Psychology and Child Development

College of Liberal Arts

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Application Information - M.S. Psychology Program

The M.S. Psychology Program admits new students once a year for the subsequent fall quarter. Applications for Fall 2024 are CLOSED. The application cycle for Fall 2025 will begin October 1, 2024.

See the Cal Poly Graduate Education website for additional help with the application process.

  1. Official copies of all undergraduate and graduate transcripts must be submitted. Transcripts should be sent to the Cal Poly Admissions Office from the issuing institution. See Admissions for details about the Cal Poly Admissions process. The deadline for all transcripts is January 5, 2024 at 5:00pm.

Items 2-5 below must be uploaded to Cal State Apply. See Admissions for details about the Cal Poly Admissions process. The application deadline is January 5, 2024 at 5:00pm.

2. A "Personal Statement" limited to two typewritten, double-spaced pages. The Personal Statement is a very important part of your application. It gives you the opportunity to show how various personal, sociocultural, educational, and occupational factors informed your decision to enter the helping profession. It also gives faculty an opportunity to gauge your level of insight, maturity, thoughtfulness and other qualities conducive to success in the field. Please address the following in your statement:

  • Educational experience: Please describe coursework, fieldwork/internships, and/or research experience that helped clarify your career goal.
  • Professional activity: Please describe paid or volunteer work in counseling, education, social services, or healthcare that has informed your career goals. If you have little related work-experience, we strongly suggest you consider applying after such experience has been obtained.
  • Sociocultural experience: Please describe your development in cultural competency, including your personal reflections on your own cultural identity, your experiences with and knowledge of diverse cultures, bilingual skills, travel, and experience living abroad, and how these experiences have contributed to your interest in becoming a mental health professional.
  • Personal experience: Please describe family, social, and/or other personal factors influencing your interest in the profession. Feel free to note whether you have benefited from counseling. This section should be more specific than simply saying you grew up in a dysfunctional family, that people have always found it easy to talk to you, or that you have always wanted to be a therapist.

3.Three letters of recommendation are REQUIRED. Carefully choose your recommenders and request letters from individuals who know you well and can attest to your academic, social, occupational, an d/or personal attributes that would support your career choice as a therapist. Letters from friends,relatives and personal therapists are unacceptable. (Please follow the Cal State Apply instructions on requesting letters of recommendation.)

4. Copies of unofficial transcripts for the most recently completed 90 units.

5. Curriculum Vita (CV)/ Resume

*NOTE: The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is not required for program admission.

Program Prerequisites

The MS in Psychology accepts applicants from all disciplines (e.g., English, Biology, Philosophy). Accepted applicants must complete five (5) program prerequisites (3 semester/4 quarter units each) by July 31 prior to entering the program: 

  • Research Methods in Psychology (or related field)
  • Introductory Statistics
  • Personality Theory/Psychology
  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology/ Lifespan Development

These courses may be taken at Cal Poly as a matriculated undergraduate, through Cal Poly’s Open University or at another fully accredited institution, including on-line. In order to determine if a course you have taken satisfies one of our prerequisites, but has a different title than Cal Poly's, compare the content with the Expanded Prerequisite Course Outlines. Applicants who fail to complete these courses before their first quarter of enrollment will be dropped from the program.   

The M.S. Psychology Program accepts applicants with a wide variety of undergraduate degrees. All applicants must have a baccalaureate degree from an institution accredited by a regional association and a minimum GPA of 3.0 in the last 60 semester (90 quarter) units attempted (we will review applications with a 2.5 GPA and higher). There are additional requirements for international students. Questions concerning applications from international students should be directed to the Cal Poly Office of Admissions.

In addition to GPA, applicants are evaluated on the quality of their letters of recommendation, academic background, relevant work/life experiences, personal statement, group interview, and any other information that might shed light on their likelihood of success as a student and future marriage and family therapist.

Upon review of applicants' Cal State Apply Application, a subset of applicants will be selected for a group interview. These typically take place at the end of February or beginning of March. From the group interviews, 16-20 students are admitted to the program(this equates to an approximate 10% acceptance rate).

Any other questions can be directed to the Program Director, Dr. Aaron Estrada (

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