Master's Programs in Cognitive Psychology

Jul 18, 2018

There are several master's degree programs in cognitive psychology available from 4-year universities. Find out some details about the program, including usual admissions requirements and common coursework.

Degree programs in cognitive psychology go by several different names but are generally offered as Master of Arts or Master of Science in Psychology programs with a concentration in cognitive science. It is common for these degree programs to require a thesis, and they usually give students hands-on research experience. Learn more about the degree program and some of its requirements.

Information for Master's Programs in Cognitive Psychology

Master's degree programs in cognitive psychology can typically be completed in 1 to 2 years and may even offer an accelerated option that allows undergraduate students interested in the program to take some graduate-level courses. Coursework in these programs usually varies depending on a program's emphasis on cognitive science or psychology, but many programs offer classes similar to those discussed below.


Students in these master's degree programs usually take at least one course in statistics that may be at the introductory or advanced level. These courses focus on teaching empirical hypothesis testing and data analysis skills among other statistics topics specific to the field of psychology. Some of these courses may have a laboratory portion where students get hands-on experience with statistical software, such as SPSS.


Many of these programs include some kind of course that explores concepts of learning. Depending on the emphasis of a program, these courses may take on a psychological or biological perspective. Courses with a psychological perspective explore the principles of learning and how they can be used to solve various problems. Courses with a biological perspective may focus on the actual biological processes involved in learning, like neuronal mechanisms.


Students are also likely to take a course that explores human behavior from a biological perspective. These courses typically discuss how the nervous system affects emotions, perception, mental illness and movement. Some of these courses may even focus on the neurochemistry involved in these processes or place an emphasis on the developing brain.

Experimental/Research Design

Due to the research-focused nature of the field, most programs include a course that trains students in the various methods of experimental or research design. Some of these courses may be taken in a progression with an emphasis on methodologies, followed by a course on the analysis of various designs. Students in these courses may discuss such topics as covariance designs, analysis of variance designs and quasi-experimental designs.

Psychology Seminar

Some master's degree programs in cognitive psychology include a psychology seminar. These seminars explore a variety of special topics in psychology more in-depth. These courses can often be repeated or allow multiple enrollments so students can explore more than one special topic related to their interests.

Common Entrance Requirements

Students wishing to apply to master's degree programs in cognitive psychology usually need to submit the appropriate applications and include their official transcripts, GRE scores, letters of recommendation and resume or CV. It is also fairly common for these programs to ask students to submit some kind of personal statement or writing sample. Some programs require students to have contacted and acquired a faculty mentor prior to admittance into the program. Other programs may also expect applicants to meet specific standards prior to entrance, such as a minimum GPA and/or prior coursework in psychology.

Master's degree programs in cognitive psychology are available with several different names but are most commonly offered as Master of Arts or Master of Science degrees. These programs train students in research methods of the field and generally require a thesis.

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