FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE PSYCHOLOGY GRADUATE PROGRAMS
1. What is the accreditation status of the PhD program in Clinical Psychology?
We are proud to report that the PhD program in Clinical Psychology with curricular emphasis in Geropsychology at UCCS was formally accredited by the American Psychological Association's Commission on Accreditation in May 2008 for a five year period (until 2012).
2. How are PhD students funded?
The faculty are committed to accepting only those students they can reasonably expect to fund at a minimum stipend of $18,000 per year. Acceptance into the program is not a guarantee of funding for a specific number of years. However, the faculty intend to ensure that funding is available in order to make it possible for students to work full-time in the program. Since 2007, students have received at least $18,000 per year through Research Assistant positions, Teaching Assistant positions, and Clinical Service positions.
3. How are MA students funded?
MA students are funded in a variety of ways, including departmental funding of Federal work-study awards, serving as a departmental Teaching Assistant, and other positions within the department. Additionally, some MA students are funded as a Research Assistant in their research mentor’s lab. It is important to clarify these sources of funding with your mentor or with the department.
4. Is my acceptance into the MA program or PhD program contingent upon working with a specific professor or research mentor?
No. You are free to choose the mentor you wish to work with once you are admitted to the program. Although it is not required for you to choose a mentor before you join the program, it is beneficial to be very clear about your research interests and have a few potential mentors in mind. This will help determine whether you are a good match for the program. Additionally, in some cases, offers of funding are tied to a specific mentor and research laboratory.
5. How many students are in the incoming classes for the MA program and the PhD program?
The MA program (clinical track) has a typical cohort of 6-12 students. The MA program (psychological science track) has a typical cohort of 2-6 students. The PhD program has a typical cohort of 3-5 students.
The Counseling Masters offered through the College of Education is designed to prepare students to work in school based settings or community counseling. The program is much more focused on the practice of counseling and not research. Students in the community track are prepared for the LPC. The MA in Clinical Psychology is built off of the Boulder Model of Clinical Psychology where students are trained as scientist/practitioners and many students use our program as the launching pad to a PhD or PsyD program once they graduate. Students are required to complete an independent research project and take several courses on statistics and research methodology. They also have courses and practical experience in psychotherapy and assessment but the program is balanced in its emphasis on the science of psychology and the practice of psychology.
7. What is the best way for me to become a psychologist?
There are many pathways to becoming a psychologist. The most important question is what you would like to do when you are done with your education. If you want to exclusively be a practicing psychologist where you see clients, you might consider a PsyD (or Doctorate in Psychology) degree. These programs are designed to train clinicians and have less of a focus on research. If you see yourself working in an academic setting teaching, conducting research, and possibly having a clinical practice that is small, you should focus on a PhD degree. You can be a practicing psychologist with a PhD in Clinical Psychology, PhD in Counseling Psychology, a PsyD, and in some cases an EdD in Counseling (Doctorate in Education). You should check with the licensing requirements in the particular state in which you want to live because different states have different requirements. It is always advisable to discuss career options with faculty or individuals in the community doing what you would like to do to find out more about the educational and practical requirements of the job.
8. Will I get credit for the graduate degree I have in another area of psychology or another discipline?
It is possible for you to receive credit for graduate level coursework in psychology taken at another university although the prior course has to be similar to the one in our program. For clinical students, the Director of Clinical Training (DCT) will review your transcript and the syllabus or syllabi of your prior graduate coursework and will make determinations about which courses will transfer to our program. This process takes place after you receive an offer of admission. For psychological science students, the Director of Psychological Science Training (DPST) will review your materials and make the determinations about which courses will transfer to our program. Likewise, this is done after you receive an offer of admission.
9. Can I go part time to get my MA or PhD in your program?
You can definitely enroll part time in the Master's program. Although most students complete the programs in the regular 2 year time frame, we regularly have students who choose to be on the 3 year plan. For clinical MA students, this means that they would not enroll in their Practicum training until the start of the third year. For psychological science students, the three year plan affords more opportunities to publish and present research papers. For the PhD program, we do not allow part time students.
10. As a PhD student, will I have enough time to work off-campus?
Because of the funding of doctoral students and the time commitments of the program, we recommend that students do not maintain outside employment.
