Offices & Services


Lauren Montenegro Littlefield, Ph.D., Drexel University, Chair*
Jack Barnhardt, Ph.D., City University of New York
Bruce Hutchison, Ph.D., University of Maryland
Mike Kerchner, Ph.D., Lehigh University
Stephen K. Radis, Ph.D., University of Maryland
Kate McGraw, Ph.D. University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas
James R. Siemen, Ph.D., University of Nebraska
Catherine M. Smithmyer, Ph.D., University of Delaware
Jon P. Stanton, Ph.D., Memphis State University
Ralph Surette, Ph.D., The Catholic University of America

* Graduate Program Director

The principal emphasis is on providing a strong foundation in the science of psychology. Students will be offered opportunities to extend their understanding of the methods of psychology, to critically evaluate psychological literature and theories, and to study applications of psychology to such fields as clinical/counseling psychology, tests and measurements, behavioral neuroscience, and developmental psychology.

Requirements for the Degree

A total of 10 courses are required for the degree. Six are required courses and represent competency both in methods and in cognate areas.

To complete the methods requirement, students must successfully complete a two-semester sequence in statistics and design (PSY 500 & 508). To satisfy the cognate requirement, students must successfully complete four courses selected from the three cognate areas (biological, experimental, applied) according to the following conditions:

  • at least one course must be selected from each of the three cognate areas
  • at least two courses must be selected from either the biological or the experimental area

Courses which count for each cognate area are:

  • Biological: 502, 517, 520
  • Experimental: 501, 503, 510, 511, 530, 540, 550
  • Applied: 541, 560, 570, 571, 572, 575, 580, 581, 582, 590.

The remaining four courses for the degree may be electives chosen by the student.

Students majoring in Psychology may elect to undertake a master's thesis. The thesis will consist of an original experimental research project. Theoretical or discursive papers will be unacceptable. A student electing the thesis option begins by registering for Psychology 601, Thesis, with the permission of a research adviser selected by the student. Successful completion of Psychology 601 and the recommendations of the research adviser are prerequisites for Psychology 602. Psychology 601 and 602 together comprise the thesis option and substitute for six hours of formal course work. Once a student completes Psychology 601 and elects Psychology 602, the student must select a research committee, consisting of two members of the Psychology faculty (including the research adviser) and one member from a related discipline. Five years from the semester in which Psychology 601 is elected are allowed for successful completion of the thesis. A student must undertake an oral defense of the completed thesis, following research committee approval of the project, and the advisor's recommendation of the student for the oral examination.

Courses in Psychology

Psychology 500 - Statistics in Psychology and Education

The focus of this course is on the proper application of statistical techniques rather than on their mathematical development. Emphasis is placed on the statistical reasoning involved in using the more advanced parametric and nonparametric procedures.

Psychology 501 - Infancy and Childhood

Theoretical and methodological issues in the study of development will be highlighted by examining current issues in child psychology. A chronological overview of cognitive and social development during infancy and childhood will be treated.

Psychology 502 - Biological Foundations of Human Behavior

A study of the organic mechanisms for learning, emotion, motivation, memory, sleep, perception, language, and psychopathology. Major topics considered in the course include functional neuroanatomy, the neurobiology of various neurotransmitter systems, hormonal influences on behavior and cognition, information processing in various sensory systems, the biological bases of drug abuse and addiction, and the psychopharmacology of therapeutic drugs.

Psychology 503 - Human Cognition and Performance

A survey of research on human memory, attention, language, problem solving, and general comprehension processes. Special topics typically include: eyewitness testimony, computer modeling of comprehension processes, interrelationship between cortical trauma and information processing. Prerequisite: 500.

Psychology 508 - Research Methods & Advanced Statistics

A survey of research methods employed in behavioral research. Emphasis will be placed on inferential statistics such as analysis of variance, regression, factor analysis, discriminant analysis, and appropriate a priori and a posteriori tests of significance. Examples will be drawn from psychology, medicine, market research, etc. A significant portion of the class will be devoted to the use of a statistical package such as Systat or SPSS. Prerequisite: 500.

Psychology 510 - Adolescence, Maturity & Old Age

Central themes of adolescence-adulthood (dependency-independency, intellectual growth, personality change) will be assessed within a life-span developmental framework.

