Psychology Studies
Graduate Certificate Online Program

The graduate certificate program in Psychology Studies serves as a means to further personal and professional growth. Whether or not students are employed in the field of psychology, knowledge of it may be applied in meaningful ways throughout their lives. Understanding the mind and behavior will teach students how to help others while giving them the confidence to manage teams and groups. The program includes advanced study in the areas of abnormal psychology, professional ethics, law as it applies to psychology, and counseling systems and techniques.

Designed For You

The California Coast University online Graduate Certificate in Psychology Studies program was designed for complete flexibility for the student. All courses are self-paced and completed 100% online.

  • Low tuition with interest-free payment plans as low as $100/month.
  • Flexible programs designed to fit into your busy schedule. Self-paced study with no group projects, set meeting times, or exam dates.
  • The program is not structured in semesters, quarters, or terms. It is designed to allow students to begin their online studies at any time of the year.
  • CCU offers a tuition discount for Active Duty Military, Veterans, Law Enforcement, Firefighters, Government Employees, and CCU Graduates.
    We also offer a 10% discount for Corporate Partner employees. For more information on how to become a Corporate Partner, see our Corporate Partnership Information Page.
    *Employment verification is required. Offer good for students who enrolled after April 2018 and were offered discount at time of enrollment. Offer is not retroactive for students already enrolled. Discount and/or prices subject to change and/or cancellation at any time without notice. This offer cannot be combined with any other discount(s).
View Program Outcomes:

Upon successful completion of the program, students will be able to:


Explore The Program

The Graduate Certificate in Psychology Studies degree program consists of 4 total courses.
The required courses are comprised of: 4 Core .
There are 12 total semester units in this program.

4 Core Courses

The online Graduate Certificate in Psychology Studies degree program is comprised of the following 4 courses. Click on course title to expand and read more.

ID Course Name Units
PSY 501 Developmental Psychology  3

Developmental Psychology utilizes current research and examples from around the world to help you understand how culture impacts human development over the lifespan and why it matters. This course portrays the different cultural pathways of development that people have devised in response to their local conditions. You will be challenged to think culturally about your own development and see how it applies to your own life and future careers. In a culturally diverse and globalized world, you will benefit from being able to think culturally about human development.

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Analyze major causes and preventive methods of infant mortality.
  • Examine the typical changes in physical growth that take place in toddlerhood and the harmful effects of nutritional deficiencies on growth.
  • Analyze the physical growth and change that takes place during early childhood.
  • Evaluate the major health problems of middle adulthood.
  • Examine how causes of death have changed throughout history.
PSY 505 Psychopathology  3

Psychopathology offers students the chance to investigate the causes of abnormal behavior and to learn various methods for therapeutic change. The nature of knowledge is explored, experimental design is examined, and the interplay between theory and data is discussed.

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Analyze the biological, psychological, social and biopsychosocial perspectives on the origins of abnormal behavior.
  • Contrast the historical views of abnormal behavior with the current views of abnormal behavior.
  • Evaluate the goals and uses of clinical assessment.
  • Examine the legal, ethical and professional issues related to the practice of psychology.
PSY 511 Professional Ethics and the Law  3

Professional Ethics and the Law helps current and future professionals deal with ethical issues they may encounter at various stages in their career. Central issues in ethical practices are presented, diverse views on these issues are explored, and students are encouraged to refine their own thinking and to actively develop their own positions. The role of the therapist’s personal values in the counseling relationship is discussed, the ethical responsibilities and rights of clients and therapists are presented, and the considerations involved in adapting counseling practices to diverse client populations are explored.

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Analyze the differences among legal standards, ethical standards, and best practice.
  • Examine the major challenges facing the counseling profession today.
  • Identify the characteristics of a “culturally competent counselor.”
  • Examine some steps that counselors should take to safeguard the welfare of their clients.
PSY 525 Counseling Systems and Techniques  3

Counseling Systems and Techniques explores emerging and well-established counseling theories and practices. With a strong multicultural focus and skill development sections that connect counseling theories with clinical practice, we will examine various theories that have been grouped into four broad themes—background, emotions, thoughts, and actions.

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Understand research on counseling effectiveness.
  • Determine at least five goals of recognizing and dealing with feelings in therapy.
  • Analyze person-centered counseling, including its use with people from diverse cultural backgrounds.
  • Describe the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
  • Characterize factors that play a part in a clinician’s choice of preferred treatment orientations.

Prerequisites to Admission:

An applicant must have earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. A Bachelor’s Degree in another field may be accepted if the Admissions Committee evaluation indicates the applicant has the necessary foundation to succeed in the program. If an applicant has a bachelor's degree in another field, he or she may want to complete the Undergraduate Certificate in the Fundamentals of Psychology first.

FAQ About Coursework

Required units may be satisfied in the following ways:

  • California Coast University has developed comprehensive Study Guides, for each course, that are designed to coordinate and sequence the learning materials within the required textbook. The following points will help to illustrate how the Study Guides are designed:

    • Study Guides are based on specific college level textbooks, which may be obtained from local bookstores, the publisher, or the University's Rental Library.
    • Each Study Guide is organized with a complete syllabus, along with instructional materials to guide the student chapter by chapter through the corresponding textbook.
    • Each Study Guide contains an overview and summary of all textbook chapters, along with a listing of important keywords (with definitions), and self-tests (with answers) on key points.
    • Study Guides include 4 unit exams equally spaced throughout the instructional materials, one writing assignment per unit, and the final examination.
    • Education certificate students are required to complete four written assignments for each unit examination in lieu of the 4 multiple-choice unit exams that are required for other programs.
    • Examinations are designed to test the student on the information contained within the preceding chapters.
    • All tests have no time limit and may be completed as open book tests.
  • Transcripts of previously completed academic work are evaluated and credit may be transferred to meet existing coursework requirements. The following guidelines are utilized when accepting transfer credit for a certificate program:

    • The University will accept transfer credit from applicable courses completed at colleges or universities accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or foreign equivalent.
    • Certificate students may receive transfer credit for up to 6 semester units of previously completed coursework. Students may transfer up to 9 semester units of credit completed at California Coast University.
    • To be eligible for graduate academic credit, transfer grades must be equivalent to a letter grade of B (3.0 GPA) or higher.
  • During the admissions process, all professional experience is reviewed to determine if an applicant has sufficient occupational experience to warrant completing a Challenge Examination in lieu of a Study Guide for a particular course. The following factors are considered:

    • An applicant may be offered an opportunity to complete a Challenge Examination if the candidate's occupational expertise appears to be comparable to the objectives identified for a particular course.
    • Successfully passing a Challenge Examination will demonstrate an acceptable level of competence for that course.
    • If a student does not pass a Challenge Examination they are assigned a Study Guide for completion.
    • The maximum amount of Challenge Examinations allowed for each program level are: Associate 4; Bachelor's 10; Master's 2; Doctorate 0; and Certificates 1.