Average GPA For Psychology Majors

Last Updated on March 4, 2023 by

Psychology is a great discipline to study abroad that’s both fulfilling and rewarding for graduates. But how difficult is it to be admitted to a Psychology degree? What are the differences between the requirements for a Bachelor’s in Psychology and a Master’s in Psychology?

And can you get accepted to a Master’s in Psychology without a Bachelor’s in Psychology? What documents and grades do you need to apply? We’ll try to answer all these questions in the following article.

Get more information regarding Average GPA For Psychology Majors, what is the average gpa for harvard, average gpa in high school, average gpa by major, the gpa requirements for graduate programs in psychology quizlet, average gpa for college acceptance & average college freshman gpa

What is a good GPA for a psychology major?

For enrolment in psychology major in the USA, the good GPA would be 3.0; however, the average GPA score varies between 2.5 to 3.0, or it can be 2.78. In some colleges, the GRE score is also needed for seeking admission, and the average GRE score is 156 for verbal, 150 for quantitative, and 4.1 for analytical writing. The average ACT/SAT score required in some colleges ranges between composite 30-35 for the ACT and 620-730 for SAT. The non- US applicants need to appear for the TOEFL iBT exam, and the average mark is 79.

For seeking admission in Ph.D. in psychology in the USA, the applicant should be a holder of a master’s degree with an A+ graded GPA and strong letters of reference.

Some of the top-ranked schools in the USA which provide psychology majors:

  • Butler University: Good GPA required is 3.8
  • Carroll College: Good GPA required is 3.6
  • High Point University: Good GPA required is 3.3
  • Providence College: Good GPA required is 3.0

Psychology Degree Requirements 2021 – How to Get Admitted to Studies

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Psychology is a great discipline to study abroad that’s both fulfilling and rewarding for graduates. But how difficult is it to be admitted to a Psychology degree? What are the differences between the requirements for a Bachelor’s in Psychology and a Master’s in Psychology?

And can you get accepted to a Master’s in Psychology without a Bachelor’s in Psychology? What documents and grades do you need to apply? We’ll try to answer all these questions in the following article.

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Psychology admission requirement for a B.A. or a B.Sc.

A first point to consider when it comes to Psychology Bachelor’s degree requirements is the fact if you are applying for a B.Sc. or a B.A. in Psychology. While both generally cover psychological theory, principles, and practice, there may be some differences in courses taught and application requirements.

Bachelor of Arts Psychology learners may take classes in Cognitive, Behavioural, and Social Psychology while pursuing coursework in History, Political Science, and Sociology. Many B.A. programs may include options for learners to specialize in Forensics or in Social Work.

A B.Sc. in Psychology may include more advanced classes in Neuroscience, Statistics, and Clinical Psychology. B.Sc. concentrations may include workplace, developmental, and addictions Psychology.

Generally, admission requirements for a B.A. or a B.Sc. are similar, with the exception that a B.Sc. may require higher Math grades.

Bachelor’s in Psychology application requirements

Application requirements for a Bachelor’s in Psychology will naturally vary from one university to the next, and from country to country, but there are some common elements you can prepare for to increase your chances of being accepted.

Bachelor’s grade requirements

Depending on how demanding the Bachelor’s and how prestigious the university, you may be required to have one, two or more A graduation grades for high-school disciplines. Grade requirements may vary also depending on the high-school education system you come from.

Here are some general type of grade requirements you may encounter while applying for a Bachelor’s in Psychology abroad:

  • A high school diploma or equivalent qualifications in two subjects at GCE A level plus passes at grade C or above in three subjects at GCSE level. 
  • An average of level BBB grades – meaning you will have to have at least B final graduation grades in at least 3 disciplines.
  • Entry requirements may range between CCC and AAB, depending on the university.
  • An A in high-school Psychology is a plus, but not usually required. Other important subjects include Maths, Statistics, Sociology, Anthropology, Economics, Politics, Philosophy, and History.  
  • Some requirements may specify that applicants must hold 5 GCSE grades between A and C including Maths and English or equivalent.
  • Most universities prefer at least one out of Chemistry, Physics, Biology, or Maths subjects to be an A grade. 
  • If coming from a British education system, you will need an equivalent level 3 qualification worth 120 UCAS points. Find out more about how to calculate your UCAS Tariff points.
  • Some universities (especially for a B.Sc. degree application) will consider your work experience for the application if you have GCSE Maths grade C or above.
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Especially in the UK, Psychology is a very popular subject. So, university admission staff may look at more grades and which disciplines have the highest grades from the student’s education history.

As part of the application process, you may be invited to attend a university open day or take an interview which can include a small group exercise.

Keep in mind that programmes may usually include a university application fee around 50 EUR, more or less.

Bachelor’s English language requirements

Non-native English speakers applying for an English-taught degree will have to meet some English test minimum requirements. Here are the average grade requirements:

  • IELTS: 6.0 and above
  • TOEFL iBT: 60 to 79 and above
  • PTE Academic: 51-58 and above

Can you get into a Psychology Master’s without a Psychology Bachelor’s?

