The MA in psychology is distinguished by its emphasis on basic research and the application of research to solve practical problems in families, industry, government, and health care settings. Because of the program’s proximity to Washington D.C., students have access to many employment and continuing education opportunities in research, academia, and consulting within government, public, and private settings. 

The psychology MA offers the following concentrations:

  •     applied developmental psychology 
  •     cognitive and behavioral neuroscience 
  •     human factors/applied cognition 
  •     industrial/organizational psychology 

While the department does not offer a master's degree in clinical or counseling psychology, a master's degree in psychology with a concentration in clinical psychology is available for students who have been admitted to the doctoral program concentration in clinical psychology.

Admissions

Applicants to all graduate programs at George Mason University must meet the admission standards and application requirements for graduate study as specified in Graduate Admissions. For information specific to the MA in psychology, see Application Requirements and Deadlines.

Provisional Admission

Students who are admitted provisionally are required to take 12 credits in psychology and earn a minimum GPA of 3.25 in those courses to qualify for removal of the provisional qualifier. Programs may add other conditions to provisional admission. Individualized study courses cannot be used toward the 12 credits.

Policies

For policies governing all graduate degrees, see Graduate Policies.

In addition to satisfying the requirements for all master's degrees, students pursuing a master's degree in psychology must successfully complete 30-46 credits of required course work. They complete this coursework in one of six concentrations.

A maximum of 6 credits of thesis proposal and thesis research (PSYC 798 Thesis Proposal, PSYC 799 Master's Thesis) may be applied to the master's degree. A maximum of 9 credits of thesis courses (PSYC 798 Thesis Proposal, PSYC 799 Master's Thesis), Directed Reading and Research (PSYC 597 Directed Reading and Research), and Practicum (PSYC 792 Psychology Practicum) may be applied to the degree.

Banner Code: LA-MA-PSYC

Degree Requirements

Total credits: 30-32

Students should be aware of the specific policies associated with this program, located on the Admissions & Policies tab.

Choose one concentration and complete the requirements therein.

For policies governing all graduate degrees, see AP.6 Graduate Policies.

Concentration in Applied Developmental Psychology (APD)

The concentration in applied developmental psychology focuses on child development. It provides basic knowledge about normal development, skills for assessing developmental level, and techniques for planning and evaluating programs that foster optimal development. Graduates are prepared for employment at agencies concerned with educational and health programs for children, enrichment programs for infants and preschoolers, and education programs for parents.

Core Courses

PSYC 704Life-Span Development3
Select one course from any of the following areas:3
Social Psychology:
Behavior in Small Groups and Teams
Personality: Theoretical and Empirical Approaches
Social Bases of Behavior
Biological Psychology:
Neuronal Bases of Learning and Memory
Behavioral Chemistry
Biological Bases of Human Behavior
Cognitive Psychology:
Cognitive Bases of Behavior
Advanced Topics in Cognitive Science 1
Total Credits6
1

Except when this course is exclusively methodological.

Quantitative Methods 

PSYC 611Advanced Statistics4
One of the following3-4
Advanced Statistics
Quantitative Methods III: Psychological Applications of Regression Techniques
Total Credits7-8

Specialized Content 

One to two courses selected from the following:3-6
Cognitive and Perceptual Development
Language Development
Developmental Disabilities
Developmental Psychopathology
Applied Developmental Psychology
Special Topics 1
Other developmental courses chosen with advisor approval
Select a maximum of one course from:0-3
The Psychology of Aging
Child Psychopathology
Applied Behavior Analysis: Principles, Procedures, and Philosophy
Total Credits6
1

When content is developmental, with approval of advisor.

Thesis Research or Practicum Experience

Thesis

The thesis includes a combination of PSYC 798 Thesis Proposal/PSYC 799 Master's Thesis. Per the University Catalog, at least 3 hours must be PSYC 799 Master's Thesis; these 3 hours must be taken the first semester in which PSYC 799 Master's Thesis is registered. Thus, this is generally a combination of 1 credit of PSYC 798 Thesis Proposal and 3 of PSYC 799 Master's Thesis.

Students should be aware of the policies governing theses. They must follow the thesis enrollment policy of the university and once enrolled in PSYC 799 Master's Thesis, maintain continuous enrollment. See Academic Policies.

Select 4 credits from the following:4
Thesis Proposal
Master's Thesis (minimum of 3 credits)
Total Credits4
Practicum
Select 4 credits from the following:4
Psychology Practicum (take 3 credits)
Directed Reading and Research (take 1 credit)
Total Credits4

Professional Seminar

Two credits of 12
Seminar in Professional Psychology
Total Credits2
1

Students should take 1 credit in fall and 1 credit in spring of their first year.

