Psychology Department

Application Instructions

The MA in Psychological Science program is now accepting applications for Fall 2022 admission!

Application deadline: January 21, 2022.

Applications received by this date will be given full consideration. Only completed applications will be considered. Once you complete your application, you will be assigned a Chico State email address. Communication regarding the status of your application will be sent to this email address. Admission is contingent upon approval by the Psychology Department and the Graduate School.

Overview of application steps

  1. Complete the short answer questions (see detailed instructions below).
  2. Secure a copy of your unofficial transcripts from every college/university attended since high school.
  3. Secure three individuals who have agreed to write letters of recommendation.
  4. Complete and submit your Cal State Apply application

How do I complete the Short Answer Questions?

  • Each applicant must answer all six short answer questions listed below.
  • Each short answer should not exceed 1,000 characters. We recommend that applicants compose their short answer in a separate document so they can check their character count and copy and paste their short answers into the appropriate section of the online application. Do not upload short answers in a separate attachment. Short answers will only be reviewed if they are submitted within the online application.
  • Be sure to review the rubrics below before you write your short answers. We will use the rubrics to score your short answers.

Short Answer Question #1

Our mission in the Department of Psychology at Chico State is to promote the scientific understanding of mental processes and behavior, recognizing biological, developmental, cultural, and experiential influences. Provide an example of how your own research experience (e.g., conducting a literature review, assisting in a laboratory) has contributed to your appreciation and understanding of psychological science.

Short Answer Question #2

Which field of psychology and specific topics within that area would you be interested in exploring in your Master’s thesis research?

Short Answer Question #3

Review the list of Psychological Science MA faculty who are considering supervising graduate students. From this list, identify 3 faculty and describe why each would be a suitable mentor for you given your research interests.

Short Answer Question #4

Several universities offer Master’s degrees in Psychological Science. What specifically encouraged you to apply to the Psychological Science MA program at Chico State? Be as specific as possible.

Short Answer Question #5

How would you use your MA degree in Psychological Science from Chico State? Describe which potential career path(s) you are targeting that would not be possible without this degree.

Short Answer Question #6

Describe your commitment to doing the hard work of studying, learning in the laboratory, and making the changes necessary to develop your professional identity as a psychological scientist. Provide evidence from your past experiences that demonstrate your commitment.


