Handbook for M.S. in Educational Psychology

Student Checklist

  • Apply to the office of Graduate Studies. This includes:
    • Completing and submitting online the Graduate School Application for Admission form in which the student  indicates the degree program in the Department of Counseling and Psychology for which he or she is applying: https://www.tamuct.edu/departments/graduatestudies/index.php
    • Submitting current Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores (if required). Note: Any undergraduate who obtained a 3.0 GPA or higher is exempt from taking the GRE for university admission to Graduate Studies. However, some programs in the department still require submission of GRE scores.
    • Submitting official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate academic coursework
    • Writing and submitting a 200-300 word essay addressing career and academic goals
    • Note:  Admission to the Graduate School does not guarantee admission to a graduate degree program in the Department of Counseling and Psychology.
  • Complete the Programs of the Counseling and Psychology Department Application: https://www.tamuct.edu/coe/counseling-psychology.html
  • Complete the application process for the program.
  • Meet with the Program Coordinator prior to enrolling in any courses in a degree program in the Department of Counseling and Psychology
  • Meet with a faculty graduate advisor to complete a degree plan AFTER FULL ADMISSION
  • Apply for graduation and participation in graduation ceremony

Admission Process

  • Students at Texas A&M University – Central Texas (A&M-Central Texas) may choose one from a variety of graduate degree programs within the Department of Counseling and Psychology, and each student must declare to which program he or she is applying when submitting an application to the department for program admission and acknowledge this choice when a degree plan is filed. Students will graduate with a graduate degree in only one program. Students may take courses not listed on their degree plans after obtaining approval from their Program Coordinator and completing all necessary prerequisite courses with the understanding that these courses are electives and will not satisfy requirements for graduation.
  • Obtain Conditional Admission to Graduate Studies at A&M-Central Texas: http://catalog.tamuct.edu/graduate-information/graduate-admissions/
  • Complete the online Programs of the Counseling and Psychology Department Application: https://www.tamuct.edu/departments/counseling-psychology/index.php
  • Submit all admission materials to the Program Coordinator by:
    • July 1st (Fall)
    • Nov 1st (Spring)
    • Apr 1st (Summer)
  • Each applicant’s materials will be reviewed by program faculty, and the applicant will be notified via email of the admission decision.
  • Applications received after the established deadlines will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis if space is available.
  • Student admission appeals are handled according to the following guidelines, which are consistent with the University Academic Appeals Procedure (more information on this procedure for all programs in the department appears below).

Admission Requirements

Students will be admitted into the M.S. Educational Psychology program by the faculty once the following application criteria are met:

  • Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution.
  • Preferred minimum GPA of 3.0.
  • Timely submission of admission materials.
  • Completed Counseling & Psychology Department application.
  • Submission of final GRE scores. This requirement is waived only for applicants who have already earned a graduate degree from a regionally accredited institution. 

