Psychology Courses at Ashford University

Embrace critical thinking and gain knowledge on the path to an online psychology degree with skills that can make you a versatile asset to employers with these undergraduate and graduate level psychology courses. From the exploration of mental health and disorders, to the impact of psychological principles on modern organizations, these classes will immerse you in a complete study of human behavior. This list includes courses required to complete Ashford University’s Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Master of Arts in Psychology, among other behavioral science degree programs.


Psychology Class Descriptions and Credit Information

PSY 101 Introduction to Psychology

3 Credits

This course is a survey of selected topics in psychology, including research methods, physiological psychology, sensation, perception, consciousness, learning, memory, motivation, gender roles, abnormal behavior, psychotherapy, and social psychology.

PSY 104 Child & Adolescent Development

3 Credits
This course provides a basic introduction to the nature of human growth and development from conception through adolescence. Students are provided the opportunity to explore the physical, psychosocial, and cognitive factors of growth and development from both a theoretical and a practical perspective. The context and impact of the family and society as well as individual, cultural, moral, and linguistic differences on development will be covered.

PSY 202 Adult Development & Life Assessment

3 Credits

This course presents adult development theory and links theoretical concepts of life and learning through a process of psychometric assessment and reflection. Both classical and contemporary adult development theories are examined. These theories then provide the paradigm for self-analysis and life learning, including a plan for personal, professional and academic learning.

PSY 203 Psychology of Human Sexuality

3 Credits

This course examines various perspectives on sexuality, such as its biological, psychological, social, and cultural dimensions. Topics examined include but are not limited to: male and female reproductive anatomy and physiology of sexual responding; sexual development, behavior, and identity over the life span; and variations in typical and atypical sexual behavior and expression. Emphasis is placed on the human sexual experience as a vehicle for self-awareness, self-understanding, and self-acceptance.

PSY 301 Social Psychology

3 Credits

Students explore how the thoughts, feelings and behavior of individuals are influenced by other human beings in a variety of social situations. This course also entails a survey and critical analysis of the various methods used by researchers in social psychology. Topics include: social cognition, aggression, prejudice, interpersonal attraction, altruistic behavior, conformity, group influences, and conflict resolution. Prerequisite: PSY 101 or SSC 101 or equivalent.

PSY 302 Industrial/Organizational Psychology

3 Credits

This course examines the influence of an organization upon the individual, as well as ways an individual can influence an organization. Topics include recruiting, personnel selection, organizational climate, group problem solving, and conflict resolution.

PSY 303 Abnormal Psychology

3 Credits

The course entails a study of the diagnosis, causes, treatment, and prevention of psychological disorders. Problems with the reliability and validity of the American Psychiatric Association system for diagnosing psychological disorders will be discussed, and various alternative systems will be introduced. Prerequisite: PSY 101 or equivalent and PSY 330.

PSY 304 Lifespan Development

3 Credits

This course consists of the application of the methods and principles of several fields of psychology to an extensive study of human growth development in the child, adolescent, and adult. Prerequisite: PSY 101.

PSY 307 The Journey of Adulthood

3 Credits

This course presents process-oriented, multi-disciplinary views, principles, research findings, and perspectives across the adulthood continuum: early adulthood, middle adulthood, and late adulthood. Students gain an understanding of developmental changes occurring in the realms of biology, anatomy, and social and cultural contexts in which aging occurs.

PSY 317 Cognitive Functioning in the Elderly

3 Credits

This course will introduce changes both cognitively and physically, that occur in both healthy and pathological aging. This course will emphasize changes in functioning, learning, language-processing, decision-making, memory, and reasoning in older adults Prerequisite: PSY 101 or equivalent.

PSY 323 Perception, Learning, & Cognition

3 Credits

Students will study research and theory about mental processes that go between experience and the human mind. Students will gather and interpret data for several simple experiments that demonstrate classic research findings in perception, learning, and cognition. Perception entails the mental processes involved in the organization and interpretation of sensory experience. Learning entails relatively permanent changes in behavior that result from experience. Cognition explains how the mind processes information, how we encode, store, and retrieve memories, and how we use information to form beliefs, make decisions, and solve problems. Prerequisite: PSY 101 or equivalent.

PSY 325 Statistics for the Behavioral & Social Sciences

3 Credits

Descriptive and inferential statistics are investigated and multiple techniques for statistical analysis are introduced in this course. Formulas for presenting and evaluating data are explored in accordance with generally accepted protocol for statistical analysis. Prerequisite: MAT 232.

PSY 326 Research Methods

3 Credits

Research Methods is an introduction to the foundations of research methodology, design and analysis. Basic principles of qualitative and quantitative research are explored and evaluated. Understanding the results of statistical analysis as it applies to research is a focus of this curriculum. Prerequisite: MAT 232.

