M.S. in Applied Psychology

 

Who will Benefit from an Online M.S. in Applied Psychology (MAP) Degree?

 

RECENT COLLEGE GRADUATES

The MAP program at Shippensburg University is aimed at providing specialized knowledge and skill sets in applied psychology that are necessary in being competitive in today’s workforce.  Many recent graduates are interested in pursuing a graduate education immediately or soon after graduation from their undergraduate institution. Although psychology majors with an undergraduate degree have many employment opportunities to select, an advanced degree is often necessary for higher paying positions with more advancement/promotional and leadership opportunities. The MAP program can provide a solid foundation to begin a career.

Alumni have secured leadership positions in many different fields.  Some of the job titles of our recent graduates include:  program evaluator, survey researcher, data scientist, marketing researcher, director of research, institutional researcher, teacher, event manager, health program manager, senior research analyst, data analyst, publications manager, advisory analyst, business analyst, quality assurance specialist, behavioral and health services director, behavior specialist, research consultant, and data quality control analyst. 

In addition, some recent graduates have continued on to pursue doctoral degrees; some of those institutions include:  West Virginia University, University of Massachusetts-Lowell, Southern Illinois University, SUNY-Stony Brook, SUNY-Albany, SUNY-Binghamton, Wright State, Miami University, Texas Tech University, and Ohio University. For students interested in pursuing this route, research experience one of several vital components in gaining acceptance into doctoral programs, which can be gained in the MAP program.

 


 
SOCIAL AND DIRECT SERVICE POSITIONS

The MAP program at Shippensburg University is aimed at providing specialized knowledge and skill sets in applied psychology that can be used for advancement among those already working or planning to work in social and direct service positions. Many psychology majors who graduate with a bachelor’s degree pursue a career in providing services to underserved and high need populations. Job titles in this area are often therapeutic support specialists, therapeutic staff support, therapeutic support staff, youth support specialist, case manager, and similar. 

Although these are great positions, advancement opportunities are often limited to those holding only a bachelor’s degree and graduate degrees are often necessary for advancement in these fields. In addition to a master’s degree, the MAP program offers a Behavior Specialist Certificate (BSC).  The BSC is primarily aimed at those already employed or who plan to work in Pennsylvania in the social and direct service field. The BSC fulfills some of the requirements for a Behavioral Specialist License (BSL) in Pennsylvania.  This can be taken as part of the MAP degree requirements (with no additional courses necessary; can still complete the MAP in 30 credits) or as a post-graduate certificate for those that already have a graduate degree. The certificate requires the completion of three courses (PSY 518, 539, and 543). 

In summary, the requirements for a BSL in Pennsylvania are: 

  • A Master’s (or higher) degree or a Post Master’s Certificate in certain specified fields
  • 90 hours of evidence-based coursework in eight specified content areas
  • 1,000 hours of in-person clinical experience
  • One year of experience involving Functional Behavior Assessments

The department provides a master’s degree and the evidence-based coursework.  The student is responsible for gaining the necessary 1,000 hours of clinical experience and 1-year experience involving functional behavior assessment.  More detailed information on each of the requirements is provided below.

In 2008, Pennsylvania passed Act 62 (Autism Insurance Act) which is a statewide insurance mandate specific to services provided to children and adolescents (under the age of 21) with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  One section of Act 62 established a licensing process for individuals who provide behavior specialist services to children and adolescents with autism in Pennsylvania. It also required the Board of Medicine, in consultation with the Department of Human Services, to promulgate regulations to provide for licensure of Behavior Specialists. 

The following is a detailed list of the requirements for the BSL under Act 62 (the Department offer requirements 1-3):

  1. The applicant has completed a masters degree (or higher) or a post-masters certificate from an accredited college/university with a major course of study in school, clinical, developmental, or counseling psychology, special education, social work, speech language pathology, occupational therapy, professional counseling, behavior analysis, nursing, or another related field. 
  2. The applicant has completed 90 hours of evidence-based coursework distributed as follows: (a) ethics approved by the Bureau of Autism Services (3 hrs.), (b) autism-specific coursework or training (18 hrs.), (c) assessment coursework or training (16 hrs.), (d) instructional strategies and best practices (16 hrs), (e) crisis intervention (8 hrs.), (f) comorbidity and medications (8 hrs.), (g) family collaboration (5 hrs.), (h) specific-skill deficit training (16 hrs.).  
     
  3. The applicant has completed a major course of study that bears substantial relationship to behavior specialist practice.  

  4. The applicant must complete 1-year of functional behavioral assessment experience of individuals under 21 years of age, including the development and implementation of behavioral supports or treatment plans (verified by employer or clinical supervisor).

