Department of Psychology

College of Arts & Sciences

Montana State University-Billings

Proposed Master of Science Degree in Psychology

Program Description (including goals and objectives):

The Department of Psychology proposes to create a degree program that would allow students to pursue a Masters Degree in Psychology. This degree program would give candidates the opportunity for advanced study in psychology and would allow students to obtain the following goals in their career development:

� Obtaining a graduate-level degree in Psychology

� Preparing for employment in a behavioral research setting

� Preparing for teaching at the community college level

� Preparing for additional graduate study (e.g. MSW, PhD or PsyD)

The proposed degree would consist of two options: Option one would contain 30 semester hours of formal classroom instruction, 12 semester hours (1000 work hours) of supervised counseling. Option two would consist of 30 semester hours of classroom instruction and 12 credit hours of thesis research experience. The program would require students to complete an appropriate undergraduate degree that would insure adequate experience in psychology before admission to degree candidacy. All of the current university regulations governing graduate programs would be adhered to by this program.

Program Specifics

Course requirements for the MS degree would be satisfied by completing a set of foundation or "core" courses offered by the Department of Psychology. These classes might include (but are not limited to):

� Psychopathology *

� Human Neuropsychology *

� Advanced Statistics **

� Behavioral Research Methods

� Advanced Social Psychology

� Stress and Health

� Psychological Assessment

� Psychopharmacology

� Techniques of Psychotherapy *Graduate courses currently offered by the department

� Professional Seminar (Ethics, etc.)

� Theories of Psychotherapy **Offered by Math Dept. as a 500 level course

� Thesis Research

Supervised counseling hours would be acquired by students working for several community organizations. The Department currently has working relationships with several such organizations and our undergraduates serve them as interns. This experience will significantly improve the student�s fitness for admission to a PhD program. A thesis option will be provided. Each graduate student will have the opportunity to write a thesis in consultation with his/her academic advisor. Thesis directors may be drawn from other departments.


The student demand for this program was determined by surveys given to psychology majors during the academic year 1998-1999. The results of the survey indicate a larger than expected interest in a graduate program in our department. Of 61 psychology students surveyed, 89% said they had "plans to attend graduate school in psychology or related fields" and 97% said they would be "interested in finding out more" about a psychology master�s program at MSU-B. When asked if they would apply to a MSU-B master's program, 46% said they would apply, 48% said they might apply and 7% said they would not apply.


Faculty support for this program could come from restructuring some undergraduate courses and from summer teaching contracts. The following chart depicts what a typical two-year course cycle for the program might look like:

Year 1



Summer 1

Summer 2


Techs. Of Ther. (opt) Human Neuropsy

Adv. Social Stat.

Theories of Ther.



Year 2

Psychopharm Thesis (opt)

Pro. Seminar Psychopath Thesis (opt)

Clinical Counseling Methods

Stress & Health

At the present time, Human Neuropsychology and Psychopathology are being taught. Therefore, the department would only have to generate support for four additional courses a year. One way to do this would be to consolidate our 205-206 sequence into one course. We would propose to do this based on two lines of reasoning. First, the math department has recently restructured introductory statistics. We have examined the new textbook for the Stat 241-242 sequence and feel these courses should be a prerequisite for our Research Analysis/Research Design course. Second, our course would continue to have an associated lab, fulfilling the need for psychology students to have "hands-on" experience with both statistical analysis and designing/conducting research. The consolidation would create support for two of the four courses needed per year.

We would create the additional two courses per year by offering the courses in the summer. It should be noted that we would not need additional support for these courses beyond what we are currently receiving. We can substitute current class offerings with graduate classes. Thus we can generate the support for the program with current resources. The reorganization within the department of our current class schedule would be somewhat extensive.

It should be noted that the Department has a strong commitment and goal that this MS program would generate at least some funding and could conceivably become self-funded. This funding will be sought through NIMH training grants, federal or state mental health funding sources, or private funds.

 Name of Faculty

Highest Degree

Tenure Status



Mike Havens




Director of Program

Matt McMullen




Director of Thesis Research

Doxey Hatch




Director of Thesis Research


Present Load

Expected Load

Name of Faculty




















The research and teaching loads for the three faculty members involved will not change. A total of eight courses per year are needed for the program. Four of these courses per year will be offered by rearranging and redefining our strategy for summer classes. In short, we will consolidate summer offerings to allow the graduate courses to be offered at the same level of support our department currently receives. One additional course per year will be offered by the Mathematics Department. This leaves four courses per year to be offered by existing faculty. We are currently using some part-time resources in General Psychology (101) and Human Relations (271). In the past we have used part-time instructors in Introduction to Clinical Psychology (476) and Research Design (206). Therefore, we would request additional part-time support for between two and four courses a year to operate the graduate courses. An additional salient point is that, after discussions with several professional psychologists in town, it is clear that they would be interested in teaching courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. This provides us with a consistent pool of qualified part-time instructors.

Expected Program Contributions

A graduate program is proposed which will serve the needs of psychology students

in the Billings area. Many of the department's graduates are unable to leave the area to attend graduate school and need a place to continue their education. The employment situation in psychology, while rather good in this area for bachelor�s level graduates, is much better for master's degree holders. Eleven new courses are proposed to support the program. The rationale for each of the courses is included on the new course approval forms. In general, each of the courses is proposed because of its necessity to either licensing issues at the state and federal levels or to support research necessary for the generation of a thesis.

Need for the Program

Student Demand--Past Enrollment.

(No predecessor programs exists.)

Student Demand--Future Enrollment.

