The general-theoretical program is designed to provide preparation for (a) further study at the doctoral level in more specialized substantive areas or (b) careers in industry (e.g., advertising/market research, organizational consulting), government (e.g., program evaluation, criminal justice research), education, or health sectors. The program is expected to take two years to complete for full-time students, but can be completed on a part-time basis for those working full-time. Students can be accepted for either the Fall or Spring semester; there are no application deadlines.

Admission Requirements

General Theoretical Psychology

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Applicants must submit official transcripts from all post-secondary school academic work. (Note: All former undergraduates of Fairleigh Dickinson University must request their official transcripts from their campus Office of Enrollment Services).
  • Applicants must have taken (1) general/introductory psychology, (2) statistics, and (3) experimental psychology/research methods on either the undergraduate or graduate level or equivalent courses.
  • Two letters of recommendation.

Behavioral Research Scholar Track

  • A bachelor’s degree and official transcript from an accredited college or university. It is recommended that applicants have a 3.25 GPA or higher.
  • Applicants must submit an official score report for the verbal and quantitative sections of Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the equivalent sections in the GMAT. It is recommended that applicants score at the 50th percentile or higher in these sections.
  • Applicants must have taken general psychology, statistics and experimental psychology/research methods on either the undergraduate or graduate level with grades of “B” or better.
  • Three letters of recommendation.

All applicants must submit a graduate studies application and a nonrefundable application fee. When the credentials supporting an application are complete, the applicant may be requested to have a personal interview with the M.A. program director. Selection for graduate study is based on academic and personal qualifications for graduate study.

Materials can be sent to the Graduate Admissions Office, Fairleigh Dickinson University, 1000 River Road, T-KB1, Teaneck, NJ 07666. Applicants who have not completed all requirements for admission to the degree program may be permitted to enroll in classes for credit on a non matriculated or non degree basis.

Degree Plan

All MA students can tailor their elective courses to fit their areas of interest. The following are example elective concentrations (note, up to 6 credits can be taken outside of psychology).

General Theoretical Psychology

Core Courses (6 credits)

  • PSYC6121     Statistics and Research Methods
  • PSYC6129     Research Methods & Psychometrics

Required Courses (15 credits)

Students, with an adviser’s approval, will elect an additional 15 credits (minimum) from the following list of courses. Up to 6 of these 15 credits may consist of independent research/Master’s Thesis research (which is an option to the Comprehensive Examination – see below). Several courses (*) are offered jointly with the Ph.D. program.

  • PSYC6109     Social Psychological Applications
  • PSYC6111     Theories of Personality
  • PSYC6114     Psychopathology
  • PSYC6128     Computer Applications & Report Writing
  • PSYC7122     Developmental Psychology PSYC7130 Biological Bases of Behavior
  • PSYC7133     Learning, Cognition, and Emotion

Electives (partial listing) (15 credits)

Students will elect up to 15 credits from any 6000 or 7000 PSYC course

Comprehensive Exam

In addition to the course requirements, candidates for the master’s degree must meet the following requirements: The Comprehensive Examination may be taken a maximum of three times. Subsequent to an initial failure of the examination, the student must retake the entire examination. If this second examination results in failure, the student must petition the faculty for a third and final opportunity to sit for the exam. This opportunity is contingent upon the student entering into a written agreement, approved by the program director and school director, which specifies a program of remedial studies potentially including formal course audits in areas of deficiency. The individual will be allowed to sit for the third examination only after completion of the agreed remedial program. The final and binding nature of this examination also will be a part of this written agreement. 

The graduate program of studies should be completed within a period of five years.

Behavioral Research Scholar Track

Core Courses(18 credits)

  • PSYC6128     Computer Applications & Report Writing
  • PSYC6122     Clinical Research Methods*
  • PSYC7110     Statistical Analysis and Design I*
  • PSYC7111     Statistical Analysis and Design I*
  • PSYC7810     Master’s Thesis Research I
  • PSYC7812     Master’s Thesis Research II

Required Courses(9 credits)

Students, with an adviser’s approval, will select a minimum of 9 credits from the following list of courses.

