Applied Positive Psychology Courses | Online MAPP Program
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Master of Applied Positive Psychology Courses and Curriculum 
Online MAPP Degree Program

The Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at PCOM is a 30-credit, entirely online program. The MAPP program is designed to be completed on a full time basis in 10 months.

Core Concepts in Positive Psychology

Courses in the MAPP program explore positive experiences and well-being at individual, social, and institutional levels. Key areas of focus include positive emotions, enjoyable and meaningful activities, supportive relationships, meaning in life, accomplishments, and physical wellness. Students learn about research and applied practices within each of these areas.

Students will learn from a didactic and experiential perspective, applying their course knowledge to help participants in the Health Support and A Happier You programs incorporate positive psychology approaches into their daily lives.

Motivational Interviewing

The Master of Applied Positive Psychology online program curriculum includes a strong emphasis on motivational interviewing—a person-centered, evidence-based style of communication that guides people toward making positive changes consistent with their personal values. At its core, motivational interviewing encompasses a positive view of human nature directly aligned with the tenets of positive psychology: namely, that everyone comes to the table of change with everything they already need within them to grow in positive, healthy directions.

The motivational interviewing spirit includes viewing people as experts in themselves and partners in the change process, rather than as passive recipients. Motivational interviewing is also a skill set in which the interviewer emphasizes affirmation, empathy, character strengths, past successes, empowerment and hope.

A Happier You

A Happier You® is a 7-week virtual interactive group program in happiness that teaches participants evidence-based skills to increase positive thoughts, feelings, and actions in their lives. Rooted in positive psychology, it introduces ways to integrate personal strengths, accomplishments, gratitude, kindness, love, positivity catching, and meaning into daily routines.

As part of their practicum experience, MAPP students become participant-observers in a full Happier You session during the first term, receive intensive facilitator training in the second term, and co-facilitate a full session in the third term. Recently, MAPP has partnered with Community Behavioral Health to offer Happier You to their staff. At the conclusion of the practicum, students will take the Happier You certification exam. Upon passing the exam, they can offer the program independently after graduation.

Mindfulness Training

Mindfulness is the practice of connecting more fully to the present moment, and doing so with a spirit of curiosity and compassion. MAPP students take a "Mindfulness, Positive Emotions, and Well-Being" course that offers an experiential introduction to mindfulness, along with exposure to research supporting its effects on well-being. Students learn how to guide others in key mindfulness exercises, such as body scans and mindfulness of breathing. They build on this foundational skill by leading mindfulness practices in the Happier You program. The course is currently taught by Dr. Steven Hickman, one of the founding members of the UCSD Center for Mindfulness and a global leader in mindful self-compassion training.

MAPP Program Capstone Project

During the Spring term of the program, each student will complete a capstone project consisting of the development, implementation, and evaluation of a positive psychology intervention at a systems, group, or individual level.

What Our Students Say

“I have thoroughly enjoyed learning about positive psychology interventions (PPIs) and the research supporting their effectiveness. Self-compassion is one of my favorite concepts; as I continue my education, I am excited to use what I have learned from the MAPP program as I get creative, create, and develop PPIs of my own!”

Tai Dorvil

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“The program enabled me to have a family, work and life balance—and pursue a master's degree that helped me change careers. It also provided the opportunity to gain a solid knowledge base and the skills to pursue a doctoral-level degree.”

Michael Hall

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“The well-rounded and well-crafted curriculum is applicable to many academic and career paths. This program has led to significant growth within myself and how I both see and interact with the world around me.”

Linda Martin

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“PCOM's MAPP program has done an excellent job of teaching the foundations and applications of positive psychology through empirical research, real-world examples, and hands-on experience."

Nicole Parisi

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“... the virtual format and class times were perfect for me; this flexibility allowed me to integrate my studies with the other responsibilities in my life.”

Dina Ramadan

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Master of Applied Positive Psychology Courses

The information listed below is from the current course catalog. Terms, sequences, courses and credit hours are subject to change at any time without notice.

Plan of Study Grid
First Year
Term 1Hours
APP 501 Introduction to Positive Psychology 3
APP 506 Motivational Interviewing and Health Behavior Change 3
APP 511 Biopsychosocial Basis of Health and Wellness 3
APP 541 Practicum I in Happier You/Health Support 1
Term 2
APP 516 Research Methods and Evaluation in Positive Psychology 3
APP 521 Mindfulness, Positive Emotions, and Well-Being 3
APP 526 Positive Psychology Approaches Across the Lifespan 3
APP 546 Practicum II in Happier You/Health Support 1
Term 3
APP 531 Building Positive Institutions and Systems 3
APP 536 The Intersection of CBT and Positive Psychology 3
APP 556 Capstone: Positive Psychology and Healthcare 3
APP 551 Practicum III in Happier You/Health Support 1
 Total Hours30

Positive Psychology Courses

This introductory course introduces the basic themes central to the study and application of positive psychology, including the nature of well-being, happiness, peak performance, personality characteristics, positive health, creativity, and spirituality. Students will be introduced to key research in the field, models of flourishing, and specific applications at individual, family, community, and organizational levels.

