Frequently Asked Questions About the Master's Program
Can you please mail information regarding your program to me?
There is a wealth of information available on this website. Interested students are encouraged to review these pages.
How many students do you admit?
We receive approximately 60 applications each year and accept 8 master's students for Fall admission. Spring and summer admission is not offered.
What are the average GRE and GPA of successful applicants?
During the past several years, the average GRE scores for admitted students have been 153 (59th percentile) for Verbal and 151 (44th percentile) for Quantitative. The average undergraduate GPA for admitted students has been about 3.65.
If I took the GRE once, do I have to retake it?
GRE scores are only valid for 5 years. You can retake the test to improve your score as often as you would like and the best set of scores (V + Q) is considered.
Who should write my letters of recommendation?
Professional letters which speak to an applicant's potential for graduate study are highly valued. Such letters typically come from university faculty members who can comment on research, writing or other academic performance indicators. Personal letters from family members are strongly discouraged.
Do I need to have research experience to apply?
No. While many students have completed independent research projects (e.g., senior honors thesis), it is not a requirement for admission. Research interests and research-related goals are viewed very positively in the admission process as well as previous experiences with research.
Should I plan to meet with the Director of Training prior to applying?
Not necessarily. The internet provides a good deal of information about the program, profession, and application procedures. You should carefully review these resources and determine the benefit of attempting to schedule a meeting. It is a common misperception that making a personal connection with the Director of Training offers applicants some benefit with the review process. The Counseling Psychology program faculty prefer that applicants delay their on campus visits until the interview day. During this day, prospective students are offered a good deal of attention and exposed to faculty, staff, students, and the Hattiesburg area.
Can I tour the campus?
While applicants are free to visit the campus anytime, a campus tour is made available for students during the invited, on-campus interviews in the spring. We do not offer private tours or appointments prior the on-campus interviews. We find that students are offered the best exposure to the campus, city of Hattiesburg, and to the students and faculty of the Counseling Psychology program when we can coordinate our efforts well.
Can I attend the program part-time?
No. The Counseling Psychology program has been developed as a full-time program where students are expected to be on campus throughout the week and attend classes during the day and evening. In addition to attending class, students participate in research activities, meetings, clinical work, and other program-related tasks which are scheduled throughout the week. Students are discouraged from commuting out of town on a daily basis. Online classes are not routinely offered.
Can the program be completed online?
No. Only in rare circumstances are some, specific courses offered online.
Are there scholarships and other funding opportunities available?
Yes. Before applying, we encourage prospective students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This will assist the Office of Financial Aid in determining your eligibility for graduate work-study and other loan information in case you are accepted into the Program.
All students in good standing have found assistantships across campus working in offices such as Career Services and the Honors College. These assistantships pay a modest monthly stipend and come with a waiver of tuition in exchange for 20-hours/week of department, university, or community-based work. Information about these opportunities is made available upon admission to the program.
Who should I contact for more information?
Please contact the Director of Training of the MS Program, Dr. Emily Yowell with specific questions and after you have carefully reviewed the website.
When should I contact the Director of Training?
The Director of Training is regularly available to answer questions about the program, curriculum, and application procedures. Applicants are encouraged to first carefully review the program website for answers to their questions prior to contacting the Director of Training. It is a common misconception that you should contact the Director of Training in an attempt to promote your application materials or to make a "personal connection." Given the large number of applications received annually, faculty rely on the application materials themselves, rather than personal contact, to make admission recommendations.
When should I contact individual program faculty?
It is not necessary to contact individual faculty. The Counseling Psychology faculty are available by email to respond to questions regarding current research projects and research plans. Applicants are encouraged to review the individual faculty member's webpages to read the most current information on research interests, projects and other related information. It should be assumed that all faculty members are reviewing applications for the coming year unless otherwise noted on the program faculty pages.
How long does the program take?
The master's program in Counseling Psychology is a 60-credit hour, 2 year, full time program. Students admitted begin as a cohort in the Fall semester only and complete the program following a full time internship during the second summer semester. Only in rare circumstances do students deviate from this 2-year model. No students are admitted part time.
What is the theoretical orientation of your faculty?
While we are a diverse group, the majority of the faculty utilize a cognitive-behavioral perspective.
Where do students complete their clinical training?
Students initially are supervised in practicum experiences organized in conjunction with the Community Counseling and Assessment Clinic. Students provide counseling to college students and members of the surrounding community suffering from daily life concerns as well as more serious, diagnosable conditions. Assessment experiences and specialized training in evidence based approaches are also provided. Counseling Psychology program faculty provide the supervision for all clinic-based practicum. Following two semesters of practicum, all master's students complete a full time internship during the second summer semester. Typically paid positions can be coordinated through a community mental health agency in Hattiesburg, however unpaid positions can be coordinated in other agencies as negotiated with the Internship Coordinator. Internship involves 600 hours of clinical work, supervised by a master's level counselor or related professional.
How are students exposed to research?