  • PSYC6111     Theories of Personality
  • PSYC6114     Psychopathology
  • PSYC7133     Learning, Cognition and Emotion*
  • PSYC7122     Developmental Psychology
  • PSYC7125     Applied Social Psychology
  • PSYC7130     Biological Bases of Behavior *

Electives (partial listing)(9 credits)

Students will elect up to 9 credits from the following list of courses.

  • PSYC6624      Introduction to Psychotherapy
  • PSYC6230     Introduction to Forensic Psychology
  • PSYC6630     Counseling and Interviewing
  • PSYC6115     Child Psychopathology
  • PSYC6130      Interviewing Techniques
  • PSYC6231     Psych  Bases for Criminal Behavior

The graduate program of studies should be completed within a period of five years. Students in the Behavioral Research Scholar Track do not have to take the Comprehensive Examination. *Courses taken in our Clinical Ph.D. program.

Suggested course schedule for BRST.

Fall (Year 1)

  • Comp Applications and Report Writing (online)
  • Statistical Analysis and Design I
  • Clinical Research Methods

Spring (Year 1)

  • Statistical Analysis and Design II
  • Required/Elective
  • Required/Elective

Fall (Year 2)

  • Master’s Thesis Research I
  • Required/Elective
  • Required/Elective

Spring (Year 2)

  • Master’s Thesis Research II
  • Required/Elective
  • Required/Elective

Special Information

  • Clinical Psychology: students interested in applying for doctoral programs in clinical psychology could take Psychopathology, Theories of Personality, Developmental Psychology, Biological Bases of Behavior
  • Social/consumer psychology: students interested in careers in market research could take Applied Social Psychology along with courses from the Silberman College of Business such as Marketing Research and Consumer Behavior
  • Organizational psychology: students interested in applying for doctoral programs in industrial/organizational psychology or in obtaining research-related careers in industry could take Applied Social Psychology along with courses from the Silberman College of Business such as Organizational Behavior and Strategic Human Resource Management
  • Behavioral Research Scholar Track. The Behavioral Research Scholar track (BRST) in the general-theoretical program is a selective, research-focused track for MA students with superior academic qualifications (i.e., GRE scores, undergraduate GPA, research experience). The BRST is differentiated form the standard MA program in that BRST students take the same sequence of research-related courses (research methods and two statistics courses) as students in our clinical Ph.D. program (this option is exclusive to students in the BRST). BRST students are also encouraged to complete a master’s thesis. Admission into the BRST is limited to the Fall semester only; the application deadline is May 1st

Course Descriptions

  • PSYC6109 This course focuses on applications of social psychological theory and research techniques in understanding and alleviating problems encountered in legal, business, community and mental health domains. Topics include, but are not limited to, attitude formation, attitude change, prejudice and discrimination, altruism and attribution theory

  • PSYC6111 Overview of nature of personality theory; summaries of theories of personality selected because of influence upon clinical practice, psychological research. Freud, Adler, Jung, Murray, G.W. Allport, Rogers, Maslow, Fromm; some existentialists, some social behavioral or learning approaches included.

  • PSYC6114 Detailed consideration of psychopathology with respect to physiological cognitive, motivational, affective and interpersonal variables and their roles in etiology, diagnosis, treatment and prognosis.

  • PSYC6115 Examination of behavior disorders most likely to have childhood onsets or variants. Variables such as effects of age onset, treatment modalities that are age specific, approaches or techniques, recovery rates and adult correlates are considered.

  • PSYC6121 Review of issues related to research design, psychometrics, and descriptive and inferential statistics. Statistical topics include, but are not limited to, parametric techniques such as t-tests, analysis of variance, and simple and multiple regression analysis. Heavy emphasis will be placed on application of techniques using statistical software and interpretation of results.

  • PSYC6122 Introduces the student to the domain of personality assessment. This includes a discussion of basic concepts and issues in the field of assessment such as acturial versus clinical prediction, the clinical utility of testing, and the consideration of diversity in the testing situation. The student is introduced to important measures of personality functioning, particularly the interpretation of MMPI profiles and the administration and scoring of Comprehensive System Rorschachs.

