Which Master's program should I choose?
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.
The experimental psychology option is designed to help a student advance to a Ph.D. program. The graduate could teach at the post-secondary level. With work experience gained in one’s already-established career path, the M.A. in experimental psychology may lead to enhanced career opportunities.
If one’s goal is to teach psychology at a regional university which offers baccalaureate degrees, or degrees higher than the baccalaureate, however, one will eventually need to earn a Ph.D. in psychology to be able to have the opportunity to become tenured and promoted.
If one’s career goal to earn a Ph.D. in psychology, it is more efficient to directly apply and be accepted into a Ph.D. granting program. Ph.D. granting institutions often will allow little transfer credit for those students accepted into their Ph.D. programs with an M.A. One would obtain an M.A. in psychology from UTPA in order to enhance the likelihood of entering a Ph.D. program, because one did not meet the admissions requirements to the Ph.D. from the baccalaureate level. (This may occur, for example, if one’s GRE score, grade point average, work/research experience are limited, so that Ph.D. programs did not accept the applicant. Many Ph.D. programs in psychology will, however, grant preferential admission to applicants who hold an M.A. in psychology.)
What careers can these degrees lead to?
M.A. clinical psychology students have good prospects of being employed in a mental health service delivery vocation. The Texas border, as well as Texas in general, has a shortage of clinical psychologists. Psychologists experienced in working with Hispanic populations are in demand throughout the United States. Unlike the M.A. in clinical psychology, the M.A. in experimental psychology does not qualify one to enter an explicit career. One would need to have a career path already established through experience in a vocation; then, the M.A. in experimental psychology may enhance one's career goals. Alternately, the M.A. in experimental psychology may enhance one's opportunity to enter a Ph.D. psychology program.
What other options exist at UTPA for applied Master's degrees in counseling?
There are several Master's degree programs in Psychology and related fields at UTPA. It is important to choose the one which matches your career goals.
- The Master of Arts Degree in Clinical Psychology within the Department of Psychology & Anthropology, College of Social & Behavioral Sciences: This program prepares community-based clinical/counseling professionals. The program emphasizes assessment, diagnosis and therapy interventions with adults. Training in mental health intervention with children is possible through additional coursework and/or internship experience, however. Graduates have had an outstanding record of being licensed as Psychological Associates and Licensed Professional Counselors.
- The Master of Science Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling within the Department of Rehabilitation, College of Health Sciences and Human Services. This program prepares counselors who specialize in delivery of mental health services to adult handicapped persons. The program leads to credentialing as a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor; with additional coursework, the graduate may qualify to become a Licensed Professional Counselor.
- The Master of Education Degree in Guidance and Counseling within the Department of Educational Psychology, College of Education. This program is designed to qualify individuals to serve as counselors within school districts. A school counselor must also be a certified teacher and have completed a number of years as a classroom teacher in grades pre-Kinder through 12. With additional coursework, the graduate may qualify to become a Licensed Professional Counselor.
- The Master of Arts Degree in School Psychology within the Department of Educational Psychology, College of Education. This program is designed to prepare school psychologists, who are licensed to work with school populations, basically pre-kinder through 21 years of age; most of the population the school psychologist works with will be handicapped students, many of whom fall under federal special education program guidelines. The program has traditionally emphasized assessment and diagnosis. The program leads to licensing as a Psychological Associate, Licensed Specialist in School Psychology, and certification as a School Psychologist by the national Association of School Psychologists.
- The Master of Education Degree, Educational Diagnostician. While this is not a counseling degree, this degree is related to clinical psychology, since psychologists administer and interpret psychological tests. The Educational Diagnostician is trained to administer and interpret psychological tests, and write a comprehensive evaluation report to communicate the results, along with a diagnostic impression, to a multidisciplinary team, including the referred child's parents. The Educational Diagnostician works within the public school system with children referred for evaluations to consider special education placement. Special education programs must comply with federal legislation, so the Diagnostician must be knowledgeable about federal/state guidelines, and also must be a public school teacher certified in special education (or be willing to obtain special education certification) with at least one year's teaching experience.