The Master of Arts (MA) in Psychology program is a 43 semester hour program designed to develop mastery of the scientific principles and methods of psychology and their application to clinical issues. The primary education and training mission of the program is to provide a program of study with an applied clinical emphasis to prepare students for the practice of psychology or counseling at the master’s level of licensure. Students are required to take a sequence of core curriculum coursework that emphasizes major academic areas within the discipline of psychology before advancing to specialized coursework in the area of clinical psychology that prepares them for the professional application of psychological principles. In addition, students receive supervised clinical practicum experience as part of their training. They may also choose to complete an empirical thesis under the supervision of a faculty advisor.
Upon admission, each student will be assigned a faculty advisor who will assist the student with academic decisions during the course of the degree program. During their first year in the program students will also meet with the Graduate Coordinator to develop a degree plan.
Upon completion of the program, graduates will meet the necessary qualifications to take the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists examination for certification as a Licensed Psychological Associate (LPA). With additional coursework and experience, graduates may elect to take the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) or Licensed Specialist in School Psychology (LSSP) examinations. Following licensure, graduates typically work under the supervision of a licensed psychologist, or as independent practitioners in a variety of public agency and private settings.
Student Learning Outcomes
- Graduates of the MA in Psychology program will demonstrate knowledge of developmental, empirical, physiological and social psychology principals.
- Graduates will demonstrate mastery of the basic principles of clinical assessment and their therapeutic application as well as the ethical use of these principles.
- Graduates who choose the thesis option will be able to conduct independent research of psychological phenomenon as evidenced by successful completion and defense of their thesis in accordance with departmental guidelines.
In addition to the university admission requirements outlined for all graduate programs, the MA in Psychology program requires:
- A bachelor’s degree in psychology, or a bachelor’s degree with 15 semester hours of undergraduate coursework in psychology for unconditional admission. This foundational undergraduate coursework must include general psychology, statistics, experimental psychology, and six hours of upper division psychology electives. (Students may be conditionally accepted into the program contingent upon completion of the required undergraduate courses.)
- A cumulative grade point average (G. P. A.) of no less than 3. 0 on a 4-point scale.
- Graduate Record Exam (G. R. E.) scores taken within the last five years from the application date.
- Two letters of evaluation from individuals such as professors and employers who can attest to the applicant’s potential for success in a graduate program of study. Letters of evaluation should specifically address the applicant’s potential for a successful career as well as qualifications and motivation for graduate study.
- An application essay. Applicants must submit a 500-1, 000 word essay describing their educational and professional goals as well as their qualifications for graduate study (e. g. academic achievements, research experience, relevant work or volunteer experience, etc.).
The Graduate Program in Psychology only accepts students for Fall admission. Application materials should be submitted electronically by following the instructions at gradschool. tamucc. edu/how_to_apply. html. Materials must be submitted by April 1 for full consideration for Fall admission.
Admission to the Program
Upon receipt of all application materials, the Psychology Masters of Arts Degree Admissions Committee will meet to review the application materials. Only complete applications are evaluated. The committee will review applications for the fall semester only. The committee may choose to admit, conditionally admit, or deny admission, based on the information contained in the application materials.
For unconditional admission, applicants must be a graduate of a regionally accredited university or, if an international student, have the equivalent of an U. S. accredited degree as determined by the Dean or Graduate Studies. Applicants must have completed at least 15 hours of undergraduate psychology and possess an overall grade point average (G. P. A.) of no less than 3. 0 on a 4-point scale. (These are minimum requirements; admission to the program is competitive and also dependent upon the size and quality of the overall applicant pool).
Applicants with less than a 3. 0 G. P. A. may be admitted to the program if the graduate admissions committee determines that the student’s G. R. E. combined verbal and quantitative scores and other application materials compensate for the deficient G. P. A.
Applicants admitted into the program must meet with the Graduate Coordinator to develop an initial degree plan. The degree plan indicates whether foundational coursework is required and outlines the prescribed graduate coursework, examinations, and other requirements needed to complete the MA in Psychology degree.
At the discretion of the admissions committee, students who have not completed all of the required undergraduate courses (general psychology, statistics, experimental psychology, and 6 hours of upper division electives) may be conditionally accepted into the program contingent upon completion of the the required undergraduate courses.
Course Requirements (43 sem. hrs.)
Required Core Courses (12 sem. hrs.)
The four core courses (12 credit hours) must be taken within the first 24 credit hours of graduate study.
Required Clinical Courses (31 sem. hrs.)
