McGill University

McGill University Psychology Degree Program

Address: Stewart Biology Building 1205 Dr. Penfield Avenue Montreal, Quebec, H3A 1B1 Canada

School Description:

Why do students from over 150 countries come to McGill?

  • Our reputation is built on strong academics. McGill’s 21 faculties and professional schools offer programs in some 300 areas of study.
  • Our outstanding faculty bring the latest research directly to their students.
  • Our Montreal setting has it all. Lively and cosmopolitan, Montreal is the second largest French-speaking city in the world. Although McGill is an English university, over 20% of our students are francophone.
  • The name McGill sparks recognition worldwide and our graduates are prominent in every field of endeavour.
  • Our active alumni network provides graduates with contacts around the globe.

Our international reputation for teaching and research attracts the best and the brightest students and faculty from around the world. Choosing McGill is an excellent step in ensuring a successful future for yourself!  

Department History

Undergraduate Program Description


Psychology is the scientific study of the human mind and behaviour. It is both a social and a biological science. As a social science, psychology studies humans in interaction with other members of the same species. As a biological science, it regards human beings as the product of evolution and so emphasizes the biological perspective, comparing and contrasting human behaviour with that of other species.

The data of psychology are collected within the psychological laboratory by the use of experimental methods in the study of behaviour, and outside the laboratory by systematic observation of the behaviour of human and other animals. The combination of experimentation and observation results in a knowledge of human behaviour, and answers questions about how we perceive the world, learn, achieve goals, react to stress, deal with frustration and interact with other people. Experimental laboratory techniques, observation procedures, measurement, and statistical methods are important tools of the psychologist in the study of behaviour.

Psychology has many interdisciplinary aspects. The study of psychological problems often involves knowledge drawn from other disciplines such as biology, physiology, linguistics, sociology, philosophy, and mathematics. For this reason a student with varied interests can frequently find a place for these interests in psychology.

Although a number of undergraduate courses in psychology have applied implications, applied training is in no way the purpose of the undergraduate curriculum. The purpose of that curriculum is to introduce the student to an understanding of the basic core of psychological knowledge, theory, and method, regardless of questions of practical application.

The B.A. or B.Sc. with a major or honours degree in psychology is not a professional qualification. It does not qualify the individual to carry on professional work in psychology. At the present time, the minimum requirement for membership in the Order of Psychologists, the professional association governing the work of psychologists in the province of Quebec, is a Doctoral Degree, either Psy.D or Ph.D.  Undergraduate courses in psychology may prove of considerable value to students planning careers in professional fields other than psychology, such as medicine, law, education, social work, communication disorders, or business and industry.

Students who are interested in psychology as a career must pursue graduate studies. Persons who hold graduate degrees in psychology, usually the Ph.D., may find employment in universities, research institutes, hospitals, community agencies, government departments, large corporations, or may act as self employed consultants. At the graduate level, psychology has many specialized branches including social psychology, physiological psychology, experimental psychology, clinical psychology, child psychology, industrial psychology, community psychology, educational psychology, and others.

Although requirements for admission to graduate studies in psychology vary from one university to another, both the honours and major degrees in psychology may qualify the student for admission to many graduate schools, provided of course that the appropriate courses are taken and that sufficiently high grades are obtained.

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Recommended Background for students entering the Bachelor of Science Programs

Students entering the Bachelor of Science programs (major, honours and faculty program) in Psychology are expected to have completed the following courses in college or during the freshman year of university:

Course Title McGill Course Number CEGEP Course Number
Introduction to Psychology PSYC 100 350-101 or 350-102
Introductory Statistics PSYC 204 (or equivalent) 201-307** or 201-337**
Biology BIOL 111 or BIO 112 CEGEP objective 00UK, 00XU, Biology 301 or 401 or equivalent

Students who have not completed the recommended background will be required to register for these courses during the first year at McGill. In this case, the background courses will be taken as corequisites, along with all other U1 requirements. Students will receive elective credit for any background courses which must be completed at McGill.

** Students must obtain a minimum grade of 75% in the CEGEP math course in order to be exempt from PSYC 204 at McGill. Students who have received a grade lower than 75% will be required to register for PSYC 204 in the first year at McGill. These students will receive elective credit for PSYC 204.

