Graduate School - Psychology

Robert McKelvain, Graduate Director    
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
Cherisse Flanagan, Assistant Professor
Billy Jones, Professor
David McAnulty, Associate Professor and Director of Clinical Training
Robert McKelvain, Professor
Larry Norsworthy, Professor
Scott Perkins, Professor
Jennifer Shewmaker, Associate Professor
Rachel Team, Assistant Professor and Director of School Psychology Program
Charles Wadlington, Assistant Professor

ACU Psychology Clinic:
David McAnulty, Director
Cherisse Flanagan, Associate Director

The Department of Psychology at Abilene Christian University offers the Master of Science (MS) degree and the Specialist in School Psychology (SSP) degree.  The MS degree prepares students for professional practice and/or doctoral study in psychology.  The SSP degree is approved by the National Association of School Psychologists.

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 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 complete 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 National Association of School Psychologists (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 145 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. The student’s ability to maintain high quality professional relationships with faculty, off-site supervisors and with clients is essential to continuation in psychology training programs.  The Director of Graduate Studies may deny enrollment in courses where professional contact is required when student’s capacity is impaired. 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.  The minimum admission requirements for any of the graduate psychology degree programs are as follows:   

   1. A completed application and application fee;
   2. A completed bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university or comparable non-U.S. university; 
   3. 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 that the applicant must make a final grade of B or above in each of the first 4 courses required in   
        his/her program. Failure to do so will result in suspension from the program.  The Department of Psychology does not consider the GRE or other test as part of its 
        admission requirements; 
   4. Three letters of recommendation, at least two of which must be from psychology faculty or psychologists who are familiar with the applicant’s academic work. 
   5. Completion of at least 12 undergraduate semester hours in psychology including: statistics, experimental psychology, abnormal psychology and 3 additional hours           
        that may be physiological, developmental psychology, cognition, or learning or an acceptable substitute. The applicant must have made a grade of B or higher in each of 
        the prerequisite courses.  Prerequisites must be completed prior to enrolling in graduate program courses; they may not be taken concurrently. 
   6. A written statement (600-800 words) describing professional goals, interests and reasons for choosing to enter the psychology program at ACU. 
   7. The Department of Psychology does not consider the GRE or other tests as part of its admission requirements.
   8. Non-native speakers of English must pass an interview with two ACU psychology department faculty to establish that the applicant has sufficient skills in English and 
       American culture to provide services to clients in practicum settings.
  9. Because all professional psychology programs require students to provide services to clients in practicum sites, all international applicants must complete an interview with members of the      
       psychology faculty to assess the applicant's capabilities in spoken English and understanding of North American culture.  International applicants must also meet the University's English language 
      test requirements.

Application Deadlines
All applicants who qualify for unconditional admission will be accepted on a priority basis until March 30. Applicants who qualify for probational 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 July 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.  All international applicants must submit completed applications by February 15 for the Fall semester.

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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 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: approved by graduate advisor or department chair.
  3. Practicum, 6 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, 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.

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Major Code: PSSP

The Specialist in School Psychology degree is a 60-hour program and offers specific training for work in school settings. Graduates of this program are 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
             PSYC 683 School Consultation
             PSYC 685 Issues in Education of Exceptional Children
              SPED 577 Teaching Students with High Incident Disabilities
         2. Practicum, 6 hours: PSYC 690, 694 - approved by graduate advisor or department chair.

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

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

          5. 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 an academic 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. Approved by graduate advisor or department chair.

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

          4. No more than 3 hours of practicum may count towards the degree.  

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