Master of Science (MS) — Research Psychology

Program overview

Gain hands-on skills in this accelerated master’s degree program in research psychology

Develop research, statistics, and grant-writing knowledge and skills in this Master of Science (MS) in Research Psychology program. This master’s degree lets you work closely with faculty in the classroom and lab while also benefiting from the many opportunities and resources in the Seattle area. Get ready to advance in a research-related career or to enter a PhD program.

Take the next steps in your career with this accelerated MS in Research Psychology.

Next term begins: Sept. 2022

SPU Professor Phillip Baker explains the different parts of a brain to several students


Program Distinctives

The MS in Psychological Research program at Seattle Pacific University is unique in that it provides:

  • A close and collaborative faculty that instruct and work with students to gain advanced research and professional skills
  • A flexible and custom-designed capstone project (e.g., research thesis, grant application) focused on your graduate school or career goals
  • A Christian faith context in which to explore and integrate diverse, current, and controversial scientific research questions
  • An accelerated (11 months) program that does not compromise knowledge and skills necessary for jobs or further education in research psychology

Note: This program is designed for students to begin Autumn Quarter and complete by the end of the following Summer Session.

A Master's Degree Program for You to Succeed

  • Gain research and statistical skills needed for jobs in a range of areas from basic laboratory research to industry.
  • Do original research or writing to prepare you for later jobs or graduate school.
  • Learn how to write grants to fund both applied and research projects.
  • Explore issues related to diversity and ethics within research.
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Program description and requirements 

Research Psychology is an accelerated, 33-credit master’s of science program designed to give students knowledge and skills necessary for jobs or further graduate education in psychology or psychology-related fields. It’s designed for students to begin Autumn Quarter and complete by the end of the following Summer Session. As a full-time student:

  • You will typically take eight credits (two classes) per quarter while also working toward a capstone project. See the proposed course schedule below.
  • You will take a core set of classes and will have flexibility in choosing from electives to best support your career or graduate school goals. See the list of core and elective classes below.
  • Students will propose and complete a capstone project (e.g., research thesis, grant application) that best meets their career or graduate school goals.
  • In both classes and the capstone project, students will learn from and work with faculty in the program (the School of Psychology, Family, and Community) as well as other graduate school programs on campus.

Core and elective courses

Core Courses:

Course Number


Research Methods and Statistics 1

PSY 6010


Research Methods and Statistics 2

PSY 6020


Christian Faith and Worldviews

PSY 6200


Grant Writing

PSY 6300


Research and Thesis

PSY 6995



Course Number


Qualitative Research Methods

ORG 6034


Program and Organizational Evaluation

ORG 6210


Survey Research

PSY 6500


History and Systems of Psychology

CPY 7000


Ethics & Law in Clinical Psychology

CPY 7400



CPY 7220


Developmental Psychology

CPY 7210


Neural and Biological Bases of Behavior

CPY 7101


Personality Theory and Research

CPY 7200


Cognition and Learning

CPY 7230


Future PhD Fellows Seminar

PSY 6910


Practicum: Graduate Teaching Assistantship

PSY 6930


Database Management and Warehousing

ISM 6212


Data Mining

ISM 6359


Data Visualization

ISM 6361


Proposed Schedule

The MS in Research Psychology is an accelerated program that is designed for students to begin in Autumn Quarter and complete the program the following summer quarter. The following is a proposed schedule.




Research Methods and Statistics 1


Grant Writing



Research Methods and Statistics 2




Thesis/grant proposal


Research and Thesis








Research and Thesis


Christian Faith and Worldview


Thesis defense or grant submission

Total Credits


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2021–22 tuition and fees

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per credit

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$75; $150

application fee; one-time matriculation fee

See additional fee details.
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33 credits

to complete

All tuition, fees, and other charges stated here are payable in U.S. dollars ($US).

In addition to direct instructional costs, Seattle Pacific University’s Research Psychology (MS) tuition covers academic and student support services. Other benefits include use of athletic facilities (e.g., gym, locker room, and fitness rooms), and the SPU Library.

Scholarships and financial aid

Scholarship and other financial aid is available to newly admitted and continuing students in the School of Psychology, Family, and Community. For more information, visit Graduate Students Resources in Student Financial Services.

