Master of Psychology: Theory and Research (Leuven)

Master of Science

The research masters programme aims at guiding students to become independent researchers in psychological science. The faculty offers a challenging and dynamic study environment with a strong link between research and teaching. Its degree programmes provide a varied, appealing and research-based education of high academic quality. 

What's the Master of Psychology all about? 

Students of the research master will obtain:

  • a thorough training in statistics and research methodology
  • the in-depth study of the basic disciplines of psychology, supplemented with a specialization inperception, cognition and language, emotion, cross-cultural psychology, neuroscience, learning psychology, or quantitative psychology.

In addition to individual and group-based coursework, students become immersed in ongoing multidisciplinary research at the faculty.




Hands-on expertise

  • Master’s thesis: You conduct independent psychological research in line with your own interests. Topics can range from fundamental to applied and frequently lead to publication in scientific peer-reviewed journals.
  • Internship: You complete an internship (120 days) at one of our faculty research groups or one of many top universities and institutes worldwide.


Application deadline for 2017-2018

1 March 2017 (for non-EEA citizens) 

1 June 2017 (for EEA citizens) 

KU Leuven uses an online application system. You can download and submit your application form via Students with a Flemish degree can consult

All requested documents need to be submitted through the online application system before the deadline in order to be eligible. Unlike some other KU Leuven-programmes, you are not granted an additional month after the deadline to complete your dossier. Applications that are not complete after the deadline will not be further considered.


Tuition Fee

The current tuition fee is 890 euro. The tuition fee for the 2017-2018 academic year will be determined in the spring of 2017. Please consult the website for the most recent information:



Acknowledging the increasing importance of international research experience in scientific and career development, students may complete their internship at one of the research groups of the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences at KU Leuven, or the option of completing part or all of their internship outside Leuven. Internship coordinators and faculty members help students locate and arrange internships at international research groups around the world.
Our students have conducted their internships at top universities and institutes worldwide, including:


So far, I am really enjoying the academic atmosphere at the Faculty of Psychology. The topics discussed are interesting and up-to-date. The professors and classmates are open-minded and friendly. Simply put, I feel welcomed, listened to, encouraged and supported.





Is this the right programme for me?

The Master of Science in Psychology: Theory and Research welcomes motivated and inspired students who aim for a research career in psychological, social, or behavioral sciences.

To be eligible and to ensure an optimal match with the programme, the following selection criteria apply:

  • holder of a Bachelor or Master’s degree in Psychology or in the field of science and technology (for a list of Dutch language degrees that qualify, see below)
  • a solid background in statistics and research methods
  • an affinity with psychological research
  • English language proficiency

We have selected a few MOOCS (massive online open courses) which are suitable for students who are unsure about their basic knowledge of mathematics, statistics and introduction to R.


Admission requirements 

Master of Psychology: Theory and Research 



The program of the Research master "Master of Psychology: Theory and Research" aims to guide students to become independent researchers in psychological science through the realization of two objectives: (a) a thorough training in statistics and research methodology, and (b) the in-depth study of the basic disciplines of psychology, supplemented with a specialization in perception, cognition and language, emotion, cross-cultural psychology, neuroscience, learning psychology, or in quantitative psychology. Students become acquainted with recent multidisciplinary research at the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences (KU Leuven). Throughout the master's thesis and internship, students gain thorough hands-on expertise in performing empirical research in psychology.

General objectives

1. Students will acquire advanced knowledge of the basic domains of psychological research. They will understand how research results are established, from the conception of research questions to the dissemination of results.

2. Students will become proficient to gather relevant information from the research literature, critically evaluate information, and actively use this information to generate novel research and theory. They will learn how to deal with questions about psychological functioning in an independent and scientific way. This will involve analyzing concrete problems, asking critical questions, designing and implementing appropriate methodologies and interventions, and developing well-reasoned arguments about their social views.

3. Students will be prepared to independently develop their skills in psychology as a science and as an evidence-based practice.

General learning outcomes

1. Students can gain insight in theory and research in the basic domains of psychology and their chosen areas of specialization.

2. Students can critically examine scientific developments in psychology and argue their scientific views and decisions. They can apply this knowledge the analysis of specific psychological problems.

3. Students know and understand the methodology of behavioral science research, both in terms of general principles and data analysis, its potential and limitations. They can apply this knowledge both in the processing of their own research data and in the critical reading of that of others.

4. Students acquire a general scientific attitude, effective communication and reporting skills, personal maturity and sensitivity to ethical and moral issues associated with psychology and the scientific profession.

Online application instructions for Bachelor or Master Students; Postgraduate students; International Scholars or Specialisation Students:

Career perspectives

The primary purpose of the Master of Psychology: Theory and Research is to prepare students to pursue a PhD project. Many of our graduates go on to pursue academic careers at top universities. The programme also provides a solid background for international careers in a variety of other settings, which may include:

  • scientific research and policy functions in research institutes
  • somatic and mental health treatment institutions
  • centres for educational research and counselling
  • insurance providers
  • government agencies
  • pharmaceutical, food, and medical technology industries.


I thoroughly enjoyed the Master in Psychology programme, from which I graduated in 1987.  The course provided an excellent foundation for my PhD, both in the advanced theoretical perspectives covered as in the methodological and analytical training on offer.  It set me up for a very rewarding and enjoyable career as a researcher and academic. The skills and insights that I acquired remain valuable to the present day, and even in my current role I still benefit tremendously from the rigorous training that I received almost thirty years ago.  I highly recommend the course. 

                                                          (Koen Lamberts, Vice-Chancellor University of York)


Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences
Dekenstraat 2
3000 LEUVEN, Belgium

Prof. Peter Kuppens, Programme Director

Maarten Thiry, Policy Advisor


Visit the programme's website 



Study Advice Service
Naamsestraat 80 box 5415
3000 LEUVEN, Belgium
To contact us, please complete 
the contact form on our website.


In the context of the wellbeing law certain data must be stored for each student and they must be informed timely on the subject of:

  • the risks to which the student is exposed during the study programme (practicals, traineeships, master's theses,…)
  • the associated preventive measures for each risk, such as medical follow-up, personal protective equipment and instructions.
The risks and preventive measures are collected in the HSE-file for students. Through this link you can consult the HSE-file. The HSE-file will be used for traineeships and/or master’s theses. For more information about traineeships, we refer to the following site: traineeship.. For questions, please contact the HSE Department.