Top Psychology Master's Degree Programs - San Francisco, CA

San Francisco has a few schools with master's programs in psychology. Find the best program for you by reading about schools' rankings, program offerings and tuition info.

School and Ranking Information

There are nearly a dozen schools in the San Francisco area that offer terminal master's degree programs in psychology. The top three schools based on U.S. News & World Report rankings and program offerings are Dominican University of California, San Francisco State University, and Notre Dame de Namur University. All three schools offer graduate degrees that qualify students to take the California licensing exams for marriage and family therapists (LMFT). To work as a counselor or therapist in California, one must obtain a license from the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (CBBS). Marriage and family therapists must earn a master's degree, gain experience, and pass written and clinical licensure exams.

  • Winner: Dominican University of California is ranked regionally in the West. All of the faculty are licensed psychotherapists.
  • Runner-Up #1: San Francisco State University is ranked among regional schools and top public schools. Students work with licensed clinicians in the school clinic.
  • Runner-Up #2: Notre Dame de Namur University offers programs that qualify students for the licensed professional clinical counselor exam in California. It is the furthest away from San Francisco.

School Comparison Chart

Category Dominican University of California San Francisco State University Notre Dame de Namur University
Ranking(s) Ranked #31 among regional universities in the West in 2014* Ranked #54 among regional universities in the West in 2014,
#16 among top public schools in the West in 2014*
Ranked #60 among universities in the West in 2014*
Location San Rafael, CA (14.9 miles from San Francisco) San Francisco, CA Belmont, CA (18.9 miles from San Francisco)
School Type 4-year, private not-for-profit 4-year, public 4-year, private not-for-profit
Graduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013) $17,040** $7,706 (in-state)
$17,252 (out-of-state)**
$14,722**
Master's Psychology Degrees Awarded in 2011-2012 30** 45** 15**
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal degree time) for 2006 Entering Class 57%** 47%** 47%**
Noteworthy Counseling psychology program is one of the largest in the school Graduate psychology students work with licensed clinicians to offer psychotherapy to students and area residents in the school's Psychology Clinic Scholarship available for art therapy students

Sources: *U.S. News and World Report, **NCES College Navigator.

Winner: Dominican University of California

  • Students can become members of the Psychology Club
  • All of the clinical faculty in the Master of Science in Counseling Psychology program are licensed psychotherapists
  • Dominican students had an 86.67% pass rate on the standard written marriage and family therapy licensing exam during the first half of 2013, according to the CBBS

Dominican University of California offers a 43-credit Master of Science (MS) in Counseling Psychology degree program. Students in this program take courses in advanced counseling techniques, alcohol and substance abuse, psychopharmacology, and psychopathology. This program also offers a concentration in marriage and family therapy (MFT), which consists of an additional 17 credits and meets the requirements for students to take the LMFT exam. Students complete fieldwork, which can mean working in local schools, charities, family service agencies, and outpatient programs. MFT students participate in the Clinical Case Proficiency Review (CCPR), in which students present a written case study and participate in an oral review.

Runner-Up #1: San Francisco State University

  • Psychology department has 18 psychology research labs
  • SFSU students had a 90% pass rate on the written exam for MFT licenses for the first half of 2013, according to the CBBS

San Francisco State University (SFSU) offers a Master of Arts (MA) in Psychology and a Master of Science in Psychology. The MA can be completed with a concentration in developmental psychology; mind, brain and behavior; or social psychology. The MS can be completed with a concentration in clinical psychology, industrial/organizational psychology, or school psychology. These programs range from 30-37 credits, except for the MS in Clinical Psychology program, which requires a minimum of 60 credits, and the MS in School Psychology program, which requires a minimum of 57 credits. The clinical psychology program meets the requirements for students to take the LMFT exam, and school psychology students qualify for the State of California Pupil Personnel Services Credential with authorization in school psychology. All students must complete a master's thesis as well as an oral defense of the thesis.

Runner-Up #2: Notre Dame de Namur University

  • Students can become members Clinical Psychology Student Government Association
  • Students can find internships at the Practicum Training Fair, which is sponsored by community agencies and NDNU
  • 50% of Notre Dame students passed the written MFT licensing exam during the first half of 2013, according to the CBBS

Students at Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU) can earn an MS in Clinical Psychology (MSCP) or an MSCP/MFT degree. The MSCP program is a 37-credit program, which is suited for unlicensed master's level health professionals in clinical and administrative settings. The MSCP/MFT degree is a 60-credit program that allows students to earn a license in marriage and family therapy. A combined MSCP/MFT/Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) degree is also offered. This 67-credit program qualifies students for the LMFT and LPCC licensure exams. A clinical gerontology concentration, which consists of an additional eight credits, is also offered by the psychology department. Students in these programs learn applications in cognitive behavior and family systems and practice adult and child psychological assessments. Students can also earn a 63-credit MA in MFT degree or a 63-credit hour MA in Art Therapy, which qualifies students for the LPCC licensure exam.


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