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Master of Science in Positive Psychology

Master of Science in
Positive Psychology

Life University offers a Master’s degree program in Positive Psychology with three tracks: General, Coaching Psychology, and Secular Ethics and Contemplative Science. Positive Psychology focuses on the study of flourishing and positive human functioning and include key areas such as happiness, life satisfaction, meaning in life, gratitude, compassion and forgiveness.

In 1998, Martin Seligman made the case for psychologists to investigate what made a happy life rather than an unhappy one. Since then, we have seen an explosion of research in the study of what people need to do to experience happiness and successfully navigate life’s challenges.

Online Coaching Psychology Track

Life University’s MSPP – Coaching Track is a three-quarter online program designed around an integrated approach to positive psychology that draws from the richness of ancient traditions, yet is based on modern scientific research, methods and best practices. Graduates of this program will have key theoretical understandings and the core skills necessary to work as a professional coach in a wide range of settings. They will be equipped to work in the scientist-practitioner or scholar-practitioner models and can expect to find employment as human performance consultants, personal or workplace coaches in industry, in the human resources field or in private practice. Throughout the program students work independently as well as meet regularly via videoconference with professors and classmates. Three in-person, weekend residencies are also required for graduation.

The Life University Coaching Psychology program is a Center for Credentialing & Education (CCE) Approved Board Certified Coach (BCC) training provider as well as an International Coaching Federation (ICF) Accredited Coach Specific Training Hours provider (ACSTH). Therefore, graduates earn 210 hours of approved synchronous coach training which prepares them to sit for BCC and ACC level certifications upon graduation from the coaching psychology program.

Learning Goals

Graduates of the Coaching Psychology Program will successfully demonstrate the use of ICF and CCE core competencies and associated coaching skills through a final comprehensive written and oral examination. They will be able to effectively analyze legal and ethical issues related to coaching. And, examine current evidence-based research in positive psychology and other psychological theories as they relate to and inform coaching.

Coaching Philosophy

The Life University Coaching Psychology program follows the ICF philosophy of coaching. We honor the client as the expert in his/her life and work, and believe that every client is creative resourceful and whole. Standing on this foundation, the coach’s responsibility is to:

  • Discover, clarify and align with what the client wants to achieve,
  • Encourage client self-discovery
  • Elicit client-generated solutions, and
  • Hold the client responsible and accountable for results

Lead Instructors

Dr. Richard Shook, Dr. Mickey Parsons, Dr. Cherry Collier and Dr. Peggy Samples are the core instructors for the Coaching Psychology Program. See their biographies at here.

Delivery Mode

Students are admitted to the program at the beginning of each quarter Fall (October), Winter (January), Spring (April) and Summer (July). The program is delivered in English and combines a blend of online learning, face-to-face quarterly residencies and weekly virtual conference call classes. The program is intended for individuals interested in working in an internal or external coaching capacity in industry as well as leaders and professionals seeking to improve their coaching ability.

Administrative Links

Admission Reqirements
Tuition and Fees
Policies on withdrawals and refunds – Contact the registrar’s office (770-426-2626 and Financial Aid office (770-426-2667) for withdrawal forms and refunds.



Fall

Course # Course Name *Prereq. Lec. Hrs. Lab Hrs. Credit Hrs.
MPSY 501 Introduction to Positive Psychology 0 Hours 0 Hours 5 Hours

This course will provide an introduction to positive psychology. It is designed to explore the concepts, research behind the concepts, techniques, and exercises that enhance well-being. The format of the course will be didactic, experiential, and interactive. Assigned readings will be given weekly.

MPSY 604 Research Methods and Statistics 0 Hours 0 Hours 5 Hours

This course will provide a basic introduction to the different types of research methods in Psychology as well as the descriptive and inferential statistical methods. The course offers a brief introduction to the philosophical underpinnings of research inquiry. Major topics include; the use of scientific method in psychology, hypothesis formation, research study design, ethics, and data analysis and
interpretation. Emphasis will be placed on the establishment of appropriate connections between research questions and methodologies. Students will discuss the process of research as it relates to each approach. This process includes writing an introduction, specifying a purpose statement, and developing research questions and/or hypotheses. This course will also discuss the methods and procedures for quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods studies.

