Master of Applied Psychology


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Program Description

Master of Applied Psychology

Studying for your Master of Applied Psychology at the University of Waikato allows you to gain an in-depth knowledge of one of three key areas of applied psychology.

You'll choose your specialist area in behaviour analysis, community psychology or organisational psychology. You'll develop a detailed understanding of the underlying ideas relating to your chosen area, as well as learn about the fundamental principles and guiding values connected to your specialist field.

During your Master of Applied Psychology studies, you'll be given opportunities to gain relevant hands-on experience. This will be through getting involved in work placements and projects, where you'll be connected with a range of organisations and community groups.

The type of workplaces you'll be placed in depends on the specialist area you've chosen. You could have a placement in an educational environment such as a school, university or special education venue. You may do a project at a research institution or in a private practice. Perhaps you'll work with business and industry, or in the health sector. You may have a placement in a governmental agency, or if it fits in with your specialist area, a zoo.

Master of applied psychology (behaviour analysis) – mapppsy(ba)

Behaviour Analysis is a scientific approach to understanding why people and animals do what they do. Studying behaviour analysis will teach you how both animal and human behaviour is affected by events in the social and physical environment and what you can do to help produce behaviour change to help improve lives. Knowledge of this science of behaviour and its behaviour-change technology will assist you in a variety of careers.

As a field, behaviour analysis consists of concepts, principles and techniques. In the MAppPsy(BA) you will learn the basic skills by which behaviour can be understood and changed. The practical skills include techniques to define and measure behaviour, undertake functional analyses of behaviour, create behaviour change programmes and evaluate their effectiveness. Many of these techniques and strategies are taught in the courses that combine theoretical and practical learning to produce marketable skills. The MAppPsy(BA) will help you develop research skills, including the skills necessary to understand and critically evaluate published research. You will also refine your writing and presentation skills through written assignments and oral presentations. The courses will give you an understanding of the key principles and ideas in this area of psychology, and how to apply them. The material covered is relevant to understanding both human and animal behaviour.

Once you have completed your MAppPsy(BA) you may decide to do further studies. You can continue to a PhD in this area, or you may choose to gain a professional qualification relevant to your area of interest.

The Behaviour Analysis courses that are part of the MAppPsy(BA) provide a course sequence that has been approved by the Behaviour Analysis Certification Board (BACB) as meeting the academic requirements for sitting the exam to become a Board Certified Assistant Behaviour Analyst (BCaBA). For more details about the BACB see

If you are interested in applications of behaviour analysis to human behaviour then you can progress to further postgraduate study to complete the full BACB approved course sequence required to become a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA). The last courses for this sequence can be taken separately as a PGCert(Psych) or, for students based in NZ, as part of the PGDipPracPsych(ABA). For those in NZ, this latter qualification leads to registration as a Psychologist. Graduates may work in a range of setting, e.g., community, mental health and education, and with a range of clients, e.g., adults, families, children and people with an intellectual or other disability.

Master of applied psychology (community psychology) – mapppsy(com)

If you choose to specialise in Community Psychology, you'll develop the practical skills you need to apply psychological techniques to a range of social issues. New Zealand is becoming a more diverse society, so it's vital you can apply these techniques in a fair and culturally sensitive way – during your MAppPsy(Com) you'll learn how to do this. You'll develop the ability to analyse complex situations and plan appropriate actions. You'll be introduced to research and inquiry methods, and carry out your own practical research. Throughout your studies, you'll gain an in-depth understanding of the key ideas, principles and fundamental values relating to this area of psychology.

In the first year of your MAppPsy(Com) studies, you'll gain experience in human and social services by completing a programme evaluation for a service provider. In the second year, you'll gain this experience by working with a relevant community organisation or organisations.

Once you've gained your MAppPsy(Com), you'll be qualified to work in health services, community service organisations, government departments and in private practice. You may choose to do contract work with human service organisations as a researcher, trainer or consultant.

The MAppPsy(Com) also provides a pathway into the Postgraduate Diploma in the Practice of Psychology (Community Psychology). This is a one-year work-based programme accredited by the New Zealand Psychologists Board, which enables graduates to become registered as psychologists in New Zealand.

Master of applied psychology (organisational psychology) – mapppsy(org)

If you choose to specialise in organisational psychology, you'll be focusing on organisational and personnel (human resources/employee) psychology. Organisational psychologists are experts in aiding organisational effectiveness by improving the well-being of their employees. During your MAppPsy(Org), you'll learn how to carry out applied organisational research. This research relates to areas like job or competency analyses and surveys. You'll learn how to evaluate organisational and human resource (personnel) interventions.

Throughout your studies, you'll become familiar with how organisational psychology initiatives relate to an organisation's wider goals. You'll develop your ability to analyse and to carry out library research effectively. You'll refine your skills in presenting proposals and reports, both in writing and orally.

At Waikato, you'll have the opportunity to gain practical experience during your studies. You'll undertake projects in different organisations and you'll be able to join a professional network site called IO-net.

Waikato MAppPsy(Org) students learn from experts in the field of organisational psychology – Professor Michael O’Driscoll and Dr Maree Roche.

Where might your MAppPsy(Org) take you? Organisational psychologists work in staff selection and performance evaluation. They work in training, motivation and work attitudes. You might also use your skills to help with occupational stress and burnout. Organisations may employ you to work with leadership, organisational culture and organisation development strategies.

Graduate study options

  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Admission and enrolment

To be admitted to the MAppPsy, you must have completed a Bachelor of Social Sciences (or equivalent) majoring in Psychology and must have achieved a satisfactory grade average over your 300 level Psychology papers – normally a B+ average or better.

In addition you should have satisfactorily completed 20 points at 300 level in Behaviour Analysis, Community Psychology, Organisational Psychology or equivalent.

Candidates who have not met this requirement may be enrolled in the BSocSc(Hons) or PGDip in Psychology in the first instance, with the possibility of transferring to the MAppPsy.

Please consult the Psychology Graduate Adviser ( for specific admission criteria and the required forms.

Last updated Feb 2020

About the School

This University is provides students with a full and dynamic university experience, distinctive in character, and pursuing strong international links to advance knowledge. A commitment to producing qu ... Read More

This University is provides students with a full and dynamic university experience, distinctive in character, and pursuing strong international links to advance knowledge. A commitment to producing quality research that aims to solve the worlds greatest issues has led to the University being among the 100 universities for research impact. Read less
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