A student who wants a career as a professional psychologist or counselor should plan on graduate study. The Department of Psychology and Counseling offers the Master of Science degree with a major in either psychology or counseling and the Specialist in Education degree with a major in either counseling or school psychology.
The Master of Science degree with a major in psychology and the Master of Science degree with a major in counseling have been developed specifically to prepare students for a variety of careers in schools and other community agencies offering psychological services. The Ed.S. program in counseling is designed to prepare candidates for careers in the development, supervision and administration of counseling services, or as community mental health workers. The Ed.S. program in school psychology is designed to prepare candidates for careers as school psychologists.
Graduate Admission Requirements
Applicants for admission to all M.S. degree programs must present evidence of completion of at least 20 hours in psychology and closely related subjects distributed so as to furnish an appropriate background for the work proposed on the graduate level. A GPA of 3.0000 is required for full admission. A minimum combined score of 800 on the verbal and quantitative areas and 3.5000 or above on the analytical writing area on the General Test of the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) is required for admission to all programs. In addition, a minimum score of 550 on pencil and paper form or 213 on the computerized form on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required of all students whose primary language is not English. In addition, students whose primary language is not English must demonstrate proficiency in speaking the English language via the SPEAK Test, the Test of Spoken English, or equivalent assessment method of oral language skills in English in order to be admitted to the program unconditionally. All applicants are expected to submit a written statement to the chairperson of the Department of Psychology and Counseling stating educational goals, plans for graduate school, and interest in the psychology and counseling program at P.S.U., along with three recommendation forms and the departmental application form. Personal interviews may be required for applied (direct service) programs.
Background courses may be assigned to students who have fewer than 20 hours of course work in psychology and/or a GPA below 3.0000 or GRE scores below 800 on the verbal and quantitative areas and 3.5000 or above on the analytical writing area (and who can be admitted conditionally).
Admission is generally competitive and limited by available training and practicum resources. Application deadlines are: Fall admission, March 1; Spring admission, October 1; and Summer admission, March 1. (Applications for M.S. in Psychology--Clinical Options will be accepted for Fall admission only.) Applications are not considered until all materials are received.
Since most graduate students in the department are involved in providing direct mental health services as part of their practica and internship process, the department has developed a policy to require background checks with governmental and law enforcement agencies regarding all applicants' history of convictions for crimes involving violence or exploitation of others. The $30.00 application fee helps to recover the costs of obtaining this information.
In addition to completing the prescribed curricula for the degree program emphasis and option, each student is required to submit a program (plan) of studies for admission to candidacy and to pass a written comprehensive examination.
Program of Studies
Graduate students should prepare a typewritten plan of studies in consultation with the major advisor after completing at least 12 hours of graduate course work and removing all admission deficiencies. This plan should be submitted through the advisor to the department for approval before the student's final 12 hours of coursework in the graduate program.
Graduate Student Retention
Students must maintain a GPA of 3.0000 or higher throughout the program. In applying for degree candidacy, the student shall have no grade lower than "B" in the core courses. Deficiencies in grades, professional behavior, or adjustment may lead to dismissal from the program. A graduate student in the Department who receives more than two grades below "B" in graduate coursework will be dismissed from the program. Students dismissed may reapply for admission and may be considered for readmission through the regular graduate admission process.
In order to insure that all students demonstrate openness to self-examination and professional self-development as well as the ability to develop and maintain good interpersonal relationships in individual and group contexts that characterize the level of personal functioning necessary for effective professional practice, faculty members will systematically monitor these factors throughout each student's program. In addition to frequent feedback from faculty and students concerning academic performance, self-understanding, and interpersonal effectiveness, faculty members conduct the following regular assessments:
1. Combined application information including letters of recommendation, personal statements, interviews, and other data will be used to select students for admission who are likely to demonstrate effective personal functioning as well as to develop high levels of professional commitment and skilled practice.
2. Each semester, the Counseling Committee will review the progress of each community counseling major in the three areas of effective personal functioning, professional commitment, and skilled practice. If inadequate performance is found in any area, the students will be informed by their faculty advisors of the specific areas and of recommended remediation steps to be completed to regain good standing.
3. During the semester before practicum enrollment, the same three areas will be assessed by the faculty advisor and the faculty practicum review committee. By this point in addition to maintaining at least a "B" grade average in all graduate course work and "A" or "B" grades in all practicum/internship prerequisite courses for the relevant program concentration, students must demonstrate sufficient self-understanding and ability to establish effective personal relationships necessary to engage in supervised practice. If there are limitations in these areas, the practicum application will not be approved for the next semester, and the student will be informed by letter of the steps required for remediation before reapplication in a subsequent semester. The student is also directed to work closely with his/her faculty advisor in the remediation plan.
4. In addition to using academic performance and behavioral evaluation to assess the student's professional development and skilled practice, self development and the ability to establish good interpersonal relationships in both individual and group contexts are monitored and evaluated during each fieldwork semester. If the students' performance in these areas is judged to be insufficient by the faculty instructor in consultation with the site supervisor, the student will not be allowed to enroll in fieldwork until remediation is completed and personal and interpersonal effectiveness demonstrated. If, at any of these points, the Counseling Committee judges that the students' personal, interpersonal, ethical, professional, and/or academic performance, despite remediation, is not sufficient to continue in the program, the student will be informed of the decision and offered the opportunity to discuss alternative academic and/or career plans with their advisor. Students may grieve such decisions beginning with a written statement for the Counseling Committee to reconsider, and then following the regular grievance procedure steps described in the PSU Catalog.
Consistent with the philosophy of the Pittsburg State University M.S. in Psychology and Counseling program, a recommendation for student discontinuance in the program is not perceived by faculty as reflecting personal inadequacy. Rather, we view such situations as generally resulting from a mismatch of student interests and abilities with program philosophy and goals.
All graduate students in the department are required to pass a written comprehensive examination in their last semester of enrollment. Students must register for the comprehensive examinations in the department office no later than the date for petitioning for degrees.
Enrollment in Practicum, Internship, Fieldwork
Any student wishing to enroll in a practicum, internship, or fieldwork of any type in the Department of Psychology and Counseling must complete the application process. Formal application must be made to the department no later than mid-semester of the semester before enrollment in the practicum, internship, or fieldwork course.
Admission to graduate practica or internship is open only to students who have been admitted to candidacy in the specific degree program for which the practicum/internship is required. (The exception to this rule is for students who are re-specializing and adding a second endorsement in elementary or secondary school counseling. A certification contract is required.) Specific prerequisite coursework requirements apply. Application forms are available in the department office.