The Catholic University of America

Master of Arts in Psychological Science

Your Pathway to a Career in Psychology

Set A Course Toward Your PhD, PsyD, Or
Advance Your Career in Research, Business, HR, Marketing, Education, Management and more.

  • Provides access to top-tier research
  • Earn credit in PhD-level classes
  • Faculty dedicated to supporting students' professional development
  • Perfect for non-psychology majors

Program Overview

The M.A. in Psychological Science is a 2-year program designed to prepare graduates for application to Ph.D. or Psy.D. programs, or to work in the fields of research, marketing, human relations, business, and many others. The program is a thesis-optional terminal degree awarded after 31 hours of coursework. Required courses are designed to provide training in a breadth of several content areas including clinical, cognitive, developmental, experimental, neuroscience, and social psychology.

The Psychological Science M.A. program is ideal for students who either:

  • Intend to seek a doctoral degree in psychology and who do not have adequate undergraduate training and/or research experience. As part of our program, students complete a research apprenticeship with our faculty labs or with area institutions. Many otherwise qualified individuals fail to be accepted into Ph.D. programs because they lack research experience in psychology. The research apprenticeship in the Psychological Science M.A. program can provide this critical experience.
  • Hope to find career opportunities in areas related to psychology or want to broaden understanding of the field of psychology. Such individuals may or may not have undergraduate backgrounds in psychology. A master's degree in psychology, with experience in understanding and conducting psychological research, is valued in many different employment settings.

Strengths of the Psychological Science program:

  • 95% of students complete the program in 2 years, with no summer requirements.
  • Our match rate for students applying to doctoral program exceeds the national average.
  • All of your classes are with Ph.D. students in doctoral-level courses. This means that many Ph.D. programs will allow you to transfer these credits.
  • A diverse selection of classes allows you to tailor your studies to your interests.
  • Many opportunities to work as a Research Assistant in faculty labs. Our M.A. students have the opportunity to conduct independent research projects while in the program.
  • Take advantage of being in Washington DC by working as a Research Assistant at local institutions. Recent placements include: Children's National Medical Center, Veteran's Administration Medical Center, National Institute of Health (NIH), National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and many others.
  • Opportunities to be authors on journal articles and conference paper and poster abstracts.
  • Supportive faculty who are invested in your professional development and available to advise you on job opportunities and graduate school applications.
  • A supportive student body.
  • The option to complete a thesis.

Course Requirements

  • Research Methods
    • Research Methods in Psychology (Ph.D. level)
  • Statistics (either of the following)
    • Statistics I (Ph.D. level)
    • Educ 633 Introductory Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences
  • Two psychology foundation courses
    • Historical and Biological Foundations
    • Cognitive and Social Foundations
  • Three Breadth courses
    • One clinical psychology course
    • One cognitive psychology and neuroscience course
    • One developmental and social psychology course
  • Three more courses in any area of psychology
    • a 3-credit research assistantship may be substituted for one of these courses

Additional degree requirements:

  • An M.A. Topic Paper: either a manuscript of an empirical study or a literature review of an approved topic.  Students can also select to conduct a thesis rather than a topic paper.
  • Completion of a written comprehensive examination.

 See the Handbook for a detailed description of the Psychological Science program.


We encourage applicants to submit their materials by mid-April. The deadline for Fall enrollment is June 1, but most admissions decisions are made using a rolling admissions policy in the Spring.

Please use the online application.

Application requirements:

1.    Transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work.  Note: Unofficial transcripts are required for application review.  A pdf scan of an official transcript is preferred, which you will be asked to upload as part of the online application.  Official transcripts will be required prior to enrollment if accepted.

2.    Report of GRE General Test scores is required.  The Subject Test in Psychology is recommended.  GRE scores must be sent directly to the CUA Office of Graduate Admissions from the testing service and cannot be attached to the online application.  CUA's test code is 5104The online application will also ask you to self-report your GRE scores.

3.    Curriculum Vitae (CV)You will be asked to upload a copy of your CV in the “Resume” section of the online application.  The next section of the application, Activities, asks for information that you would have already included in your CV, and can be ignored.
4.  Three letters of recommendation from individuals who know you well and are able to describe with specificity your academic, research, clinical, and/or work performance, as well as your potential in the field of psychology. Note: in the online application, you will be providing the name, email address, daytime phone number, title, and agency affiliation for those writing your letters of recommendation.  CUA will email these individuals and provide a link for each of them to complete a recommendation form and upload their letter.
5.    Personal statement: a two- to three-page statement describing relevant background and reasons for seeking the Psychological Science M.A. degree at CUA.  NoteYou will upload your personal statement essay in the “Statement of Purpose” section of the online application.
6. International Students:  If you are an international student, the Department requires proof of English proficiency via the TOEFL or IELTS test.  If you did not achieve a minimum of 92 on the TOEFL or 7 on the IELTS, it is highly unlikely that you will be accepted for admission.
Application fee:
Applicants with serious financial difficulties, and applicants who would increase diversity in the student body (e.g., veterans and ethnic minorities), may seek to have the application fee waived.  To request an application fee waiver, please email Dr. Brendan Rich,, to explain the basis for your request.
For additional information on the Psychological Science M.A. program, contact:
Brendan Rich, PhD
Director, Psychological Science M.A. Program

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