Grand Canyon University

Ph.D. in General Psychology: Performance Psychology (Qualitative Research)


3300 W Camelback Rd

Phoenix, AZ 85017

United States



Program Information

Degrees Offered:

Ph.D. in General Psychology: Performance Psychology (Qualitative Research)

Format: Online

Program Description:

Examine Human Performance Psychology Factors That Influence Peak Performance

Peak performance psychology focuses on human psychology during professional performance, often psychomotor performance. Grand Canyon University’s qualitative Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in General Psychology with an Emphasis in Performance Psychology is designed for learners who want to apply research about emotion, cognition and motivation to the study of peak performance. Graduates of the PhD in General Psychology: Performance Psychology program are taught to use psychology to improve and enhance all kinds of human performance.

The College of Doctoral Studies developed this performance psychology emphasis around the following aspects of the field:

    Theoretical foundations of emotion, cognition and behavior in performance settings
    Constructs and theories of psychomotor skill and motor control to improve learning and performance
    Principles of behavior modification to enhance individual performance
    Psychological theories to promote effective leadership
    Applications of psychological theories and principles underlying performance

Earn Your Online PhD in Psychology: Performance Psychology

At GCU, the online PhD in psychology allows you to complete your program coursework through a digital online platform for added flexibility and convenience. You will have access to knowledgeable faculty and advisors as well as dissertation resources throughout your doctoral program.

Residency Opportunities

In addition to the online classes, you will participate in two five-day residencies on or near GCU’s Phoenix campus. These are opportunities to network and collaborate in-person with other doctoral students and faculty.

During the first residency in the performance psychology emphasis, you will apply research design principles to develop foundational elements for your potential dissertation. Research skills will continue to be developed through hands-on activities. In the second residency, you will present and defend a preliminary design of your dissertation research from the first residency.

Learn and Practice Peak Performance Psychology Concepts

When pursuing the qualitative PhD in psychology for performance psychology you will have the opportunity to expand your skill set by developing a research study and gaining insight into how and why people think, believe and behave in a certain way — particularly in the area of human performance psychology. This differs from GCU’s quantitative PhD in performance psychology, which focuses on developing expertise in human performance psychology through the creation of a sampling plan and in the collection of numeric data.

Benefits of Earning Your PhD in Psychology With Qualitative Performance Psychology From GCU

Those looking to position themselves for career advancement in peak performance psychology, medicine, business, sales and marketing can benefit from this general psychology doctoral degree. The PhD in psychology with an emphasis in qualitative performance psychology program at GCU integrates the research and hands-on methodology needed to complete a dissertation.

In addition to the online coursework, this program includes two in-person doctoral residencies. During this time, you will have the opportunity to work with faculty, advisors and peers to receive feedback on your dissertation research.

This degree does not lead directly to licensure. Admission into this Doctor of Philosophy in General Psychology with Performance Psychology emphasis program requires a graduate degree and related coursework.
Course Topics in Performance Psychology Emphasis

When peak performance psychology is applied outside of the realm of sports and physical performance, it is closely related to industrial and organizational psychology. Both practices intend to improve employee performance. The disciplines even use some similar strategies, such as goal setting, to enhance work output.

However, human performance psychology digs deeper into the principles of behavior modification to determine how to improve work and leadership. Additionally, it studies traits of high achieving leaders to learn how to motivate and change work habits from the top down.

GCU’s online PhD in psychology with performance psychology teaches you to conduct empirical research and learn theories related to mental and thought processes. In addition, graduates examine:

    Factors affecting individual behavior
    Mass communication’s impact on social awareness and control
    The construction, analysis and interpretation of psychological tests
    Measurement of learning outcomes
    How to improve learning and performance conditions
    The dimensions that impact information processing, decision making and regulating emotions

Career Paths for PhD in Psychology: Performance Psychology Graduates

GCU’s online PhD in psychology with a focus on peak performance psychology can lead you into many different fields, including higher education, fitness and nutrition, research and training. As a doctoral learner, you are guided throughout the program to become capable of consulting or leading change in an organization. Some areas you may pursue with this degree and relevant credentials are:

    Sports performance psychology
    Industrial-organizational psychology
    Social science research
    Higher education

1 American Psychological Association. (2014). Sports and Performance Psychology Delivers Peak Performance. Retrieved on May 15, 2023.

2 American Psychological Association. (2014). A Career in Sport and Performance Psychology. Retrieved on May 15, 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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