The University Stress Scale: Measuring Domains and Extent of Stress in University Students

Helen M. Stallman, Cameron P. Hurst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Excessive stress and poor coping skills can put university students at risk for mental health problems. The University Stress Scale (USS) provides a measure of both the categories of stress experienced by university students as well as the overall intensity of the stress experienced. 

Methods: This study evaluated the psychometric properties of the USS and its clinical utility. Participants were a convenience cross-sectional sample of 2,596 Australian university students. 

Results: Exploratory factor analysis provided support for a six-factor model comprising the categories of academic, relationships, equity, parenting, practical, and health. This structure was confirmed using confirmatory factor analysis. The measure had good discriminant and convergent validity and good internal consistency. A cut-off of 13 on the USS indicates students most likely to be experiencing depression and anxiety symptoms as a result of excessive stress. This study used a broad sample of Australian students; however, further replication is needed to confirm the utility of the measure for students in other countries. 

Conclusions: The total stress score and the categorical breakdown of stressors makes the USS a useful, brief screening measure for clinicians working with university students.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-134
Number of pages7
JournalAustralian Psychologist
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016
Externally publishedYes


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