Master of Arts in Psychological Sciences

Program information

The Master of Arts in Psychological Sciences at USF St. Petersburg campus provides study of biological, social, developmental and cognitive bases of health and human behavior. The program also cultivates advanced competence in research methodology required to interpret and evaluate applied research data. For students in both thesis and non-thesis options, elective courses in the domains of experimental and applied psychology, professional and research ethics, infant-family mental health, cultural competence, and other basic and applied areas round out coursework requirements for the degree. All students will complete either an empirical research project or master’s thesis. Our graduates will demonstrate a conceptual understanding of advanced psychology, research methodology, and contribute intellectually to the field. 

Our program is designed to advance your study of Psychology if you were a strong undergraduate major in psychology or a related field and are looking for intensive research experience as preparation for applied research positions or the pursuit of advanced doctoral study in Psychology. This program may also be a good fit if you were an undergraduate major in a field other than psychology and you seek re-specialization. However, please note that introduction to psychology, statistics, and research methods are pre-requisites for program acceptance; non-psychology majors may need to take these courses prior to application. 


As a program graduate with a M.A. in Psychological Sciences, you will be:

  • Positioned to assume research analyst positions in the human or health sciences, non-profit sector, or business community that demand advanced competencies in research methodology; data tracking, collection, and analysis; and grant writing or program evaluation associated with graduate training
  • Eligible for teaching positions at high schools and at 2- and 4-year colleges or universities at (1000/2000 level coursework) with the required 18 hours of graduate work in psychology
  • Competitive for admission to top doctoral programs through the receipt of the foundational content and research courses built into the first year of the M.A. curriculum coupled with both project and thesis options that provide intensive experience in a nationally-recognized program of faculty research.  


Our program also has a unique opportunity for training in Risk, Resilience, and Prevention (RRP) by completing coursework in the Infant Family Mental Health graduate certificate program. With the competencies promoted in this program, we seek to reinvigorate the workforce with professionals who are able to promote human capital and reduce risk of both untoward health outcomes and behavioral and community problems like school dropout rates, youth aggression, and violence. Prevention and early intervention are key; instead of waiting for undesired behaviors to occur and then reacting (with accompanying costs) investments are made proactively to cultivate protective social, academic, and health-promoting behaviors and skills required for success in school and life. Our state is in critical need of professionals with these skills. 


Although some of our students will continue with their studies to obtain a Ph.D. in psychology, it is important to understand that the M.A. in Psychological Sciences at USF St. Petersburg campus is not designed to train licensed practitioners; it is not a counseling degree. Because we are not offering a counseling degree, it is important that students understand that our program does not afford opportunities to amass the supervised clinical hours that are required to obtain a license to practice in the state of Florida as a Master-level clinician. Those students who aspire to do so are advised to seek out a Master’s degree in Social Work (MSW), Mental Health Counseling (MHC), Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT), or other degree where supervised clinical experience is an explicit component of the training program.

If you are looking for a master's program in counseling or therapy, please see the graduate programs offered by the College of Community and Behavioral Sciences

We have created a program that is both applied in nature, but has a strong research design and analysis component. As with all graduate programs, it is best to look over the faculty and decide if their specialties are in line with your own interests. Given that this program is housed on the St. Petersburg campus, the majority of students in the MA program work with faculty who have a home campus of "St. Petersburg" in the department faculty directory. Students who wish to work with faculty on the Tampa campus will need to ensure that the faculty member is accepting MA students into their lab and should expect to frequently commute between the St. Petersburg and Tampa campuses. 



Degree Program Requirements

The M.A. in Psychological Sciences requires 36 hours of course work, including either a thesis for six (6) credit hours or a non-thesis research-based project for three (3) credit hours. All students are required to take a set of core courses during the first year of study and pass comprehensive examinations on core course material between the first and second years of study.

USF Graduate Catalog

Certificate Credit Towards Graduate Degree

Up to 12 hours of certificate courses can be applied to a graduate degree with department approval. The Infant-Family Mental Health Graduate Certificate and Data Analysis Graduate Certificate are ideal certificates to apply to this program as long as all grades received in the courses were B or better and no older than seven (7) years.

For information about graduate credits, contact the Office of Graduate Studies.


Wendy Rote, Ph.D.
Graduate Program Director, M.A. in Psychological Sciences Program
Associate Professor of Psychology
(727) 873-4957