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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Science
October 28, 2016
Canadian Excellence

Community Psychology Masters (M.A.) Program

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The MA program in community psychology is designed to prepare students as researchers and practitioners who can work in a variety of settings including academic, governmental, and non-governmental organizations. Students are also encouraged to continue in our Ph.D. program. The primary substantive emphasis of the program is on the prevention of problems in living and the promotion of social justice and individual, relational, and collective well-being. Students have a faculty and student mentor available to them when they first start and select one faculty member as their thesis supervisor. While it is possible to complete the MA degree requirements in a 12-month period, students in this program have typically spread the requirements of their programs over a two-year period of time. The program includes 200 hours of practicum with one of our community partner organizations. The program is viewed as appropriate for either professional training or the pursuit of doctoral studies.

Admissions Information


MA Curriculum



"Laurier’s CP program has given me the opportunity to combine my love of learning with my need for both application and action. Through course work, I have been able to explore the theories behind social change and develop many of the skills needed for this kind of work. The practicum requirement, however, has been the most impactful part of the program for me, as it has given me the opportunity to use and strengthen these skills in a community setting. Beyond complimenting and reinforcing the material learned in class, the practicum also served as a place for learning about the practical side of working with community members, while being supported by the school. This combination of course work and experience has helped me to identify the type of work that I am passionate about and, now in my second year of the program, I have been provided with continued support and encouragement as I pursue these interests."

– Rebecca Pister, M.A. Student

Admissions Information

For admission to the MA program in community psychology, a student must have completed a BSC or BA honours degree in psychology with a minimum B average in the last 2 years of study. An honours graduate in a program other than psychology or a combination of psychology and another subject or general degree graduates may be admitted if evidence justifying admission is offered. However, a program of appropriate preparatory studies (a qualifying year) may be required of such applicants. Honours graduates in psychology may also be required to successfully complete one or two undergraduate courses before they are admitted to the MA program.

For the community psychology program, experience in community settings and identification with a community psychology orientation are key factors in the admission decision. This is assessed by means of an interview procedure in which the applicant's community experiences and responsibilities are reviewed to determine the value system that is reflected in their experience, as well as their understanding of the need for both community and individual change to achieve optimal well-being.

Applicants to the Community Psychology M.A. program are evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Academic performance, as indicated by GPA, especially in the applicant’s last 10 one-term courses.
  • Academic Letters of Reference, in which the referees attest to the applicant’s capacities for graduate work and motivation for our community psychology graduate programme.
  • Community Experience, through paid employment or volunteer work (we recommend submitting at least one letter of reference from a supervisor or employer from a community setting).
  • The Personal Statement, that is, the quality of the applicant’s personal statement in terms of the expressed fit with the values, mission, and goals of community psychology.

Please note that we do not require the GRE. However, over the past 24 years from 1986 to 2009, the average fourth-year undergraduate GPA of entering students was in the A- range, and most students have considerable community experience and demonstrate a strong identification with the values of the program.

An admissions committee reviews each application. From the pool of applicants, we invite a small number (10-15) for an interview with two to three faculty and current students. If the applicant lives within southern Ontario, we prefer a face-to-face interview at Laurier. For those who live further away or for whom a local interview cannot be arranged, we conduct telephone interviews. The interview provides applicants with a chance to ask questions, meet faculty and students, and assess the campus and its facilities, and the interview provides us with another indicator of the person’s qualifications and motivation for the programme. We usually make offers of admission beginning in April. We maintain a rank-ordered reversion in case one or more applicants from the final list declines our offer of admission.

For general information about applying to graduate programs in psychology at Laurier, or to apply now, click here. Students who wish to apply to the Masters program in Community Psychology should indicate “M.A. program in Community Psychololgy” when they complete their on-line application.

M.A. Curriculum

Six half-credit courses and a thesis constitute the degree requirements in the community psychology program. The required courses include:

  • PS600 Advanced Behavioural Statistics I
  • PS606 Research in Community Settings
  • PS614 Community Psychology and Social Intervention I
  • PS615 Community Practicum I
  • PS619 Community Psychology and Social Intervention II
  • PS625 Community Practicum II

In addition, all students must complete a thesis (PS699) relevant to the option they have selected. 

