Philosophy of the Clinical Track
The clinical track of the Master of Arts in Psychology is an adult-focused program that follows the Boulder scientist/practitioner training model which emphasizes the integrated roles of science and practice. Training in the applied skills of clinical assessment and intervention requires a thorough understanding of the range of human functioning. The database of the psychological literature is our groundwork and the scientific method guides our work. We require students to develop an understanding of how this database is generated, how to evaluate its utility, and how to apply it. Thus, all students are required to take the core of methodology and basic psychology courses in addition to the clinical core and a practicum experience in the community. Because a two-year curriculum can provide only the basics, it is expected that we are preparing students to proceed with training at the doctoral level. For a more detailed discussion of the clinical standards and goals, see our "Statement of Scope of Training and Standards of Behavior" which can be found here.
Prospective students should be aware that the clinical MA track has a focus on adult populations. There is limited coverage of child-related topics in the clinical coursework and limited child-oriented practicum opportunities. While research opportunities with children and adolescents are possible, limited clinical training with children is provided in the MA track.
This program values and promotes self-awareness as a significant component of training in clinical psychology. Students in this program engage in self-awareness exercises within their courses and practicum training. They are also strongly encouraged to engage in their own psychotherapy during their training.
Philosophy of the Experimental Track
The general experimental track of the Master of Arts in Psychology provides the student with a solid foundation in psychological research. The program includes coursework in experimental design, research methodology, and statistics. The student will also develop an area of specialization that will serve as a basis for elective coursework and the Master's thesis.
The program is primarily designed to prepare students for doctoral degrees in psychology or related fields. Consistent with this goal, a majority of our Master's students have been subsequently accepted into Ph.D. programs. The program is also relevant to non-traditional students who do not plan to pursue a doctoral degree but wish to become more knowledgeable about psychology and its applications to their particular interests.
Areas of Specialization within the Psychology MA Program
Upon completing the MA program a student will be conferred a general degree in Psychology. However, as part of their graduate training students will gain experience within a specialized area of Psychology. This will be reflected in the training and experience that students receive while completing their Master’s thesis research project under the direction of a faculty mentor. Our department offers many areas of specialization within Psychology including but not limited to Abnormal Psychology, Behavioral Intervention, Child and Adolescent Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Geropsychology (Aging), Neuropsychology, Personality, Program Evaluation, Psychology and Law, Psychometric Theory, Quantitative Psychology, Social Psychology, and Trauma Psychology. All of these areas of specialization are available to incoming students, Clinical or Experimental, regardless of whether or not they select a formalized Concentration area…
There are formalized Concentrations available within some of the areas of specialization mentioned above. These concentrations are optional and include specific requirements for completion that include specific coursework, research areas, and clinical experiences (for Clinical MA students). Applicants are asked to specify whether they are likely to pursue a Concentration at the time of application. However, please keep in mind that Concentrations are optional, many students complete our MA program without completing formalized Concentrations, and you do not need to specify a Concentration at the time of application in order to eventually earn that Concentration.
Concentration in Child and Adolescent Psychology (Experimental MA only)
The primary objective of the concentration will be to prepare graduate students for further academic training at the doctoral level in child and adolescent psychology. Students who complete the concentration will be competitive for application to numerous doctoral programs, such as human development, and others. The concentration will also prepare students who which to pursue careers in Child and Adolescent psychology at the MA-level, such as research positions in social service agencies, child care services, and other educational, health, or judicial settings. For more information, read here.
Concentration in Cognition (Experimental MA only)
The primary objective of the concentration will be to prepare graduate students for further academic training at the doctoral level in Cognition. Students who complete the concentration will be competitive for application to numerous doctoral programs, such as cognitive, evolutionary psychology, experimental, experimental psychopathology, quantitative, assessment, human development, neuropsychology, and others. For more information, read here.
Concentration in Psychology-Law (Clinical and Experimental MA)
The concentration in Psychology and Law in the MA Programs in Psychology is intended to provide a strong academic background with an emphasis in psychology and law for students intending to eventually enroll in a PhD program in psychology and law. Unlike other MA programs with psychology and law or forensic emphases, this is not intended as a terminal degree. For more information, read here.
Concentration in Trauma Psychology (Clinical and Experimental MA)
The primary objective of the concentration in Trauma Psychology is to prepare graduate students for further academic and/or clinical training at the doctoral level. Students who complete this concentration would also be able to pursue Ph.D. level work in the area of clinical psychology related to trauma, homeland security and public policy related to emergency management. For more information, read here.