Electives

Select 4-5 credits in consultation with your advisor4-5
Total Credits4-5

Elective credit can be taken via content courses, further practicum, directed reading, or research credits, or further thesis credits (i.e. more than 4 credits). Electives may also come from other departments although these often require permission of the instructor. 

Concentration in Clinical Psychology (CLN)

The clinical psychology concentration trains students to have flexibility to fill the evolving functions of clinical psychologists, including research, direct provision of clinical services, supervision, program development and evaluation, and consultation.

The clinical psychology MA concentration is not a terminal degree. Students who have been admitted to the doctoral program with a concentration in clinical psychology may apply to receive the MA in psychology on completion of 30 credits of course work. Students must also be in good standing in the program, as determined by the director of clinical training.

Foundation Courses

PSYC 810Psychological Assessment I4
PSYC 811Psychological Assessment II4
PSYC 822Scientific Foundations of Clinical Psychology I3
PSYC 860Introductory Helping Skills and Motivational Interviewing3
Total Credits14

Practicum Courses 

PSYC 861Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Youth3
PSYC 862Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Adults3
Total Credits6

Advanced Statistics and Research Methods 

Note: For doctoral quantitative emphases B and C, both PSYC 754 Quantitative Methods III: Psychological Applications of Regression Techniques and PSYC 756 Quantitative Methods IV: Multivariate Techniques in Psychology must be taken, but only one of these courses is required for the MA.

Select three or more courses from the following:10-11
Methods for Social Research
Advanced Statistics
Advanced Statistics
Quantitative Methods III: Psychological Applications of Regression Techniques
Quantitative Methods IV: Multivariate Techniques in Psychology
Total Credits10-11

Concentration in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience (CBNR)

The concentration in cognitive and behavioral neuroscience focuses on studying biological substrates of behavior. Core and affiliated faculty study areas as diverse as neural control of behavioral development; animal models of learning and memory and their disorders (such as Alzheimer's); human brain systems involved in cognition, perception, human error, decision making, and movement; the relation of neural activity to human performance; and cognitive aging. A focus of the program is on translational neuroscience-complementary study of neural systems in humans and animals, including application of animal research to human behavior.

Specialized Content

PSYC 531Mammalian Neurobiology3
PSYC 558Neuronal Bases of Learning and Memory3
Total Credits6

Additional Course 

Select one course from the following:3
Neuroimaging
Behavioral Chemistry
Total Credits3

Quantitative Methods 

PSYC 611Advanced Statistics4
Select one course from the following:3-4
Advanced Statistics
Quantitative Methods II: Analysis of Variance
Quantitative Methods III: Psychological Applications of Regression Techniques
Quantitative Methods IV: Multivariate Techniques in Psychology
Special Topics (Beyesian Statistics) 1
Special Topics (Animal Methods) 2
Special Topics in Psychology (Human Experimentation) 3
Total Credits7-8
1

 When topic is Beyesian Statistics.

2

 When topic is Animal Methods.

3

 When topic is Human Experimentation.

Professional Seminar 

One credit of1
Seminar in Professional Psychology
Total Credits1

Electives

Students complete the 30 credits required for the degree through additional credits of coursework or research. 

Select at least 7 credits from courses below or other courses with the approval of advisor.7
Special Topics (Animal Behavior) 1
Special Topics (Biological Bases of Alzheimer's Disease) 2
Special Topics (Comparative Cognition) 3
Special Topics in Psychology (Cognitive Neuroscience) 4
Total Credits7
1

 When topic is Animal Behavior.

2

 When topic is Biological Bases of Alzheimer's Disease.

3

 When topic is Comparative Cognition.

4

 When topic is Cognitive Neuroscience.

Thesis

A thesis is normally required, but 6 credits of PSYC 792 Psychology Practicum may serve as a substitute if approved by the advisor and program coordinator.

Students should be aware of the policies governing theses. They must follow the thesis enrollment policy of the university and once enrolled in PSYC 799 Master's Thesis, maintain continuous enrollment. See Academic Policies.

Select 6 credits from the following:6
Thesis Proposal
Master's Thesis (minimum of 3 credits)
Total Credits6

Concentration in Human Factors/Applied Cognition (HF)

The human factors/applied cognition concentration trains students in the application of cognitive science to real-world problems. Students gain expertise in such areas as human/computer interaction, cognitive system engineering, cognitive ergonomics, and transportation. Faculty members help place students who do not have real-world experience in a part- or full-time practicum before completing the degree.

