Psychology
Mount Saint Mary's College
Home » Undergraduate Bachelor Programs » Psychology » Course Descriptions

Psychology

Course Descriptions

Click here for Graduate course descriptions.

PSY 1 Introduction to Psychology (3)

This course is an introduction to the study of mental processes and behavior. The course will survey major concepts, research findings, and practical applications of current research. The course focuses on questions such as: How do people change and grow from infancy to adulthood? How do we learn and remember best? How does biology influence behavior? How do our senses help us to interpret the world? How does personality work? How do other people affect our behavior? What does it mean to be “abnormal”? GS-IIIF

PSY 12 Child/Human Development (3)

Introduction to human development from conception to death. Covers major theories of psychological growth, interactions between heredity and environment, and the physical, cognitive, and social domains of development in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Focuses on concepts and issues important in prenatal development, thinking and social relationships in childhood and adolescence, effective parenting, and personal growth through the lifespan. Prerequisite: PSY 1 (waived for qualified Liberal Studies majors and for Single Subject Credential students). GS-IIIF

PSY 13 Child Development (3)

Introduction to child development from conception to adolescence. Covers major theories of psychological growth, interactions between heredity and environment, and the physical, cognitive, and social domains of development in childhood and adolescence. Focuses on concepts and issues important in prenatal development, thinking and social relationships in childhood and adolescence, including effective parenting and personal growth. Prerequisite: PSY 1 (waived for qualified Liberal Studies majors and for Single Subject Credential students). This course does not meet the PSY 12 requirement for either the Psychology major or the Nursing major. GS-IIIF 

PSY 14 Adult Development (1)

A survey of the major psychological theories and milestones related to adult development. Course topics include developmental stages of adolescence, young adulthood, middle age and the process of advancing age. In combination with a previously completed course in child development, this course meets the life span human development requirement of the MSMC Department of Nursing. Prerequisite: PSY 12.

PSY 36 Language and Literacy Development in the Young Child (3)

An in-depth study of the acquisition and development of language and emergent literacy from birth through age 8. Vygotsky’s theory of cognitive development and its relationship to the language arts will be studied. Children’s literature will be surveyed, with an emphasis on winners of the Caldecott Award. The course will encompass how to choose books and ways to integrate them into the preschool curriculum. Prerequisite: PSY 12.

PSY 40 Basic Statistical Methods (3)

Focus on applied descriptive and inferential statistical techniques as used in behavioral science research. Topics covered include properties of distributions, measures of central tendency, elementary probability theory, hypothesis testing, correlation, and analysis of variance. Prerequisites: PSY 1and satisfactory score on the Mathematics Placement Examination or completion of MTH 2X. MTH 1 or 10 recommended. GS-IIIE, VIIB

PSY 52 Biological Psychology (3)

Critical survey of the structure and function of the nervous system. Topics include the neural control of sensory systems, hormonal systems, motor systems, learning, memory, emotions, and sleep. Particular emphasis is placed on recent advances in our knowledge of brain structure, neurotransmitter systems, neural development and plasticity, neuropharmacology, neuropathology, and psychopathology. Prerequisites: PSY 1. GS-IIIF

PSY 52L Biological Psychology Lab (1)

Required concurrent laboratory supplement to PSY 52. The laboratory provides the background in neuroanatomy necessary to understand basic principles of neural function. Emphasis is placed on learning to recognize gross and microscopic structures of the brain within a functional perspective. Prerequisites: PSY 1.

PSY 102 Issues in Human Development (3)

Introduction to human development from conception to death. Covers major theories of psychological growth, interactions between heredity and environment, and the physical, cognitive, and social domains of development in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Focuses on concepts and issues important in prenatal development, thinking and social relationships in childhood and adolescence, effective parenting, and personal growth through the lifespan. Prerequisite: PSY 1.

PSY 103 Applied Psychology (3)

This course will introduce students to how psychologists and other practitioners apply basic psychological principles, knowledge, and research to address real world issues. This course will address questions like “What is applied psychology?” “What is the difference between basic and applied psychology?” “Where or in what capacity do applied psychologists work?” “What is evidence based practice?” and “How can we apply psychology to common ‘everyday’ situations?” Prerequisites: PSY 1.

