College of Fine Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences


Department of Psychology

The Department of Psychology offers master's programs in Autism Studies and  Community Social Psychology and Graduate Certificate Programs in:

The Department also offers a combined bachelor's-master's program for UMass Lowell undergraduates.

Philosophy and Objectives of the Autism Studies Program 

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are behavioral-neurological disorders, typically diagnosed before the age of three, that profoundly affect the young child’s ability to communicate, develop language, form social relationships, and respond appropriately to environmental stimuli. Repetitive, stereotypical, and sometimes even self-injurious behaviors are a common part of the clinical picture. Recent estimates of prevalence report rates in the U.S. as high as 1 in every 91 children. Currently, there is a critical workforce shortage of professionals capable of meeting the challenges of those afflicted with this disorder. The M.S. program in Autism Studies provides students with the knowledge and skills needed to enhance the development of individuals diagnosed with an ASD, support their families and strengthen the ability of schools and hospitals to work with individuals diagnosed on the autism spectrum.

Through their course work and field training, students will gain mastery of skills in several critically important areas:

  • definitions and characteristics of autism and other developmental psychopathologies; 
  • principles, processes, and concepts of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA); 
  • methods of behavioral assessment and selection of intervention strategies; 
  • measurement of behavior and techniques for displaying and interpreting data; 
  • experimental evaluation of interventions; 
  • legal and ethical aspects of intervention; 
  • coordination of programs and services with families, schools, and the community; 
  • training and supervision of direct service providers. 

Graduates of this master’s program will have met all the education and training requirements that will allow them to sit for the national certification exam to become Board Certified Behavior AnalystsTM. As BCBAs, they will be able to work with schools and other agencies to design and implement effective interventions for children on the ASD spectrum and to supervise other direct service providers. They will also be able to conduct research that could lead to new and effective interventions. 

Philosophy and Objectives of the Community Social Psychology Program 

Community social psychologists study relationships between social and environmental forces and the psychological well-being of people. They seek to understand how individuals and groups are affected by such social influences as employment and educational opportunity, organization and delivery of public services, and the social systems within which people live and work. The M.A. program in Community Social Psychology provides students with a rich understanding of how communities and organizations influence behavior, adjustment, and growth. Students graduate knowing how to analyze and solve human problems in a wide variety of community and organizational settings. An emphasis on facts, methods, values, and especially practical skills creates a dynamic learning experience. This is one of the few M.A. programs of its kind in the Northeast. 

By completing this program, students will gain:

  • Knowledge about how social and environmental factors affect the individual; 
  • Proficiency in conducting applied research and performing data analysis; 
  • Increased awareness of multiculturalism, human diversity, and social justice issues; 
  • The ability to design, implement, and evaluate community programs.

This graduate program meets the needs of students from various academic and occupational backgrounds. It attracts recent undergraduates from such fields as Psychology, Sociology, Political Science, Health, and Education. For those already working, it enhances the skills and career development of human service workers, community developers, health care providers, teachers, government employees, human resource professionals, administrators, and managers in a wide variety of public and private sector positions. Employment opportunities for graduates of the program, both in the nonprofit and private sectors, have traditionally been very strong.