  • PSYC6128 This course will cover using PASW (SPSS) statistical software and related programs (e.g. EXCEL) for data management, analysis and graphing. Emphasis will be placed on using graphical interface of PASW software, but the program syntax for various applications also will be covered. This course will also cover scientific report writing (i.e. summarizing PASW output) with emphasis placed on APA style.

  • PSYC6129 This covers basic topics and issues in psychometrics and research design. In addition to review of basis statistical concepts, topics include: classical true core theory and scale creation, scale reliability and validity assessment, experimental design validity (internal, external, statistical, construct), major threats to valid inferences in research, and ethical issues in behavioral research.

  • PSYC6130 Survey of interviewing principles and techniques as they relate to various counseling theories, with an emphasis on the clinical interview as a means for gathering pertinent information about a client, in the context of conducting a forensic evaluation. Focuses on unique issues encountered within forensic contexts.

  • PSYC6230 Introduction to the application of psychological principles to legal (civil and criminal) problems. Review of historical and contemporary issues, such as the interface of the mental health system and the criminal system, civil commitment, diminished capacity, the insanity defense, sentencing, capital punishment, competency to stand trial, use of research in court.

  • PSYC6231 An in-depth analysis of research on the psychological bases and dynamics of criminal, aggressive and antisocial behavior. Review of multiple theoretical and explanatory aspects of criminal behavior, with emphasis on the relationships between psychopathological states, personality disorders, psychodiagnostics, and antisocial behavior.

  • PSYC6624 This course provides for an understanding of the principal theories of counseling and psychotherapy; and understanding of the similarities and differences in the various major theories and techniques; and for a development of the ability to evaluate the need for counseling and/or psychotherapy in problem areas.

  • PSYC6630 Techniques of interviewing including the intake, diagnostic and developmental approaches. Major approaches to counseling brief interventions and crisis intervention are presented. The course provides opportunity for practice of interview techniques.

  • PSYC7110 Focuses on univariate models for the analysis of data of pure experiments,quasi-experiments and observational studies. Topics include univariate analysis of variance and covariance models for designs with between-subject and/or within subject factors; predictive and explanatory applications of simple and multiple regression analysis; path analysis. SYSTAT data analysis of archival data sets is demonstrated for most of the methods.

  • PSYC7111 Focuses primarily on multivariate methods that have been used extensively in clinical research, and on some methods whose use in clinical research has rapidly increased in the past few years. The former methods include principal components analysis, factor analysis, multivariate analysis of variance and covariance, discriminant function analysis, and linear classification functions. The latter methods include canonical correlation analysis, logistic regression analysis, logistic classification models, Bayesian classification, log-linear models, confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modeling. SYSTAT analysis of data of archival data sets is demonstrated for most of the methods.

  • PSYC7122 Childhood, adolescence and early to mid-adulthood, including major theories of development (Piaget, Freud, and social learning theories), research and application. Special emphasis on research concerning the development of prosocial behavior, internalization and sex typing.

  • PSYC7125 Developing understanding of social underpinnings of psychological phenomena. Topics include attitude formation, attitude change, prejudice and discrimination, altruism, attribution theory, emotions, research techniques and applications of social psychology to clinical practice. Research project included.

  • PSYC7130 Functional neuroanatomy, neurophysiology and neuropharmacology, emphasizing the relationship of brain mechanisms and synaptic chemistry to behavior. Special topics include: techniques for studying brain-behavior relationships; sensory and motor systems; homeostasis and regulation of internal states; emotions, aggression and stress; learning and memory; and the biological bases of mental illness.

  • PSYC7133 This course provides an introduction to the cognitive and affective bases of behavior. Topics to be addressed include basic principles of learning theory and alternative theoretical perspectives on the nature of emotion. The nature of cognitive processes such as memory and decision-making will also be addressed. The course is designed to be particularly relevant to the application of these topics to clinical psychology.

  • PSYC7810 An experimental research project. Can be used in place of the Master's Comprehensive Examination.

  • PSYC7812 The continuation of an independent research project. (Chapters 3 & 4 of thesis: Results & discussion sections). Can be used in place of the Master's Comprehensive Examination.