Master's Program in Community Social Psychology

Admission Requirements

The Community Social Psychology program at the University of Massachusetts Lowell is designed not only for recent college graduates but also for older and non-traditional students with experience in a variety of work and community settings. 

In considering and reviewing applications, admission requirements include these six factors:

  1. Your college grades - we look for a grade point average of at least 3.0.
  2. Your background in psychology. Normally, we like to see at least 18 credits in psychology, including at least one course in statistics or research methods.
  3. Your work experience and other activities outside of school.
  4. Your Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, on both verbal and quantitative sections. Alternatively, you may submit scores from the Miller Analogies Test (MAT). The GRE/MAT requirement may be waived for current University of   Massachusetts Lowell undergraduates who are enrolled in the BA/MA Program.  The GRE/MAT requirement is also waived for applicants who graduated from UMass Lowell within the past five years with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better.
  5. At least three letters of recommendation, including at least one, and preferably more than one, from recent or current professors.
  6. A personal statement. This detailed statement should explain your interests in community social psychology (CSP) and tell us how you believe a masters in CSP program will help you meet your own career goals. Please describe your background both as it has led you to an interest in being a community social psychologist. 

The specific manner in which we apply these criteria may differ somewhat based on your personal circumstances. For students just receiving a Bachelor's degree, greater attention may be paid to recent grades. For students out of school for some time, work background and experience will count relatively more.

Transfer Credit 

Matriculated students in Community Social Psychology are allowed to transfer up to 12 credits of graduate course work completed with a grade of B or better taken in other departments at UMass Lowell or at other accredited universities, provided that such courses are within the content area of community social psychology and do not involve credit for field experience or professional work. Such transfer credit is subject to the approval of the Graduate Coordinator and the Registrar's Office. 

Part-time Study and Non-Degree Status

While the program in Community Social Psychology provides for full-time study, part-time students are encouraged to apply. Most courses are offered at late afternoon and evening hours to accommodate students who are employed. Students not pursuing an advanced degree or who wish to begin their graduate study without first applying for matriculated status are invited to register as non-degree students for specific graduate courses on a space-available basis. 

If a non-degree student later applies for acceptance into the Master’s program, his/her application will be treated equally with those of other new applicants, though performance in graduate courses taken on campus may be used as an additional admissions criterion. Non-degree students accepted as matriculated students may apply to transfer a maximum of 12 graduate credits earned at the University of Massachusetts Lowell with a grade of "B" or better toward the Master’s degree (but students may be encouraged to formally apply to the program after completing 6 CSP credits. 

Graduate Advisor 

Each newly matriculated student in the program will be assigned to an advisor from among the faculty of the graduate program. The student will meet with his/her advisor on a regular basis throughout the years of study to discuss course selections, planning for practicum, and the development of the thesis or project (optional). Once a student selects a faculty supervisor for his/her thesis or project, this faculty member takes over as graduate academic advisor. 

Degree Requirements: Credits

A total of 36 academic credits, at least 24 of which must be taken at the University of Massachusetts Lowell with a grade average of B or better, is required for the completion of the degree. The 36 credits for the Master’s degree are divided as follows: 

Required Coursework (3 courses, 9 credits total)

47.500 Community Social Psychology
47.625 Advanced Community Dynamics 
47.512 Applied Research Methods

Required Practicum (2-semester course sequence and placement: 6 credits )

47.631 Practicum I
47.632 Practicum II

(Must be taken over consecutive semester starting in the fall)

The remaining degree credits consist of elective courses. Students may select from over 15 elective courses in Community Social Psychology, most of which are offered at least once every two years. In their choice of electives, students have the option of completing a Master's Project or Thesis (see below). 

Total must equal 36 credits. 

Thesis and Project Options

To earn the 36 credits needed for the Master's degree, all matriculated students in Community Social Psychology have the option, in consultation with and with the consent of a faculty advisor, of completing either a Thesis or a Project. Both these options represent an integrative piece of significant independent scholarship. The Thesis will be larger in scope, more formal, and more rigorous than the Project, and it must involve a well-developed and systematically conducted research study. A brief summary is provided here:


  • Be completed over the course of two semesters (usually consecutive), counting for 6 credits toward the degree 
  • Involve a Thesis Committee of three faculty, chaired by a Psychology Faculty member and including at least one other Psychology faculty member. 
  • Be written in accordance with University guidelines 
  • Be defended by the student in front of the Thesis Committee at a public meeting.
The Thesis will always be a piece of quantitative and/or qualitative research, involving a review of literature, a clear statement of a research question, the design of an appropriate method for collecting data, and the analysis of results as the basis for drawing conclusions.


  • Typically be completed over the course of one academic semester, counting for 3 credits toward the degree 
  • Be carried out under the supervision of a CSP faculty member 
  • Be written in accordance with guidelines established by the graduate program 
  • Involve an appropriate form of public presentation
  • The Project may also be a piece of research, though narrower in scope and more focused than a Thesis (e.g., a pilot study or a program evaluation). It may also involve the development, implementation and evaluation of an action-oriented intervention.