MPSY 534 The Evolution of Coaching 0 Hours 0 Hours 5 Hours

During this course, students will explore the history of coaching through the psychological theories and therapies, as well as the social and spiritual movements out of which coaching has evolved. As coaches, students need to know where their core ideas come from. Furnished with such knowledge, students have access to a much more flexible toolkit, and are in a better position to judge where and
when to call on one technique or model rather than another.

Sub-total: 15 credit hours

Winter

Course # Course Name *Prereq. Lec. Hrs. Lab Hrs. Credit Hrs.
MPSY 530 Theories and Techniques of Coaching Psychology 0 Hours 0 Hours 5 Hours

Students will be focused on learning the fundamental skills of coaching, and laying the foundation for sound contemporary coaching practice. Drawing on established approaches from positive psychology and traditional psychology, students will be trained in the core micro skills of coaching. Practical experience of self-coaching and co-coaching are central aspects of this course, requiring
students to apply self-coaching strategies to their own lives.

MPSY 631 Applied Positive Psychology Coaching 0 Hours 0 Hours 5 Hours

This course will focus on the growing positive psychology evidence base as it relates to coaching applications. In short, positive psychology is the scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive. It is a rich and growing field, and aligns perfectly with coaching: both assume people are basically healthy, resourceful, and motivated to grow.

The phrase “positive psychology” was first used by Abraham Maslow in 1954, in a call to psychology to focus on humanity’s potential just as much as its shortcomings. Likewise, coaching is a positive practice, which focuses on building people’s resourcefulness and positive beliefs about themselves. This quarter, students will explore recent research in positive psychology and how it builds upon current coaching practice to help refine it. Students will also learn the importance of relationships, autonomy and achievement in the coaching process.

MPSY 688 Positive Psychology Capstone 0 Hours 0 Hours 1 Hours

The primary aim of this capstone course is:
• to allow students to reflect on what they have learned in previous positive psychology courses
• to see how the various areas of research interrelate with each other and with the world
• to see how students can use positive psychology in their lives and careers
• to polish students’ writing and presentation skills in preparation for the world after graduation

MSHS 699 Written Comprehensive Exam 0 Hours 0 Hours 0 Hours

Each non-thesis candidate is required to take a written comprehensive examination as one component toward advancement to candidacy. To be eligible to take the examination, the student must file an application with the Sport Health Science Department that has been approved by the student’s advisor and the department head of the program. Application for the comprehensive exams must be completed and filed with the SHS Department the quarter prior to completion of exam after the student has completed all core and required courses with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 and all required application materials on file.

Sub-total: 11 credit hours

Spring

Course # Course Name *Prereq. Lec. Hrs. Lab Hrs. Credit Hrs.
MPSY 531 Workplace Coaching 0 Hours 0 Hours 5 Hours

This course will be focused on expanding students’ coaching repertoire by expanding theirknowledge of Business Coaching, including corporate, executive, team and small business coaching.

MPSY 633 Mindfulness Based Cognitive-Behavioral Coaching 0 Hours 0 Hours 5 Hours

This course will focus on the exploration of various aspects of coaching from a mindfulness based cognitive-behavioral framework. Topics including procrastination, stress, performance, self-esteem, perfectionism, goal selection and socratic questioning will be discussed using illustrative in-depth coach–coachee dialogues. Students will gain an understanding of positive psychology interventions
such as mindfulness, meditation and cognitive-based compassion and their applications to coaching individuals and teams.

MPSY 644 The Psychology of Group Coaching 0 Hours 0 Hours 5 Hours

This course will focus on providing a foundation for group coaching –what it is and how it differs from one-on-one coaching. Throughout the course, students will explore this evolving area of coaching as students learn practical methods for designing, implementing and marketing group coaching programs.

