Academic Research

The Academic Research program offers a two year Master's degree program with a focus of study in one of four Options: Behavior Analysis, Developmental, Neuroscience, and Social/Cognitive. Please see the blended program page for information on our program for current students to begin taking graduate courses in their senior year of their undergraduate degree. 

While we offer some online class options, we are an in-person program.

Admission Requirements

  • A minimum GPA of 3.25 in psychology coursework is required.
  • All applicants must submit a 500-750 word statement of purpose addressing their background, research interests in psychology, preparation, career goals, and how they relate to the proposed area of study. Upload into the personal statement field in CalState Apply. 
  • All applicants must identify a faculty member willing to serve as their research supervisor. Enter their name into your CalState Apply application, below your statement of purpose.
  • Two letters of recommendation, through CalState Apply
  • Academic Research Prerequisite Verification for the program you are applying to. Please enter this in CalState Apply.
  • Prerequisites required to be completed prior to admission include: Introduction to Psychology, Psychological Statistics, and Application of Research Methods in Psychology.
  • Behavior Analysis: Behavior Analysis and Learning & Motivation.
  • Developmental: Developmental Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, and Developmental Psychopathology.
  • Neuropsychology: Principles of Biology,  Fundamentals of Chemistry, Introduction to Behavioral Neuroscience, and Advanced Behavioral Neuroscience.
  • Social/Cognitive: Cognitive Psychology and Social Psychology.

Core Requirements for the Degree (All Options)

  • PSYC 641     Research Methods I (completion in Senior Year if in the blended program)
  • PSYC 642     Research Methods II (completion in Senior Year if in the blended program)
  • PSYC 578     Analysis of Variance or PSYC 588 Regression/Multivariate Topics
  • PSYC 647     Academic Research Proseminar
  • PSYC 690     Thesis each semester (1 unit year 1 and 2 units year 2 per semester)
  • Elective courses relative to selected specialization
  • Completion of either a Thesis or Project as a culminating experience

Program Requirements for each option can be found in the Student Handbook PDF icon ar_student_handbook_2023-24.pdf

Behavior Analysis develops students’ skills in conducting behavioral research and providing applied behavior analysis services for children and adults in areas including education, intellectual disabilities, major neurocognitive disorders, and autism spectrum disorders. This program is designed to provide the coursework that constitutes part of the requirements for becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Faculty affiliated with this research include Dr. Chris Walmsley. 

Developmental Psychology examines fundamental social, emotional, and cognitive developmental processes within social and cultural contexts and their reciprocal relationships with public policy and education.  Our program prepares graduates to work directly with children, youth, adults, families, and communities in diverse settings and for Ph.D. programs. Faculty affiliated with this research include Dr. Tasha Howe, Dr. Maria Iturbide, and Dr. Brandilynn Villarreal. 

Neuroscience is the study of the physiological bases of behavior, particularly how the brain affects behavior. This option provides an extensive background in biological bases of behavior and numerous research opportunities. This option prepares students for application to Ph.D. programs in the field of biological psychology and neuroscience. Faculty affiliated with this research include Dr. Ethan Gahtan and Dr. Amanda Hahn.

Social/Cognitive focuses on how thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by others and the cognitive processes underlying these influences. Our program prepares students for application to Ph.D. programs or careers in research. Faculty affiliated with this research include Dr. Amber Gaffney, Dr. Amanda Hahn, Dr. Gregg Gold, and Dr. Mari Sanchez.

How to apply

All applicants apply to the university through CalState Apply. Applications open October 1st. The deadline to apply and provide all supplemental materials is March 1st. All applications received by this date will receive full consideration, and initial admission decisions are made by April 15th. 

Contact Us

Faculty Coordinators

Amber Gaffney, Ph.D.

Amanda Hahn, Ph.D.

Chris Walmsley, Ph.D.