While holding a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology represents a plus for advancing to a graduate program in Psychology, this is not always mandatory. Some programmes may encourage people who want to make a career switch to apply for a Master’s in Psychology without previous studies if they have graduated a Bachelor’s in a connected discipline considered. Examples include: Social Work, Sociology, Medicine, Philosophy, History, etc. Some undergraduate degrees facilitate an easier transition. For example, a student with a Bachelor’s Sociology will have an easier time than someone with a degree in Mathematics. Voluntary work and proof of interest in the field can also tip the scales in your favour during application.

Some schools also offer non-psychology students the option to take prerequisite Psychology preparation courses that give them exposure to foundational theories, statistics, and research methods in the field.

Psychology admission requirement for a M.A. or a M.Sc.

Just like in the case of B.A. and B.Sc. degrees in Psychology, there are no major differences between the course content and application requirements of M.A. and M.Sc.degrees.The only difference is that M.A.s may focus more on analysis and research while M.Sc.s in Psychology may be more focused on behavioural sciences.

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Master’s in Psychology application requirements

Just like in the case of Psychology Bachelors, Master’s degree requirements vary across different universities and countries. But there are a few common requirements you should have in mind:

  • A graduated Bachelor’s degree.
  • If you haven’t graduated a Psychology Bachelor’s you may be required to take a pre-Master’s before applying to the actual Master’s.
  • Some programmes may include a university application fee (around 50 EUR).
  • Official transcript of records including the courses you took during your Bachelor’s and the grades.
  • GPA scores, usually of at least 3.0.
  • Some programmes may require having passed a GRE test or an alternate test. High GRE scores can override a lower GPA score in some cases.
  • Curriculum Vitae or Resume – including academic and professional experience. Any activity or accomplishments connected to Psychology are important (volunteer work, community service, or internships).
  • Two to four letters of recommendation from past teachers or employers.
  • Statement of purpose answering specific questions about why you chose to study Psychology and your long-term goals.
  • Personal essay (sometimes optional) – a more personal description about your experience and qualifications, and why you think you fit the programme you are applying for.
  • Case study analysis based on requirements provided by the programme. Some Masters may require a case study to test your knowledge or expertise.
  • If you will be having practical lessons with fieldwork, some universities might require background checks to make sure you were not involved in criminal activities.

Especially if you graduated a Psychology Bachelor’s, admission committees may expect some work experience or activity in the field, as this is proof of your commitment and dedication to practising Psychology. Depending on the programme, a minimum of 1 year of work experience may be required as part of the application.

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Master’s English language requirements

Non-native English speakers applying for an English-taught degree will have to meet some English test minimum requirements. Here are the average grade requirements:

  • IELTS: 6.5 and above
  • TOEFL iBT: 79 to 93 and above
  • PTE Academic: 59-64 and above

Ready to start applying for a Psychology degree?

All of the information listed above is an approximation of Psychology degree requirements. If you want to find the exact requirements for a programme you are interested in check out the official programme website or find the programme on our portals and check out the Academic Requirements tab. If any of the requirements are unclear it’s a good idea to contact the university application staff and ask for more detailed information. Make sure you read the requirements carefully, prepare well in advance and take as much time as you need to deliver a great application that will make you stand out.

What is a good GPA for a psychology major?

What are the characteristics of successful applicants?  Each program has its own set of requirements and standards; some are publicly stated, some are not.  For instance, this department’s graduate program in experimental psychology provides a list of eligibility requirements, plus provides a FAQ with the average GPA and GRE scores of successful applicants.  On this page we provide a general idea of what graduate programs may be seeking, plus admissions statistics by area of specialization in psychology. 

Note: for the most definitive information on the characteristics of successful applicants, we recommend that you directly check with program websites, the programs themselves, and individuals at those programs (such as graduate coordinators, graduate program officers, graduate students, or faculty).

Graduate Programs Are Highly Competitive

Most mid- to top-tier graduate programs, and particularly those programs that provide funding to their graduate students, are highly selective.  For example, this department’s graduate program typically receives around 300-400 applicants annually, of which admission offers are commonly extended to around 20 (around half accept, depending on the year).  Successful applicants not only meet the eligibility requirements; they exceed those requirements in key ways.  These may include research experience, academic achievements, and more. 

Consequently, it is helpful for students to carefully research the characteristics of successful applicants, to work toward achieving similar qualifications at the baccalaureate or post baccalaureate level, and to clearly emphasize their strengths in their applications. 

It is important to emphasize that graduate admissions criteria substantially differ from those used at undergraduate and other levels.  It is not necessarily the case that applicants with the highest GPA and highest test scores have the greatest chance of being accepted.  Instead, more idiosyncratic factors such as “program fit” and compatible research interests may play a greater role.  Thus, students who are accustomed to judging their progress solely on grades need to adjust their thinking; this is a different playing field and the rules are different.