Additional Courses for Non-Psychology Majors
In order to be considered for the M. A. program you need to have an undergraduate major in Psychology or an "adequate background" in Psychology. For people who have only had general psychology we recommend the following additional courses:
* PSY 2100 Introduction to Psychological Statistics
* PSY 2110 Introduction to Psychological Research and Measurement
* PSY 3130 Learning and Cognition
* PSY 3270 Introduction to Biopsychology
* PSY 3280 Abnormal Psychology
* PSY 3400 Social Psychology
* PSY 4510 Seminar in History of Psychology
Course numbers listed are from CU-Colorado Springs.
The program of study has three components that are common to both the clinical and the experimental tracks:
(a) coursework in research and the scientific method;
(b) coursework in the knowledge base of psychology: the proseminar series; and
(c) a research thesis.
In addition, the clinical track requires:
(a) didactic coursework in assessment, intervention, and applied skills; and
(b) a practicum experience in which students learn and apply clinical skills under the supervision of experienced clinicians. Practicum sites are selected by the student in the spring semester of the first year for a start date in the mid or late summer after the first year. Practicum placements typically include 15 hours per week for 10-12 months, or a minimum of 450 hours.
The following research and methods courses are required of all graduate students:
PSY 5810 Research Statistics and Methodology I
PSY 5820 Research Statistics and Methodology II
PSY 6030 Research Practicum
The Proseminar Series
The proseminar series is required of all Master's students. Students in the clinical track take two of the proseminar courses, students in the experimental track take at least three of the proseminar courses (see Experimental track detail). The particular proseminars chosen will vary from student to student depending on their area of concentration. The proseminars available are as follows:
PSY 6100-3 Proseminar: Developmental
PSY 6110-3 Proseminar: Cognition
PSY 6120-3 Proseminar: Neuropsychology
PSY 6130-3 Proseminar: Social
PSY 6140-3 Proseminar: Personality
PSY 6420-3 Proseminar: Aging
A research based thesis is required of all master's students. The psychology faculty are actively engaged in research. Master's students are encouraged establish a mentorship relationship with a faculty person and to develop a thesis from an ongoing research project. The research and scientific method coursework is designed to help the student formulate a research proposal, analyze the data collected, and write up the results for scholarly publication. In addition to those courses, students take from 4 to 6 credit hours of Psy 7000 - Thesis. Students are encouraged to present their work at regional and national meetings and to write up their research for publication.
Coursework in Assessment, Intervention, Applied Skills, and the Practicum
The clinical core consists of a set of didactic courses and a set of applied skills courses. The didactic requirements include the following courses: PSY 6780-3 Advanced Psychopathology, PSY 6850-3 Clinical Interviewing and Personality Assessment, PSY 6920-3 Seminar in Psychotherapy,and either PSY 6860-3 Cognitive Assessment or PSY 6880-3 Neuropsychological Assessment.
Students in the clinical track take a course in basic interviewing skills (PSY 5710, Clinical Skills Lab) during their first year and a clinical practicum (taken in conjunction with PSY 6720, Professional Development I, and PSY 6730, Professional Development II) during their second year. Practicum experiences are completed at several sites either on-campus (at the University Counseling Center or the CU Aging Center) or in the community under licensed, Ph.D.-level supervision. The goal of these experiences is to expose students to clinical settings, to the roles of clinical psychologists, and to begin the development of clinical skills. Placements must be approved by the DCT. Most sites require a 10-12 month commitment and students are expected to work approximately 15 hours per week at their site, or a minimum of 450 hours.
Faculty (see Faculty List)
Sample Clinical-Track Course Sequence
The clinical track requires a minimum of 42 credit hours. The required courses can be completed by a full-time student in 2 years if the following course sequence is followed:
Fall: Clinical Skills Laboratory, Research Statistics and Methodology I, Advanced Psychopathology
Spring: Research Statistics and Methodology II, Cognitive Assessment or Clinical Neuropsychology*, Seminar: Psychotherapy, and a Proseminar
* Note: We advise students to take the Cognitive Assessment course unless there is a specific reason to take the Clinical Neuropsychology course. Please consult with the Director of Clinical Training.
Fall: Research Practicum, Ethics and Standards of Practice (Prof Dev I), Clinical Interviewing and Personality Assessment, Masters Thesis
Spring: Cultural and Family Diversity (Prof Dev II), Masters Thesis, and a Proseminar
Clinical MA students should note that the Psychotherapy course must be taken during the Winterim semester of the 1st year (over the Winter break). There is no Winterim course in the second year.
