Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)


Clinical Psychology


College of Science & Mathematics


Steven M Brunwasser, Ph.D.

Committee Member 1

Chelsie Young, Ph.D.

Committee Member 2

Tom Dinzeo, Ph.D.


college; college students; depression; student mental health; students; transition


College students--Mental health; Depressed persons


Clinical Psychology | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Depression is a major public health concern among students in higher education. Prior work suggests that depressive symptoms increase during the transition to college. Transfer students face unique challenges during the transition to a new academic institution that may make them particularly vulnerable. There is a critical need to expand prevention efforts. Research that improves identification of students at greatest risk for developing impairing depressive symptoms, and etiological processes contributing to depressive symptoms could aid in the provision of limited prevention resources. Furthermore, longitudinal research tracking symptom trajectories during the transition to college could help inform the timing of preventive interventions for new students. We propose to conduct secondary data analysis from a prospective cohort study designed to model mental health symptoms among first-year students and incoming transfer students during their first semester at a large university. Our goal is to model the course and predictors of depression severity as captured by measures of depression-related impairment. We propose two hypotheses: (1) depression severity will follow a nonlinear trajectory with increasing severity in the early part of the semester followed by a plateau in symptom change; (2) transfer students will report higher levels of depression severity throughout the semester relative to first year students.