Each year, promising undergraduate students are accepted to the COR program at CSUN. Student participation in COR activities begins in July, when students attend the Summer Research Institute (SRI), a research immersion course. This course provides an overview of a number of topics including: fundamental assumptions of research, ethics, identification of research interests, introductions to both quantitative and qualitative research methods, conducting library research, and steps that can be taken by students to ensure that they will gain entrance into doctoral programs. This course is designed to prepare students to engage in meaningful research with their COR faculty mentors.
Upon completion of the SRI, each student is oriented to his or her mentor's research lab. From this point on, COR students are expected to work a minimum of 10 hours per week with their mentors during the academic year and full-time during breaks and summer for the duration of their appointment to the program. For the most part, COR students are permitted to select their mentor.
During their first academic year in COR, students are required to enroll in four honor's courses.
Psychology 490/L: Theory and Method: Quantitative Emphasis. Students learn how to negotiate large data sets, clean data, and to meaningfully interpret statistical outputs. Students also learn how to operate the statistical software program SPSS.
Psychology 491/L: Theory and Method: Qualitative Emphasis. Students learn how interpret non-numerical data, including interviews, focus groups, case studies and material culture, using a Constructivist Grounded Theory approach. Students also learn how to operate the coding software program, NUDIST. Each course requires that students complete a small research project and produce both a paper and a power point presentation.
Psychology 492: Professional Development I: Getting into Graduate School. Students learn how to select the right program, the application process, and preparation for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Students who enroll in this class produce a Curriculum Vita and a Statement of Purpose, complete a sample graduate program application, and take 2 practice GRE's.
Psychology 493: Professional Development II: Negotiating Graduate School. Students learn what they can expect from their graduate program, once accepted. Topics explored include stress and time management, selection of a graduate advisor, the pursuit of grants and fellowships, submission of research proposals, publishing, and a detailed step-by-step analysis of the graduate school experience. In this class, students produce a sample grant proposal and a sample research proposal for the Internal Review Board (IRB). In both of these classes, students benefit from guest lectures by invited professors covering a variety of issues related to mental health.
During their first year in COR, students are also required to attend the Annual COR Colloquium, a national conference in which all COR programs across the country participate. First year students may present research at this conference if they wish, but presentation of a research project is not required until the second year. First year students will also apply for Summer Research Opportunities (SROPs) designed to expose them to research and programs at universities other than CSUN. Upon acceptance, students are expected to attend a SROP for six to eight weeks during the summer. Once students have returned from their SROPs, each will begin planning for their required senior thesis with his or her COR mentor.
Second-year COR students have completed all required coursework. This year focuses students more heavily on self-directed learning and independent research with their mentors. Second-year COR students are expected to develop and complete a senior thesis, present a research project at one or more conferences and to prepare for the transition to a doctoral program. In the Fall, students are encouraged to apply to doctoral programs. During the Spring semester, as students await news of their acceptance, they remain active in research.
Ideally, in addition to having completed all COR coursework, second-year COR students should take as few classes as possible. In addition to working on independent research with a COR mentor, second-year students often find themselves traveling quite a bit to the campuses of prospective doctoral programs for interviews.
In addition, COR students have the opportunity to work with community mental health agencies to manage their quantitative and qualitative data so that they can write grants and conduct program review.
Throughout the COR experience, students receive financial, academic, and emotional support to help enrich their educational path. Students are guided by their mentors toward smart decisions for their future, encouraged by their COR cohort, and offered extensive advising and enrichment opportunities. In that way, COR achieves its goals of facilitating the advancement of students of color to higher education opportunities within various mental health fields.
COR hosts a library of resources on qualitative research, quantitative research and mental health.