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College of Sciences

Department of Psychology

Master of Science in Psychology

Matt Henson, Graduate Program Director (757-683-4439)

The  Master of Science in Experimental Psychology is appropriate for students wishing to develop research skills and knowledge of general psychology appropriate for pursuing study in a doctoral program in psychology or for those seeking the master's as a terminal degree. The curriculum is designed to provide a strong background in research methods and general psychology so that the student will have a wide range of choices for future professional development.


This program is not a clinical or counseling training program, and those holding an MS degree in Psychology as their highest degree cannot be licensed as a clinical psychologist in the Commonwealth of Virginia. However, some courses and research areas are relevant to clinical psychology. Some students who intend to pursue clinical training at the doctoral level enter the MS program in order to increase their overall knowledge of the field of Psychology. These students use their MS degree to strengthen their resume's  for application to doctoral programs in clinical psychology. 


Graduate students are required to work closely with members of the faculty and to participate in the research and other professional activities that are available within the department.  In the area of human experimental psychology, studies are being conducted in industrial/organizational psychology and human factors, personality, social behavior, cognitive processes, developmental, and community psychology.  Research topics include friendships, memory development in children, parenting, program evaluation, sex roles, neuropsychological aspects of vigilance, driving behaviors, simulation, aging, and coping with chronic illness.



To qualify for admission, a candidate must meet the general university admission requirements. In addition, the candidate must present: (1) undergraduate courses in statistics and experimental psychology and nine additional hours in psychology; (2) official scores on the general (aptitude) part  of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE); and (3) transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work. A brief statement by the student outlining personal goals and academic objectives and three letters of reference (at least two of which are from college or university faculty) are requested. All credentials in support of applications should be sent to the Office of Admissions by May 15th at the latest.  Review of applications typically begins in late March. Applicants are encouraged to submit their materials well before the deadline. The entire application procedure can be completed via the internet, and applicants are encouraged to submit their applications in the electronic format 


The personal statement should describe any research experience, and the most useful and valuable letters of recommendation are those sent by research sponsors or mentors.


Applicants who do not have a bachelor's degree in Psychology must also submit scores from the advanced (Psychology) component of the GRE examination.


Requirements for earning the MS degree (Access Course Descriptions Here)


To qualify for the Master of Science with a major in psychology, a student must meet the following requirements:


Program of study. The student must maintain a B average (3.00 on a 4.00 scale) in a minimum of 36 hours of course work. The student is required to complete successfully a core of courses established by the faculty with a least a B average (3.00). The core courses consist of the following: Research Fundamentals (PSYC 713), Analysis of Variance and Experimental Design (727), Regressional and Correlational Design (728), Human Cognition (731) or Sensation and Perception (741), and Developmental Psychology (651) or Advanced Social Psychology (749). An important part of the core sequence is the first-year research project. When a student is admitted to the MS program they are matched with a research sponsor who directs the first-year research. Completion of the core is a prerequisite for beginning work on the thesis [including registration for Research in Psychology (698) and Thesis (699)]. Full-time students must complete the core courses in the first year, and part-time students must do so in the first two years.


Student performance will be monitored by the graduate program director. Students will be advised when their performance does not meet minimum requirements. Following completion of the core requirements, students will elect either a thesis or nonthesis option for completing the degree.


Students  complete 30 hours of course work plus six hours of research and thesis. Prior to beginning research, the student will identify a faculty sponsor and then a thesis committee will be formed.  In most cases the faculty member who sponsored the first-year project will become the thesis chair/research sponsor.  When the student have completed the research, a written thesis must be submitted to the thesis committee.  Completion of the thesis depends on the acceptance of the written thesis by the thesis committee and the graduate program director, as well as on passing an oral examination in a public defense of the thesis.


Certificates of Concentration. Certificates of concentration may be earned by students receiving a master's degree in psychology. To obtain a certificate in one of three possible areas, the student must complete 12 credit hours in courses relevant to the area and maintain a minimum GPS of 3.00 in those courses. Course credit hours to fulfill the core requirements may not be used toward a certificate of concentration. The student must also complete a research project or practicum relevant to the area of concentration.


Areas of concentration include:


     Students receiving a master's degree in psychology may choose to concentrate their studies in one of four possible areas.  The student must complete 12 credit hours in courses relevant to the area and maintain a minimum GPA of 3.00 in those courses.  Course credit hours to fulfill the core requirements may not be used toward an area of concentration.  The student must also complete a research project or practicum relevant to the area of concentration.  The following is a list of the four areas and the relevant courses for each area:


Applied Cognitive Psychology

            Required:  Psyc 731 (Human Cognition) and Psyc 741 (Sensation and Perception) (only 3

                credit hours count toward area of concentration)

            Other relevant courses:  Psyc 651 (Developmental Psychology), Psyc 663 (Intellectual

                Assessment), Psyc 672 (Advanced Physiological Psychology), Psyc 749 (Advanced

                Social Psychology), and Psyc 770 (Human Factors Psychology).


Clinical Psychology

            Required:  one of the following-Psyc 661 (Psychopathology), Psyc 663 (Intellectual

               Assessment), or Psyc 664 (Personality Assessment).

            Other relevant courses:  Psyc 651 (Developmental Psychology), Psyc 653 (Personality

               Psychology), Psyc 672 (Advanced Physiological Psychology), and Psyc 745

               (Psychometric Theory).


Industrial/Organizational Psychology

            Required:  two of the following-Psyc 745 (Psychometric Theory), Psyc 750

               (Organizational Psychology), and Psyc 763 (Personnel Psychology).

            Other relevant courses:  Psyc 749 (Advanced Social Psychology), Psyc 836 (HLM),

   Psyc 846 (SEM), Psyc 851 (Micro Organizational Psychology), Psyc 853 (Macro

   Organizational Psychology), Psyc 864 (Human Resource Development), Psyc 865

   (Advanced Personnel Psychology), and Psyc 867 (Human Performance Assessment).


Quantitative and Assessment

            Required:  Psyc 745 (Psychometric Theory).

            Other relevant courses:  Psyc 663 (Intellectual Assessment), Psyc 664 (Personality

               Assessment), Psyc 763 ( Personnel Psychology), Psyc 836 (HLM) and Psyc 846 (SEM).


     Courses not listed, but relevant to an area of concentration, may be used to fulfill the requirements for the area as approved by the student's advisor.


The Graduate Catalogue of Old Dominion University should be consulted for more information regarding requirements for the MS degree.


FAQ: Frequently asked questions for the Master's Program