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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Science
July 27, 2016
Canadian Excellence

Social MA Program

Students in the Social MA program at Laurier begin conducting reseach with a faculty advisor in the fall of their first year. Over the course of two years, with the close mentorship of their thesis advisor, students learn how to develop their own program of research, how to use new research methodologies and statistical techniques, how to present their work in talks and posters, and how to hone their academic writing skills. Students form close bonds with faculty and peers through small, intensive courses, research lab groups, and weekly area meetings in which graduate students present their current research and receive feedback from the group.

By the end of two years, social MA students typically have at least one manuscript in preparation to submit to a journal, and they have done several poster presentations at national and international conferences. The majority of social MA students go on to do their PhD at Laurier; other Laurier graduates have been admitted to prestigous Doctoral programs in a variety of fields at other universities.

"I chose Laurier because Laurier made me feel welcome and wanted. Even from my first time entering the building people were friendly, helpful, and welcoming. I really felt like I would be taken care of here, and that rather than being a lowly grad student whose ideas are rarely taken seriously, that I would be working together with faculty to think about, talk about, and plan interesting and even exploratory research. I liked the idea of coming into a program that encouraged me to take my research into directions that are interesting and exciting for me, not just what the faculty are already researching. I also got the impression that the department would ensure to take care of their grad students in many ways, such as through providing a supportive environment and encouraging collaboration with multiple faculty members and even other grad students. I also liked that the department is relatively young, and filled with 'up and coming' faculty members whose careers are just starting out and are likely to be very successful and exciting. It's great to be a part of that."

-Megan McCarthy, MA student

Admissions Information

General information about applying to graduate programs in psychology at Laurier can be found here. Students who wish to apply to the Masters program in social psychology should indicate "MA program in social/developmental psychology" when they complete their on-line application.

Applicants to the social MA program are evaluated on four criteria:

  • Academic performance, as indicated by GPA, especially in the applicant’s last 10 one-term courses.
  • Research background, including performance in research methods and statistics courses, completion of an honours thesis or equivalent, and relevant volunteer or work experience (e.g., serving as a research assistant).
  • Letters of reference, which should be from academic instructors and advisors. Letters are weighed most heavily when they are written by: an honors thesis advisor, a faculty member in whose lab the student worked, a course instructor who has evaluated the student's written work and can speak to the student's analytical skills and capacity for independent thought.
  • The personal statement, and whether the expressed interests fit with those of one or more faculty in the social area. Applicants should check the faculty profiles page to determine which faculty will be accepting new students in the current year. Fit between potential supervisor and applicant is among the most important criteria for admission. It is recommended that applicants read one or two recent representative publications by potential faculty advisors before writing the statement.

MA Curriculum

Five half-credit courses and a thesis constitute the degree requirements. Considerable emphasis is placed on developing and completing the thesis. The required courses include:

    • PS600 - Advanced Behavioural Statistics I 
    • PS601 - Advanced Behavioural Statistics II 
    • PS670 - Seminar in Social Psychology 
    • PS678 - Research Seminar in Social Psychology 
    • One elective from PS660 - Principles of Cognition, PS663 - Principles of Neuroscience, or PS675 - Seminar in Developmental Psychology

In addition, all students must complete a  thesis (PS699) relevant to the option they have selected. All required courses, with the exception of the thesis, should be completed by the end of the first year.


Students admitted to the Masters program receive information about their financial package in the offer letter mailed to them. Financial awards vary depending on a variety of factors, including undergraduate GPA. Students typically receive a package from the university that totals approximately $12,000 per year. This financial package is made up of teaching assistantships and Laurier graduate scholarships. In addition to the money offered by the university, faculty advisors often offer additional financial support of $1,000-$5,000 per year, paid directly from their faculty research grants. During their studies, Masters students may also apply for travel awards from the department and from graduate studies.

"The internal funding that Laurier offered me in the first year of my MA was enough for me as a single student to live relatively comfortably. On top of the Teaching Assistantships and internal scholarships, there were opportunities for more funding through Research Assistantships, and travel assistantships for conference funding etc. I was able to afford rent, personal expenses and tuition while still being able to enjoy a break from the student life." -Danay Novoa, MA student

Students who hold a major external scholarship, such as those awarded by OGS and SSHRC, receive the award from the agency ($17,500 for SSHRC and $15,000 for OGS), as well as money from the university for teaching assistantships. Students with external awards are also eligible for a $7,500 Deans Scholarship. Thus, with an external award, yearly funding may be as high as $28,000 - $30,000. Many social psychology students at Laurier receive OGS and SSHRC awards during their time in the program (see current graduate student profiles for examples).