What Is the Timeline for Obtaining a Master’s in Psychology?

From the time a student begins to study psychology as an undergraduate, there is always some thought about earning a post-graduate degree. How much money will a master’s degree mean and how much time will it take to earn a master’s degree? There is plenty of information about the differences between the pay for someone with a bachelor’s degree versus a master’s degree in psychology, but how long will it take and what are the necessary steps to take to earn a graduate degree in psychology?

Prerequisites for Getting Accepted to Graduate School

The first step in getting a Master’s degree in psychology is to prepare for success during the time a bachelor’s degree is pursued. There are few class requirements for a master’s degree
program. Some programs may require a single course on statistics or perhaps research methods, but most four-year degree programs will offer a core curriculum that will prepare a student for a graduate program. Taking writing and communications courses always look good on a transcript as they are helpful in every area of work in psychology.

Applying for Graduate School

You need to first take the Graduate Record Examination. This is required by most graduate programs. How strongly the test results are emphasized is dependent upon the particular university as well as the specific program. After taking the test you will need to begin applying at the schools you are interested in. How good a program is will depend upon the quality of the staff and school as well as the emphasis on the area of psychology. Some graduate programs are better for those looking to become clinical psychologists while others are better for those wanting to do clinical research.

The Time Needed to Earn a Master’s Degree

After earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology, it is possible to earn a master’s degree in as short of time as one year. However, this means studying full time and not having a part-time of full-time job. Typically, most people are working when pursuing a master’s degree, so the time to complete the graduate program will be two to three years. Another factor will be the specific program. There are some graduate programs at certain universities that will take more time than others, but the biggest factor will always be the amount of time a student has to devote to the graduate program.

Becoming a Clinical Psychologist

Although some students use a Master’s degree as a step to getting a Ph.D., others will go into the workforce to become a clinical psychologist. This is possible with only a master’s degree, but there are two steps to take. Assuming the graduate program emphasized clinical psychology, a student will need to serve a certain number of hours in a clinical environment and pass a state examination. Every state has different standards.


A master’s degree in psychology is obtainable but it does take some time. It is important that a student plan well in advance when pursuing a graduate degree and take all of the necessary steps needed to accomplish this goal. Without taking the necessary steps, a student may not be accepted in a graduate program or will be accepted but not able to succeed.