J.D. / Ph.D.

Joint J.D. / Ph.D. Program in Psychology and Law

Printable J.D./Ph.D. Joint Degree Program Brochure

This program is the result of a partnership between Pacific Graduate School of Psychology (PGSP), Palo Alto University (PAU) and Golden Gate University School of Law (GGU) leading to a Ph.D. degree in Clinical Psychology and a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. PAU is accredited by the American Psychological Association and Golden Gate University is accredited by the American Bar Association.  Please download a copy of the J.D./Ph.D. Joint Degree Program brochure for more information.

Students must be eligible for admission to both the PAU Ph.D. Clinical Psychology program and to the J.D. Program at GGU School of Law. Thus, prospective students are required to take both the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT).

Joint program J.D./Ph.D. students are concurrently enrolled in both schools, allowing them to complete the requirements for both degrees in less time than if pursued separately. The program is designed to take seven full years: students attend law school and graduate school courses for five years, followed by a dissertation year and a pre-doctoral clinical internship. Emphasis in the first year is on course work at GGU and in the second year, at PAU. Students who complete the program are eligible for licensure as a clinical psychologist, subject to the post-doctoral statutory requirements in each jurisdiction, and for admission to the bar.

The Joint J.D./Ph.D. Program in Psychology and the Law has three major training goals:

  1. Develop psychologists who can perform sophisticated social science research to assist the legal system in making better empirically based decisions;
  2. Educate highly trained psychologists who can contribute to the advancement of forensic psychology;
  3. Produce Legal Psychologists who can participate in the development of data based mental health policy in the legislature and the courts.

Career Opportunities Graduates of the J.D./Ph.D. joint program go on to work in a variety of contexts. J.D./Ph.D. graduates are qualified to work either in a “polarized” role where they act primarily as an attorney, clinical psychologist, or academic. However, graduates are also exceptionally qualified to fill or create an integrated professional role involving both fields. Many J.D./Ph.D.s find successful positions as forensic psychologists where they apply psychological treatment and/or science to the judicial system in various roles such as expert witnesses, custody evaluators, prison or state hospital psychologists, and jury consultants, among others. In addition, unlike single degree forensic psychology programs, dual doctorate lawyer-psychologists are also able to find or create roles where they apply the law to the clinical profession itself. Examples of such roles include working as collaborative lawyers and mediators, clinical malpractice attorneys or researchers, advocates for psychologists’ rights (such as prescription privileges), authors of amicus briefs (statements written by psychologists for the courts “chiming in” on a social issue at hand in a case), etc.

In short, J.D./Ph.D. lawyer-psychologists pursue diverse and dynamic careers involving the wearing of multiple “hats”. In the majority of cases the focus is on the interaction between law and psychology and in bridging the gap of understanding between the two fields. The most successful program graduates are those who possess a strong passion for the understanding and betterment of the human condition, as well as social justice and governance, and who seek a career that marries these two philosophies.

More information may be obtained about this program from the Director of the Joint Program in Psychology and the Law by emailing wpackman@paloaltou.edu, and from the Office of Admissions at PAU and GGU.

Office of Admissions: GGUSL:

Office of Admissions: PAU:

Program Directors:

Dr. Wendy Packman, J.D., Ph.D., Director

Dr. Bruce Bongar, Ph.D. Founding Director

Dr. Houri Parsi, J.D., Ph.D., Associate Director


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