Current Graduate Students

Degree Requirements

  • Degree Requirements


    Master's Program

    The typical M.A. program requires two years of graduate study and an acceptable thesis (Plan A) or research project (Plan B). The Ph.D. program ordinarily requires a minimum of two or three additional years of academic work, including research leading to a dissertation. In the case of certain applied fields, a year of internship is a part of the graduate program. Students are expected to progress through programs taking about four to five years to complete the Ph.D. degree. An additional year in clinical psychology allows for completion of the clinical internship. 

    The Master's degree requires completion of 30 credits beyond the Bachelor's degree. Included with these is the requirement of four to eight credits of individual research. Part of this requirement may be accomplished in a research apprenticeship but most (or all) of it will be credits for work on your Master's research project. There is one department-wide course requirement: one semester of Quantitative Research Design and Analysis in Psychology (PSY 8l5), or the equivalent is required. 

    Requirement Details

    More generally, degree requirements for each student are developed in consultation with faculty advisers and members of the student's Master's and Doctoral program committees. Their task is to help the student plan a program that best facilitates progress toward educationally sound goals and insures competencies for area of specialization. 

    Each graduate student should begin to develop and demonstrate research skills as soon as possible. Most students start either by working on an ongoing research project or by working with an individual faculty member. In some programs, a more formal research apprenticeship is offered. Normally, a Master's thesis or Master's project develops from this research involvement. 

    Students who enter the program with a Master's degree that includes a research thesis are considered to have demonstrated the necessary competency. Those whose Master's degree does not include such a thesis must show research proficiency in one of the following ways: 

    • A publication, or manuscript accepted for publication, in a reputable professional journal, or
    • A major research paper, supervised by a faculty member, that receives the approval of the student's Doctoral guidance committee. A copy of the paper must be filed in the department Graduate Office after being approved. If the paper must be prepared while the student is here, credit for the work may be obtained by enrolling in PSY 890, Special Problems.


    The Master's (Plan A) thesis or (Plan B) project must be approved by the student's Master's committee and the student must pass an oral examination in defense of the thesis or project. 

    Doctoral Program

    As in the Master's program, each student's Doctoral program is developed individually in consultation with the student's Doctoral guidance committee. University regulations require that Doctoral students complete a dissertation, including an oral examination in its defense, and pass written comprehensive examinations of their major field of study. University regulations require that a student complete 24 credits of PSY 999, Dissertation Research, in conjunction with the dissertation. A student is eligible to take the comprehensive examination, which is administered by the student's Doctoral guidance committee, when the prescribed course work is substantially completed.

    The six graduate programs within our department are:


    There are several Interdepartmental Programs available to students admitted to graduate studies in psychology at the doctoral level. These include the Graduate Specialization in Infant Studies, the Neuroscience program, and the Cognitive Science program. Each of these are more fully described in another section of this web site. 

    Foreign Language Requirement

    There is no foreign language requirement for either the M.A. or Ph.D. If facility with a foreign language is needed by the student for pursuit of his or her scholarly interests, the necessary training can be included in the student's program of studies. 

    Regional Extension Centers, Evening Courses

    Graduate courses in psychology are rarely offered at Michigan State University Extension Centers. Very few courses meet in the evening and it is not possible to complete any significant part of a graduate program in psychology by taking courses in the evening or at off-campus locations.

  • Graduate Student Handbook

    Graduate students are held to the degree requirements (section 2) for the year they entered the program, but should follow all other policies from the most current handbook.

    Program specific guidelines are also in the handbook. 

    Psychology Graduate Student Handbook 2023-2024

    Psychology Graduate Student Handbook 2022-2023

    Psychology Graduate Student Handbook 2020-2021

    Psychology Graduate Student Handbook 2019

    Psychology Graduate Student Handbook 2018

    Psychology Graduate Student Handbook 2017

    Psychology Graduate Student Handbook 2016

Graduate Student Resources

  • Psychology Graduate Student Advisory Committee (GSAC)

    What is GSAC?

    The Graduate Student Advisory Committee (GSAC) is a committee composed of one graduate student from each of the six interest areas within the Psychology Department. Members are elected by the graduate students in their interest areas each spring. The function of GSAC is to advocate for students facing department-level issues and to provide input and guidance as administration develops solutions to these issues.


    How to Contact GSAC:

    If you would like to raise a concern about the department, you can contact your individual representative (see below) or email the committee at


    Representatives for the 2023-2024 Academic Year:

    Nathan Baker (Organizational Psychology)

    Taylor Martin (Ecological / Community Psychology)

    Samantha Bowden (Behavioral Neuroscience)

    Abby Cassario (Social / Personality Psychology)

    Toni Smith (Cognition & Cognitive Neuroscience)

    Anamiguel Pomales Ramos (Clinical Science) 

    Please note that GSAC members are mandated reporters.

  • Council of Graduate Students (COGS)

    Council of Graduate Students

    The Council of Graduate Students (COGS) is the constitutionally mandated student government for all graduate and professional students at Michigan State University. COGS advocates for graduate and professional student interests with Michigan State University’s administration. COGS has a variety of resources available to graduate and professional students, including funding opportunities, legal support, and social events. Please visit the COGS website at the link below or email the COGS office at for more information!

    COGS-Council of Graduate Students

    COGS Resources - Resources available such as Health & Wellness, Academic & Research Support and Legal Support

Well-Being Resources