PSY 330 Theories of Personality

3 Credits

This course reviews the basic concepts and principles of the major theories of personality. It also assesses the scientific worth and validity of these theories as they relate to the development of personality. Theoretical assumptions of the importance of environment and genetics will be stressed. Students will be challenged to identify the theoretical concepts that they think best describe personality development and to evaluate their own personality, as it relates to the theories being presented. Prerequisite: PSY 101 or equivalent.

PSY 331 Psychology of Learning

3 Credits

Learning is the relatively permanent change in behavior and mental processes resulting from experience. This course consists of the application of learning theory and research in a wide range of settings where learning takes place. 

PSY 344 Issues & Trends in Adult Development

3 Credits

This course provides an interdisciplinary exploration of contemporary issues and trends in adult development as well as emerging research areas. Topics include intergenerational conflicts, changing role dynamics, volunteerism, self-esteem in adulthood, resilience and vulnerability, maintaining and enhancing cognitive vitality in adulthood, adult employment trends including multiple career changes, coping with “boomerang children,” grandparents raising grandchildren, and the growth of lifelong learning.

PSY 350 Physiological Psychology

3 Credits

Students study the anatomy and physiology of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nervous system, and endocrine system. Study of the biological systems promotes better understanding of mind-body relationships important to hunger, thirst, sex, sleep, emotion, learning, and memory. Students also examine medical theories, assessment, and treatments of psychological disorders including new imaging technologies and drug therapy. Prerequisite: PSY 101 or equivalent.

PSY 352 Cognitive Psychology

3 Credits

Cognitive psychology takes a scientific approach to understanding the fundamental mental processes involved in everyday cognition. This course covers the topics of perception, attention, memory, and language by examining both classic and contemporary cognitive psychology methods and experimental results. Prerequisite: PSY 101

PSY 361 Health Psychology

3 Credits

Students explore the mind/body relationship as it pertains to health, stress, and the person’s response to medical treatment. This course includes a review of anatomy and physiology of the nervous system, the endocrine system, the immune system, and other organ systems. Students explore new strategies of applied psychology for sustaining health, managing stress, and recovering successfully from disease, injury, and medical treatment.

PSY 380 Counseling & Behavior Change

3 Credits

This course is designed for students entering into human service fields. Students compare and contrast behavior change theories and models, determine client needs, apply motivational strategies and counseling skills, and evaluate moral and ethical issues. Cultural competency and cultural sensitivity concepts are also discussed. Prerequisites: HWE 200 and PSY 361.

PSY 495 Adult Development Capstone

3 Credits

This course is a synthesis of the major ideas, perspectives, and concepts gained from the study of adult development A substantive paper is developed which requires students to critically analyze their experiences and integrate knowledge gained throughout the program. Prerequisite: Successful completion of the General Education Capstone course.

PSY 496 Applied Project

3 Credits

This course provides a synthesis of the major ideas, perspectives, theories, and concepts gained from the study of psychology. A substantive simulated research project is created, providing students the opportunity to integrate key learning and knowledge gained from throughout the degree program. Prerequisites: Successful completion of the General Education Capstone course and the majority of the major coursework.

PSY 5130 Life Span Development

3 Credits

This course surveys the major theoretical perspectives on life span development from conception through late adulthood. Developmental processes related to physical, cognitive, moral, and emotional functions are reviewed as well as societal and cultural aspects of development.

PSY 5420 Principles of Social Psychology

3 Credits

This course provides an introduction and overview of the principles and theories of social psychology. The course includes exploration of behavior in groups, group impacts on individual behavior and the ways in which organizational rules and norms impact behavior. Constructs of social psychology, including social influence, social thinking, and attitude formation are covered and related to sociological and psychological research.

PSY 600 Introduction to Graduate Study in Psychology

3 Credits

This course provides an introduction to graduate study at Ashford University in the field of psychology. Students will explore psychology as a science and profession. They will examine professional roles and organizations, ethics and professional standards, theoretical perspectives, and contemporary practical applications of psychology to real-world situations.

PSY 605 Developmental Psychology

3 Credits

This course will cover developmental and contextual experiences of humans across the lifespan. Emphasis will be placed on issues and questions that have dominated the field over time and continue to provide impetus for research. Interactions will focus on articles that describe and illustrate current theories and trends. Students will read selected research articles and self-select additional readings related to weekly topics and personal interest. These topics include theoretical trends and foundations in research, policy and ethics, health and wellness, human developmental context, and end-of-life issues.

