MA Students

For detailed information and policies about the MA program requirements, courses, and resources, refer to the Graduate Student Handbook.

The incoming student is encouraged to form an MA Committee as soon as possible after entering the program. The MA Committee consists of at least three faculty members. One of the members is the research supervisor; at least two of the members must be in the Department; and at least one of the members must be primarily affiliated with the student's program. Typically, by April of the first year, the student reports the membership of the MA Committee to the Graduate Student Progress Committee (GSPC). With the approval of the supervisor and GSPC, the student can make changes to the committee after it has been formed.

Course registrations are done on the Student Service Centre (SSC) site via logging in with your CWL. Registration should be completed by the first week of classes. All MA students enroll in the thesis course (PSYC 549) plus, normally, 6 to 12 credits of coursework in each year. You must register in the thesis course in the summer session as well, as that maintains your student status.

Most clinical courses are restricted to clinical program students. Clinical students wishing to register for these courses must complete the Request to Force Registration in Clinical Courses form.

Completion of the MA degree requires at least 30 credits (more in some programs). The requirements for the MA can be divided into the following four groups:

  • thesis (18 credits)
  • quantitative methods course(s) (3 or 6 credits, depending on the program)
  • core program (6 or more credits, depending on the program), and
  • breadth (3 credits)
  • minimum coursework requirements (expressed in terms of course credits where a typical one-term course is weighted 3 credits) for each program are as summarized below (effective September 2012)
Programcore programquantitative methodsbreadth
Behavioural Neuroscience (BNS)633
Clinical (CLI)2033
Cognitive Science (COG) 633
Developmental (DEV)633
Health (HLH)633
Quantitative Methods (QM)663
Social/Personality (S/P)6 63

The same course cannot be used to satisfy different requirements. Courses taken while enrolled as an MA student but that do not fulfill any of these requirements can be used, where appropriate, to fulfill PhD requirements. Students are also encouraged to consider additional courses offered in our department or in other departments of the university.

The Directed Studies course can serve as a core program course with the advance approval of the area coordinator and the Associate Head for Graduate Affairs. It is an ideal vehicle for students to study with different faculty and to work in different labs during their stay in the department. The workload is similar to that in other courses, as is the expected grade.  Some rules govern PSYC 547: a) students cannot enroll in PSYC 547 with their research supervisor; b) the grade assigned must be based, in part, on written work; and c) it cannot be used to fulfill the breadth requirement.

To register for PSYC 547, student must submit the registration form (available from the Graduate Program Assistant) and study plan which should include a reading list and descriptions of the intended research project.

Six credits of graduate-level statistics courses are required over the course of the MA and PhD degrees combined. In the QM and S/P programs, both courses are taken at the MA level. For the remaining programs, one course must be taken at the MA level with the other typically taken at the PhD level. For the first course, students normally enroll in the 3-credit course PSYC 545 in term 1 of their first year.

Incoming graduate students who are judged to have insufficient preparation to take PSYC 545 (determined by a background exam at the beginning of PSYC 545) will be required to take PSYC 366 instead in their first year. Because PSYC 366 is a 6-credit course, the number of credits in statistics required for the MA increases by 3 credits. For the second 3-credit course that completes the required 6 credits, students may choose any PSYC 546 statistics course (e.g., 546B, 546E). Note: EPSE and STAT courses cannot be used to fulfill the basic 6-credit statistics requirement.

A breadth course is any substantive graduate course offered by our Department outside the student's own program. By "substantive", we exclude courses focused on teaching or professional issues (e.g., PSYC 508) rather than on the substance of psychology. Please note: a directed studies course (PSYC 547) cannot be used to fulfill the breadth requirement. A breadth course cannot be one offered by another department – it must be from within the department but outside the student's program. For the MA, 3 credits are required, depending on the program. (Recall that these 3-6 credits cannot also be used to fulfill any other requirement.)

Note: students in the Clinical program have more complex breadth course requirements due to accreditation. For more detailed information, refer to pages 11-12 of the Graduate Student Handbook.

Each program requires 6 or more credits of its students, as indicated below. Courses other than those listed (e.g., upper-level undergraduate courses, graduate courses offered by other departments or other universities) may be considered as meeting core program requirements, on a case-by-case basis, if approved by the supervisor, area coordinator, and GSPC.

  • Behavioural Neuroscience: 6 credits – chosen from 514, 516, 517, 520, 522, 523, 524, 592, 593, 594, 595
  • Clinical: 20 credits – namely, 530, 531, 534, 537, 541, 542, and 560
  • Cognitive Science: 6 credits – chosen from 521, 570, 571, 578, 579, 582, 583
  • Developmental: 6 credits – chosen from 513, 521, 584, 585, 586, 587, 588, 589
  • Health: 6 credits – 501 and one of 502, 503, 504
  • Quantitative Methods: 6 credits (beyond the basic 6 credits of required statistics) – chosen from PSYC 546, 500-level statistics courses in EPSE, undergraduate or graduate courses in the Department of Statistics
  • Social/Personality: 6 credits – chosen from 507, 512, 525, 527, 528, 529, 567, 569, 590, and 591

PsychFest is an annual, all-day event during which second-year MA students and new PhD students are required to present their research to the department. Research is showcased on empirical, theoretical, and professional topics. In addition, a speaker is invited to present their research. The proceedings are  accompanied by a luncheon and a post-conference gathering.

During their MA1 year, students should meet with their research supervisor to outline a plan for the master’s thesis. Students from Clinical, Developmental and Quantitative Methods areas are required to hold a formal thesis proposal approval meeting. Students from Behavioural Neuroscience, Cognitive Science, Health, and Social/Personality areas generally have an informal consultation with the committee members; in these areas, a formal thesis proposal approval meeting is optional but not required.

During their MA2 year, after the research supervisor has agreed that the thesis is ready, students can schedule the formal MA thesis defense. At this meeting, the MA Committee makes an evaluation of the written document and of the oral presentation, and assigns a grade (the grade assigned may determine admissibility to PhD program). Students must notify the Graduate Program Assistant at least 10 days before the scheduled MA thesis defense so that an announcement can be posted, inviting all graduate students and faculty members to attend the defense. At this time, a PDF copy should also be sent to the Graduate Program Assistant, who will make it available to those who are interested. The student should select one of the members of the MA committee (other than the supervisor) to serve as the Chair of the MA Thesis Defense. Note that a quorum for the MA thesis defense is three committee members, at least two of whom must be physically present; the third may be present via distance technology (e.g., Skype) but must be able to see the candidate during the defense as well as hear the entire discussion and contribute to it.

A complete schedule for completion of MA degree can be found in the Graduate Student Handbook.  The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (G+PS) provides a pre-submission review of the thesis in order to ensure that the document meets the university’s specifications. See details at their Formatting Requirements page.

Students must apply to be admitted to the PhD program. Admission does not occur automatically when the MA has been completed.  Although we admit only students who intend to complete the PhD, admission is contingent upon quality of the MA work. Application for admission to the PhD program must be submitted online prior to the deadline of December 1 in the MA2 year.

Students continuing from the MA to the PhD program in our Department typically receive an offer of admission to the PhD program that is conditional upon satisfactory completion of the MA degree (e.g., achieving a grade of at least 80% for the MA thesis) by August 31 of the MA2 year.  Students would then begin the PhD program on September 1 of the same year.