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Recommended Background for Students Entering the Bachelor of Arts Programs

Students entering the Bachelor of Arts programs (major, honours and faculty program) in Psychology are expected to have completed the following courses in college or during the freshman year of university:

Course Title McGill Course Number CEGEP Course Number
Introduction to Psychology PSYC 100 350-101 or 350-102
Biology BIO 115 or BIOL 111 or BIO 112 CEGEP objective 00UK, 00XU General Biology 1 or 2
or Human Biology 1 or 2 or

Students who have not completed the recommended background will be required to register for these courses during the first year at McGill. In this case, the background courses will be taken as corequisites, along with all other U1 requirements. Students will receive elective credit for any background courses which must be completed at McGill.

Arts OASIS (Office of Advising and Student Information Services): The Arts OASIS website provides Arts students with general academic information and advice about issues such as faculty and degree requirements, registration issues, inter-faculty transfer, study away, academic standing, or graduation. In addition to advising students about such issues, either by appointment or on a daily drop-in basis, the Arts OASIS Faculty advisers offer a number of information sessions every term, such as degree planning workshops, study away workshops, and freshman information sessions. For more information, please click here.

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Information Meeting for New Students

All new students entering the Psychology undergraduate program are required to attend an Information Meeting prior to registration.

Newly admitted students from CEGEPs should attend the information session on Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 in room N2/2 in the Stewart Biology Building. The one for students in the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Arts and Science will be at 10:00am and the one for students in the Faculty of Science will be at 11:30am. If you are unable to attend this session, please attend the identical one offered in August.

Students who have been accepted into a Bachelor of Science program in Psychology must attend the meeting on Wednesday, August 28th, 2013 at 11:30am in room N2/2 in the Stewart Biology Building.

Students accepted into a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Arts and Science program and who intend to pursue a Major Concentration in Psychology must attend the meeting on Wednesday, August 28th, 2013 at 10:00am in room N2/2 in the Stewart Biology Building.

At this meeting, the Academic Adviser will explain the requirements of the Department’s programs. Incoming students will have an opportunity to ask questions and receive advice on how to plan their courses. After this meeting students will make appointments for individual advising sessions.

For students entering the Psychology program in the January are encouraged to call the academic advisor, in December to clarify their course selections.

Entering students must bring their Letter of Acceptance, a copy of their collegial or university transcript(s), and the McGill Undergraduate Calendar.

MINERVA Form Approval

All students, new and returning, must fill out a MINERVA form listing their course selections for the whole year before they can officially register with the University. In order to have the MINERVA form approved by an advisor, students must bring their (1) Acceptance Letter and (2) a copy of their college or university grades to be left with the student’s advisor. Returning students must bring a copy of their Report of Standing.

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Important Information Regarding Elective Courses for Students in the Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of ScienceSelected courses in other faculties (e.g. management, education, engineering, etc.) may also be chosen consistent with the regulations of the student’s home faculty (either Arts or Science). For further information regarding courses outside the faculties of Arts and Science, please consult the Student Affairs Office and select the link for your faculty (Arts or Science). Failure to do so may result in you not receiving credit for a course. The MINERVA registration system is not programmed to prevent students from registering for courses which have not been approved for credit. Therefore, do not assume that you will receive credit for a course simply because “MINERVA let you register”. MINERVA is a machine, it does not have that kind of decision making capability . Furthermore, do not ask your friends if you can take a course for credit… no matter how smart your friends are, this is not their area of responsibility, and they may be mistaken. Do not assume that because they took it, so can you. The list of approved courses may change, or people’s circumstances may be different. Do not assume that because you see other psychology students in the class, then it must be approved. How do you know that they checked the list? Finally, do not ask the professor of the course, since this is a rule of the faculty of Science or Arts, and it is not the professor’s responsibility to be aware of whether or not the course is approved for you. He or she simply may not know. The only way to ensure that you will receive credit for a course in a faculty outside of Arts or Science is to check the web page indicated above.
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Grade Requirements

Students must obtain a minimum grade of C in all courses required by their program. A grade lower than C may be made up by taking another equivalent course, by successfully writing a supplemental examination (if there is one), or by repeating the course. Honours students are normally expected to obtain a grade of B or better in their Honours courses.

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Undergraduate Course ListsList A and List B

The study of psychology covers many fields. To develop a breadth of understanding in psychology, students are expected to obtain knowledge beyond the introductory level in two or more areas of psychology. To ensure this requirement is met, Psychology courses are divided into two lists. List A covers the areas of behavioural neuroscience, cognition and quantitative methods. List B covers social, health and developmental psychology.

