Frequently Asked Questions
Social Psychology Master of Arts FAQ
Q. How many students apply to the Social Psychology Area?
A. We typically receive 40-60 applications per year.
Q. How many students are accepted into the Social Psychology Area?
A. Our first-year cohort is typically 6-8 students.
Q. What are the characteristics of students who apply and/or are accepted to this program?
A. Successful applicants must have an undergraduate degree with sufficient background in Psychology to prepare them appropriately for graduate study. Coursework in Social Psychology is expected, as is training and experience in psychological research and data analysis. Applied experience is highly valued, along with a strong academic record and evidence of motivation, creativity, initiative, and effective teamwork.
Q. Are there any stipends available to offset the cost of the program?
A. Depending on state budgets and the status of active grants, there are limited funds available to students in the form of monetary stipends. These stipends are awarded on a competitive basis and include teaching assistantships and research assistantships. Students are encouraged to apply for scholarships and/or financial aid to help offset the cost of graduate education. There are also scholarships at the University-wide level, the College-level, and the Department-level.
Q. How do I go about selecting an advisor?
A. Our area uses a mentor model, which means that we ensure that each accepted student starts in a research lab with a faculty advisor on the first day of the Fall semester. Thus, it is beneficial for applicants to indicate in their application with whom they would like to work. Based in part on the applicant’s research interests, the admissions committee will review the applications and match accepted students with individual faculty mentors for their first semester. Click the links on the left side of this page to learn more about the Social faculty.
Until a student is ready to complete the master’s thesis, the advising relationship may be changed. Once the thesis is solidified, then the student’s advisor becomes the Chair of the thesis committee.
Q. What research can I get involved in?
A. Each of our faculty has an active research lab. Since students are placed into a research lab during their very first semester, we expect that students will become involved in their advisor’s research at whatever level is deemed appropriate by the advisor. Students are encouraged to collaborate with other research labs and other students across all areas of the Department. For example, some of our current students collaborate with research labs in the concentrations of Developmental Psychology, Clinical Psychology, and Mind, Brain, and Behavior.
Transparency is key to good collaborative relationships, so students are expected to be clear with each research lab about which lab is their primary focus and which lab is their secondary focus in terms of volunteered time.
Q. Do I have to be in a research lab?
A. Participation in a research lab is mandatory. Even while graduate courses in statistics and research methods provide students with valuable information, psychological science is best experienced in the act of doing it. Because we train students to eventually become independent researchers at a Ph.D.-granting institution or in the private sector (e.g., survey design companies, data analysis for social media websites), it is imperative that students have as much hands-on experience as possible designing studies, collecting data, and performing statistical analysis so that they know how to translate the conceptual knowledge that they have obtained through coursework into scientific inquiry.
Q. Will I get to visit the department and faculty before I make the decision to attend SFSU?
A. You may receive a request to schedule a telephone interview while your application for admission to graduate study is being evaluated, but an interview on the campus is not required. Nonetheless, you are welcome to visit the campus and get acquainted with both the faculty and current graduate students, either before or after you receive an offer of admission.
Q. How many course hours are too many to take per semester?
A. At the graduate level, a full course load is considered to be three courses (normally nine units). Also note that contributing to an active research lab is also a 10-hour per week commitment at minimum.
Q. Does a participant pool exist for conducting research?
A. Yes. The Psychology Department encourages all undergraduate psychology students to serve as research participants, and many courses have a research participation requirement or offer extra credit for research participation.
Q. Can I be a paid research assistant in my selected laboratory?
A. Limited funds are available to pay research assistants; most students volunteer their time in exchange for the invaluable knowledge provided by the experience.