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Curriculum

The Master of Science in Experimental Psychology degree program provides students with a strong academic foundation in the theories and concepts of experimental psychology. Through focused coursework and the experience of mentored independent research, students are equipped with comprehensive skills in scientific inquiry and research methodology. These skills may prepare students for admission into a doctoral program in psychology or for career opportunities that include teaching and research in industrial, government, private consulting, health care, and community settings.

Learning Outcomes

The successful M.S. in Experimental Psychology graduate is expected to:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of major concepts, theories, and supportive research in the four non-clinical foundational areas of experimental psychology (biological, cognitive, developmental, and social psychology) and in experimental design and analysis;
  2. Apply research skills in at least one area of experimental psychology by carrying out an independent piece of research in at least one area of experimental psychology with collaboration from a faculty mentor;
  3. Demonstrate the ability to write experimental reports using APA format and language of the discipline.

Curriculum Requirements

Major Requirements (33 credits)

PSYC 5100 - Behavioral Neuroscience (3 credits)

This course emphasizes the principles of behavioral neuroscience, stressing the methods and rationales used to acquire information and reach conclusions about brain mechanisms underlying behavior. Students will survey topics related to the biology of psychology including: the basic anatomy of the nervous system, the normal physiological functions of the nervous systems, cellular electrophysiology, behavioral disorders, and brain diseases. The course also reviews current research on the role of biological basis of behavior. The relative contribution of heredity and environment will also be examined.

PSYC 5200 - Cognitive Psychology (3 credits)

This seminar reviews historical and current research in cognition. Topics include literature from cognitive psychology, cognitive neuroscience, cognitive development, and social cognition. Students in this course are expected to take an active role in class and express their ideas and opinions in class.

PSYC 5300 - Developmental Psychology (3 credits)

This course is designed to provide graduate students with a broad overview of current theories and research in developmental psychology. The focus of this seminar is the examination of development during infancy and childhood, including biological, cognitive, social, emotional, and cultural aspects. In particular, we will focus on theories, research, and applications for everyday interactions and contexts to garner an appreciation and understanding of normative and non-normative patterns of development. The principal goal of this course is to help students develop foundational knowledge about child development, and also to develop analytical skills for evaluating and conducting developmental research.

PSYC 5400 - Social Psychology (3 credits)

This course is designed to provide graduate students with a broad overview of current theories and research in social psychology. This course will review, in detail, the scientific study of how people's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the real or imagined presence of other people. Topics such as self-perception, judgment and decision-making, rationalization, attitude change, conformity, social influence, obedience, attraction, love, aggression, violence, altruism, deception, nonverbal communication, and prejudice will be covered. 

PSYC 5900 - Psychological Quantitative Methods I (3 credits)

This course will focus on the theory and application of the most commonly used parametric statistical methods in Psychology. Specifically, this course will explore the relationship between advanced statistical methods and psychological research methods by providing students with an advanced understanding of the univariate methods commonly used for the analysis of behavioral data.

PSYC 5910 - Psychological Quantitative Methods II (3 credits)

Study of multiple-response, multi-factor regression analysis, multivariate analysis of variance, alternative models in factor analysis, moderator/mediator effects, dyadic data analysis, and statistical classification methods. Prerequisite: PSYC 5900.

PSYC 5920 - Research Methods in Experimental Psychology (3 credits)

This course covers the methodological tools used in psychological research studies, with specific emphasis on observational, correlational, experimental, and quasi-experimental designs. Students will develop testable hypotheses, design a quantitative experimental research study, and use APA-format to write a report similar to those found in professional psychological journals.

PSYC 6000 - Master's Thesis (3 credits, repeatable)

In this course, the student will conduct and report an extensive independent research project under supervision of a faculty advisor. As part of the master's thesis the student will develop scientific questions and hypotheses, study design, data collection, data analysis, interpretation of the results. The students will also write a report and successfully defend the study to the master’s thesis committee in an oral colloquium. This course is repeatable up to 12 credits. Prerequisite: Permission of department chair.

Select 6 credits from the following courses:

PSYC 5110 - Sleep, Dreams, and Consciousness (3 credits)

The focus of this course is to provide students with an in-depth introduction to the biological and behavioral features of various states of consciousness, with a focus on sleeping and dreaming, as well as on several altered states of consciousness. Neural correlates of consciousness form the core of the course. 

PSYC 5120 - Comparative Psychology (3 credits)

This course will explore research on animal behavior conducted in the field and lab by psychologists, biologists and anthropologists. The course will cover the comparison of behavior and cognition across a broad range of animal species. Includes phenomena, principles, mechanisms, theories, and research techniques. Applications of evolutionary theory emphasized and implications for humans explored.

PSYC 5210 - Sensation and Perception (3 credits)

In this course, students are introduced to the relationship between the process of transducing physical energy into neural energy. This class will also review the interpretation of sensation. 

PSYC 5310 - Seminar in Self-concept Development (3 credits)

This course will examine theory and research on self-concept development. Current issues will be identified and relevant theoretical and empirical work critically examined. Students will gain a comprehensive overview of the field as well as an introduction to a number of specific empirical areas of research related to the psychological study of self-concept development. Readings will be assigned from both the developmental and the social psychology disciplines, with the goal of integrating information from these two sources so as to identify promising future directions as well as current trends in the field. Prerequisites: PSYC 5300 and PSYC 5400.

