Academic Master's & Doctorate in Psychology

This page is relevant to the Official Application Process and Ethics and Research Proposal Process of the Academic Master's and Doctorate in Psychology. 
Please refer to the compulsory Instruction Letter (link below) to avoid disqualification due to incomplete applications. The Departmental Application Process will open 01 April 2023 and will close 30 Nov 2023 at 23:55 for the 2024-intake. Please consult the UP web for the UP Admission Application due dates.


The Academic Master's (MA) and Doctorate (PhD) degrees consist of a research project reported in the format of a dissertation in the case of the MA Psychology or a thesis in the case of the PhD Psychology. A general rule about the difference between the two is that for the MA, one should show that you are able to plan, manage, execute and report on an empirical research project. For the PhD a contribution to the field of psychology should be made. Click here for more information on the differences between a mini-dissertation, dissertation and doctorate thesis.


1.  Formal Admission Requirements
For the Master's (MA Psychology) degree, students are required to have obtained an honours degree with a minimum of 60% average mark. The Master's degree is awarded upon successful completion of a full-length dissertation (see the Faculty of Humanities yearbook for further requirements).  Students are encouraged to complete the MA degree within two years. 
For the doctoral degree, (PhD Psychology), students are required to have obtained a recognised master's degree in psychology with a minimum mark of 65%. The doctoral degree is awarded upon successful completion of a full-length thesis and oral defence of the thesis (see the Faculty of Humanities yearbook for further requirements).  Students are encouraged to complete the PhD degree within three years.
You can peruse the department's research programmes and topics and are welcome to email lecturers for more information on their thematic research areas.
Important Links to Information:
2.  International Students
International students are welcome and encouraged to apply at the Department of Psychology. However, all international students need to have their qualifications evaluated by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) before applying to the University of Pretoria for either the Academic MA or Doctoral programmes. Please go to for more information. The SAQA certificate indicates qualification equivalence and should be submitted with your qualification record below.
The University of Pretoria is proud to announce the launch of the Centre for Language Learning. The Centre is offering courses in English as a Foreign Language, aimed specifically at international students from countries in which English is not an official language. Click here for more information.
3.  Compulsory Dual Online Application Process
Prospective students are required to complete two online applications, namely (a) the UP Admission Application, and (b) the Departmental Online Application.
(a) Prospective students apply to the University of Pretoria via the UP Online Application page for admission from 01 April and before 30 November (international student application due date 31 Aug 2023) of each year for the following year. An application fee needs to be paid and is non-refundable. Your Psychology Online Application (see below) cannot be considered if you did not apply online. Current UP students need to apply via their Student Centre for Internal Applications.
(b) All applicants for both the Academic Master's or the Doctorate in Psychology need to complete the compulsory Psychology Online Application Form. It is crucial that all applicants read the Instruction Letter (link below) before starting the Departmental Application Process. The instruction letter contains all the relevant links to the UP Online Admission Process as well as the Psychology Online Application Process.
Compulsory Concept Proposal & Research Themes
  1. Concept Research Proposal Template (will download directly to your computer)
  2. Departmental Research Themes & Focus Areas (will open as PDF - you can save it to your computer)
NB: Departmental Applications close 30 November 2023 at 23:55 and the UP Applications need to be finalised before 31 Aug 2023 (international students) and 30 Nov 2023 South African students.
The ResCom will acknowledge receipt of complete application after 30 November and if you do not receive a confirmation email you have to follow up via [email protected]
All applications go through a selection process depending on the availability of a supervisor, the suitability of their proposed topic as well as the quality of the concept proposal. Supervisors can only take a limited number of students per year and expect students to fit into research programmes pursued in the department. There is one selection committee meeting per year to evaluate the applications and assign students who have been accepted to specific supervisors. This is usually completed by middle January of the following year.
Click here to visit the library's "Research Guide" Page for research assistance
5.  Allocation of Supervisor and Course Registration
The department will inform you by means of a letter regarding the outcome of your application. If successful, you will also receive the detail of your supervisor and instructions (usually during January of the following year). You have to register for your degree via your Student Centre (usually before end of March). Should you experience problems with your registration, email [email protected] for guidance. Proof of your registration needs to be emailed to your supervisor and copied to the Departmental ResCom on [email protected]. You also need to make an appointment via email with your supervisor for your first contact session.
6.  Preparation of Research Proposals
As soon as you’ve met your supervisor (usually within two weeks of being allocated a supervisor), you can start developing your proposal on the official Departmental Proposal Template. The Template has guidelines and needs to read in conjunction with the Reader Evaluation Form, which guides you about the information required. You and your supervisor collaborate on the proposal until the supervisor is satisfied that you can go to the next step. All students need to complete the Memorandum of Understanding for Academic Supervision (link below) within two months of their registrations.
Forms and documents:
7.  Reader Evaluation
Your supervisor sends your proposal to the Departmental Research Committee (ResCom). They allocate two readers who have to complete the Reader Evaluation Form within 2 weeks and send it back to ResCom. You and your supervisor receive the readers’ comments, and you have to make changes and indicate how you have addressed reviewers’ comments on the Reader Evaluation Form. This is then sent back to ResCom, who distributes the replies to the original readers. They indicate their decision on the form and if positive, you may proceed to the next step.
8.  Presentation of Proposal
The department has allocated two days in the year to proposal presentations where you, staff, and postgraduate students attend. You have to present a PowerPoint of at least 5 minutes, where after the two readers respond and the audience also can make suggestions or comments. If there are comments, you get an opportunity to incorporate suggestions in your proposal after the meeting. 
9.  Final Approval by ResCom and Submission to Faculty ResEthics
You and your supervisor get a final notice about the outcome of the presentation. If approved, you prepare and submit all documents (proposal, permission letters, consent letters, instruments and the memorandum of understanding) on the online Faculty system. Faculty ResEthics committee sits once a month to consider proposals/ethical applications. You and your supervisor will be advised of the outcome and if necessary asked to make required changes.
Forms to be uploaded and information:
b.  Approved proposal
d.  Consent forms
e.  Permission letters
Enquiries:  Departmental Research Committee
Contact Armand Luijk for more information on the first-time application process as well as the ethics and proposal process at [email protected]
Student Administration of the Faculty:
For University regulations, academic registration forms, or to get assistance with the online applications, please contact the Student Support Centre on [email protected]

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