MA in Psychology (General Psychology)

Total units required for the MA: 30

Program Description

The Master of Arts program in Psychology is designed to provide specialized education in the field of psychology. With a MA in Psychology, one can qualify for positions similar to those associated with a BA, though at a higher level of responsibility. Advisors play an active role in the planning process, and students are strongly encouraged to consult with faculty on a continual and intensive basis as soon as they begin their studies in the program. MA students can prepare for doctoral study in any area of Psychology or specialize in areas such as Applied Behavior Analysis or Industrial-Organizational Psychology. The Graduate Brochure contains the department application procedures, including GRE requirements and the departmental application form.

Although the program is based on a core set of requirements, the structure of the program allows for flexibility. While much material is covered in regular course offerings, the Department recognizes that specialized study and the development of certain types of skills must take place on a one-to-one student-instructor basis. This includes research activities in the laboratory, field, or library; teaching activities; and volunteer work in community mental health agencies, government agencies, schools, and/or businesses. Academic credit under individualized study or fieldwork designations is available for these purposes.

In the General Psychology option, students can create individual programs in conjunction with the faculty to prepare for employment or further study in doctoral programs in a variety of specialized fields, such as Clinical, Cognitive, Developmental, Educational, Experimental, Industrial/Organizational, Neuroscience, Quantitative, and Social Psychology.

Admission Requirements

Admission to graduate study in Psychology is selective. The Department equally weighs the candidate’s overall grade point average (GPA) and scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). An overall GPA of 3.0 is recommended. When making admissions decisions, the Department takes into consideration the candidate’s combined GPA and GRE score, letters of recommendation, previous (research and/or practical) experience, the candidate’s interest in a particular faculty member’s research agenda, and additional materials as required by each program option (ABA, General MA, and I/O).

Applicants are required to have completed upper division undergraduate psychology courses in statistics and research methods, with at least "C" grades in those courses, as well as a balanced and academically strong group of upper division courses covering at least five different core academic areas of psychology (e.g., biological, clinical, cognitive, developmental, social). The upper division psychological research methods/statistics requirement is met by PSYC 121 and PSYC 102 taken at Sacramento State, or their equivalents at other universities. Upper division research methods/statistics courses from other four-year universities must be reviewed and approved for equivalency by the Department's Graduate Coordinator.

Please visit for information on each option’s additional requirements.

Admission Procedures

All applicants, including Sacramento State graduates, must apply to both the University and the Psychology Department.  Please submit the following to the Sacramento State Office of Graduate Studies:

  • an application for admission—via CalState Apply
  • two sets of official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, other than Sacramento State, should be sent to:

California State University, Sacramento
Office of Graduate Studies
River Front Center 215
6000 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95819-6112

  • Official Graduate Records Exam (GRE) scores (be aware that it takes approximately six weeks from the test date for scores to be forwarded); for more admissions information and application deadlines please visit

At the same time, each applicant must file on-line with the Psychology Department:

  •  a completed application form;
  • one set of unofficial transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, including Sacramento State transcripts;
  • unofficial copies of the General GRE scores*;
  • three letters of recommendation, from individuals who can evaluate the applicant's potential for successful graduate study. At least two letters from faculty are preferred.  See application brochure for link—available from ;
  • additional materials, as required by each specific option (General MA, ABA and I/O).

*The General GRE must have been taken by the application deadline.

Minimum Units and Grade Requirement for the Degree

Units required for the MA:  30
Minimum Cumulative GPA:  3.0.  All units must be completed with a grade of ''B'' or better.

Advancement to Candidacy

Each student must file an application for Advancement to Candidacy, indicating a proposed program of graduate study. This procedure should begin as soon as the classified graduate student has:

  • removed any deficiencies in admission requirements;
  • completed at least 12 units of 200-level courses in the graduate program with a minimum 3.0 GPA;
  • selected a Thesis or Project committee;
  • obtained the committee's approval of a proposal for the thesis or project (as indicated by committee members' signatures on the Department's thesis/project approval form); and
  • taken the Writing Placement for Graduate Students (WPG) or taken a Graduate Writing Intensive (GWI) course in their discipline within the first two semesters of coursework at California State University, Sacramento or secured approval for a WPG waiver.

The student will complete the Advancement to Candidacy form after planning a degree program in consultation with a Psychology advisor and members of the student's thesis/project committee. The completed form is then returned to the Office of Graduate Studies for approval.

Program Requirements

Required Core Courses (6 Units)
PSYC 200Methods in Empirical Psychology 3
PSYC 202Survey of Contemporary Statistical Methods in Psychological Research3
Group 1 Seminars (3 Units)
Select one of the following:3
Seminar in Systems of Psychology
Theories of Personality
Seminar in Social Psychology
Developmental Processes
Advanced Psychopathology
Group 2 Seminars (3 Units)
Select one of the following:3
Seminar in Behavioral Neuroscience
Seminar in Cognitive Psychology
Seminar in Learning and Behavior
Methods (3 Units)
Select one of the following:3
Advanced Topics in Statistical Methods for Psychological Research
Measurement Methods for Psychological Research and Practice
Tests and Measurement
Research Methods in Behavior Analysis
Additional Courses (11 Units)
PSYC 283Teaching Of Psychology3
Select two other PSYC courses (in any combination) from Group 1 Seminars, Group 2 Seminars, or Methods6
PSYC 294Cooperative Research2
or PSYC 299 Special Problems
Culminating Experience (4-6 Units)
PSYC 500ACulminating Experience4
PSYC 500BCulminating Experience 12
Total Units30-32