May 19, 2024  
School of Graduate Studies Calendar, 2022-2023 
School of Graduate Studies Calendar, 2022-2023 [-ARCHIVED CALENDAR-]

Psychology, Ph.D

M.Sc. and Ph.D. Degrees

Graduate training in Psychology at McMaster leads to the Ph.D. degree and is strongly research oriented. The basic approach is that of a research apprenticeship, with the student selecting one faculty member as the research supervisor at the time of application. Normally, the student-supervisor relationship first develops at the time when the student is preparing to submit an application to the Psychology Graduate Program. Students are strongly encouraged to contact a potential faculty advisor and discuss research opportunities with them prior to submitting an application.

The Department provides excellent opportunities for human and non-human animal research in a variety of experimental areas including: Animal Behaviour, Cognition & Perception, Behavioural & Systems Neuroscience, Developmental Psychology, Educational Psychology, and Social & Evolutionary Psychology. The Department also offers a Research and Clinical Training (RCT) specialty Ph.D. stream with the Psychology Graduate Program.

No special training is offered in the applied areas such as Human Factors, Personality Psychology, or Industrial Psychology, and applications in these fields are discouraged. Students are not usually required to complete a M.Sc. en route to the Ph.D., but they may do so if they wish. The general requirements for the Degree Doctor of Philosophy are described earlier in the calendar.


Applicants for graduate study in Psychology normally must have received, from a recognized university, either a Master’s degree in Psychology, or an Honours Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, with at least a B+ standing. Occasional exceptions are made to the above requirements for students with a background in a related or relevant scientific discipline. For example, students with strong backgrounds in biology, neuroscience, computer science, chemistry or physics are encouraged to apply.

First Master’s year

In the first Master’s year, all students take two courses: Statistics and Research Design (PSYCH 710 ) and Contemporary Problems in Psychology (PSYCH 720 ).  Students entering the program directly at the Ph.D. level usually are exempted from both of these courses at the discretion of the Graduate Studies Committee (GSC). It is expected that at least one-half of the student’s time will be devoted to research on a topic to be chosen by the student in consultation with the faculty supervisor(s) and supervisory committee. Each student submits a report on research progress by May 15 of the first year. Continuation to the Doctoral degree in the graduate training program is determined by the student’s research progress and the student’s performance in Contemporary Problems, Statistics and any other courses completed. If these performances are acceptable, students who enter without a Master’s degree may be permitted to proceed directly to Ph.D. studies.  Students must complete Psych 710, Psych 720 as well as a Master’s thesis to obtain a Master’s degree.

Subsequent Years

In subsequent years, students complete:

The equivalent of an additional 1 1/2 full-year courses

Two quarter courses

Additional Information

Aside from these courses, the major activities of the student beyond the first year fall into two categories. First, students are expected to carry out their thesis research and report the progress of this research by May 15 of the second and each subsequent year. For the student to continue in the program this report must show that satisfactory progress is being made. Second, to satisfy the comprehensive requirement the student, in consultation with the supervisory committee, must select one or more topics for intensive study. These topics must not be in the student’s thesis topic area, and must be approved by the Chair of the Graduate Studies Committee. The study of these topics is then taken up under the guidance of the student’s comprehensive examining committee, which includes the student’s supervisory committee and up to two other faculty members with relevant expertise. After a period of about six weeks the student will be expected to demonstrate mastery of the material to the satisfaction of the examining committee, first in a written submission and then followed by oral examination. The comprehensive examination must be successfully completed within 24 months of entering the Ph.D. program.

Students entering at the Master’s level are expected to complete the doctoral thesis and all other requirements for the Ph.D. degree by the end of five years of graduate training. Students admitted directly into the Ph.D. program are expected to complete all requirements for the Ph.D. degree within four years. Doctoral students are strongly encouraged to give a departmental colloquium in their final year of study.

Psychology Research & Clinical Training (RCT) Stream


The McMaster Psychology Research & Clinical Training (RCT) PhD stream augments the McMaster Psychology graduate program, by providing a subset of Psychology graduate students, who are in good standing in the program, with an opportunity for clinical training. The Psychology RCT stream has as its primary objective to train scientist practitioners skilled in core competencies surrounding the pursuit of scientific knowledge and the provision of psychological services. The training model focuses on scientific inquiry, providing rigorous training in research while also providing students with the necessary clinical knowledge to become professional providers of psychological services through both in-class learning and experiences in practicum courses. Following completion of the program, it is expected that students will have met the requirements for licensing in Psychology in the Province of Ontario.


Applicants are asked to apply through the regular Psychology admission process, identifying their interest in the RCT program stream. Enrolment in the Psychology RCT stream is limited and is awarded according to academic excellence, merit and space availability. Admission to the RCT stream is decided by the Psychology RCT Admissions Committee following a screening and interview process.

Entry to the Psychology RCT Stream

Students entering the RCT stream typically begin at the Master’s level. In most instances, students entering directly at the PhD level will not be exempted from the Masters level coursework. Any exemptions will be discretion of the Graduate Studies Committee (GSC).

During the first year at the Masters level students in the RCT stream are engaged in the regular Psychology Masters coursework and must complete an additional course Scientific and Professional Ethics in Clinical Psychology (PSYCH 751). Master’s level students are expected to proceed to the PhD level according to the process detailed above.

The RCT stream is a Doctoral training stream. As such, the stream does not offer a clinical Masters specialization. Students enrolled in the RCT stream and who choose to terminate at the Masters level finish with an MSc in Psychology, as outlined above.

Students must satisfy the regular Psychology PhD thesis and comprehensive requirements outlined above.

The following Graduate-level training courses are required;