Programs in Psychoanalysis, Society and Culture (MA and PsyaD)

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The Doctor of Psychoanalysis (PsyaD) and the Master of Arts (MA) programs in Psychoanalysis, Society, and Culture offer students a cutting edge curriculum and prepare them through interdisciplinary study for scholarly research, teaching, or augmentation of professional practice. While social scientists and scholars in humanities and cultural studies are becoming increasingly interested in the psychoanalysis of culture and in the cultural analysis of psychoanalysis, very few institutions of higher education provide an arena for such an interdisciplinary undertaking. This program, the first of its kind in the United States, has emerged to fill the gap in the academy for such critical pursuits. Its distinct mission is to promote systematic dialogue between psychoanalysis, critical social theory, and cultural analysis.

At the Master’s level, students gain a psychoanalytic foundation for cultural studies. Through BGSP’s integrative approach to learning, they develop the critical and research skills needed to prepare for doctoral study and to apply their knowledge in social service and other organizational settings. Building on their Masters’ studies, Doctoral candidates embark on a critical investigation of larger systems and social issues through immersion in advanced seminars, unique field experiences, and original research. These programs are available remotely and held via Zoom.

Program Objectives

In the Master of Arts program in Psychoanalysis, Society and Culture, students:

  • Acquire an in-depth knowledge of the broad scope of psychoanalysis as a discipline, including its theories of unconscious motivation, affect, and the nature of the mind
  • Learn about the range of methods used in psychoanalytic and sociocultural studies, including quantitative, qualitative, ethnographic and textual analysis, and demonstrate an understanding of the range, value and utility of data sources for interdisciplinary research in psychoanalysis and culture
  • Acquire a grounding in critical social theory and its history, and develop a critical attitude towards the traditional disciplinary premises about the nature of mind and society
  • Investigate the relationships between psychoanalysis, critical social theory, and cultural analysis and use their interrelationship to better understand culture, society, and larger systems, including social service organizations; gain insight into group and organizational dynamics
  • Explore the culture-bound definitions and manifestations of psychopathology and other cultural phenomena in relation to the management of diversity in today’s global society

The Doctoral program in Psychoanalysis, Society and Culture includes the MA level of study. At the Doctoral level, students additionally:

  • Explore the tensions between psychoanalysis and the social sciences, examining to what extent current psychological approaches have reified the human psyche and the implications of this for understanding societal concerns psychoanalytically
  • Develop and apply analytic and critical reasoning skills to the understanding of a range of cultural representations, including mental health and illness and culture-bound therapeutic practices (including psychoanalysis), and social definitions of gender, race, and ethnic status
  • Gain deeper experience in methods of research and analysis as the basis for informed investigations that cross disciplinary borders
  • Focus on the critical reading of psychoanalytic and cultural texts regarding a specific research topic; using appropriate methods, engage in synthetic, interdisciplinary study of a specific aspect of culture or society

The programs in Psychoanalysis, Society, and Culture provide an educational space in which the student becomes progressively more capable of and responsible for integrating theories and methods from multiple disciplines and applying his or her knowledge and skills to theoretical and practical work. What direction the student takes upon graduation depends in large part upon his or her interests and synthetic conclusions.

Student Outcomes

To a large extent, the graduate of a program in Psychoanalysis, Society, and Culture is a self-made individual. Program graduates follow their own distinctive paths to success, applying their learning in applied and academic settings relevant to their areas of interest.

Course of Study

Degree Requirements

Master’s students:

  • Complete 40 credits, including courses in psychoanalysis, cultural analysis, integrative electives, and research methodology
  • Engage in a training analysis throughout the course of study
  • Complete a master’s paper (students who have written an approved Master’s paper or thesis in prior studies may ask to have this requirement waived)

Doctoral level students in the Psychoanalysis, Society & Culture program:

  • Complete 24 core and elective courses (72 credits)
  • Complete directed research
  • Complete a training analysis
  • Pass qualifying examination
  • Successfully present an oral defense of the dissertation

Program Catalog

Please refer to the program catalog for exact graduation requirements.