Admission Materials

  • Department Application: The "Programs of the Counseling & Psychology Department Application" on the Counseling and Psychology web page must be completed online.
  • Personal Statement: An essay describing why the applicant wants to pursue a research-based career in psychology and how the degree will help him/her achieve professional and/or personal goals is required. The essay should include a description of how the applicant plans to use the degree to advance his or her career, the type of research-related profession the applicant plans to enter, the applicant's strengths and weaknesses as they pertain to graduate-level study with an explanation of how the applicant plans to overcome the weaknesses described, and any other qualities which speak to the applicant's interest in and potential to succeed in the Educational Psychology Program. The essay should be no less than 400 words and no more than 600 words. The essay must be typed, double-spaced, and submitted electronically as an attachment to the email address provided in the Departmental Application.
  • Statement of Research Interests and Experience: An essay describing the applicant's experience in performing research and the areas of research the applicant is interested in pursuing is required. The essay should describe all research experiences including (but not limited to) the number and types of research papers written for coursework, research-based honors projects, work with faculty members on research projects, lab assistantships (paid or unpaid), conference presentations, publications, etc. The essay should also include a description of the applicant's ideas and plans for conducting research in the future such as the variables, samples, and/or applications that the applicant wants to explore. The essay should explain why the applicant's interests are a good fit with the Educational Psychology Program at TAMU-CT. The essay should be no less than 400 words and no more than 600 words. The essay must be typed, double-spaced, and submitted electronically as an attachment to the email address provided in the Departmental Application.
  • Two Letters of Recommendation: Two letters of recommendation explaining the applicant's academic, professional, and/or research abilities are required. These letters should address the applicant's ability to meet graduate-level academic challenges and to work in a research-related profession. Each letter should include an explanation of the author’s relationship with the applicant, evidence of the applicant's relevant competencies, aptitudes, and experiences, and an overall recommendation (e.g., recommend most highly, strongly recommend, recommend, recommend with some reservations, or do not recommend). Letters should be printed and signed by the author then scanned and sent as an attachment to the email address provided in the Department Application.
  • Scores on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE): Submission of all scores on the General Test including the Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing sections is required. Scores can be no more than 5 years old at time of admission. Submission of GRE scores is waived for applicants who have already earned a graduate degree from a regionally accredited institution.
  • Resume/CV: A résumé or curriculum vitae summarizing the applicant’s education and work experiences should be submitted with the materials.

Admissions Appeals Procedure

Student admission appeals are handled according to the following guidelines, which are consistent with the University Academic Appeals Procedure:  http://catalog.tamuct.edu/registration-records/academic-appeals-procedure/. Extenuating circumstances may cause the University to deviate from the defined time frames. Any question of interpretation or application of this procedure shall be referred to the Office of the Provost.

A student who wishes to appeal an admission decision should ask for a scoring review and written remediation plan from that committee via the Program Coordinator within 30 calendar days of the originating event. The Program Coordinator is expected to give the student a response from the Admissions Committee within 15 calendar days.

If the Program Coordinator is unavailable, if a response is not made within 15 calendar days, or if the student is unsatisfied with the response and wishes to appeal a decision of the Admissions Committee, the student should inform the Department Chair of the appeal in writing within 60 calendar days of the originating event. For an appeal of an admission decision, the originating event shall be considered the written notification of the admission decision to the student until the appeal process concludes. The written appeal must include the following:

  • Name, address, email, telephone number, and University Identification Number (UIN) of the student.
  • Date of action against the student and by which faculty member/committee.
  • Nature of admission action and copy of applicable materials including the written remediation plan.
  • Circumstances which merit review.
  • Signature of student and date submitted.

The Department Chair is expected to give a response within 15 calendar days of the filed appeal.

A student unsatisfied with the decision of the Department Chair may appeal in writing to the College’s Academic Appeals Committee within 15 calendar days of notification of the decision from the Department Chair. The minimum standard for each college's committee is three faculty members, who were not serving on the Admissions Committee when the admission decision under appeal was made; each college is responsible for developing a specific and nonbiased committee structure. After hearing both sides of the incident, the committee may decide that no further review is justified or may render a recommendation to the College Dean. The decision of the College Dean is final and will be communicated to the student in writing.


Ethical Standards

All students are expected to understand and practice the ethical codes and standards of their appropriate professional organization (e.g., American Psychological Association).

Students are also expected to understand and adhere to the standards of conduct for students at Texas A&M University - Central Texas.  Violations of professional ethical standards or University rules could indicate a student is unfit to continue in the program.

Students are expected to periodically review the ethical standards to ensure continued understanding and practice.

Advisors and faculty members at A&M-Central Texas have an obligation to respond when students are in violation of professional ethical standards or University rules of conduct. Additionally, the Office of Student Affairs may take action when a student violates the Student Code of Conduct.

Faculty Advisement

Students are required to seek advising by faculty advisors regarding coursework, program policies and procedures, requests to change degree plans, and assistance with other educational or career needs. 

