Accelerated MA in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience

The accelerated Masters in Psychology with a concentration in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience allows motivated psychology undergraduates to get a head start on graduate education. While the program does not offer an earlier graduation date, it does offer benefits such as exemption from the GRE requirement and application fee, a lighter course load each semester, and the ability to start master’s level coursework before graduating with a bachelor’s degree. Students who have earned 75-100 credits are encouraged to apply, and begin to earn credit that can count towards both their undergraduate and graduate degree requirements.

Elizabeth Esser, now a CBN PhD student at Mason, shares her experience as an Accelerated Master’s Program student:

elizabethWhat motivated you to apply to the Accelerated Master's Program in CBN?

I wanted to pursue a graduate degree and have always been interested in neuroscience. I feel that it is the future of the field of psychology, so I decided that the accelerated program would be a great way to get my feet wet and get a head start.

In what ways was your experience different from non-accelerated students?

Being able to take graduate level courses as an undergraduate and apply those credits to both degrees in some cases was a big advantage. The course load was a little bit more extensive in the accelerated program, but definitely worth it. I also completed a master's thesis, which is a really great way to get more experience with research and scientific writing and presenting before moving on to a PhD.

What would you say to undergrad PSYC students considering applying to the program?

I'd highly recommend the program for students interested in graduate school for psychology and/or neuroscience. Completing the program just one year after finishing a undergraduate degree puts students at a large advantage for applying to PhD programs and in the job market. Additionally, if students are interested in getting a PhD, but are not sure about the long-term commitment or if the program is the right fit, this is a great, shorter-term way to experience what the continuing education and research interests will be like, without immediately committing to another 5+ years.

How did being in this program prepare you for your PhD program?

I look at my experience in the accelerated master's program as a mini PhD. It was great because I experienced graduate classes and worked with an advisor on executing a research project, including the subject/data collection, analysis, writing the results up as a thesis and presenting the project. I also had a thesis defense with my chosen faculty committee, who are experts on the research and in the field. So in all, it is great preparation for becoming a PhD student.

For more information about Mason’s Accelerated MA program in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience, visit our website or contact Dr. Doris Bitler Davis at