The interdisciplinary Master’s and Doctoral programs build on the critical nature of psychoanalysis by offering grounding in psychoanalytic theory and providing the theoretical and methodological tools to critique society, culture, and psychoanalysis itself. By exploring psychoanalysis in relation to social theory, history, politics, anthropology, systems theory, literature, art, and cultural studies, students engage in an interdisciplinary process of scholarship and discovery.

Your academic journey leads you to a deeper appreciation of the profound psychological and social dynamics involving:

  • gender
  • race
  • psychopathology
  • social violence
  • bureaucracy
  • other complicated systemic concerns

Not only is psychoanalysis a method of examining and understanding culture, but psychoanalysis itself, as a theory and a body of knowledge, is a cultural product. Psychoanalysis always takes place within a social and cultural matrix, even while it seeks to understand the unconscious elements in social and cultural institutions and processes. The programs in Psychoanalysis, Society and Culture offer an open forum for the exploration and systematic analysis of the interface between psychoanalysis and the social and cultural matrix within which it is embedded. This interface becomes especially critical when we undertake research, policy formulation or clinical practice within such a multicultural society as the United States.

Training Analysis

Each student participates in a training analysis, working one-on-one with an analyst throughout the program. The training analysis is an important part of the educational process. It provides an experiential understanding of the methods and knowledge base of psychoanalysis and a further appreciation for one’s own subjectivity and the operation of the unconscious. Students engage in a training analysis with an approved training analyst throughout their studies on a weekly or every other week basis and complete 50 hours of training analysis to graduate from the Master’s program and 120 hours to graduate from the PsyaD program.


Master’s students enroll in a research methods course and complete the Master’s Paper, which offers the opportunity to integrate psychoanalytic and sociocultural knowledge and theory in formulating a research question and carrying out an empirical research study.

Doctoral students enroll in advanced research methods courses and complete an original research project for the dissertation. Completion of a dissertation is one of the most important requirements of the doctoral program. It is an original empirical project that makes a substantive contribution to the knowledge base in psychoanalysis in relation to society and culture. The dissertation is supervised by a primary advisor and a doctoral committee consisting of at least two additional faculty members, one of whom may come from outside of the school in order to contribute expertise in a particular subject area. The committee is responsible for approving the dissertation proposal, overseeing the data collection and analysis, and reviewing the dissertation and oral defense.

Time to Program Completion

The Master’s program is a 40 credit program requiring two years of full-time study but may be taken at a part-time pace.

Normal time to degree for completion of the PsyaD for students entering with a BA degree is approximately 6 years. This may be different for those coming in with an MA in Psychoanalysis or in another social behavioral discipline and for those who are given credit for courses taken elsewhere. Transfer credit is discussed during the admissions interview

Admission Criteria

Application and general graduate admission information are available in the General Bulletin and on the School’s Application Process page. Additional inquiries concerning the program and application procedures may be directed to the Admissions Coordinator at admissions@bgsp.edu. Students who already have an MA in psychoanalysis or a relevant field are eligible to apply to the doctoral program. Students with only a bachelor’s degree apply to the Master’s program in Psychoanalysis, Society, and Culture, Psychoanalysis, or Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Admission to doctoral study is granted to applicants whose backgrounds show promise of scholarship in the field of study. In addition to the requirements for admission to other BGSP programs, admission to the doctoral program in Psychoanalysis, Society, and Culture requires a 1200 word statement of academic and career interests in psychoanalysis and culture, including the applicant’s desired area of specialization and research interests. Once a student has been accepted into the doctoral program, continuous enrollment (Fall and Spring) is required through completion of the dissertation. Students who (a) do not begin in the designated semester of their acceptance (b) withdraw from all classes, or (c) drop out for one or more semesters submit in writing a request for Leave of Absence to the Program Director. Failure to do so requires re-application for admission following the above guidelines.


  •  BGSP is a member of NC-SARA and, through such membership, is authorized to offer distance education programs in every state except California. In addition, BGSP is permitted by regulation to offer distance education programs in California.
  • Due to government sanctions, we are not able to offer remote courses to individuals in Iran at this time.

Apply Today

Application deadline for Spring 2025 is November 1st. Classes start in January.