 All required courses, with the exception of the thesis, should be completed by the end of the first year.

Typical Course Load

Students are required to take six required courses and may take a maximum of eight courses. Typically, students take three courses in the fall session: Advanced Behavioural Statistics I (PS600), Community Psychology and Social Intervention I (PS614), and Community Practicum I (PS615). During the winter session, students will usually complete the required courses: Research in Community Settings (PS606), Community Psychology and Social Intervention II (PS619), and Community Practicum II (PS625). While this is the typical pattern, students can opt to take the courses in a different sequence. In addition, students can supplement their personal curriculum with graduate courses offered by the other programme areas in the Department of Psychology (e.g., PS601 Advanced Behavioral Statistics II). For part-time students, the sequence of courses and number of courses taken per term is individualized according to student needs.

Community Practicum I & II

The community practicum courses are a significant part of the program's curriculum requirements. Students are required to complete 200 hours of supervised practicum work in an agency of their choice. To learn more about practicum placements please click here.


Students admitted to the M.A. program receive information about their financial package in the offer letter mailed to them. Financial awards vary depending on a variety of factors, including undergraduate GPA. Students typically receive a package from the university that totals approximately $12,000 per year. This financial package is made up of teaching assistantships and Laurier graduate scholarships. In addition to the money offered by the university, faculty advisors may offer additional financial support, paid directly from their faculty research grants. During their studies, Masters students may also apply for travel awards from the department and from Graduate Studies.

Students who hold a major external scholarship, such as those awarded by OGS, CIHR, and SSHRC, receive the award from the agency (e.g., $17,500 for SSHRC and $15,000 for OGS), as well as money from the university for teaching assistantships. Students with external awards are also eligible for a $7,500 Deans Scholarship. Thus, with an external award, yearly funding may be as high as $28,000 - $30,000.

Practicum Placements

The practicum placement is an important aspect of the Community Psychology M.A. program. Students will spend 200 hours in their practicum settings where they gain valuable experience as a community consultant and transformative social and organizational change agent. The practicum experience is accompanied by a two-semester practicum course where students learn important practical skills and critically reflect on their practicum experience using an Action, Theory, and Research (ART) model. Each year, students are provided with a list of possible placements from which they can select the one that provides the best fit. In coordination with the course instructor, students also have the option to find a placement on their own.

Historically, there have been placements in government departments, community agencies, schools, non-profit organizations, and grassroots settings. Examples of past practicum experiences include: assisting in program evaluations, comprehensive literature reviews, assistance in policy developments, conducting focus groups and need assessments, community education, the creation of community gardens, implementing activities to raise community awareness of crime prevention issues, and developing and introducing a multi-media presentation to present issues that exist for young women.

Both individuals at the setting and the faculty in the Practicum are responsible for supervision in the placement. Students will meet in their settings with their advisors, and will have supervision time with practicum faculty on a regular basis. The primary objectives of supervision and evaluation are to enhance the student’s learning and to ensure that the student achieves an adequate level of competencies in the application of theory and research to community problems.

Example Placements

  • Centre for Community-Based Research
  • Center for Community Research, Learning, and Action
  • Canadian Mental Health Association Grand River Branch
  • Centre for Addiction and Mental Health: Community Support and Research Unit, Toronto, Ontario
  • Community Justice Initiatives
  • Crime Prevention Council
  • Kitchener Downtown Inter-Community Health Centre
  • Region of Waterloo, Social Services, Social Planning, Policy, and Program Administration
  • Region of Waterloo, Public Health
  • Region of Waterloo, Strategic planning for the office of the CEO
  • Social Planning Council/Community Information Centre
  • Wilfrid Laurier University, Sexual Diversity Committee
  • The Working Centre
  • Waterloo Region District School Board
  • The AIDS Committee of Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo & Area (ACCKWA)

For Questions you can contact:

Dr. Manuel Riemer

519-884-0710, ext. 2982