Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology (MSPP) is now William James College

December 2014 

For four decades, the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology has been on an upward trajectory: enhancing the quality of its academic programs, increasing its reach into the community, forming relationships with key partners, and growing to educate and train more of the kind of graduates that the community needs. For some time, MSPP has referred to itself as a 'college of psychology.' Now is the time for William James College to own that label

With more than 700 students and 1,750 alumni, MSPP has approached the size of many small colleges. And, as we embark on a number of strategic initiatives that will set the course of the college for the near and long-term, we are evolving the institution's brand and name to both reflect our educational philosophy and underpinnings and our commitment to providing critical services to our community. Our students positively change the lives of thousands of people dealing with mental health issues on a daily basis. 

Since our founding, an education at MSPP (now William James College) has meant classroom instruction that creatively integrates psychological theory and research with critical self-knowledge and clinical illustrations offered by supervisors, colleagues and a practitioner faculty. 

On October 15, 2014, our Board of Trustees approved a name change and we received approval from the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education on December 2, 2014 to change our name to William James College. This is a transition that fully reflects our mission to transform how mental health and psychology are perceived in the community, as well as the experiential and innovative nature of our educational experience. 

William James (1842-1910), the founder of American psychology is considered to be one of the most influential and innovative thinkers of the 19th century, and he was the mentor to, among others, John Dewey, the architect of experiential learning. William James championed diversity and access to education across race and gender lines;he promoted openness to wide ranging social perspectives; and he promoted a more practical application of psychology. We're proud to attach our institution to James' important legacy.  

Frequently Asked Questions

About Our New Name

Why is MSPP changing its name
William James College has grown over the past 40 years into an institution with 700 students and 120 faculty–and increasing impact in the community. Our new name reflects this growth and our evolution as an institution that is increasingly focused on providing practical education for the next generation of professionals of applied psychology. As the founder of American psychology and a revolutionary thinker in the psychology field, William James embodies William James College's legacy of success and its promising future. 
Is this name change going to change the mission of MSPP
No. The name change will only further reflect William James College's mission of integrating rigorous academic instruction with extensive field education and close attention to professional development. 
How did MSPP make the decision to change its name
Through focus groups, stakeholder discussions, expert consultations and considered discussions among trustees and staff, the need to follow the lead of our peer institutions who were establishing identities distinct from the "Geographical" School of Professional Psychology and securing titles that made their place as institutions of higher learning more obvious. We are also working with professional communication firms specializing in branding, public relations, advertising and higher education.
Why is the name changing from School to College-Why not School to University

We believe the transition from "school" to "college" will widen our reach, better reflect the quality of our graduate degree programs, and help us to continue to recruit talented, dedicated students and accomplished faculty. "College" is a term commonly used to define smaller institutions of higher learning and professional schools such as ours.

"University" does not seem to be an appropriate term for our institution. It would imply that we offer both undergraduate and graduate programs–and that we are bigger than we are. "College" seemed like a better fit both to the Trustees and the Board of Higher Education.

With this name change how will people know that MSPP is focused on graduate studies in psychology

The subhead "Graduate Education in Psychology" will be attached to the name to aid the transition.

What are the goals associated with the name change
We want to ensure that the evolution it has seen over the past 40 years continues in the decades to come. This name change will bring attention to our growth, while attracting the local and national attention we need to continue recruiting top-tier students and faculty.
What is the history of MSPPs current name - and its decision to undergo a name change

William James College has been discussing changing its name for about 6 years. William James, the founder of American psychology and a pioneer in the field, embodies our forward-thinking approach to psychological education. It was a stroke of luck that the name of this historical figure was available and that the James family is supportive of our work. Connecting William James' legacy to our present and future highlights that we are grounded in psychological theory, concerned with the practical application of psychology, interested in social justice and leading the field, just as James was.

Why did MSPP choose this name - and why does it bring a new level of prestige

This name increases opportunities for growth and expansion for William James College. William James was an educator, an innovator, an advocate, and an influencer in his time and beyond—an important set of roles that we, too, have inhabited for four decades now. He championed diversity and access to education across race and gender lines; he promoted openness to different approaches and perspectives; and he worked toward a more practical application of psychology. These are also familiar goals to our community. James felt that scientists and psychologists should work together to understand the functioning of the human mind. His legacy continues to influence current and future generations of psychologists: his book, The Principles of Psychology, was published in 1890 and remains relevant and meaningful today. 

