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Department of Psychology

Dr. Linda LaGrange, Chair
Lora Magnum Shields Building, Room 258
PHONE: 505-454-3578 FAX: 505-454-3331


Mission of the Department of Psychology

The mission of the Department of Psychology is to provide psychological and sociocultural service and expertise for the region, as well as the greater global community, and to contribute to meeting the educational needs in psychology, the career needs in psychological services and research, and the training for careers in education engineering, physical and biological sciences, medicine, and other science field.


Lara Heflin, Ph.D.
Linda LaGrange, Ph.D.
David Pan, Ph.D.
Gerald Russell, Ph.D.
Sarah Tracy, Ph.D.


Psychology, the study of human behavior and mental processes, includes such topics as learning and memory, cognition, motivation and emotion, sensation and perception, personality, development, attitudes, social interactions, brain-behavior relationships, human sexuality, psychopathology, and mental health interventions.

The special focus in this field is the individual rather than human societies or cultures. Although the study of psychology contributes to the understanding of abnormal human behavior, knowledge of psychology also enhances the understanding of normal human behavior.

Psychological research is conducted exclusively with the scientific method in applications that range from multifactorial laboratory experiments to single case studies. At Highlands, students experience the diversity within the field through a broad selection of courses. There is a cognitive-behavioral emphasis offered in the study of mental disorders, while research psychology is represented by cognitive, biological, social, and personality approaches.

Career goals of psychologists include teaching, research, and service. Psychologists, counselors, and psychometricians work at such sites as schools, mental health centers and hospitals, geriatric facilities, and correctional institutions. The psychological profession also includes school psychologists and human relations or organizational behavior psychologists for industry or government.

Resources and Facilities

The human riches of Northern New Mexico provide an outstanding context for psychological, social, and cultural studies at New Mexico Highlands University. Students may engage in field archaeological digs, ethnographic, psychobiological research, and clinical practicum. Additionally, students have the opportunity to conduct research in our psychobiology and anthropology labs. Studies of human behavior emphasize field data and computer applications for analysis and interpretation.

The department provides a computer laboratory for student use. Students have access to word processing, spreadsheets, and statistical packages, as well as the Internet.

Student professional societies and organizations, such as Psi Chi, and the Sociology and Anthropology Club, provide opportunities for student participation and program enrichment beyond the classroom.

Master of Science in Psychology (MS)

Required core: 30 credit hours

PSY 601 Data Analysis & Statistics (3)
PSY 602 Behavioral Research Methods (3)
PSY 605 Memory & Cognition (3)
PSY 608 Introduction to Neuropsychology (3)
PSY 612 Psychopharmacology (3)
PSY 621 Advanced Social Psychology (3)
PSY 640 Advanced Developmental Psychology (3)
PSY 651 Profession Ethics & Issues (3)
PSY 671 Advanced Psychopathology (3)

Choose one of the following options:

PSY 699 Thesis (3)*

*Students register for thesis until complete, which may exceed the 3 credit hour requirement.

Core Total: 30

General Psychology Track

Electives: 6 credit hours

In addition to the core required coursework, students in the general psychology track must also complete six credit hours of electives, including at least one assessment course (three credit hours), which are selected in consultation with an adviser. Advisers work with the student in order to structure the elective courses in accordance with the student’s career goals.

Degree Total: 36 credit hours

Clinical Psychology/Counseling Track

In addition to the core required 30 credit hours of coursework, students in the clinical psychology/counseling track must also complete the following required coursework for a total of 66 credit hours. Students may opt out of thesis and instead take Psy 696 Publishable Papers/Capstone.

Required courses: 36 credit hours

PSY 525 Introduction to Group Psychotherapy (3)
PSY 627 Career Development (3)
PSY 672 Introduction to Counseling and Therapy (3)
PSY 674 Individual Intelligence Testing (3)
PSY 675 Personality Assessment (3)
PSY 677 Multicultural Psychotherapy (3)
PSY 679 Behavior Therapy & Assessment (3)
PSY 681 Neuropsychological Assessment (3)
PSY 634 Practicum (12)
PSY 696 Publishable Papers/Capstone (3)


Psy 699 Thesis (3)

*Students who are Clinical/Counseling that are on the Non-Thesis track must register for PSY696 – Publishable Papers/Capstone INSTEAD of PSY699 – Thesis. Students register for capstone or thesis until complete, which may exceed the 3 credit hour requirement.