MPSY 688 Positive Psychology Capstone 0 Hours 0 Hours 1 Hours

The primary aim of this capstone course is:
• to allow students to reflect on what they have learned in previous positive psychology courses
• to see how the various areas of research interrelate with each other and with the world
• to see how students can use positive psychology in their lives and careers
• to polish students’ writing and presentation skills in preparation for the world after graduation

MSHS 699 Written Comprehensive Exam 0 Hours 0 Hours 0 Hours

Each non-thesis candidate is required to take a written comprehensive examination as one component toward advancement to candidacy. To be eligible to take the examination, the student must file an application with the Sport Health Science Department that has been approved by the student’s advisor and the department head of the program. Application for the comprehensive exams must be completed and filed with the SHS Department the quarter prior to completion of exam after the student has completed all core and required courses with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 and all required application materials on file.

Sub-total: 16 credit hours

Secular Ethics & Contemplative Science Track

Students will earn a Master in Science in Positive Psychology (MSPP) degree. Life University’s MSPP Secular Ethics and Contemplative Science track is a six-quarter program. For students in this area of specialization, training in contemplative science, contemplative studies and contemplative psychology will involve first-person engagement with contemplative and meditative practices. These include popular interventions, such as mindfulness meditation and Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT) in courses that involve a “meditation lab” component.

Students will develop familiarity with the emerging research on contemplative practices and their effects, particularly in the fields of psychology, neuroscience and the health sciences. Students will learn how to develop secular interventions based on contemplative practices and traditions. Students will also learn how to design research studies that evaluate such interventions in diverse settings, including educational and clinical settings.

Year 1 - Fall

Course # Course Name *Prereq. Lec. Hrs. Lab Hrs. Credit Hrs.
MPSY 501 Introduction to Positive Psychology 0 Hours 0 Hours 5 Hours

This course will provide an introduction to positive psychology. It is designed to explore the concepts, research behind the concepts, techniques, and exercises that enhance well-being. The format of the course will be didactic, experiential, and interactive. Assigned readings will be given weekly.

MPSY 604 Research Methods and Statistics 0 Hours 0 Hours 5 Hours

This course will provide a basic introduction to the different types of research methods in Psychology as well as the descriptive and inferential statistical methods. The course offers a brief introduction to the philosophical underpinnings of research inquiry. Major topics include; the use of scientific method in psychology, hypothesis formation, research study design, ethics, and data analysis and
interpretation. Emphasis will be placed on the establishment of appropriate connections between research questions and methodologies. Students will discuss the process of research as it relates to each approach. This process includes writing an introduction, specifying a purpose statement, and developing research questions and/or hypotheses. This course will also discuss the methods and procedures for quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods studies.

MPSY 572 Foundations of Contemplative Science 0 Hours 0 Hours 4 Hours

This class will provide an introduction to contemplative science that includes both the practice of contemplative techniques and the ways they can be studied and evaluated scientifically, focusing on the most important research findings, paradigms, and challenges in this emerging field, and providing a basis for further coursework in the Contemplative Science and Secular Ethics track.

Sub-total: 14 credit hours

Year 1 - Winter

Course # Course Name *Prereq. Lec. Hrs. Lab Hrs. Credit Hrs.
MPSY 605 Program Evaluation Instructor Approval 0 Hours 0 Hours 5 Hours

Students will learn about different types of program evaluation, including needs assessment, formative research, process evaluation, monitoring of outputs and outcomes, impact assessment, and cost analysis. Students gain practical experience through a series of exercises involving the design of a conceptual framework, development of indicators, analysis of computerized service statistics, and
development of an evaluation plan to measure impact. This course covers experimental, quasi-experimental, and non-experimental study designs, including the strengths and limitations of each.

MPSY 606 The Art of Self-Care: Mindfulness, Meditation, and the Mind/Body Connection 0 Hours 0 Hours 4 Hours

This course will examine mindfulness, loving kindness, and insight styles of meditation in both their traditional Buddhist and contemporary presentations, as well as the growing scientific literature on mindfulness and its effects. It will also provide students with personal training through first-person engagement with mindfulness and insight meditation practices.

