Abilene Christian University


Psychology Degrees through a Christian Lens at Abilene Christian University

Abilene Christian University appears in our ranking of the Top 25 Master’s Degrees in Marriage and Family Therapy Online.

Abilene Christian University offers many of the same types of psychology degrees as other schools, but the difference is that programs at this school have a Christian focus. ACU also sees things through a global perspective and expects all students to participate in its study-abroad programs. The school emphasizes experiential learning, and its psychology programs include multiple practicums.

The Bachelor of Science in Psychology can be earned in a traditional format or online. It is a general program giving students an advanced overview of psychology. The program contains 128 hours including 56 hours of university educational foundations plus 53 credit hours in the major and 19 credit hours in electives. The BS in Psychology can be earned on three tracks: Child Emphasis, Counseling-Related or Research-Oriented. The goal of the degree is to prepare students for graduate study in psychology. Sample courses are Developmental Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Psychological Tests and Measurements and Emotional and Behavioral Disorders in Children.

The Accelerated Professional Psychology Degree Plan is a program that allows undergraduate students to take some graduate-level courses that apply to a master’s degree, thereby shortening the amount of time it takes to earn both the undergraduate and graduate degrees. Students may take up to 24 credit hours of graduate-level courses in the senior year. After completing 30 credit-hours in the BS in Psychology program, the student may apply to the accelerated program. He may begin taking the master’s courses after completing 90 credit-hours. In addition, all students are expected to avail themselves of the study-abroad program.

The Minor in Psychology is a program intended for students with majors in other disciplines such as social work who want to understand human behavior. The number of hours in the minor program depends upon which of the three tracks is chosen. The Generalist track requires 18 credit-hours, the Child Emphasis requires 18 hours, the Counseling track requires 19 credit-hours and the Research- Oriented track requires 22 hours.

The Master of Science in Psychology is a generalist program that prepares students for professional practice or for continuing education. The program contains 36 credit-hours and is usually completed in two years. It combines a scholarly knowledge of the principles of psychology with clinical training. Sample courses in the program are Clinical Research Methods, Ethics and Issues in Professional Psychology, Multivariate Statistics, and Human Learning and Cognition.

The Master of Science in Clinical Psychology is a 48 credit-hour program that can be completed in two years. It prepares students to practice as clinicians or to go on to doctoral studies. The program contains 21 hours in psychology core courses like Clinical Research Methods, Advanced Psychotherapeutic Techniques, and Clinical Assessment. There are also 15 credit-hours in electives, two practicums, and a master’s thesis.

The Master of Science in Counseling Psychology is a 60 credit-hour program that can be completed in two years. The 18 credit hours of psychology core courses are augmented with 36 credit hours of electives and two practicums. Sample courses in the psychology core are Advanced Psychopathology and Clinical Research Methods.

The Master of Science in Psychology, School Psychology Specialist prepares students to go on to higher education or to practice as a counselor in a school setting. It contains 60 credit-hours and takes three years to complete. Graduates of the program are eligible to apply for licensure in Texas through the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists. In addition to 48 hours in psychology core courses, there are two practicums and a nine-month internship. Students may also complete an optional thesis.

The Master of Marriage and Family Therapy is a 60 credit-hour program that can be completed in traditional format or online, with or without a thesis. The program takes two years or 24 consecutive months, which exclude part-time students. The goal of the degree program is to provide professional training to persons who want to work in mental health agencies, church counseling programs, social service agencies and other facilities including private practice. The program includes 500 hours of direct clinical experience (the first year students function as a co-counselor) and 100 hours of approved supervision. In addition to the clinical focus, the degree program strongly emphasizes research.

About Abilene Christian University

This private non-profit school is affiliated with the Church of Christ. It was founded in 1906 as the Childers Classical Institute. Initially, the facility had classes for students beginning in the seventh grade. ACU was segregated until 1961. Of the 5,149 total enrollment, 3,670 are undergraduates. All students are required to take several Bible courses and to attend daily chapel services. Most classes at the university have between 20 and 49 students; the student-to-faculty ratio is 14:1. There are 77 undergraduate majors, 30 master’s programs and three doctoral degrees.

The US News and World Report ranks Abilene Christian University as #21 of Regional Universities-West.

Abilene Christian University Accreditation Details

  • The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Higher Learning Commission
  • The American for Marriage and Family Therapy, Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education

Abilene Christian University Application Requirements

Students applying to the school as first-time freshmen should complete the online application and submit it, along with the nonrefundable application fee of $50, to the school. The application fee, if received prior to November is $35. Students must also arrange for their high schools to send an official transcript to the university and for the agency which administered the SAT or ACT to send those official scores as well.

Graduate school applicants apply online. There is a non-refundable application fee of $50. Graduate students must arrange for the university to receive the official transcripts of all undergraduate work they completed. The Psychology Department also requires a personal statement of goals and three letters of recommendation.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Undergraduate tuition at Abilene Christian University is calculated on the block system. Students may take up to 36 credit hours a year for $34,800 which includes fees and other assessments. That figure does not include room and board. That adds, on average, $10,350. Students should also budget for personal expenses.

Graduate tuition at the school is assessed by the credit-hour. Most of the graduate psychology degrees cost $1,169 per credit, but the Marriage and Family Therapy program is $1,242 per credit hour.

All students attending Abilene Christian University as first-time freshmen receive a merit scholarship of from $9,000 to $17,000. That amount is calculated by using the ACT/SAT scores, the GPA or the overall class ranking of the student. The first step in getting additional aid is completing the FAFSA ( Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form. In addition to federal grants, loans, and work-study programs, Texas offers The Texas Public Education Grant, The Texas Grant, The Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership Program and several other grants and scholarships including one for students aging out of foster care.

The university offers several merit-based scholarships as well as opportunities for students in specific programs or career-preparatory degrees. Private individuals often fund scholarships, as do service organizations. Additionally, because this is a faith-based university, there are many church-related grants and scholarships including a matching-funds opportunity.

Another option is taking out student loans or part-time employment. There are many ways to pay for a degree program at Abilene Christian University.