Yes! The competition for Ph.D. programs in psychology is very stiff. Nationally, only 9% of those applying for a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, for example, are offered admission to any program. Therefore, some students apply to both levels of training in the hope that if they do not receive admission offers for a Ph.D. program, they can seek their Master’s in the hopes of becoming more competitive for Ph.D. level study.
The Master’s program is a self-funded program with limited options available for financial aid through the university. For more information about financial aid options at Illinois, please contact our financial aid office at https://www.osfa.illinois.edu/. It should be noted that on-campus employment opportunities that are available as assistantships for Ph.D. level students, are NOT available for Master’s level students. Other types of on-campus work opportunities are possible.
Yes! Although it is not guaranteed that the requested faculty member will be taking students for the year of admission to the program, all requests will be taken into consideration for lab placement. If the requested faculty member is not available, your research interests will be the next level of consideration for lab placement.
The Master of Science Degree in Psychological Science at The University of Illinois is best suited for students who wish to advance their knowledge of the field of psychology, improve their research and data analytic skills, and enhance their preparation for a doctoral education in psychology and/or for jobs in the industry.
Graduates of this program will be competitive for placements in education, industry, consultant groups, state governments, federal government, and healthcare systems based on current hiring requirements in these areas. Examples of these jobs include the following titles: Child-Life Worker, Statistician, Senior Program Manager In Talent Management, Deputy Commissioner Of Employment Services in a City Resources Administration, Employment And Training Counseling, Director Of Admissions And Financial Aid, Academic Support Service Associate, Research Study Coordinator, Assistant Lab Director, Market Research Consultant, Director Of Admissions And Financial Aid And Manager In Selection And Assessment.
Our Master’s faculty are chosen from among the core faculty of the Psychology Department.
No. Our MS in Psychological Science is not a pre-requisite for admission to any doctoral program in psychology, although the additional training and experience might make students more competitive for admission to such programs. It also will not enable graduates of the program to be licensed within the mental health professions. Qualified students who are interested in earning a PhD in clinical and community psychology, which includes the pre-requisites for licensure, should apply directly to our doctoral program.
The Department of Psychology has found that within the last several years, as doctoral student funding has decreased, admissions to doctoral programs in psychology has become increasingly competitive. In 2015, on average, according to American Psychological Association, 9% of those applying for Ph.D.’s in clinical psychology were offered admission. In order to make themselves more competitive for admission, some students opt for a master’s degree before applying for a Ph.D. (although it is not necessary for applying). For example, almost 30% of the applicants to our doctoral program, and 25% of those admitted to our doctoral program, had already obtained Master’s Degrees.
Yes. MS students work with the Director to select courses that will provide appropriate knowledge and training for each student’s goals. While all courses must be taken in the service of deepening knowledge of psychological science, it is possible that some of the courses will be found in other departments.
Yes! Although it is not guaranteed that the requested faculty member will be taking students for the year of admission to the program, all requests will be taken into consideration for lab placement. We recommend that applicants clearly indicate their interests in their statement—this helps us to determine the faculty member who can provide the most meaningful research opportunities for an applicant. If applicants have a faculty preference, or a desire to be involved with a particular research lab, they should mention it in their statement.
No. This is a stand-alone Master’s degree program. Although students may take coursework with graduate students in the PhD program in the Psychology Department, the Master’s degree program is separate from the department’s doctoral degree program. Students who want to join the PhD program can submit an application and will be evaluated with the other doctoral applicants.
Yes. The competition for the Ph.D. programs in psychology is very stiff. Nationally, only 9% of those applying for a Ph.D. program in clinical psychology, for example, are offered admission to any program. Therefore some students apply to both levels of training in the hope that if they do not receive admission offers for a Ph.D. program, they can seek their Master’s to become more competitive for Ph.D. level study.
Applicants who only applied to the doctoral program, but later wish to be considered for the MS program, must notify the Grad Studies Office prior to the MS program deadline. Once the Grad Studies Office has been notified, the application will be coded for the MS program.
- Students pursuing a doctorate DO NOT need a Master’s degree for admission to doctoral programs. Doctoral programs accept applications from students with only Bachelor’s level training as well as from students who already have a master’s degree. Additionally, many doctoral programs grant their enrollees a master's degree as students progress in the program, often after they pass their qualifying exams. However, students should consider several factors when deciding whether to earn a master’s degree before continuing on to doctoral study.
- Better Preparation: With two years of graduate study under their belt, students who earn master’s degrees before applying to doctoral programs can feel far better prepared for graduate study than they were as undergraduates. Master’s study doesn’t make students experts in their field, but it trains them in the conventions of academic writing specific to the discipline, gives them opportunities to publish articles and exposes them to theoretical and methodological approaches and subfields not covered in college.
- Better Chances for Admission: Because students who earn master’s degrees are better prepared for doctoral study than those who only have bachelor’s degrees, some doctoral programs may be more likely to admit them. Their generally stronger writing samples and personal statements, letters of recommendation from graduate faculty and demonstrated dedication to graduate study make them attractive candidates. Many students also retake the Graduate Record Examination while earning their master’s degree, and their additional education can lead to higher scores, especially on the GRE subject tests. To find out whether a specific program prefers master’s degrees for its applicants, students can ask a department administrator what percentage of the incoming doctoral class holds master’s degrees.
- Informed Decision-Making: Master’s programs can help students decide both whether and where they want to pursue doctoral study. While some students thrive on the intensive nature of graduate study, which requires long hours and the ability to self-motivate, others find that they don’t want to spend an additional five years to earn their doctorate. Students can also use the time in a master’s program to gain a clearer sense of whether a doctorate will appreciably increase their earning potential and employment prospects in their field. Finally, students may learn more about which professors are leaders in their chosen subfield, and they can consider applying to study with those faculty members for their doctoral research.
- Cost of a Master’s Degree: One important consideration when deciding whether to pursue a master’s degree before a doctorate is the cost of each degree. Doctoral students in the United States are typically funded by their program; they work as research or teaching assistants in return for a small stipend, tuition coverage and, sometimes, health insurance. In contrast, master’s programs rarely fund their students, who usually take out student loans to finance their study. Students who are certain that they want to earn a doctorate may thus benefit financially from applying directly to doctoral programs upon completing their bachelor’s degree.