Psychology 511 - The Exceptional Child

A study of the genesis, nature, and treatment of the exceptional child. Focus is placed on children with high and low intelligence levels, and on such conditions as the anxious, the social, the hyperactive, and the destructive child. A modified case study method is employed.

Psychology 517 - Principles of Sensation and Perception

This course offers a survey of how our sensory systems analyze physical stimuli and produce complicated perceptions of the world around us. Consideration is given to how the anatomy and physiology of the visual and auditory systems allow us to extract information from the environment to create meaningful percepts. Other topics include psychophysics, perceptual illusions, experimental methods, and comparative studies.

Psychology 520 - Psychopharmacology

An overview of the physiological and psychiatric factors involved in the action of drugs. Special emphasis will be placed on psychotherapeutic drugs, alcohol, stimulant opiates, cocaine, hallucinogens, and marijuana. Prerequisite: Psychology 502.

Psychology 530 - Advanced Topics in Experimental Psychology

An advanced survey of the techniques of the major experimental fields of psychology treated with the aim of providing support for practitioners and teachers in these fields. Topics may include experiments drawn from experimental psychopathology, developmental psychology, learning, motivation, sensation, perception, and physiological and social psychology. Laboratory fee.

Psychology 540 - Social Psychology

A survey of the paradigms used in the analysis of interpersonal behavior. Special emphasis will be placed on affiliation, person perception, aggression, attitude change, and conformity.

Psychology 541 - The Dynamics of Group Interaction

This course provides both a theoretical and experimental background for assessing the value of using group interaction for the attainment of meaningful self-learning. Prerequisite: Psychology 540.

Psychology 550 - Theories of Personality

A critical survey of the major theoretical positions in the field with an emphasis on humanistic approaches. Possible therapeutic implications of each theory are also discussed.

Psychology 560 - Abnormal Behavior

An analysis of the symptoms, etiology, and treatment of psychopathological conditions. Such basic problems as the meaning of abnormality and the adequacy of current treatment procedures are explored.

Psychology 570 - Introduction to Counseling

The various theoretical positions and techniques are explored and compared from a number of viewpoints including those of the counselor, other institutional personnel, the client, and the general public.

Psychology 571 - Advanced Counseling

An intensive treatment of the theories and techniques of counseling. Practical exercises constitute a portion of this course. Prerequisite: Psychology 570 or any two courses in the applied cognate area.

Psychology 572 - Behavior Modification

Techniques of changing human behavior. Special attention is given to conditioning approaches including analyzing motivation and developing related rewards, eliciting desired responses, and using appropriate response-reward contingencies.

Psychology 575 - Counseling for the Critical Adult Life Stages

This course will focus on developing strategies for counseling adults in life transitions and crises. The course will identify and discuss current research in adult development as well as the application of counseling techniques to this segment of the population. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

Psychology 580 - Psychological and Educational Testing

An evaluative survey of various types of psychological and educational instruments encompassing both group and individual tests. The major types focused on include interest inventories, aptitude tests, achievement tests, and intelligence tests. Theoretical foundations are explored and practical experience given when feasible. Prerequisite: Psychology 500.

Psychology 581 - Individual Intelligence Testing

Training in the theory and use of the major individual measuring instruments of intelligence. The course stresses practical experience in the administration of the Wechsler tests for children and the Stanford-Binet. Prerequisite: Psychology 580.

Psychology 582 - Introduction to Projective Techniques

An evaluative survey of the theory and usage of projective tests of personality, including the Rorschach, the Thematic Apperception Test, and other tests. Prerequisite: Psychology 580 and consent of the instructor.

Psychology 590 - Applied Psychology Practicum

Under special circumstances the Department may grant one course credit to those students who arrange to receive instruction through field experience in an area of applied psychology under the direction of a qualified preceptor. Such arrangements must be made by the student and must be approved in advance by the Department. Evaluation and supervision will be arranged on an individual basis. Prerequisite: At least five graduate courses in Psychology.

Psychology 598, 599 - Special Topics

Psychology 600 - Independent Study

An intensive review of an area of contemporary experimental research interest in psychology, including undertaking of an independent original experimental research project. Specific course requirements to be determined for each study by the instructor. Entrance by permission of the instructor.

Psychology 601, 602 - Thesis