PhD in Psychology: Performance Psychology (Qualitative)

Doctor of Philosophy in General Psychology: Performance Psychology (Qualitative Research)

Offered By: College of Doctoral Studies

Examine Human Performance Psychology Factors That Influence Peak Performance

Peak performance psychology focuses on human psychology during professional performance, often psychomotor performance. Grand Canyon University’s qualitative Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in General Psychology with an Emphasis in Performance Psychology is designed for learners who want to apply research about emotion, cognition and motivation to the study of peak performance. Graduates of the PhD in General Psychology: Performance Psychology program are taught to use psychology to improve and enhance all kinds of human performance.

The College of Doctoral Studies developed this performance psychology emphasis around the following aspects of the field:

  • Theoretical foundations of emotion, cognition and behavior in performance settings
  • Constructs and theories of psychomotor skill and motor control to improve learning and performance
  • Principles of behavior modification to enhance individual performance
  • Psychological theories to promote effective leadership
  • Applications of psychological theories and principles underlying performance

At GCU, the online PhD in psychology allows you to complete your program coursework through a digital online platform for added flexibility and convenience. You will have access to knowledgeable faculty and advisors as well as dissertation resources throughout your doctoral program.

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Residency Opportunities

In addition to the online classes, you will participate in two five-day residencies on or near GCU’s Phoenix campus. These are opportunities to network and collaborate in-person with other doctoral students and faculty.

During the first residency in the performance psychology emphasis, you will apply research design principles to develop foundational elements for your potential dissertation. Research skills will continue to be developed through hands-on activities. In the second residency, you will present and defend a preliminary design of your dissertation research from the first residency.

Learn and Practice Peak Performance Psychology Concepts

When pursuing the qualitative PhD in psychology for performance psychology you will have the opportunity to expand your skill set by developing a research study and gaining insight into how and why people think, believe and behave in a certain way — particularly in the area of human performance psychology. This differs from GCU’s quantitative PhD in performance psychology, which focuses on developing expertise in human performance psychology through the creation of a sampling plan and in the collection of numeric data.

Benefits of Earning Your PhD in Psychology With Qualitative Performance Psychology From GCU

Those looking to position themselves for career advancement in peak performance psychology, medicine, business, sales and marketing can benefit from this general psychology doctoral degree. The PhD in psychology with an emphasis in qualitative performance psychology program at GCU integrates the research and hands-on methodology needed to complete a dissertation.

In addition to the online coursework, this program includes two in-person doctoral residencies. During this time, you will have the opportunity to work with faculty, advisors and peers to receive feedback on your dissertation research.

This degree does not lead directly to licensure. Admission into this Doctor of Philosophy in General Psychology with Performance Psychology emphasis program requires a graduate degree and related coursework.

Course Topics in Performance Psychology Emphasis

When peak performance psychology is applied outside of the realm of sports and physical performance, it is closely related to industrial and organizational psychology. Both practices intend to improve employee performance. The disciplines even use some similar strategies, such as goal setting, to enhance work output.

However, human performance psychology digs deeper into the principles of behavior modification to determine how to improve work and leadership. Additionally, it studies traits of high achieving leaders to learn how to motivate and change work habits from the top down.

GCU’s online PhD in psychology with performance psychology teaches you to conduct empirical research and learn theories related to mental and thought processes. In addition, graduates examine:

  • Factors affecting individual behavior
  • Mass communication’s impact on social awareness and control
  • The construction, analysis and interpretation of psychological tests
  • Measurement of learning outcomes
  • How to improve learning and performance conditions
  • The dimensions that impact information processing, decision making and regulating emotions

 

Alumni Doctoral Degree Scholarship
Now Available

GCU alumni enrolling in a doctoral program for the first time may be eligible for a $2,000 scholarship.§

Career Paths for PhD in Psychology: Performance Psychology Graduates

GCU’s online PhD in psychology with a focus on peak performance psychology can lead you into many different fields, including higher education, fitness and nutrition, research and training. As a doctoral learner, you are guided throughout the program to become capable of consulting or leading change in an organization. Some areas you may pursue with this degree and relevant credentials are:

  • Sports performance psychology
  • Industrial-organizational psychology
  • Social science research
  • Higher education

PhD Program in Psychology: Performance Psychology FAQs

If you are interested in a performance psychology career, learn more about the field and earning your PhD in psychology from GCU.

