Philosophy and Standards

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Program Philosophy

The MA in Psychology program provides promising students with challenging and engaging graduate-level educational experiences. The program’s three tracks are customized to help students meet their personal academic goals, such as becoming more competitive for admission into doctoral programs or securing master's-level positions in human services and the mental health fields.

Two of the three tracks are research-intensive. They are designed to build upon a solid undergraduate psychology education and prepare students to ascend to the next academic level. Both tracks feature a common set of six advanced courses that allow students to deepen their core knowledge of psychology and show their ability to thrive among other talented students in graduate study.  Moreover, between various independent study options and the required empirical Masters thesis, students work closely with their individual faculty mentors to sharpen their research skills and generate scholarly products. In this way, these tracks can be a springboard to doctoral-level study in clinical or non-clinical fields.

Two of the three tracks have a clinical emphasis. They feature, in addition to the six advanced courses common across all three tracks, three courses devoted to  development of assessment and intervention skills. This additional coursework allows students to begin developing professional-level clinical skills that are useful in either clinical psychology doctoral programs or in jobs in mental health or human services settings. Both clinical tracks are based on the scientist-practitioner model, which holds that:

  • modern methods of scientific investigation should be employed in the analysis and modification of human behavior;
  • decisions regarding treatment methods and outcomes should be based on empirical data that are verifiable; and
  • the practitioner has an obligation to keep abreast of, and to incorporate, improvements in assessment and treatment methods in understanding behavioral disorders.

Human service professionals require more than simply academic knowledge. Among the other qualities deemed necessary to be an effective clinician are

  • strong interpersonal skills
  • sound judgment and rational decision making
  • personal maturity and stability
  • sensitivity to the feelings and outlook of others
  • an ability to maintain professional distance and an objective perspective on problems
  • a level of integrity that is beyond reproach
  • and a willingness to maintain a high level of ethics and professionalism at all times.

National Standards

The Department of Psychology is a member of both the Council of Graduate Departments of Psychology and the Council of Applied Master's Programs in Psychology (CAMPP). CAMPP is a nationally recognized governing body representing applied master's-level programs in psychology. The Clinical track with Applied Emphasis meets CAMPP standards of training, formulated at the 1990 National Conference on Applied Master's Training in Psychology.

Our clinical tracks are predicated upon the premise that students should demonstrate competence in the following areas (while competence in a given area below may be established on the basis of undergraduate course work and/or experience, the clinical applied program includes a minimum of 48 credits of graduate course work):

  • Understanding the mechanisms and theories of development; genetic and prenatal factors; and physical, intellectual, emotional, and social development.
  • Understanding the anatomy and function of the nervous system; the effects of drugs on brain and behavior; and the biological bases of mental disorder.
  • Understanding the major theoretical perspectives of human personality and understanding of social-psychological principles and empirical findings as they relate to human service settings.
  • Understanding research design, statistical principles, and program evaluation to allow interpretation of studies and awareness of the limitations of clinical research.
  • Understanding the major categories of mental disorder within the DSM-V diagnostic system and the conceptual and empirical issues associated with this nosology.
  • Understanding psychometrics and intellectual and personality assessment.
  • Understanding the theory, research, and application of behavioral intervention methods (behavioral, cognitive-behavioral and social learning).

None of the program’s tracks purports to train students as clinical psychologists, which in New York requires a PhD for state licensure. Nor are graduates of the program eligible for New York State credentialing as licensed Mental Health Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists, Creative Arts Therapists, or Psychoanalysts. MA psychology graduates cannot practice independently in the private sector in New York State, but some states (e.g., North Carolina) now allow licensure for MA graduates of psychology programs. The program also recognizes that any clinical work performed by our graduates should be conducted under the direction and supervision of a licensed clinician.

Last Updated 8/21/18

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