There are three terminal M.A. degree programs in psychology, each with a specific emphasis. Some are designed so that students can complete course requirements in one year, but it often takes three to four semesters to complete the degree.
Psychological Science provides a broad overview of theoretical issues in several areas of psychology and serves as good preparation for doctoral work in psychology.
Human Factors is designed to prepare students for positions in applied psychological research settings and provides the necessary laboratory experience. The program also prepares students interested in pursuing experimentally-oriented doctoral programs.
Psychology and Law students who are admitted to The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law may obtain a Master of Arts degree in Psychology in conjunction with the Juris Doctor.
M.A. in Psychological Science
The M.A. in Psychological Science is a thesis-optional terminal degree awarded after 31 hours of coursework, approval of a major literature review of an approved topic area, and completion of a written comprehensive examination. The coursework requirements are designed to provide training in statistics and research methodology and breadth of coverage in several content areas of psychology. The department offers Ph.D. level training in applied-experimental, clinical, and human development. Students in the general M.A. program take many of the same classes as Ph.D. students. Some courses, including all clinical practicum courses, are not open to MA students.
The general master's program is an appropriate program for students with many different backgrounds and is designed for individuals who either:
Hope to find career opportunities in areas related to psychology or want to broaden understanding of the field of psychology. Such individuals may or may not have undergraduate backgrounds in psychology. A master's degree in psychology, with experience in understanding and conducting psychological research, is valued in many different employment settings such as human relations, marketing, advertising, management, arbitration, lobbying, and business.
Intend to seek a doctoral degree in psychology and who do not have adequate undergraduate training and/or research experience. As part of our program, these students complete a research apprenticeship that substitutes for three hours of course work. Many recent students who completed a research apprenticeship in the general M.A. program have been accepted into clinical, developmental, and applied-experimental psychology Ph.D. programs. Completion of the M.A. general degree shows that one can handle graduate-level courses and can conduct graduate-level research in psychology. Many otherwise qualified individuals fail to be accepted into Ph.D. programs because they lack research experience in psychology. The research apprenticeship in the general M.A. program can provide this critical experience.
M.A. in Human Factors Psychology
Industry has become increasingly committed to improving the quality of products and services. As a result, exciting new opportunities are available for talented individuals trained in the field of human factors. The Master of Arts in Human Factors Program is designed to prepare students for positions in applied psychological research settings in several particular areas. All students will acquire training in experimental design and quantitative methods. Additionally, in the first year, students are exposed through research seminars to the work of the applied experimental faculty members and graduate students, and to research in nearby academic and nonacademic laboratories. Each student selects a minor area of concentration and conducts research within that area. Current minors are Engineering Psychology, Applied Cognitive Science, and Methodology. Research experience is gained by working in laboratories on campus or in conjunction with employers in off-campus settings. Applied psychologists can look for jobs as research and administrative consultants in corporate, industrial, and government settings. The expertise of engineering psychologists lies mostly in systems engineering and design related to the human-machine interface. Applied cognitive science minors concentrate on issues in which the information processing aspects of human performance are relevant. Finally, a minor in Methodology prepares a student to design research and analyze data in a wide variety of settings. The M.A. in Human Factors is awarded after 32 hours of coursework (including research experience), successful completion of a written comprehensive examination, and successful defense of a master's thesis. Students are required to take six credits of approved coursework in their areas of concentration.
M.A. in Psychology and Law
Knowledge of psychological theory and methods often prove useful in legal applications. Some specific areas in which psychology has an impact on the legal profession include memory and testimony, product testing and producer liability, psychological testing, competency and the insanity defense, and interpretation of statistical results. Though the coursework is similar to that for the general M.A. degree, only 15 credits of electives are required. The M.A. is awarded in conjunction with the J.D. after 21 credits of coursework, approval of a topic paper, and successful completion of the comprehensive examinations.