Although many students will choose to earn all their credits through coursework, a Thesis might be a good choice for students interested in enhancing their research skills and/or who are thinking of going on to a doctoral program and a possible career in university teaching and research. A project might be a good choice for students interested in enhancing their program design, intervention and evaluation skills, and it might also benefit those students pursuing careers in human services and community development.

Detailed information may be found on the department website and from the graduate program coordinator.

Bachelor's-Master's (BA/MA) Program

Undergraduate psychology majors at the University of Massachusetts Lowell who have a GPA of 3.0 or better are invited to apply to the BA/MA program, allowing students to begin graduate level coursework in our Community Social Psychology (CSP) Master’s Program while still pursuing their bachelor's degree. If a student is formally matriculated into the Master's Program before earning their BA up to 9 credits of graduate (500 level or higher) courses completed with a B grade or better may be used by the student to count toward both the Bachelor’s and Master's degrees. 

Application to the BA/MA Program

Applications are typically submitted during the student's second semester of their junior year to allow adequate time for the student to take maximum advantage of the opportunity to take graduate courses and double-count these graduate credits, while still staying within the maximum of 45 psychology credits allowable for the undergraduate degree in psychology. Although it is highly recommended that students submit their application during their junior year, application materials can actually be submitted at any time prior to graduation.  Students who are interested in the BA/MA option are strongly advised to consult with the Graduate Coordinator about undergraduate course selection. In order to complete the program as a "plus 1" option, students will need to carefully plan to take specific required graduate courses before they receive their BA. 

As additional advantages, students applying under the BA/MA option do not have to pay the standard application fee and do not have to take any of the standardized tests usually required of applicants.  The decision to accept a BA/MA applicant is based on 3 factors:

  • A solid undergraduate record, with an overall GPA of 3.0 or better
  • Strong letters of recommendation: three are required, and we expect that at least two of these should be from psychology faculty at UMass Lowell.
  • A personal statement that clearly describes the student's interest in our Community Social Psychology program and how it fits with the students educational and professional goals.

Additional Information from Graduate Admissions for BA/MA Students

  1. Students admitted to our BA/MA program are accepted on a conditional basis with the requirement that students receive their bachelor’s degree at the end of their senior year and graduate with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0.   If students do not meet this requirement, their master’s degree candidacy will be voided and they would be required to re-apply via the traditional application process.
  2. BA/MA students must complete their bachelor’s degree first before graduate admissions can change their status to that of a fully matriculated graduate student.
  3. BA/MA students may defer their graduate matriculation for up to one year following their graduation for the bachelor’s degree.  A request for deferral must be made to the Graduate Admissions Office in writing.  After one year of deferral, failure to register for graduate classes will invalidate their acceptance into the master’s program.

Additional information on the Bachelor's/Master's Program.


The Center for Community Research & Engagement promotes an facilitates community-based research and multidirectional learning as strategies to advance social justice, to enhance community well-being, and to galvanize the role of community-university partnerships as instrument so of positive change. We are committed to addressing community challenges collaboratively through high-quality research and scholarship, and through appropriate and creative applications of knowledge. We further believe that students engaged in community research and service learn how to work more collaboratively and effectively in a variety of different settings, and contribute more productively and respectfully to civic life in a diverse democratic society. 

The Center for Women and Work is an interdisciplinary center at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Since the Center is designed to support a wide range of projects, there are exciting opportunities for student involvement in both research and community-based action projects relevant to the theme of women and work. 

The Laboratory for Autism Spectrum Disorders focuses on two main avenues of research involving adolescents and young adults on the autism spectrum.  The first avenue seeks to further our understanding of the processing of emotional stimuli among those with ASD by examining physiological responses and memory for emotion provoking stimuli.  The lab's second main research avenue focuses on evaluating various intervention programs for those with ASD.  We are currently focusing on a mentoring program for UMass Lowell students registered with Student Disability Services. 

Laboratory for Children and Families

The Laboratory for Children and Families studies the development of children and youth in social contexts such as family and school, especially in how individual difference in areas like temperament and disability interact with aspects of the environment. Much of our research combines both qualitative and quantitative methods fro self report, observation and the collection of psychophysiological data. Additional work involves secondary analysis of large existing data sets.   

  • Cultural and Immigrant Research Unit (CIRU)
CIRU is committed to research that investigates the impact of culture on the psychological, social and health development of ethnic minority immigrant individuals, families and communities. Both quantitative and qualitative methods and approaches are utilized to understand the immigrant experience. The ultimate aim of CIRu is to produce information that will be useful for the development of beneficial interventions in immigran communites. 

  • Motivation and Performance Lab
This lab studies motivation an performance from cognitive and social perspectives. We examine performance in a variety of contexts., including academic, athletic and artistic. from the cognitive perspective, we take basic processes as a starting point, and investigate how to improve the accuracy of both memory performance and the judgments people make about their cognitive functions. From the social perspective, we look at how individual difference, the self, group stereotypes an situational factors influence people's motivation and performance.