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  • Rubric for Short Answer Question #1
    Research Experience
    Criteria/Scoring4321
    ConventionsThe writing is essentially error free.While the writing may show minor errors, the responses follows expected conventions of spelling and grammar for academic writing.Frequent errors in spelling, grammar, sentence structure and/or other writing conventions distract the reader.Writing contains numerous errors in spelling, grammar, and/or sentence structure, which interfere with meaning.
    Clarity and CoherenceWriting flows smoothly from one idea to another. It is easy for the reader to follow the logic of the ideas expressed.Sentences are structured and words are chosen to communicate ideas clearly. Ideas are organized within paragraphs, and transitions between paragraphs make the writer’s points easy to follow.Sentence structure, word choice, missing transitions and/or poor sequencing of ideas sometimes make understanding the writer’s meaning difficult.Sentence structure, word choice, missing transitions and/or poor sequencing of ideas consistently make understanding the writer’s meaning difficult.
    AND/OR
    Instructions regarding length/ content/ formatting were not followed.
    ContentProvides a clear and detailed example of research experience and fully explains how the experience contributed to applicant’s appreciation and understanding of psychological science.Provides a somewhat relevant example of research experience and somewhat explains how the experience contributed to applicant’s appreciation and understanding of psychological science.Provides a minimally relevant example of research experience and only partially explains how the experience contributed to applicant’s appreciation and understanding of psychological science.Provides an entirely irrelevant example of research experience or fails to provide an example of research experience.
  • Rubric for Short Answer Question #2
    Area(s) of Interest
    Criteria/Scoring4321
    ConventionsThe writing is essentially error free.While the writing may show minor errors, the responses follows expected conventions of spelling and grammar for academic writing.Frequent errors in spelling, grammar, sentence structure and/or other writing conventions distract the reader.Writing contains numerous errors in spelling, grammar, and/or sentence structure, which interfere with meaning.
    Clarity and CoherenceWriting flows smoothly from one idea to another. It is easy for the reader to follow the logic of the ideas expressed.Sentences are structured and words are chosen to communicate ideas clearly. Ideas are organized within paragraphs, and transitions between paragraphs make the writer’s points easy to follow.Sentence structure, word choice, missing transitions and/or poor sequencing of ideas sometimes make understanding the writer’s meaning difficult.Sentence structure, word choice, missing transitions and/or poor sequencing of ideas consistently make understanding the writer’s meaning difficult.
    AND/OR
    Instructions regarding length/ content/ formatting were not followed.
    ContentPresents a clear interest in one or a few fields of psychology, demonstrating knowledge, thoughtfulness, purpose and flexibility.Presents a field of psychology that is of interest, with some background information.Presents a rather broad and unfocused interest in psychology, without a clear focus or direction.Does not present a clear interest in an area of psychology. It remains unclear what the applicant’s specific interests are.
  • Rubric for Short Answer Question #3
    Potential Faculty Mentors
    Criteria/Scoring4321
    ConventionsThe writing is essentially error free.While the writing may show minor errors, the responses follows expected conventions of spelling and grammar for academic writing.Frequent errors in spelling, grammar, sentence structure and/or other writing conventions distract the reader.Writing contains numerous errors in spelling, grammar, and/or sentence structure, which interfere with meaning.
    Clarity and CoherenceWriting flows smoothly from one idea to another. It is easy for the reader to follow the logic of the ideas expressed.Sentences are structured and words are chosen to communicate ideas clearly. Ideas are organized within paragraphs, and transitions between paragraphs make the writer’s points easy to follow.Sentence structure, word choice, missing transitions and/or poor sequencing of ideas sometimes make understanding the writer’s meaning difficult.Sentence structure, word choice, missing transitions and/or poor sequencing of ideas consistently make understanding the writer’s meaning difficult.
    AND/OR
    Instructions regarding length/ content/ formatting were not followed.
    ContentSuccessfully identifies 3 program faculty and describes how each mentor would be suitable with multiple relevant details.Identifies 3 program faculty and provides only minimal description as to why mentors would be suitable.Identifies fewer than 3 program faculty and/or fails to adequately describe why mentors would be suitable.Identifies fewer than 3 program faculty and does not describe why mentors would be suitable.
  • Rubric for Short Answer Question #4
    Why Psychological Science MA at Chico State?
    Criteria/Scoring4321
    ConventionsThe writing is essentially error free.While the writing may show minor errors, the responses follows expected conventions of spelling and grammar for academic writing.Frequent errors in spelling, grammar, sentence structure and/or other writing conventions distract the reader.Writing contains numerous errors in spelling, grammar, and/or sentence structure, which interfere with meaning.
    Clarity and CoherenceWriting flows smoothly from one idea to another. It is easy for the reader to follow the logic of the ideas expressed.Sentences are structured and words are chosen to communicate ideas clearly. Ideas are organized within paragraphs, and transitions between paragraphs make the writer’s points easy to follow.Sentence structure, word choice, missing transitions and/or poor sequencing of ideas sometimes make understanding the writer’s meaning difficult.Sentence structure, word choice, missing transitions and/or poor sequencing of ideas consistently make understanding the writer’s meaning difficult.
    AND/OR
    Instructions regarding length/ content/ formatting were not followed.
    ContentProvides specific, detailed, and convincing explanation for choosing to apply to Chico State’s Psychological Science MA program.Provides some specific details that led to choice to apply, but does not convincingly identify Chico State for its Psychological Science MA program.Provides few specific details and mostly vague statements about Chico State’s Psychological Science MA program, indicating little research into the program.Provides no explanation for specifically choosing Chico State’s Psychological Science MA program, or an explanation that could apply to multiple programs.
  • Rubric for Short Answer Question #5
    Career Goals
    Criteria/Scoring4321
    ConventionsThe writing is essentially error free.While the writing may show minor errors, the responses follows expected conventions of spelling and grammar for academic writing.Frequent errors in spelling, grammar, sentence structure and/or other writing conventions distract the reader.Writing contains numerous errors in spelling, grammar, and/or sentence structure, which interfere with meaning.
    Clarity and CoherenceWriting flows smoothly from one idea to another. It is easy for the reader to follow the logic of the ideas expressed.Sentences are structured and words are chosen to communicate ideas clearly. Ideas are organized within paragraphs, and transitions between paragraphs make the writer’s points easy to follow.Sentence structure, word choice, missing transitions and/or poor sequencing of ideas sometimes make understanding the writer’s meaning difficult.Sentence structure, word choice, missing transitions and/or poor sequencing of ideas consistently make understanding the writer’s meaning difficult.
    AND/OR
    Instructions regarding length/ content/ formatting were not followed.
    ContentDemonstrates a well-developed understanding of how the applicant would like to use the MA degree and which career paths will be possible and desirable following graduation from the program. It is clear how the MA degree from this program fits in with the applicant’s career goals.Demonstrates some understanding of how the MA degree will be used and/or which career paths would be possible following graduation from the program. There is some sense of purpose for the MA degree from this program.Demonstrates a poor or misinformed understanding of how the MA degree will be used and which career paths are possible following graduation. It is not entirely clear why the applicant is pursuing this particular degree.Demonstrates no understanding of how the MA degree will play a role in the career paths following graduation. No purpose or reason for the degree from this program is given.
  • Rubric for Short Answer Question #6
    Academic Success
    Criteria/Scoring4321
    ConventionsThe writing is essentially error free.While the writing may show minor errors, the responses follows expected conventions of spelling and grammar for academic writing.Frequent errors in spelling, grammar, sentence structure and/or other writing conventions distract the reader.Writing contains numerous errors in spelling, grammar, and/or sentence structure, which interfere with meaning.
    Clarity and CoherenceWriting flows smoothly from one idea to another. It is easy for the reader to follow the logic of the ideas expressed.Sentences are structured and words are chosen to communicate ideas clearly. Ideas are organized within paragraphs, and transitions between paragraphs make the writer’s points easy to follow.Sentence structure, word choice, missing transitions and/or poor sequencing of ideas sometimes make understanding the writer’s meaning difficult.Sentence structure, word choice, missing transitions and/or poor sequencing of ideas consistently make understanding the writer’s meaning difficult.
    AND/OR
    Instructions regarding length/ content/ formatting were not followed.
    ContentDemonstrates an undeniable commitment to academic success. Describes multiple, detailed prior experiences that support this commitment and explains how these experiences will continue into the future. Provides context to circumstances that have impacted academic results where necessary.Demonstrates commitment to academic success and gives some supporting evidence. More detail and specificity could have strengthened the argument. Provides context to circumstances that have impacted academic results where necessary.Attempts to demonstrate a commitment to academic success but only does so superficially. Very little supporting evidence is given.Does not convincingly demonstrate a commitment to academic success. The reader is asked to give the benefit of the doubt.

