Option in Psychological Research

MA in Psychology, Option in Psychological Research

MAPR Fall and Spring 2019 Students










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The Master of Arts in Psychology, Option in Psychological Research (MAPR) program is designed to provide basic graduate education in the content areas and research of general psychology in order to prepare for doctoral work or for Master’s level careers.  It is a two year, full-time program.

The core seminars cover basic areas of psychology including cognition, learning, physiological/sensory psychology, social, personality, health, clinical, developmental psychology and quantitative methods.  Students are required to complete a research thesis as their culminating experience.

Doctoral programs frequently prefer students with the training and experience provided by the psychological research program.  More than half of the students completing the psychological research program degree enter doctoral programs throughout the country.  Faculty members and the graduate advisor actively guide and assist students in the Ph.D. program selection and also in job placement.  Of those graduates who elect not to pursue a doctoral degree the majority hold positions that make use of their training in psychology.  These include positions in community colleges, laboratories using physiological and behavioral research methodologies, social service agencies, business, industry and government.

All graduate seminar courses have an enrollment of 15 or fewer students, which facilitates close communication and intellectual stimulation among participants.  A total of 30 graduate units is required for the psychological research program and it typically takes two years for a student to complete the coursework requirements of the degree.

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Student Learning Outcomes

Knowledge base in Psychological Research
   By the time of completion of the MAPR degree, students will demonstrate that they can:

        Summarize and critique the psychology literature including core theories, particularly within their chosen area of

Research Design and Methods
   By the time of completion of the MAPR degree, students will demonstrate that they can:

        Demonstrate their understanding and ability to implement basic and applied research designs used to address
        psychological issues.

   By the time of completion of the MAPR degree, students will demonstrate that they can:

        Demonstrate knowledge of the range of analytic techniques that are used in psychology.

   By the time of completion of the MAPR degree, students will demonstrate that they can:

        Communicate both orally and in writing at a level that is appropriate for professionals in their chosen area
        of specialization.

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MA in Psychology, Option in Psychological Research – Degree Application Prerequisites

    Applicants to the psychological research program are expected to have a bachelor’s degree with a major in Psychology or 24 upper division units of Psychology coursework which includes four specific prerequisite courses, as well as four lower division courses (if your bachelor’s degree is not in Psychology, please visit this page).  The following courses (or their equivalents) must be included.  Students may be admitted to the psychological research program if they lack only one required upper division course.  The missing course must be completed within the first year of graduate study.  Students missing more than one prerequisite course at the time of application may be offered provisional admission, if they submit a plan to take the missing courses along with their application, subject to approval.

Prerequisite Coursework must include the following CSULB courses (or equivalents, to be determined by Psychology Department):

The following course:

  • PSY 310  Intermediate Statistics (2 semester or 3 quarter sequential statistical courses)

One of the following five courses:

  • PSY 351  Social Psychology or
  • PSY 356  Personality or
  • PSY 361  Child and Adolescent Development or
  • PSY 363  Developmental Psychopathology or
  • PSY 365  Psychology of Adult Development and Aging

Two courses selected from the following (note that only one course may be counted from
each section to fulfill the two course requirement):
Section 1:

  • PSY 331  Sensation and Perception
  • PSY 332  Human Cognition
  • PSY 333  Learning

Section 2:

  • PSY 336  Emotion (and/or Motivation)
  • PSY 337  Psychology of Happiness
  • PSY 378  Health Psychology
  • PSY 379  Psychology of Stress

Section 3:

  • PSY 340  Physiology of Behavior
  • PSY 341  Neuropsychology
  • PSY 342  Psychopharmacology

See Prerequisite course descriptions below (all courses require PSY 100 as prerequisite):

100. General Psychology (3)
Introduction to the scientific study of human behavior.  Provides a basis for further study and for application to everyday life.  Topics include biological foundations of behavior, motivation, emotion, learning, memory, thinking, personality, development, social behavior, abnormal behavior, methods of therapy.

110. Introductory Statistics (4)
Calculation and meaning of statistical measures.  Descriptive and inferential statistics.

220. Research Methods (4)
Prerequisites: PSY 110 or equivalent.
Introduction to basic research methods in Psychology. Principles of experimentation, naturalistic observation, correlational studies.

