College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Frequently Asked Questions


What is a thesis and why does everyone in this program have to fulfill this requirement?

A thesis is an original research project that involves reviewing an area of the psychological literature, formulating a hypothesis, carrying out a study to formally test this hypothesis, analyzing the data collected, and writing a formal paper communicating the results of this study. It is important for all psychology students to become familiar with the process of research, as a working knowledge of the scientific process is essential for becoming an informed consumer of research.

What kinds of topics could I do my thesis on?

Students have done their theses on a variety of topics related to faculty research interests.

Will I be able to function as a psychologist after completion of this program?

Graduates of any master's program are not considered psychologists by the American Psychological Association or by state licensing boards or insurance companies and are not able to function independently as psychologists (that is, set up a private practice, bill insurance companies for their services, call themselves psychologists). Graduates of these programs are, however, permitted to deliver psychological services (psychotherapy, psychological testing) under the supervision of a licensed psychologist in hospitals, mental health centers, clinics, etc. In many geographic areas that are underserved, such as rural areas, practitioners at the M.A. level of training may actually be more likely to provide psychological services directly than doctoral level providers, who may be less readily available and may be employed primarily as supervisors or administrators.

Can I be admitted to this program if I was not a psychology major in college?

Admission to the program usually presupposes applicants have been exposed to the field of psychology as undergraduates. If applicants are not psychology undergraduate majors, the Graduate Admissions Committee will evaluate their applications on an individual basis and will likely recommend remedial coursework designed to place the applicant on a more competitive level with other students prior to formal admission to the program. Generally, students are required to have at least 15-21 hours (including introduction to psychology, at least 2 content courses, research methods, and statistics) for full admittance to the program.

Do I need to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or the subject GRE and if so, when?

GRE verbal, quantitative, and writing scores are used as part of the admissions process. The GRE Advanced Psychology Test is not required for admission, but may be considered, especially for students without an undergraduate degree in psychology. To ensure consideration for admission, it is recommended that the GRE be taken no later than October of the year before admission is desired. For information concerning the GRE, contact the college or university nearest you or visit the GRE website.

Is the application procedure the same for international students?

We admit several international students each year. Applicants from outside the U.S. should check out the International Admissions page for further information about special arrangements and requirements for attending school in the U.S.

What is a practicum experience?

Students in both emphases of the program must complete 2-6 credit hours of practicum experience. These experiences are designed to give students practical experience relevant to their career interests. Students in the Social emphasis generally fulfill their practica hours by completing a research project (independent of their thesis) in collaboration with a faculty member, presenting this project at a regional or national conference, and submitting it for publication in a professional journal. Students in the Clinical Science emphasis obtain supervised experience working in the capacity of a psychologist-trainee at an appropriate mental health agency or program. For more information on typical practica experiences, contact the Area Coordinator for Social or Clinical Science.

What do students in this program do when they graduate?

Some of our students go on to PhD programs directly from our program, while others have chosen to pursue employment in a degree-related field after graduation. Some graduates pursue teaching positions at community colleges, or go into non-academic research positions in government or business. See the APA website for more information on career opportunities in psychology. Recent students who have chosen to continue on to PhD programs have been accepted at institutions such as University of Kansas, University of Mississippi, University of Southern California, St. Louis University, Kansas State University, Michigan State University, University of Tennessee, and Stony Brook University.

How many students do you admit per year?

We generally admit 8-12 students per year into the MA program. We have a 2:1 student-faculty ratio.

Is financial aid available?

There are tuition scholarships and graduate assistantships available through the psychology department, and, occasionally, through other departments on campus. Graduate assistants generally either work as teaching assistants or research assistants. You will be automatically considered for tuition scholarships and assistantships within the department unless you ask not to be. You may also apply for assistantships outside of the department (our students have been very successful in the past at receiving these). Typically all of our students receive at least some assistantship and/or scholarship support. For information on loans, other types of financial aid, and campus employment, see the Financial Aid Office pages.

What about money for travel and research expenses?

There are several places on campus where students can obtain funding for travel to conferences and thesis research expenses. Our students regularly attend and present at the major conferences in their areas, including those of the American Psychological Association, the American Psychological Society, the Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy, the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, the Midwestern Psychological Association, and the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

Do you admit students for the spring semester?

We only admit students to the program in the fall semester.

Is there a Graduate Student Handbook or a Graduate catalog available?

If you intend to enroll as a graduate student at UNI, you will need these publications. For a copy of the Graduate Student Handbook or Graduate catalog (also available on-line), contact the Graduate College, UNI, Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0135. Our Department of Psychology Graduate Handbook is available on-line as well.

Is housing available for graduate students?

On-campus accommodations for single students and families can be obtained through the Department of Residence. In addition, off-campus apartments are available near the University and in the Cedar Falls area. Housing in Cedar Falls and Waterloo is fairly cheap compared to other areas of the country. For off-campus housing information, see the classified ads in the on-line version of our local newspaper.

How much is tuition?

Current information on tuition can be found on the University's Tuition pages.

Is health insurance available?

For information on health insurance and campus clinic facilities, see the UNI Student Health Clinic pages.

Can I get a tour of campus?

Please contact Helen Harton, Coordinator of Graduate Studies, if you will be in the area and would like to visit our campus. We'll arrange meetings with relevant faculty and students and give you a tour of campus.

What is the area like?

The University of Northern Iowa is a campus of about 13,500 students in a metropolitan area of about 100,000 (Cedar Falls/Waterloo). Cedar Falls boasts a high quality of life, with many recreational opportunities in both the university and the surrounding towns. For more information on the city, our biking/skiing trails, the arts, and more, visit the City of Cedar Falls website.

Who should I contact if I have further questions?

Dr. Helen Harton, Coordinator of Graduate Studies.