  • A faculty advisor is assigned to each student according to area of emphasis and degree plan. Students may consult with any faculty member but are urged to work with their assigned advisor as much as possible due to his/her expertise and knowledge in the student's area of emphasis.
  • Advising is a continuous process, and faculty advisors are assigned many students to advise in addition to their other workload requirements, such as teaching, service, and research. Students should demonstrate respect for the faculty advisor's time by setting appointments and being prepared for their appointments as much as possible.

Student's Responsibilities

Students have a responsibility for their learning.  Other responsibilities include:

  • Reading the A&M-Central Texas catalog each year to determine if changes impact them
  • Reading and adhering to professional ethical standards
  • Meeting registration and payment deadlines
  • Participating in activities and projects, internal or external to the University, that will enhance their learning experience
  • Following the degree plan outline as closely as possible and being aware of all course prerequisites
  • Preparing for courses by making arrangements to attend regularly scheduled classes, allowing for adequate study time, completing assignments on a timely basis, and taking the final exam as scheduled
  • Identifying skill strengths and working toward development of skills that need improvement
  • Asking questions to obtain information regarding topics they do not understand
  • Successfully completing the thesis
  • Meeting graduation requirements and deadlines
  • Becoming identified with the professional community (e.g., participating in professional activities and/or joining a professional association such as APA, ACA, ASCA, AAMFT, National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), Texas Counseling Association (TCA), etc.).

Degree Plan

Once Full Admission to a Program is granted, a student should contact his/her graduate advisor to discuss a plan for completing coursework as soon as possible and complete a Graduate Degree Plan Acknowledgment & Responsibility Form, which will be signed by the student, graduate advisor, and the Department Chair (or College Dean).  Note:  Students who are non-degree seeking are not in a degree program and are not eligible to file a degree plan.   Care must be taken to select courses that also meet requirements for special credentials the student may be seeking such as licensure or certification.  See the Certification and Licensure section of this guide for more details.


Transfer of Coursework to Degree Plan

Graduate degree credit is allowed only for A, B, and C grades (for more information see the University Catalog). For all graduate programs in the Counseling and Psychology Department, courses transferred to the degree plan are allowed only for A and B grades. Courses taken at any institution will not be transferred to the degree plan with a C grade or lower.

Program Standards

Students must maintain high scholastic standards and develop skills necessary to work with people with diverse needs.  Students are expected to demonstrate emotional and mental fitness in their professional fields and to conform to the code of ethics of relevant professional associations and the state of Texas.  A student's acceptance to program does not guarantee professional fitness that is required to remain in the program. See Student Review Policy described below regarding what procedures will be followed when faculty believe students are not fit for a particular program.


Professional Endorsement Policy

The faculty will not endorse any graduate from the program for a license or certification for which the graduate has not been trained.


College of Education Academic Appeal Policy

The College of Education Grade Appeal Policy was designed to protect students from biased or inaccurate evaluation procedures without unfairly impinging on the academic freedoms of the faculty. Consistent with this, it is recognized that:

  • Students have the right for their work to be evaluated fairly and accurately using a method consistent with professional academic standards.
  • Faculty members have the right to evaluate students’ work using any method that is professionally acceptable, submitted in writing to all students, and applied consistently to all students.
  • It is assumed that A&M-Central Texas faculty members appropriately evaluate students’ work, so the burden of proof for a grade appeal lies with the student.

The process for appealing a professor’s determination that a student has engaged in academic dishonesty is separate from the process for determining if a grade was determined fairly/accurately. If a student wishes to appeal a grade that was influenced by the faculty member’s belief that the student violated the university’s academic integrity policy and the student denies these allegations, the student must complete the university appeal process for accusations of violating the academic integrity policy prior to initiating a grade appeal.

