Department of Psychology

Psychology Graduate Students

Master of Science - Psychology

Program Overview

The Department of Psychology has three curricular choices within its two graduate programs. Two of the choices are professionally oriented, one a masters degree in clinical/community mental health, the other a specialist degree in school psychology. The third choice, a master's degree in general experimental psychology, emphasizes breadth of exposure and familiarity with research in psychology. The professionally oriented programs are supported by the WIU Psychology Clinic maintained within the department which serves the University and surrounding communities. This clinic maintains strong linkages with a variety of agencies and schools that allow students to become involved in the application of their developing skills in a number of community settings.

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

  • Faculty are full-time doctoral psychologists who are active practitioners in their respective specialities
  • With approximately 50 graduate students, small student-to-faculty ratio allows for individualized attention
  • Informal social groups, membership in research labs, and service on department committees provide opportunities for students to be actively involved in a broad educational experience
  • Modern, well-equipped laboratories for experimental research
  • Audio and video equipment for clinical training, an extensive library of assessment materials, and several microcomputer labs
  • Graduate assistants are provided with offices and study lounges are available
Graduate Assistantships

The Psychology Department has a limited number of graduate assistantship positions available. Most assistantships are awarded on a competitive basis to incoming first year graduate students. These provide a monthly stipend for eight months and a tuition waiver for fall, spring, and one summer semester. They further provide professional experience as well as additional contact between students and faculty. Types of positions include assistantships for research and teaching with faculty members, for laboratory and other courses, and in administrative offices within the department. Assignments are 13 hours per week. Alternatively, assistantships may be available through grants and contracts to individual faculty members and through other university departments and offices.

Learn about Graduate Assistantships at WIU.

Papini Travel Grants

The Papini Travel Fund is generously provided as part of a gift from Dennis and Karen Papini. Its purpose is to defray travel expenses, in the form of $200, for current psychology graduate students to present their research findings at professional conferences. For greater detail regarding the program, implementation, and application download the Papini Travel Policy and Application (pdf).

Virginia Diehl and Cathy Early Graduate Research Award

The Virginia Diehl and Cathy Early Graduate Research Award is established to fund Psychology Department graduate student research. Each year $1000 will be made available for graduate student grants in any of the three psychology programs (Clinical/Community Mental Health, General Experimental, and School Psychology). For more information, download the Virginia Diehl and Cathy Early Application (pdf) .

Financial Aid

Applicants are encouraged to apply for financial aid at the time of application for admission.

Visit the Financial Aid office for more information.


Clinical/Community Mental Health (C/CMH)

  • The C/CMH program prepares students for responsibilities as professional mental health clinicians. Students receive actual clinical experience from the beginning of the program, through participation in our community Psychology Clinic
  • The C/CMH program has been approved as meeting educational requirements for Illinois LPC/LCPC licensure. The program includes two on-campus years of theoretical and applied coursework, followed by a 9-12 month approved internship that the student selects
  • Graduate assistantships are available within the department for first-year students and across campus for second-year students. Assistantships provide a monthly stipend and tuition waiver
  • Class sizes remain small throughout the program. The Clinical/Community Mental Health program is accredited by the Master’s in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC) through August 2027
  • State counseling licensure board directory:
  • The program has been in existence since 1972 and has graduated over 200 students

Graduates in Clinical/Community Mental Health are quite successful in obtaining a variety of positions at competitive salaries in the public and private sectors of mental health. More than 90 percent of the program's graduates have secured positions in mental health agencies nationwide. Typically, new graduates find positions as clinicians in mental health centers. Such positions offer the opportunity to engage in many diverse, professional activities including individual, group, and family counseling, primary prevention programming, community consultation, and program evaluation. Graduates from the clinical/community option often will enter more specialized career areas within a few years after completion of the degree. Among the professional positions occupied by graduates of the program are case manager, clinical director, executive director, program coordinator for the mentally handicapped, coordinator of youth outreach programs, corrections counselor, and director of after care programs. Some graduates go on to complete doctoral degrees (PhD & PsyD). Former students and agency directors have reported that the pre-degree internship required of all students is a valuable asset when trying to secure a position.

Learn more about the C/CMH Program or contact the Program Coordinator, Leigh Ann Fisler, Associate Professor.


