Graduate School - Psychology

Contact Information

Jeffrey Wherry, Advisor
ACU Box 28011

Abilene, Texas 79699-8011
Chambers Building, Room 210

Phone: 325-674-2471
Fax: 325-674-6968


Page Links:

Admission Requirements

Clinical Psychology (MS)

Counseling Psychology (MS)

School Psychology (MS)

Psychology (MS)


Steve Allison, Associate Professor
Richard Beck, Associate Professor
Billy Jones, Professor
Robert McKelvain, Professor
Larry Norsworthy, Professor
Scott Perkins, Associate Professor
Jennifer Shewmaker, Assistant Professor
Jeffrey Wherry, Professor


ACU Psychology Clinic:

Cherisse Flanagan, Director



The Department of Psychology at Abilene Christian University offers the Master of Science (MS) degree in four programs: clinical psychology, counseling psychology, school psychology and psychology. The MS in School Psychology is approved by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).

Graduate study in psychology at ACU combines scientific scholarship, relevant clinical training and a Christian worldview to prepare students for professional work, further graduate study and licensure or certification by state boards in education, psychology or counseling.

The psychology faculty at Abilene Christian University views psychology as a scientific and applied profession through which one may provide service to the local community as well as the community of faith. Faculty members view the nature and needs of humankind from a biblical perspective. Excellence in research and clinical practice are a part of the Christian commitment that students are challenged to share.

The clinical psychology and counseling psychology programs are 48-hour professional training programs that include academic work and relevant professional experiences. Requirements for licensure in psychology and counseling vary significantly by state; students must be aware that it is the individual student’s responsibility to ensure adequate completion of the specific academic and experiential requirements of a particular state licensing agency. To complete the degree in two years, students must maintain 12 hours per semester. Failure to follow course sequencing may significantly lengthen the time required to complete the degree.

The school psychology program is a 60-hour course of study that provides the clinical training and academic experiences required for working in school settings. The school psychology program is approved by NASP and meets all the requirements for the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologist (TSBEP) licensure as a Specialist in School Psychology (LSSP) and for national certification through the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).

The department also offers a 36-hour Master of Science degree in psychology for students with a variety of other professional interests.

Integration of professional excellence and Christian commitment is the guiding philosophy for graduate training in psychology at ACU. The curriculum emphasizes development of skills relevant to a broad range of professional activities. Students have opportunities to develop the essential skills to facilitate change in individuals, families and groups. Through course work and supervised clinical experience, all students become proficient in the basic areas of intervention, including diagnostic interviewing, case conceptualization, crisis intervention, goal-setting, treatment planning and the psychotherapy process. In addition to the traditional techniques of psychological assessment, students have opportunities for training and experience in the rapidly growing areas of neuropsychological, educational and behavioral assessment.

The psychology department at ACU is committed to training and mentoring students in applied research. In the last ten years, more than 135 students have presented research in the professional or scientific programs of regional and national psychology meetings. The practical necessity and the ethical responsibility to master the rapidly expanding scientific base of information underlying psychological intervention are emphasized through course work, individual and group projects, and thesis research. In each of the Master of Science programs, students have the opportunity to build expertise in their field of interest and to prepare to contribute to that field of knowledge. The psychology department actively supports student research.

The Master of Science programs in clinical, counseling and school psychology are designed to prepare ethical professionals who have superior skills, are conscientious in their work and are responsive to the needs of others. Personal characteristics of integrity, responsibility, emotional stability and self-control are essential for psychology professionals. Thus, students experiencing significant personal distress or deficiency in one or more of these areas may be required to delay enrollment in practicum courses until those problems have been resolved. In some situations, students may be assisted in revising their career plans to emphasize their personal strengths.

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Admission Requirements
Admission decisions are made on a competitive basis.

Minimum requirements for unconditional admission to the graduate programs in psychology are a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) and a combined score of at least 1,000 on the Verbal and Quantitative sections of the Graduate Records Examination (GRE). Applicants who do not meet one of these criteria may be granted conditional admission if space is available.

The primary admission criteria are listed under the Graduate School Admission Requirements section of this catalog. In addition to the general Graduate School requirements, applicants to any of the MS in psychology degree programs must submit:

     1. Two letters of recommendation that must be from psychology professionals; and

     2. A written statement from the applicant describing his or her career goals, professional
         interests and reasons for wanting to enter the psychology program at ACU.

For full consideration for admission to the master’s in psychology program, applicants are encouraged to submit all necessary application materials to the ACU Graduate School as soon as possible. Admission decisions are made once completed applications are received; qualified applicants are admitted on a continuing basis until enrollment limits are reached. Consequently, prospective graduate students should apply as early as possible.

Students specifically interested in study of marital and family problems should be aware that ACU offers a Master of Marriage and Family Therapy (MMFT) degree through the College of Biblical Studies.

