Fifth Year M.A. Program

Application Deadline February 1


The Fifth Year M.A. program allows selected students to earn both a B.A. or B.S. in Psychology or Neuroscience and an M.A. in Psychology in five years. Boston College undergraduate majors may apply to continue their studies beyond the B.A. or B.S. and earn an M.A. with the equivalent of a fifth, consecutive year of full-time study. The purpose of the program is to allow students a greater opportunity for concentrated study and research training. Such training is excellent preparation for application to a Ph.D. program.

Application Deadline

February 1

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Application Process

Applications are due by February 1 of the junior year. Students interested in the program must find an advisor in the Psychology Department willing to supervise their research. Students who are studying abroad in their junior year should find an advisor before leaving the country, and can apply from abroad. Students apply for admission to the Graduate School of the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences.

Students apply to one of our five graduate areas, which determines the two 5000-level area seminars required. Students must submit a statement of purpose, two letters of recommendation, and an official transcript. The GRE is not required. Admission to the program normally requires an overall and a Psychology GPA of 3.33. Students accepted in the Fifth Year M.A. program may also apply to Ph.D. programs in their senior year. If admitted, they may choose to go to a Ph.D. program instead of completing the Fifth Year M.A. program.


If admitted to the Fifth Year M.A. program, all tuition and fees are the responsibility of the student. There is no additional financial support available to students in the Fifth Year M.A. program.


Students admitted to the program must take two courses in their senior year: PSYC5501 Experimental Design and Statistics and a 5000-level seminar required by the student’s area. These courses count for graduate credit as well as for the undergraduate major. In their fifth year, students take an advanced statistics course and the second 5000-level seminar required by the student’s area.

Students also begin intensive research with an advisor and complete this research in the form of a Master’s research project.


Fourth Year (6 credits towards the M.A. degree)

  • PSYC5501 Experimental Design & Statistics
  • A 5000-level course determined by the student’s area

Fifth Year (24 credits toward the M.A. degree)

  • A second advanced statistics course: SOCY7703, ERME8668, or the equivalent (3 credits)
  • A second 5000-level course determined by the student’s area (3 credits)
  • Two research workshops with the student's advisor (6 credits)
  • Four other courses (possibly independent studies) (12 credits)
  • PSYC6692 Professional Development Workshop (0-credit, ungraded course)


Advisor and Research Project Committee

Each student is accepted to work with a primary advisor. The student along with the advisor selects two additional faculty members to serve on a committee for the Master's research project. The committee is chaired by a committee member other than the advisor.

Master's Research Project

In addition to coursework, the student completes a Master's research project. The project reports original empirical research initiated and carried out in the Fifth Year M.A. program. Although the entire project is done in close collaboration with the advisor, the student should be the major contributor. Thus the student should qualify for senior authorship on the project when it is submitted for publication (which we strongly encourage). Evaluation of the project is based on the criterion of publishability—with the exception that results need not have turned out statistically significant. The project is to be written in the form of an article publishable in a good journal in the student's area.


An oral defense of the completed project must be held in front of the three-person Master's committee. The student must submit an approval form (Form 4 from the Ph.D. track) by March 31.

Form 4: Master's Research Project Approval Form


Are the required courses offered every year?
With the exception of Statistics, we generally offer graduate courses every other year.

Does a Fifth Year M.A. program student still need to fulfill all Psychology major requirements?

Does the research in fourth and fifth years count for course credit?
Students must begin research during their senior year so that it is completed by the end of their fifth year. However, only the two courses (6 credits) listed above under Fourth Year count as credit for the Master's degree.

Research conducted in the fifth year through Research Workshop and Independent Study courses counts for credit.

Can a Fifth Year M.A. program student participate in the undergraduate Psychology Honors Program?
Yes, students may be enrolled in both the Psychology Honors Program and the Fifth Year M.A. program. The Master's research project may be an extension of the research constituting the undergraduate honors thesis.

Who should a student talk to about this program for more information?
Scott Slotnick, the Graduate Program Director.