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. 

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.