The master's program in Counseling Psychology requires that all students participate in a research apprenticeship which requires participation in a counseling faculty member's research team. Participation can include independent projects, but typically involves active participation in the team's research projects. We believe that this exposure to research is a unique strength of the master's program and offers students exceptional training and preparation for continued graduate studies. Contact individual faculty with questions that you may have about opportunities on their research teams.
What types of courses do students take?
The master's program in counseling psychology is modeled after CACREP guidelines, the Master's in Psychology Accreditation Council and the Council of Applied Master's Programs in Psychology recommendations. As such, each course has been carefully selected to ensure students are offered the highest quality training experiences. Courses are selected which will lead to licensure at the master's level (e.g., Licensed Professional Counselor) and which can serve as the foundation for continued doctoral studies. Students take courses in core psychology areas (e.g., Neuropsychology, Development), research and statistics, and counseling theories and approaches. Sixty credit hours are required; students take approximately 6 credits of electives in an area of their choosing to include substance abuse counseling and couples and family counseling.
Will I be trained to be a practitioner or a researcher?
At the master's level, students are trained to be competent practitioners and are well prepared to continue their education in a doctoral program in Counseling Psychology. The program maintains adherence to a scientist-practitioner training model, and as such, exposure to the research process is the cornerstone of the training master's students receive. As many master's programs in counseling offer practitioner training, the Counseling Psychology program at Southern Miss offers the unique opportunity to truly be trained in the scientist-practitioner model.
What is the relationship between your doctoral and master's programs?
The doctoral and master's programs overlap substantially during the first two years of training, however admissions requirements and review processes are different for both programs. At times, qualified applicants to our doctoral program are encouraged to apply to the master's program if additional spaces are not available in the doctoral cohort. Because of the overlap in coursework and requirements, applicants may find that they are well prepared to reapply to the doctoral program after completing their master's program.
What are the strengths of your program?
As a scientist-practitioner training program, students are offered unique research and practice opportunities through the Community Counseling and Assessment Clinic. Such intensive training is unique among applied counseling psychology programs as faculty are actively involved in clinical supervision as well as applied research. In many instances, these experiences are one in the same. A focus on evidence based approaches to treatment prepares our students well for the demands of clinical work and offers students exposure to those critical thinking skills essential for good research and for good practice. Students are exposed to the research and clinical process beginning in their first semester and continuing throughout their training. Mentoring, both peer-to-peer and between faculty and students, is readily available.
Can I transfer to the doctoral program?
No, but highly qualified students may be encouraged to apply to the doctoral program during the second year of master's coursework. As there is substantial overlap between the two programs, students who are accepted from the master's program into the doctoral program find that many of their classes and clinical experiences transfer easily.
Is this program accredited?
No, however the program is modeled after CACREP guidelines to allow graduates to be eligible for licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor in Mississippi and most other states. We also follow competency-based recommendations and guidelines of the Master's in Counseling and Psychology Accreditation Council.
What is this CACREP accreditation I have heard so much about?
CACREP stands for the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. It is an accrediting organization interested in promoting Masters-level counseling education and licensure for those trained in Counselor Education and related programs. CACREP has been clear in its refusal to accredit Counseling Psychology programs. As you might suspect based on our program's mission and identity, we are not CACREP-accredited. We are not CACREP-accredited because of our identity as a Counseling Psychology program, and psychology programs are not eligible for that accreditation. As a counseling psychology program, we take pride in both aspects of our dual professional identity: counseling and psychology. We believe that the mental health needs of communities that can be served by well-trained counselors from all disciplines. From this perspective, licensure restrictions based on academic discipline are a social justice issue -- vulnerable populations may be not receiving the counseling support that they need. At-risk populations and the general public need competent and well-trained counselors, independent of academic discipline.
What do licensed counselors do?
While many of our students go on to doctoral programs in counseling psychology, others practice counseling at the master's level in hospital settings, community mental health, private practice and at university counseling centers.
Can I become licensed to practice following this degree?
Licensure requirements differ from state to state. We have developed our program to be in line with most states' licensure requirements. For information on licensure in Mississippi as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), see the state board website https://www.lpc.ms.gov/secure/mslicensurereq.asp.
Do I need to complete a thesis?
No. All students are expected to participate in a research apprenticeship during their master's training. This involves participation in a research team and occasionally involves an independent project. Due to the time commitments involved with a thesis project, few master's students pursue this option as it may likely delay graduation.
Do I need an undergraduate degree (i.e., B.S., B.A.) in psychology to be considered for this program?
A bachelor's degree in psychology is not required but preferred. Students having earned degrees in other academic areas may want to complete some undergraduate coursework prior to entering a graduate program. Suggested classes include: behavioral statistics, research design, abnormal psychology, developmental psychology, learning theories, multicultural counseling, and counseling/personality theories. There are no prerequisite classes required to begin the counseling psychology graduate programs; however, students will be expected to demonstrate familiarity with behavioral statistics prior to enrolling in graduate level coursework in this area.