How do I get a Graduate Degree in Psychology?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2018
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An individual who wants to seek a graduate degree in psychology typically has to enroll in college and earn a bachelor’s degree in preparation for graduate school. There are, however, some colleges that offer students the chance to combine their undergraduate studies with graduate courses, finishing their graduate degrees in less time. In most cases, however, a person who wants to earn a graduate degree in psychology must earn good grades in college and take an admissions exam in order to gain admission to graduate school. He may need letters of recommendation and have to complete an admission essay as well. Once admitted, it usually takes two to three years to earn a master’s degree in psychology; those who pursue Doctors of Philosophy degrees (PhDs) may spend several additional years on their graduate studies.

To earn a graduate degree in psychology, an individual has to gain admittance to a graduate school program. Those planning to pursue master’s degrees usually have to earn good grades in undergraduate school in order to have the best chance of gaining admittance to the graduate school of their choice. In fact, graduate schools may pay particular attention to the grades students earned in psychology and statistics courses. Additionally, many schools prefer applicants who have taken and done well in experimental methods and research design courses.


Graduate schools typically consider letters of recommendation and admission exam scores in admitting students. As such, aspiring graduate school students may do well to get to know their professors, so they will feel prepared to recommend them. Likewise, most programs in the United States consider Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. Schools in other countries may not require this exam, but may have other exams or additional admission criteria.

Typically, a person who wants to earn a graduate degree in psychology has to write an admissions essay, which is referred to as a personal statement. This essay allows a prospective graduate student to demonstrate why he wants to earn a graduate degree. It also provides a way for an applicant to show why he is a good candidate for a particular graduate school program.

Generally, a person who wants to earn a master’s degree in psychology is committing to an average of two years of study. Some programs allow students to take up to five years to complete their studies, accommodating those who are attending part time. Often, degree candidates are required to complete a thesis before graduating. Some people choose to go on to earn PhDs in psychology, which may take three to eight years to complete, depending on the program and whether an individual is attending full time or part time.



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