With its person-centered style and humanistic roots, Motivational Interviewing is a natural complement to positive psychology applications. In this introductory course, students will learn the spirit, method, and research around MI that makes it a powerful conversational approach to enhance readiness for positive change. The course will focus in particular on applications to healthy lifestyle motivation, including the areas of diet and exercise. Taught by a member of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers, this is a skill-centered course that will give students experiential exercises to learn core MI skills and the necessary attitudinal stance.

What are the mind-body connections which contribute to physical, social, and emotional health and happiness? This course answers that question by examining key correlates of holistic well-being. This includes understanding preventive health, the body’s stress response, psychoneuroimmunology, neurotransmission, pain and pleasure experiences, wellness during the pandemic, longevity, disease management, cardiac health, physical activity, nutrition, biofeedback processes, and meditation.

Students will have two structured programmatic opportunities to experience applied positive psychology virtual interventions in community settings: 1) by observing and participating in A Happier You session, which is a 7-week multi-component positive psychology group program, and 2) observing and participating in the Health Support Program, a community-based motivational interviewing intervention focused on healthy lifestyles and stress management.

This course will introduce students to a wide range of research methodology, including qualitative and quantitative approaches in the study of positive psychology. Concepts will be presented through the lens of specific studies conducted in positive psychology, which serve as models of sound psychometric and methodological design. Students will also learn the necessary skills for both formative and summative program evaluation, which will serve as the foundation for their Capstone project. This will include needs assessment, logic modeling, and measurement, as well as process and outcome evaluation analyses.

Mindfulness practice has a growing empirical connection to well-being and has often been incorporated into positive psychology interventions. This course will introduce students to the foundation and practice of mindfulness, as well as its connection to positive physical, social, and emotional states and overall life satisfaction. Students will learn how to guide a variety of core mindfulness practices, including mindfulness of breath, body scans, and compassion practices. Additionally, the neurobiological basis of positive emotional experience, central to positive psychology and well-being models (e.g., Broaden-and-Build), will be explored.

This course explores how people grow and develop over time in healthy ways. It covers stage models of development, positive youth development, thriving in early and middle adulthood, and successful aging. Particular attention is paid to cultural differences in healthy development as well as practices that nurture resilience across the lifespan. Emphasis is placed on existential and values-based applications in positive psychology.

During this term, students continue to develop their group psychoeducation and facilitation skills in A Happier You, transitioning from the role of participant to facilitator—while also demonstrating mastery over the content. They also become more active in applying motivational interviewing skills in the Health Support Program, co-facilitating these sessions.

This course focuses on the culturally informed application of positive psychological approaches within organizations and systems, including schools, businesses, and healthcare. Positive leadership models will be examined, along with practical ways of creating optimal workplace cultures, fostering positive engagement and performance, enhancing decision-making and communication, and designing transformative collaborations. The interconnection of advocacy, altruism, and positive psychology will be discussed as well.

Cognitive-behavioral models of change, although traditionally focused on correcting maladaptive thinking-feeling-doing patterns, can also serve as an effective framework for understanding how positive psychology applications lead to sustainable well-being. The relationship between positive and negative life experiences will be explored, along with the role of acceptance-based approaches. While students are not expected to become CBT clinicians after this course, they will be able to more accurately identify core mechanisms of adaptive, maladaptive, and optimal functioning that can help in designing effective positive psychology interventions.

Students will use their knowledge and skills gained in the program to design a culturally informed positive psychology intervention. In particular, students will build on the needs assessment and logic model developed in APP 516 (Research Methods and Evaluation in Positive Psychology), by developing curricula and program activities, as well as an implementation plan for their positive psychology intervention. This will include a plan to implement the intervention in some form (e.g., virtual or in-person) with a population of interest, which must be justified within the research and needs assessment. Students will also develop and carry out an evaluation plan to assess both process and outcome measures. Note that some aspects of the Capstone project must address the biopsychosocial basis of well-being.

In this final practicum term, students are expected to demonstrate greater autonomy and mastery in group psychoeducation and facilitation, proficient use of motivational interviewing as indicated through an MI rating scale, and the application of basic stress management approaches that include guided mindfulness exercises. They will also have an opportunity to take the certification exam for A Happier You, which has knowledge-based and skills-based observation components.