List A (Behavioural Neuroscience, Cognition and Quantitative Methods)
301 Learning
302 The Psychology of Pain
308 Behavioural Neuroscience 1
310 Intelligence
311 Human Cognition and the Brain
315 Computational Psychology
317 Genes and Behaviour
318 Behavioural Neuroscience 2
329 Introduction to Auditory Cognition
340 The Psychology of Language
341 Psychology of Bilingualism
342 Hormones and Behaviour
352 Cognitive Psychology Laboratory
353 Laboratory in Human Perception
403 Modern Psychology in Historical Perspective
406 Psychological Tests
410 Special Topics in Neuropsychology
413 Cognitive Development
427 Sensorimotor Behavior
451 Human Factors Research and Techniques
470 Memory and Brain
502 Psychoneuroendocrinology
506 Cognitive Neuroscience of Attention
510 Statistical Analysis of Tests
522 Neurochemistry and Behaviour
526 Advances in Visual Perception
529 Music Cognition
531 Structural Equation Models
532 Cognitive Science
536 Correlational Techniques
537 Advanced Seminar in Psychology of Language
541 Multilevel Modeling
545 Topics in Language Acquisition
561 Methods: Developmental Psycholinguistics
562 Measurement of Psych. Processes 

List B (Social, Health and Developmental Psychology)
304 Child Development
316 Psychology of Deafness
331 Inter-Group Relations
332 Introduction to Personality
333 Personality and Social Psychology
337 Intro: Abnormal Psychology 1
338 Intro: Abnormal Psychology 2
343 Language Acquisition in Children
351 Research Methods in Social Psychology
408 Principles of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
412 Deviations in Child Development
414 Social Development
416 Topics in Child Development
429 Health Psychology
436 Human Sexuality and its Problems
471 Human Motivation
473 Social Cognition and the Self
474 Interpersonal Relationships
491 Advanced Study in Behavioural Disorder (6 credits)
507 Emotions, Stress and Illness
509 Diverse Clinical Populations: Poverty and Psychopathology
511 Infant Competence
512 Advanced Personality Seminar
528 Vulnerability to depression
530 Applied Topics in Deafness
533 International Health Psychology
535 Advanced Topics in Social Psychology

Unclassified Courses
395 Psychology Research Project 1
450 Research Project and Seminar (9 credits)
488 Special Topics Seminar
492 Seminar in Special Topics 1
493 Seminar in Special Topics 2
494 Psychology Research Project (9 credits)
495 Psychology Research Project 2
499 Reading Project

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Graduate Study

The B.A. or B.Sc. program in Psychology does not provide professional training. The undergraduate degree is intended to give the student a general academic background. Those who are interested in practicing psychology professionally in Quebec must obtain a graduate degree, preferably the Ph.D. Most graduate schools require not only a record of high achievement, but also adequate performance on entrance examinations such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and/or the Miller Analogies Test (MAT), as well as letters of recommendation. Before entering their final year, students are advised to take these tests. Experience with psychological research will enhance your chances of being accepted into many graduate programs. Major students should take either PSYC 450D1/450D2, PSYC 395, PSYC 494D1/D2 or PSYC 495. Students in the honours program will complete at least one research projects in U2 and/or U3. However, it is important to remember that admission to graduate studies is highly competitive and that no degree guarantees entry to advanced study. You could improve your chances by applying to a variety of universities and programs. Bear in mind that the admissions process varies from University to University. At McGill, for example, each staff member examine applications in his or her area of interest and may propose one or more candidates. Potential candidates are then discussed by the entire staff and a final decision regarding acceptances is made by the department as a whole.

Admission to the Graduate Program in Psychology (PhD degree) at McGill is highly competitive. Approximately 20 new students have been accepted out of 230 or so applicants each year for the past few years. Students who are completing, or have completed undergraduate courses in the McGill Department of Psychology may submit applications in the general competition for admission. Before applying to McGill, however, students should consider two advantages in pursuing a graduate degree elsewhere: 1) the likelihood of being exposed to new approaches to your field; 2) the self-development that comes from succeeding in a new academic environment.

