The Department of Psychology offers programs leading to the M.S. degree in general experimental psychology. All programs culminate in a thesis and require two full academic years, including one or two summers. Students take eight courses for the degree, one of which is a thesis credit.

The general experimental program is intended primarily for students planning to enter a Ph.D. program and pursue a career in research or teaching. The program involves both research and course work but is unusual in the extent to which it provides students with extensive research experience and skills under the close supervision of faculty members. The graduate student-to-faculty ratio is excellent.

Faculty

The faculty is highly research-oriented, with special interests in the behavior and social cognition of nonhuman primates (Judge), the neural and neurochemical control of reproductive behavior (Floody), social psychology and the psychology of women (Daubman, Gerdes) and evolutionary theory and beauty (Wade), stress, coping, and health (Ptacek), children's religious/spiritual, social and cognitive development (Boyatzis), cognitive processes, including those used in the perception and production of music (Halpern), emotion, trauma, and social conflict (Flack), developmental psychopathology (Evans), learning and motivation (Myers), and visual perception (Shapiro).

Facilities and Resources

The department has research laboratories in perception, animal behavior, physiological psychology, cognitive psychology, social psychology, personality psychology, developmental psychology, and human and animal conditioning. The animal laboratories are exceptionally broad and include four species of semi-naturally housed Old and New World primates as well as hamsters and rats. Faculty and students conduct observational research at a local child-care center. There are excellent computer facilities.

Admission Requirements

  • An undergraduate psychology major is not essential; however, it is critical that candidates have adequate training in experimental psychology and statistics.
  • Verbal, quantitative, written and subject psychology GRE scores are required.
  • Important admissions criteria include previous research experience and letters of recommendation. In addition, the department’s emphasis on individualized instruction requires indication of research experience and interests in each candidate’s statement.
  • Personal admission statements should mention one or two potential mentors from among the faculty.

Courses Offered

601. History of Psychology (II; 3, 0) A history of scholarly ideas about thought, feelings, and behavior.

604. Advanced Developmental Psychology (I or II; 3, 0)
Analysis of selected topics in human development, such as gender issues, cognitive development, parenting and sibling relations, or religious and spiritual development. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

605. Developmental Psychopathology (I or II; 3, 0)
Addresses the behavioral phenotypes of a variety of neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders in the context of theories and processes of normal development. Genetic and neurobiological underpinnings of disorders are discussed. Prerequisites: permission of the instructor.

606. Advanced Abnormal Psychology (I or II; 3, 0)
Analysis of specific topics in the fields of psychopathology and/or clinical psychology. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

607. Culture and Child Development (I or II; 3, 0)
Study of culture-specific and universal processes of child development in diverse societies. Cultural issues in family, education, government, religion, labor, war, hunger. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

611. Advanced Health Psychology (I or II; 3, 0)
Advanced seminar considering current topics in health psychology, potentially including health behavior change, adolescent risk behavior, and/or social determinants of health. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

615. Language Development (I or II; 3, 0)
Advanced seminar examining how children learn the sounds, words, and grammar of their language. Special topics might include the social use of language, bilingualism, literacy, second language learning, or language disorders. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

616. Advanced Social Psychology (I or II; 3, 0)
Consideration of experimental and theoretical issues in social psychology. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

617. Comparative Animal Cognition (I or II; 3, 0)
Advanced seminar in issues of nature/nurture, learning, development, and adaptation, in behaviors such as foraging, mating, and communication in several species. Prerequisites: Crosslisted as ANBE 617.

618. Cognitive Aging (I or II; 3, 0)
Seminar discussing the development and changes in cognition in senior citizens. Topics include memory, language, attention, and decision-making. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

619. Topics in Psychology (I or II; R; 3, 0)
Occasional seminars on selected topics of current interest in psychology. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

620. Children's Studies (I; 3, 2-4)
Study of childhood from multiple disciplinary lenses. Topics include children's advertising and consumerism, child labor, child soldiers, children's spirituality, children in diverse cultures, children and the arts. In this service-learning course students work with children/youth in field placements (e.g., Geisinger Children's Hospital, residential treatment centers). Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

624. Advanced Psychological Statistics (I or II; 3, 0)
A survey of advanced statistical techniques with emphasis on analysis and interpretation of experimental and correlational data. Prerequisites: permission of the instructor.

625. Advanced Personality Theory (I or II; 3, 0)
Consideration of current issues in personality psychology. Possible topics include: persons and situations, personality and health, and personality and relationships. Prerequisite: PSYC 228 or permission of the instructor.

626. Language and Cognition (II; 3, 0)
Advanced study of language perception, production, acquisition, evolution, computational models and neural mechanisms. Focus on recent developments in the field.

639. Psychology of Music (I or II; 3, 0)
Seminar examining how musicians and non-musicians comprehend, remember, perform, and respond to music, including developmental aspects. Some background in music is required. Prerequisites: permission of the instructor.

643. Neural Plasticity (I; 3, 0)
Brain structure and function, emphasizing cellular and molecular approaches to neural development, plasticity and degeneration. Prerequisites: permission of the instructor. Crosslisted as BIOL 643.

644. Developmental Brain Research (II; R; 3, 0)
Students learn a variety of assessment techniques in developmental neuropsychology and neuroscience (including EEG) and conduct quantitative research culminating in written and oral reports. Crosslisted as NEUR 644. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

648. Behavioral Pharmacology (II; 3, 0)
Focus on drugs that affect the nervous system, drugs of abuse, therapeutic drugs, drug action, behavioral changes as a result of long-term drug use, animal models and human studies. Prerequisites: permission of the instructor. Crosslisted as NEUR 648.

649. Human Neuropsychology (I or II; 3, 0)
Brain mechanisms of language, memory, and other processes as revealed by studies of human brain activity or pathology. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

652. Advanced Perception (I or II; 3, 0)
Theories of and research on sensory and perceptual processes. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

669. Psychology of Beauty and Attraction (I or II; 3, 0)
Examination of research on beauty and attraction from an evolutionary perspective. Prerequisites: permission of the instructor.

670. Primate Behavior and Ecology (I; 3, 3*)
Introduction to research on prosimians, monkeys, and apes with emphasis on the evolutionary origin of diversity, habitat use, social structure, social behavior, and cognitive abilities. Prerequisites: permission of the instructor. Crosslisted as ANBE/BIOL 670.

680. Thesis (I or II)

Courses offered occasionally
609 Appetite and Eating Behavior, 673 Psychology of Race and Gender.

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