Department of Psychology Graduate Study

The Department of Psychology



The Department of Psychology offers the Master of Arts
degree with an emphasis on research and conceptual skills for students whose
primary interest is in continuing their education in a doctoral program. The
department also offers the Masters of Science degree in Marriage and Family
Therapy and Forensic Psychology and Applied Behavior Analysis Option.


    Acceptance into the graduate program is a two-step process
    which begins with application for acceptance to the University. Persons applying for entry
    into the graduate program in psychology must first be admitted to the University.
    Application forms for the University may be obtained from a major library,
    community college, another California State University or on-line at the
    CSLA homepage. The Psychology
    Department offers a mentor-based graduate program. As a consequence, we encourage students
    to contact a faculty member in the area of research in which they are interested before
    applying to the University. Positions in the department are limited and acceptance into
    the program depends on students finding someone on the faculty who will agree to serve
    as a mentor.
    The Psychology Department
    application forms should be returned to King Hall, C3104 with transcripts of all previous
    academic work. CSLA graduates do not need to file transcripts with the
    Entering students must have an undergraduate degree in

    Psychology or its equivalent from an accredited

    and have achieved a grade point average (GPA) of 2.75 or

    in the last 90 units of under-graduate work at an


    Students who do not have a bachelor's degree in

    at the time of admission must complete 31-36 units with a

    of 3.0 or higher. Specifically, the following prerequisite

    (or their equivalents) must be complete before beginning

    Masters program. Whenever possible, credit will be
    given for equivalent coursework taken
    elsewhere. Please note: coursework taken at a community college does not
    apply to upper division psychology requirements.

    Non-Majors in Psychology


  1. Satisfy the Writing Proficiency Requirement. Students must

    pass the Writing Proficiency Examination during the first

    quarters of their Masters Program. The examination is

    as UNIV 400 in the current Schedule of Classes. Those who

    not pass this examination by the end of the second quarter

    residence will be suspended from further work on their

    programs until they have passed the examination.

  2. Establish an official Masters Program. The steps for

    accomplishing this are as follows:

    • After receiving a letter of acceptance from the

      university, make an appointment with a Graduate Advisor

      to review your application status.

    • Complete the
      worksheet (See Section 12.0) for the Masters degree in Psychology with the
      assistance of your Mentor.  For Marriage, Family Therapy

      Dr. Brigitte Matthies; for Forensic Psychology see Dr. Mitchell Eisen;
      and for Applied Behavior Analysis see Dr. Hank Schlinger.

    • Return the completed worksheet to the Graduate

      (KHC3104). Students will be notified by mail when

      return to the office to sign their official program.

    • Within one quarter students will receive a letter

      from the Coordinator of Dean of the School of Natural

      Social Sciences confirming their classification.

    • Graduate programs can be changed however, the
      application form (Form: GS-5) for a change must be made before the course to be

      substituted is completed. Students are permitted to

      additional courses not on their programs.

    • No more than 13 units of graduate credit,
      post-bachelor's degree and prior to classified standing may be applied
      to a Master's program in the Psychology Department.  These credits
      may be completed at CSLA or another university.  No credit toward
      graduation is given for courses taken at a community college or courses
      which are not listed on the student's official program.
    • Classified standing means the student has an approved master's
      degree program filed in the school graduate studies office that is signed by
      the student's mentor, department chair and Dean.


The graduate core course must be completed within the first 16

in order to be eligible to advance to candidacy.  A grade of

must be attained in the graduate core course to continue in the

graduate program.

  1. Research Methodology (one course). All students
    must choose one course from among PSY 411 Research

    in Psychology, PSY 414 Analysis of Variance, PSY 417 Single Case Research
    Design, PSY 491 Methods of Data Analysis, PSY504 Sem: Advanced Experimental
    Methods, and PSY 515 Sem: Advanced Statistical Methods. 

    Students who have completed the equivalent of these courses as an
    undergraduate with a grade of "B" or better, need not repeat these courses
    as graduate courses.  The requirement must be met within the first 16
    units of coursework taken or within the first two quarters.
    Note: Students need to have a classified program on file
    before enrolling in a 500-level course.


    1. Students should submit an Application for Advancement to

    Candidacy (GS-10 form) upon completing 16 units of their graduate

    may be obtained from the Graduate Secretary or the department. The

    units of course work completed must include the

    core courses and the WPE. In order to continue in the graduate
    program the student must have achieved a grade of 3.0

    better in the core courses.

    2. Only students who have been advanced to candidacy may

    enroll in PSY 585 Directed Clinical Practice, PSY 590 Practicum in
    Counseling, PSY 595 Field Experience in

    Psychology, PSY 596 Comprehensive Examination, PSY 597

    Graduate Research, PSY 598 Directed Graduate Study,

    and PSY 599 Thesis.


    In planning a program, students pursuing the M.A. or
    the M.S. Forensic Option and the M.S. ABA Option are required to submit
    a thesis as a culminating experience for the Masters Degree. Students in the MFT
    program complete a comprehensive examination.

    VI. THE THESIS OPTION (PSY 597 and PSY 599)

    The thesis option is generally open only to students in
    the Master of Arts and the M.S. Forensic Option.  In special cases, other
    students who have a faculty member willing to sponsor them may apply to do a
    thesis.  The thesis consists of either an original empirical research
    project or a novel theoretical or conceptual interpretation of existing
    psychological thought based on material previously published.  In either
    case, the thesis must deal with a problem of some importance to the field of
    psychology, in a manner that is scholarly, logical, objective, and systematic.