Degree Total: 66 credit hours

Psychology (PSY), Courses in

PSY 502. Psychology of Sports Performance (3); Var
Psychological and social-psychological factors affecting sports performance. Specific attention will be given to the relationship between sports performance and motivation, personality, aggression, and attitudes. The social processes of social facilitation, observational learning, social reinforcement, and competition will also be viewed in relation to their effect upon the individual’s sports performance.

PSY 505. Positive Psychology (3); Var
This course will provide an overview of the dynamic field of positive psychology. What does that mean? Positive psychology is oriented to the study of optimal human performance, quality relationships, well-being, and flourishing. How can we be happy? How can we enhance our own lives and the lives of others? How can we be creative, productive, satisfied, and live meaningful lives? These are a few of the questions we would like to tackle in this course.

PSY 508. Drugs and Behavior (3); Sp
This course will focus on psychoactive drugs, or drugs that influence how people think, feel, or behave. Because this is fundamentally a biological psychology course, it will focus primarily on the physiological action of drugs, including how they influence brain functioning and, consequently, behavior. It will examine the addictive potential of drugs, the neurological and psychological mechanisms by which drugs become addictive, and treatments for drug abuse.

PSY 509. Domestic and Sexual Violence (3); Var
This course will focus on physical, sexual, and emotional abuse that occurs within families. A particular emphasis will be a focus on the psychological consequences of exposure to physical and sexual trauma and neglect. Victim and offender characteristics will be discussed in the context of family dynamics. Typical and potential criminal justice system responses will be explored.

PSY 510. Physiological Psychology (3); Fa
An overview of the neuroanatomical and neurophysiological processes underlying behavior. Topics include brain-behavior relationships, neurological disorders, brain organization, sensory systems, language systems, memory systems, sleep, and sexual functioning. Corequisite: PSY 511.

PSY 511. Techniques in Physiological Psychology (1); Fa
Laboratory work designed to enrich understanding of physiological psychology. Exercises include sheep brain dissection and the use of physiological psychology instruments. Corequisite: PSY 510.

PSY 516. Motivation and Emotion (3); Var
A review of the major phenomena and theories that relate to motivation and emotion. Prerequisite: PSY 203, PSY 204, or permission of instructor.

PSY 519. Introduction to Behavior Therapy (3); Var
Introduction to and survey of behavior therapy procedures and their application to child and adult populations in a variety of settings including homes, schools, prisons, and hospitals.

PSY 522. Human Sexuality (3); Fa, Even
Review of contemporary, socio-psychological issues relating to human sexuality. Topics include sexual anatomy, sexually-transmitted diseases, sexual dysfunctions, sexual attitudes and mores.

PSY 525. Introduction to Group Psychotherapy (3); Su
An overview of group therapy, theory and techniques. Course includes an experiential component designed to provide experience with group process and group leadership. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

PSY 530. Gender Roles (3); Var
An examination of gender roles and role theory in understanding the behavior of women and men. Topics include development, stereotyping, sex differences in personality, abilities, achievement, and status. Attention is given to implications of changing female and male roles in society.

PSY 533. History of Psychology (3); Var
Review of the major figures associated with the development of psychology as a science from Plato’s time to the present, with special emphasis on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Prerequisite: PSY 203, PSY 204, or permission of instructor.

PSY 535 – 635. Selected Topic in Psychology (1 – 4 VC); Var
Course in a topic or topics in psychology: may be repeated with a change of content.

PSY 545. Behavior Disorders in Children (3); Var
Etiology and treatment of behavioral problems in children in a variety of settings, including home and school environments. An eclectic coverage of the major theories, approaches, and research is provided. Prerequisite: PSY 240, PSY 340, or permission of instructor.

PSY 547. Health Psychology (3); Var
This course provides students with an introduction to the field of health psychology. A range of topics within health psychology are explored, including: the biopsychosocial model, relationships between psychological and physical health, stress and coping, psychological effects of and coping with chronic and life-threatening illnesses, psychology’s role in encouraging health-related behaviors or behavior change, and health psychology interventions.