Justification for an Appeal

Grade appeals may only be initiated if the grade was influenced by one of the following:

  • Error: A clerical/computational error was made in calculating/reporting the grade.
  • Prejudice: The faculty member’s evaluation of the student’s work was influenced by the faculty member’s negative attitude toward the student.
  • Arbitrary method: The grading procedure employed departed substantially from accepted academic norms in a manner that indicated a failure to exercise professional judgment (e.g., no explanation given regarding the basis for assigning point values to assignments; grading procedure deviated substantially from what was stated in the syllabus without notifying students in advance of this change).
  • Inconsistent application: The student’s grade was not determined using the same process applied to other students in the course.
  • Unsubstantiated charge of dishonesty: The grade was based on a charge of academic dishonesty by the student which has been determined by the university to be unsubstantiated by the evidence presented.
  • Insufficient reasons upon which to base an appeal include:
    • Disagreement with course policies that are clearly communicated in writing to all students.
    • Differences in policies among sections of the same course or across faculty members.
    • Potential negative impact on the student (e.g., loss of financial aid).
    • Dissatisfaction with instructional style and/or methods (Note: Students who have complaints regarding the instruction they receive should address these directly with their instructor or that faculty member’s supervisor).
Appeal Process

A student who wishes to appeal a decision of a faculty member must request a review by that person within 30 calendar days of the originating event using the Grade Appeal Form (located on the website for the College of Education).

  • The faculty member is required to give the student a written response within 15 calendar days.
  • The response by the faculty member (or his or her immediate supervisor) should be made using the Appeal Response Form (located on the website for the College of Education).
  • For an appeal of a course grade, the originating event shall be considered to be the posting of the grade to the university record. For an appeal of an assignment/exam grade, the originating event shall be considered to be the posting of the grade by the faculty member.

If the faculty member is not available, a response is not made within the specified timeframe, or if the student is dissatisfied with the response, the student should submit a written appeal to the Department Chair (or his or her designated proxy; the Chair must designate a proxy if he or she is the faculty member who assigned the grade to be appealed) within 60 calendar days of the originating event.

  • This submission should include a copy of the original Grade Appeal Form, a copy of the Appeal Response Form from the faculty member, and a written explanation from the student addressing why he or she believes the faculty member’s response was inadequate/unsatisfactory.
  • The Chair (or proxy) then has 15 calendar days to respond to the written appeal.

If the student is unsatisfied with the decision of the Department Chair, the student may appeal in writing to the College’s Academic Appeals Committee within 15 calendar days of notification of the decision from the Department Chair. The Committee will review the student’s appeal and after hearing both sides of the incident, the committee may decide that no further review is justified or may render a recommendation to the College Dean within 30 calendar days of receiving the student’s appeal.

  • The Committee will consist of a minimum of three faculty members appointed by the College Dean and two student representatives.
  • The student representatives will be the president of the university’s Psychology and Counseling student organization and the president of the university’s student chapter of the Association of Texas Professional Educators. If these students are not available to participate, they may appoint a replacement from within their respective organizations.
  • The Committee may request additional information from the parties involved (e.g., course syllabus, work samples, testimony).
  • The Committee will notify the student and faculty member that the appeal is under committee review.
  • If the student or faculty member wishes to provide the Committee with additional materials explaining their position, this should be done within 7 calendar days of the time the committee is asked to review the appeal.
  • The student and faculty member both have the right to present evidence in person to the committee, but the committee may deliberate in private.

The decision of the College Dean is final and will be communicated to the student in writing.

Student Retention Policy

Every student enrolled in Graduate Studies is required to maintain a high level of performance and comply fully with the policies of the institution.  Students who have achieved admission are expected to maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA on work completed at A&M-Central Texas. Graduate Studies reserves the right to suspend any graduate student who does not maintain satisfactory academic standing or fails to conform to University regulations.

Probation 

At the end of any grading period, if a student’s semester or overall GPA falls below the minimum required as set by the department (at least a minimum of 3.0 GPA), she/he will be given notice of unsatisfactory academic performance and put on probation.  The student must attain a 3.0 cumulative GPA during her/his next period of enrollment.  Failure to do so will result in suspension. Students must be in good academic standing (i.e., not on probation/suspension to graduate).

