What Are the Pre-requisites for Obtaining a Master’s in Psychology?

In order to obtain a master’s degree in psychology, you must meet the criteria outlined by the college or university to which you are applying. The requirements vary across institutions, but most call for the same basic set of pre-requisites.

Undergrad Coursework

Some colleges and universities require individuals wishing to pursue a master’s degree in psychology have a bachelor’s degree with a major or minor in psychology. However, others only require a bachelor’s degree with some psychology coursework. For example, Boston University lists the desired coursework as an introductory course in psychology, a course covering research methods, a statistics course, and two or more content courses relating to psychology. Colleges may value a diverse education background more than an over concentration in psychology. A diverse course load results in a more rounded individual who can utilize their training in a variety of real life situations.


Most colleges require all applicants take the Graduate Record Examination or GRE. The GRE tests your ability to think in ways that your graduate courses will demand. It tests verbal reasoning, quantitate reasoning, and analytical writing. The GRE can be taken on computer or paper and takes roughly three hours and forty-five minutes to complete. The GRE test is administered by ETS. Some colleges and universities may ask for a course specific GRE.

Another test that could be desired is the Miller Analogies Test or MAT. The MAT rates your mental ability by asking questions in the form of analogies. This test takes only approximately one hour to complete and allows institutions to see which individuals possesses mental abilities above memorization and repetition.

It may be mandatory for international students to take TOEFL test to measure their ability to use the English language in both speaking and writing. The four-section test takes about four and one-half hours to complete.


In order to apply for a master’s in psychology, most colleges and universities desire real world experience. Each institution accepts different types of experience with some being stricter. Types of real world experience may include a thesis completed for your bachelor’s degree or work as an undergraduate research assistant. Some universities, such as Harvard, require students to complete specific research assignments under the direction of their psychology staff. Other establishments allow extracurricular activities to count towards your experience when applying.


Along with your application to the college or university of your choice, you will be required to submit additional documents. Typically, you will include a transcript from your bachelor’s degree and the scores from any required tests. In addition, letters of recommendations from academic professionals are often requested. You may be required to submit a statement of career goals, a writing sample, or the reason you desire a master’s degree. Several colleges will only allow individuals that intend to peruse a doctorate access to their master’s program. Many institutions have interested students come in for an interview with department staff.

This article serves as a guideline for the basic pre-requisites for obtaining a master’s degree. However, you must investigate the department requirements for the school of your choice.