Master's Degree in General Psychology

About the Program

Description and Mission Statement

The fundamental principle underlying the graduate program in psychological sciences at NAU is that all inquiry in psychology is structured by the scientific method. This inquiry is accomplished by proposing and testing theoretical explanations about human behavioral, biological and mental processes. Scientific rigor is essential to evaluate, disseminate, create and apply evidence in psychology. Students in our program take courses that are best suited for their professional goals such as preparation for doctoral programs, employment in health-related fields (including behavior analysis), teaching psychology, or other areas of employment that require research, methodology, and statistical skills. Students may also be able to combine the MA in Psychology with other certificates or degree programs. We train students to be scientific professionals, to be ethically responsible, to be committed to serving others, and to respect human diversity. 

The NAU Department of Psychology has many faculty members with teaching and research expertise in the following areas: behavioral health, clinical psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, health psychology, industrial/organizational psychology, learning psychology, neuroscience, and social psychology. Our masters' program provides applied opportunities in health and community psychology, as well as an international exchange program for students with the University of Groningen Netherlands (PSYCHStep).  We also have a relationship with Coconino Community College that provides opportunities for second year students to gain teaching experience. We also offer advanced undergraduate students the opportunity to pursue a masters’ degree (our 3 + 2 program).

Objectives of Program

The objective of our graduate program is to provide coursework and applied opportunities that meet the educational goals of the individual student. The MA degree can be obtained with both thesis and non-thesis options. Regardless of a student’s primary educational goals, our graduate program is designed to strengthen quantitative skills provide students with research experience that will increase one’s competitiveness when applying to Ph.D. programs in psychology and/or for positions where these skills are required.

Prospective Students

Thank you for your interest in NAU’s Masters of Psychology program! 

Our department is made up of research active faculty who believe that science guides research and practice. Our faculty have a wide range of expertise. They are leaders in the field and have published in top journals.

The students in our program are actively engaged in the science of psychology and have the opportunity to work in multiple research labs. The quality of our students is evidenced by their excellent undergraduate academic records and high-level of research productivity and their success after graduating from our program. Our students have an impressive record of presenting at national and international conferences and publish with faculty. We have had students go on to Ph.D. programs in social psychology (Arizona State University; Ohio State University), clinical psychology (Temple University; University of Houston), industrial-organizational psychology (University of NC-Charlotte; Washington State), Gerontology (University of Southern California) neuroscience (University of Alabama-Birmingham).

Our students also go directly into the job market.

We have a very successful assistantship program with the majority of our students being awarded financial support through either graduate assistantships or waivers. Students’ research have been funded through the department, the university, and outside grants.

Please consider applying if your interests and values in psychological sciences are a good match with our program. We are proud of our program and hope you will take some time to visit the rest of our website and the links below to obtain more information about our admissions process, curriculum/program requirements, and graduate life at NAU. We also encourage you visit the NAU graduate college website for more information about our graduate studies.

We look forward to considering your application!

NAU Graduate College

 “As the primary advocate of graduate education at Northern Arizona University, the Graduate College is committed to supporting and advancing our outstanding graduate and professional programs on the Flagstaff Campus and through The Extended Campuses of Northern Arizona University. Consistent with the institution's mission, our purpose is to promote student achievement, research, scholarship, global learning, strategic partnerships, and engagement in discovery and practice.” Although the graduate college is there to support graduate students in many different aspects of their graduate education, students in psychological sciences will work directly with the graduate college in issues related to admissions and graduation.

Graduate college:

Visit Graduate College:

Graduate School Application:

Grad College Student Resources:

Who’s who at the grad college?

Graduate Studies in Psychological Sciences: Student testimonials

Preparing for the next step

“There are not a lot of other master’s programs that are aimed at preparing you for a Ph.D. as well as NAU” Louis Irving

Research opportunities

“There are so many different types of research experiences to get involved in. Qualitative, quantitative, big data, classic lab experiments and if you don’t know what you are interested in it’s nice to have all those things to find out what you like and are good at.”Michael Esposito

“NAU is very interdisciplinary. I have had the chance to collaborate with a variety of different departments. I’ve also worked on papers with faculty at other institutions while being here at NAU” Louis Irving

“Faculty sought me out to do research while I was at NAU which made it really easy to find opportunities” Taylor West