11. May students switch from the clinical track to the psychological science track or vice versa once accepted into to or enrolled in the program?
Students must apply to a specific track of the MA program (either the clinical track or the psychological science track). In general, should a student wish to change tracks, he or she must apply during the regular admissions cycle and go through the formal admissions process again to be accepted into the different track. In some circumstances, it may be possible for a student in the clinical track to petition to move to the psychological science track outside of the regular application cycle but this option must be discussed with the DCT and DPST.
12. Can students do thesis research with any faculty member in the department?
YES! Although students are accepted into either the clinical or psychological science program, at either the masters’ level or doctoral level, you are free to work with any faculty member whose research interests are compatible with your own.
13. Do students often publish with faculty mentors?
As a faculty, we strongly encourage our students to actively present and publish papers with their research mentor. We have a strong track record of publishing peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters with our students.
14. How many credits must I take to qualify for financial aid or be considered full time?
A graduate student is considered full-time and eligible for financial aid if enrolled in 5 or more credits during the fall and spring semesters and 3 credits during the summer semester. Students earning an MA degree are required to take 9 to 15 credits per semester to complete the degree in two years.
15. How does full-time/part-time status affect financial aid?
Students deciding to complete the MA degree in three years typically still qualify for financial aid through the financial aid office. The Psychology Department may consider a student taking three years to complete a master’s degree part time but the financial aid office and the graduate school will still classify you as full time as long as you are enrolled in 5 credits in the fall and spring semesters. Psychology degree requirements necessitate students enroll in 9 to 15 credits per semester full time and 5 to 7 credits part time.
16. What is the atmosphere like in the department? Between students? Between student and faculty?
We strive to maintain a collegial and respectful atmosphere in the department. We encourage supportive and collaborative relationships between students and between students and faculty.
17. When I complete the terminal MA program (clinical track) can I sit for the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) exam in Colorado?
No. Our terminal MA program is designed to prepare you for entrance into a doctoral program in psychology (PhD or PsyD) so that you can become licensed as a Psychologist after you graduate from the doctoral program. However, some of our MA students stop at the MA level and then work toward the LPC licensure in Colorado. Because we are not a licensure preparation program, these students must take several additional courses, receive more supervised clinical practicum experience, and must submit their educational documentation to the Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE) for a determination of equivalency with Colorado's requirements. Please click here to see a detailed note on licensure regarding the MA Clinical Program. An application for a Colorado Educational Equivalency Review can be downloaded from www.cce-global.org. Students interested in pursuing licensure at the MA level in Colorado should carefully consult the full requirements for licensure which can be found on the website of Colorado's Department of Regulatory Agencies, Division of Registrations.
18. What are thesis credits, dissertation credits, and research practicum credits? And when should I take them?
All of these are course credits that you receive for time spent working on your research project. Thesis credits (PSY 7000) should be taken by students when they work on their master’s thesis project. The MA program requires you to take 6 thesis credits toward your degree. Dissertation credits (PSY 8000) should be taken by PhD students during the time that they are working on their dissertation research. Doctoral students are required to take 30 credits; the timing of those credits is constrained by the Graduate School rules that you should review. Research practicum credits (PSY 6030 for master’s, PSY 7030 for PhD) allocate time for you and your mentor to work on your research training. They need to be taken during a specific term. Your thesis/dissertation advisor will inform you when you should take the research practicum credits.
19. Because clinical students take many more courses than psychological science students, what are psychological science students supposed to do with all that extra time?
Psychological science students are advised to work closely with their research mentor to develop a plan for intensive research training within laboratory and classroom settings. Psychological science students are expected to do more than one research project.
20. Does the program have qualifying/comprehensive exams and how are they structured?
The PhD program does have qualifying/comprehensive exams but the MA program does not. A full description of the process is located on the PhD program website.
21. What are tuition rates?
Tuition rates are provided at the Bursar's Office where they are updated. Notice that MA and the PhD are listed in separate tuition categories.
22. What classes should I take?
Students will find it very helpful to meet with Andrea Williams regarding their schedules before/when they first arrive, and at least at the beginning of each semester for planning purposes to make sure they are taking the correct courses. When new students arrive, the students and Andrea meet and work together to create an academic plan for each student's time in our program.