Psychology Master of Arts (M.A.) Degree
The M.A. Degree offers students the opportunity to obtain training that serves as the foundation for building their own research agenda. Coursework, coupled with research mentorship provided by the student’s faculty advisor serve to guide the student toward increasingly independent work, which is then carried out in the Ph.D. Program. Therefore, it is expected that all students entering into the M.A. Degree Program will progress on to Ph.D. pending satisfactory performance (i.e., the Department does not offer terminal master's degrees).
1. General Requirements
The M.A. degree in Psychology typically takes between 4-5 semesters to complete.
- A minimum of 30 credits is required by the Graduate Division.
- Of these 30 credits, at least 24 must come from coursework.
- A minimum of 12 credits must be earned in courses numbered 600–798, exclusive of research courses (PSY 7x9) and thesis research (PSY 700).
- A grade of B or higher is needed for courses to count towards degree requirements.
- The degree requires the completion of a M.A. Plan A Thesis.
- There is no foreign language requirement.
2. Coursework Requirements
The following provides a guideline of M.A. coursework requirements:
I. Research Methodology and Statistics (6 credits)
- One graduate concentration specific research methodology course
- Statistics (PSY 610)
II. Foundation Courses (6 credits)
Two courses from 2 different Psychology Foundation Areas:
- Experimental: PSY 621, 622, 626
- Psychobiology: PSY 634
- Comparative: PSY 631, 633
- Developmental: PSY 640
- Social: PSY 650
- Clinical: PSY 670, PSY 676, PSY 776
- Community and Cultural Psychology: PSY 680
III. Additional Courses (6 credits)
- One graduate seminar in psychology or in a related field (3 credits).
- One course in graduate concentration area (3 credits).
IV. Research Courses (6 credits)
- PSY 7x9 – Research in graduate concentration area
- PSY 699 can be used obtain research credits. It is not however, the primary recommended avenue.
V. Thesis Research (6 credits)
- In order to gain the required credits, students typically register for 3 credits of PSY 700 in the semester before thesis defense, and 3 credits during the semester of thesis defense.
- Students must be registered for at least 1 credit of PSY 700 during the semester the thesis is defended.
VI. Concentration Requirements
- Final coursework requirements will vary among graduate concentrations.
- Be sure to consult the individual graduate concentrations for any additional coursework guidelines.
3. Milestones of the M.A. Degree
The following provides an outline of M.A. degree milestones:
I. Preliminary Conference
- Appointment of faculty advisor and formulation of degree plan.
- Prior to the end of the first semester, student submits a petition for waivers or substitutions of course requirements (if applicable).
II. Research Topic Selection
- A thesis research topic is chosen in close consultation with the student's faculty advisor.
- Thesis topics are closely mapped to departmental resources, and form the basis for thesis committee member selection.
III. Thesis Committee Formation
The following are guidelines for thesis committee formation:
- A thesis committee consists of three faculty members.
- These faculty are typically core-faculty in the Department of Psychology who hold tenure–track or tenured positions.
- It is also possible to have one member (maximum) from a field of study outside psychology who is appropriately related to the candidate's program of study.
- All members of the student's thesis committee must hold graduate faculty status unless special permission is granted by the Graduate Division.
- Thesis committee formation requirements may vary among graduate concentrations.
IV. Approval of Research Proposal
- A written research proposal is prepared in close consultation with the student's faculty advisor.
- Research proposals must be submitted to all thesis committee members and are subject to revisions.
- Research approval must be obtained from the University of Hawai'i Committee on Human Subjects. Approval (or exemption) may take several months depending on the nature of your research.
- Upon completion of thesis revisions, an oral defense of the thesis proposal is held.
- After the proposal is approved by the student’s thesis committee, the student must then submit Master's Plan A Form II - Advance to Candidacy (available online) to the Chair of Graduate Studies, together with the approval (or exemption) letter from the University of Hawai'i Committee on Human Subjects.
- Students may subsequently register for Thesis Research (PSY 700) credits at the beginning of the next academic semester.
V. Thesis Writing and Oral Defense
- Students must submit a thesis draft to all thesis committee members, which is subject to revisions.
- Upon completion of thesis revisions, an oral defense of the thesis is held.
- After the thesis is approved by the student’s thesis committee, the student must then submit a Master's Plan A Form III - Thesis Evaluation (available online) to the Chair of Graduate Studies.
VI. Completion of Graduate Division Requirements
- Students must submit a final copy of the thesis to Graduate Division. Students must also submit a Master's Plan A Form IV - Thesis Submission (available online) with their final copy of the thesis.
- Note: The deadline for thesis submission varies slightly each semester and is given in the academic calendar of the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa.
- Students must complete an application for diploma and pay associated administrative fees.
VII. Petitioning for Admission to the Ph.D. Program
Admission to the Ph.D. program from the M.A. program is not automatic and the following points should be considered:
- Petitions for admission into the Ph.D. program should be completed in the semester the student will be graduating from the M.A. program to ensure that there is no interruption in the student’s status as a full-time student (which could have adverse consequences for financial aid, visas, and other matters).
- Students seeking admission to the Ph.D. program must first seek approval from the faculty of the graduate concentration in which they are studying (approval procedures vary across concentrations; therefore, students should contact their concentration coordinator to determine what materials, if any need to be submitted to concentration faculty members for review).
- If the graduate concentration approves, the concentration coordinator sends the following to the Graduate Chair: (a) a letter of application from the student, which summarizes his or her accomplishments within the M.A. program and plans for the Ph.D. program, and (b) a copy of the student’s curriculum vitae. These materials are presented to the faculty as a whole, who then vote on the student’s admission to the Ph.D. program.
- If approved, the student will then submit a Petition for Admission to a Doctorate in Same Discipline (available online) form to the Graduate Chair, who will sign it and transmit it to Graduate Division.