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Program Overview

Advanced Studies in Psychology

Advanced Studies in Psychology

Create a course of study selected from psychology courses taught by Northwestern University faculty to prepare for graduate-level programs. Students in the Advanced Studies in Psychology program complete four to eight courses, building a foundation for future study in in psychology, counseling, social work, and other fields that involve the science and research of human behavior.



About Advanced Studies in Psychology

Advanced Studies in Psychology Required Courses

Select at least four courses from the following:

  • PSYCH 204 Social Psychology
  • PSYCH 205 Research Methods
  • PSYCH 215 Psychology of Personality
  • PSYCH 218 Developmental Psychology
  • PSYCH 228 Cognitive Psychology
  • PSYCH 303 Psychopathology
  • PSYCH 306 Introduction to Clinical Psychology
  • PSYCH 314 Special Topics in Psychology (may be repeated with different topics)
  • PSYCH 375 Tests and Measures
  • Other 300-level psychology courses*

*Any 300-level psychology course offered in SPS may be applied toward the certificate. Examples include PSYCH 339 Psychology of Gender, PSYCH 376 Cognitive Behavior Therapy, and PSYCH 377 Child Psychopathology. 300-level courses are offered on a rotating basis each academic year.

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Advanced Studies in Psychology Tuition

Post-baccalaureate students at Northwestern's School of Professional Studies pay per course. For more information about financial obligations and tuition, please visit the Tuition page.

Admission for Advanced Studies in Psychology

In addition to completing an online application, you'll also need to submit a few supplemental materials. A list of requirements for admission including application deadlines and tips on how to apply can be found on the Admission page.

Advanced Studies in Psychology Registration Information

Whether you're a first-time registrant or current and returning student, all students register using our online student registration and records systems. Important information about registering for courses at SPS, including registration timelines and adding or dropping courses in which you are already enrolled, can be found on the Registration Information page.

Advanced Studies in Psychology Pre-Health Professional Student Group

Learn how students support one another through forums, resources and social networks on the Advanced Studies in Psychology Pre-Health Professional student group page.

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Program Courses:Course Detail
Social Psychology <> PSYCH 204-CN

This course will survey the field of social psychology, which is the study of how social forces and social relationships shape individual thinking and behavior, with a focus on the classic studies and enduring topics in the field. Sample topics include: the self and self-esteem, altruism, aggressive behavior, close relationships, stereotyping and prejudice, and behavior in groups. Students will also be exposed to recent research and current debates on these topics. Carries social science credit. Prerequisite: PSYCH 110 or equivalent.

View PSYCH 204-CN Sections
Research Methods in Psychology <> PSYCH 205-CN

This course provides an introduction to designing, conducting, evaluating, and presenting psychological research. Among the topics to be covered are: experimental and non-experimental research; statistical analyses; writing psychological reports; ethics in research; and utilizing library resources. Students will collect and analyze data for three research projects during the quarter, and write a report on each in the style used by research psychologists. May not be audited. Carries social science credit. Prerequisite: PSYCH 201.

View PSYCH 205-CN Sections
Psychology of Personality <> PSYCH 215-CN

Personality psychology is the study of an individual's characteristic patterns of thought, emotions, and behavior. This course takes a "theories of personality" approach. The six major theories of personality that underlie forms of psychotherapy are examined: classical psychoanalysis (Freud), person-centered theory (Carl Rogers), analytical psychology (Jung), cognitive theory, and modern psychodynamic theory. In addition to studying the basics of each theory, we will look at methods of investigation related to that theory and research on the effectiveness of the type of psychotherapy associated with that theory. The emphasis is on finding what of value can be taken from each approach. Teaching is done primarily through lectures in which there will be extensive examples given that illustrate the concepts. Questions and comments from students are encouraged. There will also be small group discussions from time to time. Carries social science credit. Carries social science credit. Prerequisite: PSYCH 110 or equivalent.

