The Master of Arts Degree offers students the opportunity to pursue their study of Psychology at the graduate level and to prepare themselves for Ph.D. programs in a variety of areas. It is particularly appropriate for students who need advanced work to strengthen their profiles in preparation for application to Ph.D. programs, or for those who wish to explore graduate level work before making a commitment to Ph.D. training. Note: Students completing the Master of Arts program are treated fairly, but in no special way with regard to their application to the SDSU-UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology.
In general, the program is research oriented. It does not offer instruction in technical skills such as intelligence testing, and does not have a counseling practicum or provide other opportunities for development of clinical skills. There are many opportunities to gain valuable laboratory experience in conducting research, including experimental studies working with human participants. For more information, view the complete list of MA Program Requirements. Upon admission to the program, each student is assigned a faculty research mentor. It is expected that the student will work in the mentor’s laboratory for the first two semesters of the program, to gain research experience and to work toward development of a thesis idea and proposal. Learn more about the faculty in our program and their areas of research.
All Master’s students are required to complete and present a thesis project, involving the design of an original empirical study, data collection, analysis, and a write-up of the study hypotheses and findings. The thesis must fulfill the requirements of the Graduate School, described in the Graduate Catalog. Students take core classes in the major areas of psychology and develop a thesis project through work in a faculty research laboratory. M.A. students may participate in faculty research labs in the following areas:
Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience - Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience investigates the complex relationships between mental events and behaviors and the electrical, biochemical, and structural changes of the nervous system. Researchers in this area examine the role of genes, hormones, drugs, gender, development and environment on motor, sensory, perceptual, cognitive and motivational processes in normal and abnormal populations of humans and animals.
Learning and Cognition - Cognitive psychology studies the mental operations used to encode, retrieve and use information in such areas as attention, perception, categorization, memory, language, decision making and problem solving.
Social/Personality - Social/Personality psychology studies the effects of social and cognitive factors on the way individuals and groups perceive, influence and relate to other individuals and groups.
Developmental - Developmental psychology tracks the growth of the individual. Our program offers exceptional research opportunities in a number of mainstream areas, including infancy, language development, social and affective developmental, cognitive development and biological substrates.
Physical and/or Mental Health Research - The SDSU master’s specialization in physical and/or mental health research is a non-applied, research-and-theory-oriented program in psychopathology and health psychology. Students in the program are NOT given training in assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of psychological problems, though they may do research on clinical populations. The primary goal of the program is to help deepen the student’s background in preparation for application to doctoral programs.