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Clinical Psychology MA

The Clinical Psychology Master of Arts (MA) Program within the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine is intended for students interested in pursuing a career in academic clinical psychology. The MA program is designed to provide a foundation in academic clinical psychology at the graduate level, while also allowing students to gain educational and research exposure to major areas of study within clinical psychology, including clinical adult psychology, clinical child psychology, clinical neuropsychology, forensic psychology, health psychology/behavioral medicine and policy.

The MA program is embedded in the Clinical Psychology PhD Program, with coursework and lab work completed alongside PhD students. Although students in the MA program are welcome to apply to the PhD program, the MA program is not intended to be a "gateway" into the PhD program. 

This MA program does not include clinical training and is not intended to prepare students for clinical practice. Given the academic and research focus of the MA program, the degree will not lead to licensure for independent practice. For those interested in master-level programs that prepare students for licensure and practice, please visit the MA in Counseling Psychology and the MS in Marital and Family Therapy through The Family Institute at Northwestern University.

We are proud of the outcomes of our graduating students. Most seek to ultimately pursue a doctoral program in clinical psychology. While some students are accepted into doctoral programs immediately upon graduation, a majority go onto research coordinator or research assistant positions, as they continue to build their CVs for doctoral applications. Sixty-one percent of our graduates are accepted into clinical psychology doctoral programs within two years of graduation. We expect that number to rise over next few years as more graduates are applying to doctoral programs.

About the Program

 Goals

The goals of the Clinical Psychology Master of Arts Program are to:

  • Develop foundational competencies in research design, analytics and ethics within academic clinical psychology.
  • Explore major areas of study within academic clinical psychology.
  • Understand educational and career opportunities within academic clinical psychology.

 Prerequisites

The MA program was designed for a variety of students, including students who:

  • Are not yet ready to apply to a PhD program, but are considering doing so in the future.
  • Wish to improve their competitiveness for a PhD program.
  • Are interested in exploring a career in academic clinical psychology.
  • Have interests in related fields for which a background in academic clinical psychology may be of value.

The following criteria are most desired in MA applicants:

  • Undergraduate GPA of 3.2 or above on a 4.0 scale
  • An essay describing interests in and preparation for the MA program
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • For international students, Test of English as a Foreign Language scores
  • Interest in exploring a career in academic clinical psychology

Please note that the above criteria are desired, but not required. The MA program will consider mitigating circumstances when conducting holistic reviews of applicants who may not meet all of these criteria.

 English Language Proficiency

For students to be successful in our MA program, it is necessary for them to have proficiency in understanding, reading, writing, and speaking in English. An English proficiency score is required for applicants whose first/primary language is not English. English proficiency scores may not be self-reported; these must be submitted officially via the appropriate testing organization as part of the application.

For admission into the MA program, you must certify your proficiency in the English language in one of the following three ways:

  • Providing official scores for either the TOEFL or IELTS exam. The test must be taken no more than two years before the intended quarter of entry (e.g., if you are applying for fall 2023 entry, test scores must be no older than September 2020.) For the TOEFL, you must score 577 or higher on the paper-based test, 233 or higher on the computer-based test, 90 or higher on the internet based test. For the IELTS, you must receive a score of 7.0 or higher.
  • Providing official transcripts verifying an undergraduate degree from an accredited four-year institution or equivalent, where the language of instruction is English. For your application, only unofficial transcripts are required. If you receive an offer of admission to our program, official transcripts will be required. 
  • Providing official transcripts verifying a graduate degree from an accredited institution where the language of instruction is English. For your application, only unofficial transcripts are required. If you receive an offer of admission to our program, official transcripts will be required. 

For more information on English proficiency requirements, please see: https://www.tgs.northwestern.edu/services-support/international-student-services/language-testing-support.html

 Curriculum

View the Sample Course Schedule.

