Academic Master's or Doctoral in Psychology Programme Information & Application Process

This page is relevant to programme information, minimum requirements, the application process and the concept proposal review process for the Academic Master's (MA) or Doctorate (PhD) in Psychology programmes.
The MA & PhD (Psychology) Applications for the 2025 intake will open on 02 April 2024Applicants are urged to familiarise themselves with the information and processes below to avoid disqualification/rejection.
1. Programme Information
The Department offers two programmes by research, namely, the Academic Master’s (MA Psychology), consisting of a research project in the form of a full-length dissertation, and the Doctoral (PhD Psychology), consisting of a research project in the form of a full-length research thesis.
The difference between the two programmes is that for the MA Psychology, one should show that one can plan, manage, execute and report on an empirical research project. For the PhD Psychology, one should contribute substantially to the field of Psychology. The breakdown of the differences between a mini-dissertation, dissertation and doctoral thesis can be accessed here.
2. Formal Admission Requirements
For the MA Psychology (MA code 01250188), applicants are required to have obtained an honours degree with a minimum of 70% average mark. The master's degree is awarded upon successfully completing a full-length dissertation (refer to the Faculty of Humanities MA Psychology Yearbook for further requirements). Accepted students are encouraged to complete the MA programme within two years.
For the PhD Psychology (PhD code 01264635), applicants are required to have obtained a recognised master's degree in psychology with a minimum mark of 65% for the research component (module). The doctoral degree is awarded upon successfully completing a full-length thesis and viva-voce (oral) defence of the thesis (refer to the Faculty of Humanities PhD Psychology Yearbook for further requirements). Accepted students are encouraged to complete the PhD programme within three years.
3. Compulsory Documentation in support of the Application
All applicants need to submit a number of compulsory documents in support of the MA or PhD Psychology programmes. respectively.
Please note: preparing all the documentation to be uploaded in PDF format before starting the application process is advisable. No documents will be accepted via email, courier, or in person after submission of the application.
3a. The following compulsory documentation forms part of the application process:
  • Copy of full Academic Record (AR) from each university where studies were completed, even if the most recent programme is not yet completed. It is the applicant’s responsibility to submit the final outstanding academic record if still busy completing a programme by 30 November 2024
  • Copies of degrees obtained (if studies are completed e.g., undergraduate & honours for MA or undergraduate, honours & master’s for PhD respectively)
  • Certified copy of SAQA Certificate – refer to point 5 below. This is only relevant to foreign qualifications e.g., studied in USA, UK, Botswana, Zimbabwe etc.
  • Submission of a Compulsory Concept Proposal (link will download to computer) based on the Departmental Research Themes and Focus Areas of no longer than 5 pages (excluding the cover and bibliography)
  • Letter from Disability Unit of the Institution (if applicable, where studies were completed, or if still being completed. Should an applicant have a disability, please mention the specific disability in this official letter)
Example of naming documents before uploading it to the application
  • 2025_Concept_Proposal_Surname_Name
  • 2025_AR_Surname_Name 
  • 2025_Qualification_1_Surname_Name
  • 2025_Qualification_2_Surname_Name
  • 2025_Disability_Letter_Surname_Name (if applicable)
**NB: Applicants do not have to write or upload a motivation for any one of the two applications.
Failure to upload these documents will result in the application being regarded as incomplete and it will not undergo further processing. The required documentation will only be accepted via the UP Online Application for Admission Process. Documents will not be accepted via email, courier or in person.
Inability to comply with or adhere to the instructions set out on this webpage and the UP Online Application for Admission Process will result om the application being disqualified and rejected as unsuccessful.
Applicants also need to familiarise themselves with the General Rules and Regulations of the University of Pretoria.
4. Application Process
Applicants are required to complete the three (3) step process to apply for either one of the MA or PhD Psychology programmes:
4a. Step 1:  Checking Minimum Requirements
  • Applicants must ensure they meet the minimum academic requirements to apply for either one of the two programmes
  • The minimum criteria for either one of the two programmes can be accessed in point 2 (formal admission requirements) for both programmes
  • Applications will not be processed if the applicant does not comply with the minimum requirements, resulting in automatic rejection
4b. Step 2: Compulsory Concept Proposal
As mentioned above in point 3a (compulsory documentation for the application), please note the following:
