CSU ready to launch master's in psychology

Clayton State University officials are gearing up to begin offering, this fall, a graduate-level version of one of its most popular bachelor's-degree programs.

When the 2010-2011 school year begins in August, the university will launch its master's degree in psychology, which was approved by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia in March.

Clayton State Psychology Professor Deborah Deckner said faculty members in the psychology department are excited about the addition of the graduate-level program, because of the opportunities it could present for new research opportunities. Deckner will serve as the coordinator of the master's program.

"All of the faculty feel invigorated about the prospect of adding this program to our department," Deckner said. "It really is an amazing opportunity to keep ourselves engaged in research."

The university is currently accepting applications for the first group of graduate-level psychology students, and the deadline to apply is July 15, according to Deckner. She said she anticipates only 20 applicants will be accepted into the program, and more than 40 people have already expressed an interest in applying for admission.

Only one of the degree's two curriculum tracks — the applied development psychology track — will be available this fall, however, Deckner said. The second track — for clinical psychology — will be launched in August 2011, she said.

Clayton State Department of Psychology Chairperson Donna McCarty said the implementation of the degree program is being phased in one track at a time to make sure the establishment process goes smoothly. "There's a lot of work that goes into implementing a program," McCarty said. "We thought we could do a better job by implementing one track at a time."

Clayton State's Department of Psychology has set up a web site: a-s.clayton.edu/MSP/, to explain the program, including what courses will be required of students, and what the admissions deadlines are.

Deckner said the applied development track will prepare students to work in, or possibly lead, community organizations or government agencies that work with children. The clinical psychology track will prepare students to do community work, she said.

An added component, for both tracks, will be an emphasis on learning how to deal with diverse populations, according to Deckner. She said such training becomes particularly important when dealing with areas such as Clayton County, where cultural diversity is commonplace.

"Clayton County is such a diverse population that they really need to have that skill-set to work in this community," Deckner said.

McCarty and Deckner said two new faculty members will join the department in the fall, to help teach undergraduate, and graduate courses. They said one of the new teachers is Christina Camp, who is currently working on a research team at Emory University, and has expertise in clinical psychology. McCarty and Deckner said the other new professor is Pinar Gurkas, who is currently teaching psychology at Columbus State University, and has expertise in developmental psychology.

McCarty, and University Spokesman John Shiffert said psychology has quickly proven to be a popular field of study since the university began offering a bachelor's degree in the subject in 2011. In a written statement, Shiffert called the Psychology Department "one of Clayton State's great success stories," because the undergraduate-degree program has grown to be one of the largest at the university in less than a decade.

"For the 2009-2010 academic year," Shiffert said, "Clayton State has 505 declared psychology majors, the third largest single degree program at the university, behind the university's two oldest undergraduate programs — the Pre-[Bachelor of Science in Nursing, basic licensure] and Pre-Business."

McCarty said the popularity of the undergraduate program, as well as the diverse student population at Clayton State, were two reasons the university pursued a master's-degree program. For more information on the new master's degree, call (678) 466-4836.