Sample Experimental-Track Course Sequence
The experimental track requires a minimum of 36 credit hours. The required courses can be completed by a full-time student in 2 years if the following course sequence is followed:
Fall: Research Statistics and Methodology I, Elective Independent Study, Contemporary Issues in Psychology, and a Proseminar
Spring: Research Statistics and Methodology II, a Proseminar, Contemporary Issues in Psychology, and Research Practicum or an optional Proseminar
Fall: Applied Multivariate Techniques I, History of Psychology, Contemporary Issues in Psychology, and Research Practicum or a Proseminar
Spring: Methods and Design for Analyzing Change or Research Practicum, Masters Thesis,Contemporary Issues in Psychology, and a Proseminar
This shows 43 credits, so student should adjust where it works best while fulfilling the general requirements.
A. MA Experimental students must take at least two of the following proseminars.
1. PSY 6100 - Developmental
2. PSY 6110 - Cognitive
3. PSY 6120 - Neuropsychology
4. PSY 6130 - Social
5. PSY 6140 - Personality
6. PSY 6420 - Aging
B. MA Experimental students must take the following three courses
1. PSY 5810 - Research Statistics and Methodology I
2. PSY 5820 - Research Statistics and Methodology II
3. PSY 5830 - Applied Multivariate Techniques I
C. One or more courses may be taken from the Proseminars listed above or from the following courses:
1. PSY 5210 - Psychology of Aging I
2. PSY 5220 - Psychology of Aging II
3. PSY 6410 - Aging Seminar (Special Topics)
4. PSY 6510 - History of Psychology
D. MA Experimental students must take one additional course listed above in A or C, or PSY 5840 - Methods and Design for Analyzing Change
E. The following courses are required for MA Experimental students:
1. PSY 6030 - Research Practicum
2. PSY 7000 - Masters Thesis (4-6 credits)
3. PSY 6430 - Contemporary Issues in Psychology (4 semesters)
An Important Note about Licensure for the Clinical MA Program
The terminal MA program in Clinical Psychology at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs is designed to prepare students for further training at the doctoral level. The goal is that the students are eventually eligible to become licensed as a Psychologist once they have completed the Ph.D. degree or Psy.D. degree at another institution. As such, our program is not designed to meet the master’s level licensure requirements as a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Colorado.
It is imperative that potential students in our MA program carefully research the educational requirements for the intended licensure or certification in the state(s) where they will seek licensure or certification. Because we are not designated as a licensure program, we have not sought approval by the Council for Accreditation and Other Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Please note that the licensure requirements of state boards and licensing agencies vary from state to state and also change over time. Consequently, successful completion of MA degree requirements does not guarantee that a state board or licensing agency will accept a graduate’s application for licensure at the MA level. It is important that potential students are aware of their responsibilities regarding licensure and certification.
Please note that it is absolutely necessary that you save the syllabi from all of the courses you take and that you keep course catalogs from each year that you are a student in the terminal MA program in Clinical Psychology at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Many licensing boards require detailed course descriptions that show what specific material and skills have been covered. By saving your own syllabi, you will have the appropriate sections and classes that correspond to your transcript.
Colorado State Licensure: Since 1989, Colorado has licensed masters’ level professional counselors by instituting a licensure board and creating standards and testing to determine qualification for such licensure. The vast majority of other states also have licensure requirements for masters’ level professionals, with each state having their own requirements and regulations. License requirements in one state do not necessarily translate to other states. To be licensed in Colorado as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), students must submit syllabi and course descriptions for the courses that fulfill the eight LPC content areas; pass the LPC examination; complete 2,000 hours of postgraduate supervised clinical practice; and receive 100 hours of supervision over a minimum of twenty-four months. These requirements may change over time. Full details on licensure are available from:
State of Colorado, Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA).
Potential students in our MA program are advised to carefully review licensure information provided by DORA and to be aware that it may not be possible for our graduates to become licensed in Colorado as a Licensed Professional Counselor without taking additional courses or without taking an additional practicum. As laws for licensure at the MA level become more stringent, it may be the case that graduates from our MA program will not be able to become licensed in Colorado as a Licensed Professional Counselor even with additional training and courses at another program. Please check the state requirements carefully if you are planning on attending our MA program and pursuing licensure at the MA level.
Graduate Student Characteristics
The M. A. applicant pool is national in scope. Our graduate students have earned undergraduate degrees from a wide range of institutions and we have a significant proportion of non-resident students. Of the 172 students who have matriculated in the M.A. program since its beginning in 1978, about 20% earned their undergraduate degrees from UCCS. The others earned their B.A. or B.S. degrees at over 100 different undergraduate institutions across the United States, Canada, Japan, India, and Romania. In the past four years, 52% of our students have been non-residents of Colorado.
