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Master's Program

Master's Program

The graduate program in psychology is devoted to the recovery of some of the great traditions in 20th Century psychology, while preparing students for making contributions to psychology in the 21st Century. Offering an ongoing array of foundational courses in phenomenology, psychodiagnostics, psychotherapy, lifespan development, and qualitative research, the Master's program in Psychology provides a range of special topics classes, including spirituality, sexuality, health psychology, multicultural studies, primatology and film. The distinguishing character of the program is its existential-phenomenological orientation, which draws upon the traditions of depth psychology, hermeneutics, and humanistic psychology, as well as Continental thinking and feminism.

The "great books" of the aforementioned fields provide the backbone for the program; that is, primary sources such as Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, Beauvoir, Merleau-Ponty, and Levinas from the phenomenological tradition; Freud, Jung, Adler, Horney, Sullivan, Klein and Schafer from the psychodynamic tradition; Rogers, Allport, Murray, Maslow, May, and Bugental from the tradition of American humanistic psychology; Binswanger, Boss, Buytendijk, Minkowski, van den Berg, Laing, and Szasz from the European tradition of existential psychiatry; and figures like Giorgi, Colaizzi, von Eckartsberg, and others from the Duquesne "school" of phenomenological research.

Bolstering its position as a program that represents and supports qualitative research as well as a broadly defined humanistic tradition in academic psychology, the department contributes editorially to the publication of the APA Division 32 journal The Humanistic Psychologist.


Admission as a graduate student in psychology is contingent upon the prerequisites of successful completion (a grade of B or better) of at least a three credit course in each, General Psychology and Statistics/Experimental Design.

Three degree options are available to graduate psychology students: Master of Arts in psychology, Master of Psychology and Master of Psychology with clinical concentration. The Master of Psychology with clinical concentration is the recommended degree program for those seeking licensed professional counselor accreditation. The degree options and credit requirements for each are listed below.

MPsy, 30 credits
Grad Psychology Core: 12 credits
6311 Phenomenological Foundations of Psychology

6333 Foundations of Qualitative Research 
5322 Lifespan Development 
7331 Historical Foundations of Depth Psychology

Electives: 18 credits 

PSY offerings 5311 and above 

MPsy with Clinical Concentration, 48 credits
Grad Psychology Core: 12 credits
6311 Phenomenological Foundations of Psychology

6333 Foundations of Qualitative Research (LPC requirement, research)
5322 Lifespan Development (LPC requirement, normal development)
7331 Historical Foundations of Depth Psychology

Pre-Practicum: 12 credits 
         5323 Ethics  in Psychology (LPC requirement, professional orientation)
         6320 Introduction to Counseling Techniques (LPC requirement, individual counseling)
         6355 Psychopathology (LPC requirement, abnormal human behavior)
         6323 Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy (LPC requirement, counseling theories)

Additional LPC Requirements: 12 credits

Appraisal or assessment techniques: Cognitive Assessment (7321), Psychodynamic Assessment (7322), or Rorschach (7366)
Group counseling methods or techniques: Principles of Group Counseling (6325)
Lifestyle and career development: Lifestyle and Career Development (7322)
Social, cultural and family issues: Social Psychology (6328) or Cultural and Multicultural Psychology (5337)

Electives: 6 credits 

PSY offerings 5311 and above 

Practicum: 6 credits 
300 supervised hours (150 training, 150 direct service)


MA Psychology, 48 credits
Grad Psychology Core: 12 credits
6311 Phenomenological Foundations of Psychology

6333 Foundations of Qualitative Research 
5322 Lifespan Development 
7331 Historical Foundations of Depth Psychology

Electives: 30 credits 

PSY offerings 5311 and above 

Thesis: 6 credits 

plus language requirement and prerequisites 

Five-Year Through Plan for Undergraduates

Students accepted into the Through-Plan, may take up to two graduate classes during their senior year. If these classes are above and beyond the credit requirements in psychology for the B.A. degree, they will count toward the M.Psy degree; if these same classes are beyond the undergraduate psychology requirements but are needed to count towards credits for graduation with the B.A. degree, their credits may be "waived" for purposes of the Master's program, with consent of the Program Director and the Graduate Dean (thereby lowering the M. Psy requirement from 30 to 24 credits to be obtained after receipt of the B.A.). Students pursuing the longer 42-credit clinical concentration can, with consent of Program Director and Graduate Dean, transfer in up to nine credits. These credits can come from the UD undergraduate program or from recognized graduate level institutions.

