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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 and the fee cannot be waived. 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.
The Graduate School requires that students demonstrate a certain level of English language proficiency prior to an admission offer. The Graduate School will accept the submission of TOEFL test scores through their at home testing service to meet this requirement. This option is only available while testing centers are closed due to the impact of COVID-19. If you are unable to complete a TOEFL or IELTS exam, please inform the program to which you have applied. The Graduate School's Office of Admission and Recruitment will work directly with programs/departments to offer guidance to individual applicants.
NOTE: The Graduate School does not require English language testing scores from those who have earned an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution where the language of instruction is English.
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 RecommendationWe 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 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).