Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Performance Psychology

Doctor of Philosophy in General Psychology with an Emphasis in Performance Psychology

Offered By: College of Doctoral Studies

What is Performance Psychology?

Performance psychology focuses on human psychology during professional performance, specifically psychomotor performance. The Doctor of Philosophy in General Psychology with an Emphasis in Performance Psychology from GCU is designed for learners who want to apply research about emotion, cognition and motivation to the study of peak performance. Graduates of the performance psychology PhD program look to use psychology to improve and enhance physical performance.

The College of Doctoral Studies designed this performance psychology graduate degree program 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

The Benefits of a Performance Psychology Graduate Program

Those looking to advance their careers in sports, medicine, business, sales and marketing will benefit from this general performance psychology doctoral degree. The online PhD in psychology programs at GCU integrate the research and hands-on methodology needed to complete a dissertation.

In addition, this performance psychology program includes two hands-on Doctoral Residencies. During this time, learners who complete their coursework online will have the opportunity to work with faculty and peers in an intimate setting.

This degree does not lead directly to licensure. Admission into this doctorate of philosophy performance program requires a graduate degree and related coursework.

Study the Psychology of Motivation and Human Performance

When 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, 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.

The online PhD in performance psychology at GCU prepares learners 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

Performance Psychology Careers

A performance psychology graduate degree from GCU can lead learners into many different fields. Our graduates become those who are capable of consulting on or leading change in an organization. Graduates may also find work in fields such as:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Training
  • Higher Education
  • Research
  • Fitness and Nutrition

If you are eager to learn more about how to improve how people work, performance psychology may be the field for you. Find out if it is a great fit by learning more about the Doctor of Philosophy in General Psychology with an Emphasis in Performance Psychology degree program at GCU today.

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Total Program Credits: 60
Online: 8 weeks
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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 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

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

Course Description

This course examines theoretical and empirical approaches to learning theory and behavior modification. The course focuses on the fundamental approaches and applications of learning theory and applied behavioral analysis to modify behavior.

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 provides an overview of leadership theories and models from a psychological perspective. It introduces leadership development within the individual, group, and organization, focusing on the skills and abilities of effective leaders.

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

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 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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