Is the GRE required for admission to the program?

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is not required for students applying for the MA in Psychological Science program.

Who should I ask to write me a letter of recommendation?

Identify three individuals who are familiar with the quality of your academic work (e.g., faculty) and who have agreed to submit a letter of recommendation on your behalf. In most cases, recommenders are professors from one’s undergraduate institution(s). When you submit your application you will be asked to provide the contact information of your recommenders.

I am a recommender. How do I submit a letter?

You will receive an email from the Cal State Apply system, asking you to upload your letter. The deadline for submitting letters of recommendation is January 21, 2022.

How do I submit my application?

The entire graduate school application must be completed and submitted online via the Cal State Apply system: https://www2.calstate.edu/apply

What happens after submitting an application?

You will be contacted at your assigned Chico State e-mail regarding the status of your application. If accepted, the department may recommend that you be admitted as either a "conditionally classified" master's degree student (you have yet to complete some of the undergraduate prerequisites) or as a “classified" master's degree student (you have met all of the prerequisites).

If accepted, you are required to return the Notification of Acceptance form, sent to you with the acceptance letter from the department, indicating whether you intend to matriculate by the fall semester. Failure to do so will result in the loss of your position in the program; however, you may reapply the following year, if you choose.

If you have any questions about your application or the application process, please contact the Psychological Science coordinator, Dr. Patrick Johnson. You may also wish to contact this year’s Student Ambassador to the Psychological Science Master’s program, Donavan Cervantes.


The information above are  instructions for applying to the Masters program in Psychological Science. If you are looking for instructions for applying to one of our other two programs, please go to: