Experimental Research

Master of Arts Degree

Program Overview

The Experimental Research specialization of the M.A. degree prepares students for further study in experimental psychology at the doctoral level and for employment in research-related occupations. The knowledge and skills acquired in the program also provide a beneficial foundation for further graduate study in such other areas as clinical psychology, law, and business.

The Experimental Research Program trains students to use experimental and related methods to explore the underlying psychological processes that guide behavior and govern mental life, and to build skills, knowledge, and abilities in the following areas:

  • basic and applied research
  • research design
  • statistical analysis
  • substantive areas of psychological research

Completion of the Experimental Research Program prepares students to:

  • become experts in a given domain
  • make substantive contributions to the field of psychology as well as related disciplines
  • become competitive applicants for careers in basic and applied research settings or for advanced graduate study in Ph.D. programs 

The goal of the specialization is for students to develop skills in research design and analysis, broad knowledge of substantive areas of psychological research, and expertise in one research area.

Every student is expected to become involved in research when he or she begins the program and to continue this involvement during his or her course of study. Ideally, each student participates in a faculty member’s research program; after developing appropriate knowledge and skills about this domain, the student demonstrates expertise by completing a thesis (with the advice and supervision of that faculty member).

Refer to our Applying for Graduate Admissions page for information about admissions criteria and procedures.


Program Requirements

Each student’s specific program of study is determined in consultation with a faculty mentor to ensure that educational experiences are well-suited to the student’s goals. In general, the Experimental Research specialization requires 38 semester credit hours of coursework and research experience.

For the thesis project, each student must first identify a suitable advisor; students are encouraged to consult with the program director for assistance. After a faculty member has agreed to advise a student’s thesis, the student can develop the research project.  In consultation with the advisor, the student identifies two other faculty members to serve, along with the advisor, as the student’s thesis committee. After the committee approves a thesis proposal, the project may be carried out.

Completion of the thesis project requires both that the written thesis be accepted by the committee and that the student orally present his or her findings.

Elective courses and a specific plan of study should be planned in consultation with the program director.  The Experimental Research Program Committee must approve departures from the specified curriculum and applications for transfer credit.  Typical course sequences recommended to students entering the program in recent years may be found in the program handbooks that will be provided to students.

Required (29 credits) 

  • PSY 509 Proseminar in Experimental Psychology (1 credit) (taken 4 times--every semester for four semesters—for a total of 4 credits)
  • PSY 511 Univariate Statistics and Experimental Methodology (4 credits)
  • PSY 525 Social Psychology (3 credits)
  • PSY 562 Learning, Memory, and Cognition (3 credits)
  • PSY 611 Advanced Data Analysis with Computer Applications (4 credits)
  • PSY 677 Foundations of Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience (3 credits)
  • PSY 699 Research and Thesis (4 credits) (taken twice for a total of 8 credits)

Elective (9 credits) - Course options may include:

  • PSY 549 Mental Health and Aging (3 credits)
  • PSY 588 History of Psychology (3 credits)
  • PSY 596 Special Problems in Psychology (1-4 credits)
  • PSY 651 Clinical Psychopharmacology (3 credits)
  • PSY 653 Health Psychology (3 credits)
  • PSY 696 Special Problems in Psychology (1-12 credits)

Elective credits may be fulfilled by seeking program faculty approval to take other courses taught in the Psychology Department.  If a student wishes to fulfill elective credits by taking a course taught in a department other than Psychology, he or she must obtain approval from the program committee prior to enrolling in the course. Ordinarily, no more than 4 credits of PSY 596 and/or PSY 696 should be included within the 9 elective credits.



The faculty members of the Experimental Research Program have diverse areas of expertise, reflected in their research programs as well as the content of the courses they teach. Those interests include:

  • Cognition (including perception, attention, and memory);
  • Language and word perception;
  • Control of action, motor memory, and movement disorders;
  • Motion processing and regulation;
  • Emotion processing and regulation;
  • Social psychology and motivation;
  • Political and religious belief;
  • Followership and leadership;
  • Neuroscience;
  • Learning and memory; and
  • Experimental research methodology


Faculty Profile Title Email
Conor McLennan Associate Professor
Andrew Slifkin Associate Professor
Albert Smith Associate Professor
Eric Allard Assistant Professor
Kenneth Vail Assistant Professor


Next Steps for Experimental Research Program Graduates & Professional Resources

Graduates of the Experimental Research Program often pursue further graduate work in experimental psychology or related fields (e.g., clinical psychology, law, business). For example, recent graduates were admitted into following graduate programs:

  • Bowling Green State University (Ph.D. in Psychology)
  • Cleveland State University (Ph.D. in Adult Development and Aging)
  • Kent State University (Ph.D. in Educational Psychology)
  • Ohio University (Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology)
  • Pennsylvania State University (Ph.D. in Psychology)
  • Purdue University (Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology)
  • SUNY Albany (Ph.D. in Social/Personality Psychology)
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln (Ph.D. in Psychology)
  • Virginia Commonwealth University (Ph.D. in Social Psychology)

There are also many graduates who seek employment in research- or education-related occupations. Some of our alumni secured positions in the following institutions:

  • The Cleveland Clinic
  • University Hospitals of Cleveland
  • Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth
Professional Links

Faculty and students involved in the Experimental Research Program are actively engaged with the following academic societies and conferences:

National/international conferences

Regional conferences

Intramural conferences at Cleveland State University