Master's Program in Community Social Psychology
The Community Social Psychology program at the University of Massachusetts Lowell is designed not only for recent college graduates but also for older and non-traditional students with experience in a variety of work and community settings.
In considering and reviewing applications, admission requirements include these six factors:
- Your college grades - we look for a grade point average of at least 3.0.
- Your background in psychology. Normally, we like to see at least 18 credits in psychology, including at least one course in statistics or research methods.
- Your work experience and other activities outside of school.
- Your Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, on both verbal and quantitative sections. Alternatively, you may submit scores from the Miller Analogies Test (MAT). The GRE/MAT requirement may be waived for current University of Massachusetts Lowell undergraduates who are enrolled in the BA/MA Program. The GRE/MAT requirement is also waived for applicants who graduated from UMass Lowell within the past five years with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better.
- At least three letters of recommendation, including at least one, and preferably more than one, from recent or current professors.
- A personal statement. This detailed statement should describe your background, explain your interests in our program, and tell us how you believe the program will help you meet your own career goals.
These criteria may be applied differently for different students. For students just receiving a Bachelor's degree, greater attention will be paid to recent grades. For students out of school for some time, work background and experience will count relatively more.
Matriculated students in Community Social Psychology are allowed to transfer up to 12 credits of graduate course work completed with a grade of B or better taken in other departments at UMass Lowell or at other accredited universities, provided that such courses are within the content area of community social psychology and do not involve credit for field experience or professional work. Such transfer credit is subject to the approval of the Graduate Coordinator and the Registrar's Office.
Part-time Study and Non-Degree Status
While the program in Community Social Psychology provides for full-time study, part-time students are encouraged to apply. Most courses are offered at late afternoon and evening hours to accommodate students who are employed. Students not pursuing an advanced degree or who wish to begin their graduate study without first applying for matriculated status are invited to register as non-degree students for specific graduate courses on a space-available basis. Such students need meet only the first two of the admissions requirements listed above.
If a non-degree student later applies for acceptance into the Master’s program, his/her application will be treated equally with those of other new applicants, though performance in graduate courses taken on campus may be used as an additional admissions criterion. Non-degree students accepted as matriculated students may apply to transfer a maximum of 6 graduate credits earned at the University of Massachusetts Lowell with a grade of "B" or better toward the Master’s degree.
Each newly matriculated student in the program will be assigned to an advisor from among the faculty of the graduate program. The student will meet with his/her advisor on a regular basis throughout the years of study to discuss course selections, planning for practicum, and the development of the thesis or project (optional). Once a student selects a faculty supervisor for his/her thesis or project, this faculty member takes over as graduate academic advisor.
Degree Requirements: Credits
A total of 36 academic credits, at least 24 of which must be taken at the University of Massachusetts Lowell with a grade average of B or better, is required for the completion of the degree. The 36 credits for the Master’s degree are divided as follows:
9 credits (includes 47.500, 47.512, 47.625)
Electives 21 credits
The remaining degree credits consist of elective courses. Students may select from any of over 20 elective courses in Community Social Psychology, almost all of which are offered at least once every two years. Students may also, when appropriate, request permission to take related courses from other graduate programs at UML. In their choice of electives, students have the option of completing a Master's Project or Thesis, which are significant pieces of independent scholarship, under faculty supervision, designed to extend and integrate a student's learning. The Thesis is larger in scope, counts for 6 credits toward the degree over the course of two semesters, and typically involves original empirical research. The Project counts for 3 credits toward the degree completed in a single semester and typically involves a change-oriented activity under faculty supervision.
Total must equal 36 credits.
Students are encouraged to participate actively in tailoring their program to achieve specific career and professional goals. Specialization within specific clusters is recommended; clusters include Family Studies, Diversity Studies, and Community and Organizational Change, and are completed through careful selection of electives. Each cluster consists of one required anchor course plus two additional cluster electives for a total of nine credits.
Why would I consider completing a Cluster?
Choosing to complete a Cluster provides you with a coherent basis for selecting and relating together some of your elective courses. This in turn will provide you with a greater degree of knowledge and competence within a specific sub-area of the broad field of community social psychology. Cluster completion could be attractive to some employers (not simply in a resume, but also emphasized in a cover letter), and also in some cases in applying for doctoral work.
