Stephen F. Austin State University

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

When does the graduate program at SFA begin?

Classes officially begin in the fall semester. However, should a student wish to start early and begin working on research to enhance his/her application to a doctoral program, summer enrollment is possible.

At least two courses applicable to the degree are offered in the summer, with the possibility of a third. By enrolling in those courses, the fall course load will be lighter. By beginning the literature review in the summer for the fall research project, it is more likely that students will be in a position to submit applications in the fall semester for poster presentations or paper sessions at regional conferences. This is important for those applying for admission to doctoral programs in the coming year. Such students want to add as much to their resume/vita as possible for the new round of applications.

The department discourages students from beginning the graduate program in the spring semester. The primary reason for this is the inability to enroll in the research design course without having first completed the statistics course, which is taught only in the fall semester. Beyond this limitation, students who enter in the spring will be joining a cohort of students who have aligned strongly with one another during the intensity of the first semester of coursework. This does NOT mean we do not permit entrance in the spring. Students who do so just need to realize that it will take a year and a half to complete the curriculum.

What type of graduate training in psychology does SFA offer?
The SFA Department of Psychology offers a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree in General Psychology.
Does the SFA Graduate Program in Psychology offer any specialized training tracks (e.g., clinical, industrial/organizational)?
No. All students pursue an M.A. in General Psychology, emphasizing methodology training and research experience.
What kind of training do students receive in a "General Psychology" M.A. program, like the one offered by SFA?
Students receive intensive training in the area of statistics and research methodology. In addition, instruction is provided in ethics, teaching, and several subdisciplines of psychology.
For what sorts of career opportunities will my M.A. in General Psychology from SFA prepare me?

With the solid grounding in research methodology, students are well prepared to enter the workforce (or return to it) to apply those research skills in any agency. They could conduct market research or design studies to answer a wide variety of questions related to agency practices.

In addition to competence in research, graduates of the program are prepared to teach at the community college level. Some graduates, should they so choose, will have been given full responsibility for a freshman-level course, receiving supervision for that work.

Will I be eligible to apply for licensure as a master's-level clinical practitioner (i.e., as a Licensed Psychological Associate [LPA] or Licensed Professional Counselor [LPC]) when I complete my M.A. at SFASU?

No. The M.A. program at SFASU is in General Psychology. The program does not provide the clinical coursework and practicum experience necessary to be eligible for licensure.

Applicants interested in pursuing a career as master's-level clinicians may be interested in applying to the Community Counseling program in the Department of Human Services at SFASU. That program prepares students to qualify for LPC licensure (but not for admission to a doctoral program in psychology).

How many graduate credits earned at other institutions may I transfer and apply to my M.A. degree at SFASU?
The Department of Psychology permits students to transfer a maximum of six semester hours of graduate credit earned at other institutions. However, any request for transfer of graduate hours is subject to the review and approval of the Department.
Since applications to doctoral programs are due so soon after beginning the graduate program at SFASU, how can I complete a sufficient amount of work to make a difference on my application?
For many students, the important issue is that of research productivity. It is the goal of the department to work with each student to at least get a conference poster or presentation during the first year. In order to make this a truly viable endeavor, it is to the student's benefit to lay the groundwork for a research project during the summer preceding entry in the program.
If I gain admission to a doctoral program after completing my M.A. in Psychology at SFASU, will my doctoral program accept some or all of my SFASU course work for transfer credit?

Programs vary considerably in their willingness to accept transfer credit; the general rule of thumb is 6 to 9 semester credit hours. Many doctoral programs will not accept any of the courses you complete at the master's level. Some might accept one or two courses, a few have accepted more. They have to meet requirements to continue their program accreditation. In order to do so, they must retain control over course content.

Students should not assume that any of their course work at SFASU will be credited toward their doctoral degree. You should only enroll in a master's degree program if you are unsure whether you want to pursue a doctoral degree, or if you need to improve your credentials for doctoral admission by demonstrating your ability to complete graduate course work successfully and produce independent research.

Are there any advantages to electing to remain in the graduate program for a second year in order to complete an M.A. thesis project?
The major advantage is that students staying on for a second year have completed more course work and independent research, credentials they can present on their applications to doctoral programs. Their additional time and experience in the program would also facilitate the process of obtaining substantive letters of recommendation from graduate faculty members at SFASU.
What is the Nacogdoches community like for students?

Nacogdoches is a town of approximately 30,000 residents located in the Piney Woods of East Texas. It is located 90 miles east of Tyler, approximately 125 miles north of Houston, and about 200 miles southeast of Dallas. Being so near the Louisiana border, one might also like to know that Nacogdoches is 90 miles southwest of Shreveport.

As you might imagine, everything about a small town exists here. However, only 20 miles south is Lufkin which has a shopping mall and several popular restaurant chains. For more information about these two communities, visit their chamber websites at:

Lufkin: www.lufkintexas.org
Nacogdoches: www.nacogdoches.org

What is the apartment market like in Nacogdoches?

Incoming students should plan to come to Nacogdoches early to locate and secure an apartment or house. The closer it gets to the beginning of the fall semester, the fewer options there are available. The following website provides information on Nacogdoches apartments (be sure to read all reviews rather than relying on strictly the recommendation percentage)::

http://www.apartmentratings.com/rate/TX-Nacogdoches.html

Is any financial assistance available to students accepted in the master's program?

There are no scholarships available through the department for graduate students. However, a number of 20-hour per week graduate assistantships are available, with stipends currently at $9225 for the 9-month academic year. This covers the fall and spring semesters; summer assistantships are sometimes available but never guaranteed. Students are assigned to work with an individual professor, either as a teaching assistant or a research assistant depending upon the needs of the professor.

Based on feedback received from current graduate students, for those receiving student loans, you should be sure not to over borrow during the fall and spring semesters so that money is available to you during the summer. Check with financial aid for the maximum loan amount allowed per year.

What if I do not gain acceptance into a doctoral program?

In our inaugural class, 8 students applied to doctoral programs during their first year with us. Five of those students were accepted into programs, as were two other graduate students from a previous class. If you are not succesful, you may stay for a second year to work on a thesis. The benefits of doing this include:

  • additional graduate-level coursework and grades on your transcript
  • thesis research that may be accepted in a doctoral program
  • additional opportunities for research publication and presentation

All of these strengthen applications in the next round.