    PSY 597

    The first step in the process of doing a thesis is to complete Psy 597.  It
    is recommended that the student begin thinking about their thesis topic several
    quarters before beginning Psy 597.  During this course, the student is
    expected to establish a suitable topic, review pertinent literature, design
    their study or topic, and write a proposal.  The proposal includes a
    statement of the proposed topic, review of literature on the topic, and, for
    empirical studies, a statement of hypotheses to be tested and the research
    methodology to be used.  The student should identify two additional faculty
    members willing to serve on their thesis committee.  The proposal should be
    approved by the thesis chair and by the two other committee members.  The
    three committee members should sign a GS-12 form, this form plus a copy of your
    proposal must be filed in the Psychology Office by the seventh week of the
    quarter in which PSY 597 is taken.

    PSY 598

    Students taking the comprehensive examination will usually have 2-3 units of PSY 598 Graduate Directed Study on their programs which provides an opportunity
    for guidance of work done in preparation for the examination.  The
    student should complete their PSY 598 units under faculty supervision during the
    quarter prior to enrolling in the comprehensive exams.
    Typically, students
    will work independently with their advisor who will guide their study, recommend
    reading materials and give feedback on their preparation.  For more
    information students should consult Dr. Brigitte Matthies.

    The comprehensive Examination in the MFT program consists of two areas:

    1. A Multiple Choice Exam covering broad principles of psychology as a
    scientific discipline.

    2. Essays on Clinical Vignettes covering issues of diagnostics, therapy, ethics,
    judgment and the law.

    The examination is given on two successive days, during Spring and Fall quarters
    only, in sessions lasting three hours each day.  The first day covers
    area one; the second day covers area two.

    The student is required to write on two clinical vignettes.  Each
    examination response will be scored on a pass/fail basis, being read
    independently by at least two professors.  To pass the examination, a
    student must receive "pass" scores from both professors on two of the four
    questions.  In the case of a split evaluation on a comps question, a third
    reader will be asked to evaluate the question.  A student who successfully
    passes two questions on a particular day but does not pass overall, does not
    have to repeat the portion passed on a subsequent sitting.  A student who
    enters the examination room, and then leaves without attempting an answer, will
    be considered to have "sat" for that examination.  The comprehensive
    examination must be passed within three sittings.

    Students may have no more than one course remaining to complete on their graduate
    program following the quarter in which they first take the comprehensive
    examination.  Students must formally apply to take the examination the
    quarter before it is scheduled.
     This is done by filing an application
    with the graduate secretary of the Psychology Department.  They must also
    register for PSY 596 (0) during the quarter in which they expect to take the
    examination.  Those who subsequently wish to withdraw from taking the
    examination without penalty may do so no later than the scheduled date of the
    examination by notifying the graduate secretary.

    The faculty will from time to time prepare up-to-date lists of suggested
    readings to assist students in preparing for the examination.  However,
    students are expected to show an acceptable breadth of mastery in the field,
    acquired not only from the lists of recommended reading, but also from class

    PSY 599

    The next step is for the student to enroll in Psy 599.  Upon approval of
    the research design by the thesis committee, the student will undertake the
    thesis, working under the guidance of the thesis chair.  One year from the
    point of the first enrollment in Psy 599 is allowed to complete the thesis
    units.  If the thesis is not completed after registering in all of the 599
    units on the program (maximum=4), the student must register for Psy 900 (which
    carries no credit) in order to complete thesis requirements and graduate.

    Progressively revised drafts of the thesis will be submitted to

    chair of the thesis committee periodically for review and

    The chair may, from time to time, require the student to

    copies to other members of the committee as well. The final

    must show clarity of purpose, competent critical analysis,

    organization, and originality. The presentation must be both

    accurate and complete. In style, it must follow the recommendations

    of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological

    (latest edition). It should include a separate title page and

    following sections:

    A brief summary of both the problem and results.
    Definition of the problem, development of the
    background, and statement of the study's purpose
    and rationale.
    Information and subjects, apparatus, and procedures. (This section and the next may
    not apply to a non-experimental thesis.)
    A complete factual statement of the
    findings, including any tables, figures, and statistical analyses.
    This section should include a thoughtful
    and logical analysis of the implications of the findings as well as
    conclusions that can be drawn, and any limitations.
    The references should reflect a thorough literature
    review of the salient literature dealing with the subject.
    Copies of letters, form, measures, or other written materials used in the study.

    After the draft has been approved by the thesis
    committee, a date is fixed for the final oral defense of the thesis. An abstract
    and copy of the thesis should be submitted to committee members at least two
    weeks before the oral defense. The student is required to prepare and bring to
    the oral defense the following materials for committee signature:  The
    Title Approval Page (Form GS-13) in triplicate and one copy of The Final Oral
    Examination Results Page.  These materials are available at the psychology
    office.  The oral defense is open to any who wish to attend.  After a
    successful oral defense, the student must return both of the above forms to the
    psychology office.  Final thesis corrections are made and a final typed
    thesis with copies are prepared for distribution.

    Students are advised to consult with the thesis advisor in the Library at an
    early date, in order to conform to the Library requirements.
    original must be delivered to the University Library, in the required format, no
    later than the last day of final exams in the quarter of graduation.  The
    Library also requires two original copies of the title page, with the
    appropriate signatures.  Another bound copy of the thesis should be made
    for the Psychology Department Office.  Additional copies, as required by
    committee members should be prepared as needed.

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