The Master of Science in Clinical Psychology program is a 34-credit program emphasizing both research and counseling skills. This combination provides a strong foundation for the advanced study of psychology.
The development of research skills takes place through completing advanced courses in statistics and research methods. Students have the option of conducting their own research study and completing a thesis (which involves an additional 3 credits of coursework, for a total of 37 credits).
Newly admitted students may start the Clinical Psychology program in the fall semester. It is possible to complete the program in 2½ years if attending on a part-time basis.
A Focus on Practical Skills
The curriculum in the Master of Science in Clinical Psychology program at Cal Lutheran emphasizes the development of research skills based on the scientific values of openness, transparency, and reproducibility.
In their first semester, students receive instruction in the R statistical programming language (PSYC 562). Students become familiar with the basics of data management using version control software, data visualization, exploratory data analysis, and data modeling. In their second semester, students learn principles of experimental design and begin the process of developing their own independent research project (PSYC 564).
In the second year of coursework, students enroll in a semester long research seminar that guides them in a step-by-step process in conducting their own faculty-mentored research project (PSYC 565). Students can select a topic of their choosing and students often make use of open source data. Although each topic is unique, students are encouraged to explicitly incorporate elements of replication in their work in order to support psychology as a cumulative science that grows through replication and confirmation. Lastly, students complete a pre-registration, including power analysis, before conducting their experiment or data analysis. Students complete their research training in the spring of their second year by completing the thesis or taking a comprehensive exam.
In addition to the yearlong sequence in statistics and research methods, students have the opportunity to participate in ongoing research conducted by Cal Lutheran faculty. These projects often lead to professional presentations with students as co-authors.
Clinical training at Cal Lutheran is also consistent with a scientist-practitioner model. Cal Lutheran students gain knowledge in evidence-based methods for clinical assessment, interviewing, and treatment. Practical skills are emphasized in conducting clinical interviews, group therapy, and applied behavior analysis. Students are also trained in psychological testing and report writing. Due to the emphasis on research experience, the coursework in the Clinical Psychology program does not lead to licensure and students do not have direct client contact. Instead, students learn practical clinical skills through a variety of techniques including in-class role plays and videotaped demonstrations as a method of evaluating clinical competency.
The Clinical Psychology program offers students the option of completing a two-course sequence (fall and spring) for second year students. The specialized course sequence provides clinical training and practical skills. Some examples of specialization options that have been offered in the past year include:
- Psychological Trauma Theories and Treatment & Intervention
- Principles and Techniques in Child and Adolescent Therapy
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy/Methods in Suicide Assessment and Risk Management
- Family Mediation Theory and Application
Note: Course specializations are subject to change
A number of career options are available to graduates of the Clinical Psychology program. The curriculum is designed to prepare students who plan to continue their graduate studies in a doctoral program. The program is also designed for students who desire to complete a terminal master's degree in psychology and do not intend to become a licensed practitioner.
Many of our graduates choose this career path and are successfully employed overseeing treatment programs in mental health agencies. Graduates of the Master of Clinical Psychology program are qualified for employment in the community college system as instructors of psychology.