Department of Psychology Graduate Requirements

Dr. David Pan, Chair
Lora Magnum Shields Building, Room 249
PHONE: 505-454-3375


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.


Nariman Arfai, Ph.D.

Thomas Brooks, Ph.D.

Daniel Chadborn, Ph.D.

Lara Heflin, Ph.D.

Linda LaGrange, Ph.D.

David Pan, Ph.D.

Mathias Stricherz, 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 provide opportunities for student participation and program enrichment beyond the classroom.

Graduate Admission Requirements: Department of Psychology

Psychology (MS)
Concentrations: General Psychology, Clinical Psychology/Counseling

  • Statement of educational goals (500-word statement outlining educational goals and objectives addressing research interests and experiences [if general or clinical thesis tracks] or addressing career goals, interests, and experiences [if clinical non-thesis track]
  • 2 letters of recommendation – at least 1 academic reference (e.g., professor, advisor, etc.), the 2nd letter can be an academic or professional reference. Letters of recommendation from friends or family are not appropriate.
  • 5-page writing sample, preferably a scholarly paper written for an upper division psychology class
  • Transcripts from all previously attended regionally accredited institutions (3.0 GPA or higher)

Will consider those who do not meet the GPA requirement.


Master of Science in Psychology (MS)

Required core: 30 credit hours

PSYC 6010 Data Analysis & Statistics (3)

PSYC 6020 Behavioral Research Methods (3)

PSYC 6050 Memory & Cognition (3)

PSYC 6080 Introduction to Neuropsychology (3)

PSYC 6120 Psychopharmacology (3)

PSYC 6210 Advanced Social Psychology (3)

PSYC 6400 Advanced Developmental Psychology (3)

PSYC 6510 Profession Ethics & Issues (3)

PSYC 6710 Advanced Psychopathology (3)

Choose one of the following options:

PSYC 6990 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 PSYC 6960 Publishable Papers/Capstone.

Required courses: 36 credit hours

PSYC 5250 Introduction to Group Psychotherapy (3)

PSYC 6270 Career Development (3)

PSYC 6720 Introduction to Counseling and Therapy (3)

PSYC 6740 Individual Intelligence Testing (3)

PSYC 6750 Personality Assessment (3)

PSYC 6770 Multicultural Psychotherapy (3)

PSYC 6790 Behavior Therapy & Assessment (3)

PSYC 6810 Neuropsychological Assessment (3)

PSYC 6340 Practicum (12)

PSYC 6960 Publishable Papers/Capstone (3)


PSYC 6990 Thesis (3)

*Students who are Clinical/Counseling that are on the Non-Thesis track must register for PSYC 6960 – Publishable Papers/Capstone INSTEAD of PSYC 6990 – 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

PSYC 5020. 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. Previous NMHU PSY 502.

PSYC 5050. 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. Previous NMHU PSY 505.

PSYC 5080. 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. Previous NMHU PSY 508.

PSYC 5090. 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. Previous NMHU PSY 509.

PSYC 5100. 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 5110. Previous NMHU PSY 510.

PSYC 5110. 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 5100. Previous NMHU PSY 511.

PSYC 5160. Motivation and Emotion (3); Var
A review of the major phenomena and theories that relate to motivation and emotion. Prerequisite; Permission of instructor. Previous NMHU PSY 516.

PSYC 5190. 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. Previous NMHU PSY 519.

PSYC 5220. 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. Previous NMHU PSY 522.

PSYC 5240. Sport Psychology (3); Var
The overall objective of this course is to identify and understand important psychological concepts related to sport and exercise psychology and application of these concepts to teaching, coaching, and consulting situations.  This class focuses on the application of psychological principles of behavior to individuals and groups involved in physical activity. This course examines the questions of how variables influence individuals’ psychological development and how they affect their participation and performance in physical activity. Various mental skills (e.g., imagery, goal setting) will be introduced through discussion of pertinent theory and research. This class is specifically designed to help students begin formulating practical strategies for teaching various psychological skills. The application of knowledge grounded in theory and research will be stressed.  Cross-listed with EXSC 5240.

PSYC 5250. 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. Previous NMHU PSY 525.

PSYC 5300. 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. Previous NMHU PSY 530.

PSYC 5330. 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; Permission of instructor. Previous NMHU PSY 533.

PSYC 5350 – 6350. Selected Topic in Psychology (1 – 4 VC); Var
Course in a topic or topics in psychology: may be repeated with a change of content. Previous NMHU PSY 535-635.

PSYC 5450. 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: Permission of instructor. Previous NMHU PSY 545.

PSYC 5470. 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. Previous NMHU PSY 547.

PSYC 5500 – 6500. Seminar in Psychology (1 – 4 VC); Var
Seminar course in a topic or topics in psychology. May be repeated with a change in content. Previous NMHU PSY 550-650.

PSYC 5660. 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. Previous NMHU PSY 566.

PSYC 5720. 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 5720 and CS 5720. Previous NMHU PSY 572.

PSYC 5750. 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. Previous NMHU PSY 575.

PSYC 5770. 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. Previous NMHU PSY 577.

PSYC 5800. Community Psychology (3); Var
An introduction to community psychology with emphasis on theories and research regarding prevention and consultation. Previous NMHU PSY 580.

PSYC 5900 – 6900. 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. Previous NMHU PSY 590 -690.

PSYC 6010. 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. Previous NMHU PSY 601.

PSYC 6020. 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 6010 or permission of instructor. Previous NMHU PSY 602.

PSYC 6050. 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. Previous NMHU PSY 605.

PSYC 6080. 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. Previous NMHU PSY 608.

PSYC 6120. 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. Previous NMHU PSY 612.

PSYC 6210. Advanced Social Psychology (3); Fa
Comprehensive review of major theories and related research in social psychology. Emphasis given to attributional and social exchange approaches. Previous NMHU PSY 621.

PSYC 6270. 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. Previous NMHU PSY 627.

PSYC 6340. 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. Previous NMHU PSY 634.

PSYC 6400. Advanced Developmental Psychology (3); Sp
An in-depth coverage of developmental theories and research across the life span. Previous NMHU PSY 640.

PSYC 6510. 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. Previous NMHU PSY 651.

PSYC 6710. 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 SOWK 6710. Previous NMHU PSY 671.

PSYC 6720. 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. Previous NMHU PSY 672.

PSYC 6740. 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. Previous NMHU PSY 674.

PSYC 6750. 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: PSYC 6710 and PSYC 5710 or PSYC 6740 or permission of instructor. Previous NMHU PSY 675.

PSYC 6770. 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. Previous NMHU PSY 677.

PSYC 6790. 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. Previous NMHU PSY 679.

PSYC 6810. 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. Previous NMHU PSY 681.

PSYC 6910. 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. Previous NMHU PSY 691.

PSYC 6920. Independent Research (1 – 4 VC); Fa, Sp
Independent research, including data collection, analysis, and interpretation, arranged with an instructor. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. Previous NMHU PSY 692.

PSYC 6960. 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. Previous NMHU PSY 696.

PSYC 6990. 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. Previous NMHU PSY 699.


 This major is under the College of Arts and Sciences