241. Psychobiology (3)
Introduction to the study of behavior from a biological point of view.  Biological systems and processes underlying behavior, with emphasis on brain mechanisms, presented in the context of fundamental concepts and issues in psychology.

310. Intermediate Statistics (3)
Prerequisites: PSY 110 or introductory statistics course.
Basic theoretical concepts of statistics and use of these concepts in selection and development of model testing, hypothesis testing and parameter estimation procedures. Both single measure (univariate) and correlation (bivariate) concepts are included.

331. Sensation and Perception (3)
Prerequisite: PSY 220, 241.
An introduction to the scientific study of sensory processes and perceptual principles from a psychophysical and physiological perspective, and the methods used to investigate them.  Topics may include vision, audition, psychophysics, and object and space perception.

332. Cognition (3)
Prerequisite: PSY 220, 241.
Study of higher-order processes basic to the acquisition of knowledge. Includes thinking, problem solving, creativity, information processing, decision making, judgment, concepts and imagination.

333. Psychology of Learning (3)
Prerequisite: PSY 220, 241.
Learning is a relatively permanent change in behavior resulting from experience.  Emphasizes interaction of biological and environmental variables in the processes of instinct, habituation, sensitization, Pavlovian conditioning, instrumental learning, and cognition; examination of methods, theory and applications.

336. Psychology of Emotion (3)
Prerequisite: PSY 220, 241.
Discussion of research and theories of emotions.  Includes the evolution of emotions, neurophysiological mechanisms of emotion, development of emotions, expressions of emotions, and emotions in social relationships, with an emphasis on the emotions of anger, grief, happiness, jealousy, and love.

Motivation (3)
Prerequisite: PSY 220, 241.
Situational and physiological determinants of human and animal behavior, theories of motivation and emotion, discussion of techniques and problems in the study of motivation.
No longer offered at CSULB – Motivation upper division coursework may be accepted from other institutions.

337. Psychology of Happiness (3)
Prerequisites: PSY 220, 241.
Examines research in human happiness. Topics include: Assessing happiness, the adaptive function of positive emotions, the relation between wealth and happiness, personality characteristics of happy individuals, international differences in happiness, and strategies for enhancing the happiness of individuals.

340. Physiology of Behavior (3)
Prerequisites: PSY 220, 241.
An in-depth examination of central nervous systems (CNS) components that create our behavioral capabilities.  Topics include major structural and functional features of the neuron and of selected systems that are representative of the sensory, integrative and motor capabilities of the CNS.

341. Neuropsychology (3)
Prerequisites: PSY 220, 241.
Localization of brain regions responsible for human capabilities as studied in patients with brain damage, normal people, and nonhumans.  How brain damage is assessed and treated.  Relation of findings to function of normal brains.

342. Psychopharmacology (3)
Prerequisites: PSY 220, 241.
Introduction to the effects of major classes of psychoactive drugs on the central nervous system.  Topics include anatomical and functional characteristics of neurotransmitters systems; pharmacology of drug administration; and physiological and psychological actions of selected classes of psychoactive drugs.

351. Social Psychology (3)
Study of individuals and groups as they are affected by social interactions. Topics may include social cognition, attitudes and persuasion, social influence, interpersonal perception and attraction, aggression, altruism, and group dynamics.
Not open to students with credit in SOC335I.

356. Personality (3)
Survey of classical theories and methods in Personality psychology, with a sampling of current research.  Examines how and why people differ in personality, and the ways these differences are reflected in thoughts, feelings, motivations, and behaviors.

361. Child and Adolescent Development (3)
Developmental change processes from prenatal development through adolescence.  Emphasis on ethnic, gender, and social class difference in development combined with emphasis on the universal features of human development.  Topic coverage includes physical-motor, social, physiological, and cognitive aspects of development.

363. Developmental Psychopathology (3)
Research on psychiatric disorders of children and adolescents from a developmental perspective.  The symptoms, causes, course and prevention of themost important childhood disorders are discussed, including conduct disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity, depression, anxiety disorder, autism and mental retardation.

365. Psychology of Adult Development and Aging (3)
Methodological and theoretical problems and issues in the study of developmental change processes from young adulthood through old age.  Topical coverage includes physical-motoric, social, physiological and intellectual aspects of behavioral functioning.

