PhD in Psychology: Cognition & Instruction

Doctor of Philosophy in General Psychology with an Emphasis in Cognition and Instruction

Offered By: College of Doctoral Studies

What is Cognitive Psychology?

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in General Psychology with an Emphasis in Cognition and Instruction at GCU is designed to help those who wish to work with adult educational communities that are economically and culturally diverse. Graduates will investigate how cognitive processes can inform the best instructional method.

The coursework in this cognitive psychology program covers topics relevant to building and analyzing desired learning outcomes. This includes studying social cognition and assessments. In addition, learners in this PhD in cognitive psychology program will:

  • Analyze the impacts of nature and nurture on cognitive development
  • Use theoretical and empirical approaches to understand mental processes
  • Create psychometrically sound measures
  • Apply cognitive psychology to learning and instruction
  • Understand how cognitive processes are used in practice

Discover a Research-Based Approach to Learning

An empirical, research-based approach is at the heart of this PhD in cognitive psychology degree. Graduates will research and analyze findings on topics in mental and thought processes including memory, reasoning, intelligence, motivation and learning. By exploring the principles of learning in both theory and practice, learners are able to make an impact in the instruction that takes place in formal education settings.

Entry into this doctorate of philosophy program requires an advanced degree and prior coursework in the field. The online and evening learning environments allow current practitioners to develop their skills while remaining in their professional positions. Additionally, the knowledge gained by learners during the program can be immediately applicable to their current work.

Because research is integral to work in cognitive psychology, the dissertation process begins in the very first course of this PhD program where you are introduced to doctoral dispositions. Learners take courses and workshops in advanced research methods and writing strategies, which give the skills needed to present and defend a dissertation.

Dissertation topics come from learner’s research and interest. They may be inspired to further learn about the topics reviewed in this PhD in cognitive psychology program, including:

  • Psychological tests to measure learning outcome
  • Collaboration to increase instructional effectiveness
  • Psychoanalysis and psychotherapy
  • Human learning and cognition
  • Psychological theories related to motivation, needs, love and existence
  • Inquiry
  • Appropriate tests and measures
  • Factors affecting individual behavior

PhD in Cognitive Psychology Careers

This PhD in cognitive psychology program at GCU can advance the skill set and practice of learners already working in the field. Many graduates continue in their current positions, while many other seek new opportunities such as:

  • Teachers
  • Researchers
  • University-level faculty
  • Government contractors

If you are eager to learn more about how people learn and how instruction and assessment can lead to academic achievement, a degree in cognitive psychology may be for you.

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Total Program Credits: 60
Online: 8 weeks
[More Info]
Up to 9 doctoral credits
Online: $670 per credit [More Info]

Course List

The programs offered at Grand Canyon University may vary by content and course length. You are currently viewing the program version available in Arizona. For information about specific course content, credit length and VA approval in your state, please contact a counselor at 1-855-GCU-LOPE or click here to request more information.
60 credits
Total Degree Requirements:
60 credits

Program Core Courses

Course Description

This course introduces students to the principal elements of research and scholarly writing. Learners explore approaches to synthesizing literature and the application of the major components of APA form and style, and learn to coordinate literature searches. Furthermore, they learn how to discern principal arguments, analyze research questions, and clearly identify the key scholarly attributes to journal articles and other sources of scholarly data. This course also introduces learners to the University’s overarching values and beliefs regarding research and the responsibility scholars have in continuing a tradition of contributing to an ever-growing body of knowledge.

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

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

The course provides an overview of the approaches to inquiry and the methods applied to gain knowledge of the human condition including epistemology and hermeneutic interpretation. These approaches and methods are contrasted with those applied to inquiry in the natural sciences. Consideration is given to the broader social and cultural components that contribute to the refinement of existing knowledge and the creation of new knowledge in the social and human sciences.

Course Description

This course examines theoretical and empirical approaches to understanding different mental processes, including perception, attention, reasoning, intelligence, creativity, concept formation, memory, mental imagery, language, emotional states, and moral reasoning. The development and underlying foundations of these processes and their instantiation in the brain are examined.

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

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.

Course Description

This course provides a study of theories of probability, descriptive and inferential analyses of data, and testing of statistical hypotheses. Practical experience is provided in the application of statistical methods.

Course Description

This course is a study of the purposes and uses of tests. Topics include measuring objectives and learned outcomes, analyzing and interpreting tests, and understanding statistics as applied to standardized tests.

Course Description

This course offers advanced theory in human cognition, learning, and motivation, including attention, memory, consciousness, decision making, problem solving, motivation, cognitive mapping, and schemata. Prerequisite: PSY-820.

Course Description

This course provides students with an overview of qualitative methods and offers students the opportunity to apply and interpret qualitative research. Topics include data collection, data analysis, appropriate qualitative inquiry, and theories of qualitative methods.

Course Description

This course is designed to apply theories of cognitive psychology to learning and instruction, and thus explores the principles of learning in the context of formal education. Educational research related to classroom practice and application is considered in four domains: information processing/memory, attitudes/motivation, intelligence, and formal learning. Prerequisite: PSY-860.

Course Description

This residency prepares students to present their scholarly work and to thoughtfully critique the work of others. Students orally present papers developed in their own classes and respond to questions from colleagues. Students are further prepared to become active members in academic communities by learning how to review papers and provide comments.

Course Description

This course serves as the foundation for ethical study in the field of psychology. Ethical issues in research, writing, psychotherapy, forensic psychology, and animal research are covered. The origins of ethical practices—including the philosophical theories of ethics, the Christian worldview, and the APA code of ethics—are also addressed.

Course Description

Learners complete a cogent research prospectus as the foundation for their dissertation research proposal. Emphasis is placed on fully articulating a study design and methodology that is aligned with the research questions and developing the first iteration (draft) of Chapter 3 of the dissertation. Prerequisite: RES-855 or RES-866.

Course Description

This course is a study of social cognition, including how people understand themselves and other people. Prerequisite: PSY-863.

Course Description

In this course, learners formalize their research proposal specific to their topic. Emphasis is placed on fully developing Chapter 1 and incorporating Chapters 2 and 3 (drafts) from previous research courses. This proposal becomes the first three chapters of the dissertation upon approval of the final draft by the College of Doctoral Studies. Prerequisite: RES-880.

Course Description

This course introduces students to the final phase of the doctoral study in psychology: the doctoral dissertation. Students plan, conduct, analyze, and interpret original research, and submit their final product for approval during an oral defense. This course offers students the opportunity to select an appropriate topic, and draft the first three sections of their dissertation (introduction, literature review, and methods).

Course Description

Following successful completion of PSY-955, students continue their work toward the completion of their dissertation by gaining both committee and IRB approval for their proposal, conducting their data collection in accordance with the methods selected in their proposal, and analyzing the results. By the end of this course, students should have the fourth chapter of their dissertation completed. Prerequisite: PSY-955.

Course Description

Following successful completion of the two preceding dissertation courses, students finish their work on their doctoral dissertation and submit it for final approval during the oral defense. This course affords students the opportunity to draft a discussion section that interprets their findings, as well as an abstract that summarizes their findings. Students also draft their front and back matter, including appendices, tables, and a reference section. The final step in this course is to defend the doctoral dissertation, obtain final committee approval, and submit the document for publication. Prerequisite: PSY-960.

Program Locations

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 that are not presently offered as program availability may vary depending on class size, enrollment and other contributing factors. If you are interested in a program listed herein please first contact your University Counselor for the most current information regarding availability of the program.

Program Domains

Additional Disclosures

* Please refer to the Academic Catalog for more information. Program subject to change.

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