Thesis and Project Options
To earn the 36 credits needed for the Master's degree, all matriculated students in Community Social Psychology have the option of completing either a Thesis or a Project. Both these options represent an integrative piece of significant scholarship. The Thesis will be larger in scope, more formal, and more rigorous than the Project, and it must involve empirical research. A brief summary is provided here:
- Be completed over the course of two semesters (usually consecutive), counting for 6 credits toward the degree
- Involve a Thesis Committee of three faculty
- Be written in accordance with University guidelines
- Be defended by the student in front of the Thesis Committee at a public meeting.
The Thesis will always be a piece of quantitative and/or qualitative research, involving a review of literature, a clear statement of a research question, the design of an appropriate method for collecting data, and the analysis of results as the basis for drawing conclusions.
- Typically be completed over the course of one academic semester, counting for 3 credits toward the degree
- Be carried out under the supervision of one faculty member
- Be written in accordance with guidelines established by the graduate program
- Involve an appropriate form of public presentation
The Project may also be a piece of research, though narrower in scope and more focused than a Thesis (e.g., a pilot study or a program evaluation). It may also involve the development, implementation and evaluation of an action-oriented intervention.
Some students will gain most from the program by earning all their credits through coursework, but many will benefit from the opportunity to engage in the more independent work of a Thesis or Project. A Thesis might be a good choice for students interested in enhancing their research skills, and it might also benefit those who are thinking of going on to a doctoral program and a possible career in university teaching and research. A Project might be a good choice for students interested in enhancing their program design, intervention and evaluation skills, and it might also benefit those students pursuing careers in human services and community development.
Detailed information may be found on the department website and from the graduate program coordinator.
Bachelor's-Master's (BA/MA) Program
Undergraduate psychology majors at the University of Massachusetts Lowell who have a GPA of 3.0 or better are invited to apply to the BA/MA program, allowing students to begin graduate level coursework in our Community Social Psychology (CSP) Master’s Program while still pursuing their bachelor's degree. Up to 6 credits of graduate (500 level or higher) courses completed with a B grade or better may be used by the student to count toward both the Bachelor’s and Master's degrees.
Application to the BA/MA Program
Application is typically submitted during the student's second semester of their junior year to allow adequate time for the student to take maximum advantage of the opportunity to take graduate courses and double-count these graduate credits, while still staying within the maximum of 45 psychology credits allowable for the undergraduate degree in psychology. Although it is highly recommended that students submit their application during their junior year, application materials can actually be submitted at any time prior to graduation. Applicants are requested to use the standard paper application form and submit requisite materials to the Office of Graduate Admissions (Dugan Hall - UML south). Application forms and details on applying to graduate school can be accessed at: http://www.uml.edu/grad/docs/BachMast_AppPacket.pdf.
As additional advantages, students applying under the BA/MA option do not have to pay the standard application fee and do not have to take any of the standardized tests usually required of applicants. The decision to accept a BA/MA applicant is based on 3 factors:
- A solid undergraduate record, with an overall GPA of 3.0 or better
- Strong letters of recommendation: three are required, and we expect that at least two of these should be from psychology faculty at UMass Lowell.
- A personal statement that clearly describes the student's interest in our Community Social Psychology program and how it fits with the students educational and professional goals.
Additional Information from Graduate Admissions for BA/MA Students
- Students admitted to our BA/MA program are accepted on a conditional basis with the requirement that students receive their bachelor’s degree at the end of their senior year and graduate with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. If students do not meet this requirement, their master’s degree candidacy will be voided and they would be required to re-apply via the traditional application process.
- BA/MA students must complete their bachelor’s degree first before graduate admissions can change their status to that of a fully matriculated graduate student.
- BA/MA students may defer their graduate matriculation for up to one year following their graduation for the bachelor’s degree. A request for deferal must be made to the Graduate Admissions Office in writing. After one year of deferral, failure to register for graduate classes will invalidate their acceptance into the master’s program.
Additional information on the Bachelor's/Master's Program.
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