When will the name change go into effect
The name has been changed to William James College. The transitional steps will be finalized as of May 7, 2015, the date of our Annual Gala. A committee of branding consultants, marketing specialists, trustees, faculty, students and staff is meeting regularly and will be in contact with students, faculty, alumni and community partners to make this transition successful. The point-person for this work is our Director of Marketing, Mrs. Katie O'Hare ( 
At the 2015 graduation ceremony will MSPP be referred to as MSPP or William James College
As part of our transition, we will confirm options for the diploma in April. At this time, we are focused on educating our community about William James and his extraordinary legacy. We want to be flexible but to be sure that everyone understands the scope and magnitude of James' work and the potential of his legacy to infuse the work of William James College. There will be many opportunities over the coming months to learn more. 
How will you implement this name change

With an endeavor of this size, there are many moving parts. From changing the website to changing the signs on campus, we are in the planning process and will continue to update the community with more information.

Our name change is also part of a wider re-branding effort: We will be updating our messaging, our visual system, and our print and digital communications.

We will continue to have consultation and collaboration with professionals and experts in this field who will assist us with this complex transition.

 About William James

Why was William James College chosen over the Massachusetts College of Psychology
While William James College requires changing the language used to describe MSPP, this name offers the possibility of generating deeper meaning, and more opportunity for growth and development because of the legacy associated with James. The potential for confusion with other MCP's and 'Colleges/Schools of Psychology' across the country also contributed to the decision to embrace a unique choice.
What is our connection to William James - Why is this new name a good fit for us

William James was an educator, an innovator, an advocate, and an influencer in his time and beyond—an important set of roles that we, too, have inhabited for four decades now. He championed diversity and access to education across race and gender lines; he promoted openness to differences in social awareness; and he worked toward a more practical application of psychology. These are also familiar goals to our community. James' mentorship of John Dewey, W.E.B. Du Bois, Émile and Mary Durkheim Whiton, along with his prolific and influential writings, makes him an ideal figure to symbolize our mission of experiential education and social change.

The James family, upon becoming familiar with William James College's work, expressed their enthusiasm for the match.

William James was born in 1842, but he was so far ahead of his time that his work is still relevant today. A visionary who recognized science was not the only way of knowing, he believed effective mental health treatment needed to include multiple psychiatric disciplines.

James' revolutionary book,The Principles of Psychology, was published in 1890.

How will this name change impact our Organizational and Leadership Psychology programs
William James College's new name will help us to grow as an institution, and will provide us with the enhanced visibility we need to continue expanding our degree programs. James' writings on human behavior and change are as applicable to the work done by organizational and leadership psychologists as clinicians. 

 General Questions

I am an alumn - How will this name change impact me - Will I be able to get a new diploma
We are in the process of confirming diploma options for our alumni and will provide more information in the coming months. 
I am a student - How will the name appear on my transcript
Beginning May 7, 2015, MSPP's name will appear as "William James College" on your transcript.
I am an alumn - How will the name change appear on my transcript

Beginning May 7, 2015, MSPP's name will appear as "William James College" on your transcript. It is standard procedure in higher education for a name change to be referenced and explained on any official transcript that may be requested.

For Clinical PsyD students how will the name change affect the internship application and match process
Students applying for the 2015-16 internship year through the APA and APPIC Internship Matching Program will apply as students of William James College. Faculty who provide letters of recommendation for students applying for match should likewise retain our name in reference to their program/department. 
Will employers recognize our new name - I am worried this name change will decrease the legitimacy of my degree and in turn my chances of securing a job

As part of the plan associated with William James College's name change and branding initiative, we will be communicating the news of its name change to regional and national stakeholders. Rather than narrowing the definition of William James College, we believe the transition from "school" to "college" will widen our reach and reflect the quality of our graduate degree programs. The launch of our new name will be presented in a manner to ensure that degrees are not devalued but, rather, enhanced, and that each will receive even more recognition and respect.

How should I refer to MSPP on a resume or online profile

Our recommendation comes from standard best practices. Beginning on May 7, 2015, when our name change becomes official, the decision will be up to the individual. We recommend stating you attended, graduated from, or were employed with William James College (formerly known as MSPP).

How will the name change impact faculty and staff

William James College is now well positioned to have a powerful voice regionally and nationally as an institution promoting psychological and mental health awareness, access and knowledge. A new name will help it to do this, allowing William James College to be more visible to a wider community; to be understood as a center of psychological knowledge and training; and to increase its perceived stature and value. Our faculty and staff will benefit from the enhanced recognition this will bring for our institution, as well as from an expanded population of students eager to enter our programs.

Where can I find more information about William James and the name change
Our website is the best place to find all updated information on the name change. You can also speak with Katie O'Hare ( from our Marketing and Communications Department. In the coming months, there will be many opportunities to learn more about William James and our name change process. Updates for staff, faculty and students will be included in our weekly "What's Up Monday" email. We will be sending regular updates to our alumni, community partners and friends periodically over the next few months. 

Observations About William James

William James