Frequently Asked Questions about the Applied Psychology Graduate Programs
Click on each question below to go to the answer
• What are the basic program characteristics?
• What is the difference between the M.A. and M.S. programs?
• How long will it take me to complete the graduate program?
• When is the application deadline?
• What criteria does the program use to evaluate applicants?
• Do I have to have a degree in psychology to get into the program?
• Do I need to have specific classes in psychology to get into the program?
• Can I attend on a part-time basis or through an on-line/distance program?
• Can I take courses as a non-degree seeking student?
• Do courses taken as a non-degree seeking student count toward the program requirements?
• Do you conduct interviews with applicants?
• How many students do you admit each year?
• Can I apply to both the Masters and the Doctoral program?
• When do you notify applicants that they have been accepted or rejected?
• Does the program give feedback to unsuccessful applicants?
• Can unsuccessful applicants reapply to the program?
• Can I transfer courses from another program/institution for credit toward my Graduate degree?
• English is not my first language, what do I need to know about the application process?
• What other advice do you have for International students?
• What types of financial support/assistantships does the program offer?
• Do I have to complete a separate assistantship application?
• Do the assistantships include health benefits?
• What other types of financial support are available?
• Does PSU offer health insurance?
• How can I learn more about life in Portland as a graduate student?
• Does the program hold an open house or provide campus tours?
The Applied Psychology program trains students to apply psychological research to applied settings. Although most of our graduates go on to work in government, consulting, or private industry, our program prepares students for both academic and practitioner settings. Our program places a strong emphasis on research, but does not emphasize laboratory-based research designs, and few faculty conduct laboratory-based research.
There is no difference between the Master of Arts and Master of Science degrees. The program requirements are identical. The M.A. degree includes additional foreign language requirements that the M.S. does not. So, in practice, virtually all students obtain M.S. degrees rather than M.A. degrees.
The Masters program normally takes students 2-3 years to complete. The Doctoral program should take approximately 5 years to complete (3 years after the Masters degree). However, students coming in with a Masters degree may take longer to complete the Ph.D. program if they need to complete more of the basic program requirements.
The general application deadline is December 15 for students to start the next fall term. Students are expected to have turned in complete applications by that date. Incomplete applications may not be reviewed during the application process. The program does not conduct mid-year (Winter/Fall) admissions or otherwise conduct preliminary reviews of graduate applications.
The program evaluates the following criteria during the selection process.
(1) Prior Academic Performance as indicated by prior undergraduate/graduate transcripts (i.e., GPA). The program does not require prerequisite courses, but does consider the nature of the applicant’s past performance in courses related to research methods, psychological assessment, and statistical analysis.
(2) Academic Potential as indicated by scores on the Graduate Record Exam. The program does not have a formal cutoff score for the GRE. However, most successful applicants score in the 70-80th percentile (or above) in Verbal, 60-70th percentile (or above) in Quantitative and 4.5 or above on the Analytical Writing sections of the GRE. The GRE Psychology Subject Test is not required.
(3) Prior Work Experience as indicated by the student’s personal statement, letters of reference, and other supporting information provided by the student. Past work experience in psychology or a related field is desirable but not required. Given the nature of work in psychology, most successful applicants do not have past psychology work experience.
(4) Prior Research Experience as indicated by the student’s personal statement, letters of reference and other supporting information provided by the student. Research experience in industrial/organizational psychology is strongly desirable. However, many successful applicants have research experience in other areas of psychology or in related fields.
(5) Letters of Reference. Students are expected to provide three letters of reference. We prefer these letters to be from faculty who can speak to the student’s potential for success in graduate training in psychology. However, letters from non-faculty are acceptable.
(6) Fit with the Program as indicated by the applicant’s personal statement. The application process requires a personal statement of approximately 500 words. Longer statements are acceptable, but excessively long statements are discouraged. The program strongly considers the degree to which the applicant’s personal goals and professional interests match those of the Program, as well as the extent to which the applicant’s stated research interests fit with those of specific faculty members. Thus, applicants should have a basic awareness of the types of training provided by psychology programs in the major area to which they are applying, as well as the nature of professions in psychology. Moreover, although admitted students often work with more than one faculty member, prospective students are selected and recruited to work with one primary advisor. Thus, the match between the applicant’s professional/research interests and those of the primary advisor are strongly weighted in the application process.
A degree in psychology is not required for admission into the program. Successful applicants may come from many different backgrounds (e.g., sociology, political science, communication, business, public health). However, as noted above, the program expects applicants to demonstrate an awareness of the major area field of psychology to which the prospective student is applying (i.e., applied social & community; industrial/organization; applied developmental). Therefore, we strongly encourage all students, including those from psychology backgrounds, to take the time to learn about the relevant major area field of psychology prior to applying to the graduate program.
No, the program does not have prerequisite courses that are formally required prior to admission. The program does expect students to have some prior course work in experimental psychology (or equivalent), and research methods and statistical analysis (other programs such as business, sociology, etc. are acceptable for this purpose). Performance in such courses or whether an applicant has any prior course work in these areas may be considered as part of the application process.
