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Home » Graduate Program » Degree Requirements

Degree Requirements

To qualify for the Master of Arts degree in Psychology, students must:
  • Complete ten 3-credit courses as specified below, for a total of 30 credits, with a minimum GPA of 3.0*


  • Complete an independent research project and present it as a master’s thesis (Thesis Track). This involves proposing a thesis project before a committee of 3 faculty members and later defending the finalized project before the same committee.


  • Pass a written qualifying exam demonstrating competency in content areas studied in the program (Content Track).

To download a copy of the MA in Psychology Program Worksheet, please click here (PDF file).

*Both the Thesis Track and Content Track lead to the same M.A. degree. The only difference is the focus on completing a specific research project (Thesis Track) or survey a broader set of core courses and take a day-long written exam in the final semester of the program (Content Track). Note that many students in the content track work with faculty on research projects, but are not required to write a thesis based on this research. 

*See the Psychology Department policy on academic standing.



Three research courses are required of all students:

  • Introduction to Psychological Science
  • Research Methods
  • Statistics and Research Design

In the first weeks of the program students pursuing the thesis track option are matched with a faculty adviser.  It is expected that students will pursue collaborative and independent research with this faculty mentor that results in a thesis. Those electing to follow the content track will have their progress monitored by the graduate committee. Students may switch from the thesis track to the content track during the duration of the program, but may have to take additional content courses. Students may also switch from the content track to the thesis track during the duration of the program, but may have to take additional research and independent study classes. 

Two Independent Study courses are to be completed by students pursuing the thesis track.  Students in the thesis track work with a faculty mentor as part of the Psychological Science course during their first semester in the program and will be evaluated by a committee (including the students’ potential thesis adviser and the Graduate Program Director) to determine students’ eligibility for Independent Study. Content track students do not work with a faculty mentor but will have an alternative assignment determined by the graduate committee to fulfill the requirements of the first semester Psychological Science course. Students will be notified in writing by the Graduate Program Director if they will not be permitted to pursue an Independent Study course or complete a thesis. 

All students must complete 3 of the following core content classes:

  • Graduate Developmental Psychology
  • Graduate Personality Psychology
  • Graduate Social Psychology
  • Graduate Abnormal Psychology
  • Graduate Cognitive Psychology
  • Graduate Physiological Psychology
  • Graduate Health Psychology

Consistent with their individual interests, students also select two (if pursing the thesis track) or four (if pursuing the content track) core or elective courses from among the graduate courses offered. For example, a student may take one of the advanced core classes as an elective or may wish to complete one of the elective courses listed on the course descriptions page to fulfill this requirement. With the program director’s approval, it may also be possible to include as one of these electives a course offered in a different graduate program, such as the Master of Public Administration or the Master of Business Administration. 

With permission of the instructor, graduate students can take an undergraduate class as a graduate class (and do additional work above and beyond the undergraduate class by arrangement with the instructor). To do this, students need to fill out a G Prefix Form

Click here to visit the Graduate Program’s page about graduating, including the deadlines and forms that must be filled.