Professional Course

Positive Psychology

edX, Online
15 weeks
100 USD
Next course start
Start anytime See details
Self-paced Online
15 weeks
100 USD
Next course start
Start anytime See details
Self-paced Online
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Course description

Positive Psychology

What do you want out of life? If you are like the vast majority of people who have been asked this question, your answer probably includes a desire to be happy. Often, though, we do not have a clear sense of what would make us happy. For more than thirty years, psychologists studying positive psychology have asked this very question: What makes people happy? And the research they have undertaken has provided clear answers.

In this course, you will learn about the field of study known as positive psychology, which is the scientific study of “valued subjective experiences” such as happiness, well-being, satisfaction, hope, and optimism, as well as positive traits such as creativity, courage, and wisdom that contribute to meaning in life. Positive psychology focuses on the psychological states – contentment, happiness, and hope – individual traits – intimacy, creativity, integrity, altruism, and wisdom – and social institutions — schools and places of worship – that enable us to live our best life.

In this course, you will learn about the history of positive psychology, beginning with the work of William James, continuing through the theory and research of contemporary positive psychologists. There is extensive coverage of the factors that determine our happiness, subjective well-being, and life satisfaction. Learners are given ample opportunities to engage in the activities that research has shown provide valuable self-care, including expressing gratitude, helping others, engaging in mindfulness, and finding meaning.

Upcoming start dates

1 start date available

Start anytime

  • Self-paced Online
  • Online
  • English

Who should attend?


High school reading level Exposure to university-level courses or course materials

Training content


  • The Positive Psychology Hall of Fame: Founders
  • The Roots of Positive Psychology
  • Laying a Foundation for Positive Psychology
  • The Positive Psychology Hall of Fame: Flag Bearers
  • Contemporary Positive Psychology
  • Critiques of Positive Psychology

Factors in Subjective Well-Being

  • The PERMA Theory of Well-Being
  • Beyond PERMA
  • Positive Psychology Interventions

Happiness as a Policy Issue

  • Measuring Happiness Globally
  • Policies to Increase Happiness

Prosocial Behavior

  • Introduction to Helping Others in Need
  • Why We Help Others in Need
  • Psychological Factors Directing Helping Behavior
  • Understanding Altruism and Egoism
  • When We Help Others in Need
  • Increasing Helping Behavior

Course delivery details

This course is offered through American Psychological Association, a partner institute of EdX.

5-25 hours per week


  • Verified Track -$100
  • Audit Track - Free

Certification / Credits

What you'll learn

  • Define positive psychology, well-being, and happiness.
  • Discuss simple ways to increase happiness and well-being.
  • Explain how earlier psychological research fostered the development of positive psychology.
  • Describe the research of the psychologists who founded positive psychology.
  • Discuss the major criticisms of positive psychology.
  • Identify the factors that affect subjective well-being.
  • Discuss how positive psychology is used in interventions.
  • Describe how well-being is measured across different societies and countries.
  • Discuss cultural differences in desired levels of happiness.
  • Explain how policy informs the factors that affect well-being.
  • Discuss the factors that determine when individuals help others in need.
  • List the steps involved in decisions to help.
  • Describe ways to increase helping behavior.

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141 Portland Street
02139 Cambridge Massachusetts


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