PSY 106 Basic Research Methods (3)

Introduction to the scientific method and its use in answering questions about psychological phenomena. Covers each of the major steps in the research process, including formulation of hypotheses, choice of appropriate research designs, empirical testing of hypotheses with proper controls and regard for ethical issues, systematic analysis of data, and reporting of results in a scientific format. Must be taken concurrently with PSY 106L. Prerequisite: PSY 40. GS-VIIA

PSY 106L Basic Research Methods Lab (1)

Required laboratory supplement to PSY 106, which must be taken concurrently. The laboratory sessions provide structured practice in conducting psychological research. Students perform several simple studies on topics in different areas of psychology assigned by the instructor. The final laboratory report should demonstrate competence in formulating and testing hypotheses, as well as in reporting the results and their interpretation in the format specified by the American Psychological Association. Prerequisite: PSY 40.

PSY 107 Positive Psychology (3)

Survey of the research and applications of positive psychology, the study of the human strengths that contribute to personal and societal growth. Covers topics such as happiness, well-being, wellness, optimism, creativity, self-efficacy, pleasure, coping, empathy, attachment, compassion, prosocial behavior, and building positive environments. Prerequisite: PSY 1.

PSY 110 Gender Issues in Psychology (3)

Exploration of the psychological theories and research findings related to gender issues. Topics to be covered include gender role development, gender differences in personality, and the analysis of social issues of gender and sexuality in the realms of society, politics, and culture. Prerequisite: PSY 1.

PSY 112 Careers and Observation in Child Development Settings (3)

Overview of the child development field and careers working with children under age 13 and their families. Each student will observe in a community child development setting for a minimum of 15 hours. Professional ethics and current issues in the field will be explored. Prerequisites: PSY 12 and (EDU 32 or PSY 113).

PSY 113 Learning in Children and Adolescents across Cultures (3)

This course examines how developmental, biological and cultural factors influence the ability and motivation to learn. Assignments and class discussions address the role of teachers, parents, and other adults in facilitating children’s development in school contexts. Emphasis is placed on the interaction between cognitive performance and the total sociocultural environment in which the child and adolescent lives. Prerequisite: PSY 12 GS-VI

PSY 118 Interventions for Children with Disabilities (3)

This course will survey a variety of physical disabilities, as well as different levels of general cognitive functioning that identify children as qualifying for Special Education programming. The course will go on to investigate the current “best practices” strategies and interventions for the effective development of psycho-social, behavioral, and instructional integration of “exceptional children” into the least restrictive environment offered within the public education system. Prerequisite: PSY 1.

PSY 119 Alcohol and Substance Abuse (3)

This course reviews the historical, social, cultural, psychological, and behavioral factors associated with patterns of psychoactive substance use in the United States. As an introductory course designed to provide general knowledge and background about drugs and alcohol, the course examines the effects of substance use on human cognition, emotion, and behavior, examines models of abuse/addiction, and explores the application of both traditional and innovative models of prevention and treatment. The effects of alcohol and other substance use on society is also addressed. Prerequisites: PSY 1.

PSY 120 Forensic Psychology (3)

This course will survey the field of forensic psychology. Topics such as expert witness testimony, mandatory sentencing, criminal profiling, police misconduct, domestic violence, child custody, jury selection, sanity, ability to stand trial, risk assessment, death penalty, and public policy will be covered. Prerequisites: PSY 1.

PSY 121 Grief and Bereavement (3)

This courses exams the grief processes that take place within individuals and families as they experience loss in a sociocultural context. The course will address the nature and causes of grief, factors that facilitate and/or impede the ability to function after loss, different cultural perspectives on grief, and strategies for coping with loss. Prerequisites: PSY 1.

PSY 122 Health Psychology (3)

This course examines how biological, psychological, and social factors interact with and affect the efforts people make in promoting good health and preventing illness; the treatment people receive for medical problems; how effectively people cope with and reduce stress and pain; and the recovery, rehabilitation, and psychosocial adjustment of patients with serious health problems. Prerequisites: PSY 1.

PSY 124 Child and Adolescent Psychology Practicum (3)

Applied work enhancing a student's ability to use the principles of psychology in counseling or clinically-related settings, working with children and/or adolescents. Course includes weekly seminar oriented towards integrating experiences with theory. Prerequisites: PSY 125, PSY 172, PSY 139.