Admissions to the M. A. program are based on Verbal and Quantitative GRE scores, undergraduate grade-point average, letters of recommendation, and applicant descriptions of their background and academic goals. The applicant pool for the past five years has ranged from 78 to 104 completed applications per year. During those same years we matriculated from 8 to 19 students per year. Our selection ratio is small enough so that the scholastic characteristics of the students who have matriculated are excellent. The medians and interquartile ranges for GRE scores and undergraduate grade-point averages are shown below.
GRE and Undergraduate Grade-Point Averages (UGPA) for Matriculated M.A. Students
Evaluation of the MA program
What happens to the students who matriculate in the M.A. Program? Overall, we have a graduation rate of about 70% and an academic failure rate of only 1.5%. The remainder withdrew from the program. The reasons for withdrawing from the program are varied. Several of the students withdrew from the program in order to continue their studies in a Ph.D. program. For some, family and business considerations led to their withdrawal. it should be noted that the program is designed so that it can be completed in two years by a full-time student. Many of our students attend part-time and some take longer than expected to complete their thesis research.
What happens to our graduates? About half of our graduates choose to go on to doctorate programs and the other half choose to enter the work force. The percent of students who get accepted for doctoral level programs is very high. Nearly 90% of those who have applied for Ph.D. level programs have been accepted. Our graduates have gone on to places such as University of Houston, University of Miami, Kent State University, UC-Berkeley, UC-Davis, University of Nebraska, University of Kansas, University of Missouri, University of Hawaii, Rochester University, Fuller Theological Seminary, Purdue University, University of Alabama, Washington University, University of Arizona, CU-Boulder, Denver University, University of Kentucky, Louisiana State University, Michigan State University, and the California Schools of Professional Psychology at Berkeley and Fresno. Nearly all (94%) of the graduates who choose not to go on to doctoral level programs are working in areas that are relevant to their degrees. Most are working as therapists or diagnosticians. However, as noted above, we are NOT a licensure program and it is possible that licensure at the MA level will no longer be possible in the state of Colorado for graduates of our clinical program.
The external review team very positively evaluated the Master of Arts program during the 1989 Academic Program Review of the Psychology Department. After interviewing graduate students in the program the external review team reported that the students "expressed high regard for their training." They report that "students felt that their professors were quite competent, readily accessible to them, and eager to involve them in interesting thesis research projects," and that most professors "served as good mentors." They summarize their findings about the master’s program with the following observations:
Many master’s degree programs in the field of psychology are weak or dubious in their quality. The M.A. Program at CU-Colorado Springs does not fall into this category. The M.A. Program at CU-Colorado Springs has an admirable record of preparing students for Ph.D. work and placing students into doctoral programs at good universities.
The external review for 1996 was equally positive. It reads, in part:
Our external review for 2003 provided superb results as well. It reads, in part:
The Psychology Department has a history of offering master’s level education of the highest quality. All markers suggest that this program has been and continues to be one of the very finest general master’s degree programs in the United States. In this regard, the Review Team would rate the master’s program at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs as being among the five best such programs in the country.
Members of the faculty are an active, energetic, and professionally productive group. They received their doctorates from outstanding graduate programs followed, in some instances, by postdoctoral training and clinical internships. They have published their scholarly work in a wide variety of professional outlets. Although some publications are in less prestigious and less rigorous journals, many of the scholarly publications are in the best journals in the field. As is typical of psychology in general, members of the faculty appear to publish their work mostly in journals, although some are involved in book writing. These journal publications often involve master's level students as junior authors. There is also considerable publication with colleagues. Both of these patterns are highly desirable.
The Psychology Department has a history of offering master's level education of the highest quality. All markers suggest that this 2-year program has been and continues to be one of the very finest master's degree programs in the country.
There are two forms of housing available for graduate students: 1) off-campus housing in apartments and houses and, 2) on-campus dormitories.
A recently completed housing survey of graduate and undergraduate honors students in psychology found that 50% of the students lived within 5 miles of campus (range = 1-12 miles) and that it took them 10 minutes or less to commute to campus (range 3 to 25 minutes). The mean rent was $750/month for a one-bedroom apartment and $800/month for a 2-bedroom apartment, not including utilities.
On-campus housing is available. See the Housing Village page for more information including information on the new apartment-style dorms.
Application Materials and Deadlines
The application deadline for Fall admission each year is January 1st.
Graduate Student Handbook
The Graduate Student Handbook for the M.A. in Clinical and Experimental Psychology Programs can be found in .pdf format here.
For additional information about the Psychology MA program, please contact: