M.S. in Clinical Psychology

About the Program

The Master of Science in Clinical Psychology program is a 34-credit program emphasizing both research and counseling skills. This combination provides a strong foundation for the advanced study of psychology.

The development of research skills takes place through completing advanced courses in statistics and research methods. Students have the option of conducting their own research study and completing a thesis (which involves an additional 3 credits of coursework, for a total of 37 credits).

Newly admitted students may start the Clinical Psychology program in the fall semester. It is possible to complete the program in 2½ years if attending on a part-time basis.

Focus on Practical Skills

The curriculum in the Master of Clinical Psychology program at Cal Lutheran emphasizes the development of practical research skills based on a scientist-practitioner model. A yearlong sequence in statistics and research methods focuses on the application of statistics to answer clinically meaningful research questions. In their first semester, students receive instruction in advanced statistical methods common in clinical psychology including hierarchical linear modeling and structural equation models among others (PSYC 562). In their second semester, students are taught advanced research methods as well as an introduction to the philosophy of science (PSYC 564). In addition to the yearlong sequence in statistics and research methods, students have the opportunity to participate in ongoing research conducted by Cal Lutheran faculty. These projects often lead to professional presentations and publications with students as co-authors. In the second year of coursework, students enroll in a semester long research seminar that guides them in a step-by-step process to conduct their own faculty-mentored research project (PSYC 565). Students complete their research training in the spring of their second year by completing a thesis or comprehensive exam.

Clinical training at Cal Lutheran is also consistent with a scientist-practitioner model. Cal Lutheran students gain knowledge in evidence-based methods for clinical assessment, interviewing, and treatment. Practical skills are emphasized in conducting clinical interviews, group therapy, and applied behavior analysis. Students are also trained in psychological testing and report writing. Due to the emphasis on research experience, the coursework in the Clinical Psychology program does not lead to licensure and students do not have direct client contact. Instead, students learn practical clinical skills through a variety of techniques inlcuding in-class role plays and videotaped demonstrations as a method of evaluating clinical competency.

Course Options*

The Clinical Psychology program offers students the option of completing two courses in child and adolescent therapy, or two courses in psychiatric rehabilitation, which focuses on working with adults who have serious mental illnesses.

The courses in psychiatric rehabilitation emphasize the goal of improving the quality of life for the seriously mentally ill by assisting them in functioning as independently as possible. Students develop skills in areas such as symptom assessment, functional assessment and skills training.

The two-course sequences in child and adolescent therapy or in psychiatric rehabilitation provide an opportunity for students to focus on treatment techniques related to a particular population.

*Course specializations are subject to change

Career Options

A number of career options are available to graduates of the Clinical Psychology program. The curriculum is designed to prepare students who plan to continue their graduate studies in a doctoral program. The program is also designed for students who desire to complete a terminal master's degree in psychology and do not intend to become a licensed practitioner.

Many of our graduates choose this career path and are successfully employed overseeing treatment programs in mental health agencies. Graduates of the Master of Clinical Psychology program are qualified for employment in the community college system as instructors of psychology.

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