PSY 610 Applied Social Psychology

3 Credits

This course provides a comprehensive examination of the science of social psychology as well as how it is applied to manage and aid the understanding of contemporary social issues. Topics include social quandaries encountered in the fields of mental and physical health, the workplace, the education system, and the legal system. Students will study seminal theories and research that informs the practical application of social psychology to real-life situations. Students will also apply social psychology theory and research to explain current social issues.

PSY 615 Personality Theories

3 Credits

This course provides an overview of the basic concepts and principles of the major theories of personality. Students will assess the scientific worth and validity of these theories based on case studies that show how these theories are applied to the treatment of psychological disorders and how personality assessments are applied in different settings. Detailed descriptions of healthy and unhealthy personality types will be stressed, and students will be challenged to evaluate various assessment tools as they relate to the respective theories being presented.

PSY 620 Learning & Cognition

3 Credits

This course introduces students to multiple dimensions of learning and cognition, which range from the basic processes underlying learning to the contexts that promote self-regulation and metacognition. As the foundation of cognitive psychology, learning and cognition encompasses many topics including attention, memory, categorization, problem solving, epistemology, language acquisition, and recognition of diversity. During the course, students will study a broad range of content through an eclectic collection of peer-reviewed articles focusing on the different aspects of learning and cognition. This course highlights main findings, established facts, and skills in learning and cognition that are applicable to a wide range of contexts.

PSY 625 Biological Bases of Behavior

3 Credits

In this course students will explore the detailed anatomy and physiology of the brain, including cellular physiology, synaptic transmission, and clinical neuroanatomy. Theories that focus on the relationship between brain function and behavior will be reviewed, and students will illustrate their understanding of important brain networks, including those involved in sensation/perception, language, memory, movement, and emotions. Through a review of the history of behavioral neuroscience, students will learn about the relationship between symptom presentation and underlying theories of neuroanatomy/neurophysiology as well as how these concepts have evolved over time. Students will also become familiar with important research methods used in neuroscience by analyzing current concepts in brain aging and neurodegenerative diseases. For the final assignment in the course, students will design a grant proposal that focuses on a particular disorder/syndrome in the area of neurophysiology. Prerequisites: PSY 600, PSY 605, PSY 610, PSY 615 and PSY 620.

PSY 630 Psychopharmacology

3 Credits

Students will examine the activity of drugs, both therapeutic and recreational, on the body with an emphasis on the brain. Theories of the biological basis of psychiatric disorders will be explored as a basis for examining the professional standards behind therapeutic drug use. The history of drug use, research methods and ethical concerns will be examined. Prerequisite: PSY 625.

PSY 635 Research Design & Methods

3 Credits

This course reviews the basic concepts of common quantitative research methods and introduces research design using qualitative and mixed methods. In the review of quantitative methods, emphasis will be placed on experimental research designs. Students will be challenged to select appropriate research designs and methodologies for various research questions. The course will culminate in a detailed research proposal on topics chosen by the students.

PSY 640 Psychological Testing & Assessment

3 Credits

The course includes an overview of individual and group approaches to testing in psychology. Students will review psychological assessments utilized to evaluate personality, intelligence, achievement, and career-related interests and skills in a variety of work settings. The course will provide students with opportunities to analyze psychometric methodologies typically employed in the development and validation of psychological and educational tests. Students will apply knowledge of psychological measurement principles to testing and assessment data with an emphasis on ethical and professional interpretation. Issues and challenges related to testing and assessment with diverse populations will be integrated into the course. Prerequisite: PSY 635.

PSY 645 Psychopathology

3 Credits

This course introduces students to objective and phenomenological understandings of psychological symptoms and disorders. Students will draw from various theoretical and historical perspectives to build their understanding of diagnostic and treatment methods for psychological disorders and develop their appreciation for evidence-based practices. Additionally, students will be encouraged to conceptualize psychopathology from a socioculturally sensitive standpoint through the examination of culture-related syndromes. Diagnostic manuals and handbooks will be discussed and used throughout the course. 

PSY 650 Introduction to Clinical & Counseling Psychology

3 Credits

This course examines similarities and differences in clinical and counseling psychology, with an emphasis on professional roles and activities. Students will gain greater awareness of their attitudes toward various ethical and professional issues, psychotherapy modalities, theoretical orientations, and clinical interventions through case studies. Evidenced-based practices and psychotherapy integration will also be covered during the course.

PSY 699 Master of Arts in Psychology Capstone

3 Credits

The capstone course is the culminating educational experience for the Master of Arts in Psychology. In this course, students will integrate and apply what they have learned throughout the program to meet competencies as outlined in the program learning outcomes. Students will be exposed to a holistic view of psychology as a discipline, and they will be encouraged to think critically about the broader themes that link various subfields of psychology. Students will reflect on the experience of the program as a whole and will consider how the program’s themes apply to a variety of civic and professional settings. The capstone affords students a final opportunity to practice and demonstrate the skills they will need to succeed after graduation.