General Experimental Psychology

  • Two-year program that provides preparation for doctoral work or for Master’s level careers in applied and research settings
  • Small class sizes and individual attention from faculty
  • Students have the freedom to pursue their research interests, starting in their first semester
  • 50% of graduates enter doctoral programs
  • Graduate assistantships with full tuition waivers available to limited number of first-year students
  • In-state tuition for all domestic graduate students

One emphasis within the general experimental psychology option is preparation for entrance into doctoral programs in psychology. Approximately 50 percent of graduates from the general option have entered doctoral programs in various fields of psychology at universities across the U.S. and Canada. Other graduates have pursued career opportunities in areas such as community college teaching, corrections, personnel management, children's services, research, and management consulting. A master's degree in general experimental psychology provides a sound base for moving into a number of career areas.

Learn more about the General Experimental Program or contact the Program Coordinator, Sandra McFadden, Professor.

Specialist in School Psychology

  • The Program has been in existence since 1968 and has graduated approximately 385 students
  • Fully approved by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) since 1995
  • The program focuses on training school psychologists to work in rural areas of Illinois and surrounding states; however, alumni are employed in rural, suburban, and urban school districts and special education cooperatives throughout the state and country
  • The majority of first year students receive graduate assistantship positions in the psychology department. The majority of second year students receive graduate assistantship positions across campus in other departments or with external district contracts
  • Practicum experiences in local schools during the first and second year
  • Students engage in a variety of activities:
    • School Psychology Awareness Week, in conjunction with the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)
    • Professional conferences to connect with other students, to interview for jobs and to network
    • Present research at NASP or at the annual state conference for school psychologists
    • Engage in volunteer work, and take advantage of leisure activities on campus such as intramural sports

Graduates of the school psychology program , upon completion of the internship, are certified by the State of Illinois as school psychologists and readily find employment in school systems. More than 90 percent of recent graduates are currently functioning as psychologists in school districts in Illinois. The roles and functions of school psychologists are many and varied, including assessment, consultation, educational planning, development and implementation of behavioral strategies, counseling, program development, and research. After working for several years as psychologists, some graduates from the school psychology program have assumed administrative positions. Others have gone into private practice. About 10 percent of the graduates of this program complete doctorates. Several of these individuals are currently functioning as faculty members in school psychology training programs.

Learn more about the School Psychology Program or contact the Program Coordinator, Leigh Ann Fisler, Associate Professor.


Admission Requirements

The deadline for priority review of application materials for fall admission is February 1. Visit the School of Graduate Studies to view details about the admission process.

GPA requirements for admission
  • Full admission status - a minimum of 3.0 GPA overall for four years or a 3.0 GPA for the last two years (required to be eligible for a graduate assistantship)
  • Probationary admission status – a minimum GPA of 2.75. Probationary students will earn full admission status after completion of nine graduate hours with a minimum GPA of 3.0.

All applications for graduate study in psychology must include the following:

  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement describing how they expect their degree training to fit into their future plans
  • Resume/vita emphasizing academic, nonacademic, and employment experiences relevant to the degree program selected
  • For the C/CMH and School Psychology programs only: A personal interview
  • 2024 SSP Two interview dates will be offered February/Marh 2024
  • 2024 CCMH Two interview dates will be offered February/Marh 2024
  • NOTE: The psychology graduate programs are NO longer requiring the GRE.
Prerequisites for admission
  • A minimum of 15 hours in psychology from an accredited institution
  • Successful completion of the following courses: introductory psychology and at least one of the following courses: statistics or research methods
  • For the Clinical/Community Mental Health program only: Successful completion of courses in abnormal psychology, personality, and learning/cognitive psychology. 
  • For the School Psychology program only: Successful completion of courses in the psychology of exceptional children and behavior modification. 

Persons lacking one or more of these courses will be required to pass the appropriate undergraduate course(s) before being admitted to candidacy for a graduate degree in psychology. Courses taken to make up undergraduate deficiencies cannot be applied to the credit requirements for graduate degrees but these courses may be completed during the first year of the program.

English fluency requirements

All applicants should be aware that the graduate programs in psychology require significant reading, writing, listening, and speaking ability in English. International students whose native language is not English must meet the minimum TOEFL admission score required by the School of Graduate Studies or must have earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college/university within the USA with at least four years in residence at the awarding institution(s) within two years of enrolling at WIU.

At the time of application, potential graduate students must indicate whether they intend to concentrate in clinical/community mental health, general experimental psychology, or school psychology. Admission is into a specific program.