Department of Psychology at Illinois State University

Program Requirements

The master's degree focuses on basic research in Cognitive and Behavioral Sciences that provides critical foundation preparation for advanced graduate study and can facilitate entry into research related careers in non-academic settings. Students are encouraged to conduct their thesis work with Cognitive and Behavioral Sciences faculty members. Students may, however, complete a thesis with a faculty member outside of the sequence as long as the project is scientific in nature (i.e., involves quantitative measures and analyses).

Recommended undergraduate course work includes research skill courses (e.g., statistics including SPSS and research methods) and content courses including: learning, perception, cognition, and physiological psychology.

Graduate Coursework

The objectives of the graduate sequence include building a solid foundation of basic psychological principles that help students to understand and explain behavior. This objective is reached through core courses in the behavioral, biological, and cognitive sciences. Other objectives afford students the opportunity to develop and expand upon their professional skills. To accomplish this goal within the two-year program, students are required to take a minimum of 37 hours and complete a master's thesis. Below is a list of the required courses for the sequence.

  • PSY 400 Independent Study (minimum 2 hours) (BSC 400 may be substituted)
  • PSY 418 Learning and Cognition
  • PSY 427 Cognitive and Behavioral Sciences Pro-Seminar (4 hours total)
  • PSY 440 Statistics: Data Analysis and Methodology
  • PSY 441 Experimental Design
  • PSY 455 Cognitive Science
  • PSY 462 Experimental Analysis of Behavior 
  • PSY 463 Brain and Behavior Relationships
  • PSY 480 Seminar in Psychology (minimum 3 hours)
  • PSY 499 Master's Thesis (minimum 4 hours)
  • 2 intra-department elective courses (minimum 3 hours)
    The selection of appropriate intra-department elective course will depend on the student's goals and interests.

Sample plan of study year 1

Fall Year 1
PSY 440 Statistics: Data Analysis and Methodology
PSY 418 Learning and Cognition
PSY 480 Seminar in Psychology or elective
PSY 427 Proseminar (1 credit)
PSY 400 Independent Study

Spring Year 1
PSY 441 Experimental Design
PSY 455 Cognitive Science (or PSY 462)
PSY 463 Brain and Behavior Relationships
PSY 427 Proseminar (1 unit)
PSY 400 Independent Study

Sample plan of study year 2

Fall Year 2
PSY 499 Master's Thesis
PSY 480 Seminar in Psychology or elective
PSY 427 Proseminar (1 credit)
1 intra-departmental elective

Spring Year 2
PSY 462 Experimental Analysis of Behavior (or PSY 455)
PSY 499 Master's Thesis
PSY 427 Proseminar (1 credit)

Note: some re-ordering of these courses may be required depending on when the courses are offered.