Psychology
Master of Science (MS)
Online Degree Program

The Master of Science online degree program in Psychology is designed to provide professionals with the theories, principles, and practices utilized within the field of psychology.

Designed For You

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

View Program Outcomes:

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

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Explore The Program

The Master of Science in Psychology degree program consists of 13 total courses, followed by a final Comprehensive Examination.
The required courses are comprised of: 13  Core Courses .
There are 39 total semester units in this program.

13 Core Courses

For the online Master of Science in Psychology (M.S.) degree program, the following 13 courses must be fulfilled. Click on course title to expand and read more.

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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:

  • Define human development, discuss its key terms and concepts, and explain research methods to study it.
  • Examine cultural aspects of human development.
  • Examine the genetic influences and changes in physical, cognitive, and emotional development from infancy to adulthood.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the various life stages and important aspects of each stage from birth to death.
  • Demonstrate proficiency with academic writing related to developmental psychology.
PSY 503 Human Sexuality  3

Human sexuality presents the role of sexuality in all aspects of human development. This course examines how sexuality is perceived and conveyed in various cultures. Methods of addressing sexual problems, sexual communication, evaluation of research, childrearing practices, life-cycle sexuality, and cross-cultural variations are also explored.

Course Objectives

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

  • Define the term sexuality and discuss the evolution of human sexuality as well as key theories and research related to the field.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of reproductive anatomy and physiology and examine the development of gender development, roles, and identify relationships from childhood to adulthood.
  • Analyze the role of communication, love, intimacy, expression, and orientation in human sexuality.
  • Evaluate the key components of pregnancy, birth, contraception, abortion, sexual functioning, and sexually transmitted infections.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of issues related to varieties of sexual expression, power and coercion, and sexual images and selling sex.
  • Demonstrate proficiency with academic writing related to human sexuality.
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:

  • Define abnormal psychology and analyze the historical, biological, psychological, social and biopsychosocial perspectives on the origins of abnormal behavior.
  • Evaluate contemporary perspectives on abnormal behavior and explain methods of classification, assessment, treatment, and research in the field.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the various psychological disorders and explain treatment approaches.
  • Examine the legal, ethical and professional issues related to the practice of psychology.
  • Demonstrate proficiency with academic writing related to psychopathology.
PSY 509 Theories of Marriage and Family  3

Theories of Marriage and Family explores all major schools and developments in family therapy and includes brief biographies of some of the leading family therapists of the twentieth century. Current research and developments in the field are covered, and trends in family therapy are presented. Ethical standards for the practice of marriage and family therapy are also included.

Course Objectives

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

  • Examine the context of family therapy, including its foundations, evolution, and major concepts.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the key terminology, theoretical formulations, key figures, techniques, and goals of the classic schools of family therapy.
  • Analyze recent developments in family therapy and examine future trends.
  • Describe the ethical and cultural issues involved with family therapy.
  • Demonstrate proficiency with academic writing related to the theories of marriage and family therapy.
PSY 511 Professional Ethics and the Law  3

Professional Ethics and the Law explores the legal and ethical guidelines and expectations that must be adhered to in the professional counseling setting. Central issues in legal and ethical counseling practices—particularly unethical behaviors that harm or has the potential to harm clients—are presented and diverse scenarios are examined. The counselor-client relationship, personal values, and responsibilities are analyzed and considerations involved in adapting counseling practices are explored.

Course Objectives

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

  • Define morals, values, and ethics and examine the origins of law related to the field of psychology.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the different theories of ethics, and examine the importance of cultural competence related to ethical practice.
  • Examine the major legal and ethical challenges facing the counseling profession today.
  • Analyze the differences among legal standards, ethical standards, and best practice in the counseling profession.
  • Demonstrate proficiency with academic writing related to professional ethics and the law.
PSY 517 Alcohol and Chemical Substance Abuse  3

Alcohol and Chemical Substance Abuse examines various drugs, drug-related issues, and alcohol through multiple lenses: historical, social, psychological, cultural, biological, and medical. Woven throughout the course is the idea that the effects of drugs and alcohol are as dependent upon individual users’ psychological and biological characteristics as they are on a drug’s specific properties. This course also explores substance misuse treatment and prevention.

Course Objectives

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

  • Explain the various definitions of the term drug, and examine the history of drug use in the United States as well as key issues related to prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
  • Examine the effect of drugs on the nervous system and discuss the history of psychotherapeutic medications.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the key elements of pharmacology, psychopharmacology, and new drug development.
  • Analyze current methods for assessment and treatment of substance use disorders and discuss the various drug prevention models.
  • Describe the different categories of drugs, their history, acute and chronic effects.
  • Demonstrate proficiency with academic writing related to alcohol and chemical substance abuse.
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:

  • Describe the development of counseling and psychotherapy theories emphasizing key terms, figures, theoretical concepts, and key issues related to the field.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of treatment systems emphasizing background, emotions, and sensations.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of treatment systems emphasizing thought and actions.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of treatment systems emphasizing family systems and integrative approaches.
  • Demonstrate proficiency with academic writing related to counseling systems and techniques.
PSY 527 Assessment Techniques  3

Assessment Techniques teaches the principles of psychological tests and measurements with an emphasis on psychometric theories and principles. The course provides comprehensive coverage of the full array of the assessment techniques commonly used in modern psychological settings. This course also addresses prominent assessment issues such as test bias and assessment accommodations. In the process, this course takes every opportunity to illustrate the course material by providing practical, “everyday” examples of the principles and procedures at work.

