Accelerated Degree Program puts Students on Fast Track to obtaining a Master’s in Psychology

Houston Baptist University (HBU) now provides a degree program that puts psychology students on the fast track to obtaining a master’s degree in Psychology. Called the Psychology 5-Year Bachelors to Masters (BA to MAP) degree, the new program provides students with the option of accelerating their learning to complete both a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Master of Arts in Psychology in a five-year period. 

The BA to MAP degree is designed to provide students the same critical examination of the psychology field as the standard undergraduate track but also provides undergraduate students, who are in their junior year, the opportunity to begin working toward a Master of Arts in Psychology. 

Dr. Joe Pelletier, HBU Associate Professor of Psychology, introduced the innovative degree program which provides students with an accelerated pathway from an undergraduate to graduate degree in psychology. 

“Ultimately, the goal was to provide students with a clear pathway from undergraduate to graduate studies that minimized obstructions that they usually encounter (i.e., time and money). Furthermore, it allows students the opportunity to think more long-term about their education and career from the very start of their time with us,” said Pelletier. 

Pelletier presented his idea to Dr. Kristie Cerling, Dean of HBU’s College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, who extended her immediate support. He joined forces with Dr. Darby Hawley, Associate Professor of Psychology, and assistant professors of psychology, Dr. Matiko Austin and Vicki Alger to develop the program which launched in the fall 2021 semester. 

“I am very excited about this new accelerated degree for psychology students at HBU. Many of our entering undergraduate psychology students are already focused on graduate work and being able to tailor their education for long-term success and higher education is a key initiative with this program. Through this new degree option, the psychology department at HBU is committed to making sure our students are prepared for future careers and continued education in the field of psychology,” said Dr. Hawley, Director of the BA to MAP degree program. 

To be eligible, students must apply for admission to the program in their junior year, have a minimum of 60 credit hours and a 3.5-grade point average or above. A letter of recommendation from a professor, proposed thesis topic, and successful interview with the admissions committee is also required. The spring admission deadline is Oct. 1, and the fall admission deadline is Feb. 1. 

Although obtaining a bachelor’s and master’s in psychology does not provide training that leads to licensure for independent practice, completion of the BA to MAP degree plan opens the door to different career paths in a range of professional environments and additional educational opportunities in higher education. 

“With this degree and additional certification, students can work as school psychologists, marriage and family counselors, clinical psychologists, researchers, and a number of other diverse positions in the psychology field,” said Pelletier. “It is a really good stepping-stone degree that equips students to go in many different directions and to pursue an unlimited number of job titles.”

According to the HBU psychology professor, the degree program also fills an excellent gap for veterans with available funding under the GI Bill and student-athletes who have 5 years of eligibility. With the BA to MAP degree program, these students can choose to use available funding and eligibility toward obtaining two degrees. 

Students seeking independent licensure for the purpose of establishing a psychology practice can enroll in several other degree plan programs offered at HBU, including: 

Learn more information about the Psychology 5-Year BA to MAP degree.