PSY 550 – 650. Seminar in Psychology (1 – 4 VC); Var
Seminar course in a topic or topics in psychology. May be repeated with a change in content.

PSY 566. Psychology of Eyewitness Testimony (3); Fa
This course is designed to provide students with an in-depth examination of the way human memory process impacts a person’s ability to accurately recall the details of various scenarios such as phone conversations, visual identification of individuals involved in a crime, chronological order of events, and more. In addition to internal memory processes, students will be exposed to the many external influences on memory accuracy, which includes pressure from attorneys, threats from acquaintances, implanted memories, etc. Finally, the impact of age, mental disabilities, and emotional disturbances upon the ability to offer accurate eyewitness testimony will be a third focus of this course. This course is particularly salient to psychology and criminal justice majors.

PSY 572. Cognitive Science (3); Var
An interdisciplinary investigation of the foundations of human knowledge representation and understanding, the functioning of the human mind, and how these impact on recent computer technologies. Cross-listed as: PHIL 572 and CS 572.

PSY 575. Abnormal Psychology and Literature (3); Var
Characters from many literary works analyzed in terms of psychopathology. Various theories of abnormality will be utilized. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

PSY 577. Culture and Mental Illness (3); Var
An examination of current descriptions and explanations of mental disorders in a sample of countries from all major regions of the world. Historical, technical, ethical, and pragmatic aspects of international research in the realm of psychology/psychiatry are also addressed. Prerequisite: PSY 101, PSY 324, or permission of instructor.

PSY 580. Community Psychology (3); Var
An introduction to community psychology with emphasis on theories and research regarding prevention and consultation. Prerequisite: PSY 101 or permission of instructor.

PSY 590 – 690. Independent Study (1 – 4 VC); Var
Individual, directed readings and library research arranged with an instructor on a topic of mutual interest to the student and instructor. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

PSY 601. Data Analysis and Statistics (3); 2, 2 Fa
A comprehensive introduction to the design, analysis, application of psychological data, and experiments. The focus of the course is on the foundation and application of statistical techniques to problems of design and analysis. An introduction to the use of SPSS to analyze data will be included. Prerequisite: Graduate standing in psychology or allied program or permission of instructor and Undergraduate statistics or equivalent.

PSY 602. Behavioral Research Methods (3); 2, 2 Sp
A comprehensive examination of the language and logic of psychological research. Research designs and strategies for the laboratory, existing social organizations, and field setting are covered. Prerequisite: PSY 601 or permission of instructor.

PSY 605. Memory and Cognition (3); Sp, Even
An examination of human information processing. Topics include the study of encoding, storage, and retrieval processes in memory. In addition, seminars will be conducted on selected special topics relevant to current issues in cognition, such as false memories, the nature of consciousness, and the issue of “real” versus “artificial” intelligence.

PSY 608. Introduction to Neuropsychology (3); Fa
This course will cover a broad range of issues in the field of neuropsychology. The structural and cellular organization of the central nervous system will be reviewed followed by a discussion of the theoretical framework for brain behavior relationships. Common neurological disorders including epilepsy, degenerative diseases, traumatic brain injury, and vascular insults will be examined in detail. The test batteries and techniques typically used in neuropsychological assessment will be reviewed.

PSY 612. Psychopharmacology (3); Sp
The course consists of the study of drug action at physiological and behavioral levels. Psychological and medical applications and limitations of drugs used in the treatment of mental illness will be covered. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

PSY 621. Advanced Social Psychology (3); Fa
Comprehensive review of major theories and related research in social psychology. Emphasis given to attributional and social exchange approaches.

PSY 627. Career Development (3); Su
An examination of theories and frameworks for career development including the major techniques and instruments used in career assessment. Attention will be given to the psychological and social factors affecting career choice, planning and development. Prerequisite: Graduate standing in psychology or allied major, permission of instructor.

PSY 634. Practicum (1 – 12 VC); Fa, Sp, Su
A field placement in a local institution or agency providing extensive exposure to the use of professional techniques under staff supervision. This course may be repeated up to a limit of 12 hours of credit. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

PSY 640. Advanced Developmental Psychology (3); Sp
An in-depth coverage of developmental theories and research across the life span.