MPSY 571 Introduction to Secular Ethics 0 Hours 0 Hours 4 Hours

This course covers topics in psychology, neuroscience, and moral philosophy—it will examine the case for and against secular ethics, and explore its relationship with positive psychology and contemplative science.

MPSY 574 Mindfulness Meditation Lab (Pass/Fail) 0 Hours 0 Hours 2 Hours

This course will provide students with training in three main forms of meditation being commonly practiced today: mindfulness meditation, insight (vipassana) meditation, and loving kindness (metta) meditation. While spiritual in nature—in the sense that they foster the development of inner values, peace of mind, insight into one’s own mental processes, and kindness towards others—these
meditations are secular and universal, and therefore appropriate for individuals of any (or no) religious affiliation. Although these meditations have been shown to have demonstrable psychological and physical health benefits, the focus of this course will be on the actual practice of the meditation, rather than on meditation theory and the scientific study of meditation.

Sub-total: 15 credit hours

Year 1 - Spring

Course # Course Name *Prereq. Lec. Hrs. Lab Hrs. Credit Hrs.
MPSY 670 Compassion: Science, Theory and Practice PSY 571, 572 0 Hours 0 Hours 4 Hours

In this course, students will focus on one protocol in particular that employs analytical meditation to cultivate compassion, namely Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT), a program developed at Emory University in 2005 that is now being implemented in health-related and educational contexts, and that has been examined scientifically in a number of studies. Students will examine its theory, including its background in the Tibetan Buddhist lojong tradition; review the scientific research that has been conducted on it; and learn the practice itself through first-hand experience of its eight stages.

MPSY 671 Compassion Meditation Lab (Pass/Fail) 0 Hours 0 Hours 2 Hours

This course will provide students with training in Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT), a secularized meditation protocol for developing compassion towards oneself and others. Through a systematic, eight-step process, CBCT employs analytical meditation alongside non-analytical techniques to foster insight into one’s own mental experiences, self-compassion and resilience, gratitude and forgiveness, empathy, and unbiased compassion. Students will be guided through this process in weekly meditation sessions. Although CBCT has shown to have demonstrable psychological and physical health benefits, the focus of this course will be on the actual practice of the meditation, rather than on meditation theory and the scientific study of meditation.

MPSY 615 The Psychology of Forgiveness 0 Hours 0 Hours 4 Hours

In this course, students examine the psychological research on forgiveness as a complex construct involving cognitive, affective, motivational and behavioral aspects. Students also look closely at techniques for cultivating forgiveness found in the contemplative traditions, focusing in particular on a classic Indian text, Shantideva’s “Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life,” the sixth chapter of which
is a handbook on forgiveness and how to deal with anger and resentment. Students will explore these concepts not only theoretically, but also through practical exercises in order to complement students’ understanding with a phenomenological account of forgiveness.

1 MPSY Elective 0 Hours 0 Hours 4 Hours

Sub-total: 14 credit hours

Year 1 - Summer

Residential Retreat

Students in this speciality track participate in an annual residential week-long retreat, which should be completed during the summer at the end of their first year in the program, but which may in some circumstances take place at the end of the second year. This retreat will be teaching retreat with significant time for group and individual contemplative practice. Typically, the retreat will involve training and practice in the Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT) meditation protocol.

Year 2 - Fall

Course # Course Name *Prereq. Lec. Hrs. Lab Hrs. Credit Hrs.
MPSY 680 Advanced Seminar in Contemplative Psychology PSY 604, 606, 670 0 Hours 0 Hours 4 Hours

This course provides students with an opportunity to engage in an in-depth examination of one specific contemplative tradition through the lens of both traditional texts and sources and contemporary psychology and neuroscience, in order to see what contemplative psychology has to offer positive psychology, and vice versa. The format will be seminar-style. The specific contemplative tradition to be examined can vary depending on instructor expertise and student interest, and possible topics include the Tibetan lojong or ‘mind training’ tradition; the medieval Christian contemplative tradition; or Sufi spirituality. The psychological, cognitive science, and
neuroscientific literature presented will focus on research on emotions and emotion regulation, areas that are particularly amenable to comparisons with contemplative psychologies that largely focus on transforming emotional patterns.

