FAQ—Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about the MSc Cross-cultural Psychology programme.

In a globalizing world, cross-cultural understanding is an important skill to have in almost all jobs. This program will prepare you both with the theoretical side of cross-cultural psychology as well as how it can be applied in various careers. Whether you want the Master’s to prepare you for finding a job or you would like to start a PhD afterwards, this program does a good job of preparing you for both.

What is the Centre for Applied Cross-cultural Research and how is it related to the Master’s programme?

Doing your Master’s at Victoria University of Wellington is also unique because it is the home of the Centre for Applied Cross-cultural Research (CACR). CACR is an inter-disciplinary, applied research centre in the School of Psychology at the University. The Centre engages in research, inter-cultural training, public education, consultancy, and policy advice across cross-cultural research areas.

Members of the Centre include both New Zealand diversity researchers and international researchers at the highest levels. CACR is widely recognized for its research contributions to the public and private sectors and as a result has built strong networks locally and internationally. It is truly the hub of the cross-cultural field of psychology and has a lot to offer students.

As a Master’s student you will be required to engage in CACR as part of some of your coursework, but you will also be presented with many other opportunities that the Centre provides throughout the year. For example, through CACR students have worked with governmental Ministries in Wellington to conduct special research projects or helped run inter-cultural training sessions. Other students have helped coordinate lab meetings with researchers, scholars, and politicians in various fields related to cross-cultural matters. The Centre provides many opportunities to gain experience outside the classroom.

How does the academic year run at the University?

Victoria University of Wellington runs on Trimesters. The academic year begins with Trimester 1 from the beginning of March until July. Trimester 2 runs from July to November and Trimester 3 runs from November until February.

What is Part 1 of the Master’s

The MSc in Cross-cultural Psychology is composed of two parts. Part 1 runs from March to November (Trimester 1 and 2). During Part 1 you will be required to complete compulsory courses and have the choice between several elective core courses, depending on which ones are offered at the time. To see the list of compulsory and core courses click here.

Most courses are worth 15 points (although some are worth 30) and students usually take 60 points per Trimester. Since Part 1 of the Master’s course runs only during Trimester 1 and 2, you will complete 120 points.

What does a typical course load look like for Part 1?

Trimester 1

CPSY 580 Research Preparation

PSYC 434 Conducting Research Across Cultures

PSYC 433 Current Issues in Cross-cultural Psychology or PSYC 461 Advanced Statistics

PSYC 432 Applied Cross-cultural Psychology

Trimester 2

CPSY 580 Research Preparation

PSYC 423 Culture and Social Behaviour

PSYC 431 Culture and Human Development

PSYC 462 Cultures in Contact

PSYC 463 Indigenous Psychology

What are some examples of ‘optional courses’ that students have taken in the past?

With approval from the Course Coordinator, 60 points can be replaced by courses outside of Psychology. These include those from the University of Hawai’i, where students in the Master’s programme have an opportunity to participate in an exchange programme. At Victoria University of Wellington, Master’s students have taken a variety of courses such as Statistical classes to brush up these skills. Another example is a Human Geography course like Migration, Diasporas and Transnationalism. If you are interested in earning points outside of the ‘core courses’ offered for the Master’s or outside of Psychology, we suggest you browse through the school catalogue for postgraduate courses (400 level) in other disciplines. In order to take a class, you will need permission from the Director of the Cross-cultural programme.

What is Research Preparation CPSY 580?

One of the ‘compulsory courses’ is Research Preparation (CPSY 580), which is worth 30 points and runs in both Trimester 1 and 2. You will be graded on a variety of tasks through Trimester 1 and 2. To complete this course (and receive a final grade) you will choose a topic and supervisor for your research project to be conducted in Part 2. By the end of Trimester 2 you will submit a thorough research proposal of the study you wish to carry out during Part 2 of the Master’s.

What is Part 2 of the Master's?

Using the study you designed in CPSY 580 during Part 1, you will then carry out the research in the second year of the Master’s. This will take approximately one year full time and is worth 120 points. You will submit your thesis by the end of February (Trimester 3), exactly two years after you began the Master’s programme.

But, the University has 3 Trimesters… What do students normally do in Trimester 3 between Part 1 and Part 2 of the Master’s?

Trimester 3 runs from November to February. Psychology courses at postgraduate level are not generally offered in Trimester 3, which is the summer term here. In the past students have used this time in a variety of ways. Some students have taken a much needed break after an intense first year, while others have found a summer job, internship, or decided to do some traveling. Some students decide to get started on Part 2 of their Master’s and begin their thesis.

What is the work load like?

Expect to have a heavy work load. Although everyone comes from different educational backgrounds and are used to managing different workloads, you should expect you’ll have to work hard. Most students treat the programme like a full time job that requires some additional time in the evenings or at weekends.

How much should I expect to spend on living costs in Wellington?

Please see the estimated cost of living in Wellington: http://www.wgtn.ac.nz/international/planning/costs.aspx

Victoria provides a Financial Support and Advice Service. It’s free to use and like all the other student services, it’s there to help you. If you are worried about your finances or you feel like it’s all getting out of control, call them – they will help.

What should I do for accommodation while I’m studying?

You have several options for accommodation while studying. These vary between postgraduate University housing to renting flats privately (Kiwis call this flatting). You can read about your options here: Victoria University of Wellington Accommodation.

If you decide to flat in Wellington you can use VicDeals (a special group on Facebook for Victoria University students) or TradeMe (the New Zealand auction website) which has a link for “Flatmates wanted”.

This is a common way to find a shared flat. Some rooms come furnished while others don’t. You can also buy used bedroom furniture from this site if you decide on an unfurnished room. It is also important to note that in New Zealand people often pay rent fortnightly and advertise prices per week. If you decide to flat, you should expect to give yourself at least a week once you are here to visit different flats. There are plenty of backpackers around Wellington that offer discounted weekly rates that you can stay at in the meantime. This will also give you time to get used to Wellington—the hills—and where the University is located in relation to the rest of the city.

What is the New Zealand culture like and what can I expect from living in Wellington?

Wellington is a very unique city known as the ‘cultural capital’. Funky bars, live-music venues, cool cafes and many ethnic restaurants scatter Wellington. The weather isn’t always great as it is nicknamed ‘windy Wellington’. However, everyone knows you can’t beat a Wellington on a good day. There’s even a song about it! Listen here. There are plenty of activities to keep you busy from water sports to local tramping trails. Just a short train ride outside of Wellington you can find wineries beaches and other cool sites.

Another great thing to get out and enjoy in Wellington are the parks and nature reserves. Three of the many worth an individual mention are Zealandia for native birdlife, Otari Wilton’s Bush for native bush walks and Red Rocks for a coastal sea walk to a seal colony. And don’t forget the Botanic Gardens which is right on our doorstep.

What are some careers I can pursue with this degree? What kind of jobs have people got after completing this Master’s?

Students who have completed this Master’s have gone on to do a variety of things. Some students prefer to stay in academia and do a PhD. Others have gone into governmental or private think tank research positions. A less common option such as working in refugee camps is another example. Students would be well prepared to work in any cross-cultural field such as the United Nations, or other government and non-governmental positions. CACR has been working with several organizations and businesses like the New Zealand Police to implement inter-cultural training programmes, which is just an example of how one could apply knowledge gained during this programme.