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Course content

The first in the world, and always on the cutting edge
Rapidly becoming one of psychology’s most transformative fields, positive psychology is the scientific study of the strengths that enable humans and organizations to flourish. Positive psychology differs from historical psychological approaches because of its unique emphasis on the empirical study of human flourishing. While the study of psychology has traditionally focused on improving the human condition by identifying and relieving what is negative in life, positive psychology complements this approach with a focus on strengthening what is positive.

The Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania was the first in the world to offer a degree in this rigorous field of study. Dr. Martin Seligman, founder of the discipline of positive psychology, created the MAPP program to educate and train students at the cutting edge of the field.

Designed for working professionals
The program's hybrid model allows you to explore the theory and practice of positive psychology without relocating to Philadelphia, so you can continue working full-time. The program includes nine courses, completed during one year of full-time study during consecutive fall, spring and summer semesters. The low-residency format consists of 10 required on-site visits to the University of Pennsylvania campus in Philadelphia, where students and faculty gather for intensive weekends of learning and networking.

Structured for real-world application
Whether you are a credentialed professional seeking to transform your workplace or career, or are building a foundation for further graduate study, the MAPP curriculum allows you to apply the topics most relevant to your interests and goals. You will receive a thorough grounding in the research methods and theoretical underpinnings of positive psychology, and learn to apply its theories and perspectives within individual and organizational settings. The program culminates with an individual capstone project that advances both your professional development and the field of positive psychology itself.

Renowned faculty and passionately engaged peers
Program alumni report overwhelmingly that their favorite aspect of the program is the exceptional group of people who make up our diverse, intellectually stimulating and intensely supportive community.

Each year, approximately 40 students enroll in the Master of Applied Positive Psychology program, including successful businesspeople, practicing psychologists and medical professionals, scientists, artists, life coaches, lawyers and more. They’re all gathered to study with a faculty composed of major pioneers in the field, who are also dedicated and personable teachers.

Flourishing after MAPP
Through their experiences in the Master of Applied Psychology program, students find a powerful new perspective on their workplaces, career plans and personal lives. Our students go on to incredibly diverse careers, applying what they’ve learned to transform their current workplaces or to begin new careers in consulting, teaching, business, healthcare, media and more.

We look forward to speaking with you about the exciting opportunities at MAPP and discussing how our program can help you achieve your personal and professional goals.

Courses and Curriculum

The Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) curriculum is designed to train you in the history, theory and research methods of positive psychology, as well as its application in professional settings.

The program consists of nine courses, completed during one year of full-time study during consecutive fall, spring and summer semesters.

During the fall semester, you will begin the program with courses that focus on the science, research and theoretical underpinnings of positive psychology, giving students a strong foundation to build on throughout the remainder of the program.
The spring semester courses offer content to help you learn how to apply positive psychology in various professional settings, including creating a plan for positive interventions in a real organization.
The capstone project, which is completed during the summer semester, allows you to integrate what you’ve learned throughout the program, and apply it in the professional or research domain most significant to you. It often serves as a stepping stone to the application of positive psychology in a particular professional domain or to further research in a specific area.
The curriculum includes the following eight classes, in addition to the capstone project:

Introduction to Positive Psychology
An introduction to the research, theory and intellectual history of positive psychology.

Research Methods and Evaluation
A methodology course exploring the valid and reliable assessment of positive emotions, character strengths and meaning in life.

Foundations of Positive Interventions
An investigation into the theoretical, empirical and experiential nature of positive interventions.

Approaches to the Good Life
An examination of four perspectives on human flourishing.

Applied Positive Interventions
A service-learning course in which students study the applied work of master positive psychology practitioners and create positive psychology applications for non-profit organizations.

Positive Psychology and Individuals
An exploration of positive psychology applications in coaching, clinical and other relational settings.

Positive Psychology and Organizations
An exploration of positive psychology, appreciative inquiry and positive organizational scholarship in traditional and social business settings.

Humanities and Human Flourishing
An exploration of integrating culture and science to support the deeper understanding and more effective cultivation of human flourishing.


The capstone project is a distinguishing feature of the Master of Applied Positive Psychology program, blending academic and professional experiences and serving as the culmination of your work in the program. Through the capstone project, you will explore, in depth, the theories and practical applications you’ve learned in the program, to advance the field of positive psychology itself. Previous capstone projects have included empirical studies, literature reviews, book prospectuses, workshops and other endeavors.

The capstone is completed during the summer semester and has no on-site course requirements. You will conduct this project work independently, with your advisor’s ongoing guidance, in a setting that is significant to you and most relevant to your future professional goals.

Visit the Master of Applied Positive Psychology page on the University of Pennsylvania website for more details!





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