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PSYC500 - Orientation to Graduate Learning in Psychology

Course Details

Course Code: PSYC500 Course ID: 4036 Credit Hours: 3 Level: Graduate

This course orients and prepares students for entry into advanced level study of psychology. It provides an overview of the field and guides students in the development, honing and application of critical thinking, research and writing skills necessary for successful completion of the Master of Arts in Psychology graduate degree. This course must be taken during the student’s first term.

Course Schedule

No Course Offerings.

Current Syllabi

Graduate learners successfully completing this course will:

1. Analyze key issues in the larger field of psychology.
2. Investigate the holdings of the University Online Library relevant to the program of study as a research and course-related learning tool
3. Examine career opportunities in psychology
4. Assess methods of developing and pursuing threads of investigative inquiry related to the discipline of psychology
5. Apply sound discipline related methods of gathering, critiquing and writing about peer reviewed research
6. Apply APA style and writing skills appropriate for graduate level work

General Assignment Requirements
Students engaging in graduate studies are held to rigorous standards. Graduate students are expected to exhibit advanced level critical thinking, ability to synthesize multiple sources of information, high caliber writing skills and academic integrity in all course activities. Concerning forum discussion assignments, learners will engage with the instructor and peers through rich responses to their posts. To motivate engaged discussion, posts are expected to be on time with regular interaction throughout the week. All posts should demonstrate masters-level writing skills. To promote vibrant discussion as we would in a face to face classroom, formatted citations and references are not required. Quotes should not be used at all, or used sparingly. If you quote a source in your work, an APA formatted citation and reference should be provided; however, this is not required for successful completion of forum posts.

With the exception of forum posts and any other assignments so designated by the course instructor, assignment submissions completed in a narrative essay or composition format may not be written in first or second person (“I” or “you”). Written paper assignments must follow the citation and reference rules established by the American Psychological Association (APA), must be in size 12 Times New Roman or Arial font, double-spaced with 1” margins on all sides of the page and must include a cover page with the following centered vertically and horizontally: Student Name, Date of Submission, Assignment Title, Course Number and Name, and Professor Name.

When reporting on what one reads in any published source, including the course text, providing the source(s) used is required. Failure to do so in both the body of and in a References list attached to the end of the assignment submission and to properly quote very sparingly used verbatim content constitutes plagiarism. Any instance of plagiarism, regardless of intent, will result in an assignment score of zero with no option for revision and resubmission for the first incident and course failure for any additional incidents. The website is an excellent, easy to understand resource for APA style formatting and source citation. APA formatting guides are also included in the classroom Resources folder.

Scholarly, peer-reviewed journals must be used for assignment completion. Unless instructed to do so for specific assignments, students may not use commercial websites as the basis for completion of course work. Encyclopedia websites, such as Wikipedia or Encarta, dictionaries, and other article summary sites, blogs or opinion slanted news media outlets may not be used for any writing assignment.


Forums: Due Weeks 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 and 8
Weekly dialogs with classmates will be based on engagement with assigned course readings and/or related multi-media and will take place in the online classroom on threaded Forums. A set of topical instructions for each dialog will be posted on its respective Forum weekly by the professor. While designed to promote lively discourse within a community of fellow learners, the dialogs are academic in nature and require a scholarly orientation, with students supporting their perspectives with source citations both in the post body and references at the end formatted in APA style.

Students will complete two separate reviews of an evidence-based, peer-reviewed journal article on an important issue in psychology selected from among pre-approved topics. Min page length for each summary is 3 pages.

What Psychologists Do: Due Weeks 3 and 5
During Weeks 3 and 5, students will select 3 professional psychology sub-specialties from a list provided by the professor and submit an investigative report paper covering required information obtained from the American Psychological Association website and one other web source related to the sub-specialties selected . Min page length for each paper is 3 pages.

Students will complete a published Literature Review Paper on a topic in psychology that is related to a selected classmate article summary posted on the Week 2 Forum. An annotated bibliography of the 6 to 8 articles used for this paper is due at the end of Week 4 or the course term.


Students will complete a Literature Review Paper 15 pages in length and focused on a topic in psychology that is related to a selected classmate article summary posted on the Week 2 Forum. This paper will include summaries and critiques of the 6 to 8 articles annotated in the Annotated Bibliography assignment.


Students will complete a Reflection Paper focused on questions reviewing the course activities and assignments over the past seven weeks. Minimum paper length is 5 pages.

NOTE: Developing the skills applied in completion of the above assignments and the formation of a learning community are essential for success in the Master of Arts in Psychology program. Support in the form of guidance and grading feedback is offered in this orientation course with the expectation that students will carry skills forward and apply them to future program courses in which require engaging in rigorous learning experiences and meeting high standards of writing.

NameGrade %
Forums 32.00 %
Week 1 Forum 4.00 %
Week 2 Forum 4.00 %
Week 3 Forum 4.00 %
Week 4 Forum 4.00 %
Week 5 Forum 4.00 %
Week 6 Forum 4.00 %
Week 7 Forum 4.00 %
Week 8 Forum 4.00 %
What Psychologists Do 10.00 %
What Psychologists Do 1 - Week 3 5.00 %
What Psychologists Do 2 - Week 5 5.00 %
Literature Review Paper 30.00 %
Literature Review Paper - Week 7 30.00 %
Article Review 16.00 %
Journal Article Summary - Week 2 8.00 %
Journal Article Summary Week 6 8.00 %
Annotated Bibliography 5.00 %
Annotated Bibliography - Week 4 5.00 %
Reflection Paper 7.00 %
Reflection Paper Week 8 7.00 %

Book Title: Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Psychological Issues, 19th ed- expanded
Author: Edwin Gantt and Brent Slife
Publication Info: McGraw-Hill
ISBN: 9781259431616

Book Title: Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th Ed
Author: American Psychological Association
Publication Info: American Psychological Association
ISBN: 9781433805615

Book Title:Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Psychological Issues, 20th ed
Publication Info:McGraw Hill
Author:Edwin Gantt
Unit Cost:$67.33
Book Title:Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th Ed
Publication Info:American Psychological Association
Author:American Psychological Association
Unit Cost:$31.35
Electronic ISBN:9781433813757
Electronic Unit Cost:$29.95

Previous Syllabi

Not current for future courses.