Evening & Graduate Programs

Master of Arts in Psychology

Course Descriptions

Required courses are offered once a year and follow a rotation. Nine classes are common across both the graduate psychology and counseling psychology programs.

You can request to transfer up to six credit hours of applicable coursework from another graduate program toward the USM Master of Arts degree.

All courses are three credit hours unless otherwise noted.

PY 720 Historical Foundations of Psychology

Studies the founding and development of the discipline and profession of psychology through the exploration of philosophical and physiological roots and the contributions of major exemplars. Attention is paid to the importance of the scientific method and the influence of social and cultural factors in the progression of the discipline over time. The diversification of the field into counseling and clinical psychology as well as other specialty areas is also addressed.


PY 721 Advanced Social Psychology

Investigates scientific explanation of human interaction and behavior. The following topics are addressed: attitudes, persuasion, group influence, prejudice, aggression, attraction, altruism, and others. Recommended: Previous coursework in research methods.


PY 723 Advanced Psychopathology

Studies the range and variety of psychopathological disorders with reference to DSM IV. The etiology, symptoms, treatment, and prognosis of major disorders are addressed.


PY 724 Life Span Development

Presents a broad understanding of the nature and needs of individuals at all developmental levels, with an emphasis on psychological, sociological, and physiological models. Includes studies in abnormal behavior, personality theory, and learning theory. Covers the stages of the human growth cycle including theories pertaining to various aspects of human development.


PY 730 Methods of Research and Assessment

Examines principles and approaches to research design in the behavioral sciences. Models and methods of hypothesis testing, research analysis and assessment will be reviewed. Students will develop the skills to evaluate empirical research and design a research proposal.


PY 731 Statistical Analysis in Counseling and Therapy

Statistical logic and procedures, properties of statistical analyses, and application to data collected in a psychological context are emphasized. Descriptive and inferential statistical tests constitute the major portion of statistical analyses and reasoning. Also stressed is the interplay between statistical questions and answers and research questions and answers. Recommended: An undergraduate course in statistics.


PY 733 Developmental and Cognitive Assessment

Developmental and cognitive assessment instruments are surveyed with an emphasis on intellectual assessment. Principles of measurement are reviewed and students administer, score, interpret and write reports communicating results of selected instruments. Diagnostics, diversity, and ethical issues surrounding the measurement of intelligence are also addressed. Lab fee may apply. Limited enrollment. To enroll, students must be pursuing the Masters of Arts in Counseling Psychology Degree or have the approval of the graduate psychology program director.


PY 734 Personality Assessment for Counselors and Therapists

Major personality instruments are surveyed with both objective and projective approaches addressed. Test construction and principles of measurement are reviewed and students administer, score, interpret and write reports communicating results of selected instruments. Issues related to diagnosis and treatment planning are addressed, and cultural and ethical issues relevant to assessment are also explored. Lab fee may apply. To enroll, students must be pursuing the Masters of Arts in Counseling Psychology Degree or have the approval of the graduate psychology program director. Prior completion of PY 723 is recommended and it is also recommended that PY 749 be taken prior to this course or concurrently.


PY 741 Issues in Ethics and Professional Development

Reviews ethical guidelines related to the practice of helping relationships with attention to abuse assessment and reporting, privileged communication, client rights, confidentiality, and legal issues. Professional development issues are also explored. PY 750 should be taken prior to or concurrently.


PY 744 Career Development and Counseling

Theories of career development and various approaches to career counseling are studied. The use of career assessment instruments and career exploration resources is also a focus. In addition, issues affecting special populations and effective adjustment in the workplace are topics explored. Lab fee may apply.


PY 750 Counseling Theories

Explores theories and approaches (such as psychodynamic, behavioral, humanistic, cognitive and systems) that examine how people develop and function at an optimal level. The integration of various theoretical approaches and the application of theory to practice is a focus. In addition, outcome research as it applies to clinical practice is addressed.


PY 751 Group Processes in Counseling and Therapy

Addresses theories of group process. Group types, leadership styles and strategies, stages of group development, member behavior, and other factors related to group functioning are explored. The course is didactic and experiential in nature. Ethical issues specific to the group process are also reviewed.


PY 745 Cognitive Processes

Major theoretical approaches in the area of cognitive processes are explored and integrated with research findings. Perception, memory, problem solving, and language development are among the topics addressed.


PY 746 Psychopharmacology for Counselors and Therapists

Focuses on major groups of psychoactive drugs. Those typically prescribed in psychiatric medicine are emphasized and commonly abused drugs are reviewed. The pharmacology (including mechanisms of action, administration, and absorption as well as side effects) of these drugs is studied. Issues related to collaboration, referral, and the role of psychologist in the treatment of patients taking medication are discussed.


PY 748 Multicultural Counseling

Through a process of cultural self-assessment, this course seeks to increase the student’s understanding of the impact of cultural variables in individual identity development. Students also develop an understanding of general characteristics, which distinguish cultural groups primarily emphasizing ethnic groups within the U.S. This knowledge is applied to the development of multicultural competencies.


PY 749 Helping Relationship Skills

Explores the nature of the helping relationship. Attention is given to the potential impact of helper characteristics on the counseling interaction. The course is experiential. The following counseling skills are addressed: listening, reflection and clarification, interviewing, effective confrontation, goal setting, and implementing basic change strategies. Issues related to working with other professionals to meet client needs are also discussed.


PY 761 Practicum

Fieldwork that involves the supervised implementation of assessment and counseling skills in a placement approved by the department. Graded on a pass/fail basis. Fifty hours of participation is required for each credit hour. To enroll in practicum hours, the student must be in good academic standing and have completed at least 24 credit hours in the graduate psychology program including completion of PY 723, PY 733 or PY 734, PY 741, PY 749 (a grade of “B” or better is required in PY 749), PY 750 and PY 751. Other courses may be required for particular placements. Other screening procedures may apply and consent of the graduate psychology program director is required. Arrangements for the practicum experience must be made in advance of the semester in which the student wishes to enroll. Practicum credits vary.


PY 780 Summary Portfolio (one credit hour)

The summary portfolio serves as the culminating experience for students in the Master of Arts in Psychology program (general track). Its purpose is for students to demonstrate both what they have learned and to reflect on how they have changed as a result of participating in the program. The portfolio is pursued during the last semester in the graduate program and it is graded pass/fail.