Psychology Courses and Related Information

Psychology Courses and Related Information

When taking courses towards the Psychology degree, each student has many options in relation to the areas of study to pursue. However, within the degree requirements there are some elements that are consistent regardless of the degree program chosen. Below is some key information related to psychology courses that students should be aware of as they develop their long term plan schedule.

Psych 490 Fall 2023- Descriptions by Section

Section 001
Joyce Furfaro

This capstone seminar will explore current research on maintaining a healthy brain through healthy behaviors, coping better with stress, as well as strengthening your neuronal connections through meditation and continued learning. Students will be encouraged to practice healthy brain activities, and report their experience to their classmates. Your critical thinking skills will be tested as we also find and discuss current research and related news items from popular press sources. Some core topics will include cognitive reserve, mindfulness, dementia, and the effects of stress on the brain. This course is best suited for psychology majors who have taken courses relating to the neurobiological aspects of psychology. Objectives include: Honing our critical thinking skills; Becoming more comfortable with reading, digesting, and discussing current research literature; and learning ways to incorporate healthy-brain behaviors into our everyday life.

Section 002
Terri Vescio
Intersections of gender, race, and violence

Given the persistent and striking gender inequalities worldwide, the goal of this senior undergraduate seminar is to elaborate relations of gendered embodiments and power to the maintenance of the status quo. To fully understand this relation, analysis must occur at varied levels of analysis – intrapersonal, interpersonal, intergroup, and cultural – and considering contributions across discipline. Across psychological theories, masculinity theories, and feminist theories scholars have examined how people respond to, internalize, and consensually engage in racialized gendered roles and relations defined by culturally valued and idealized notions of gender. In this seminar we will examine pressures to embody culturally valued forms as facilitated by threats of subtle and open acts of violence. Discussions will focus on what we learn about the importance of gender roles by examining how “bad” women and “bad” men are perceived and (mis)treated. To do so we will read popular press materials, social critiques, watch movies, and read empirical articles.

Section 003
Suzy Scherf
Debunking Myths of The Brain

The brain is a mysterious organ to the general public. Overwhelmingly people embrace beliefs about the brain and how it works that are complete myths! In this class, we will examine these myths, debunk them, and think about the socio-cultural factors that lead people to endorse the myths. To do so we will read popular press materials and watch movies that feature or defend these myths. We will use empirical evidence to debunk the myths.

Section 004
Katharine Adams
Psychology of Reading

Reading is a human invention that allows us to share thoughts and ideas across time and space. What makes these squiggles on a page meaningful? Is it necessary for humans to read? In this seminar, we will explore the psychology of reading by examining the current research and controversies in the field of reading science. We will look at the visual, cognitive, and linguistic systems necessary for fluent reading. Topics include the neuroscience of reading, reading development, reading across languages, dyslexia, and what it means to be literate.

Section 005
Beth Gerace
Mindfulness and Meaning

The first half of this capstone seminar will explore applications of mindfulness in psychology. This course will explore the metacognitive process of mindfulness and how applications of mindfulness can be used to process negative thoughts and emotions, treat psychological disorders, and enhance social relationships. Topics will include mindfulness-based therapies such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, non-attachment, and cognitive reframing. The second half of this course will explore theories of meaning such as Terror Management Theory and Mindfulness to Meaning Theory and how meaning in life changes across the lifespan. Topics will include developmental theories of adulthood and aging. Students will be asked to read and reflect on scholarly work in these topic areas, work individually and in groups to present ideas/summaries to the class, and hone writing skills.

Section 008
Maria Vinca
The art and science of psychotherapy.

An introduction to the person of the therapist including the qualities and skills required for effective therapeutic change. This course will cover empirically validated common factors and skills that contribute to positive client outcomes. Beyond merely reading material, students will implement what they are learning through practicing elements of psychotherapy skills on one another through mini mock therapy sessions.

Section 009
Rick Gilmore
The Reproducibility Crisis in Science

Much attention has focused on the reproducibility of research in psychology, but the challenges of producing robust and reliable knowledge extend to all scientific disciplines. In this seminar, we will discuss whether there is or is not a reproducibility crisis in psychology and in science more broadly. We will discuss how initiatives to make scientific research more open and transparent can also make it more reproducible and robust.

