College of Science and Health > Academics > Psychology > Graduate Programs > Psychological Science (MA/PhD) > Degree Requirements

Degree Requirements

The Psychological Science MA/PhD is a combined degree. The MA is non-terminal and, therefore, only students intending to confer the PhD are admitted.

MA Course Requirements

The MA portion of the combined degree program requires a minimum of 48 quarter hours beyond the completion of a bachelor’s degree.

Fundamental Courses

Cognitive Seminar Courses  

Developmental Seminar Courses

Social Seminar Courses

Elective Course

One elective course required, taken during any quarter. The elective can be any graduate-level psychology course, or any graduate-level non-psychology course, with permission from the faculty advisor or program director.


Professional Development

Research Course

Master’s Research Thesis

Students must complete a thesis on a topic approved by the department. Research experience is considered an integral part of the training and will begin in the first year. Students are expected to begin directed research during their first year under the supervision of an advisor. During their second year, students are expected to conduct research and complete their master’s thesis. Research experience during the third year might involve a continuation of the line of research initiated in the thesis project.

Master’s Thesis Examination

An oral examination may be, but is not necessarily limited to, a defense of the student’s thesis. 

PhD Course Requirements

The PhD portion of the combined degree program requires a minimum of 28 quarter hours beyond the completion of the master’s degree, including four quarter hours of dissertation research. The following requirements must be completed to confer the PhD. 

Cognitive Seminar Courses

Developmental Seminar Courses

Social Seminar Courses

 Professional Development

Research Course

Areas of Specialization

The psychological science faculty consists of members from each of the following major experimental areas: cognition, cognitive neuroscience, developmental psychology (infant, child, adolescent, and lifespan), social cognition, and social psychology. Students may specialize in an area in which a faculty member has expertise.

Doctoral Candidacy Examination (Comprehensive Examination or Alternative Project)

This requirement is completed after the student has defended the master's thesis and before defense of the dissertation proposal.

Admission to Doctoral Candidacy

Formally given to the student with satisfactory coursework performance who has successfully completed the master’s thesis and passed the Doctoral Candidacy Examination. The candidate has no more than five years from the date of admission to doctoral candidacy to complete the PhD requirements or dismissal from the program will ensue.

Students denied candidacy will be required to withdraw from the program or withdraw after completion of the MA.


Departmental committee approval and acceptance of topic and outline of dissertation given only after admission to doctoral candidacy. Research for the dissertation should normally be completed during the student’s fourth year in the program.

Oral Examination

Student to defend his or her dissertation and to show competence in the general field of psychology and in the area of specialization.

Time Limitations

  • No more than four years between admission to the MA/PhD program and admission to doctoral candidacy.
  • No less than eight months and no more than five years between admission to doctoral candidacy and the final doctoral oral examination; or dismissal from the program will ensue.

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