Comprehensive Exams

The Comprehensive Examination in the Psychology Graduate Program is "comprehensive" in the sense of transcending the limits of individual courses while requiring an integration or synthesis on the part of the student. Students are asked to demonstrate a command of material that would not have been expected at an earlier time in the program. The comps thus require a mastery of both methodological issues and content areas covered in the course work, as evidenced by writing that is compelling, clear, and accurate. The exam questions, which are written by the faculty, are tailored to the individual student. Students are invited to suggest thematic areas around which their comps will be constructed, with the understanding that these areas will represent the breadth of their Masters level course work, including the required foundations track classes as well as some of the electives.

Typically, comps are administered after the completion of course work. M.A. students must complete the comps before being considered a candidate for submission of thesis. Students are required to present themselves to the program director no later than the beginning of the semester in which they wish to take their comps.

For information about tuition, financial assistance, application forms and registration, please write, call, or visit our website.

Braniff Graduate School of Liberal Art
1845 East Northgate Drive
Irving, Texas 75062-4736
Phone: (214) 721-5106 or toll Free: (877) 708-3247


 5301-5310. Cross-listed Courses. These numbers indicate undergraduate courses taken for graduate credit. Additional work for graduate students is assigned. Note: These classes typically do not count toward the Master's degree in Psychology but can be taken either as pre-requisites for further graduate study or for credit in the Humanities graduate program. Permission of the Program Director is required for graduate students in Psychology; permission of the Graduate Dean is required for students in Humanities. (See advance undergraduate listings for course descriptions.)

5311. Humanistic Theories of Personality. Introduction to the writings of pioneers in humanistic psychology such as Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow, Rollo May, Gordon Allport, George Kelly, Fritz Perls, Ken Wilber, and other kindred thinkers like Alfred Adler, Karen Horney, Erich Fromm, and Viktor Frankl. Primary sources such as these, who have developed implications for counseling and psychotherapy from their examination of the nature of the person "as a whole," are the foundation for the course.

5322. Developmental Psychology. Examines life span development using primary and secondary source material that presents human development within the contexts of psychodynamic and existential psychology. Erik Erikson's psychosocial theory provides the "backbone" for the course, with supplemental readings drawn from Anna Freud, Melanie Klein, Karen Horney, Harry Stack Sullivan, and/or Erich Fromm providing rich neo-Freudian perspectives. Simone de Beauvoir's writings (including The Second Sex, The Coming of Age, and/or A Very Easy Death), as well as works by Elisabeth Kbler-Ross, R.D. Laing, Ernest Becker, and Daniel Levinson provide further foundations for the course, which typically strike a balance between in-depth treatment of various "stages" and a broad-based lifespan approach.

5323. Ethics in Psychology.

5337. Cultural Psychology and Multicultural Studies. Study of psychological phenomena as embodied in institutions, social practices, and artifacts; a consideration of hermeneutics and social constructionism as approaches to the social world, with emphasis on the embodiment of human existence in both the perceptual appearance of the world and in shaping the world through human action. The multiple universes defined by gender, race, class, nationality, and social geography are brought into dialogue with contemporary professional practice.

5339. Psychology and Religion. A study of various topics, such as the relationships between modern psychology and religion; the place of religious life in psychological health and illness; psychology as secularized religion.

5345. Motivation, Cognitive Processes, and Emotion. The dynamic and purposive character of action. Dynamic theories of personality; conceptions from philosophical tradition, e.g., faculty psychology, studies of the will, the passions.