The Clinical Psychology Master of Arts Program is designed to be completed within five quarters (Summer I, Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer II). This 15-month program is timed to facilitate students' applications to doctoral programs in clinical psychology or related fields.

Courses

The MA program requires at least 17 units for graduation. Students are required to take the Research Core, including Research Methods/Statistics (three units), Advanced Research Methodology (one unit) and Scientific and Professional Ethics in Psychology (one unit).

In addition to these required courses, students are expected to select between five to eight elective courses across the Fall, Winter, Spring and/or Summer II quarters. Elective courses can include courses at the foundational, bases of behavior or clinical level, as well as courses in one or more of the emphases or major areas of study. MA students have the freedom to take any courses in the PhD program as long as they meet the prerequisites for the courses.

Finally, in addition to the graded courses, students are expected to register for at least one research unit for every quarter as part of their Research Lab Experience. The research core and elective courses can be reviewed in detail on the PhD Program Curriculum page. Please note that not all courses are offered every year, and therefore specific courses may not be available during a student's residency in the MA program.

Proseminar

All MA students participate in the weekly Career Development Proseminar for the first four quarters of the MA program. The Proseminar orients students to the program, introduces students to various mentors and labs across Northwestern, explores career options in academic clinical psychology, refines interests in academic clinical psychology and prepares students for the next steps in their careers (e.g., developing applications for PhD programs or preparing for interviews).

Research Lab Experience

Students engage in a Research Lab Experience for at least 10 hours a week. Through the Research Lab Experience, the student will work with their research mentor to complete a Capstone Project. The Capstone Project is the culmination of the Research Lab Experience provided by the research mentor, providing the final evaluation of the student's research competencies. Examples of capstone projects include:

  • Substantial participation (i.e., authorship level) on one or more empirical studies submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal
  • First author submission of one or more peer-reviewed poster/oral presentations at regional, national or international conferences
  • A comprehensive review paper that is submitted to and graded by the research mentor
  • A grant proposal (e.g., F31 style) that is submitted to and graded by the research mentor

For more information the curriculum and degree requirements for the PhD program, please review the MA Program Student Handbook.

 Tuition & Financial Aid

Information on tuition can be found at the tuition and fees page on The Graduate School’s website.

All students admitted to the MA program receive a Graduate Scholarship that provides a 45 percent tuition remission for each of the five quarters of the program. The Graduate Scholarship is provided in acknowledgement for MA students' time devoted to the Research Lab Experience.

Additional information on financial aid is provided through our Chicago Office of Financial Aid and through the financial aid pages of The Graduate School’s website.

How to Apply

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the final deadline of May 1. Offers will also be made on a rolling basis until the incoming cohort class is completely filled. Applicants may be asked to do a phone or video interview before an offer is made for admission. Onsite interviews will not be conducted, nor will individual tours of the program be provided to applicants; however, interested applicants are always welcome to visit the campus. 

To apply, complete the three steps listed below.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our program eliminated the GRE General Test for admission to the 2021-2022 class. In an effort to maximize holistic review and move toward greater equity and fairness in our admissions process, we will continue to NOT accept or consider GRE scores for applications submitted this year for the 2023-2024 class. Applicants should NOT submit their GRE scores through ETS nor report their scores in the application portal or on their CVs or personal statements. We will revisit our GRE policy annually.

 1. Complete the online application form.

Online applications will open in September. Deadline for receipt of completed applications and supporting materials for the MA program is May 1, although applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis and offers of admissions will also be made on a rolling basis until the cohort is filled.

To begin the application process, read the instructions and complete the application on The Graduate School website. In the Personal Information section on page one, choose “Clinical Psychology: MA (C30MA)” as your Academic Program from the pull-down menu (Select "Feinberg School of Medicine" to find it faster).

The nonrefundable application fee must be paid via credit card at the time of application submission; it will not be processed without payment. The application fee cannot be waived by the PhD program; however, eligible students can apply for a fee waiver. See additional information regarding the application fee.

