PhD in Psychology - Cognition and Instruction - Qualitative

Doctor of Philosophy in General Psychology: Cognition and Instruction (Qualitative Research)

Offered By: College of Doctoral Studies

PhD in Cognitive Psychology and Instruction Degree Emphasis Program

Grand Canyon University’s (GCU) qualitative Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in General Psychology with an Emphasis in Cognition and Instruction (Qualitative Research) is designed to help students 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 and instruction degree program covers topics relevant to building and analyzing desired learning outcomes. This includes studying social cognition and assessments. Additionally, learners in this PhD in cognitive psychology online or evening program will:

  • Analyze the impact 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

What Is a Qualitative PhD in Cognitive Psychology and Instruction Degree Emphasis?

In a qualitative PhD program, students personally examine events to better understand an observed phenomenon. Through GCU’s qualitative PhD in General Psychology with an Emphasis in Cognition and Instruction program, students will develop expertise in the development of a research study and gain insight into how and why people think, believe and behave. This program differs from GCU’s quantitative PhD in General Psychology with an Emphasis in Cognition and Instruction program, which focuses on developing expertise in the creation of a sampling plan and in the collection of data. 

What Will You Learn in GCU's PhD in Cognitive Psychology Degree Emphasis Program?

An empirical, research-based approach is at the heart of GCU’s PhD in General Psychology with an Emphasis in Cognition and Instruction program (Qualitative Research). 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 theory and practice, learners are able to make an impact in the instruction that takes place in formal education settings.

Entry into this qualitative PhD in cognitive psychology degree emphasis program requires an advanced degree and prior coursework in the field. GCU’s evening and online 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 for the PhD in cognitive philosophy come from learner’s research and interest. They may be inspired to further learn about the topics reviewed in this 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
  • Appropriate tests and measures
  • Factors affecting individual behavior

Careers in Cognitive Psychology and Instruction With a PhD

GCU’s qualitative PhD in General Psychology with an Emphasis in Cognition and Instruction program helps students expand their knowledge and advance their skillset. Some graduates continue in their current positions, while many others seek new opportunities such as:

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

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

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TOTAL CREDITS & COURSE LENGTH:
Total Credits: 60
Online: 8 weeks
[More Info]
TRANSFER CREDITS:
Up to 9 doctoral credits
TUITION RATE:
Online: $715 per credit [More Info]

PhD in Cognitive Psychology and Instruction Degree Emphasis FAQs

Cognitive and behavioral psychology degrees both use principles that help people live better lives. Behavioral psychology primarily focuses on the observable behavior of individuals. It is the scientific approach to exploring how our behavior can be shaped by reinforcement and punishment. A cognitive psychology degree deals with information processing. It uses principles of human learning and development as well as cognitive processing in overcoming problem behavior and emotional thinking.

Cognitive psychologists focus on the internal mental process of individuals. They study how people perceive events and life experiences, memory and language processing, how people think and then come up with solutions to their problems. A career in cognitive psychology may find jobs within universities, government agencies, treatment centers, research facilities and in private practices. Students who wish to earn a PhD in cognitive psychology may help people make better life choices, change unwanted behaviors, diminish mood issues, understand past traumas differently and so much more.

The amount of time it takes to complete a PhD in cognitive psychology can depend upon a variety of factors (e.g., previous completed prerequisites and/or prior experience). The average time to doctoral degree completion is four to seven years. This is followed by an internship or residency and a final research project or dissertation. To practice in a clinical setting, students pursuing a cognitive psychology and instruction program may also need specific licensing required by their state. GCU’s PhD in cognitive psychology offers online and evening courses that allow great flexibility during a rigorous program.

The study of cognitive psychology is applicable to many forms of therapy and can easily be combined with various other psychological approaches. Although the demand for cognitive psychologists and brain science has fluctuated, it is expected to continually increase as technology becomes more advanced in areas such as Alzheimer and the increasing focus on mental health. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 5,700 new jobs are estimated to open for psychologists from 2019 to 2029.1

1 COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well. Accordingly, data shown is based on 2019, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Psychologists.

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
Total 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 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

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 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.

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

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 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.

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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