5V57. Supervised Practicum (Pre-practicum, Practicum I, Practicum II). In a meaningful structured placement, students are involved in an off-campus setting in which psychology is practiced or applied. Students should follow guidelines for Internships. Prerequisite: approval by department in consultation with agency. (Pass/No-Pass)

6122. APA Style.

6311. Phenomenological Foundations of Psychology. An introduction to seminal texts in the field of phenomenological psychology, including both philosophical and psychological literature. Typically one author from the philosophical category is selected for close study (Husserl, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, or Levinas), and supplementary readings in psychological applications of phenomenology are then woven into the syllabus in any particular semester. A course subtitle indicates on the transcript the particular focus of the class. (Repeatable) Alternating fall semesters.

6322.Seminar: Issues in Clinical Psychology.Primary source readings in Freud, Jaspers, Rorschach, Murray, Allport, Rogers, Sullivan, Leary as well as the DSM-IV Guidebook provide the basis for this seminar. Descriptive versus explanatory approaches to psychopathology are considered along with the current trend towards evidence-based practice. Psychodynamic and humanistic traditions are distinguished from their psychometric 6322counterpart. The standard psychiatric nomenclature of the DSM-IV is presented along with its implications for the professional treatment of psychological "illness." Toward the end of the semester students examine critiques of existing systems of diagnostic classification and the psychopharmaceutical treatment of mental illness (Szasz, Laing, Keen).

6323. Principles of Psychotherapeutic Practice. Introduction to the history and current scope of professional practice in clinical psychology, with a focus on clinical evaluation and evidence-based treatment.

6331. History and Systems in Psychology. Seminar that will consider fundamental texts of the pre-modern and modern periods, or that will trace the history of significant ideas in the history of Western thinking pertaining to the "soul" or psychological life. The approach of this course informed in part by recent trends in historiography.

6333. Foundations of Qualitative Research. A conceptual introduction to the philosophic foundations, appropriate domains, strengths and limitations of qualitative research as distinct from quantitative research. Students will be introduced to multiple methodologies within qualitative research including phenomenology, and others such as grounded theory, narrative analysis discursive analysis among others. Students will read primary sources in qualitative research theory and practice, and learn to develop, propose, evaluate, and carry out, and effectively present qualitative research.

6335. Mixed Methods Research. Casting a critical eye to the notion of approach with regard to quantitative and qualitative research, this course takes up an exploration of the boundaries and domains of qualitative and quantitative research methods. Special attention is paid to the role of approach in the assessment of the validity of both quantitative and qualitative research. By defining the domains, assumptions, guiding questions, and knowledge claims of quantitative and qualitative research, students will learn to propose, design, and carry out mixed methods research that embraces the strengths and acknowledges the limitations of each approach and effectively present its results.

6336. Advanced Quantitative Research. To further enhance students' familiarity with quantitative research methodology and to facilitate higher levels of integration between quantitative and qualitative research, this course exposes students to advanced statistical designs including logistic regression, mediation and moderation effects, multivariate and factorial models, and structural equation modeling. Students will become adept at reviewing literature using these advanced statistical techniques and in designing and carrying out research using these models.

6338. Social Psychology. Study of the individual's experience of the social world, including such topics as person perception, social cognition, attribution, conformity, obedience, interpersonal attraction, group psychology, and other themes in contemporary social psychology (including social constructionism). Emphasis on the embodiment of existence in both the perceptual appearance of the world and in shaping of the world through human action.

6351. Directed Readings. A tutorial course arranged between the professor and the student. Prerequisite: written permission of the Program Director and the Graduate Dean.

6355 Psychopathology. A critical analysis of the classificatory systems of mental illness, including the current Diagostic and Statistical Manual of Mental disorders, is conducted as well as an examination of the philosophical roots of the construct abnormality.  Current empirical evidence and hypotheses regarding etiology of mental illness and the treatment of psychopathological behavior are reviewed.

6354. Health Psychology. Study of the relationships between health and illness, on the one hand, and behavior, attitudes, ways of life, on the other. An exploration of the psychological concomitants of health and disease, as well as conventional and non-conventional forms of treatment for disease. The phenomenology of embodiment and of disease as a mode of existence is integral to the course. Other topics include the examination of the social and political meanings of our views of health and illness. The social construction of health and illness concepts, the limits of medicine and of medicalization, the arts of living, suffering, and dying are discussed.