The online application program will ask you to identify a faculty member that you may be interested in working with during your Research Lab Experience. Identifying a faculty member may help us determine your alignment with the MA program; however, this is optional and you will not be held to working with this faculty member if admitted to the program. Further, specific faculty may not be available to provide a Research Lab Experience during your residency in the Program. Assignment to a lab for the Research Lab Experience will be determined in the first month of the program. Please make certain to review the faculty list on the page to see who may be available for your Research Lab Experience. We cannot guarantee an assignment to a specific lab for MA students.

 2. Please DO NOT request that ETS submit official GRE scores!

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our program eliminated the GRE General Test for admission to the 2021-2022 class. In an effort to maximize holistic review and move toward greater equity and fairness in our admissions process, we will continue to NOT accept or consider GRE scores for applications submitted this year for the 2022-2023 class. Applicants should NOT submit their GRE scores through ETS nor report their scores in the application portal or on their CVs or personal statements. We will revisit our GRE policy annually.

 3. TOEFL or IELTS Scores

For students to be successful in our MA program, it is necessary for them to have proficiency in understanding, reading, writing, and speaking in English. An English proficiency score is required for applicants whose first/primary language is not English. English proficiency scores may not be self-reported; these must be submitted officially via the appropriate testing organization as part of the application.

For admission into the MA program, you must certify your proficiency in the English language in one of the following three ways:

  1. Providing official scores for either the TOEFL or IELTS exam. The test must be taken no more than two years before the intended quarter of entry (e.g., if you are applying for fall 2023 entry, test scores must be no older than September 2020.) For the TOEFL, you must score 577 or higher on the paper-based test, 233 or higher on the computer-based test, 90 or higher on the internet based test. For the IELTS, you must receive a score of 7.0 or higher.
  2. Providing transcripts verifying an undergraduate degree from an accredited four-year institution or equivalent, where the language of instruction is English. For your application, only unofficial transcripts are required. If you receive an offer of admission to our program, official transcripts will be required.
  3. Providing official transcripts verifying a graduate degree from an accredited institution where the language of instruction is English. For your application, only unofficial transcripts are required. If you receive an offer of admission to our program, official transcripts will be required. 

For more information on English proficiency requirements, please see: https://www.tgs.northwestern.edu/services-support/international-student-services/language-testing-support.html

 4. Submit all supporting documents.

You will also need to submit the following supporting materials to complete your application. All of the supporting documents must be submitted online; paper or "hard" copies will not be accepted for the application. Please include the following supporting documents in your online application:

Letters of Recommendation

We require three letters of recommendation from professors or supervisors, preferably psychologists, who are familiar with your academic or research work. All recommendation letters must be submitted online by your recommenders. We do not accept recommendations through the mail.

Transcripts

Transcripts from each postsecondary institution you attended are required for your application to be complete. You must upload scanned versions of your official transcripts online. We no longer will accept paper copies in the mail.

If you are accepted into the program, TGS will require that you submit official paper copies of your transcripts (including degree awarding transcripts) directly to its admission office. TGS will compare the official transcripts received via mail to the versions uploaded during the application process to ensure that no tampering/fraud occurred. Any student found to have submitted false documentation during the application process will be immediately dismissed. Registration holds will be placed on any student’s account if their official transcripts are not received by the end of the first quarter of enrollment.

Statement of Purpose

Please include the following information in the statement of purpose essay you complete as part of your online application (please disregard the instructions listed on the application for the Statement of Purpose):

  • Discuss how your background, life experiences, educational preparation, research experience and clinical exposure have contributed to your decision to pursue this degree at this point in your life.
  • Indicate what you hope to obtain from your MA degree, and what you ultimately want to do after graduating from our program.
  • Discuss your specific areas of interests in clinical psychology. You are welcome to discuss your alignment with specific research or clinical emphasis offered in our program and, if applicable, specific faculty members.

