Below you may find the course descriptions for our graduate courses.

Psychology Courses


PSYC 365: Child & Family Policy (3 credits)

This combined graduate and undergraduate course is designed to engage students in a critical examination of the relation between knowledge and advocacy, and the influence of both on the development of child policy in the United States. Students are introduced to the opportunities, dilemmas, and constraints that affect the relation between science and policy, particularly federal legislative policies for children and families. Roles for psychologists in the policy arena, as well as ethical issues associated with these roles are explored.

(Alternately, students can take PPOL 524: Child Development and Public Policy)

PSYC 501: Lifespan Development: Brain and Cognition (3 credits)

This course introduces graduate students to the key concepts of developmental trajectories and timing, malleability, plasticity and compensation and normal and abnormal development that are critical to understanding developmental changes in cognitive and brain functioning across the lifespan. The study of development generally, and cognition and brain functioning specifically, is by nature an interdisciplinary enterprise, so readings draw from psychology, neuroscience and related disciplines. The role of neuroscience findings and policy translation are considered throughout the semester. This is a team-taught class and is divided into 4 modules that cover embryology, infancy, childhood, and aging. The first module examines prenatal development including the use of embryonic development, prenatal assault and animal models. The second module examines infant cognition including memory and communication development. The third module covers cognitive neuroscience in school-aged children with a particular focus on executive function and dysfunction. The final module covers cognitive and brain aging. The intent in all four modules is to offer an overview of the constructs and some sense of the theoretical, empirical, and application issues. Each professor highlights the role that very different methods play in assessing cognitive and brain functioning, and covers some of these specialized methods, including animal models, nonverbal methods with infants, fMRI with children, and special considerations with aging populations. Offered Wednesdays 2:00-4:30 in the fall semester of even-numbered years.

PSYC 502: Human Development in Context (3 credits)

This course is designed to introduce graduate students to the theories and research about the contextual influences on human development. The first part of the course examines ecological, life course, and systems theories of development. Then, we consider many of the major developmental contexts highlighted by those theories, including those settings in which individuals have direct experience (e.g., neighborhoods, schools, child care settings) and macro-level influences that set the stage for daily life (e.g., culture, socioeconomic status, policy). The study of human development generally, and systems/contextual influences specifically, is by nature an interdisciplinary enterprise. As such, most of our readings come from psychology but we also draw from sociology, policy, legal scholarship, and related disciplines. Students are encouraged to do the same in their own work for this course.  Offered Wednesdays 2:00–4:30 in the fall semester of odd-numbered years. 

PSYC 512: Seminar in Cognitive Neuroscience (3 credits)

This graduate course offers grounding in the history, methods, central issues, and theories of cognitive neuroscience. Students gain a critical understanding of the neural organization of mental function by examination of processes that mediate the functional experience using functional neuroimaging tools, and also by examining clinical conditions, psychiatric and degenerative or acute lesions that perturb it. Students read, present and discuss contemporary and classic original research articles, as well as review articles and chapters. Offered Mondays 2:00-4:30 every spring semester.

PSYC 514: Special Topics in Neuroscience (3 credits)

Please note that this course changes each semester.

PSYC 514-01: Mind, Brain and Education

This course is an introduction to the emerging field of Mind, Brain and Education (sometimes referred to as Educational Neuroscience). The field sits at the intersection of developmental psychology, cognitive neuroscience, educational practice and policy. Such interdisciplinary endeavors provide both exceptional opportunity as well as considerable pitfalls and controversy. We will explore the rapidly changing landscape of this field with two key questions in mind: (1) (How) Can empirically grounded data from psychology and neuroscience inform educational practice and policy? (2) (How) Can insights and challenges from education inform and direct research in psychology and neuroscience? We will draw heavily from reading and mathematics education for examples. However, as the course will be primarily discussion-based and in several cases student-led, additional educational topics of interest may be covered. Offered Spring 2019.

PSYC 514-02: Neurophilosophy

Science used to be philosophy and may be again. What we now think of as science grew largely out of the work of “natural philosophers” who used empirical (evidence-based) measures to test philosophical theories. Today, in the neurosciences, new techniques open the way to new evidence concerning fundamental philosophical questions about the nature of our minds. In this course, we will read into the contemporary literature, particularly the literature of cognitive neuroscience, in which empirical brain-based methods have been used as tools for asking philosophical questions. We will consider topics including consciousness, free will, morality, love, human-ness, individual differences and equality, and conceptions of self and others, as well as the natures of perception, thought, belief, and knowledge. We will directly consider the capacities and limitations of neuroscientific methods for philosophical inquiry, and discuss emerging and future directions in this area. 

The research areas/interests of the students taking the course will help to shape the syllabus. Specifically, we will seek to address philosophical questions that underlie the particular research in which students are actively engaged. Likewise, each student will write a grant proposal that is tailored to address conceptual/philosophical questions of relevance to their own research. The goal is for the work done in this course to contribute to the work students are doing as researchers in their respective labs.

Course content will be communicated through reading and discussion of empirical literature (research papers) in cognitive neuroscience and related disciplines as well as theory-based essays and reviews. In addition, we may have opportunities to learn from visiting scholars who will share their expertise in areas relevant to neuroscience, cognition, and philosophy. We will address in some depth the neuroimaging techniques used in contemporary neuroscience, focusing especially on magnetic resonance imaging. We will also introduce strategies and methodological considerations for designing a neuroscientific experiment. Each week, our readings will address a specific philosophical topic. One member of the class will be assigned to present each reading for group discussion.

PSYC 521: Quantitative Methods in Psychology (3 credits)

In the last decade, Structural Equation Models and Multilevel Models have been frequently used in published studies in psychological research. The goal of the course is to familiarize students with the logic, implementation, interpretation, and presentation of these advanced approaches. Hands-on experience will be emphasized during the course. Students are expected to apply the methods to their own research and publication. 

PSYC 522: Advanced Quantitative Methods: Regression (3 credits)

PSYC 901: Graduate Tutorial: Psychology (3 credits )

Students should identify a teaching tutorial mentor and complete an add/drop description form that describes the roles and responsibilities of the mentor and student in the semester with the overarching goal of the student gaining pedagogical skills to implement their own seminar. Skills gained during the semester include specific student engagement techniques, syllabus design and assignment creation and grading practices as decided upon by mentor and student.

PSYC 999: Thesis Research: Psychology (0 credits)