Performance psychology examines psychological factors that impact peak human performance in business, sports and other areas. It applies human performance psychology principles to help people achieve optimal performance in their careers and personal goals.1

The time to completion for the PhD in psychology program will vary with each learner and how long it takes to complete the online coursework and dissertation. The maximum time allotted to complete the doctoral program is seven years.

To become a performance psychologist, you will likely need a master’s or doctoral degree in psychology. Depending on your preferred area of human performance psychology, you should plan to take classes in kinesiology, physiology, sports medicine, business and marketing.2 If you want to pursue a career in clinical psychology or counseling, you will also need a license to practice based on your state’s requirements.

1 American Psychological Association. (2014). Sports and Performance Psychology Delivers Peak Performance. Retrieved on May 15, 2023.

2 American Psychological Association. (2014). A Career in Sport and Performance Psychology. Retrieved on May 15, 2023.

§ MOU-Alumni 2000 Doctoral-Feb2024: The Alumni Scholarship for Doctoral Programs is only valid for those applicants who submit a complete application and begin a Doctoral program in February 2024. This scholarship cannot be used in conjunction with any other GCU scholarship or awards and only applies to online and evening programs. Please speak to a university counselor for complete details.

Time to Completion and Dissertation Process

To learn more about time to completion and the dissertation process at GCU, visit our doctoral page.

Course List

Major:
60 credits
Degree Requirements:
60 credits

Core Courses

Course Description

This course introduces doctoral learners to the principle elements of research, scholarly writing, and effective argumentation. Learners are made aware of the dispositions and expectations of doctoral researchers as well as the University’s overarching values and beliefs regarding research and the responsibility of scholars to contribute new knowledge to their respective fields of study. Learners begin the process of identifying a researchable dissertation topic and are acquainted with appropriate scholarly resources that support the development of the dissertation.

Course Description

In this course, learners are introduced to the critical reading of scholarly qualitative and quantitative literature at the doctoral level. Learners also explore the concept of synthesizing the scholarly literature to identify problems and problem spaces that emerge to form a researchable topic of study. The application of scholarly argumentation from the extant literature to defend the need for a research study is discussed.

Course Description

This course is designed to familiarize the graduate student with the major schools of thought in psychology and their philosophical origins. The individuals and their personal experiences are examined in depth. The social, economic, and political forces that have influenced the developing discipline of psychology are also examined.

Course Description

This course is an introduction to the nature, origins, and history of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. Although not a clinically based course, the course does address the psychoanalytic and psychotherapeutic strategies used to assist individuals with managing personal and inter-personal issues leading to improved mental health.

Course Description

In this course, learners are introduced to key components of qualitative and quantitative research designs and the means to critically appraise the application of research designs as observed in the scholarly literature. The University's core research designs are presented. Consideration is given to the initial selection and defense of a research design to address a problem that emerged from the extant literature.

Course Description

This residency allows learners to continue developing their skills as academic researchers. Learners will have hands-on experience applying quantitative and qualitative design principals to develop the foundational elements for their potential dissertation studies. Prerequisite: RES-850, RES-825, RES-831, or RCS-831.

Course Description

This course provides an introduction to the sampling, data collection, and data analysis methods employed in qualitative and quantitative research designs. Learners explore the alignment of sampling, data collection, and data analysis methods to the research topic, research questions, and research design. The course positions learners to select qualitative or quantitative designs for their dissertation studies. Prerequisite: RES-831.

Course Description

This course examines the historical and theoretical background of the behavioristic movement and its major works. The course also examines methods and techniques to help teach and learn new behaviors as well as the concepts and strategies to diminish or eliminate unwanted behaviors.

Course Description

This course is designed to apply theories of emotion, cognition, and motivation to performance and explore the variables related to performance excellence. Application of performance psychology principles to applied settings is also addressed.