PSY 125 Basic Counseling Skills (3)

Survey of basic counseling skills, with emphasis on developing effective verbal and non-verbal communications. Stages and goals of the counseling process will be examined. Students will participate in demonstrations of basic counseling techniques (e.g., reflective listening, confrontation, demonstration of empathy). Course work will focus on practical applications of these skills. Prerequisite: PSY 1.

PSY 128 Adulthood and Aging (3)

Exploration of psychological factors of the process of aging. Focus will be on attitudes, values, motivations, and behavior as they are influenced by environmental and biological changes associated with aging. This course is conducted as a seminar and includes a fieldwork component; visiting and evaluating various care facilities for the senior population. Prerequisite: PSY 1, PSY 12.

PSY 129 Motivation (3)

Comparison of the range, strengths and limitations of the prominent theories explaining high and low motivation. Explores common motivation problems and their effect on the individual and society. Motivation treatments are applied to a variety of contexts, including education, work, love and others. A critical analysis of the current applied motivation literature is emphasized. Prerequisite: PSY 145.

PSY 132 Personality Theory (3)

Comprehensive study of the major theories of personality (e.g., Psychoanalytic, Behavioral, Humanistic, Cognitive). The course will address development, structure and dynamics of personality, utilizing contemporary research. Survey of these theories highlights the origin of normal and pathological personality development. Prerequisite: PSY 12.

PSY 134 Learning and Memory Processes (3)

Explores the major forms of learning and memory processes common to human and non-human animals. Focuses on the most basic learning processes, particularly classical and instrumental conditioning, but also covers observational learning. Examines the essential features of memory processes as explained by information processing models. Particular attention is paid to applications of learning and memory theories in solving practical problems in normal and clinical situations. Prerequisite: PSY 1, PSY 106/106L or consent of instructor.

PSY 138 Managing Non-Profit Organizations (3)

This course will introduce non-business majors to managerial theories to lead non-profit organizations. The learning experience includes review of literature, class presentations and active sponsorship of service organizations. A service learning project integrates theory with practice, requiring team cooperation, planning and accountability. (Also BUS 139, GER 138, EDU 138c and SOC 138.)

PSY 139 Child Abuse and Family Violence (3)

A theoretical exploration of the causes, nature, and impact (physical, social and psychological) of the various forms of family violence as well as the methods used by counseling professionals for intervention, remediation, and prevention. Prerequisite: PSY 12

PSY 141 Applied Research Methods & Statistics (3)

Introduction to the scientific method and its use in answering questions about psychological phenomena. Covers each of the major steps in the research process, including formulation of hypotheses, choice of appropriate research designs, empirical testing of hypotheses with proper controls and regard for ethical issues, systematic analysis of data, and reporting of results in a scientific format. Emphasis will be on reading, understanding, and critiquing research. Must be taken concurrently with PSY 141L. Prerequisite: PSY 1.

PSY 141L Applied Research Methods & Statistics Lab (1)

Required laboratory supplement to PSY 141, which must be taken concurrently. The laboratory sessions provide structured practice in conducting psychological research. Students perform simple studies assigned by the instructor. The final laboratory report should demonstrate competence in formulating and testing hypotheses, as well as in reporting the results and their interpretation in the format specified by the American Psychological Association. Prerequisite: PSY 1.

PSY 142 Industrial/Organizational Internship (3)

Applied work enhancing a student's ability to use the principles of psychology in an organizational setting. Course includes weekly seminar oriented towards integrating experiences with theory. Prerequisites: PSY 125, PSY 148.

PSY 143 Health Psychology Internship (3)

Applied work enhancing a student's ability to use the principles of psychology in a physical health-related setting. Course includes weekly seminar oriented towards integrating experiences with theory. Prerequisites: PSY 122, PSY 125.

PSY 144 Psychology of Prejudice (3)

Exploration of psychological factors involved in the development and maintenance of racism, sexism, ageism, and other manifestations of prejudice. Focuses on research of both individual and group behavior and includes consideration of techniques for combating prejudice in individuals, organizations, and society as a whole. Prerequisite: PSY 1. RecommendedPSY 145. GS-VI

PSY 145 Social Psychology (3)

Surveys the pervasive and invisible social forces acting upon individuals and the social aspects of human nature. Topics covered include the way we perceive others, the way others affect our perceptions of ourselves and our own behavior, persuasion, conformity, “mob” behavior, gender and ethnicity issues, attraction and aggression. Prerequisite: PSY 1.

