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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Science
October 20, 2016
Canadian Excellence

Developmental Psychology Masters (MA) Program

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Students in the Developmental MA program at Laurier begin conducting research 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, Developmental 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 Developmental MA students go on to do their PhD at Laurier; other Laurier graduates have been admitted to prestigious Doctoral programs in a variety of fields at other universities.

Miriam in lab


"Laurier was the best choice for me as it provided exactly what I needed, a combination of great research training, welcoming and supportive environment. All the people here, students, faculty and staff alike are very friendly and helpful. Laurier provides a very supportive environment for its graduate students by strongly encouraging collaboration not only among faculty but also among other graduate students. I am proud to be able to be a part of Laurier and hope to continue my PhD studies here. "

-Lucia Dillon, First-year MA student

Admissions Information

For admission to the M.A. program in Developmental Psychology, a student must have completed a B.Sc. or B.A. Honours degree in psychology with a minimum B average in the last 2 years of study. We encourage all applicants to personally contact faculty members with whom they would be interested in working in advance of their application, but this is not a requirement. We usually make offers of admission beginning in late March. We maintain a rank-ordered reversion wait-list in case one or more applicants from the final list declines our offer of admission.

Applicants to the developmental 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 members in the developmental psychology 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.

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 developmental psychology should indicate "MA program in social/developmental psychology" when they complete their on-line application.

MA Program

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:

  • 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 
    • PS675 - Seminar in Developmental Psychology 
    • PS679 - Research Seminar in Developmental Psychology 
    • One elective from PS660 - Principles of Cognition, PS663 - Principles of Neuroscience, or PS670 - Seminar in Social 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.

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).