  5. The applicant must complete 1,000 hours of clinical/in-person experience with individuals under 21 years of age with behavioral challenges or autism spectrum disorders (verified by employer or supervisor). Experience gained subsequent to obtaining a bachelor’s degree can be counted towards meeting this requirement. The clinical experience can be working with either children OR adults. Examples of experiences that meet the clinical experience requirement include:
  • Employment or verified volunteer work in the following roles:
    • student teacher or teacher in an autistic support class
    • job coach
    • residential program manager
  • Employment or verified volunteer work in the following settings:
    • Special education classroom
    • Community health center
    • Peer support programs/services
    • Group therapy program
    • Summer therapeutic activities program
    • Outpatient recovery center
    • Community based outpatient program
    • Trauma center
    • Crisis call center
    • Suicide prevention lifeline/resource center
  • Internship or field experience (e.g., shadowing) within a behavioral or mental health services provider organization, or other setting supporting individuals with ASD or challenging behaviors

 


 
SECONDARY SCHOOL EDUCATORS

High school teachers serve a vital role in preparing our youth for work, college, and life. The MAP program at Shippensburg University is particularly geared to provide graduate training to high school teachers of psychology, social sciences, social studies, or similar. Certainly, a graduate degree is associated with possible promotional opportunities and can serve as an advancement in one’s career as a teacher; but this degree can also serve to provide you the most current knowledge in applied topics that you can readily use in your classroom. Additionally, if you ever consider leaving the profession of teaching, the MAP degree would provide training that could be used as a springboard into a different career. In addition, this program can also be used as preparation for doctoral study if that becomes a goal. 

We certainly understand the busy lives of high school educators and have structured a program that meets your needs. The MAP program can be pursued on a full-time or part-time basis.  Balancing your teaching, family, recreation, and personal life is challenging and we have made a program that can fit with your lifestyle. All of the courses are 100% online and delivered in an asynchronous manner so that you can best fit the MAP program in your life.  And you can complete the program at a pace that works best for you. 

 


 
FEDERAL, STATE, AND COUNTY-LEVEL EMPLOYEES

Federal, State, and County-level employees provide a large variety of services that benefit its citizens and constituents. Although many government positions are stable and provide a solid income, those with an undergraduate degree have limited opportunities for advancement/promotional and leadership opportunities that provide higher paying salaries.  The MAP program may provide a springboard for advancement in your career in government. 

This degree can also serve to provide you the most current knowledge in applied topics that relate to your current position.  For example, gaining a better understanding of such broad topics of group dynamics, motivation, community psychology, and cognitive psychology applied to the workplace can all be of use. In addition, you will gain a solid foundation of skill sets in research design and statistics, program evaluation, and survey research which can be applied in many different areas and settings in government. These foundational skills can be applied across a wide spectrum of government services and branches. And, if you ever consider leaving the government employment, the MAP degree would provide training that could be used as a springboard into a different career. In addition, this program can also be used as preparation for doctoral study if that becomes a goal. 

We certainly understand the busy lives of government employees and have structured a program that meets your needs. The MAP program can be pursued on a full-time or part-time basis.  Balancing your teaching, family, recreation, and personal life is challenging and we have made a program that can fit with your lifestyle. All of the courses are 100% online and delivered in an asynchronous manner so that you can best fit the MAP program in your life.  And you can complete the program at a pace that works best for you. 

 


 
NON-PROFIT

Non-profit employees work in a variety of settings and provide a large array of different services. Although many non-profit positions provide a satisfying career, those with an undergraduate degree have limited opportunities for advancement/promotional and leadership opportunities with higher paying salaries. The MAP program may provide a solid foundation for advancement in your career in non-profits. 

This degree can also serve to provide you the most current knowledge in applied topics that you can readily use in your work. For example, gaining a better understanding of such broad topics of group dynamics, motivation, community psychology, and cognitive psychology applied to the workplace can all be of use.  In addition, you will gain a solid foundation of skill sets in research design and statistics, program evaluation, and survey research which can be applied in many different areas and settings.  These foundational skills can be applied across a very wide spectrum of non-profit operations and are certainly central to fundraising and grant writing.  And, if you ever consider leaving the non-profit sector, the MAP degree would provide training that could be used as a springboard into a different career.  In addition, this program can also be used as preparation for doctoral study if that becomes a goal. 

We certainly understand the busy lives that employees in non-profits are used to and have structured a program that meets your needs. The MAP program can be pursued on a full-time or part-time basis.  Balancing your teaching, family, recreation, and personal life is challenging and we have made a program that can fit with your lifestyle. All of the courses are 100% online and delivered in an asynchronous manner so that you can best fit the MAP program in your life.  And you can complete the program at a pace that works best for you.