Requirements for Non-Psychology Majors
Seeking a Master’s Degree in Psychology
The Psychology department will no longer admit students as Conditionally Classified solely to obtain the Psychology upper division coursework required to apply to our master’s programs – this is in keeping with current university policy. Students not currently matriculated and wishing to take undergraduate coursework at CSULB must do so through Open University. Lower division coursework may be obtained through Community Colleges (see discussion below).
If your undergraduate degree is in an area other than Psychology and you wish to pursue a Master of Arts or Master of Science degree in Psychology, you will be required to have the equivalent of 4 lower division and 8 upper division CSULB Psychology courses (approximately 24 upper division semester units). You may take the lower division courses at a Community College (see discussion below). Upper division courses must be taken at a four year university, either at CSULB through Open University, or at another institution. You would not be eligible to apply to CSULB and any of the Psychology department’s master’s program (two application process) until you have the required lower division coursework and at least 5 upper division courses successfully completed at time of application.
Obtaining Lower Division Courses
The following lower division courses are required: PSY 100 (General Psychology), PSY 220 (Psychology Research Methods), PSY 210 (Introductory Statistics), and PSY 241 (Psychobiology). See list of equivalent courses available via “local” community colleges in the greater Southern California area. Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to view this list. It is recommended that you obtain the lower division courses through a community college – see discussion below.
Applying to a Psychology Master’s Program
You may apply to one of the Psychology department’s Master’s programs once you have completed five of the eight required upper division (semester) units. (Of these eight upper division courses, 3-4 are in specific areas dependant upon the program to which applying.) The remaining required upper division coursework would need to be completed by program entry. On rare occasions a program (MAPR or MSHF) will offer a master’s program applicant entry conditionally, with stipulations that will need to be fulfilled within a set time frame, otherwise status in the program will be terminated. There is no longer specific Conditionally Classified application to the department – such status is offered only by the individual master’s programs (the MSIO program does not offer conditional entry).
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Where do I start my preparation for applying to one of your master’s programs?
I’ve taken psychology courses in the past – should I retake them?
It is recommended that at least three of the four lower division courses be taken before attempting upper division courses: PSY 100, 210 and 220 lay the foundation upon which most Psychology coursework is built. (PSY 241 is also an important foundation course for more specific subject areas – it should be taken as soon as possible, but definitely before attempting courses that have it as a prerequisite.)
Although there is no specific expiration date set on previously taken coursework, it is suggested that any courses over five years old be retaken. You would be encouraged to repeat any of the lower division foundation courses, particularly PSY 210, if you feel you should take a “refresher” course.
See note below regarding what else should be done while preparing to apply to our master’s programs.
May I take any of the following lower division courses at CSULB: PSY 100, 210, 220 or 241?
You may take them through Open University at CSULB, but there are compelling reasons to take them at a community college instead:
1. It is usually more expensive to take courses through Open University than at a community college.
2. Open University students must wait until the first day of instruction during fall and spring semesters to be able to register for a course, which may be full at that point. (Summer and Winter sessions currently do not have this restriction.)
May I take other courses at a community college towards the 8 upper division courses, such as Social or Abnormal Psychology?
Unfortunately, no. Community college coursework is considered lower division; therefore, only PSY 100, 210, 220, and 241 may be taken at a community college. Click here for list of community college equivalency numbers for PSY 100, 210, 220 and 241.
Are the GRE tests needed to take Psychology courses through Open University?
When do I take the GREs and which tests are required?
The GRE tests are not required to take Psychology lower and upper division coursework through Open University. You will not need to take the General GRE tests (Verbal, Quantitative, Analytical writing) until you are ready to apply to one of our master’s programs. Please be sure, however, that you take the General tests at least 1 1/2 months prior to the deadline for the master’s program you are applying to – it can take 2-5 weeks for results to be sent to the university. The Psychology Subject test is not required for the CSULB Psychology department’s master’s programs – only the General tests.
What else should I do to prepare for application to one of the Master’s programs?
You will be expected to have psychology research experience; this is obtained by assisting one or more psychology professors with their research. To work in a professor’s lab, a suggested strategy would be to ask a professor with whom you’ve taken a course (and done well in) if he/she would be able to take you into his/her lab. Having research experience demonstrates to master’s program selection committees that you have a first hand knowledge of what is involved with psychological research. Also, it allows you to request letters of recommendation from these professors.
It it highly recommended that you prepare for the GRE General tests in advance.
Getting involved with department student organizations, particularly those in the area you wish to apply to, may further your exposure to these professional areas. The CSULB Psychology department has student organizations specifically in the areas of Human Factors and Industrial/Organizational Psychology; those interested in our MA-Psychological Research program would best be served by the PsiChi and PSA student groups.