6V77, 6V78, 6V79. Special Studies. This course, conducted in a regular class setting, provides an opportunity to examine a special topic, problem, or work within the discipline. Content is determined by the Program Director in consultation with the faculty.

6V99. Graduate Reading. Registration for this non-credit course indicates that the student is involved in studies necessary for the completion of the degree. At the end of each Reading course the student must demonstrate progress. Master's students are limited to two Reading courses. A matriculation fee is required. It entitles the student to the use of the library and other basic services.

7179. Professional Writing.

7311. Existential Approaches to Psychopathology. A Heideggerian foundation of the understanding of psychopathology, divided between careful study of Heidegger's early ontology and examination of some of the literature of phenomenological psychiatry that is based upon his thinking. Supplemental readings drawn from Medard Boss, Ludwig Binswanger, Viktor Frankl, R.D. Laing, Jan van den Berg, and Rollo May among others. Alternating fall semesters..

7312. Hermeneutic Approaches to Psychological Research. Introduction to seminal texts in hermeneutics (Dilthey, Heidegger, Gadamer, Palmer) and in psychological applications of hermeneutic principles.

7321. Cognitive Assessment. Introduction to test construction and design as well as to administration and scoring of various tools of cognitive assessment (including intelligence tests, the Bender Gestalt Test). At the discretion of the instructor, students may also be introduced to the MMPI, 16PF, and other psychometric inventories in personality assessment. Prerequisite 6322 or permission of the instructor.

7322. Psychodynamic Approaches to Psychopathology. This course introduces the student to the application of psychodynamic thinking to the questions of diagnosis. While drawing upon primary sources (such as Anna Freud's The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense), the course focuses on contemporary developments, including the new Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual (PDM). Literature drawn from figures such as Rorschach, Murray, Schafer, McWilliams, and others concentrate on the psychodynamic approach to personality assessment. Leary's Interpersonal Theory of Diagnosis may also be discussed. Alternating spring semesters.

7331. Historical Foundations of Depth Psychology. The psychodynamic tradition in Psychology is examined by careful reading of original sources, including Freud's case histories, lectures, and theoretical works (including his "Project" and "Metapsychology Papers"), along with the writings of those who further developed and commented upon his work, such as Karen Horney, Harry Stack Sullivan, Erich Fromm, Erik Erikson, and Bruno Bettelheim. Primary sources in psychoanalysis are supplemented with texts such as Henri Ellenberger's The Discovery of the Unconscious or more sophisticated philosophical treatments of Freud, such as those of Politzer, Merleau-Ponty, Ricoeur, or Lacan. Alternating Fall semesters.

7355. Embodiment and Sexuality. The Cartesian framework of Modern thought is presented through the writings of Sigmund Freud, who considered himself a "pioneer on the frontier between the psychic and the somatic." Sartre's dialectical phenomenology is then utilized to provide an alternative to the dualism of mind and body inherent in Western psychological traditions. Merleau-Ponty's "ontology of the flesh," informed by the later Husserl, provides a foundation for a reformulation of the problem of the body in Modern thought. Supplementary readings are drawn from Lacan, Beauvoir, Lingis, as well as feminist and postfeminist writers.

7366. Rorschach administration and Interpretation. This course centers on the Rorschach, but also familiarizes the student with Murray's Thematic Apperception Test as well as with techniques of historical interest, such as the Szondi Test. Exner's "comprehensive system" provides the backbone for clinical training with the Rorschach. Students will be required to read original texts from Hermann Rorschach as well as from the later developers of the Rorschach, including Klopfer, Piotrowski, Beck, Hertz, Schafer, Rappaport, Weiner, and Exner. Schafer's psychoanalytic application is contrasted with Exner's more recent adaptation of the Rorschach to the interests of cognitive-behavioral assessment. Questions of reliability and validity of projective techniques will be considered throughout the course.

7678. Thesis Research. A six-credit course designed for the student writing the M.A. thesis under the guidance of an appointed thesis director. An approved topic is a prerequisite for registering for Thesis Research. A grade of "T" is assigned, which remains until the thesis has been approved.