Grand Canyon University

Ph.D. in General Psychology: Cognition and Instruction (Qualitative Research)


3300 W Camelback Rd

Phoenix, AZ 85017

United States



Program Information

Degrees Offered:

Ph.D. in General Psychology: Cognition and Instruction (Qualitative Research)

Format: Online

Program Description:

PhD in Cognitive Psychology and Instruction Degree Emphasis Program

Grand Canyon University’s (GCU) qualitative Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in General Psychology with an Emphasis in Cognition and Instruction (Qualitative Research) is designed to help students who wish to work with adult educational communities that are economically and culturally diverse. Graduates will investigate how cognitive processes can inform the best instructional method.

The coursework in this cognitive psychology and instruction degree program covers topics relevant to building and analyzing desired learning outcomes. This includes studying social cognition and assessments. Additionally, learners in this PhD in cognitive psychology online or evening program will have the opportunity to:

    Analyze the impact of nature and nurture on cognitive development
    Use theoretical and empirical approaches to understand mental processes
    Create psychometrically sound measures
    Apply cognitive psychology to learning and instruction
    Understand how cognitive processes are used in practice

"When I chose to earn my Doctor of Philosophy in General Psychology at GCU, I was particularly interested in the emphasis of cognition and instruction because as a college professor teaching English composition, I knew it would complement what I was already doing. Regardless of what subject I’m teaching, if I can look at the way students learn and the way I teach, and the interactions between the two, I can teach with a more unified approach."
    Dr. Keziah Tinkle-Williams, Doctor of Philosophy in General Psychology, Class of 2021

What Is a Qualitative PhD in Cognitive Psychology and Instruction Degree Emphasis?

In a qualitative PhD program, students personally examine events to better understand an observed phenomenon. Through GCU’s qualitative PhD in General Psychology with an Emphasis in Cognition and Instruction program, students are taught in the development of a research study and gain insight into how and why people think, believe and behave. This program differs from GCU’s quantitative PhD in General Psychology with an Emphasis in Cognition and Instruction program, which focuses on developing the creation of a sampling plan and in the collection of data.

What Can You Learn in GCU's PhD in Cognitive Psychology Degree Emphasis Program?

An empirical, research-based approach is at the heart of GCU’s PhD in General Psychology with an Emphasis in Cognition and Instruction program (Qualitative Research). Graduates will research and analyze findings on topics in mental and thought processes including memory, reasoning, intelligence, motivation and learning. By exploring the principles of learning in theory and practice, learners have the opportunity to make an impact in the instruction that takes place in formal education settings.

Entry into this qualitative PhD in cognitive psychology degree emphasis program requires an advanced degree and prior coursework in the field. GCU’s evening and online learning environments can allow current practitioners to develop their skills while remaining in their professional positions. Additionally, the knowledge gained by learners during the program may be immediately applicable to their current work.

Because research is integral to work in cognitive psychology, the dissertation process begins in the very first course of this PhD program where you are introduced to doctoral dispositions. Learners take courses and workshops in advanced research methods and writing strategies, which can provide the skills needed to present and defend a dissertation.

Dissertation topics for the PhD in cognitive philosophy come from learner’s research and interest. They may be inspired to further learn about the topics reviewed in this program including:

    Psychological tests to measure learning outcome
    Collaboration to increase instructional effectiveness
    Psychoanalysis and psychotherapy
    Human learning and cognition
    Psychological theories related to motivation, needs, love and existence
    Appropriate tests and measures
    Factors affecting individual behavior

Careers in Cognitive Psychology and Instruction With a PhD

GCU’s qualitative PhD in General Psychology with an Emphasis in Cognition and Instruction program teaches students to expand their knowledge and advance their skill set. Some graduates continue in their current positions, while others may seek new opportunities such as:

    University-level teachers
    Clinical or counseling psychologists
    Industrial-organizational psychologists

If you are eager to learn more about how people learn and how instruction and assessment can lead to academic achievement, a cognitive psychology degree may be for you.

1 COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 and 2021 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well. Accordingly, data shown is effective September 2022, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Psychologists, retrieved on May 17, 2023.


North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission

Facts & Figures

Classification: Master's College or University I

Loans Offered: Perkins Loan, Stafford Student Loans, PLUS Loans, Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership (LEAP) State Grant, Arizona Post-Secondary Education Voucher Program State Grant, Federal Pell Grant, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)

Locale: Large City

Size & Settings: 0-999

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