You are encouraged to submit abstracts or reprints as supplementary uploads. Please write succinctly (one to two pages, single-spaced, in a 12-point font).

Recruiting Faculty

The MA program includes 98 faculty members who provide instruction, research mentorship and professional development in both the Clinical Psychology MA and PhD programs. We plan to recruit a class of approximately 10 students for the academic year 2023-2024 (beginning in summer 2023).

 Rinad Beidas, PhD

Dr. Beidas is seeking a student who is interested in gaining experience in conducting implementation science related work; qualitative methods; and/or content interest in suicide prevention, firearm safety promotion, cancer, HIV, and/or cardiovascular disease. 

 Center for Applied Health Research on Aging

Dr. Michael Wolf and Dr. Rebecca Lovett are looking for a student to join their Center for Applied Health Research on Aging (CAHRA) lab. CAHRA is a multidisciplinary research center spanning cognitive, behavioral, social and public health sciences with a focus on: 1) Investigations of cognitive, psychosocial, community, and health system factors that affect a person’s ability to manage health, and 2) The design, pragmatic evaluation and dissemination of effective, equitable, scalable healthcare and public health interventions seeking to influence health-related behaviors and outcomes across the lifespan.  Students will be immersed in one of more active CAHRA projects, while receiving mentorship from CAHRA faculty. The ideal candidate will have a strong interest in health services research, as well as previous research experience in data collection, quantitative data analysis, and manuscript preparation.

 Tina Boisseau, PhD

Dr. Boisseau and the OCD and Anxiety Disorder lab is seeking an MA student interested in studying interventions to improve the long-term treatments and outcomes of patients with emotional disorders, with particular emphasis on OCD and anxiety disorders. 

 Forensic Neuropsychology Laboratory

Drs. Michael Brook and Robert Hanlon are looking for applicants who have a passion for research at the intersection of behavioral science, violence prevention, forensic mental health, and social justice. Competitive applicants will have demonstrated an ability to work in multidisciplinary research teams, and experience conducting supervised research including familiarity with the scientific method and a working knowledge of digital research tools (e.g. REDCap, EndNote, SAS, R). Applicants from racial and ethnic backgrounds underrepresented in clinical psychology are encouraged to apply.

 Andrea Graham, PhD

Dr. Graham is seeking a student with an interest in digital mental health and eating disorders and/or obesity, who can contribute to research on designing and evaluating digital interventions particularly for health care settings. Past research experience is encouraged, or leadership experience that could be applied to working collaboratively on a research team.

 Health Disparities and Public Policy

Drs. Linda Teplin and Karen Abram are seeking a student who is interested in the needs of underserved populations, the impact of incarceration on individuals and families, and/or child and adolescent development and resilience.  Competitive students will have some research experience, familiarity with field studies, and training in research methods.  We value the ability to work in a team setting, meticulousness and resourcefulness.

 Elizabeth Johnson, PhD

Dr. Elizabeth Johnson is looking for applicants to join the Dynamic Brain Lab (https://dynamic-brain.org), which studies the brain dynamics underlying memory and cognitive control across the human lifespan. Research combines methods from cognitive psychology and human neuroscience, including invasive and noninvasive electrophysiology, electrical stimulation, eyetracking, and structural brain imaging. Outcomes advance basic science and translate to better quality of life by revealing how, and in whom, cognitive decline may be prevented or remediated. Priority will be given to Clinical Neuropsychology applicants who are open-minded problem solvers, and comfortable working with neurosurgical patients, including children. Experience with electrophysiology and/or computer programming preferred but not required.  

 Emily Lattie, PhD

Dr. Lattie is seeking a student with interests in the design and implementation of digital mental health interventions to join her research team at the Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies. Past research experience (particularly in the area of digital mental health) is valued, as is student leadership and advocacy experiences that could contribute to one's success as a digital mental health researcher. Students from underrepresented backgrounds are encouraged to apply. 

