Graduate School - Psychology

Robert McKelvain, Advisor    
ACU Box 28011
Abilene, Texas 79699-8011
Chambers Building, Room 210
Phone: 325-674-2286
Fax: 325-674-6968

Steve Allison, Professor
Richard Beck, Professor
John Casada, Associate Professor
Billy Jones, Professor
David McAnulty, Associate Professor
Robert McKelvain, Professor
Larry Norsworthy, Professor
Scott Perkins, Associate Professor
Jennifer Shewmaker, Associate Professor
Rachel Team, Assistant Professor

ACU Psychology Clinic:
Cherisse Flanagan, Director

The Department of Psychology at Abilene Christian University offers the Master of Science (MS) degree in three programs: clinical psychology, counseling psychology, and general psychology. The Specialist in School Psychology (SSP) 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 specialist in 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.

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 graduate 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 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.

Back To Top

Admission Requirements   
Admission decisions are made on a competitive basis.   

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 graduate psychology degree programs must submit:

  1. Completion of at least 12 undergraduate semester hours in psychology including: elementary statistics, experimental psychology, abnormal psychology and 3 additional hours that may be physiological, developmental psychology, principles of learning or an acceptable substitute. Prerequisites must be completed prior to enrolling in graduate program courses. 
  2. Three letters of recommendation, at least two of which must be from psychology professionals.
  3. A written statement (600-800 words) describing goals, professional interests and reasons for choosing to enter the psychology program at ACU.
  4. An undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or above. Unconditional admission requires an undergraduate GPA of 3.5-4.0. If an applicant meets all other requirements and has an undergraduate GPA of 3.0-3.49, he/she may be admitted on probation. The condition of probation means the applicant must make a B or above in each of the first 4 required courses. Failure to do so will result in suspension from the program.

Application Deadlines
All applicants who qualify for unconditional admission will be accepted on a priority basis until March 30. Applicants who qualify for probational (conditional) admission who have applied before March 30 will be notified of the admission decision on their application about April 10. Admissions after March 30 will be made on a competitive basis until programs are full. Except in unusual circumstances, applicants will not be admitted after August 1 for the fall semester. Only clinical and counseling psychology applicants who are qualified for unconditional admission will be considered for admission to begin graduate study in the spring or summer semesters. The school psychology program only admits students to begin in the fall semester.

Back To Top


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 648 Advanced Psychotherapeutic Techniques
    PSYC 612 Clinical Research Methods
    PSYC 650 Ethics and Issues in Professional Psychology
    PSYC 657 Multivariate Statistics
    PSYC 660 Clinical Assessment
    PSYC 682 Advanced Psychopathology
  2. Electives, 15 hours: consult with advisor.
  3. Practicum, 6 hours: PSYC 690, 692.
  4. Thesis, 6 hours.

Back To Top 


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, 18 hours:
    PSYC 610 Psychotherapy
    PSYC 612 Clinical Research Methods
    PSYC 648 Advanced Psychotherapeutic Techniques
    PSYC 650 Ethics and Issues in Professional Psychology
    PSYC 660 Clinical Assessment
    PSYC 682 Advanced Psychopathology     
  2. Electives, 24 hours, approved by graduate advisor or department chair.
  3. Practicum, 9 hours: PSYC 690, 692
  4. Comprehensive exam.

Back To Top



Major Code: PSSP

The specialist 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 specialist 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 specialist in school psychology are:
*Students must apply for candidacy status prior to beginning second year courses. Contact program advisor for candidacy application or for more information.

          1. Psychology core, 48 hours:
              PSYC 608 School Psychology: Organization, Operations and Ethics
              PSYC 612 Clinical Research Methods
              PSYC 624 Social and Cultural Bases of Behavior
              PSYC 642 Cognitive Assessment
              PSYC 644 Child and Adolescent Therapy
              PSYC 645 Child and Adolescent Assessment
              PSYC 646 Child and Adolescent Development
              PSYC 647 Child and Adolescent Psychopathology
              PSYC 649 Behavioral Interventions
              PSYC 657 Multivariate Statistics
              PSYC 668 Advanced Behavioral Neuroscience
              PSYC 669 Human Learning and Cognition
              PSYC 676 Prevention, Intervention, and Advocacy in School Psychology
              SPED 577 Teaching Students with High Incident Disabilities
              SPED 683 School Consultation
              SPED 685 Issues in Education of Exceptional Children 

          3. Practicum, 6 hours: PSYC 690, 694

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

          5. Elective (optional), 6 hours: PSYC 699 Thesis

          6. Comprehensive exam.

Back To Top


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 Multivariate 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.

Back To Top

Vision in Action

Watch the video above to witness the future of Abilene Christian University taking shape.

Learn more 

Connect with ACU