MSHS 698 Thesis 12 Hours 0 Hours 12 Hours

The formal publication of a research thesis is accomplished under the direct supervision of a graduate faculty member.

Sub-total: 16 credit hours

Year 2 - Winter

Course # Course Name *Prereq. Lec. Hrs. Lab Hrs. Credit Hrs.
MSHS 698 Thesis 12 Hours 0 Hours 12 Hours

The formal publication of a research thesis is accomplished under the direct supervision of a graduate faculty member.

1 MPSY Elective 0 Hours 0 Hours 4 Hours

Sub-total: 16 credit hours

Year 2 - Spring

Course # Course Name *Prereq. Lec. Hrs. Lab Hrs. Credit Hrs.
MSHS 698 Thesis 12 Hours 0 Hours 12 Hours

The formal publication of a research thesis is accomplished under the direct supervision of a graduate faculty member.

MSHS 699 Written Comprehensive Exam 0 Hours 0 Hours 0 Hours

Each non-thesis candidate is required to take a written comprehensive examination as one component toward advancement to candidacy. To be eligible to take the examination, the student must file an application with the Sport Health Science Department that has been approved by the student’s advisor and the department head of the program. Application for the comprehensive exams must be completed and filed with the SHS Department the quarter prior to completion of exam after the student has completed all core and required courses with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 and all required application materials on file.

1 MPSY Elective 0 Hours 0 Hours 4 Hours

Sub-total: 16 credit hours

Online General Track

Students will earn a Master in Science in Positive Psychology (MSPP) degree. Life University’s MSSP General Track is an online three-quarter program. The mission of the MSPP General Track will be to prepare students to be competent, ethical practitioners of positive psychology. Students will develop skills in evaluation assessment and in a variety of coaching modalities. Learners will be able to apply knowledge from various frameworks and interventions (e.g., theoretical, empirical, experiential and vitalistic models) to a wide variety of human experiences. This program focuses on the uniqueness of each individual and the influence of culture and ethnicity when providing services to people from diverse backgrounds. The MSPP – General Track provides a systematic approach that helps students to progress in their ability to apply positive psychology in multiple environments.

Three in-person, weekend residencies are also required for graduation.

Fall

Course # Course Name *Prereq. Lec. Hrs. Lab Hrs. Credit Hrs.
MPSY 501 Introduction to Positive Psychology 0 Hours 0 Hours 5 Hours

This course will provide an introduction to positive psychology. It is designed to explore the concepts, research behind the concepts, techniques, and exercises that enhance well-being. The format of the course will be didactic, experiential, and interactive. Assigned readings will be given weekly.

MPSY 604 Research Methods and Statistics 0 Hours 0 Hours 5 Hours

This course will provide a basic introduction to the different types of research methods in Psychology as well as the descriptive and inferential statistical methods. The course offers a brief introduction to the philosophical underpinnings of research inquiry. Major topics include; the use of scientific method in psychology, hypothesis formation, research study design, ethics, and data analysis and
interpretation. Emphasis will be placed on the establishment of appropriate connections between research questions and methodologies. Students will discuss the process of research as it relates to each approach. This process includes writing an introduction, specifying a purpose statement, and developing research questions and/or hypotheses. This course will also discuss the methods and procedures for quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods studies.

MPSY 502 The Science of Happiness: Approaches to the Good Life 0 Hours 0 Hours 5 Hours

This course focuses on the science of happiness, integrating findings from positive psychology, psychiatry, behavioral genetics, neuroscience and behavioral economics. Over the course of the semester, students will consider the genetics of happiness, including the notion of a biologically determined hedonic set point, the brain’s pleasure circuitry, and the mind’s power to frame events positively, a tool used with great success in cognitive therapies. Students will question an idea that has gained prevalence since the Enlightenment: that pleasure and happiness are our purpose.

