MS in Research Psychology FAQ

MS in Research Psychology & Data Analytics

Frequently Asked Questions

WHAT KINDS OF CAREERS WILL THIS PROGRAM PREPARE ME FOR?

The market demand for individuals with data analytic skills has skyrocketed and so the job options for graduates of the MS in Research Psychology & Data Analytics are numerous. Graduates would be a good fit with organizations that are making data-driven decisions about human behavior, such as:

1. Entertainment industry data analyst: using quantitative survey data of people who attend movie pre-release screenings, a data analyst in this field could make recommendations regarding production edits, effective marketing strategies, and target demographics to increase profits on movie releases.

2. Non-profit organization data analyst: by investigating donor engagement, the effectiveness of marketing materials and mailers, and service coordination, a data analyst in this field could help organizations strategically maximize their impact while minimizing costs.

3. Substance use treatment data analyst: by analyzing data regarding retention in treatment, a data analyst in this field could help treatment providers develop new interventions to minimize premature discharge from treatment and improve outcomes.

4. IO Psychologist: by utilizing big data and scientific methods IO psychologists study workplace issues (e.g. work-life balance, team building) that are crucial to individuals, organization, and society. IO psychologist can help organizations understand the meaning of their big data and drive meaningful business decisions.

All four of these types of jobs require 2 sets of skills. The first skill is analytic ability, which is the ability to understand data in a meaningful manner. The second skill is understanding human behavior. In theory, companies and organizations could hire people with only one of these two distinct skill sets but doing so creates opportunities for miscommunication and dysfunction. Instead, it is often advantageous to hire employees that can both analyze the data AND make psychologically-informed recommendations.

Although there are some fields that focus on non-human data, such as finance, engineering, biomedical research, there are countless career opportunities for a graduate of this program.

WHAT KINDS OF GRADUATE SCHOOLS CAN THIS PROGRAM HELP ME PURSUE?

The MS in Research Psychology & Data Analytics provides students with a thorough understanding of theories and data analytic approaches that are crucial to research in psychology. Students interested in further graduate study are encouraged to select faculty mentors with research related to their desired graduate field, whether that be social, clinical, cognitive, developmental, educational, neuroscience, or any other field in psychology where quantitative data analysis is a necessary skill.

IS THIS PROGRAM DESIGNED FOR PEOPLE TO FIND JOBS OR TO GO ON FOR FURTHER GRADUATE STUDY?

This MS in Research Psychology & Data Analytics program is designed to equip students for psychological research and data analytics. Therefore, it's appropriate training regardless of whether you go directly into a career afterwards or go on for doctoral studies. Thinking empirically (developing hypotheses and testing them with data or recognize the data pattern without a pre-determined hypothesis) applies to both paths that students may choose to take. However, a couple of caveats deserve mention. First, the program does emphasize the experimental approach more than you would likely use in the job field, where true experiments are rare. But even though it is rarely used, knowing the experimental method does allow those in applied settings to critically think about problems. Second, the program also emphasizes the data mining approach, which is specifically designed to handle extremely large samples, which are very common in business today. The data mining approach necessitates a new mode of thinking because conventional statistical methods are limited in analyzing big data sets. Third, this program leans slightly more towards academics is the requirement to write a master's thesis, which requires learning APA style and the development of a scholarly style of writing. Of course, even in applied settings, good writing is certainly a useful skill. Regardless of your goals following completion of the program, at Azusa Pacific University, your faculty mentor will provide guidance and support in your search for employment or graduate programs.

WHAT SKILLS WILL THE MS IN RESEARCH PSYCHOLOGY & DATA ANALYTICS HELP ME ACQUIRE?

The specific skills you would be developing would include: data analytics (statistical modeling), research methods (experimental and non-experimental), applied psychological theories, and psychological testing and measurement (psychometrics). The courses would also have a Christian faith integration component throughout, as well as an emphasis on ethics and the appreciation of diversity.

WHAT TYPE OF RESEARCH WILL I CONDUCT DURING THIS PROGRAM?

We are proud to offer opportunities for students to engage in cutting-edge research in a variety of psychological sub-disciplines with the goal of publication in an academic journal. During the course of the program, 12 units of coursework are allocated as thesis research units, allowing for a cumulative capstone thesis project. This thesis research is conducted with ongoing close consultation with faculty advisers, whom you select to work with when you apply to the program. In most cases, the research is a continuation or adaptation of the faculty advisor’s ongoing research projects. (Check departmental websites for up-to-date information on faculty research interests and publications: http://www.apu.edu/bas/psychology/psychology/faculty/). In certain instances, a faculty advisor will work with the student on an independent research project closely related to their area of expertise.

WHAT DOES THE THESIS ENTAIL?

The thesis is a faculty committee reviewed academic paper that addresses the research topic that the student researched under supervision of the faculty advisor. The thesis must meet American Psychological Association style guidelines, along with Azusa Pacific University guidelines for Master’s Theses. These guidelines are available upon request.

WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT THE SAS JOINT CERTIFICATE?

The JMP/SAS Joint Certificate in Research Methods indicates that the courses taken in the MS in Research Psychology & Data Analytics program meet the standards for data analytic procedures set by SAS Institute, the world’s largest software vendor in data analysis, in utilizing the SAS and JMP software. The certificate will be an important distinguishing credential in pursuing employment or graduate study that will certify your ability to conduct data analysis. The certificate is embedded in the program, there are no additional tests or costs. For more info, visit: http://support.sas.com/learn/ap/prof/index.html#t4

WHAT CLASSES WILL I BE TAKING? DO I GET TO CHOOSE MY COURSES?

The M.S. in Research Psychology & Data Analytics is a cohort-based program with pre-determined courses to ensure that students complete the program in one year. The list of classes is available at here.

WHAT IS THE WORKLOAD LIKE?

This is an 11- month 36-unit intensive program. For graduate programs, each credit unit involves approximately one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of three to five hours of out-of-class work each week for a 15-week term. Students balance their coursework with progress towards completion of a Master’s thesis. See the one-year full time program schedule below:

WHAT IF I WOULD RATHER COMPLETE THE PROGRAM IN TWO YEARS?

Although the program was initially designed for students to complete in one year, a limited number of two-year tracks are available. Students on the 2-year track would complete coursework in the first year of study and complete their thesis research in the second year of the program. Students interested in the 2 year track should communicate their interest to the program director, Dr. Curtis Lehmann. See the two-year part time program schedule below:

ARE THERE ANY EMPLOYMENT OPTIONS AT APU WHILE IN THE PROGRAM?

Yes, graduate students are able to apply to become a Teaching/Research Assistant in the Department of Psychology. This paid position is well suited for graduate students, as it allows for a flexible part-time schedule while developing relevant skills in psychology. Graduate TA/RA’s are able to grade assignments, teach a class lecture, assist in research activities, and maintain a mentoring relationship with a faculty member.

CAN I WORK FULL-TIME WHILE COMPLETING THIS PROGRAM?

This one-year program is currently not designed to accommodate those who are working full-time. Considering the workload, we recommend that students generally work no more than 20 hours per week while enrolled in this intensive program. Consulting with your assigned faculty adviser on the appropriate level of employment during this program is highly recommended, as certain research projects may require a more intensive commitment. However, for those interested in working full-time, the 2 year track may be more amenable to a full-time position.

Still have questions? No problem.

Email the Program Coordinator at researchpsych@apu.edu or call 626-815-6000 x2739.