M.A. in Psychoanalysis

Students from all walks of life enroll in the Master of Arts degree program in Psychoanalysis in order to understand how people develop their emotional and mental lives, how people operate from motivations that are outside their own awareness, and why people interact and behave in characteristic ways.

Whether as a supplement or preparation for clinical work, as preparation for post-master's training in psychoanalysis, or as a way to enrich their work with people in other fields (such as law, education, or organizations), students gain a deeper understanding of people in their full complexity through ICPS' integrative approach to learning.

Through this program, students gain psychoanalytic insights into clinical and interpersonal situations and will be prepared for post-graduate psychoanalytic training at BGSP or its partners, ACAP and CMPS. The program neither offers a complete course of clinical training nor leads to licensed practice, but provides an introduction to psychoanalytic approaches to regressed patients and a solid basis for further clinical study.

Program Objectives

In this program, students:

  • Gain a psychoanalytic perspective on human development and clinical work
  • Learn about the development of the human psyche from infancy onward
  • Study unconscious processes such as repetition, defenses, transference, resistance, and symbolism
  • Develop a psychoanalytic framework for understanding psychopathology across a wide range of diagnoses
  • Learn to understand diagnosis from psychoanalytic and psychiatric (DSM) perspectives
  • Develop basic skills for establishing a therapeutic relationship with regressed or narcissistic clients
  • Learn to understand a client’s contacts
  • Understand different responses to stimulation
  • Grasp symbolic communications
  • Observe emotional responses induced in themselves and use self-knowledge in order to understand others

Degree Requirements

Graduation from the Master of Arts program requires successful completion of the 48 credit curriculum, which includes 16 courses over two years, the 400 hour Field Placement Externship with accompanying supervision groups, a presentation of fieldwork cases indicating sufficient understanding of case dynamics, and an accepted Fieldwork Research Paper. Students are required to engage in a training analysis throughout the program. Please refer to the program catalog for exact graduation requirements.

Students can complete the program in two years if they complete the Fieldwork Research Paper concurrently with coursework. Students with high curiosity, openness to new experiences, and tolerance for ambiguity tend to proceed more successfully through the program. Some students take one or more additional semesters to complete the paper.

Training Analysis

Each student participates in a training analysis, working individually with an analyst throughout the program. The training analysis is an important part of the educational process. It deepens the student’s understanding of course material through personal experience and helps the student tolerate the feelings aroused by psychoanalytic study. It offers a fuller appreciation of one’s own emotional dynamics, increases the student’s access to all emotional states, and increases self-understanding, which is particularly critical for understanding others. Master’s students complete at least 70 hours of analysis, typically on a weekly basis.

Fieldwork Externship

Students in the Master of Arts program complete a three semester Field Placement Externship, which provides direct contact with regressed patients in mental hospitals or comparable settings, giving students the opportunity to observe extremes of pathology at the earliest levels of fixation or regression. The field placement provides the opportunity to learn how to develop the basic skills in establishing a therapeutic relationship with clients in regressed states. It fosters an ability to read the client’s contacts, responses to stimulation, and symbolic communications while observing the emotional responses induced in oneself. These skills are basic to working with people at all levels of functioning.

First semester courses and the training analysis prepare the student to begin the field placement. The Field Placement Externship includes 400 hours in placement-related activities, including ongoing individual contacts with psychotic patients, administrative supervision and team meetings. Students take the externship in conjunction with the Fieldwork Externship Seminar and small group supervision for three semesters. The experience culminates in a presentation of fieldwork cases and completion of a case study paper.


The Master’s research curriculum introduces students to research methods in the human sciences and facilitates the student’s completion of the Master's Fieldwork Research Paper. In the paper, the student analyzes qualitative clinical data from the field placement. Working with both the research instructor and the fieldwork instructor, the student demonstrates his or her ability to apply psychoanalytic theory, to view the clinical process from a research perspective, and to provide an empirical basis for inferences. Interested students may choose to enroll in Directed Research and work with a thesis chair on a more elaborate research project as well.


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