 Kathryn Macapagal, PhD

Dr. Kathryn Macapagal is seeking a student with interests in sexual and gender minority adolescent health to join her research team at Northwestern’s Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing. Her work primarily focuses on how SGM adolescents use online spaces for exploring sexual health, relationships, and identity, and how technology and multimedia can be leveraged to address adolescent HIV prevention and sex education. Her work uses internet-based, mixed-methods, and community-engaged, user-centered research. Students should be open-minded, ready to jump in, comfortable using various forms of technology and social media, and comfortable with discussing adolescent sexual behavior in a professional context. Students from underrepresented backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

 Mental Health Services and Policy Program

The MHSPP is recruiting 2 students this year.
Drs. Richard Epstein and Neil Jordan from the MHSPP have a shared interest in identifying organizational characteristics associated with health and well-being outcomes for youth in the child welfare or public mental health systems. They are looking for a clinical psychology master’s student who shares their research interest and has experience or interest in conducting literature reviews and analyzing administrative data.
Drs. Cassandra Kisiel and Tracy Fehrenbach co-lead the Center for Child Trauma Assessment, Services and Systems Integration as a part of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), within the Mental Health Services and Policy Program. The Center’s work focuses on addressing the complex, developmental effects of trauma for system-involved youth and supporting the development of trauma-informed, child-serving systems and agencies within child welfare and juvenile justice. They are looking for a clinical psychology master’s student who is interested in supporting the delivery of trauma-focused trainings, development of resources, and program evaluation and dissemination activities. There may be additional opportunity to work with Dr. Fehrenbach on a community-based participatory research project to test the feasibility and effectiveness a group intervention for Women of Color impacted by the loss of a loved one to gun violence or incarceration. This may include grant writing or data collection.  

 Siobhan Phillips, PhD

Dr. Phillips and the Exercise and Health Lab are looking for applicants with an interest in physical activity promotion and developing digital health interventions. Priority will be given to applicants will have prior human subjects research experience in the fields of kinesiology, exercise science, cancer survivorship, mHealth or health behavior change.

 Emily Rogalski, PhD

Dr. Rogalski is seeking a student to engage in her research programs focused on 1) Multimodal Neuroimaging (MR, amyloid PET and tau PET) and Aging, Alzheimer's and related dementias; 2) Drivers of progression and risk for Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA); 3) Communication Bridge non-pharmacological intervention designed to maximize communication and quality of life for with PPA and related dementias; and 4) SuperAging.  Characteristics of competitive applicants include a strong research interest and experience in cognitive and clinical neuroscience, neuropsychology, neuroimaging (MR and PET), speech-language therapy, social work, mixed methods, qualitative research, programming, biostatistics, use of technology in assessment and care, and/or experience neuropsychological test administration. Evidence of research productivity (i.e., abstracts, manuscripts, project leadership) is preferred. 

 Darius Tandon, PhD

Dr. Tandon is looking for an individual who has interests in the mental health of pregnant individuals, their partners, and their offspring. Interest in technology-based interventions and working with racially and ethnically diverse populations is a plus. Skills and experience working with REDCap and/or data analysis software (e.g., SAS, R) is also desirable. Bilingual (Spanish/English) students are highly encouraged to apply.

 Cindy Veldhuis, PhD

Dr. Cindy Veldhuis is seeking a student interested in women’s health, particularly sexual minority women’s health to join her research group at the Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing (linked). Dr. Veldhuis’ mixed-methods research focuses on mental health, health behaviors, and stressors with a specific interest in women’s same-gender couple relationships. Dr. Veldhuis has multiple existing qualitative and qualitative datasets on LGBT health as well as data from a longitudinal study on COVID-19, relationships, and health.  Students from underrepresented backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

Contact Us

Please direct all questions to clinpsych_admissions@northwestern.edu.

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