PSY 148 Industrial/Organizational Psychology (3)

Introduction to the psychological relationship between individuals and their work places, particularly business settings. Focuses on the psychology of work and practical techniques in personnel selection, placement training, job appraisal, productivity enhancement, and assessment of consumer behavior.

PSY 150 School Psychology Practicum (3)

Applied work enhancing a student's ability to use the principles of psychology in an educational setting. Course includes weekly seminar oriented towards integrating experiences with theory. Prerequisites: PSY 125, PSY 155.

PSY 151 Divorce and Remarriage (3)

Examination of the short and long-term consequences of divorce on family members, focusing on exacerbating factors. Emphasis is on the role of psychologists and mediators in minimizing these effects. Prerequisites: PSY 12 and consent of instructor.

PSY 154 Applied Psychology Practicum (3)

Applied work enhancing a student's ability to use the principles of applied psychology in a real world setting. Course includes weekly seminar oriented towards integrating experiences with theory. Prerequisite: PSY 103.

PSY 155 Psychological Testing (3)

Introduction to the field of psychological testing, including an examination of history, theory, and construction of tests as well as a survey of principal individual and group tests of intelligence, personality, interest, and ability currently used in clinical and research settings. Special attention will be placed on the development of skills for evaluating the reliability, validity, and ethics of psychological tests and their applications. Prerequisite: PSY 40

PSY 156 Personality and Adjustment (3)

This course will examine the major theories of personality (e.g., Psychoanalytic, Behavioral, Humanistic, Cognitive), addressing the development, structure, and dynamics of personality. Survey of these theories highlights the origin of normal and pathological personality development. Students will be able to explore their own personality development, learn how different personalities work well together or conflict, explore healthy and unhealthy adjustment options, and work toward tolerance for personality differences. 

PSY 157 Brain and Behavior (3)

Critical survey of the structure and function of the nervous system. Topics include the neural control of sensory systems, hormonal systems, motor systems, learning, memory, emotions, and sleep. Particular emphasis is placed on how we can apply this knowledge to the real world (e.g., teaching and learning, mental health). Prerequisites: PSY 1. 

PSY 158 Educational Psychology (3)

This course examines how developmental, biological and cultural factors influence the ability and motivation to learn. Assignments and class discussions address the role of teachers, parents, and other adults in facilitating children's development in school contexts. Emphasis is placed on the interaction between cognitive performance and the total sociocultural environment in which the child and adolescent lives. Prerequisite: PSY 12. 

PSY 159 Social Psychology & Society (3)

Surveys the pervasive and invisible social forces acting upon individuals and the social aspects of human nature. Topics covered include the way we perceive others, the way others affect our perceptions of ourselves and our own behavior, persuasion, conformity, "mob" behavior, gender and ethnicity issues, attraction and aggression. Focuses on how social psychological theory is relevant for large scale problems in society. Prerequisite: PSY 1.

PSY 160 Cognition and Perception (3)

Surveys our current understanding of how the human mind acquires information about the environment and how it manipulates that information in both verbal and non-verbal form. The course will begin with an examination of the perceptual phenomena that relate to cognition. The course will then examine the cognitive processes involved in selective attention, perception, memory storage and retrieval, representation of knowledge, language comprehension and production, thought, and decision making. Stress is placed on understanding the relevance of cognitive research to practical problems in normal and clinical situations. Prerequisites: PSY 106 & 106L.

PSY 165 Medical Treatments of Mental Illness (3)

The course is designed to introduce students to the psychopharmacological treatment of mental disorders. The course will emphasize integrating counseling and the use of medications with different populations. Additionally, socio-political issues associated with psychotropic medications will be explored. Prerequisites: PSY 52 & 52L, PSY 168.

PSY 167 Special Topics in Psychology (1-3)

Seminar on any one of many topics in the field of psychology. Format varies with topic and instructor(s). Prerequisite: PSY 1.