PSY 7210 Adult Psychopathology & Treatment I

3 Credits

This course focuses on the etiology and diagnosis of adult psychopathological disorders. Students develop skills in case conceptualization and addressing adult disorders, and differential diagnosis and construction of a systematic treatment plan, emerging treatment revision, assessment of outcome, termination, and ethical issues in the treatment process. While placing treatment within a theoretical context, the real emphasis in this course is on treatment techniques aimed at symptom and problem reduction. Benefits and limitations of the diagnostic process are reviewed.

PSY 7301 Advanced Performance Enhancement I: Core Mind-Body Practices

3 Credits

This course presents mind-body practices that provide the core elements of behaviors for individual and team performance. The student will learn to practice and to teach mastery of cognitive and physical skills to control systemic arousal and focusing behavior. The course will provide tools to construct performance profiles on individuals taking into account age, gender and cultural parameters. This depth of analysis provides the foundation to effectively integrate mind-body practices with performance enhancement. The student will be given strategies for measuring the efficacy of applying mind-body practices in diverse settings.

PSY 7305 Advanced Psychomotor Development & Kinesiology

3 Credits

This course explores the practical applications of physiological and psychomotor dimensions of performance. The curriculum provides a comprehensive analysis of human movement and mental training applications. Parameters for measuring the stress response will be explored in conjunction with optimizing human performance. The lifelong developmental aspects of physiological and motor behavior will be examined.

PSY 7311 Advanced Performance Enhancement II: Integrative Mind-Body Practices

3 Credits

This course provides in depth study of advanced research and theories that integrate mind-body practices in enhancing performance. Students are taught how to utilize multiple conceptual frameworks and research findings in training skills such as advanced arousal control, imagery and focusing. The student will be able to assess the influence of age, gender and cultural factors on performance and apply this understanding to developing individualized training protocols. The graduate will be able to assess the efficacy of integrative mind-body practice models in enhancing individual, group and team performance.

PSY 7314 Rehabilitation in Sports & Performance

3 Credits

This course examines crucial rehabilitation topics in sports and performance. The curriculum provides methods of psychological evaluation and treatment for injuries, addictions, eating disorders, and burnout. Students will investigate the dynamics of aggression in sports and performance settings. Retirement issues and exercise adherence strategies are explored. Inclusive in the course is a special debate section challenging students to confront current ethical issues in the field.

PSY 7317 Advanced Group Dynamics in Sports & Performance Settings

3 Credits

This course examines the integral relationship between leadership, communication, and group performance. The curriculum applies group and team principles to diverse populations such as youth, special needs, high-profile performers and support networks. Leadership is studied within the context of group functioning. Students will develop research protocols for assessing group and team functioning.

PSY 7321 Advanced Performance Enhancement III: The Psychology of Peak Experience

3 Credits

This course is the pinnacle of performance enhancement teachings. The emphasis in this course is the development of advanced awareness skills in the attainment of self-mastery. The student learns how to guide individual goal achievement in congruence with current skills. The ultimate goal for the student is to recognize and cultivate individual and group experiences that are characterized by such terms as optimal performance, actualization, effortless awareness, flow, and peak experience.

PSY 7330 Sports & Performance Psychology as a Business

3 Credits

This course assists students in developing personal business plans. The curriculum addresses the financial, legal and ethical issues encountered in sports and performance psychology. The course gives the student persuasive arguments to use with clients to prevent their use of licit and illicit drugs and performance enhancing substances, as well as advising clients who have already used illicit substances and how to handle accusations against them for substance use or abuse. Potential career opportunities are identified and compared. The student will prepare a personal resume, market analysis and comprehensive business plan.

PSY 7510 Biological Bases of Behavior

3 Credits

This course is designed to provide the student with a foundation of human physiology including the nervous, hormonal, reproductive, and sensory systems, and the attendant functions of digestion, sleep, learning and memory, emotion, and other human biological functions. The course provides an essential knowledge base for most other offerings in the field of psychology.

PSY 7512 Psychology of Leadership

3 Credits

The course will provide an overview of the key events and accomplishments that have played an important role in the historical evolution of the psychology of leadership and the systems that form the basis of the discipline. A review of the history of organizational psychology introduces several important distinctions that define the discipline, and theoretical models and perspectives that trace the evolution of theory and practice. The learning activities emphasize the dichotomy between the science and applications of organizational psychology and leadership. The course approaches the psychology of leadership from three different perspectives 1) objectives for research and practice in the field, 2) basic methodological orientation of practitioners and 3) the systems and research-based foundations that form the basis of organizational psychology and the psychology of leadership.