The Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholars Program is designed to increase the pool of potential faculty in the CSU system by supporting the doctoral aspirations of CSU students who have experienced economic and educational disadvantages. The program places a special emphasis on increasing the number of CSU students who enter a doctoral program at one of the University of California (UC) Institutions.

Each of the applicants selected will be designated a Sally Casanova Scholar and will work closely with a CSU faculty sponsor to develop an overall plan which leads ultimately to enrollment in a doctoral program. The plan should be tailored to the specific goals and career objectives of the student.


Students selected as Sally Casanova Scholars will have unique opportunities to explore and prepare to succeed in doctoral programs. Student will have the benefit of one-on-one guidance from a faculty sponsor, and the opportunity to work with faculty from doctoral-granting institutions. In addition, the program provides a monetary award of $5,000, to be used for:

  1. Travel Funds for the student to visit U.S. doctoral-granting institutions and/or to attend professional meetings appropriate to the student’s development.
  2. Development Funds for other related activities, such as student membership in professional organizations, subscriptions to academic journals, graduate school application and test fees, GRE preparation courses, and the cost of minor research materials, for example.
  3. A Summer Research Experience opportunity* at a UC campus or other U.S. major research university, fully funded by the Pre-Doctoral Program, so that the scholar can participate in doctoral-level research prior to enrolling in a Ph.D. program.

*If awarded a Summer Research Experience, additional funds will be made available by the program. For more information, visit the California Pre-Doctoral Program: Summer Research Opportunities website.

Information about the 2025-26 application cycle is forthcoming.


Applicants to the California Pre-Doctoral Program must be upper-division (juniors or seniors) or master’s degree students who are enrolled at a CSU institution at the time of application. At the time of the award, applicants must be matriculated into a degree program and be enrolled in one semester during the award year. International students are not eligible to apply.

All applicants must be either U.S. citizens or permanent residents at the time of application. Current or previously awarded Pre-Doctoral Scholars are not eligible to re-apply. Each applicant must have a Faculty Sponsor from the student’s home campus who will be available for the duration of the plan specified in the application.

This program is designed for students interested in obtaining researching doctorates. Students interested in obtaining professional masters or doctoral degrees (law, medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, or an MBA degree, for example) are not eligible.

Selection Criteria

Applicants will be selected on the basis of three major criteria: potential for success in completing a doctoral program, probable effectiveness of the student/faculty plan, and level of economic and educational disadvantage.

Role of the CSU Faculty Mentor

Any CSU faculty member may identify and sponsor promising upper-division undergraduate or master’s degree students to the Pre-Doctoral Program. As a student adviser, the faculty member will guide applicants through the program, and may accompany them to UC and other doctoral-granting campuses for site visits, or to national symposia or professional meetings, which will expose them to their field of interest. The adviser may also help acquaint applicants with information about academic careers, identify appropriate journal subscriptions and learning experiences, as well as ensure that they are prepared for doctoral study.

Pre-doc/CDIP PowerPoint from Information Sessions 

Student Spotlight

Isabel Hernandez

 Master of Arts in Psychology, Fall 2022- Spring 2024

Applying to the Pre-Doctoral program has been a goal of mine since I was an undergraduate. Being able to work one on one with a faculty mentor and being able to participate in summer research was an opportunity I did not want to pass on. Because of covid, I didn't gain the experience, skills, or support that I needed as an undergrad that could have prepared me to become a competitive candidate for doctoral programs, as I transferred in at the height of it. This program has many benefits and opportunities to help me in my academic ventures and professional development.

My goal is to obtain a doctoral degree and pursue a career in academia. I want to continuously expand my knowledge in the field of psychology while simultaneously shaping the minds of future generations. I get excited by the thought of being able to teach and inspire those whose seats I've once been in. I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for the advisors and professors who guided me and believed in me, and I can't see myself doing anything but that for others.

 Read Isabel's Story

A crowd of Stan State graduates cheer at Commencement.

PreDoc Info Session

Monday, November 6th 
Tuesday, November 7th
12-1 p.m. PST

L201& Zoom

Registration form

Updated: May 13, 2024