Course Description

This course explores the historical roots, theoretical foundations, major works, and guiding philosophy of Humanistic, Transpersonal and Existential (HTE) psychology. This course also examines the different approaches to studying HTE as it relates to human motivation, needs, will, love, and existence in a contemporary world.

Course Description

In this course, learners explore the basic components of GCU qualitative core research designs including descriptive, case study, and phenomenology. The nature of epistemological foundations and the structure of problem statements, purpose statements, research questions, data sources, collection and analysis approaches are discussed in the context of each design.

Course Description

In this course, learners differentiate the epistemological foundations and explore the data trustworthiness, research ethics, and potential for bias in descriptive, case study, and phenomenology research designs. The process of building a rationale for design choice and aligning the research questions, interview questions, problem statement, and purpose statement is addressed. Sources of qualitative data are introduced for each design, and ethical aspects of research are discussed. Prerequisite: RES-841.

Course Description

This course introduces motor learning and control principles, constructs, laws, and theories, and their application to individual skill learning.

Course Description

In this residency, learners orally present and defend an expanded design of their preliminary dissertation research from RSD-851. Emphasis is placed on developing the qualitative dissertation. Prerequisite: RES-843.

Course Description

The purpose of this course is to apply psychological theories and principles. The learner completes an applied project utilizing a case study.

Course Description

In this course, learners apply the skills of the practitioner-scholar. They are self-motivated and committed to reflective practice. They actively seek input from other scholars while continuing to design independent research under the guidance of the dissertation committee. Prerequisite: RES-871, PSY-885, RSD-883, or RSD-884.

Course Description

In this course, learners explore qualitative data collection techniques and sources of qualitative data in the context of answering the research questions posed by a study. Consideration is given to the recognition of data saturation and the management of data. Learners continue to work with their respective dissertation chairs to prepare a written statement of data collection, and management activities. Prerequisite: RES-843.

Course Description

In this course, learners apply the skills of the practitioner-scholar. They are self-motivated and committed to reflective practice. They actively seek input from other scholars while continuing to design and/or conduct independent research under the guidance of the dissertation committee. Prerequisite: PSY-955.

Course Description

In this course, learners focus on the interpretation of qualitative data to produce written research findings, results, and implications. Learners continue to work with their respective dissertation chairs and apply information from this course to move ahead in the dissertation process. Prerequisite: RES-873.

Course Description

In this course, learners apply the skills of the practitioner-scholar. They are self-motivated and committed to reflective practice. They actively seek input from other scholars while continuing to design and/or conduct independent research under the guidance of the dissertation committee. Prerequisite: PSY-960.

Continuation Courses

The course identified above represent the minimum academic course requirements only. Most students will also need to take one or more of the following Research Continuation Courses to complete a dissertation. Research Continuation Courses are 3-credit courses charged at the standard doctoral per credit rate.

Course Description

This course emphasizes the finalization of the dissertation and provides learners with individualized support for completing their dissertation journey. Learners continue to work directly with their dissertation chair and committee members based on their individual progress plan for completing their dissertation. Prerequisite: PSY-965.

Course Description

This course emphasizes the finalization of the dissertation and provides learners with individualized support for completing their dissertation journey. Learners continue to work directly with their dissertation chair and committee members based on their individual progress plan for completing their dissertation. Prerequisite: PSY-966 or PSY-966E.

Course Description

This course emphasizes the finalization of the dissertation and provides learners with individualized support for completing their dissertation journey. Learners continue to work directly with their dissertation chair and committee members based on their individual progress plan for completing their dissertation. Prerequisite: PSY-967 or PSY-967E.

Course Description

This course emphasizes the finalization of the dissertation and provides learners with individualized support for completing their dissertation journey. Learners continue to work directly with their dissertation chair and committee members based on their individual progress plan for completing their dissertation. Prerequisite: PSY-968 or PSY-968E; RSD-951.

Course Description

This course emphasizes the finalization of the dissertation and provides learners with individualized support for completing their dissertation journey. Learners continue to work directly with their dissertation chair and committee members based on their individual progress plan for completing their dissertation. Prerequisite: PSY-969 or PSY-969E.