Section 10
Reg Adams
The Laughing Animal: The Psychology of Humor and Laughter

Humor and laughter are vital to human functioning, promoting physical and emotional well-being, social harmony, learning, and creativity. Humor and laughter can also be used as weapons against others and can transmit and perpetuate stereotypes and prejudice. This course is designed to explore these phenomena and to apply insights gained to broader research themes such as creativity, social cognition, attribution theory, and emotion theory.

Table of Contents

Subject Pool Information (for PSYCH 100 and PSYCH 105 Students)

The Subject Pool is an Experiment Management System. As part of the requirements for PSYCH 100 and PSYCH 105, you will be required to participate in research being conducted within the Psychology Department. For those who object or are minors, you will have assignments to complete to meet the required number of experiment hours. Below you will find links to the Subject Pool and relevant information as you get started.

Psych 105 - Psychology as a Science and Profession

PSYCH 105 explores the development of modern psychology, the role of science in that development, and career paths related to scientific psychology. The course will help you explore career options and help you decided if Psychology is right for you. You can find a brief description of PSYCH 105 in the University Bulletin or review the course syllabus. Remember PSYCH 100 is a prerequisite to PSYCH 105, and this prerequisite is strictly enforced..

PSYCH 105 is NOT available at very many other campus locations. It is strictly a University Park Degree requirement. This course should be completed by the end of the 4th semester if you are a University Park student, and by the end of the 5th semester if you are a Change of Location student or a Transfer student. This course is controlled to 3rd and 4th semester standing students. If you are a Change of Location or Transfer student and are looking to enroll into PSYCH 105 for your first semester at UP, please make an appointment with an academic adviser.

Reminder: Currently there are NO substitutions for PSYCH 490 or PSYCH 105

Psych 490 - Senior Seminar in Psychology

PSYCH 490 can be viewed as your final destination within the Psychology degree program. It is an all encompassing course that integrates your years of gained knowledge from your coursework and allows you to apply your knowledge in a small more intimate classroom setting. You can find a brief course description for PSYCH 490 in the University Bulletin. In this class you will review research literature around a specific topic of study. Each semester the topics available will change. Although it may be tempting to choose a section based on time, be sure to choose a topic most interesting to you.

Some example titles of previously held sections of PSYCH 490 include but are not limited to:

  • “Creativity and Innovation”
  • “Neuroethology: How Animal Brains Make Animal Behavior”
  • “Psychological Science in the Media”
  • ” Developmental Psychopathology”
  • “Assessment Centers: Research and Practice”
  • “Art, Language, and Creativity in Children”
  • “RJP in Managing Work-life Interfaces”

To view current topic descriptions of PSYCH 490 see above or look in the section notes on LionPath.

When the time has come for scheduling PSYCH 490 keep in mind you must have successfully completed PSYCH 301W and it is recommended that you have had 6.0 credits of PSYCH at the 400 level. Psych 301W is a strict prerequisite to which no exceptions will be made (ie. You CANNOT take the prerequisites concurrently, they must be completed prior to 490).

Course Sequencing

Many students are not aware that there is a course sequence within the major degree requirements. This can tend to cause students problems when they had not planned for it when studying abroad or taking a semester off for an internship. It is vital for students to understand prerequisites to courses and to plan for them in their long term plan schedule. Lack of planning can delay graduation especially since such courses as PSYCH 105 and PSYCH 490 are only offered during the fall and spring semesters.


PSYCH 200-level courses

Enrollment Controls

Most of our 400 level PSYCH courses are initially controlled for majors only, controls are lifted for select classes once lowerclassmen start scheduling. See the notes section in the course offering for details. Once controls are lifted minors and other non-majors can schedule these classes.

NOTE: Controls are never released for PSYCH 301 or PSYCH 490.

To inquire about course controls email ugpsychupwc@psu.edu.

Psychology Course Scheduling and Descriptions