The anticipated enrollment is 8 students per year in the program. Cumulatively, this should mean about 20 students in the program on average by the third year of the program.

Document and give basis for your estimates:

This year the department conducted a survey of 61 psychology majors to determine student demand for the program. The results indicated that (rounded to the nearest %):

a) 89% said they anticipated attending graduate school

b) 97% said they would like to find out more about an MSU-Billings master's degree in psychology

c) 46% said they would apply to the program

d) 48% said they might apply to the program

e) 7% said they would not apply to the program

Service to the Community

It is very clear that the extensive mental health care industry in Billings needs employees. Our undergraduates find employment in many areas. Currently, most of the jobs in mental health are occupied by MSU-Billings department of psychology graduates.

Relationship to Other Programs on Campus

The Counseling and Human Services Department offers master's degrees in community counseling, school counseling, and rehabilitation counseling. This program has a very different emphasis and really has no formal relationship with those programs. That said, it would be to the advantage of both programs to draw upon the strengths of their programs and the proposed program. We are currently discussing the options of sharing some courses and some faculty across departments.

Relationship To Other Institutions


Degree(s) Offered




Availability to MSU-B Students or Potential Students

U. of MT

MA in School Psych


Our program is not School Psych



MA in Applied Psych IO Psych


Our program is more general with no IO



MA in counseling health and human dev


Our program is broader and in psychology


There seems to be little overlap with the proposed program and others offered in the state. We have received comments from people in health care and mental health care in Billings that they are interested in the program as students, or in the appropriate cases, adjunct teaching appointments. We have discussed this program as an addition to our undergraduate degree offerings. It is designed and intended to be complementary to and to supplement our current undergraduate program. However, it is clear that other programs on campus (CHS and Education) are interested in how this program might interface with their courses. We are currently discussing the possibilities with them.

Comparable Nearby Programs Outside Montana:

Similar Degree Programs (Title)

Degree(s) Offered



Availability to our Students

E WA University

MS in school psych


Narrow focus on School Psych

Very limited


MS in experimental


Focus Restricted to research

Very limited


MS in Preclinical


Somewhat similar


WA State Univ.

MA in Counseling


Not in Psych

Very limited

Idaho State

MS in general experimental


Somewhat similar

Very limited

N. Dakota State

MA in clinical


Somewhat similar curriculum


U of Idaho

MS in human fac


Narrow focus on IO

Very limited


MS in I/O psych


Narrow focus on IO

Very limited


No related Degrees

Ft. Collins


Research Support:

We have an expectation that at some point this program will be at least partially self-funded. Many training grants and opportunities for student financial aid exist in psychology at the national, state and local levels. All of these sources will be reviewed and utilized when the program is implemented.

Academic Support Resources:

Current library resources are adequate for the support of the program. However, we need to formalize the interlibrary loan (especially for journal articles) process to make this service more available for student use. This does not require additional library resources, just a change in the operating procedure between the Psychology Department and the library staff. Our current library (including Bozeman access) compares favorably with those of other small universities in this region. Psychology holdings in many of these schools are limited, as is the case with our library. However, materials are readily obtained through interlibrary loans and our limited access really poses no difficulties, provided we can arrange with the library to support the increased patronage of the interlibrary system by our graduate students.

Special Resources:

We have identified three areas where access to some resources would be helpful. Please note that these resources are not necessarily financial needs as much as they are temporal needs, meaning that time is needed for a faculty member to collect the resources and prepare them.

The testing course (525 Psychological Assessment) requires test materials for the students to use during training. Usually, these tests are purchased by the Department (in some cases by the students themselves), but the cost can be prohibitive with some tests. We need the time to find acceptable alternatives to the outright purchase of these materials.

The Graduate Practicum (550) will require community support in advance. We already have working relationships with several agencies in Billings and this poses no problem, but these should be formalized before the program starts.

We are currently building a small computer facility in the Department to allow students to have access to internet resources, APA guidelines, templates for these, and papers and statistical analysis. We hope to have two workstations shortly, but the need for at least one more station may arise in the future.

Facilities and Capital Equipment:

Nearly all of the classes will meet in the Department of Psychology. Current classroom space is adequate although a seminar room other than the Garrison room would prove invaluable. Between the computer annex and the computer resources in the Department, student access to computer facilities will be adequate. The APA online resources and current library support are also adequate.

Admission Standards and Prerequisites:

In general, the prerequisites for the graduate courses will be graduate standing and instructor permission. However, some limited undergraduate participation in the classes is anticipated. There will be an admission policy for the program, and a committee to assess the applications of incoming students.

Program Evaluation:

Master's programs are not accredited by the APA and, while general outlines for undergraduate programs exist from the APA, we are not aware of any such guidelines for masters programs. We have not discussed, at this point, other more informal methods of evaluating the program. This proposal has been reviewed by qualified faculty and administrators at MSU-Bozeman.


The current budgetary scheme that we have proposed is to devote resources from summer session already utilized by the Department of Psychology. This does not represent an increase in the funding to our department but reflects a change in our undergraduate offerings that could be implemented at this time.

For the third year of the program, the Department of Psychology has requested that a faculty line be designated to the program in the four-year hiring plan of the College of Arts and Sciences. The line will come from an internal reallocation based upon the viability of the proposed program. The Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and the Provost and Academic Vice Chancellor support this plan.


We have proposed an MS program that seems to have great potential and promise for our department. An interest assessment of the students has suggested that there is a lot of need to provide such a program at MSU-B. Further, the coursework, supervised training, and additional requirements for the program are within our ability to generate, albeit with a restructuring within our undergraduate offerings.