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I am a soon-to-be fourth-year doctoral candidate in Applied Experimental Psychology who earned my Master's in Experimental Psychology back in December 2020.

I recently viewed my master's program's website after I saw a job listing for a professor position on Indeed and noticed that the program's name will be changed from "Experimental Psychology" to "Psychological Science" starting next academic year.

Do I need to change how I list my MA on my CV? Will this also change anything else relevant (e.g., how my degree appears on a transcript)? The requirements for the "Psychological Sciences" degree are exactly the same as "Experimental Psychology" (name change only).

To clarify, I am not saying I should remove "Experimental Psychology" or anything like that. I have seen similar answers about program changes on various websites and how they are listed on a CV ranges from "Master of Arts in Experimental Psychology (currently Psychological Science)" to include both names all the way to saying to just list the original name rather than both names.

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    Since no one addressed it in the answers, your transcript will not change. Jul 3, 2023 at 21:45

5 Answers 5

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You received an MA in "Experimental Psychology" (the original title). The fact that the department renames or changes the master is irrelevant to your title. It is not like you would no longer have an MA if the department were to drop the MA program ;).

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  • That makes sense. I made an edit to my original post, but would it help to list both names? I now have an example of how I would mention both names in the original post.
    – zzmondo1
    Jul 3, 2023 at 8:26
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    But you did not get a degree with the new title. If you have a concern that the new title is more accurate, then you need to make a clarifying remark to that effect in a narrative CV, not just assume the decision that the program itself has not changed. That is an assessment that would have to be done by a third party or the degree giver. Just because you do not see any difference between the old and the new program does not mean that there are not. Jul 3, 2023 at 13:54
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    Basically, you do not want to open a can of worms for no good reason by claiming the new title for your MA. Jul 3, 2023 at 13:55
  • Put another way, it's the name of the degree that matters not the name of the department etc. What /might/ possibly matter is the identity of any professional institutions etc. that accredit the department to confer the degree. Jul 6, 2023 at 12:38
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I was in a similar situation with my bachelor's and was told that in situations where a degree program changes its name after graduation, it's generally appropriate and accurate to maintain the original name of the degree on your CV. The reason for this is that the name of your degree at the time you earned it provides the most precise historical record of your academic accomplishments. It also avoids potential confusion that may arise from listing a degree name that technically didn't exist at the time of your graduation.

In your case, you earned a Master's degree in Experimental Psychology in 2020, and that's the title that reflects the curriculum, focus, and body of knowledge you mastered during your time in the program. You didn't earn a degree in Psychological Science, even if the content and requirements of the two degrees are identical.

If you feel the need for clarification or context, especially if the new name of the degree has more recognition or is better understood in your field, you can add a brief note in parentheses. Maybe you might list your degree as "Master of Arts in Experimental Psychology (program now known as Psychological Science)."

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You wouldn't change the program name because that's not the name of the program you completed. However, if the facility changed its name, then you might want to update that to avoid confusion.

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    ... 'then you might want to update that to avoid confusion' ... A practical example/guide would strengthen this lovely answer. Jul 4, 2023 at 4:40
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    Catholic University of Brabant (KUB) changed its name to Tilburg University (UvT). My paper diploma is unchanged, but i would list it as UvT now, not as KUB.
    – vinnief
    Jul 5, 2023 at 8:01
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If you change the name, there is a danger that someone will say "but X University, didn't have a degree called MA in Psychological Sciences back in 2020, therefore the applicant is a fake".

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You have your diploma for four years, use whatever title is written on it.

Now if you really wanted, I would suggest you clarify this with whoever is in charge of that program, of if unknown the university administration or a professor you might know. We can't assess based only on your statement if the two programs are really the same, maybe while the course names are still the same the content is different for example.

Supposing they actually are 100 % the same, you have a few options:

  • Write it exactly how it will be on your diploma / certificate, so if asked to provide it you avoid any confusion, and I believe in academia they might verify your credentials, so you better be using the proper title or university administration won't find you in their records
  • Pick whichever one you fancy (this could change depending on what role you apply to)
  • Use both with a slash in between

My professional experience in general is that people in the industry rarely care about the exact content of your Bachelor's or Master's, especially as the course content and quality could be wildly different depending on which college you attended, so I wouldn't worry about using an "up-to-date" name; as long as you have an education in Psychology and the experience relevant for the role, I doubt they'll care.

Also, folks who might hire you will either know that the name changed, or they won't in which case they might not know what "Psychological Science" means. You're better off using the "old" name either way in my opinion.

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