Departmental Requirements
All programs in psychology require a Bachelor of Science degree or the equivalent from a regionally accredited institution. In addition, applicants must have completed at least 12 undergraduate semester hours in psychology including: elementary statistics, experimental psychology, abnormal psychology and 3 additional hours that may be physiological psychology, developmental psychology, principles of learning or an acceptable substitute.

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Major Code: CPSY

The Master of Science degree in clinical psychology is designed to prepare graduates for professional employment with supervision in various areas of psychology, to begin a college teaching career and/or to continue in further graduate study. This 48-hour program includes a set of core or required courses, elective selections, practicum experiences and a thesis project.

Requirements for the MS in clinical psychology are:

          1. Psychology core, 21 hours:
              PSYC 610 Psychotherapy
              PSYC 612 Clinical Research Methods
              PSYC 642 Cognitive Assessment
              PSYC 650 Ethics and Issues in Professional Psychology
              PSYC 657 Intermediate Statistics
              PSYC 660 Clinical Assessment
              PSYC 682 Advanced Psychopathology or
                   PSYC 647 Adolescent Psychopathology

          2. Electives, 12 hours: consult with advisor.

          3. Practicum, 9 hours: PSYC 690, 692.

          4. Thesis, 6 hours.

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Major Code: PSCO

The program in counseling psychology is also a 48-hour program designed to offer specific training and preparation in the area of counseling psychology. Graduates of this program are prepared for positions in mental health intervention, prevention and consultation. Licensure as a professional counselor and entrance into doctoral programs in counseling psychology are also options.

Requirements for the MS in counseling psychology are:

          1. Psychology core, 24 hours:
              PSYC 610 Psychotherapy
              PSYC 612 Clinical Research Methods
              PSYC 642 Cognitive Assessment
              PSYC 650 Ethics and Issues in Professional Psychology
              PSYC 657 Intermediate Statistics
              PSYC 660 Clinical Assessment
              PSYC 664 Theory and Practice of Career Counseling
              PSYC 682 Advanced Psychopathology or
                   PSYC 647 Adolescent Psychopathology

          2. Selections, 15 hours, non-thesis option; 9 hours, thesis option;
              BMFT 660 Therapy with Non-traditional Families
              PSYC 620 Group Psychotherapy
              PSYC 624 Social and Cultural Bases of Behavior
              PSYC 625 Seminar in Intercultural Studies
              PSYC 631 Human Life Cycle II
              PSYC 646 Child and Adolescent Development
              PSYC 648 Advanced Psychotherapeutic Techniques
              PSYC 688 Teams and Team Leadership

          3. Practicum, 9 hours: PSYC 690, 692.

          4. Thesis option, 6 hours; or comprehensive exam.

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Major Code: PSSP

The program in school psychology is a 60-hour program and offers specific training for work in school settings. Graduates of this program will be trained to consult, educate, assess and conduct research on the psychological and academic problems experienced by children and adolescents. The master’s program in school psychology provides students with the academic requirements and clinical experiences necessary for providing psychological services in school settings. Students completing this program will be eligible to apply for licensure through the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists (TSBEP) as a Licensed Specialist in School Psychology (LSSP) and will have met all the requirements specified for national certification through the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). The program is three academic years in length and includes a nine-month internship in a school setting as required by both TSBEP and NASP.

Requirements for the MS in school psychology are:

          1. Psychology core, 33 hours:
              PSYC 608 School Psychology: Organization, Operations and Ethics
              PSYC 612 Clinical Research Methods
              PSYC 642 Cognitive Assessment
              PSYC 644 Child and Adolescent Therapy
              PSYC 645 Child and Adolescent Assessment
              PSYC 646 Child and Adolescent Development
              PSYC 647 Adolescent Psychopathology
              PSYC 649 Behavioral Interventions
              PSYC 657 Intermediate Statistics
              SPED 577 Teaching Students with Mild Disabilities
              SPED 683 School Consultation

          2. Selection, 6 hours
              PSYC 699 Thesis or
                   SPED 685 Issues in Education of Exceptional Children and 
                   Approved Elective

          3. Electives, 9 hours: consult with advisor.

          4. Practicum, 6 hours: PSYC 690, 694

          5. Internship, 6 hours.
              PSYC 695 School Psychology Internship

          6. Comprehensive exam.

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Major Code: PSGE

The Master of Science degree in psychology is a 36-hour program for students desiring to obtain a graduate level degree that provides a knowledge of psychology rather than one that emphasizes the practitioner orientation of clinical, counseling or school psychology. This degree prepares students for further graduate study in a variety of areas of psychology.

Requirements for the MS in psychology are:

          1. Psychology core, 9 hours:
              PSYC 612 Clinical Research Methods
              PSYC 650 Ethics and Issues in Professional Psychology
              PSYC 657 Intermediate Statistics

          2. Electives, 21 hours, thesis option; 27 hours, non-thesis option. A maximum of 12
              hours may be completed outside of the department. Consult with advisor.

          3. Thesis option, 6 hours; or comprehensive exam.

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