Department of Psychology

graduate students

General Experimental Psychology



The General Experimental Program is designed to provide graduate education in the content areas of experimental psychology in order to prepare for doctoral work or for Master's level careers. The program is designed for students interested in pursuing academic careers as well as those seeking careers in applied and research settings.

Students in the general experimental psychology option are required to pass an oral examination based on their thesis research. Elective course work can be taken in departments other than psychology to allow flexibility in tailoring a program for a student. As an example, graduate courses in management and human resource management from the College of Business and Technology might be electives for a student interested in industrial/organizational psychology.

The seminar topics rotate each year and include in-depth coverage of topics such as evolutionary psychology, social cognition, affect regulation, memory, and the brain.

Program Details

As part of our mission to provide a foundation in graduate-level psychology, students take the following sequence of courses:

  • 1st Semester
    • Lifespan Development
    • Advanced Psychological Statistics
    • Current Research in Psychology
    • Independent Readings
  • 2nd Semester
    • Social Bases of Behavior
    • Research Methods
    • Current Research in Psychology
    • Independent Research
  • 3rd Semester
    • Principles of Neuroscience
    • Seminar (topics rotate)
    • Thesis
  • 4th Semester
    • Advanced Cognitive Processes
    • Seminar (topics rotate)
    • Thesis

View the specific degree requirements and course descriptions in the Graduate Catalog.

Seminar Topics

The seminar topics rotate each year and include in-depth coverage of topics such as evolutionary psychology, social cognition, affect regulation, memory, and the brain.

First Year Project

Starting in their first semester, students work individually with faculty members to develop their own research interests. This culminates in a first year research project. Students are encouraged to collaborate with multiple faculty members and present their research at both regional and national conferences.

Thesis Project

During the third and fourth semesters, all students complete an original research project as a capstone experience. Working closely with a faculty mentor, students propose an empirical study, collect and analyze data, and complete a written thesis.


The Experimental Psychology Program at WIU is designed to enhance in students those skills of value to potential employers and doctoral programs. As such, our graduates secure a diverse array of positions in varying work and academic settings.

Doctoral Programs

Many students (approximately 50%) continue their education at doctoral programs after completing their Master’s degrees. Below is a list of advanced degree programs where recent graduates from our program have been accepted into doctoral programs and law school.

  • Social Psychology, University of Georgia
  • Social Psychology, Washington University
  • Biopsychology, University of Kentucky
  • Social Psychology, University of Florida
  • Social Psychology and Neuroscience, Texas A & M University
  • Social Psychology, St. Louis University
  • Biopsychology, University of Missouri
  • Experimental Psychology, Tulane University
  • Experimental Psychology, University of Tennessee
  • School Psychology, University of Iowa
  • St. Louis University Law School
  • Social-Personality Psychology, Wayne State University
  • Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, Penn State University
  • Experimental Psychology, Texas Christian University
  • Clinical Psychology, Pacific University
Master’s-level Careers

Students are also successful at attaining a variety of jobs where the skills they learned in graduate school are put to use.Examples of job titles of graduates include:

  • Community College Instructor
  • Adolescent Substance Abuse Counselor
  • Market Research Analyst
  • Executive Recruiter
  • Human Resources Associate
  • Coordinator of Community Psychiatric Services
  • Institutional Research Analyst
  • Research Compliance Specialist
  • Laboratory Manager



"The educational experience offered through the General Experimental Psychology program at WIU is very unique. I was in good hands of supportive faculty members who are genuinely concerned about my professional development as a scholar. The small size of the program allows students to work closely with the faculty members. These research opportunities offer students diverse research experiences that are particularly advantageous for those preparing admission into a Ph.D. program. Every step that you make with your advisor shapes you as a scholar in the field!"
~ Naoyuki “Nami” Sunami

"I chose the General Experimental Program because it gave me the flexibility to research areas that truly interested me. The talented faculty provided me with great support to achieve my goals ranging from continuing into PhD programs, teaching, or getting started as an applied researcher in the private sector. They make your research and career interests a top priority at WIU. I continue to stay in touch with them years after graduating. I'm very happy with my choice and highly recommend it to others."
~ Jacob Stolmeier

Program Coordinator

Please contact Dr. McFadden for further information on the General Experimental Psychology graduate program.

Sandra McFadden
Sandra McFadden, Professor

Office: Waggoner Hall 159
Phone: (309) 298-1593

Contact the Department of Psychology and meet our faculty.