Course Description

This course emphasizes the finalization of the dissertation and provides learners with individualized support for completing their dissertation journey. Learners continue to work directly with their dissertation chair and committee members based on their individual progress plan for completing their dissertation. Prerequisite: PSY-970 or PSY-970E.

Course Description

This course emphasizes the finalization of the dissertation and provides learners with individualized support for completing their dissertation journey. Learners continue to work directly with their dissertation chair and committee members based on their individual progress plan for completing their dissertation. Prerequisite: PSY-971E.

Course Description

This course emphasizes the finalization of the dissertation and provides learners with individualized support for completing their dissertation journey. Learners continue to work directly with their dissertation chair and committee members based on their individual progress plan for completing their dissertation. Prerequisite: Prerequisite: PSY-972E.

Course Description

This course emphasizes the finalization of the dissertation and provides learners with individualized support for completing their dissertation journey. Learners continue to work directly with their dissertation chair and committee members based on their individual progress plan for completing their dissertation. Prerequisite: PSY-973E.

Continuation Courses

The course identified above represent the minimum academic course requirements only. Most students will also need to take one or more of the following Research Continuation Courses to complete a dissertation. Research Continuation Courses are 3-credit courses charged at the standard doctoral per credit rate.

Course Description

This course emphasizes the finalization of the dissertation and provides learners with individualized support for completing their dissertation journey. Learners continue to work directly with their dissertation chair and committee members based on their individual progress plan for completing their dissertation. Prerequisite: PSY-965.

Course Description

This course emphasizes the finalization of the dissertation and provides learners with individualized support for completing their dissertation journey. Learners continue to work directly with their dissertation chair and committee members based on their individual progress plan for completing their dissertation. Prerequisite: PSY-966 or PSY-966E.

Course Description

This course emphasizes the finalization of the dissertation and provides learners with individualized support for completing their dissertation journey. Learners continue to work directly with their dissertation chair and committee members based on their individual progress plan for completing their dissertation. Prerequisite: PSY-967 or PSY-967E.

Course Description

This course emphasizes the finalization of the dissertation and provides learners with individualized support for completing their dissertation journey. Learners continue to work directly with their dissertation chair and committee members based on their individual progress plan for completing their dissertation. Prerequisite: PSY-968 or PSY-968E; RSD-951.

Course Description

This course emphasizes the finalization of the dissertation and provides learners with individualized support for completing their dissertation journey. Learners continue to work directly with their dissertation chair and committee members based on their individual progress plan for completing their dissertation. Prerequisite: PSY-969 or PSY-969E.

Course Description

This course emphasizes the finalization of the dissertation and provides learners with individualized support for completing their dissertation journey. Learners continue to work directly with their dissertation chair and committee members based on their individual progress plan for completing their dissertation. Prerequisite: PSY-970 or PSY-970E.

Course Description

This course emphasizes the finalization of the dissertation and provides learners with individualized support for completing their dissertation journey. Learners continue to work directly with their dissertation chair and committee members based on their individual progress plan for completing their dissertation. Prerequisite: PSY-971E.

Course Description

This course emphasizes the finalization of the dissertation and provides learners with individualized support for completing their dissertation journey. Learners continue to work directly with their dissertation chair and committee members based on their individual progress plan for completing their dissertation. Prerequisite: Prerequisite: PSY-972E.

Course Description

This course emphasizes the finalization of the dissertation and provides learners with individualized support for completing their dissertation journey. Learners continue to work directly with their dissertation chair and committee members based on their individual progress plan for completing their dissertation. Prerequisite: PSY-973E.

GCU Online Student


Pursue a next-generation education with an online degree from Grand Canyon University. Earn your degree with convenience and flexibility with online courses that let you study anytime, anywhere.

GCU Evening Student


Grand Canyon University’s evening programs cater to the demands of working professionals who prefer an in-person learning environment. Our night classes meet just once per week and offer the interaction and discussion of a typical college classroom.

* Please note that this list may contain programs and courses not presently offered, as availability may vary depending on class size, enrollment and other contributing factors. If you are interested in a program or course listed herein please first contact your University Counselor for the most current information regarding availability.

* Please refer to the Academic Catalog for more information. Programs or courses subject to change.

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