Psychological Sciences, Master of Arts

Department of Psychological Sciences

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

The fundamental principle underlying the graduate program in psychological sciences at NAU is that all inquiry in psychology is structured by the scientific method. This inquiry is accomplished by proposing and testing theoretical explanations about human behavioral, biological and mental processes. Scientific rigor is essential to evaluate, disseminate, create and apply evidence in psychology. Students in our program take courses that are best suited for their professional goals such as preparation for doctoral programs, employment in health-related fields (including behavior analysis), teaching psychology, or other areas of employment that require research, methodology, and statistical skills. Students may also be able to combine the MA in Psychological Sciences with other certificate or degree programs. We train students to be scientific professionals, to be ethically responsible, to be committed to serving others, and to respect human diversity.

The NAU Department of Psychological Sciences has many faculty members with teaching and research expertise in the following areas: behavioral health, clinical psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, health psychology, industrial/organizational psychology, learning psychology, neuroscience, and social psychology. Or master's program provides applied opportunities in health and community psychology, as well as an international exchange program for students with the University of Groningen, Netherlands, (additional international partnerships are under development). We also have a relationship with Coconino Community College that provides opportunities for second year students to gain teaching experience. We also offer advanced undergraduate students the opportunity to pursue a master's degree (our 3+2 program).

  • To receive a master’s degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses from one or more subject areas, consisting of at least 30 units of graduate-level courses. Many master’s degree programs require more than 30 units.

    You must additionally complete:

    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s). This may include a thesis.
    • All graduate work with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0.
    • All work toward the master degree must be completed within six consecutive years. The six years begins with the semester and year of admission to the program.

    Read the full policy here.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

Minimum Units for Completion 36
Additional Admission Requirements

Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

Fieldwork Experience/Internship Optional
Emphasis, Minor, or Certificate Required

An emphasis, minor, or certificate is required for this major.

Thesis Thesis may be required by chosen emphasis or offered as an option.
Oral Defense Oral Defense may be required by chosen emphasis or offered as an option.
Research Individualized research may be required by chosen emphasis or offered as an option.
Progression Plan Link View Program of Study
Student Learning Outcomes

The fundamental principle underlying the graduate program in psychology at NAU is that all inquiry in psychology is guided by the scientific method, the process of positing and testing theoretical explanations about human behavior. Our mission for our graduate students is for them to master and apply the fundamental elements of scientific inquiry in psychology. We educate students to be professionals and challenge them to be ethically responsible, to be committed to serving others, and to respect human diversity in all its forms. We also are committed to helping our graduate students develop the skills and experiences necessary to be able to successfully pursue post-MA level opportunities, such as entry to a Ph.D. program in psychology or related field or obtaining career opportunities in applied settings, such as health-related or teaching opportunities. Faculty in the NAU Department of Psychological Sciences conduct research, teach, seek and receive extramural grant funding, and publish in peer-reviewed journals. Faculty and masters’ students participate in national and international professional conferences.
Graduate students are expected to apply their knowledge in one or more domains of psychology, such as conducting their own empirical research, applying best practices in applied areas such as health psychology or teaching psychology. Upon completion of a Master’s degree in Psychological Sciences, graduates will be able to: 

  •  Examine core substantive areas of psychological science (statistics, research methods, multivariate statistics) and appropriately utilize these to test theories about human behavior as well as critically evaluate basic and applied empirical research and practice in psychology regarding human behavioral, biological and mental processes.
o   For thesis students, these skills are extended to include the ability to independently design, conduct, and evaluate scientifically based studies that are relevant to a specific area of psychology. Students conduct independent research under the supervision of faculty members.
o   For non-thesis students, these skills are extended to include the ability to understand and apply effective methods of instruction, intervention and/or assessment in applied settings (e.g., health, scholarship of teaching). These skills include students’ ability to interpret basic psychological research and to use scientific reasoning to interpret psychological phenomena. 
  • Demonstrate advanced knowledge and comprehension of the major concepts, theoretical and historical perspectives, and empirical findings in their selected area(s) of psychological sciences. 
o   Synthesize and evaluate psychological theories and methods, and apply them appropriately within their research or application (e.g. health psychology, teaching).
o   Reflect upon the use of psychological theory and research findings to explore their selected focus area, and through these reflections, apply analytical skills to approach and resolve a variety of existing and emerging theoretical and real-world problems.

Additional Admission Requirements
  • Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

  • The NAU graduate online application is required for all programs. Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.

    Admission requirements include the following:

    • Transcripts.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale ("A" = 4.0), or the equivalent.

    Visit the NAU Graduate Admissions website for additional information about graduate school application deadlines, eligibility for study, and admissions policies.

    Ready to apply? Begin your application now.

    International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy.

    • GRE® revised General Test
    • Three letters of recommendation
    • Prerequisites (completed prior to enrolling in the program)
      • Minimum of 18 units of psychology credit including Introduction to Psychology (101); Statistics; Research Methods.
    • Resume or curriculum vitae
    • Personal statement or essay
    • Responses to specific essay questions
Master's Requirements
  • Take 36 units from the following:

  • Statistics and Research Methods (6 units):
  • Area courses (minimum 18 units):
    Select from the following:

    The remaining 12 units needed to complete degree requirements of 36 units must be taken from one or more of the following categories: a) Research, b) Psychology Electives/Experiences, c) Approved Cognates, d) Area Courses that have not already counted toward the Area requirement. The total number of units for the degree must total a minimum of 36 units.

    a) Research (0-12 units):
    • PSY 685 (with a limit of 6 units toward degree)
    • PSY 699, for the research, writing, and oral defense of an approved thesis. Please note that you can only count 6 units of thesis credit toward your degree. However, you may end up taking more units because you must enroll for it each term while you are working on your thesis. (6 units)
    b) Psychology Electives/Experiences (0-12 units):
    c) Approved Cognates (0-12 units):
    Courses taken outside the Department of Psychological Sciences must be pre-approved by the Graduate Curriculum Committee.

    d) Area Courses (0-12 units) that have not already counted toward the Area Course requirements.

    Be aware that all classes are not offered every semester.


  • Please note that many of our graduate courses have prerequisites and must follow a specified sequence.

    Please be aware that if you earn more than 6 units with a grade of "C" or lower, you will automatically be terminated from the program.

  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.