Resources available to graduate students to offset costs may include:

  • Student loans. Includes amounts that exceed tuition and provide for living expenses.
  • Graduate research fellowships. Department and grant-funded research and administrative assistant positions are offered to a limited number of graduate students each year. Selection is based on established criteria within each graduate department.
  • Graduate teaching assistantships. Department-funded teaching assistantships are offered to a limited number of graduate students each year. Selection is based on established criteria and course need within each graduate department.
  • Merit scholarships. Offered by the University as an offset to tuition.
  • Department scholarship and awards. Selection is based on established criteria within each department. May not be distributed every year.
  • The Dickinson Fellowship. Provides training and tuition to undergraduate and graduate students who have a calling to work with persons and their families who are impacted by chronic mental health conditions.

Student employment

For part-time student employment opportunities on or off campus, explore these options:

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Application and Recommendation Materials

In order to apply, students must have completed or provide the following:

Online application and $75 application processing fee

Undergraduate Degree

  • Students must have completed a degree in psychology or related field which included coursework in statistics and research methods.
  • Students must have graduated with good academic standing with a minimum grade-point average of 3.0 and from a regionally accredited institution.
  • Preference will be given to students with strong experiences in research and writing.

Official Transcripts

  • Students must submit official transcript(s) from any college or university that granted you a degree or degrees, and from any institution attended since that time.

Personal Statement

  • Students must submit a personal statement that addresses the following:
    1. Future career or graduate school objectives
    2. Rationale for seeking a degree in research psychology and why you are seeking to attend Seattle Pacific
    3. Description of how this experience would differ from undergraduate courses or experiences
    4. Area of research or questions you are interested in pursuing for a thesis/grant/capstone project 
    5. Mention your professional and personal strengths as they apply:
      a. Related research experiences
      b. Relevant knowledge of and use of statistics
      c. Personal values
      d. Awareness of SPU faith identity and related openness to faith discussions as well as faith-related course requirements
      e. Any other insights deemed appropriate by the applicant

Letters of Recommendation

  • Three letters of recommendation are required. Two should come from academic references (e.g., professor, instructor) and one from a professional (e.g., employer, internship supervisor).
  • Letters of recommendation are waived for graduates of Seattle Pacific University's psychology program.

No GRE (Graduate Record Exam) is required for this program.

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Phillip M. Baker

Assistant Professor of Psychology
PhD, University of Illinois at Chicago

Phone: 206-281-2178
Office: Marston 110

​Baine Craft

Professor of Psychology and Biology; Chair of Undergraduate Psychology; Chair of Research Psychology; Director of Laboratory Facilities
PhD, University of Montana

Phone: 206-281-2182
Office: Marston 111

Jenny​ Lee Vaydich​

Associate Professor of Psychology​, Psi Chi Honor Society Advisor
PhD, University of Notre Dame

Phone: 206-281-2872
Office: Marston 114

​​Katy Tangenberg

​Dean of the School of Psychology, Family, and Community; Professor of Social Welfare
PhD, University of Washington

Phone: 206-281-2940
Office: Marston 129

Bethany Hoff

Assistant Professor of Research Psychology; Director of Research-Graduate Psychology
PhD, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Phone: 206-281-2901
Office: Marston 306


Suzanne Townsend

Graduate Psychology Program Manager

Phone: 206-281-2770
Office: Marston 308

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Capstone Project

Students enrolled in the Master’s of Science Research Psychology program will not only gain research, statistics, and grant-writing knowledge and skills from the classroom, but they will also complete a capstone project. This project will allow students the opportunity to put newly acquired knowledge and skills into practice in a manner that is best fitting their career or graduate school objectives. 

Capstone Proposal and Defense

The capstone project is flexible in a sense that students can chose between a traditional master’s thesis based on original research, a grant application, or propose an applied project (e.g., program evaluation) that best suits their needs. Each student will complete the following three stages of the capstone project:

  • Conduct preliminary research, choose your project, and assemble your project committee for a review of your project.
  • With approval from your project committee, research, collect data, analyze data, etc., and write your capstone project.
  • Finally, present your written project and provide an oral defense for your capstone project to your project committee.*

*Your committee must approve your work at the proposal and defense. 