“I came to NAU because of the research opportunities that are here. Professors are always looking for people to do research in. I’ve always been able to find not only people to do research with, but topics of research as well.” Alyssa Billington

Learning opportunities

“I chose to continue school here at NAU because I built such good relationships with faculty. I didn’t want to apply to Ph.D. programs because I didn’t know what I wanted to do or want to commit to such a large time commitment. The NAU program allows me to have a developmental period or stepping stone.” Louis Irving

“The department has a high standard of autonomy. No one is checking whether you are reading the articles, but if you are not contributing on a regular basis you will stick out.” Taylor West

“I think that NAU has unique classes and experiences I wouldn’t be able to get other places.” Alyssa Billington

Program culture

“I’d say the culture is laid back in the sense that there is not a lot of competition or politics. At the same time everyone is working hard and wants to get things done” Michael Esposito

“I would describe the graduate program as communal. I feel like there is always someone around to ask for help or to answer my questions. I have never felt like I didn’t know what to do.” Taylor West

“Everyone is highly academically motivated and everyone here to some degree cares about the success of students. We all have really good rapport and are realistic that there is more to life than academics” Louis Irving

Working with faculty and students

“In my experience, all of the faculty members have been very open to meeting and discussing. I feel like I’ve gotten pretty close to my faculty members, they’re easy to get along with and talk about things outside of academia.” Michael Esposito

“There are highly trained faculty with diverse interests in the department” Louis Irving

“I cannot understand that faculty really care about students. As long as you make an effort they will work with you. I’ve had so many opportunities for publications and presentations handed to me by faculty who were student centered” Louis Irving

“I like having a cohort that all came in together, that are in the same classes, that you see in the student office, and that you can always ask for help or share frustrations with.” Taylor West

“The program is very close knit. The professors that teach graduate classes are very involved in your learning experience and we are really dedicated to the topic and can lean on each other.” Alyssa Billington

Life in Flagstaff

(from NAU’s website: Flagstaff—or “Flag” as the locals call it—is a mountain town with a population of 67,468. At 7,000 feet, Flagstaff is surrounded by the largest ponderosa pine forest in the world. With an average of 288 days of sunshine per year and an average 100 inches of annual snowfall, Flagstaff offers a scenic setting to live and learn while surrounded by a landscape and four-season climate unlike anything else in Arizona. The town has drawn positive attention from a number of publications. Travel + Leisure magazine recently named Flagstaff among the top 10 Best College Towns in America, and has called it one of the nation’s happiest cities. Outside magazine has ranked Flagstaff as the 7th best town in the nation. named the city one of “20 College Towns We Love to Visit,” citing Flagstaff’s nearly 700 acres of park land and its 50 miles of trails.

The following sections provide some students’ perspective of Flagstaff and some websites that provide additional information about our wonderful city!

Grad School in Flagstaff (Jason) (student perspective)

Why Flagstaff?

“I like the overall feel of Flagstaff. I come from the east coast and people here are friendlier. The culture is outdoorsy whether that is hiking or mountain biking and everyone you meet is doing these types of things and it becomes a part of your life” Michael Esposito

“I love Flagstaff. I was excited to come up for better weather. I like the small town feel, that you can go downtown to the restaurants and bars and I always run into people that I know. Everyone is your friend” Taylor West


“Whoever you are and whatever you like won’t be judged or discriminated against. There is a lot of diversity of interests.” Louis Irving

Activities to do

“Downtown has a great variety of places to go and there is beautiful scenery. Flagstaff has a small city feel and everything is within five minutes driving. There is a relaxing vibe around time” Louis Irving

“I really like the music scene of Flagstaff. There are a lot of music events all around the community” Alyssa Billington


“There is a really great food scene. There are a lot of different cuisines and cool places to go and grab a drink” Michael Esposito

“The food scene has really taken off recently. I actually think that Flagstaff has become a very diverse high point in regards to food. A lot of restaurants have chefs in the back and it’s not just Chilis, but we have that too.” Taylor West


“The weather in flagstaff has five seasons. The typical four and then a monsoon season but what I really like here is that it is sunny most of the time.” Michael Esposito

Moving to Flagstaff

“My move here was easy and I didn’t have a problem finding a place to live. Adapting to graduate life and a new place went pretty smooth overall” Michael Esposito

