Master of Arts in Psychology


Program Description

The USFSP Master of Arts in Psychology provides a study of biological, social, developmental and cognitive bases of health and human behavior, with a concentrated emphasis on how the adjustment in these realms serves as the platform for later health and chronic disease outcomes. The program also cultivates advanced competence in research methodology required to interpret and evaluate applied research data. For students in both thesis and non-thesis options, elective courses in the domains of experimental and applied psychology, health psychology, infant-family mental health, cultural competence, and other basic and applied areas round out coursework requirements for the degree. Students on the thesis track also complete an empirical master’s thesis.

Our program is designed to advance your study of Psychology, whether or not your undergraduate major was in a field other than psychology and you seek re-specialization coursework or you were a strong undergraduate major in Psychology or a related field. Our graduates will demonstrate a conceptual understanding of advanced psychology and contribute intellectually to the field.

As a program graduate of the M.A. in Psychology from USF St. Petersburg (USFSP), you will be:

  • positioned to assume human service and health research positions demanding advanced competencies in research methodology; data tracking, collection, and analysis; and grant writing associated with graduate training;
  • eligible for teaching positions at high schools and at 2- and 4-year colleges or universities at (1000/2000 level coursework) with the required 18 hours of graduate coursework in psychology; and/or
  • competitive for admission to top doctoral programs through the receipt of the foundational content and research courses built into the first year of the M.A. curriculum coupled with a thesis option that will provide intensive experience in a nationally-recognized program of faculty research as job prospects in Psychology will always remain best for people holding doctoral degrees in applied specialties such as counseling or health.

Our program also has a unique opportunity for training in Risk, Resilience, and Prevention (RRP) by completing coursework in the Infant-Family Mental Health graduate certificate program. With the competencies promoted in this program, we seek to reinvigorate the workforce with professionals who are able to promote human capital and reduce the risk of both untoward health outcomes and behavioral and community problems like school dropout rates and youth aggression and violence. Prevention and early intervention are key; instead of waiting for undesired behaviors to occur and then reacting (with accompanying costs) investments are made proactively to cultivate protective social, academic, and health-promoting behaviors and skills required for success in school and life. Our state is in critical need of professionals with these skills. To see more on the state of Florida, see the article “Report says recession hurts more Florida children.”

Are You A Fit for Our Program? Things to Consider Before You Apply

Although some of our students will continue with their studies to obtain a Ph.D. in psychology, it is important to understand that the M.A. in Psychology at USFSP is not designed to train licensed practitioners; it is not a counseling degree. Because we are not offering a counseling degree, it is important that students understand that our program does not afford opportunities to amass the supervised clinical hours that are required to obtain a license to practice in the state of Florida as a Master-level clinician; those with that aspiration are advised to seek out instead a Master’s degree in Social Work (MSW), Mental Health Counseling (MHC), Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT), or another degree where supervised clinical experience is an explicit component of the training program. We have created a program that is both applied in nature but has a strong research design and analysis component. As with all graduate programs, it is best to look over the faculty and decide if their specialties are in line with your own interests.

Admission Deadlines

Please submit your complete application by the best consideration admission deadline of March 1 for application to the M.A. in Psychology program for the Fall semester. The deadlines and step-by-step application guide are available from graduate admissions. Applications received after that date will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. To ensure your application is reviewed for the Fall, all documents should be received as soon as possible.

Core Requirements

  • PSB 6056 (3) Physiological Psychology
  • DEP 6607 (3) Typical and Atypical Development
  • EXP 6608 (3) Cognitive Psychology
  • PSY 6217 (3) Research Methods and Measurement
  • PSY 6218 (3) Graduate Research Methods


  • CLP 6318 (3) Prevention Science and Health Psychology
  • CLP 6623 (3) Professional and Ethical Issues in Applied Psychology
  • CLP 6477 (3) Infant-Family Mental Health
  • SOP 6739 (3) Cultural Competence
  • CLP 6478 (3) Developmental Disabilities and Other Disorders of Childhood and Adolescence
  • CLP 6462 (3) Working with Families of Infants and Toddlers
  • EXP 6930 (3) Topics in Experimental Psychology
  • SOP 6709 (3) Topics in Social Psychology
  • CLP 6937 (3) Grant Writing
  • PSY 6850 (3) Teaching of Psychology
  • PSY 6947 (3) Grad Instruction Methods

As an option, students may take up to six (6) hours of the 33-hour requirement in an area of specialization through other departments of the university, including three (3) at any other USF system campus. A departmental graduate advisor helps students with such choices. Offerings of USF System offerings present a range of options. For course descriptions, see

Qualifying Exams

For advancement to the second year of graduate study, students must pass all five (5) required first-year core courses with a grade of C or higher, and pass the qualifying exam in statistics and research methodology at the end of the first full year of study.

Thesis Option

Students admitted on a thesis track will complete an empirical research study on a topic approved by a thesis committee of three (3) faculty members and defend orally before this committee at the end of the second year of study. During the course of their second-year thesis work, students must enroll in six (6) credits of PSY 6971 (3) Thesis Research.

Certificate Credit Towards Graduate Degree

Up to 12 hours of certificate courses can be applied to a graduate degree with department approval. The Infant-Family Mental Health Graduate Certificate is an ideal certificate to apply to this program as long as all grades received in the courses were B or better and no older than seven (7) years.

Last updated Mar 2020

About the School

The College of Arts & Sciences is USF St. Petersburg’s largest college, offering a wide range of academic programs. The College has a legacy of providing programs of excellence in a student-center ... Read More

The College of Arts & Sciences is USF St. Petersburg’s largest college, offering a wide range of academic programs. The College has a legacy of providing programs of excellence in a student-centered atmosphere. World-class research and creative activities are carried out in one of the most beautiful metropolitan campuses in the U.S. Take some time to explore our offerings, where “the world will recognize your degree and your professors will know your name.” Read less
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