department of psychology
Application Deadline February 1
The Master's program is a two-year, full-time, research-oriented graduate program that features an empirical thesis, course work, and a close relationship with a faculty advisor. The number of graduate students admitted is limited.
Students apply to one of the Psychology Department's five areas of concentration and receive an M.A. degree in that area. The Master's program course of study (virtually the same as the first two years of the Ph.D. program) is described in the Graduate Program Handbook. Students may also participate in one of the department's interdisciplinary programs.
The Admissions Process is the same as that for our Ph.D. program and is described on the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences website.
The deadline for applications is February 1. Students indicate on the application form whether they wish to be considered for the M.A. program, the Ph.D. program, or both. Students submit a personal statement about the research they wish to pursue and the faculty member with whom they would like to work, three letters of recommendation, a transcript, and GRE scores. Students are admitted to work with a particular faculty member and within one of our five areas. Please visit the concentration pages for a list of faculty members who serve as advisors in each area. Admission is selective and requires approval of the advisor and of the department's Graduate Admissions Committee.
Type of Student to be Admitted
The Master's program is aimed at students who intend to become psychologists but who, for some reason, are not ready to enter a four- to five-year doctoral program. Students who complete our M.A. program typically apply to a doctoral program, including perhaps that at Boston College. (Admission to the Ph.D. program is not guaranteed.)
For example, students with a B.A. in Psychology who want more research experience or who need to find a research focus might find it beneficial to get an M.A. before applying to a doctoral program. Another student might have graduated with a minor in Psychology and therefore needs more psychology background. Students with little (or even no) background in psychology are welcomed. Such students will need to take extra undergraduate courses in their area of specialization in order to be prepared for graduate level work. The specific program of study will be worked out with the advisor and the Graduate Program Committee after the student is admitted.
Tuition and T.A. Stipends
Master's students typically take 15 credits per year, for a total of 30 required credits over the two-year program. Students accepted as M.A. students receive 15 tuition remission credits each year. Any remaining tuition must be paid for by the student. (The Graduate School of Arts & Sciences lists the current fees in their FAQ.)
In addition, all students admitted to the M.A. program are provided with some financial support in the form of a Teaching Assistantship. Students can also discuss with their advisor the possibility of an Research Assistantship, especially over the summer months, for additional financial support.
T.A. assignments are made by the Director of the Graduate Program and the Chair in order to make appropriate matches between T.A.s and courses.
The financial support mentioned above does not apply to B.A.-B.S./M.A. students.
Course requirements are listed in the Graduate Program Handbook.
Advisor and Thesis Committee
Each student is accepted to work with a primary advisor. By the end of the first semester, the student along with the advisor selects two additional faculty members to serve on a thesis committee.
Second Year Research Project
The Master’s student’s primary task is the production of a second-year research project (Master’s thesis). Work on this task begins on day one of the first year. During the first year, a topic is selected, background reading carried out, a research program designed and piloted, and a 2-3 page plan is submitted to the student’s three-person Master’s committee. This plan must be approved and Form 3 signed by the committee by May 15 of Year One.
An oral defense of the completed thesis must be held in front of the three-person Master’s committee (chaired by a committee member other than the advisor) and approved by March 31 of Year Two. The evaluation of the thesis is based on the criterion of publishability—with the exception that results need not have turned out statistically significant. The thesis is to be in the form of an article publishable in a good journal in the student’s area.
The thesis reports original empirical research initiated and carried out while in our M.A. program. Students may not bring previously collected data and use these data for the thesis. Although the entire project is carried out in close collaboration with the advisor, the student should be the major contributor to the thesis. Thus the student should qualify for senior authorship on the thesis when the thesis is submitted for publication (which we strongly encourage).
Two-Year Time Limit
There is a two-year sequence of courses/thesis writing, and students must attend this program on a full-time basis. The time limit of two years will be strictly enforced. On a case-by-case basis, exceptions can be made by the Graduate Evaluation Committee, but only under exceptional circumstances, typically those beyond the control of the student. Students can take a leave of absence due to illness, for example, and thereby stop the clock. According to university regulations, if a student does not complete the requirements for the degree in two years, he or she may be allowed to register for Interim Study (PS888) and continue work without paying tuition. This arrangement can continue up to a maximum of five years, provided that the student is making good academic progress.
Changing Advisor or Area
The student must have an advisor. The student may change advisor and even area. Doing so does not require permission of the former advisor, but only of the new advisor and Graduate Program Director. The former advisor should then be notified once the requested change has been planned. It is the responsibility of the student to find a new advisor. Ordinarily, such changes do not alter the two-year deadline for completion of all work.