378. Health Psychology (3)
Research and theory regarding attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors related to health and illness.  Individual difference variables will be examined.  Analysis of applications of psychology to prevention, counseling, and treatment of major health problems.

379. Psychology of Stress (3)
Introduction to the scientific study of stress and its relationship to health.  Course content will focus on understanding the nature of psychological stress, its physiological correlates, and specific strategies used to help in understanding and managing our own experience of stress.

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MA in Psychology, Option in Psychological Research – Degree Requirements

Current MAPR Program Handbook   

In order to ensure basic graduate education and breadth in the field, a varied core of courses is offered. All students take at least four graduate seminars: one in statistics and research methods; the other three at the student’s choice from semester offerings. Besides the customary seminar assignments, students receive a reading list and study guide at the beginning of each core seminar to prepare for the comprehensive examination given at the end (finals week).

The thesis is the important capstone event in the graduate student’s educational experience. It allows the student to work relatively independently on a major project and demonstrate his/her ability to utilize psychological knowledge and skills in planning, conducting and reporting research. Our commitment to research is reflected in the broad scope of basic and applied research activities of the Department of Psychology. Student participation in faculty research projects is a major feature of the MA program and is encouraged before students conduct their master’s thesis research. Students are encouraged to develop a thesis proposal in their first year of study.


One of the following STATISTICAL courses:

  • PSY 511 Statistical Design & Analysis
  • PSY 512 Multivariate Statistical Analysis

The following two courses:

  • PSY 596 Proseminar on Graduate Research
  • PSY 696 Research Methods in Psychology

MA PSYCHOLOGICAL RESEARCH SEMINAR courses (three of the following):  

  • PSY 631 Perception/Physiological Psychology *   
  • PSY 632 Learning
  • PSY 633 Perception
  • PSY 634 Cognition 
  • PSY 651 Social Psychology   
  • PSY 656 Personality    
  • PSY 661 Developmental Psychology   
  • PSY 673 Clinical Psychology   
  • PSY 678 Health, Behavior and Intervention
    * MAPR Seminars are typically taught every other year; courses with * are not in the current Seminar rotation.

Six units of Thesis (PSY 698)
All MAPR students are required to conduct an original empirical investigation for their thesis.   Six units of credit are given for the project.

Two Elective Courses
Six units of graduate-level work to total 30 units (i.e., additional statistics course, additional research course, additional seminar, or graduate level courses from the Psychology department or in related fields outside Psychology with approval of the Graduate Advisor).

Colloquia Attendance
Attendance at a minimum of six department Colloquia during the graduate program.


Upon acceptance by the Psychology Department into the MA in Psychology, Option in Psychological Research program, you will be expected to attend an Orientation Meeting, and meet with the Graduate Advisor to work out a program of studies (Advancement to Candidacy). You must file an official program of studies after your first semester in the program and before or during the same semester in which you enroll in PSY 698, Thesis. Students must fulfill the Writing Proficiency Examination (WPE) requirement their first semester in the graduate program and before filing for Advancement to Candidacy.

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MA in Psychology, Option in Psychological Research Faculty

(Do not use this list for Section 3 of the MAPR department application – use the MAPR Faculty Mentors list)

Courtney Ahrens
PhD, University of Illinois at Chicago
Community; psychology of women; program evaluation. 
Courtney Ahrens CV  

Nicolas Alt   
Assistant Professor
Social Psychology, person perception, social vision, and intergroup processes. 

James Amirkhan
Personality; stress and coping; health psychology; attribution theory; survey research methods. 

Dan Chiappe
PhD, University of Toronto
Figurative language; reading; evolutionary psychology; attention; cognition.

Young-Hee Cho
PhD, UC Irvine
Decision making; alcohol research.

Maricela Correa
Associate Professor
PhD, UC Santa Cruz
Developmental psychology; learning as a cultural activity.

Gino Galvez     
Assistant Professor 
PhD, Portland State University  
Ethnic minority populations within organizational contexts.  

Araceli Gonzalez     
Assistant Professor
PhD, San Diego State University / University of California San Diego
Clinical, assessment and treatment of internalizing disorders.

May Ling Halim 
Associate Professor
PhD, New York University
Developmental psychology; gender identity. 