  • All applicants for both the Academic Master's or the Doctorate in Psychology need to submit a Compulsory Concept Research Proposal (link will download to the applicant's computer) during the UP Admission Application process
  • Applicants need to align the concept proposal with the Department's Research Themes and Focus Areas / or supervisor's expertise
  • Failure to submit the concept proposal during the application process will result in automatic rejection of the application
4c. Step 3:UP Online Application Process
As mentioned in point 3 (above), it is recommended that all the compulsory documents be prepared in PDF format before starting the application process.
  • All prospective applicants need to complete the compulsory Online Application Process to be considered for possible admission into either one of the programmes at
  • All currently enrolled students at UP need to complete the compulsory internal application process through the Student Portal (Student Portal >> Student Centre >> Internal Application)
5. International Applicants
International applicants are welcome and encouraged to apply to the Department of Psychology. However, all international applicants must have their foreign qualifications evaluated by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) before applying to the University of Pretoria for possible acceptance into the programme. A foreign qualification can be defined as a degree completed outside of South Africa, in another country such as Botswana, UK, USA or other. Please visit the Evaluation of Foreign Qualifications (SAQA) webpage for more information. The SAQA certificate indicates qualification equivalence and should be submitted as part of the application process.
Please visit the 2024 Info Guide and, more specifically, point 5. International Students section (pages 17 & 18) for more information, or alternatively contact the international office (details in point 10 below).
Also consult the Library's "Research Guide" page for research assistance.
6. Application & Concept Proposal Reading Process for Possible Admission
  • Note that for possible admission, applications will go through a reading process which will  determine the quality of the concept proposal, and will depend on the availability of a supervisor and the suitability of the proposed topic
  • Supervisors can only take a limited number of students per year and expect students to fit into the research themes and focus areas of the Department
  • The ResCom will continuously screen applications received from Student Administration, to evaluate the applications and assign students who have been accepted to specific supervisors
  • This is usually completed by December of the year of Application
7. Allocation of Supervisor and Course Registration
  • If accepted, the Department will email successful applicants with the details of their allocated supervisors to finalise the admission
  • The Faculty Student Administration will update the Application Status and load further communication via the applicant’s Student Centre:
  • Student Portal >> Student Centre >> Admission Status (outcome of the Application)
  • Student Portal >> Student Centre >> Communications (official letters from UP)
If successful, the applicant needs to accept the offer via the Student Centre and complete the contract, pay the registration fee and finalise the registration process. The applicant needs to then contact the allocated supervisor once registered, to discuss supervision.
8. Enquiries: Departmental Research Committee
Contact Mr Armand Luijk for general information regarding the application process at [email protected].
9. Student Support Centre (SSC)
Please contact the SSC for assistance with online applications at [email protected], as the Department cannot assist in this process.
10. International Office
International applicants should familiarise themselves with the International Students webpage for immigration requirements, special orientation programmes, general rules and regulations, yearbooks, payment information, online registration, the info guide, student cards and accommodation.
If accepted for either the MA or PhD Psychology programmes, an applicant does not have to apply for a study visa or pay medical aid should the intended supervision be conducted remotely/online from the country of residence (by not coming to South Africa for physical supervision). The MA and PhD Psychology programmes lend themselves to remote/online supervision since it is a dissertation or thesis by research only.
The applicant will then simply upload a letter from the allocated supervisor confirming that supervision will be conducted remotely/online, as well as a copy of a valid passport. In cases such as these, where remote/online supervision will be conducted, a study visa is not necessary. However, a study visa and all other requirements from the international office will be required, should you intend to visit the campus (in person) to make use of the library or meet for supervision (in person). 
Please contact the International Office at [email protected] for further assistance or clarity.

Copyright © University of Pretoria 2024. All rights reserved.

FAQ's Email Us Virtual Campus Share Cookie Preferences