Suspension 

At the end of any grading period, if a student’s semester or overall GPA falls below a 2.0 she/he will be automatically suspended. Students may not attend classes for one long semester or the summer term.  Upon return from suspension, a student will sign a contract with Graduate Studies stipulating the conditions that must be met for the following term. At a minimum, the graduate student must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA for every semester thereafter.  Additional stipulations may be created on a case-by-case basis. A graduate student is allowed one suspension. If poor academic performance results in a second suspension, the student will be dismissed from the current program and may be permanently dismissed from the university.

Suspension Appeal 

Under exceptional conditions, a student may write a letter of appeal to the Director of Graduate Studies.  Consideration for reinstatement will be on a case-by-case basis and approved only one time by the Director of Graduate Studies or designee. There is no appeal beyond the Director of Graduate Studies.


Student Review Policy

Students enrolled in the program in preparation for professional licensure or certification in the Counseling and Psychology Department are expected to maintain high academic standards and to develop appropriate skills and dispositions needed to serve as professionals in the field for which they are training. Students are expected to conduct themselves with professionalism, exhibit developmentally appropriate levels of competence, demonstrate social and emotional maturity, and conform to the guiding ethical standards for their field of study. A student’s acceptance into a program does not guarantee continued fitness in that program. As such, faculty members teaching in the graduate programs of the Counseling & Psychology Department, using their professional judgment, continually evaluate each student’s performance. If a faculty member believes that a student is not making satisfactory progress towards developing the skills and dispositions needed for professional practice, that faculty member will discuss the situation with the student.  If the faculty member believes the student's performance did not (or is unlikely to) improve to acceptable standards after such a discussion, the faculty member may initiate the process of a formal Performance Fitness Evaluation (see Appendix C).

Performance Fitness Evaluation Process

Initiating a Performance Fitness Evaluation

  • The concerned faculty member should complete the Performance Fitness Evaluation Form, share a copy of the Form with the student, and place a copy in the student’s file.
  • The faculty will contact the student to schedule a Performance Fitness Evaluation Meeting. The student has 5 working days to respond to the request to schedule a meeting. If the student does not respond by the close of business on the 5th business day, the faculty will notify the student of the day/time when a Performance Fitness Evaluation Meeting will take place.

Performance Fitness Evaluation Meeting

  • An ad hoc faculty review committee will be formed to review the concerns raised by the issuing faculty; it will be comprised of the Program Coordinator for the program in which the student is enrolled and 2 other graduate faculty appointed by the Department Chair.
  • This meeting should take place within 10 working days of the student’s response to the request to schedule a meeting (or within 15 working days of the time the issuing faculty member requested the meeting, whichever comes first).
  • At the meeting:
    • The student will be provided with the reasons for non-satisfactory progress in writing (at minimum this will include the Performance Fitness Evaluation Form completed by the issuing faculty).
    • The student will be given an opportunity to discuss the concerns with the faculty.
    • In addition to soliciting input from the student, the Committee may consult with any of the department faculty and/or relevant supervisors regarding the evaluation of the student’s fitness and/or development of remediation strategies.
    • Within 10 working days of this meeting, the student’s Program Coordinator will report the recommendation of the committee to the student and to the Department Chair.
      • Possible recommendations include the following:
  1. Student allowed to remain in program;
  2. Student allowed to remain in program with conditions; or
  3. Student dismissed from the program.
  • If the student is recommended to stay in the program with conditions, the faculty review committee will develop a remediation plan and submit a written copy of this plan to the student within 10 working days of the meeting.
  1. Appeals of the committee’s recommendation regarding remediation should be made to the Department Chair within 10 working days of the receipt of the committee’s recommendation.
  2. If at any time the student is not making satisfactory progress in remediation, the faculty review committee may either modify the remediation plan or recommend the student be dismissed from the program.
  • If the student is recommended to be dismissed from the program, this will be reported to the student, the Department Chair, the Dean of the College of Education, and the Director of Graduate Studies.
    • Appeals of the committee’s recommendation regarding dismissal should be made to the Dean of the College of Education within 10 working days of the receipt of the committee’s recommendation.
  • A student’s failure to respond within 10 days of notification of the committee’s recommendation indicates the student’s acceptance of the committee’s recommendation.