Handouts prepared by the Department of Psychology concerning applications to graduate school are available in the Department of Psychology Undergraduate Office, N7/9, Stewart Biological Sciences Building. These contain detailed information about applying to graduate schools, as well as information about potential problems. They are designed to aid students who are serious about pursuing graduate studies in psychology. Further information about advanced study in psychology may be obtained from the Directories of the American Psychological Association or the Canadian Psychological Association. These are usually on sale at the University Bookstore and, along with other useful material, may also be borrowed from the Advising Office. In addition, meetings designed to help students plan for graduate study in psychology are held in the Department each fall. Ask in the Advising Office for the dates. Interested students are encouraged to consult the following world wide web pages: Canadian Psychological Association American Psychology Association,
The Psychology Web Psychology Department McGill University.

Government Agencies

Note: To be eligible for the following graduate fellowships, students must be registered full-time (24 credits). To be eligible for Psychology undergraduate prizes and scholarships, students must be registered for 27 credits or more.

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Post Graduate Scholarships for full support are awarded to Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada. These awards are mainly for students in experimental psychology, but some areas of clinical psychology are also funded. The deadline in departments for applications is the end of September of the academic year before the one for which support is sought, however if the agency’s official deadline is different from what is given here, the department will conform to the official date.

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) SSHRC offers doctoral fellowships to Canadian citizens or permanent residents who are already enrolled in or have completed at least 1 year of graduate studies. They support students in social psychology, clinical psychology, and psycholinguistics. The deadline in departments for applications is the end of September of the academic year before the one for which support is sought, however if the agency’s official deadline is different from what is given here, the department will conform to the official date.

Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) MRC studentships are awarded to individuals who have completed 12 months of a Masters, PhD, or other professional degree health-related fields, including some areas of psychology. Applications are submitted by the student directly to MRC by October 1st.

Provincial Government Scholarships (FCAR-FRSQ) Most provincial governments in Canada provide postgraduate scholarships for full support to current residents of their province. Most of these awards are tenable anywhere. The deadline is usually sometime before the end of September of the academic year before the one for which support is sought, if the agency’s official deadline is different from what is given here, the department will conform to the official date. 

Graduate Program Description

When completing the online application form and you are applying to the clinical program, select PhD-T.

When completing the online application form and you are applying to the experimental program, select Masters of Arts or Masters of Science. Should you have completed or will complete a Master’s degree, select PhD-T.


McGill University is located in downtown Montreal, a cosmopolitan city with diverse linguistic and cultural groups. McGill is an English-language institution with a long and distinguished history in Quebec and Canada. The Department of Psychology is one of the oldest and best known in North America. The department enjoys extensive professional ties with other institutions in Montreal, including English and French universities, schools, hospitals, and social service centres.

The Department of Psychology offers two full-time, research-intensive graduate program tracks, ultimately leading to a PhD: a program in Experimental Psychologyand a program in Clinical Psychology.

  • In the Experimental Program, students wishing to pursue a PhD are either admitted into a Master’s program (MA or MSc) or, if their GPA permits, directly into the PhD program.
  • If students are admitted into a Master’s program they either (a) complete the Master’s degree and then enter the PhD program or (b) fast-track into the PhD program after undergoing a formal evaluation and admission process.
  • In the Clinical Program both research and clinical training are combined. Students are typically admitted directly from a Bachelor’s degree to the PhD program. The Clinical Program is fully accredited by the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) and the American Psychological Association (APA) and is a member of the Academy of Clinical Science.

The following six research areas are well represented in the department:

(a) cognition-language-perception
(b) behavioral neuroscience
(c) developmental psychology
(d) social-personality psychology
(e) health psychology
(f) quantitative-modeling psychology

The department does not offer programs in industrial, managerial, or consumer psychology, or in counseling or educational psychology. Please note that the Faculty of Management offers a PhD in administration with a concentration in organizational behavior. Additionally, the Faculty of Education offers graduate degrees in counseling and educational psychology.

There are approximately 110 graduate students in the department, and 10-20 new students begin study each year. The department only accepts students who are planning to pursue their PhD degree with full time study. Applications for part-time study or for the completion of only a Master’s degree are not considered. All new students enter the department in September. In addition to Canadian students, the department maintains a rich tradition of training international students from all parts of the world including the United States, the British Commonwealth, Europe, and Asia..

The primary objective of the graduate program is to provide an environment in which students develop skills and expertise that will aid them during a professional teaching, research, and possibly clinical career. In the experimental program, undergraduate-type courses and examinations are kept to a minimum. Success in the program depends upon a student’s ability to self manage, organize and use available time and resources provided by the department. The department places the primary importance on conceiving and conducting research in the student’s area of interest. In the clinical program there is a substantial course load during the first two years, after which the emphasis shifts to research and professional training.

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