Program: Psychological Science, M.A.

Program Description

CSUN’s graduate program in Psychological Science provides rigorous training in advanced statistical methods, research methods and design, and theory in psychology for students who plan to pursue a Ph.D. in Psychology in a research-focused program. The program is comprised of faculty who are active researchers in their fields, and who are dedicated to training and mentoring students who plan to pursue academic and/or research careers in an array of basic and applied areas of psychology. The application requires applicants to indicate which faculty member they would be interested in working with as their thesis research advisor. An applicant must be accepted into the research lab of a faculty member in the Psychological Science program before the department can accept the student into the program, even if the applicant meets all of the other admission requirements. It is therefore advised that applicants review faculty research interests prior to submitting an application.

Program Requirements

A. Procedures and Requirements for Admission

Please contact the department for application deadlines. In addition to University admission requirements, the Psychology department requires:

  1. Submission of a Psychology Department Graduate Program Application (available from the Psychology Graduate Office or the Psychology department website) to the Psychology Graduate Office by the deadline.
  2. Transcripts.
  3. Three letters of recommendation.

Note: Psychological Science requires the consent of a faculty member to serve as a research advisor for admission.

Early application, careful study of the Department of Psychology Graduate Handbook and of the University Catalog, and consultation with the graduate advisor of the graduate program option of interest are strongly recommended.

B. Classified Admission and Conditionally Classified Admission

Participation in any of the graduate programs offered by the Department of Psychology is limited to classified and conditionally classified graduate students. Conditionally classified admission, used sparingly by the department, is for students who have met all requirements for admission to the graduate program except for completion of a course or examination. The department specifies the conditions to be fulfilled before classified standing is awarded. Normally, these conditions must be met within the first semester of graduate training.

C. For Admission to Classified Graduate Status

  1. Admission to any Psychology department graduate program, except as noted in the Department of Psychology Graduate Handbook, generally requires an undergraduate degree in Psychology. Applicants who do not have a degree in Psychology are required to complete certain undergraduate courses prior to acceptance to classified status. Those who do not have a degree in Psychology should study the Department of Psychology Graduate Handbook and consult with the appropriate graduate program coordinator about these requirements.
  2. A GPA of 3.0 is required except on approval by the Graduate Committee of the program to which admission is sought. Enrollment is limited. It is not possible to admit all of the qualified students who apply.
  3. Personal interview, prior experience in applied work and satisfactory letters of recommendation are required by some programs. Consult the Department of Psychology Graduate Handbook for more information.
  4. General University requirements also must be met. Carefully consult other sections of this Catalog for details.

D. Program Requirements

1. Required Courses (25 units)

a. Professional Development/ Research Internship (2 units)

PSY 500 Seminar in Professional Development (1-1)

b. Core Methodology in Psychological Science (14 units)

PSY 485US/S Advanced Inquiry in Research and Analysis Methods and Seminar: Univariate Statistics (3/2)
PSY 524/L Multivariate Analysis Computer and Lab (3/1)
PSY 534/S Latent Variable Analysis and Seminar (3/2)
PSY 692A Seminar in Research Methodology (3)

c. Core Theory in Psychological Science (6 units)
Select a minimum of 6 units from the following:

PSY 512 Seminar in Developmental Psychology (3)
or PSY 612 Advanced Developmental Psychology (3)

PSY 540 Seminar in Social Psychology (3)
or PSY 640 Advanced Social Psychology I (3)

PSY 591A Seminar in Cognitive Psychology (3)
or PSY 691A Advanced Cognitive Psychology (3)

PSY 591B Seminar in Emotion and Motivation (3)
or PSY 691B Advanced Emotion and Motivation (3)

PSY 690A Advanced Sensation and Perception (3)

PSY 690B Advanced Conditioning and Learning (3)

2. Electives (6 units)

Students must take a minimum of 6 academic elective units at the 400-, 500- or 600-level. Courses at the 400-level must be preapproved by the student’s graduate advisor prior to enrollment.

3. Culminating Experience (6 units)

PSY 698C Thesis or Graduate Project (3-3)

Students are required to complete a master’s-level thesis or project as part of their degree requirements.

4. Final Oral Examination

This examination is based primarily on the thesis and is scheduled two weeks after the final version of the thesis is presented to the student’s graduate committee.

Total time allowed for completion of the program is seven years from the date of acceptance. Students who intend to interrupt their program are required to notify the department in writing to request prior approval. Those who fail to meet these requirements or who fail to maintain a GPA of 3.0 or greater are subject to being dropped from the program.

Total Units Required for the M.A. Degree: 37


Department of Psychology
Chair: Jill Razani
Sierra Hall (SH) 376
(818) 677-2827

Graduate Coordinator: Sara Berzenski
(818) 677-2814

Graduate Coordinator: Stefanie Drew
(818) 677-3503

Program Learning Outcomes

Students receiving a Master of Arts in Psychological Science will be able to:

  1. Apply key concepts, principles and overarching themes in psychology to written work and oral presentation in multiple theoretical domains.
  2. Demonstrate a working knowledge of psychology’s content domains by distinguishing between theoretical principles as they differentially apply to each content domain (e.g., principles of group interaction processes as they apply to social, cognitive and developmental psychological phenomena).
  3. Illustrate the application of theoretical principles to their own novel research agendas.
  4. Use scientific reasoning to interpret psychological phenomena in published empirical literature as well as in their own work, by evaluating the evidence-based explanations for observed results both in written work and oral presentation.
  5. Evaluate published psychological research and define key terms.
  6. Complete multiple quantitative and/or qualitative data analytic projects using outside data sets, and will demonstrate mastery of analytic approaches in analyzing their thesis or project data set.
  7. Design innovative research that solves novel problems and conduct and interpret these studies alongside their research advisor.
  8. Consider sociocultural factors as relevant, and students will critically consider these factors in their classroom work.
  9. Demonstrate ethical standards to evaluate psychological science and practice in submitting institutional research review board (IRB) applications to review the ethical parameters of their original research, and will illustrate examples of ethical applications in classroom discussions of research methods and published research.
  10. Build interpersonal relationships with at least three faculty members who will serve on their thesis or project committee, and demonstrate values that build community at local, national and global levels through their independent research work.
  11. Demonstrate effective writing across written classroom assignments (discussion posts, response papers and research papers), in both the quality of their written expression and the sophistication of their idea presentation.
  12. Complete oral presentations of their work in classroom and professional (e.g., conference) settings.
  13. Integrate their work with existing peer-reviewed scholarship through completion of their thesis or project, conference presentations and/or publications.
  14. Apply psychological content and skills to academic and/or career goals by researching Ph.D. programs of interest and/or non-academic jobs and discussing fit with classmates and faculty members in classroom and networking situations.
  15. Exhibit self-efficacy and self-regulation by meeting research deadlines.
  16. Enhance teamwork capacity through regularly reviewed work in the lab setting with their peers and with undergraduate students, and will develop meaningful professional direction for life after graduation by having discussions with students and faculty and making appropriate preparations for academic and/or non-academic professional paths, such as applying for jobs, Ph.D. programs and/or professionally oriented summer internships.
  17. Practice appropriate professional communication through conduct with other students and faculty in their research lab, and with outside contacts through meetings at on-campus presentations, professional conferences and electronic communication.