Appealing the committee’s recommendation

  • A student wishing to appeal the committee’s recommendation should submit his/her appeal in writing to the Department Chair (if appealing a remediation plan) or to the Dean (if appealing dismissal from the program) within 10 working days of the receipt of the committee’s recommendation.
  • The Department Chair may amend the remediation plan if it is determined that:
    • The remediation plan does not clearly address the concerns identified in the Performance Fitness Evaluation Form submitted to the student.
    • The remediation plan is overly broad or vague in its requirements.
  • The Dean will consider the appeal of dismissal based on results compiled by the Department Chair and notify the student of the decision within 10 working days of the appeal. The Dean’s decision is final. The Dean may negate the committee’s recommendation for dismissal if it is determined that:
    • The committee’s decision was influenced by an unfair bias or prejudice against the student;
    • The committee neglected to consider valid evidence that could have impacted the decision;
    • The procedure employed by the committee to reach the decision departed substantially from accepted academic norms in a manner that indicated a failure to exercise professional judgment.

Thesis

A thesis is an independent, original research project completed by all graduate students seeking the Master of Science in Educational Psychology degree with an emphasis in experimental psychology. The research project must be quantitative in nature and will be completed in collaboration with three faculty members who serve on the thesis committee. Students will complete the project while enrolled in the course, PSYC 5198 Thesis. Six hours of thesis credit is required. Credit is awarded for thesis coursework when 1) the thesis proposal is completed and again when 2) the final thesis is completed. Once a student enrolls in thesis hours, the student must remain continuously enrolled in a PSYC 5198 course until the thesis is completed. A student may begin the thesis after meeting the following requirements:

  • Successful completion of PSYC 5300 and PSYC 5301.
  • Successful completion of 12 additional hours of coursework in the degree plan beyond PSYC 5300 and PSYC 5301.

Prior to being enrolled in thesis the student is expected to identify his or her topic, draft a concept paper, and select the faculty chair of the thesis committee. During the first semester of thesis, the student is expected to write a research proposal and defend the research protocol.  Prior to collecting data, the student must obtain approval of the Institutional Review Board (IRB). During the second semester, the student will collect and analyze data, interpret his or her findings, and defend the final thesis report.  The Office of Graduate Studies publishes a Thesis Manual which outlines required thesis elements and procedures.  Due to the shortened calendar during the summer semester, it is strongly recommended that students begin their thesis in the Fall semester.  There is no guarantee that the thesis can be completed in two semesters though students should work diligently to achieve this goal.


Graduation

Students must register to graduate by the deadline listed in the current catalog or class schedule.  All university requirements regarding the final procedures related to the degree must be followed.  If courses have been substituted for those printed on the degree plan, a substitution approval form must be completed, signed by the student, graduate advisor, and the Department Chair and placed on file in the Office of Graduate Studies.

Professional Associations

  • Students are strongly encouraged to network within the professional community (e.g., participate in professional activities and/or join a professional association).A variety of professional associations have student members. As a whole, these associations provide many benefits, products, and services to counselors, psychologists, and therapists. They promote public recognition of the profession, advocate for the profession, and represent the profession’s interests before federal, state, and local governments.
  • Professional associations most directly related to our program options include:
    • American Psychological Association
    • Association for Psychological Science
    • Southwestern Psychological Association
    • National Association of School Psychologists
    • Texas Psychological Association
    • Texas Association of School Psychologists
  • Students are also encouraged to attend and participate in professional association conferences. Such experiences give opportunities to share research, network, and enhance professional development. While it is not a requirement, graduate faculty are often interested in collaborating with students to develop conference presentations.