For more information about our wonderful city:

Flagstaff City Website:

Flagstaff events: 

What makes Flagstaff Unique:

PeopleFeatured Alumni

Current Ph.D. students


Timothy Broom, The Ohio State University, Social Psychology

Tim Broom graduated from NAU with an M.A. in psychological sciences in May 2016. He is currently working toward his Ph.D. in social psychology at The Ohio State University. He conducts research in the Wagner Social Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory under his advisor Dylan Wagner. His research will explore phenomena related to the psychology of fiction and narrative transportation through a combination of functional neuroimaging and traditional experimental methods. His time at NAU provided him with valuable research experience and training, the benefits of which he feels are wide-ranging. Thanks to the supportive faculty, he was able to take advantage of opportunities to work in several different labs, gaining diverse research experience that helped make him a competitive applicant to doctoral programs.

Link to the lab:; Link to advisor's page on OSU website:

Lesther Papa, Utah State University, Clinical/Counseling/School Psychology

Lesther Papa is a doctoral student in the Combined Clinical/Counseling/School Psychology program and is concurrently pursuing an Ed.S. in School Psychology at Utah State University (USU). Before attending USU, he received a Master’s in teaching of psychology from Northern Arizona University and a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Hawai‘i - Mānoa. His research has two primary foci: ethnic minority mental health and higher education teaching and learning. Lesther is currently investigating the impact of racial microaggressions on students and faculty in higher education classrooms using an experimental research design. He is also a graduate assistant for Clinical Services at the Center for Persons with Disabilities. He plans on becoming a faculty member at a university where he can continue to engage in research, teaching, and clinical supervision.

Jobs (Ph.D. level)


Carrie Donoho, Research Scientist, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research

Captain Carrie Donoho earned her B.A. in Psychology from University of Maryland University College, Europe in 2005, and went on to earn an M.A. in Health Psychology from Northern Arizona University in 2008, and her M.S. in Biostatistics and Epidemiology and Ph.D. in Gerontology from the University of Southern California in 2013.  Carrie is currently a Research Psychologist at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. Carrie utilizes her advanced knowledge of longitudinal research methods and complex data analysis to conduct epidemiological research on the Millennium Cohort Study, the largest prospective cohort study in military history, and the Millennium Cohort Family Study, the largest study of service member and spouse dyads in military history. Carrie is the Principal Investigator of a study being conducted in collaboration with the US Army Center for Environmental Health Research (USACEHR) that leverages two major Department of Defense efforts by linking the Millennium Cohort Study to archived biospecimens stored at the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This linkage will provide critical data to inform the development of pharmacological interventions and targeted treatments for Service Members and Veterans who suffer from PTSD. Carrie was also the lead statistician and epidemiologist for the Mental Health Advisory Team when they conducted the first population-based assessment of the health and well-being of forward deployed US Armed Forces in the Republic of Korea. Carrie’s research is has been instrumental in understanding five key areas of Department of Defense interest and national interest: (1) the role of specific biomarkers that predict PTSD, (2) the role of sleep in operational readiness and psychological resilience, and (3) gender differences in PTSD after serving in a high combat environment, (4) service-related factors associated with depression among military spouses, and (5) the health and well-being of US Armed Forces in Korea. CPT Donoho has delivered briefs to leaders in Department of Defense, VA, NIH, and the Army, such as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, the Director of the National Institute on Mental Health, the Director for the office of Research and Development at VA, and the Director of the Military Operational Medicine Research Program.

Kristine Olson, Assistant Professor at Dixie State University

Kristine Olson is currently an assistant professor at Dixie State University (since 2011) and has won a number of teaching awards on campus. Dr. Olson credits NAU faculty for molding her into a great teacher and research and dramatically setting the standard for her career. After NAU, Dr. Olson graduated with a doctorate degree in Experimental Psychology with an emphasis in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from Washington State University. Her research interests include diversity and culture in the workplace, gender in the workplace, organizational climate, sexual harassment in the workplace, and role conflict between work/family/school.

Haley Orthel, Instructor, Truckee Meadows Community College

Haley Orthel-Clark is a tenure-track psychology instructor in the Department of Social Sciences at Truckee Meadows Community College. She serves as the faculty advisor for the Psychology Club and as the Curriculum Review Committee chair for the college.