In addition to the core courses, students are required to complete the following:
Written Comprehensive Examination
Each student admitted to the program is required to pass a written comprehensive examination covering material presented in three of the four core curriculum courses (Advanced Developmental, Biological Bases of Behavior, and Advanced Social). The Written Comprehensive Examination will be offered once a year during the spring semester, and should be taken in the first year when the student has completed or is registered for and is in the process of successfully completing the courses covered on the comprehensive exam (Advanced Developmental, Biological Bases of Behavior, and Advanced Social). The written comprehensive examination must be attempted within the first 24 hours of graduate study, and successful completion is a prerequisite for enrolling in practicum training and the second set of thesis hours (for students choosing the thesis option). Students must pass each of the three sections of the exam with a score of 3 or higher on a 5-point scale. Students who fail one or more sections of the exam will be allowed to retake the failed section(s) twice. Students who fail the examination are required to retake the examination at the next scheduled examination time. If after three exam attempts a student has not successfully passed all three sections of the comprehensive exam, he or she will be dismissed from the program. Details about the grading procedure are available from the Graduate Coordinator.
Students will participate in two practicum placements as part of their clinical training. In order to register for practicum, a student must successfully pass the written comprehensive examination. Students must apply for practicum the semester before they intend to register for it. The Practicum Supervisor will arrange the assignment of the student to a practicum training facility during those semesters the student registers for practicum, and will have overall responsibility for supervising and evaluating the student’s performance.
Students may also elect to complete a thesis option in addition to the required coursework. This involves six additional credit hours (completed over two semesters) in which the student designs and conducts an original research study, resulting in a written thesis that is presented to the student’s thesis committee. This option may be best suited to those students who wish to pursue advanced clinical training at the doctoral level. In general, students who complete a thesis can expect to take longer to complete the required program of coursework.
Students who elect to complete a thesis are encouraged to begin thesis work as soon as possible after being admitted to the program. In consultation with the assigned advisor, the student will select a thesis committee consisting of a chair (primary thesis advisor) and two additional university faculty. The chair and one of the members must be full time graduate faculty members within the psychology department. The student is expected to work closely with the committee chair when designing and executing the thesis research project. In consultation with the thesis committee, a proposal defense meeting will be scheduled. The student should distribute copies of the proposal to the committee members at least one week prior to the time of the proposal defense meeting. Upon successful completion of the thesis proposal meeting, the student will obtain permission (if applicable) of the institutional review board (IRB) to begin collecting data. When permission is granted, the student will collect data and complete the final thesis manuscript. Once the manuscript is complete, the student must successfully complete an oral defense and submit their thesis according to the instructions and deadlines detailed in the College of Graduate Studies’ student handbook for Master’s students (see Additional Exit Requirement for Student Completing a Thesis section below).
Exit Requirement for All Students
An oral examination will be given toward the end of the program over a therapy and testing case conducted during their practicum placement. Students are required to prepare a comprehensive written analysis of the case which will be presented during the oral examination with the faculty. Development of this presentation will be under the direction of the practicum faculty supervisor and the final draft of the paper must be approved before the oral exam. The practicum faculty supervisor is responsible for scheduling and administering the oral examination. The oral examination is graded as “satisfactory”, “conditional” or “re-examination required.” If deficiencies are identified during the exam, additional requirements may be added for successful completion of this requirement and may include, but are not limited to: repeating the examination, resubmission of written examination materials, or repeating a practicum placement. The student may retake the oral examination once, with a second failure resulting in termination from the program.
Additional Exit Requirements for Students Completing a Thesis
A final oral thesis defense will be required of all students completing a thesis. The chair of the thesis committee is responsible for scheduling and administering the final oral defense. The thesis defense is graded “pass” or “fail.” The student may retake the final oral examination once. When the final version of the thesis is completed and all committee members have approved the final document, the student is required to submit the thesis according to the instructions and deadlines detailed in the College of Graduate Studies’ student handbook for Master’s students. When submitting their thesis, students are required to order and purchase two bound copies of their thesis (one for the University library and one for the Department of Psychology& Sociology).
A minimum grade-point average of 3.0 (“B”) on a 4 point scale in all graduate-level work taken at this university is required for graduation. In addition, a minimum grade-point average of 3.0 (“B”) is required in all psychology courses (PSYC prefix) taken at the graduate level. No grade of less than “C” and no more than two “C’s” earned at this university will be accepted as credit for any Master’s program (please see graduate academic and degree requirements in the graduate catalog). Students receiving more than two grades of “C” in their coursework will be terminated from the program.
Students who have not been accepted into the MA Psychology program (Non Degree Seeking Students or students enrolled in other programs) may enroll in PSYC 5301 , PSYC 5321 , PSYC 5322 , PSYC 5323 , or PSYC 5324 . Students who enroll in these courses must satisfy the course prerequisites (see course descriptions ). Permission of the instructor is required for enrollment in any other graduate course in Psychology.
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