2020-2021 Graduate Catalog 
    Mar 30, 2023  
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Community Psychology

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Coordinator: Melissa L. Whitson, Ph.D., Columbia University

The field of community psychology applies theories and techniques from psychology and related social sciences to the task of understanding and modifying the complex social forces that influence individual and community well-being.

Accordingly, the M.A. program in community psychology provides training in current approaches to preventing and treating psychological problems, emphasizing interventions at the level of social institutions, organizations, and groups as well as the individual. Community analysis, consultation, and collaboration are addressed, in addition to program development, administration, and evaluation.

Classroom study is closely integrated with supervised internships in a variety of human service organizations and community settings.

Graduates assume positions of responsibility in a broad range of human service settings, such as mental health programs, youth service bureaus, community centers, child development programs, municipal services, state agencies, health care systems, community action programs and advocacy organizations.

Admission Policy

An undergraduate degree from an accredited institution is required. A major in psychology is preferred but not required. However, all students are expected to have at least an introductory-level understanding of psychological concepts, principles, and methods before entering the program. Students who have not had an undergraduate course in statistical methods are required to take one before enrolling in PSYC 6608 . Undergraduate academic performance, letters of recommendation, and relevant work/volunteer experience play a major role in admission decisions.

Applicants should submit a personal statement describing their interest in community psychology in addition to providing the materials required by the Graduate School.

Internships and Seminars

Supervised internships in a variety of settings are a major vehicle through which students in the program develop applied skills. Students plan their internship activities in collaboration with both the program coordinator and their supervisor from the field setting. Internships are provided in the areas of individual intervention, consultation, and systems intervention. Students with a year or more of appropriate full-time human service experience in a particular internship area can substitute an elective course for that internship, contingent upon the approval of the program coordinator.

Internship seminars provide a theoretical and research framework within which the development of applied skills is examined and discussed. The seminars enable students to conceptualize within a broader context the issues encountered in the field. In addition, a comprehensive project report in which students analyze and integrate their internship with relevant research and course work is required.


Students may choose to write a thesis as part of their program of study. The thesis must demonstrate an ability to organize and present data and conclusions in a clear, original, and well-reasoned fashion. A thesis is strongly recommended for students wishing to pursue doctoral training after graduation. Thesis preparation and submission must comply with Graduate School policy as well as specific departmental requirements.

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