Danielle Kohfeldt  
Assistant Professor 
PhD, UC Santa Cruz 
Social and community psychology; qualitative research methods. 

Diane Lee
PhD, UC Berkeley
Biological psychology; learning and memory.

Lisa Maxfield
PhD, Syracuse University
Cognitive and neural basis of selective attention; attention; memory.

James Miles 
Associate Professor
PhD, University of Virginia
Cognitive control processes, stimulus-response compatibility effects, and the interaction
between goal intentions and environmental biases. 

Karissa Miller  
Assistant Professor 
PhD, University of Pittsburgh 
Health psychology.  

William Pedersen
Understanding the situational and personality factors that impact aggressive behavior
and violence.  
Faculty webpage  
Aggression and Intergroup Relations Lab website  

Sherry Span
Relationship between attention deficit disorders and substance abuse. 

Thomas Strybel
PhD, University of Arizona
Auditory-visual space perception; auditory-visual displays; multisensory interaction;
human factors; human-computer interaction.

Yada Treesukosol  
Assistant Professor
PhD., Florida State University 
Taste signals and ingestive behavior. 

Guido Urizar    
PhD, University of Florida
Psychosocial, behavioral, and physiological factors associated with mental and physical
health outcomes.

Kim Vu   
PhD, Purdue University
Cognition, performance, human factors, human/computer interaction.  

Amy Wax 
Assistant Professor 
PhD, Georgia Institute of Technology 
Diversity in work place, teamwork, social network analysis.  
Amy Wax CV  

Christopher Warren  
Associate Professor 
PhD, Tulane University
Research in areas of affect, performance, and psychometrics. 

Arturo Zavala   
Associate Professor
PhD, Arizona State University
Drug addiction and developmental neuropsychopharmacology.

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Sample PhD Programs and Employment of MA in Psychology, Option in Psychological Research Students:

PhD Programs
Oxford University
University of Illinois
University of Iowa
UC Santa Barbara
Wayne State University
UC Davis
University of North Texas

Law Degree Programs of MA-Psychological Research Students:
Western State University, College of Law

Examples of Organizations Employing MA-Psychological Research Alumni:
Hewlett Packard
UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Programs 
CSU Dominguez Hills Psychology dept. 
Clovis Unified School District
Mt. Diablo Unified School District 

Successful MA-Psychological Research Alumni

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Psychology Department Graduate Assistant Positions

    The Psychology department has a number of graduate assistantship positions available.  These provide financial support and professional experience, as well as additional contact between students and faculty.  These positions are awarded on a competitive basis to new and continuing students.  Types of positions include graduate assistants in laboratory and other courses.

Students interested in serving as a Graduate Assistant (GA) should submit a GA application to the graduate Coordinator.  Applications will remain active for one year.  Positions are open until filled.  Review of applications will begin April 15th for the Fall semester and November 15th for the Spring semester.
Applications are available in the Graduate Coordinator’s Office.  Applications should be sent to the Graduate Coordinator’s Office.

Each semester the department of Psychology hires about 10-13 graduate assistants to perform various activities.  The assignments are usually 10 hours per week for 17 weeks in the Fall and 17 weeks in the Spring.  Most GA assignments fall into two major categories.  Some assignments are to assist in the introductory research methods course.  This involves preparing materials, grading papers and assisting students.  Other GA assignments support introductory and intermediate statistics courses.  These assignments generally involve grading papers, assisting students and helping students with various statistical software packages.  Both research methods and statistics GA positions also involve providing support for the department computer lab.  An EEO/AA/Title IX policy is followed.


  • Financial: If appointed for 10 hours of work each week, a first year GA receives approximately $5000 per year.  There are some 10 hour per week positions available.
  • Educational: By teaching, GAs can further develop their own psychological skills.
  • Experiential: Working closely with a faculty member can add to a GA’s knowledge and experience.
  • Convenience: Having a job on campus can save travel time and study time.

J. Robert Newman Scholars Program

Due to a generous bequeathment from a faculty member beloved by students, staff and colleagues, the Psychology department is able to award three students funding that will cover a portion of the cost of enrollment fees.  The three master’s program committees may each select an outstanding incoming or continuing student as a J. Robert Newman scholar.  The recipient receives $500/semester, up to four semesters.

Additional Sources of Financial Support

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