PSY 651. Professional Ethics and Issues (3); Fa
Examination of ethical theory as it relates to the practice of psychology. Review of the American Psychological Association Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. Presentation of additional information relevant to the professional psychologists. Course may be repeated once for credit.

PSY 671. Advanced Psychopathology (3); Fa
An examination of adult psychopathology with emphasis on current research, theories, and interventions presented within the context of DSM application. A unique aspect is exposure to the shifting of paradigms from disease-centered psychiatry to the culture-based, client-centered paradigm of mental illness. Prerequisite: Graduate status in psychology or permission of instructor. Cross-listed as SW 671.

PSY 672. Introduction to Counseling and Therapy (3); Sp
To provide the student with a relatively in-depth introduction to basic clinical skills and a few evidence-based psychotherapeutic modalities currently in use by practitioners. Students will learn the theories and applied skills for these evidence-based modalities, and skills will be practiced extensively in class. Students will also learn and practice clinical note writing. Prerequisite: Graduate status in psychology or permission of instructor.

PSY 674. Individual Intelligence Testing (3); 1, 2 Fa
Theories of intelligence, administration, scoring, and interpretation of widely used individual intelligence tests. Emphasis is given to the WISC-III and WAIS-III. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

PSY 675. Personality Assessment (3); 1, 2 Sp
In this course, students will learn the assessment process and basic psychometrics. This course will give students exposure to and experience with the administration, scoring, and interpretation of a number of commonly used personality/psychopathology assessment instruments. Students will practice integrating data from multiple tests with information from a clinical interview, and writing an integrated assessment report. Prerequisites: PSY 671 and PSY 571 or PSY 674 or permission of instructor.

PSY 677. Multicultural Psychotherapy (3); Sp
Examination and application of the American Psychological Association’s Multicultural Guidelines in therapy and counseling. Emphasis on clinical strategies for building cultural competence in working with racial/ethnic minority populations and other culturally diverse populations. Prerequisite: Graduate status in psychology or permission of instructor.

PSY 679. Behavior Therapy & Assessment (3); 1, 2 Fa
Experimental and theoretical basis of behavior therapy and assessment, and issues related to their application. The course seeks to familiarize the student with current procedures and their origins in experimental psychology, to indicate strengths and limitations of these techniques and to suggest specific problem areas requiring research exploration. Prerequisite: Graduate status in psychology or permission of instructor.

PSY 681. Neuropsychological Assessment (3); 1, 2 Sp
Course provides the student with a systematic clinical diagnostic procedure used to determine the extent of any possible behavioral deficits following diagnosed or suspected brain injury. Such assessments would be helpful for patients having, or suspected of having, various brain disorders that result in problems with memory, intellectual and cognitive functioning, daily activities, or behavior and emotions. Such conditions include head injury, stroke, epilepsy, brain tumor, toxic or other encephalopathies, dementia, developmental and learning disabilities, and other neurological disorders. Neuropsychological assessment would be used to determine the differential contribution of neurologic and psychiatric factors in a patient’s presenting problems, and in the specification of the patient’s psychological and behavioral strengths and weaknesses related to neurological dysfunction. Prerequisites: Psych 510 and psych 674, or equivalent courses, or permission of instructor.

PSY 691. Colloquium: Teaching of Psychology (1); Fa, Sp
Teaching approaches and issues applicable in specified courses in psychology; designed for graduate teaching assistants in psychology. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

PSY 692. Independent Research (1 – 4 VC); Fa, Sp
Independent research, including data collection, analysis, and interpretation, arranged with an instructor. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

PSY 696. Publishable Papers/Capstone (1 – 6 VC); Fa, Sp, Su
This is a capstone course that enables the non-thesis M.S. students in the clinical psychology/counseling program to complete their capstone portfolio. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

PSY 699. Thesis (1 – 6 VC); Fa, Sp, Su
Individual research and writing in preparation of a graduate thesis. After enrolling for thesis, student must continue to enroll for at least one credit hour of thesis each semester until completed. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

 This major is under the College of Arts and Sciences