Course Objectives

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

  • Define the processes of psychological testing and assessment.
  • Evaluate the cultural, legal, and ethical considerations related to assessment.
  • Analyze the assessment process for personality and intelligence testing.
  • Examine the science of psychological measurement.
  • Demonstrate proficiency with academic writing related to assessment techniques.
PSY 530 Psychology of Aging  3

Psychology of Aging takes a multidisciplinary perspective on highlighting the diversities of the aging experience related to the cultural, biological, physiological, emotional, cognitive, economic, and social aspects of aging. Special emphasis is given to understanding the dynamic interactions between older people and the physical, psychological, and social dimensions of their lives.

Course Objectives

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

  • Define the study of gerontology, key terminology, theorists, and examine the changing demographics of the U.S. aging population.
  • Evaluate neuroscience as a basis for adult development and aging and explain the different neuroscience perspectives.
  • Discuss the physiological, cognitive, and behavioral changes associated with aging and the role of clinical assessment.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the legal, ethical, and personal issues related to dying and bereavement.
  • Demonstrate proficiency with academic writing related to the psychology of aging.
PSY 540 Physiological Psychology  3

Physiological Psychology offers an introductory survey of physiological processes underlying behavior, with an emphasis on the impact physiological psychology has within the larger realm of psychology. Contemporary research in the role of hormonal and neurotransmitter influences in behavior are discussed to help students gain a solid understanding of the biological influences which effect and determine behavior.

Course Objectives

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

  • Describe and discuss the foundations of physiological psychology and key terminology.
  • Evaluate methods and strategies related to research methods in the field.
  • Discuss the nervous system and neurological functions involved in visual and auditory processing, control of movement, emotions, communication, learning, and memory.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of neurological, psychological, psychopharmacological, substance abuse, and neurodevelopmental processes and disorders.
  • Demonstrate proficiency with academic writing related to physiological psychology.
PSY 550 Group Psychotherapy  3

Group Psychotherapy introduces students to the current theories, research, and trends specific to working with groups. The unique values of group counseling for special populations is explored and the issues and cases which deal with the ethics of group work are addressed. Additionally, various theories are explored as they relate to group goals and process. The course provides conceptual frames of reference for the psychoanalytic, Adlerian, psychodramatic, existential, person-centered, Gestalt, transactional analysis, behavior therapy, rational emotive behavior therapy, and reality therapy perspectives.

Course Objectives

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

  • Analyze the foundations for group work, key terminology, and describe the general goals for groups.
  • Evaluate the useful approaches and best practices for group work.
  • Examine the cultural considerations and ethical guidelines for group counseling.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the issues of informed consent and confidentiality associated with group counseling.
  • Demonstrate proficiency with academic writing related to group psychotherapy.
PSY 560 Clinical Psychology  3

Clinical Psychology presents the theories, research, prevention, assessment, and clinical applications of the field of clinical psychology. The diagnostic and therapeutic strategies employed by clinical psychologists are examined, and students will be challenged to engage in a critical analysis of the theories and research that provide the foundation for effective treatments of various mental disorders.

Course Objectives

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

  • Define clinical psychology and key terminology, and examine its evolution and key theorists in the field.
  • Examine ethical, cultural, diversity, and professional issues related to clinical psychology.
  • Describe the assessment process in clinical psychology.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the different types of psychotherapy and examine their key elements and goals.
  • Demonstrate proficiency with academic writing related to clinical psychology.
GRM 597 The Research Process  3

The Research Process is a required course for all of the master’s degree programs offered at the University. This course provides an overview of the various research methods, research design, guidance in planning research strategy, and documentation of research data. It also explores and analyzes examples of research from many different disciplines, the development and use of computer-aided research, writing skills and logical argumentation techniques required in the research field.

Course Objectives

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

  • Define research, analyze its importance, and examine the different types of research.
  • Examine the role of ethics and informed consent in research.
  • Evaluate the relationship between reliability and validity, and explain its importance in the research process.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the process of writing a research proposal and a manuscript.
  • Demonstrate proficiency with academic writing related to the research process.
PSY 598 Final Comprehensive Examination  0

Students enrolled in the Master of Science in Psychology degree program will complete a Final Comprehensive Examination. The final examination is a combination of essay, short answer and multiple choice examination questions, requiring students to integrate knowledge acquired across the educational program. The Final Comprehensive Examination is graded on a pass/no pass basis. Students may repeat any portion until they receive a passing score.

Prerequisites to Admission:

An applicant must have earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology or 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 must complete the 6 following prerequisite courses: PSY 102 Introduction to Psychology, PSY 228 Social Psychology, PSY 270 Learning Theories, PSY 280 Marriage and Family, PSY 380 Personality Theories, and PSY 408 Abnormal Psychology.

FAQ About Coursework

Required units may be satisfied in the following ways: