The University of Southern Mississippi was first established in 1910 as Mississippi Normal College with an inaugural class of 876. Forty years later, the college was renamed and granted university status by Governor Ross Barnett. USM is now a comprehensive, four-year public research institution given RU/H designation. The University of Southern Mississippi is located on a main 300-acre urban campus in Hattiesburg just 105 miles from New Orleans. Since 1972, there’s been a satellite Gulf Park campus in Long Beach. Around 14,800 students enroll annually across USM’s six colleges.
Forbes magazine has ranked the University of Southern Mississippi as America’s 215th best research university and the South’s 152nd top college. Nationally, Washington Monthly placed USM 149th for social mobility and 69th for contributions to the public good. The U.S. News and World Report honored USM among its top 20 “Most Popular Universities” alongside Harvard and Yale. In particular, the University of Southern Mississippi is recognized for the country’s 177th best graduate psychology degrees and 124th top Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. Hattiesburg was also declared a top college town by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.
University of Southern Mississippi Accreditation Details
Undergoing review in 2016, the University of Southern Mississippi is regionally accredited at Level VI by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The College of Education & Psychology also has specialized accreditations from:
• Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)
• American Psychological Association Commission on Accreditation (APA CoA)
• Commission for Accreditation of Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE)
• National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)
University of Southern Mississippi Application Requirements
With an average acceptance rate of 66 percent, the University of Southern Mississippi has a selective admissions process. First-year freshmen must complete a college preparatory curriculum (CPC), including four units of English. The GED is considered equivalent to a high school diploma. Full admission requires ranking in the top 50 percent of your class. Applicants should obtain a minimum secondary GPA of 2.5 or higher. USM prefers students scoring at least 18 on the ACT and 860 on the SAT. Following below will require admission with year-long academic support.
For transfer, undergraduate students pursuing the B.A./B.S. in Psychology must have at least 30 credits from a regionally accredited college. Transfers should have taken English composition, math, and natural and social sciences with a minimum GPA of 2.0. Graduate applicants must hold an accredited bachelor’s degree. Psychology programs require at least 20 credits in the social sciences. Admitted Ph.D. candidates had an average GRE score of 319 and GPA of 3.82. Non-native students must score above 79 on the TOEFL iBT or 6.5 on the IELTS.
Before the December 1st and March 1st deadlines, students can apply by sending:
• Completed online or paper application
• Official high school and college transcripts
• Submission of ACT, SAT, or GRE scores
• One-page statement on career goals
• Curriculum vitae or resume (graduate)
• One to three letters of recommendation
• $40 non-refundable application fee
Tuition and Financial Aid
Undergraduates from Mississippi will pay $4,144 per semester for full-time tuition and fees. Non-resident undergraduates are charged $8,579 each full-time term. This includes the $20 student activity fee and $35 capital improvement fee. Part-time undergraduates pay $319 (in-state) or $689 (out-of-state) per credit. Room and board is estimated to add $9,560 annually. Total annual cost of attendance ranges from $20,954 to $29,824. For graduate studies, Mississippi residents are billed $4,259 per semester. Non-resident graduates pay $8,684 each full-time term. Part-time learning costs $426 (in-state) and $919 (out-of-state).
Approximately 95 percent of starting USM students receive financial assistance. Students can borrow Federal Stafford, Perkins, Grad PLUS, or private loans. Federal gift aid is available with the Pell, FSEOG, and Iraq and Afghanistan Service grants. In-state residents apply for the Mississippi Tuition Assistance Grant (MTAG) and Higher Education Legislative Plan (HELP). Federal Work-Study (FWS) and graduate assistantships are limited. VA benefits are reserved within the Yellow Ribbon Program. Institutional awards are numerous, including the Merit Scholarship, Eagle Scout Scholarship, Star Student Scholarship, and Transfer Scholarship.
Psychology and Counseling Degrees
Within the University of Southern Mississippi’s College of Education & Psychology, students can select from six psychology and counseling programs. Bringing together over 100 faculty, the College focuses on experiential learning to prepare mental health professionals for the Gulf South region. The student-faculty ratio of 17:1 means that nearly 45 percent of classes have under 20 students. Available programs are:
B.A./B.S. in Psychology
At the Hattiesburg or Long Beach campus, the B.A./B.S. in Psychology program offers two bachelor’s options for undergraduates to develop their liberal arts foundation into empirical methods of psychological science. The 124-credit curriculum follows APA guidelines for unlocking careers in human services, education, and research. Joining the Psychology Club or Psi Chi Honor Society is encouraged.
M.Ed. in School Counseling and Guidance Services
Fully accredited by the NCATE, the M.Ed. in School Counseling and Guidance Services utilizes a hybrid format of online and on-site courses in Hattiesburg. The 36-credit curriculum includes courses in counseling theory, group therapy, behavior analysis, school consultation, and career development. Students complete two field practica to satisfy Mississippi’s license requirements.
M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy
Consisting of 60 credits, the M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy program trains licensed mental health practitioners for treating mental and emotional disorders in relational contexts. Full-time and part-time cohorts are available for this COAMFTE-accredited degree. Students complete at least 500 contact hours, including 250 at the University Clinic for Family Therapy.
Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology
Housing five start-of-the-art labs, the Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology program follows the Boulder model to produce practitioners who contribute to the science of evidence-based interventions. Emphasizing a cognitive behavioral approach, the five-year program includes at least five semesters practicing in the Psychology Clinic. Previous PhDs have earned prestigious internships with Baylor, Emory, Tulane, etc.
Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology
Boasting a 100 percent licensing exam pass rate, the Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology prepares competent scientist-practitioners for applying evidence-based therapy practices. The full-time program immerses USM students in practicum at the Community Counseling & Assessment Clinic. After dissertation research, PhDs devote their fifth year to an APA-approved, pre-doctoral internship.
Ph.D. in School Psychology
Recently ranked ninth nationally for faculty publication, the Ph.D. in School Psychology is a NASP-approved program modeled after Mississippi’s licensing requirements for applying interventions in PreK-12 schools. Three full-time years of on-campus coursework culminates in a 10-month supervised internship for 1,500 clock hours. The University of Southern Mississippi allows PhDs to earn a concurrent Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).