Basic Qualifications of Successful Applicants 

To score an interview – in other words, to be seriously considered – applicants are typically expected to have a record which includes the following characteristics:1,2

Prerequisite undergraduate coursework completed

The courses that you are expected to have taken vary according to the graduate program you are applying to.  Some may have very specific requirements, others do not.  Some may prefer that the applicant have a well-rounded record including a diversity of rigorous courses both within and outside of psychology. 

High GPA

The mean of successful applicants to PhD programs in psychology, on the 4.0 scale, is 3.6 overall and 3.7 in psychology courses; for Master’s programs it is 3.4 overall and 3.5 in psychology courses.1  The GPA should be, at minimum, typically 3.0 or higher.

Good GRE scores

Minimum requirements (also known as “cutoffs”) vary depending on program.  Some programs, such as the one in this department, have dropped minimum scores.  However, GRE scores can be used to choose between two closely matched applicants.  The mean GRE scores of first-year graduate students in psychology, using the scale begun in late 2011, is 158 verbal and 149 quantitative for psychology PhD programs; it is 153 verbal and 146 quantitative for Master’s programs.  For the GRE Psychology subject test, the mean is 633 for PhD programs and 577 for Master’s programs. Please note that some programs, such as the one in this department, do not require the subject test.

Research experience

Research experience is a must.  This can take a variety of different forms, but publications and presentations are typically the most valued evidence of research experience.  For further information about gaining research experience as an undergraduate, please visit our research opportunities page.

Practical or clinical experience

This may be important for those applying to programs with a clinical or public service component.  For example, the number of hours you have volunteered at an outpatient clinic could be valuable for a clinical psychology graduate application.  However, it should be noted that guides to clinical psychology programs typically emphasize research experience as even more important.

Extracurricular activities

Optional and varies; should be relevant to the graduate program.  May include membership in psychological organizations, any leadership activities you have participated in, science communication, or charitable works.

How Applicant Qualifications Are Weighted

Each of the aforementioned qualifications, plus other components of the application materials, can make or break an applicant’s chances of being invited for an interview and ultimately receiving an offer of admission.  There typically are at least two stages of review.  The first involves choosing applicants that will be invited to interview.  At that stage, selection criteria may include (please note that each program may weigh each aspect differently):1,2

  1. GPA and GRE scores – many programs only interview those that are above a certain threshold.
  2. Letters of recommendation – many programs solicit three letters of recommendation. Although letters are subjective, in many programs these are given as much weight as GPA and GRE scores.
  3. Research experience – there needs to be evidence that the applicant has the potential to succeed in the primary occupation of graduate school, which is conducting research.
  4. Statement of purpose – this is taken as evidence of the applicant’s writing ability, their own stated research interests, their thoughts about program fit, and more.
  5. Coursework completed – transcripts are examined to determine whether the applicant has taken the necessary courses to qualify for the program, that they have the relevant background knowledge, and that they can handle academically rigorous coursework. 

After the interviews, the final selection criteria often includes the following (in order of importance).1,2 It should be noted that the applicant’s interview performance, statement of purpose, and recommendation letters can heavily inform these criteria and ultimately final selection decisions.

  1. Publications or paper presentations – resulting from the applicant’s existing research activities
  2. Applicant’s skills and interests match the program – as indicated in the application essays and as revealed in interviews
  3. Match with faculty member that is interested in working with the applicant – particularly as evidenced by the faculty member’s interview with the applicant and shared research interests; moreover, the faculty member has to be accepting students that year
  4. Statement of purpose – how clear and focused was the applicant able to write the essay; writing skills as evident in the essay
  5. Prior research experience – more generally, how much prior research experience the applicant had, and what that experience was, etc.

Other criteria may also be considered depending on the program.  Finally, it should be noted that among the least important criteria for selection typically include: multilingual fluency, contribution to geographic diversity, and whether the applicant is related to another student that was or is in the program.

Admissions Statistics

Acceptance rates at graduate programs in psychology range between 32-78% for Master’s programs and 12-48% for PhD programs (non-clinical); for clinical programs generally, acceptance rates vary from 7-50%.1  Data on the mean acceptance rates in different areas of psychology, compiled by the APA in 2010, are as follows:1

Cognitive Psychology40%16%
Community Psychology61%24%
Counseling Psychology63%12%
Developmental Psychology44%20%
Educational Psychology57%48%
Experimental Psychology39%15%
Health Psychology41%16%
I-O Psychology52%27%
Quantitative Psychology78%36%
School Psychology34%31%
Social/Personality Psychology39%12%

Workshops and Downloadable Resources


  • For in-person discussion of the process of applying to graduate programs in psychology, neuroscience, and related fields, please consider attending this department’s “Paths to PhDs” workshop and other related events (for dates and times, please check the undergraduate workshops calendar).


  • Tips for Applying to Graduate Programs in Psychology (a brief summary) [PDF]