General Psychology


The Master of Arts degree in General Psychology

is offered to students who wish 1) to prepare for employment, or to improve their current status, in the growing field of health delivery/social services and relevant research institutions, or for human resources work in the business community; 2) to prepare for doctoral level studies. It should be emphasized, however, that the MA Program in the Department of Psychology at NYU is a terminal degree. It is separate from the department's doctoral programs in psychology. Students with the appropriate background who wish to obtain a PhD in psychology should consider applying directly to one of our two doctoral programs: Cognition and Perception, or Social Psychology. [The latter includes a subprogram in Organizational Psychology, and both programs allow a concentration in Developmental or Quantitative psychology]. The MA in psychology is not a prerequisite for any of the doctoral programs. Most MA-level courses are taught by adjunct members of the psychology faculty, but MA students have the opportunity to work directly with regular faculty members both in tutorial research programs and in master's thesis research. Master of Arts students also have the opportunity to participate in the department's colloquium series, where many distinguished speakers from NYU and other universities present their ideas and research results. The MA Program may be completed on a part-time or full-time basis, providing that all course work and either a comprehensive examination or thesis are completed within a five-year period. Most MA courses begin at 6:20 pm and the rest begin at 4:20 pm. Courses meet once a week (Monday through Thursday), except for Statistics, which meets twice a week. Students can begin the MA program in either the Fall or Spring semester, or in one of the two Summer sessions. [Note that there is a separate department of Applied Psychology in NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education, which offers programs in educational and counseling psychology. If an applicant feels that one of these programs is more in line with his/her interests, s/he should telephone 212-998-5030 or 212-998-5555 for more information, or check their web site:]

The General Program

is designed for students who wish to sample from a variety of areas of psychology. It is an appropriate program of study for students wishing to apply for doctoral-level studies, as well as for students who have limited background in psychology and wish to determine which area of psychology might interest them most. In keeping with these goals, the curriculum for the General Program requires sampling courses from the field of experimental psychology (Core A courses), from the fields of clinical, social/personality and developmental psychology (Core B courses), and from courses providing research skills (Core C courses).


The General MA program typically receives more than 400 applications each year, of which fewer than half are accepted as matriculants and less than 5% are accepted with non-degree status. Of the students accepted each year, about half actually enroll. At any one time, there are usually more than 200 students active in the General MA Program. Our students come from across the United States as well as from several foreign countries (especially India, Turkey, Korea, China, Taiwan, Lebanon, Israel, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, and Greece). They range in age from 22 to over 50, with a mean age of around 25; many have academic backgrounds and/or work experiences in fields other than psychology. At least half of the students in the general MA program share a strong motivation to become mental health professionals as their ultimate career goal, and nearly all aspire to continue for their doctorate. A large percentage of our MA students seeking admission to doctoral programs do eventually succeed, but due to the extreme competition, very few gain admission to a doctoral-level program in our own department.


In-depth information regarding a wide variety of nearby doctoral level programs is updated and made available to students wishing to continue their study beyond the MA. In addition, personal advisement is offered by an experienced staff. There is an active General MA Psychology Student Association (GPA) that runs special “career nights,” where relevant professionals in the field share information regarding career paths and the nature of their work, and workshops helping students to prepare for the doctoral application process (in addition to a variety of social events).


Formal requirements for the MA degree in General Psychology include the satisfactory completion of 36 points (i.e., credits). At least 24 of those credits must be taken at NYU, and at least 15 must be in the Psychology Department. One consequence of these restrictions is that no more than 12 credits can be transferred in from another university.

In addition, all core courses must be taken at NYU in the Psychology Department, and students must earn a grade of at least B in all courses to avoid being placed on Academic Probation. Students who receive below a B- in a core course may only count that course as an elective and not toward his or her core requirements.

All of the courses in the M.A. program are 3 points each, so 12 courses must be taken. Students may take anywhere between one and three courses each semester. The program is expected to take two years to complete in most cases, but can be completed a little sooner for full-time students (especially if some courses are taken during the summer session), or somewhat later for those taking courses part-time. A student who has completed all course work, but must stay enrolled to take the comprehensive examination or complete a thesis, must pay a matriculation fee each semester until graduation. A maximum of five years from the date of first registration is allowed for completing the degree.

Core Course Requirements

The following two required courses, plus three courses, distributed as follows: 1-2 from each of Core A and Core B for a total of 3 (i.e., 2 from Core A and 1 from Core B; or 1 from Core A and 2 from Core B). Students may only count either Affective Neuroscience or Cognitive Neuroscience towards fulfilling a core requirement--if a student chooses to take both courses, one course will only count as an elective. All students are required to take:

PSYCH-GA 2016 Master’s Statistics
PSYCH-GA 2126 Research Method’s and Experience

The core requirements for the general program are listed below:

Core A: Core B:
PSYCH-GA 2010 Principles of Learning PSYCH-GA 2014 Psychology of Social Behavior
PSYCH-GA 2011 Sensation & Perception PSYCH-GA 2015 Theories of Personality
PSYCH-GA 2012 Physiological Basis of Behavior PSYCH-GA 2020 Child Development
PSYCH-GA 2025 Cognitive Psychology PSYCH-GA 2034 Foundations of Psychopathology
PSYCH-GA 2026 Cognitive Neuroscience PSYCH-GA 2049 Affective Neuroscience

The remaining 7 courses (21 credits) are fulfilled by electives, at least 9 of which must be taken in the Psychology department. A maximum of 12 credits may be transferred in from other graduate programs or taken in other schools at NYU with prior written approval.

Click here for the full listing of Psychology courses


In addition to completion of the 36 credits, all students must either pass the comprehensive exam, or write an acceptable M.A. thesis.

The Comprehensive Exam: This is a three-hour written test that is given three times each year: October, February, and June. The questions are integrative in nature and are randomly selected from a large study list that is available to all students at any time. Except for rare exceptions, a student must have completed all of the basic and core requirements, as outlined above, before sitting for the exam.

MA Thesis: As an alternative to the comprehensive exam, a student may seek permission to write an M.A. thesis. To be eligible to write a thesis, a student must have passed all of the basic and core requirements with at least a B+ average, and have secured the sponsorship of a full-time faculty member (in consultation with the MA director). In general, an MA thesis does not require that the student perform original or independent research, but that the student make an original contribution to the research of his/her sponsor.