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Master's in psychology joins degree offerings on West campus

October 21, 2009

Students interested in psychology – which focuses on topics as diverse as substance abuse, emotions, health care communication and juror decision-making – have a new option for continuing their education. Applications are being accepted for Arizona State University’s Master of Science degree program in psychology, offered through ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.

The West campus-based program will accept its first class of students for the Fall 2010 semester, with classes starting in August. Prospective students are encouraged to submit their applications by Feb. 15, 2010.

“During this two-year, full-time master’s program, students will engage in all aspects of the research process,” says Dawn McQuiston, associate professor in New College’s Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) and director of the new degree program. “They will gain experience in research design, laboratory instrumentation, data collection and analysis, manuscript development and grant proposal writing. Students will be encouraged to attend regional and national conferences to present their research findings.

“The program is most appropriate for students planning to continue on to a doctoral program, as well as those interested in research-based careers in fields such as marketing, education research analysis, public policy analysis or program evaluation,” says McQuiston, who earned her master’s and Ph.D. degrees in experimental psychology at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Like her SBS colleagues, McQuiston is actively involved in a variety of research projects. She is principal investigator on a project funded by the National Institute of Justice, studying how jurors respond to fingerprints, bite marks and other forensic identification evidence, in collaboration with colleagues from ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. Also, she and colleagues at the University of California, Irvine, are investigating the role of DNA evidence in criminal cases involving false or coerced confessions.

Other examples of SBS faculty research projects include Mary Burleson’s investigation into the potential health benefits of affectionate touch funded by the National Institute of Health, and Elias Robles’ study at a community substance abuse treatment clinic that explores the relationship between patient impulsiveness and the effectiveness of treatment.

Laboratories on the West campus established by SBS professors include the Health Behavior Research Laboratory; Healthy Families Laboratory; Emotion, Culture, and Psychophysiology Laboratory; Legal Psychology Research Laboratory; and Stress and Social Relationships Laboratory.

In addition to training in advanced research methods and statistics, master’s students can choose from elective seminar courses in areas including abnormal psychology, affective science, behavior analysis, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, health psychology, legal psychology, psychophysiology, social psychology and social neuroscience.

Once they are admitted to the master’s program, students will be matched individually with a faculty adviser who assists in designing the student’s program of study and facilitates the completion of program requirements. During their second year, students complete a thesis or a capstone project; a thesis is recommended for those wishing to seek admission to a doctoral program.

More information is available by calling Dawn McQuiston at (602) 543-6157 or by visiting