PSY 168 Abnormal Psychology (3)

Explores mental health concepts, principles of psychopathology, and related treatment techniques. Surveys the various forms of abnormal behavior, covering their features, potential causes, and most effective treatments. Entails analysis of case studies using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM IV). Prerequisite: PSY 1.

PSY 172 Developmental Psychopathology (3)

Examination of childhood psychological disorders, including disturbances in sleep, eating, toileting, speech, mood, and cognitive functions, drug use, conduct disorders, autism, and pervasive developmental disorders. Addresses issues in diagnosis and treatment. Prerequisites: PSY 12, PSY 168.

PSY 175 Human Sexuality (3)

Survey of topics central to the study of sexuality. This course provides a strong foundation in physiology, sexual arousal and dysfunction, history of sexuality, and gender issues. Current topics, such as sexually transmitted diseases, prostitution and rape are explored. The course provides a perspective of human sexuality from historical, biological, psychological, cultural and sociological points of view.

PSY 178 Psychology and Film (3)

Exploration of psychological theories and research through the use of modern film. The course will explore current topics in specialized areas of psychology (e.g., abnormal, social). Film will be used to depict human interactions and provoke thought and analysis of theory and research.

PSY 182 History and Systems of Psychology (3)

The course illuminates the history of psychological ideas, as well as the lives and cultural contexts of prominent theorists. Emphasizes the historical development of ideas leading to modern psychology. Prerequisite: PSY 132.

PSY 185 Psychology of Law (3)

Overview of the intersection of the disciplines of psychology and law. Introduces the philosophical foundation of both fields, the legal system of the United States, clinical issues and the law (e.g., psychological assessment, determination of competency, involuntary commitment, family law, and criminal behavior) and psychological research on the legal system (e.g., juror decision making, jury dynamics, judicial bias, eyewitness testimony and police procedure). Prerequisites: PSY 1.

PSY 186 Violence Against Women (3)

Survey of the research literature pertaining to sexual assault, partner violence, and sexual harassment. Students will examine psychological theories concerning causes and prevention of violence against women, as well as the experiences of women as victims of these forms of violence.

PSY 187 Careers in Psychology (3)

Explores options available to students interested in careers in psychology. Job options available at different degree levels (e.g., BA, Masters, PhD) are highlighted, as appropriate preparation plans for particular careers are developed by students. Panel discussions by professionals in the field of psychology allow students to gain knowledge about the diversity of available career paths. Fieldwork in a site of the student’s choice is required.

PSY 188 Crisis Intervention (3)

Survey of crisis intervention theories, assessment, treatment and research. Includes legal and ethical issues, suicide, degrees of danger, victims of abuse, grief reactions and the family in crisis. Clinical case presentation will be used for illustration.

PSY 192 Counseling Practicum (3)

Applied work enhancing a student's ability to use the principles of psychology in a counseling or clinically-related setting. Course includes weekly seminar oriented towards integrating experiences with theory. Prerequisites: PSY 125, PSY 168.

PSY 193 Research Assistantship (3)

Applied work enhancing student understanding of the methodology and tools of psychological research. While receiving training and supervision, the student assists a MSMC psychology faculty member in the development and/or implementation of a psychological research project. Students will participate in two or more activities involved in executing major steps in the research process (e.g., developing the proposal, collecting and analyzing data, presenting and publishing results). Course includes faculty/student meetings oriented toward theoretical reviews and discussions. Concludes with a library research paper or empirical research poster which addresses a project related question. Prerequisites PSY 40, PSY 106, PSY 106L and consent of instructor. May be repeated for a total of 6 units.

PSY 194 Advanced Research (1-3)

Seminar providing direction and supervision for students undertaking original psychological research. Guidance is given in each step of the research process: in developing a question, selecting a research design, collecting and analyzing data, and reporting the results in publishable form. The final product should be suitable for presentation at student sections of professional/regional association meetings. Prerequisites: PSY 40, PSY 106 & 106L and consent of instructor. May be repeated for a total of 6 units.

PSY 196H Senior Honors Thesis (3)

Advanced study on a special topic chosen by the student. Prerequisites: PSY 40, PSY 106 & 106L, and Honors Student status.

PSY 199 Independent Study (1-3)

Independent exploration of a topic in psychology supervised by department faculty member. Independent study contract required. Prerequisites: PSY 1 and consent of instructor. May be repeated for a total of 6 units.