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 2024- Descriptions by Section

Section 001
Terri Vescio

Prejudice, Power, and Social Inequality

The historical emergence of social psychology paralleled twentieth-century movements toward postcolonial independence and civil rights, the demise of the eugenics movement, and challenges to ideologies of ethnic and gender hierarchies. Yet striking social inequities persist in the 21st century. In recent years, grassroots organizations and social alliances have demonstrated and taken action in the quest of racial, gender, class, and environmental justice, with attention drawn toward intersecting identities (e.g., violence toward people of color who are trans-women, young, and/or also have disabilities). Classic and contemporary psychological research on intra- and inter-group relations, implicit bias, power, and collective action will be discussed and used as a framework for thinking about contemporary quests for social justice and social change. The primary goals of this course are to introduce students to the social psychology of prejudice, to help students develop critical thinking and communication skills, and to engage in psychological inquiry into issues of social meaning while working together as a collaborative, engaged, challenging, and support group of peers and scholars. To do so we will read popular press materials, social critiques, watch movies, and read empirical articles.

Section 002
Reg Adams
Social Visual Perception

Lee Ross once wrote “Social psychology stands at the intersection between our eyes and the world in front of us, and helps us understand the difference between what we think we see and what is actually out there.” More of the human brain is dedicated to visual processes than all other sensory modalities combined, and the visual system is particularly attuned to social cues in the environment. Because of this, we can “read” others’ mental and emotional states from their nonverbal language, often enabling us to understand their desires, intentions, motives, and beliefs. Ultimately, what we see informs our impressions of and guides our ongoing interactions with others (or lack thereof). Our own beliefs, values, stereotypes, cultural values, and social contexts can also shape what we see and what we read into (as opposed to from) others. In this class we will grapple with the juxtaposition of this exquisite ability we have to accurately glean information from others’ nonverbal cues alongside the factors that often blur and distort what we see. We will do this by exploring topics such as the power of the eyes, face, body language, social object perception, the influence of visual media in transmitting bias, how social identity shapes what we see, and the influences of culture and context.


Section 004




Section 005
Maria Vincia
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 006

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

Alicia Daris-Parrillo

Using psychology to dissect social issues

Our current social (and physical) world can feel overwhelming and chaotic, yet as humans we seek predictability and reason. In this seminar, we will use psychological science to examine topics, such as racism and other forms of discrimination, reactions to conservation and sustainability, and so forth. We will consider how these social issues affect us at multiple levels of human life (e.g., sociopolitical sphere, communities, daily lives, internal thoughts/feelings). You will be expected to read, discuss, and reflect on research. Our goal is to learn together and use psychology to understand how we have gotten to where we are in modern society and perhaps use that science to help find a way forward.

Section 009

Joyce Furaro
Healthy Brain/ Happy Brain
This capstone seminar will explore current research on maintaining a healthy brain through healthy behaviors. We will dive deep into topics such as sleep, coping mechanisms, as well as ways to enhance neuronal connections through mindfulness, creativity, 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. This course is best suited for psychology majors who have taken courses relating to the neurobiological aspects of psychology. Objectives include: Honing your critical thinking skills; becoming more comfortable with reading, digesting, and discussing current research literature; and learning ways to incorporate healthy brain behaviors into your everyday life.

Section 010
Suzanne Scherf

Debunking Myths of the Brain:

The brain is a mysterious organ. 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. Your final project will be to create a public service announcement debunking a myth about the brain based on the science we discuss.

Section 011
Brian Crosby
The Science of Sleep

The critical nature of sleep is evidenced by the fact that we spend approximately one-third of our life asleep. Our brains cannot function properly with inadequate sleep, impacting things like our ability to concentrate, process memories, and regulate emotion. This course will focus on the science of sleep with the ultimate goal of understanding the varied reasons for why humans sleep. This exploration will include the review and discussion of research on topics such as the study and measurement of sleep, changes in sleep across development, the importance of sleep for individual and family functioning, the function of dreaming, and abnormalities in sleep that occur in sleep and other mental health disorders. The course will be comprised of lectures, class discussions, and experiential activities related to sleep and dreaming. It is anticipated that students will leave the course with an understanding of the value of sleep and the important role it plays in our everyday life.

Section 012
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 disciplines, not just in science. 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.


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