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UMD's New Master of Arts in Psychological Science Program Offers Three Tracks

UMD graduate students Michael Ward and Laura Holmberg  
UMD graduate students Michael Ward and Laura Holmberg are enrolled in the new Master of Arts in Psychological Science (MAPS) program.  
Positive undergraduate experiences and a continued emphasis on research were just two of the reasons Laura Holmberg and Michael Ward chose to continue their studies at UMD. After graduating from UMD with degrees in psychology, both are now enrolled in UMD’s new Master of Arts in Psychological Science (MAPS) program.

Their career interests are varied, but because the masters in MAPS offers three different tracks, both students were able to find the course of study that was right for them.

Holmberg, from Long Lake, Minn., chose the Clinical Counseling Psychology track. “My goal is to become a licensed professional clinical counselor,” she said. Ward, who is from Grand Rapids, Minn., chose the Industrial-Organizational Psychology track. “I could work for a consulting firm helping companies with personnel decision making, in a human resources or personnel setting, or as a safety consultant. I.O. is a very broad field. Basically you’re applying psychology to the business world,” he said.

A third track in the MAPS program is a General-Experimental Psychology track, which prepares students to be instructors, research specialists in organizations, and provides additional preparation for students interested in doctoral-level programs.

A Firm Foundation
As undergraduates, both Ward and Holmberg transferred to UMD from other universities. Ward was attending the University of North Dakota. “After doing some research, I found that at UMD the professors research interests and background were more diverse than at UND. Then I visited the campus. It’s beautiful here,” he stated.

Holmberg attended the U of M Twin Cities her freshman year, then transferred to UMD. “I’d heard so many positive things about UMD. I liked that it was a lot smaller and had more of a community feel,” she said.

Choosing UMD for graduate school wasn’t difficult for either of them. “I had such a great experience as an undergraduate,” Holmberg related. “I had done research and was looking to continue that. The MAPS graduate program is research based, and the professors are great,” she said. Holmberg did social psychological research with Professor Randall Gordon.

“Actually UMD was the only school I applied to,” Ward said. “The professors here are very personable. They’re ready to listen to your concerns, your issues, your ideas. UMD is a great environment, and it’s very welcoming,” he said. Ward was also drawn to continuing with research. “There are a lot of research opportunities,” he said. As an undergrad, Ward did research with Assistant Professor Christopher Lake and with Associate Professor Alexandra Luong. “Actually it was Professor Luong who gave me some great advice. She said, ‘You always have the option to get practical experience. Do research now. It will pay off later,’” Ward said.

"Four students in our first cohort did their undergraduate work at UMD," said Luong, who is also the director of the MAPS program. "Our admissions process is based upon merit, so this is a testament to the strength of our undergraduate training in psychology. We are so proud of these students, and entirely impressed by all students in our first cohort who hail from a variety of places. It really is quite a privilege to be a faculty member in the MAPS program with such students on board."

Words of Wisdom
These graduate students have advice of their own to offer to freshman. “One thing, don’t get too stressed out,” cautions Holmberg. “It’s easy to look at the syllabus and think ‘I can’t do all this.’ Break it down; it’s all about time management. In the end, you’re going to be using your education. It’s never a waste of time,” she said.

“One thing I wish I’d known was don’t be afraid to talk to your professors,” Ward said. “They are there to help you. A lot of them will do just about anything they can to help you.”

For more information, visit the Master of Arts in Psychological Science program website or contact Professor Alexandra Luong at

UMD's MAPS program poster


Written by Kathleen McQuillan-Hofmann, September 2014

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UMD News Feature editor, Cheryl Reitan,

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