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Research Psychology Option

Christi Nelson, Research Psychology MA Alumnus, at a national conference. She completed a PhD at the University of South Florida and is now a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Washington.

Earn your Master of Arts (MA) in Psychology with a Research Psychology focus. The program combines coursework in basic areas of psychology with research skill objectives, such as critically analyzing research, conducting literature reviews, and conducting statistical analysis. 

Research Psychology opens doors to a number of career opportunities such as consumer and product marketing research for corporations, user-experience research for tech companies, research positions in hospitals and institutes, and more. For those interested in academic careers, this MA is particularly strong in preparing students for doctoral work in psychology.

This program provides close interaction between faculty and students, both in the classroom and in the laboratory. Faculty have a broad range of research interest areas and are willing to consider student proposals for a specific interest area. 

Generally this is a two-year, 36-credit program on a full-time basis. Students who wish to attend part-time will be considered.

Faculty research interests

Our faculty study a variety of topics, from the highly theoretical to highly applied research.

  • Clinical Psychology (e.g., Eating disorders and obesity, Health Behavior Change, Youth health-risk behaviors such as substance use, self-injury, Self-criticism and perfectionism)
  • Cognitive Psychology (Skill learning in educational settings, problem solving, creativity)
  • Child and Adult Developmental Psychology (Cognition and mental health in aging, emotional development in children)
  • Forensic Psychology (Risk assessment of violent offenders, treatment of trauma in military and veteran populations)
  • Health psychology (Health and functioning during emerging adulthood and older adulthood; health risk factors)
  • Social Psychology (Resilience and forgiveness in close relationships, Nonverbal Communication, Emotion Perception)

Thesis advisors for the Research Psychology option include, but are not limited to:

  • Brian Ayotte
  • Mahzad Hojjat
  • Trina Kershaw
  • Robin Locke Arkerson
  • Raina Lamade
  • Ted Powers
  • Andrew Revell
  • Elizabeth Richardson
  • Anna Schierberl Scherr

Graduate assistantships and financial aid

The department awards a limited number of graduate assistantships and tuition credit to qualified graduate students each year. This award is subject to the work needs of the position and department, your satisfactory performance of duties, your academic record, and availability of funds, and may be subject to change. 

Job prospects for Psychology researchers

Upon graduation, psychology researchers typically find jobs in fields focused on human interaction, inside a classroom, or in a laboratory. 

  • universities
  • government agencies 
  • marketing departments
  • private research organizations
  • non-profit organizations

Admission requirements

Successful candidates will have a Bachelor of Arts degree or a Bachelor of Science degree, and an interest in research. It is not necessary to have an undergraduate degree in Psychology. The submission of Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores is optional. Prospective applicants are invited to call to discuss their qualifications and interest.

Applicants must submit the required application materials to the Graduate Office. In addition, this Psychology option has specific admissions requirements:

  • Two letters of recommendation are required. Both letters must be from individuals familiar with the applicant’s academic or research experience. 
  • Students must complete an undergraduate statistics course before beginning the program.

Graduate thesis 

Full-time students in the Research Psychology Option must have a thesis advisor by the end of Spring Break of their first year. You will be enrolled for thesis credit after you have completed your first year in good standing.

Grade requirements

In addition to the Graduate Degree Requirements, students in the Research Psychology Option must pass at least five of the six required courses with a B- or better in each course.

Students who take an Incomplete in any course in the first year of study must complete the work by June 30 of that first year. (Part-time students must complete all Incompletes within one month of their completing 18 credits.)

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