The program presently admits students on a full-time day basis. We do not have a separate evening or other part-time program. We do not offer the graduate degree through on-line courses or other modes of distance education.
Yes, you do not have to be officially admitted to the program to take graduate Psychology courses. You also do not need to formally apply to the Applied Psychology program to take courses as a non-degree seeking student. We encourage community members who are employed but considering a return to school to begin by taking a graduate course. However, students may be required to obtain permission from the instructor.
Yes. Course credits taken as a non-degree seeking student can be transferred into the program. However, the university has an upper limit on the number of credits taken as a non-degree seeking student that will transfer into the graduate program. Students should visit the Office of Graduate Studies (http://www.gsr.pdx.edu) for more information about this policy.
Once applicants have been narrowed down to a short-list, the program conducts informal interviews by phone and/or in person. These interviews are largely informational but are may be used as part of the final screening process for applicants as well as to help applicants decide whether PSU will meet their educational goals.
Each major area of the program typically admits approximately 3-8 students per year out of approximately 60-120 applicants (across both the Masters and Doctoral program). The number of students admitted varies each year, depending on individual faculty needs and capacity, departmental needs and resources, and the quality of the applicant pool. The program conducts one admissions process for both doctoral- and Masters-level students. There is no particular number of slots reserved for either program. In practice, more admissions offers are made to Doctoral students than to Masters level students. So, students considering the doctoral program are strongly encouraged to apply for that program.
Yes. Students who apply to the Doctoral program are automatically considered for the Masters program.
The applicant review process begins in mid-December. The initial applicant pool is narrowed to a short-list by late January or early February. Initial admissions offers are typically made in March, with an April 15 th deadline for student to accept offers from the department. The department also may make additional admissions offers depending on how many students from the initial round accept our admissions offer. We attempt to send out official rejection notices as soon as possible during the application cycle, but the exact time varies from year to year as well as whether the applicant makes the short list of prospective students.
In general the department does not provide formal feedback to unsuccessful applicants.
Yes. Of course, unsuccessful applicants should be advised that an application that is not successful in one year is not likely to be successful during the next application cycle without some changes.
In general, courses taken at other institutions may be applied to the graduate degree at Portland State. These typically either take the form of credits directly applied toward the PSU degree or waivers of PSU requirements on the grounds that they were met at a prior institution. However, students typically cannot count credits taken toward a completed degree at another institution. Prospective applicants should note that the transfer review process takes place after students have been admitted to the PSU Applied Psychology program. We typically do not conduct preliminary reviews of student transcripts.
Visit the Office of Admissions for more information about Portland State University Policies and procedures concerning English Language Proficiency (http://www.pdx.edu/admissions).
(1) Please note that the University requires international students to demonstrate a yearly income of $28,060 (as of June 2005) to cover the cost of living, tuition, etc. to be able to obtain a student visa. Students who obtain graduate assistantships typically would receive a full-time tuition waiver, bringing the remaining amount down to $17,260 (as of June, 2005). A substantial portion of the remaining $17,260 would be covered by the stipend associated with the assistantship. The student would be expected to demonstrate the ability to cover the difference between total amount required and the amount covered by the assistantship.
(2) The University does not have provisions to waive the application fee for international students.
(3) Please visit the International Student Services office for more information and resources for international students (http://www.oia.pdx.edu/intl_students).
Most admitted students are offered funding in the form of research/teaching assistantships or fellowships. These positions cover full-time tuition during the 9-month academic year and include a stipend to offset basic costs of living (the amount varies from year to year). The assistantships typically involve .30 to .49 FTE (i.e., approximately 12 to 20 hours a week of work) that may be distributed across a mix of teaching and research duties. The department does not make a contractual promise to offer students assistantships for any particular number of years. In general, students making good academic progress through the program and demonstrating acceptable performance in their assistantship duties will continue to receive assistantships while they are enrolled in the program.
All applicants are automatically considered for assistantships, there is no separate application process.
No. However students may purchase health benefits through the university.
Students who are admitted to the program may apply for other forms of financial aid, scholarships, fellowships, travel awards, etc. offered by the Psychology Department or by the University. For basic financial aid information (e.g., loans) students should contact the PSU financial aid office (http://www.pdx.edu/finaid).
Yes. Visit the Center for Student Health and Counseling for more information. http://www.pdx.edu/shac/insurance
Prospective applicants are encouraged to contact the Psychology Graduate Student Association for more information (http://www.pdx.edu/psy/psychology-graduate-student-association-portland-state-university).
The Psychology department does not have an open house or conduct campus tours. However the Admissions office offers campus tours (http://www.pdx.edu/admissions/campus_tours.html). Further, if you are planning to visit the University and would like to meet with Psychology Faculty members you should contact the faculty member directly to schedule an appointment. They also may be able to arrange for you to meet with one or more graduate students, depending on people’s schedules. Faculty members are less likely to be available during the summer, but students are encouraged to contact individual faculty to determine their schedules.