  7. Request your license from the Board and pay a $400 processing fee.

California psychology licenses must be renewed every two years with a renewal fee of $430. Renewal also requires a course of 36 hours; nine of these hours must be taken live, including webinars.

Where in California do You Want to Study?

Browse All Psychology Programs in California

Why should you study psychology in California?