View PSYCH 215-CN Sections
Developmental Psychology <> PSYCH 218-CN

The focus of this course is the development of perception, cognition, language, personality and social interaction from infancy through adolescence. We consider perspectives and methods in developmental research. We also explore specific issues, including: How do young infants perceive the world? How do infants and toddlers develop an attachment to their parents or caretakers? How does children's thinking and problem solving change across childhood and adolescence? How do parents' beliefs and values influence children's development and school achievement? How do parents' discipline style influence children's social and personality development? As each new topic is introduced, students are encouraged to think critically about the assumptions and methods that underlie research on particular issues. A central goal is to help students develop an appreciation of different criteria for evaluating research and other forms of evidence. The course will have weekly quizzes and a comprehensive final exam. Carries social science credit. Prerequisite: PSYCH 110 or equivalent.

View PSYCH 218-CN Sections
Cognitive Psychology <> PSYCH 228-CN

This course is an introduction to research into mental processes, such as memory, reasoning, problem solving and decision making. Carries science or social science credit. Prerequisite: PSYCH 110 or equivalent.

View PSYCH 228-CN Sections
Psychopathology <> PSYCH 303-CN

What is a psychological disorder, and can we really define what it means to be abnormal? Despite a long history of studying psychological disorders, there is no clear consensus when it comes to answering these questions: Our understandings of what constitute psychological disorders and how to best treat them vary considerably across different time periods and cultures. It is fascinating to learn about the complexity in even defining psychological disorders. At the same time, it is also frustrating, especially in the face of real psychological distress that many experience: If we cannot agree on what psychological disorders are, then how are we to study them and treat them? In this course, we will begin exploring these questions through an introduction to the major categories of psychological disorders as we currently (and historically) understand them and through the integration of related research findings. In addition to focusing on the symptoms and causes of these disorders, we will learn about some major approaches to diagnosis, assessment, and treatment. Finally, special attention will be paid to current and/or controversial issues in abnormal psychology. The course will have weekly quizzes and a comprehensive final exam.

Carries social science credit. Prerequisite: PSYCH 110 or equivalent.

View PSYCH 303-CN Sections
Intro to Clinical Psychology <> PSYCH 306-CN

This course introduces major concepts and methods of clinical psychology. The course emphasizes four main areas relevant to clinical psychology: (1) fundamentals of clinical psychology with some discussion of the history of the field, (2) psychological assessment, (3) psychotherapy, and (4) research that has been used to investigate the efficacy of interventions in clinical psychology. Ethical issues as they relate to the field are also be considered. Course requirements include an annotated bibliography and research paper, two essay exams, and class attendance and participation. Carries social science credit. Prerequisite: PSYCH 110 or equivalent. Completion of PSYCH 303 is recommended for students enrolled in PSYCH 306, but not required.

View PSYCH 306-CN Sections
Topics: Psychology of Evil <> PSYCH 314-CN

This course focuses on the psychological understanding of evil. Beginning from a definitional perspective on evil, the course moves to theories of evil. The core of the course is an explanation of Philip Zimbardo's Stanford Prison Experiment, which was an examination of the psychology of imprisonment conducted in 1971, followed by a current critique by Zimbardo of his findings from the original experiment. From this basis, the psychological dimensions of evil will be further discussed and developed in class, leading to a description of major explanations of the reality of evil. Special attention will be paid to an understanding of evil as this area relates to the lives of members of the class. Carries social science credit. Prerequisite: PSYCH 110 or equivalent.

View PSYCH 314-CN Sections
Topics in Psychology: Couple & Family Therapy <> PSYCH 314-CN

This course is a basic examination of couple and family therapy including professional issues, major theories and techniques, and introduction to couple and family counseling skills. Focus is for students preparing for couple and family therapy (CFT) as a field of professional study or for those students who may work with individuals and families (e.g. child welfare, education, health-care, etc). Course content includes the development of accurate listening, empathy, reflection, and inquiry skills, ethics and issues related to helping in a multicultural context, and an introduction to some of the core models of relational therapy. The course has a strong applied and experiential approach. A special focus will be on the development of self-awareness dexterity necessary for professionals in therapy settings. Students will learn and practice helping skills in class and lab sessions that relate to working with individual, families, and small groups. The course is not designed to train students to be therapists or counselors; rather, it is an introduction to field and the basic skills and models that lay the foundation for the field.

