MS/PhD Degree Program
There are three broad programs within the MS/PhD degree program: Clinical Psychology (APA accredited), School Psychology (APA accredited), and Experimental Psychology. Across these doctoral programs, faculty and students participate in five research areas: Clinical Health Psychology; Behavioral Neuroscience; Child and Family Studies; Cognitive Psychology; and Psychotherapy Research. Students interested in other areas should contact the department for further information.
In these programs, the MS is preparatory to continuation in the program. In order to be advanced to doctoral study, a student must have satisfactorily completed all requirements for the MS (including a thesis that is empirical and psychological) at The University of Memphis, or have completed an equivalent degree, with empirical thesis, from another institution. Students possessing a master’s degree without a thesis will be required to complete a thesis before being advanced to doctoral study.
Across the MS/PhD degree programs, the general training objectives are: (1) understanding of theoretical principles and practices of psychology; (2) development of expertise in experimental design, data analysis, and oral and written presentation of research results; and (3) being competitive for professional positions in psychology.
Program Admission and Prerequisites
Applications for each of the MS/PhD degree programs are reviewed once each year for admission in the following Fall semester. Applications for Spring admission are not considered. All application information must have been received by December 5 for an applicant to be considered for admission to the MS/PhD program in Clinical Psychology, by January 15 for an applicant to be considered for admission to the MS/PhD program in Experimental Psychology, and by February 1 for an applicant to be considered for admission to the MS/PhD program in the MS/PhD program in School Psychology. The following items are required for admission:
- A completed Departmental application form and completed University application form.
- A grade point average of at least 2.75/4.0 in all undergraduate course work. Applicants with undergraduate records at this minimum level are not ordinarily admitted. An official transcript of all undergraduate and graduate coursework must be sent.
- A minimum of 18 semester hours in undergraduate psychology courses, including courses in Quantitative Methods (Psychological Statistics) and Experimental Design. Students lacking some or all of these prerequisite courses, but presenting an exceptional undergraduate record, may nevertheless be granted graduate admission. However, students may be asked to remove such deficiencies before or during their first academic year.
- GRE scores (Verbal, Quantitative, and Written Analytical).
- Letters of recommendation from at least three persons familiar with the applicant’s academic background and aptitude for graduate work in psychology, specifying in detail the applicant’s capabilities for graduate study and for future performance as a psychologist.
- A personal statement of 500-1,000 words indicating the specific graduate program area being applied for, and describing the applicant’s prior research and applied experience, current research and applied interests, and career goals. Prior research involvement is weighted heavily.
- A willingness to be interviewed in person or by phone by members of the department faculty, should that be requested.
A minimum of 33 semester hours of graduate credit beyond the bachelor’s degree is required for the MS degree in Psychology, and a minimum of 80 semester hours of graduate credit beyond the bachelor’s degree is required for the PhD degree in Psychology. All work for graduate credit must be approved by, and must be completed at a level of performance satisfactory to the graduate faculty of the department. Students also may take coursework for degree credit outside the department with program approval.
Students with graduate credits earned at another institution, upon matriculation at The University of Memphis, may petition to have these credits applied toward the total number of hours required to earn their degree at The University of Memphis and to use transfer credits as substitutes for specific courses required for the degree. Decisions about such substitutions are made by the psychology department Graduate Coordinator. The number of transfer credits accepted as substitutions for specific courses varies by degree program. Substitutions are not granted for any of the Clinical Psychology program’s core curriculum.
MS/ PhD degree candidates are expected to carry a minimum of 9 credits per semester and to devote full time during their enrollment to pursuit of degree-related activities.
All MS/PhD degree students are expected to be active in research collaboratively with members of the department faculty each semester they are enrolled.
Master's Thesis and Comprehensive Examination:
Each PhD student is expected to complete an independent research project, culminating in a master’s thesis. The thesis is intended to be a demonstration of the student’s ability to plan, organize, conduct, and report a research/scholarly project. Students should familiarize themselves with the Thesis/Dissertation Preparation Guide before beginning to write. Only 3 hours of thesis credit (PSYC 7996 ) can count toward the degree. Upon completion of the thesis, the student takes an oral examination that assesses not only mastery of the thesis topic but also broader awareness of the theoretical and empirical issues in contemporary psychology. This oral examination serves as the MS comprehensive examination.
Second Milestone Project:
After completing the requirements of the master’s thesis, all PhD students will complete a second milestone, usually in the third year of graduate work. Students in the Clinical Psychology PhD program can satisfy this requirement with (a) a Major Area Paper (MAP); (b) an empirical manuscript submitted for publication; (c) an applied clinical research project (e.g., consultation project or clinical case study) submitted for publication; or (d) a grant proposal with the student as Principal Investigator submitted for review. Students in the Experimental Psychology PhD program can satisfy this requirement with a (a) a Specialty Examination;(b) a Major Area Paper (MAP); (c) a grant proposal with the student as Principal Investigator submitted for review; or (d) an empirical manuscript submitted for publication. School Psychology PhD students must complete a written comprehensive examination to satisfy the Second Milestone requirement. All alternatives require committees (three faculty members), proposal defenses, and final defenses.