PSYC 5320 - Seminar in Gender and Development (3 credits)

This course introduces students to theories and research on gender role expectations and their influence on the psychosocial developmental experience of men, women, and children. This course will examine the impact of gender and gender role systems on developmental processes. Students will survey contemporary theory and research on gender systems and roles and the impact of gender on psychosocial development and relationship processes. Current gender research will be applied to understanding self-concept, achievement, work, relationships, and violence. Students will gain a comprehensive overview of the field as well as an introduction to a number of specific empirical areas of research related to the psychological study of gender role development. Prerequisite: PSYC 5300.

PSYC 5330 - Seminar in Social and Personality Development in Childhood (3 credits)

This course will survey theory and research in the field of social and personality development. The general goal of the course is to provide an introduction to the scientific study of processes in personality and social development with an emphasis on basic theory and research rather than applied topics such as child rearing and educational practices. Prerequisite: PSYC 5300. 

PSYC 5410 - Evolutionary Psychology (3 credits)

This course serves as an overview to the theoretical approach of evolutionary psychology as well as a survey of the major topics areas that have been approached from an evolutionary perspective. Adaptationism, the theoretical approach that understands present-day behavior and mental processes as products of past Darwinian selection pressures, is central to this course. Students are expected to develop the ability to evaluate adaptationist hypotheses, to understand the fundamental differences between the evolutionary approach and traditional social science approaches (esp. tabula rasa behaviorism), and to recognize/avoid the common errors of naïve adaptationism. As such, the course will also present necessary information from the field of evolutionary biology (intragenomic conflict, special design criteria, the evolution of sex, etc.). 

PSYC 5430 - Interpersonal Perception (3 credits)

This course examines the psychological processes involved in our perception of others' behavior, personality, and affective states. The goal of the course is to provide students with a broad survey of the factors that influence the way in which we perceive people, and to give students experience with the methods with which experimental psychology investigates these issues. Readings are from such diverse fields as nonverbal communication, social cognition, empathy, gender studies, cognitive development, and personality psychology.

PSYC 5440 - The Social Self (3 credits)

This course is a study of the social construction of identity. The focus of the course centers on (a) an analysis of identity from early theorists (e.g., James, Mead and Cooley) to more contemporary theorists, and (b) the various social elements of individuals' lives that contribute to a sense of self. 

PSYC 5510 - Personality and Individual Differences (3 credits)

This course serves as an overview to the study of inter-individual variation among humans and is, therefore, a complement to most psychology courses, in which the content is based on the group means from relevant studies. Much of the course will be devoted to personality theories, but variations in intelligence (e.g., 'g' factor intelligence), sexuality (e.g., sexual orientation), emotions (e.g., emotional lability), and localization of brain function (e.g., lateralization of language comprehension) will also be given thorough treatment.

PSYC 5520 - Applied Behavior Analysis (3 credits)

This course introduces students to ABA through readings, lecture, homework assignments, and exercises; the content, although applicable to the normal population, relates specifically to people with developmental disabilities. The students will learn about basic principles of behavior and how to apply them to produce effective, ethical, and meaningful change in the behavior of people they support. The students learn how to assess the functions or causes of behavior, develop interventions appropriate to those functions, design behavior intervention programs, and assess their effectiveness.

PSYC 5600 - History and Systems in Experimental Psychology (3 credits)

This course will introduce students to the development of modern psychological thought beginning with the Greeks. While some topics such as dualism, will be discussed in terms of earlier origins, the emphasis will be upon the development of post-renaissance concepts such as mechanism, determinism, and empiricism. The origins of the scientific method and the early attempt to apply this methodology to the psychological issues will also be presented from several perspectives. Particular attention will also be given to the antecedents, formal developments and ultimate fate of the major schools of thought in contemporary psychology.

PSYC 5700 - Grant Writing and Getting Published (3 credits)

Students in this course will learn how to research and identify potential grant sources and develop the skills needed to successfully write competitive grant proposals. Students will practice writing and reviewing proposals, with specific concentration on the following components: (a) statement of need/ rationale, (b) implementation strategies, (c) outcomes, (d) personnel, (e) evaluation, and (f) budget. 

Graduate Course Frequency Table

The academic program and curriculum requirements listed on this page will be published in the 2016-2017 edition of the Student Catalog. Students are bound by policies and curricula published in the catalog in effect the semester they enter the university, unless an agreement is made with appropriate NSU administration officials allowing them to abide by policies published in a later catalog.

Location Terms Offered Deadlines
Main Campus August (Fall) June 1

Applicants whose native language is not English are required to demonstrate English proficiency. Please visit the International Students Office website for a list of English proficiency test that satisfies the Universities requirements.

Students who have obtained a degree from a foreign country should view the list of approved agencies to have their official transcripts reviewed for university credit. Please visit the International Students Office website for a list of National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES). International Students are encouraged to contact the Office of International Student Services at (954) 262-7240 or 1800-541-6682, ext. 27240 or by email at intl@nova.edu.

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