Carries social science credit. Prerequisite: PSYCH 110 or equivalent.

View PSYCH 314-CN Sections
Topics: Deception and Lie Detection <> PSYCH 314-CN

This course will introduce nonverbal, verbal, and physiological indicators of deceit and how to detect lies using these indicators. We will start with description of the types of lies and the reasons why people lie in order to learn how often people lie, what the individual differences in telling lies are, and what the "intuitive" and professional techniques and tools for detecting lies and deception are. The course will also reveal erroneous views about nonverbal and verbal cues to deception and how (in)accurate people (both laypersons and professional lie catchers) are in detecting truths and lies. The equipment and methods using physiological markers associated with lying, such as Polygraph or Event-Related Potentials (Brain Waves) recordings will be discussed. Carries social science credit. Prerequisite: PSYCH 110 or equivalent.

View PSYCH 314-CN Sections
Language and Thought <> PSYCH 334-CN

Language is a signature of human cognition: a rich and flexible method of communicating our most complex thoughts. Indeed, an intellectual tradition stretching from Ancient Greek philosophers to present-day scientists proposes that language is essentially what makes us human. This class will examine the fundamental question: What is language’s role in cognition? Drawing on research from psychology, as well as cognitive science, linguistics, and occasionally neuroscience and animal cognition, we will ask questions like whether our language changes the way we perceive the world (e.g., the way we see colors), how language helps infants and children develop, and what role language plays in defining our abstract concepts (e.g., time). We will review both seminal and cutting-edge research concerning when, if ever, the language(s) we speak influence how we perceive, reason, and act on the world. The goal of the course is not simply to survey research in these areas, but rather to explore alternative theories of language’s role and to describe the evidence that supports or challenges them. Carries social science credit. Prerequisites: PSYCH 110 or equivalent; PSYCH 205 and PSYCH 228 preferred.

View PSYCH 334-CN Sections
Pyschology of Gender <> PSYCH 339-CN

This course explores the complex psychological dimensions of gender. It will include an examination of sex differences and similarities, evaluation of explanations for differences, and review of how gender affects achievement, relationships, and mental health. Carries social science credit. Prerequisite: PSYCH 110 or equivalent.



View PSYCH 339-CN Sections
Evolutionary Psychology <> PSYCH 342-CN

The central idea of this course is that there is such a thing as human nature, and it comes from our shared evolutionary history. Broad topics include mating psychology, and how men and women differ in their approaches to lust and love; and culture, and how humans are unusual among living things in their ability to acquire knowledge. Carries science or social science credit. Prerequisite: PSYCH 110 or equivalent.

View PSYCH 342-CN Sections
Psychology of Beauty <> PSYCH 343-CN

The purpose of this course is to thoughtfully consider psychological theory, methodology, and empirical data relating to questions regarding what makes us find beautiful people beautiful, how evolutionary psychology explains why we find certain features beautiful, whether beauty is really in the eye of the beholder, and how beauty ideals have shifted over history. We will also examine how gender roles and sexual orientation are related to beauty and its pursuit and the ways that beauty biases can affect how we perceive and treat others. Disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and body dysmorphic disorder will be examined from the perspective of beauty pressures. Carries social science credit. Prerequisite: PSYCH 110 or equivalent.

View PSYCH 343-CN Sections
Psychological Tests and Measures PSYCH 375-CN

In psychological testing and measurement, two assumptions can be made – that certain states and traits exist, and that they therefore can be measured. However, the usefulness the information obtained from these measures is only as good as the measure itself. In this course, we will explore what makes a test a “good” test and how these guidelines have been used (or not used) to create tests across a variety of domains. First, we will explore how psychological measurement has developed over time and, based on this knowledge, will work to develop an understanding of how to create solid measures and how to test the quality of those measures. Then, we will take a deeper look at assessment in a variety of contexts, including intelligence, achievement, personality, and clinical assessment. Finally, we will investigate the ethical and legal issues involved in testing to examine why “good” assessment is so important. Prerequisite: PSYCH 110 or equivalent. Carries social science credit.

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