Comprehensive Educational Requirements:
In order that all MS/PhD students obtain comprehensive training in the diverse areas of psychology, the following requirements must be met:
All MS/PhD students are required to complete
All MS/PhD students are required to complete PSYC 7301 /PSYC 8301 , and PSYC 7302 /PSYC 8302 during the first two years. With permission of the Major Professor and Graduate Coordinator, students may substitute PSYC 7303 /PSYC 8303 for PSYC 7302 /PSYC 8302 as their required course. Clinical Psychology and School Psychology MS/PhD students are required to complete PSYC 7000 /PSYC 8000 . Also, for both semesters in the first year, all MS/PhD students must attend weekly colloquium series to acquaint them with issues of research and professional ethics and professional opportunities in the department and in the discipline.
Must complete at least one course in each of the following areas
All MS/PhD students must complete at least one course in each of the following areas (or a substituted course approved by the student’s major professor and the Graduate Coordinator).
Biological Bases of Behavior:
Clinical students are required to complete PSYC 7705 -PSYC 8705 ; School students are required to complete PSYC 7701 -PSYC 8701 to satisfy this requirement.
Cognitive-Affective Bases of Behavior:
Clinical and School students are required to complete PSYC 7407 -PSYC 8407 to satisfy this requirement.
Social Bases of Behavior:
Clinical and School students are required to complete PSYC 7217 -PSYC 8217 to satisfy this requirement.
Clinical and School students are required to complete PSYC 7207 -PSYC 8207 to satisfy this requirement.
Dissertation and Final Examination:
The dissertation is viewed as the capstone of the student’s academic training, reflecting the student’s capacity for independent research. Dissertation credit hours (PSYC 9000 ) must be taken for a minimum of 6 hours and can be taken for a maximum of 9 credit hours. Students should familiarize themselves with the Thesis/Dissertation Preparation Guide before beginning to write. Upon completion of an independent written dissertation research project acceptable to the faculty, each student will take a final oral examination oriented toward, but not exclusively on, the student’s dissertation research and major area of specialization.
Students in the Clinical Psychology program must meet these additional requirements:
Additional Courses and Activities
Additional Courses and Activities — PSYC 7207 /PSYC 8207 , PSYC 7217 /PSYC 8217 , PSYC 7407 /PSYC 8407 , PSYC 7412 /PSYC 8412 , PSYC 7428 /PSYC 8428 , PSYC 7430 /PSYC 8430 , PSYC 7432 /PSYC 8432 , PSYC 7435 /PSYC 8435 , PSYC 7705 /PSYC 8705 , 2 credits of PSYC 8707 and 6 credit hours of PSYC 7434 /PSYC 8434 (including two courses of 3 hours credit each, with one course focusing on therapy with diverse populations). As part of their clinical training, students must also participate in the activities of the Psychological Services Center. To fulfill this requirement, students enroll in PSYC 7438 /PSYC 8438 for a minimum of 6 semesters.
During their time in the graduate program
During their time in the graduate program, Clinical Psychology students receiving department funding may be placed on a department assistantship, grant-funded assistantship, or clinical agency placement. The student is required to complete a minimum of 12 months of 20 hours per week (or the equivalent) in a clinical placement before graduation (i.e., 10 hours per week over 24 months).
Students are also required to complete
Students are also required to complete a minimum of 12 months of 20 hours per week in a research assistantship after their first year in the doctoral program. The research assistantship may be served in a community research facility or in the psychology department.
Research Area Course Requirements:
In addition to the general clinical requirements, clinical psychology program students in the following Research Areas must complete the courses listed below
Clinical Health Research area
Clinical Psychology students in the Clinical Health Research area must complete two of the following courses: PSYC 7440 /PSYC 8440 , PSYC 7441 /PSYC 8441 , or sections of PSYC 7434 /PSYC 8434 focused on cognitive-behavior therapy, clinical health psychology (e.g., therapy with medical patients, changing health risk behaviors, and pediatric psychology). Further, a major portion of clinical practica, the master’s thesis, the doctoral dissertation, and the internship must pertain to clinical health.
Psychotherapy Research area
Clinical Psychology students in the Psychotherapy Research area must also complete PSYC 7516 /PSYC 8516 . In addition, students must complete a third section of PSYC 7438 /PSYC 8438 and the student’s specialty exam and dissertation must relate to psychotherapy.
A full-time one-year internship, in an agency approved by the director of training in clinical psychology, is required. Permission from the clinical faculty must be secured before making application for internship. To be approved, the clinical faculty must judge the student to be academically and clinically ready for the internship. In addition, the student must have successfully defended the second milestone requirement by May 31 and the dissertation proposal by September 15 of the year in which they are applying for internship.