Sub-total: 15 credit hours

Winter

Course # Course Name *Prereq. Lec. Hrs. Lab Hrs. Credit Hrs.
MPSY 530 Theories and Techniques of Coaching Psychology 0 Hours 0 Hours 5 Hours

Students will be focused on learning the fundamental skills of coaching, and laying the foundation for sound contemporary coaching practice. Drawing on established approaches from positive psychology and traditional psychology, students will be trained in the core micro skills of coaching. Practical experience of self-coaching and co-coaching are central aspects of this course, requiring
students to apply self-coaching strategies to their own lives.

MPSY 605 Program Evaluation Instructor Approval 0 Hours 0 Hours 5 Hours

Students will learn about different types of program evaluation, including needs assessment, formative research, process evaluation, monitoring of outputs and outcomes, impact assessment, and cost analysis. Students gain practical experience through a series of exercises involving the design of a conceptual framework, development of indicators, analysis of computerized service statistics, and
development of an evaluation plan to measure impact. This course covers experimental, quasi-experimental, and non-experimental study designs, including the strengths and limitations of each.

MPSY 606 The Art of Self-Care: Mindfulness, Meditation, and the Mind/Body Connection 0 Hours 0 Hours 4 Hours

This course will examine mindfulness, loving kindness, and insight styles of meditation in both their traditional Buddhist and contemporary presentations, as well as the growing scientific literature on mindfulness and its effects. It will also provide students with personal training through first-person engagement with mindfulness and insight meditation practices.

688 MPSY Capstone 0 Hours 0 Hours 1 Hours
MSHS 699 Written Comprehensive Exam 0 Hours 0 Hours 0 Hours

Each non-thesis candidate is required to take a written comprehensive examination as one component toward advancement to candidacy. To be eligible to take the examination, the student must file an application with the Sport Health Science Department that has been approved by the student’s advisor and the department head of the program. Application for the comprehensive exams must be completed and filed with the SHS Department the quarter prior to completion of exam after the student has completed all core and required courses with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 and all required application materials on file.

Sub-total: 15 credit hours

Spring

Course # Course Name *Prereq. Lec. Hrs. Lab Hrs. Credit Hrs.
MPSY 507 Positive Leadership: Empowerment and Self Management PSY 501 0 Hours 0 Hours 5 Hours

Drawing on psychological research at the level of the individual, group, and organization, the class focuses on leadership development as it applies to politics, business, social enterprise, and education. Topics include goal setting, ethics, story-telling, charisma, systems thinking, and crucible experiences.

MPSY 607 Positive Organizational Scholarship and Human Flourishing 0 Hours 0 Hours 5 Hours

This course invites students to explore the opportunities presented by two vibrant and emerging fields: Positive Psychology and Positive Organizational Scholarship (POS).

MPSY 615 The Psychology of Forgiveness 0 Hours 0 Hours 4 Hours

In this course, students examine the psychological research on forgiveness as a complex construct involving cognitive, affective, motivational and behavioral aspects. Students also look closely at techniques for cultivating forgiveness found in the contemplative traditions, focusing in particular on a classic Indian text, Shantideva’s “Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life,” the sixth chapter of which
is a handbook on forgiveness and how to deal with anger and resentment. Students will explore these concepts not only theoretically, but also through practical exercises in order to complement students’ understanding with a phenomenological account of forgiveness.

688 MPSY Capstone 0 Hours 0 Hours 1 Hours
MSHS 699 Written Comprehensive Exam 0 Hours 0 Hours 0 Hours

Each non-thesis candidate is required to take a written comprehensive examination as one component toward advancement to candidacy. To be eligible to take the examination, the student must file an application with the Sport Health Science Department that has been approved by the student’s advisor and the department head of the program. Application for the comprehensive exams must be completed and filed with the SHS Department the quarter prior to completion of exam after the student has completed all core and required courses with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 and all required application materials on file.

Sub-total: 15 credit hours

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