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Graduate Program

Clinical M.A.

The clinical psychology option is designed for those who want to enter a career of mental health service delivery founded on assessment, diagnosis and treatment of mental health problems people have, whether they be complex, chronic conditions, or relatively transient, acute problems. As a professional with a M.A. degree in psychology, one would also be eligible to teach psychology on the post-secondary level.

Graduates of our clinical psychology programs are prepared to obtain a license as a professional counselor or to pursue a doctorate in clinical psychology. Demographic analyses show that there is a shortage of licensed counselors and psychologists in our region. Although the local population is often not aware of the benefits that counseling can provide, there is tremendous growth potential for the career paths of licensed counselors and psychologists in the Rio Grande Valley. There are also a variety of counseling positions available throughout the country for bilingual counselors, or counselors with experience with Hispanic populations, that our students would be well-prepared for. Entry level salaries for licensed counselors are generally commensurate with beginning school teachers, but upward earnings potential is much greater. 

The department also offers a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology with a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) concentration. Details about this specialized degree are provided on the “BCBA Training” page of our website.

Students completing a clinical psychology Master’s degree can choose a non-thesis or thesis track:

Clinical Psychology, non-thesis option has the objectives of:

  1. providing core and broad applied knowledge of psychology to produce a master‘s level, competent, culturally sensitive direct service provider for supervised psychological and counseling services, and
  2. providing adequate knowledge of the professions of psychology and counseling to pass state licensure exams for Psychological Associate and Licensed Professional Counselor.

Clinical Psychology, thesis option has the objectives of:

  1. providing core and applied knowledge of psychology to produce a master's level, competent, culturally sensitive direct service provider of supervised psychological and counseling services,
  2. providing the ability to understand and conduct research in applied areas of psychology,
  3. preparing students with the necessary background to support continuation of graduate study in clinical psychology doctoral programs, and
  4. providing adequate knowledge of the professions of psychology and counseling to pass state licensure exams for Psychological Associate and Licensed Professional Counselor.

Advantages and disadvantages of choosing to do a thesis

Advantages: Writing a thesis means that the student has performed a scholarly research project, and has participated in the academic environment. This accomplishment should increase the chance of employment in an institution of higher education, and increase the likelihood of acceptance into a doctoral program.

Disadvantages: Writing a thesis is a great deal more work than the six hours credit one receives. It requires skill, organization, intentionality and persistence. If one's goal is to work in direct service delivery such as assessment and/or psychotherapy, a thesis will probably not be highly relevant; taking more applied courses to help with service delivery would be less effort and more relevant to one's career.