Research Labs

The program provides students with numerous research opportunities and flexibility. Students can request to work with faculty within the School of Psychology, Family, and Community or seek out capstone projects (e.g., grant application) locally, regionally, or nationally. Below are examples of labs where students might work:

The Baker Lab

Dr. Phillip M. Baker leads this collaborative and motivated group of researchers interested in understanding how the brain reduces complex information into behavioral choices. To do this, we manipulate the circuitry of the brain in animal models to understand the contributions of brain areas to reducing external stimuli into internal representations of choices that ultimately guide decisionmaking. Much of our work is hands-on with our animal models in addition to wet lab work. 

Child and Adolescent Laboratory

Directed by Dr. Jenny Vaydich, the Child and Adolescent Laboratory within the School of Psychology, Family, and Community at Seattle Pacific University explores the influence of parent-child relationships and interactions on child and adolescent emotion regulation development. We are particularly interested in parent-child relationships and parental emotion socialization during childhood and adolescence. Previous projects have focused on aggression; however, more recent projects have examined the influence of parent-child relationships on symptoms of depression and anxiety. 

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Our ideal candidate for the Research Psychology program would be a student who has a passion for and training in research, has a strong background in research methods and statistics, perhaps having taken several statistics or research courses, and comes to the program with ideas of how to bring their diverse set of experiences/skills to pursue dynamic and innovative research.

Previous research experience is not required, but in the absence of specific research experience, students are encouraged to use their personal statement to speak to the specific skills they have acquired which will aid in research.

Ask yourself, “What are you passionate about, what do you want to research, what do you want to learn more about?”

This program is comparable to the master’s degree track that would be folded into most PhD programs. That is, you will do both graduate-level coursework and a master's-level thesis or capstone project. As for similar degree programs that take two years, we’ve truncated the timeline by having students work on their thesis project alongside their coursework.

SPU’s graduate programs consistently schedule courses to begin in the late afternoon/early evening to accommodate the varied needs of our students’ schedules. Core classes for the program will most likely be scheduled on Mondays or Tuesdays from 1–5 p.m. with electives following a similar schedule on other days of the week.

Given the rigorous nature of the Research Psychology program, our recommendation would be for our students to work part time.

There are several possibilities, dependent in large part on the expertise and interest of our students. One example would be a research fellowship with one of the faculty members. Another example would be proposing a partnership with a campus department, such as the Center for Career and Calling, which already has robust data collection but would benefit from a master’s student analyzing and presenting that data in a way that benefits students. If you are looking at PhD level study, a more traditional teaching assistantship where you offer guest lectures and grade papers might be beneficial.

Designing studies and evaluations: The Research Psychology program equips students with an advanced-level understanding of research methods and the ability to identify samples that are representative of diverse populations.

Communicating research: The ability to sum up research and communicate to distinct constituent groups.

The opportunity to work closely with faculty is both faculty-dependent and student capstone project-dependent. In your first quarter of the program, you will want to begin to conceptualize your capstone project and consider how you would work with a faculty member. This is a process we will support each step of the way.

Unlike in a PhD program, you will not be admitted in order to work with a specific faculty member. This benefits students, as it means we can accept students with a wide range of research interests. It also means we will not be able to specify who your thesis supervisor will be or guarantee that you will work with a specific faculty member. Please note that research fit is a major priority as we make admissions decisions. If you are admitted into the program, it is because we are confident we can pair you with an advisor who matches your research interests and that your interests are scalable for the program.

How this program would lead to and bolster a PhD is dependent upon the PhD program, though we firmly believe it will make you a stronger PhD candidate, regardless of the program.

Some PhD programs would, for example, accept this master’s degree and thesis and then require you to take a minimal number of courses before you begin your PhD thesis. If, for example, a typical PhD program is five years long, and that program allows you to transfer some of your courses from this degree and your master’s dissertation, it would not only make you a more competitive candidate but also shorten your degree time to three years.

Other PhD programs will require you to complete all your coursework with them, potentially completing another master’s thesis, but will see your completion of this program as making you a more competitive candidate.

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