Core Course

PSYC 701Cognitive Bases of Behavior3
or PSYC 768 Advanced Topics in Cognitive Science
Total Credits3

Quantitative Methods 

PSYC 611Advanced Statistics4
Select one from the following:3-4
Advanced Statistics
Quantitative Methods II: Analysis of Variance
Quantitative Methods III: Psychological Applications of Regression Techniques
Quantitative Methods IV: Multivariate Techniques in Psychology
Total Credits7-8

Specialized Content

PSYC 530Cognitive Engineering: Cognitive Science Applied to Human Factors3
PSYC 645Research Methods in Human Factors and Applied Cognition3
Total Credits6

Additional Courses

Select two courses from the following: 16
Seminar in Human Factors and Applied Cognition
Advanced Topics in Cognitive Science
Total Credits6
1

These courses may be repeated.

Electives

Students complete the 30 credits required for this degree through additional coursework, including courses not listed above, within or outside the department, with prior written approval of the graduate director0-8
Total Credits0-8

Optional Practicum

Students need an advisor's approval to register for practicum.

Six credits of6
Practicum in Applied Psychology
Total Credits6

Optional Thesis 

Students need the chair's approval to register for thesis. Students should be aware of the policies governing theses. They must follow the thesis enrollment policy of the university and once enrolled in PSYC 799 Master's Thesis, maintain continuous enrollment. See Academic Policies.

Select 6 credits from the following:6
Thesis Proposal
Master's Thesis
Total Credits6

Concentration in Industrial/Organizational Psychology (IO)

The industrial/organizational psychology concentration trains students in the conduct and application of psychological research in work settings. Expertise can be developed in a variety of areas, including personnel selection, training, leadership, motivation, and human performance assessment.

Core Course

PSYC 703Social Bases of Behavior3
Total Credits3

Statistics

Select at least 10 credits of the following:10
Advanced Statistics
Advanced Statistics
Quantitative Methods III: Psychological Applications of Regression Techniques
Psychometric Methods
Evaluative Research in Psychology
Total Credits10

Survey of Content 

PSYC 636Survey of Industrial Psychology3
PSYC 639Survey of Organizational Processes3
Total Credits6

 Specialized Content

Select three courses from the following:9
Training: Psychological Contributions to Theory, Design, and Evaluation
Techniques in Industrial/Organizational Psychology
Issues in Personnel Psychology
Psychology of Work Motivation
Behavior in Small Groups and Teams
Industrial and Personnel Testing and Evaluation
Seminar in Industrial/Organizational Psychology
Total Credits9
1

When their topic is relevant, other courses, including sections of PSYC 592 Special Topics, may be applied to this requirement.

Professional Development

Select 1 credit from the following:1
Practicum 1
Seminar in Professional Psychology
Total Credits1
1

Requires advisor's approval.

Electives

Students complete the 32 credits required for this degree through additional coursework in statistics or specialized content

Psychology, BA or BS/Psychology, Accelerated MA (Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience Concentration)

Overview

Highly qualified Mason undergraduate psychology majors may apply to the accelerated master's degree with a concentration in cognitive and behavioral neuroscience. If accepted,  students will be able to earn a BA or BS in psychology and a MA in psychology with a concentration in cognitive and behavioral neuroscience after satisfactory completion of 146 credits. 

For more detailed information, see AP.6.7 Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degrees. For policies governing all graduate degrees, see AP.6 Graduate Policies.

Application Requirements

Applicants to all graduate programs at George Mason University must meet the admission standards and application requirements for graduate study as specified in Graduate Admissions. For information specific to this program, see Application Requirements and Deadlines on the departmental web site.

Accelerated Option Requirements

While undergraduate students, accelerated master's students complete six credits of graduate courses (chosen from PSYC 531 Mammalian Neurobiology,PSYC 555 Neuroimaging, PSYC 558 Neuronal Bases of Learning and Memory, PSYC 559 Behavioral Chemistry, and approved sections of PSYC 592 Special Topics) as indicated on their Accelerated Master's Program Application with a minimum grade of 3.00 in each course. Once admitted to the accelerated master's pathway, students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.25 in all coursework. On completion and conferral of the undergraduate degree in the semester indicated in the application, they submit the Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Transition Form and are admitted to graduate status.

As graduate students, accelerated master's students have an advanced standing. They must meet all master's degree requirements except for the two courses (6 credits) they completed as undergraduates. Students must begin their master's program the semester immediately following conferral of the undergraduate degree.

Reserve Graduate Credit

Students may take up to 6 additional graduate credits as reserve graduate credit (chosen from PSYC 531 Mammalian Neurobiology, PSYC 555 Neuroimaging, PSYC 558 Neuronal Bases of Learning and Memory, PSYC 559 Behavioral Chemistry, and approved sections of PSYC 592 Special Topics. These credits do not apply to the undergraduate degree. To apply these credits to the master's degree, students should use the Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Transition Form.

The ability to take courses, including ones not listed above, for reserve graduate credit is available to all high achieving undergraduates with the permission of the department.  Permission is normally granted only to qualified Mason seniors within 15 hours of graduation. See AP.1.4.4 Graduate Course Enrollment by Undergraduates for more information.