Jerrell Cassady, Professor of Psychology--Educational Psychology at Ball State University, joins us today to discuss their online Master’s in Educational Psychology program.
1. Can you tell us about your online master’s program(s) offered at Ball State University?
The Master of Arts in Educational Psychology is a long-standing program that was originally only on-campus. However, as we developed a stronger infrastructure for supporting high-quality online education, the program transitioned to enable the fully online approach over the past several years. The program is a 30 credit hour program that provides a base set of courses in educational psychology’s primary domains of inquiry: human learning, development, and research methods and statistics.
2. How long does a typical master’s program take at Ball State University? What is the maximum and minimum time of completion?
The typical program completion time is just under 2 years. It is possible to complete the program with a full load in just over a full calendar year if a student were to start in a summer semester (May), then finish the following summer (July).
3. What do you think makes Ball State University online Master’s in Educational Psychology program stand out from other programs offered by similar schools?
The primary areas where we feel we distinguish ourselves is that our regular full time tenure track faculy teach our courses. That is, most classes you would take are taught by the same faculty members who would teach the course on campus if you were able to attend in a traditional format. This provides you with the direct access to experts in the domain you are studying. In addition, we view our MA students as full members in our graduate program – many online programs fail to connect directly with the students. You are our students – that means you have access to all the same resources, time, attention, and mentoring that our doctoral program students are afforded. The program is also perfectly aligned with our doctoral program. If you choose to continue, you will find that all 30 hours of your MA can be applied to the doctoral program in Educational Psychology.
4. Does your online Master’s in Educational Psychology program offer any concentrations or dual enrollment opportunities?
We require a “specialization” that is a 12 hour concentrated focus study program. We have several options that are pre-authorized including Human Learning and Development, Quantitative Psychology, Gifted Education, and Applied Behavior Analysis. In addition, we have the flexibility to allow any reasonable specialization that fulfills your professional goals.
5. How important would you say accreditation is when choosing a Master’s in Educational Psychology?
The issue of accreditation is a complex one because there are many different types of accreditation. Most programs that are concerned with accreditation are license-based programs (such as school psychology, counseling psychology, etc). Those accreditations are linked to a clinical license that is overseen by the accrediting body (e.g., APA). However, “Educational Psychology” is not a licensed domain (some school psychology programs are in an educational psychology department – but those are separate from our program). However, before ANY student considers a program, they should ensure that the University is accredited. Ball State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (formerly the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools).
6. What kind of student characterizes your ideal candidate in the master’s program (i.e. personality traits, background, interests, career aspirations, etc.)?
A high level of personal motivation to maintain a steady and regular work pace is a strong characteristic for success n our program. We also have many students who are quite happy with their career domain, but want to advance within that field. This is a degree that can support that – because you will gain knowledge and skills that can advance your abilities in many areas of inquiry. Our most popular lines of inquiry are for people who want to teach in community college or as a non-tenure track faculty member in psychology programs, work as an institutional assessment expert at a school or university, and individuals who are interested in having a broader background in educational psychology to go along with the BCBA licensure to support learners with special needs (e.g., children with Autism Spectrum Disorder) – those students can do the MA in Educational Psychology while getting their certification in Applied Behavior Analysis.
7. What are your class sizes for courses in the online master’s degree program?
We cap our classes at 20 for most sections.
8. What are the advantages to earning a Master’s in Educational Psychology degree in general and where are you seeing employer demand for this degree?
Our most popular lines of inquiry are for people who want to teach in community college or as a non-tenure track faculty member in psychology programs, work as an institutional assessment expert at a school or university, and individuals who are interested in having a broader background in educational psychology to go along with the BCBA licensure to support learners with special needs (e.g., children with Autism Spectrum Disorder) – those students can do the MA in Educational Psychology while getting their certification in Applied Behavior Analysis.
9. Is your university linked with any Government, Educational, or Industrial Partnerships to provide internships or practicum experiences for enrolled students?
We have a practicum experience in institutional assessment for students who complete that certificate. There are also practice based activities associated with the ABA program, but that is outside our supervision.
10. Does Ball State University offer job placement for students who graduate with a Master’s in Educational Psychology?
There are no specific job placement programs for students in the program, but the career advising office resources are available to all students in the university.
11. What types of financial aid packages are available for students in psychology? Are there any fellowships, grants and scholarships available?
There are no department-specific grants or fellowships for online students. Individuals who wish to work on campus are eligible to apply for graduate assistantships. Other financial aid opportunities are provided through the Office of Financial Aid.
12. Are graduate students enrolled in the online Master’s in Educational Psychology program offered assistantships for teaching or research?
If the student is on campus, they can apply for a graduate assistantship in research. Teaching is restricted to those who already have a masters degree.
13. Do you have any advice for students enrolling in a master’s program for the first time?
Yes – review the expertise and background of the faculty who teach the classes. See what the expectations for research and practical applications are. Finally, see how responsive the faculty are to your questions. When the faculty are responsive to your questions, you opportunities for learning and career advancement are dramatically higher than MA programs where the students are not regarded as critical members of the learning community.
14. What do you enjoy most about your position at Ball State University?
I like the fact that I get to work with very bright people, share information that I am passionate about with new students every year, and have not had a single day where I didn’t have something exciting to work on. The work that we do in this field can have immediate and long-lasting impacts on learners at every age level. Because of that, the research that I do with my colleagues and students is always important and energizing. In addition, I know that the students I teach (undergraduate, masters, and doctoral students alike) will branch out all over the world and continue to do good work – making the work we do in the teaching domain even more impactful.
For more information on the online Master’s in Educational Psychology program offered at Ball State University visit them online.
Thank you Jerrell, for sharing and participating in this piece.
That concludes our interview!
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