Psychology Home at The University of West Georgia

Choose Your Path

Degree Requirements | Thesis Option | Non-thesis Option | Practicum | Clinical Information | Studying Outside of the Psychology Department | Preparing for Graduation

Degree Requirements

The master's program offers two different options to accommodate a variety of career paths: Thesis and Non-Thesis. There are two required gateway courses in the master's program. All students are required to take Foundations of Humanistic Psychology (PSYC 6000) and Human Growth and Potential (PSYC 6010). The Foundations course explores and examines the conceptual basis of contemporary humanistic psychology, while Human Growth and Potential emphasizes personal growth and awareness in an experiential context. Besides these two courses, students can choose classes consistent with their interests and plans. For example, some students may select courses to fulfill the basic requirements for becoming licensed counselors while others may be interested in further graduate study.

Thesis Option

Researching, writing and defending a thesis is a great deal of work for any student. Writing a thesis is strongly encouraged for those students who are hoping to get into doctoral programs as it demonstrates the ability to do solid work. Writing a thesis is the one of the best ways to prepare for writing a dissertation. If you decide to write a thesis it is strongly recommended that you seek out a faculty advisor. You may want to research the areas of interest among the faculty and try to find someone who will be a “good fit” for the work you are planning on doing. Keep in mind that faculty members may not always be available every semester. The thesis tracks requires 33 hours of coursework plus 3 hours to be earned during directed thesis preparation.

Non-Thesis Option

Under this option students must complete a total of 45 hours of course work. Up to 12 hours can be taken in graduate courses in departments other than psychology without special permission. However, you should check with the department Chair for course appropriateness.

Graduation Requirements for Thesis & Non-Thesis Options

Under both options, the student must demonstrate his or her ability to conduct exploratory research, design appropriate projects, and engage in creative reflection within the field of psychology. In addition, students must pass an oral comprehensive exam based on course work and individual research or projects developed over the student's course of study. The thesis fulfills this requirement under option 1 because the student must defend his or her thesis orally. Under option 2, a student must submit a written document as directed by his or her committee.

Clinical Practicum

Practicum represents the experiential training component of the program. The program emphasizes training in psychotherapy as a foundational praxis; however, it recognizes the importance of the larger frameworks of prevention, advocacy, and community work in one’s life of service to others. Clinical practicum training will only be offered to students already enrolled in the therapeutic training program. All graduate students, however, are welcome to enroll in the human service practicum with consent of the instructor. Click the link to view and download the Practicum Application Form. Note: Information regarding Clinical Practicum Application for the following semester is usually posted in Melson Hall approximately mid-way through the current semester.

Human Services Practicum

This practicum will emphasize conceptually informed work with systems and individuals in which the focus is on preventing and buffering the sources of struggles as problem, rather than treating the symptoms of these problems. Territories for intervention will include abiding and emerging social issues such as school and societal violence, substance addiction, prisons and punishment, sexuality and pregnancy, parenting, death and dying, and poverty. Students will seek proactively with the guidance of supervising faculty appropriate venues in which to work (e.g., homeless shelters, hospices, drug clinics, women’s shelters, fraternities): typically settings in which human service work is performed without pay and in areas traditionally not given priority by large private and public institutions.

In addition to their intervention work, students will meet weekly for group supervision with practicum instructors and student colleagues. Participation in the Human Services practicum will accrue hours relevant to some students’ later application for licensure as LPCs in that this work is considered “counseling in nature.” Under special circumstances and subject to approval by an appropriate faculty member, students may also create their own human service practicum in the spirit of this requirement.

Requirements and Enrollment

Students wishing to enroll in practicum will make formal application one semester in advance of their planned enrollment (excluding Summer semester), following published deadlines. As part of the application, students are asked to submit a letter of recommendation from a faculty member who can attest to their psychological and interpersonal maturity, self-awareness, and ethical and personal responsibility. Interviewing faculty members will then contact students to schedule a mentorship interview in which there is careful and candid consideration of the student’s level of preparation, interest, and commitment. This interview will be conducted by three faculty members, two of whom will be the practicum supervisors for the semester in which the student is applying. Acceptance into practicum will ultimately be the decision of the department of psychology, with recommendations made by the interviewing faculty.

Because of the burden of involvement with others’ struggles, practicum work may not be appropriate for all students and some students may not be allowed to enroll in the semesters for which they apply. Supervising and mentoring faculty necessarily and appropriately bear the burden of this decision, and in so doing will make suggestions to the students about ways in which they might prepare themselves adequately for future enrollments. Students who are not accepted for practicum can reapply the following semester, and faculty members will make suggestions to students on an individual basis about additional preparation to qualify for practicum.

Studying Outside of the Psychology Department

How many credit hours am I allowed to take in other departments?
For those who will be writing a thesis (33 total required hours), you may take up to 9 hours outside of the department. For those who are planning on not writing a thesis (45 total required hours), you may take up to 12 hours outside of the department. Special permission is necessary in order to take more than these. Please check with your advisor for more details.

Preparing for Graduation

Graduating with a master's degree is an important career milestone, and as such, it requires the successful completion of an extensive course of study. One essential component of the process is the application for graduation, whereby candidates for the master's degree follow a careful step-by-step process to demonstrate that they have met each and every university requirement for graduation.

All students planning to graduate should begin the application for graduation at least one semester prior to their planned graduation date. It is important to allow several months to ensure a smooth and thorough handling of each aspect of the graduation process and to avoid any last-minute delays.

For complete information and instructions on the graduation process, read and download these Graduation Information Guidelines.