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.

  • 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:

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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:

  • 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 503 Human Sexuality  3

Human sexuality presents the role of sexuality in all aspects of human development. We will take a look at how sexuality is perceived and conveyed in various cultures. Methods of addressing sexual problems, sexual communication, evaluation of research, child-rearing practices, life-cycle sexuality, and cross cultural variations will also be discussed.

Course Objectives

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

  • Explain what causes sexually transmitted infections, how they are spread, and who can get them.
  • Evaluate what occurs in each trimester of pregnancy for both mother and embryo/fetus.
  • Compare the difference between one’s gender and one’s sex.
  • Define gender identity and gender role.
  • Discuss the sexual lifestyles of adults, including marriage, cohabitation, and extramarital sex.
  • Analyze the various ways one can define a behavior as being unconventional.
  • Understand how the Internet has affected the commercial sex industry.
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 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.
  • Evaluate the concepts and techniques used in classic schools of family therapy.
  • Analyze new developments and techniques in family therapy.
  • Assess the research methods used in the area of family therapy.
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 517 Alcohol and Chemical Substance Abuse  3

Alcohol and Chemical Substance Abuse is based on major counseling theories with a focus on practical treatment techniques used by professionals working in the field of substance abuse and addiction. Utilizing a case study approach, the course will examine basic concepts of substance abuse, addiction counseling, and intervention from a variety of theoretical perspectives. Each theory is examined based on its strengths and limitations, with consideration given to multicultural and ethical issues.

Course Objectives

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

  • Examine the importance of counseling theories and how they have been under-utilized in substance abuse counseling.
  • Compare and contrast the various models of addiction and identify the strengths and weaknesses of each.
  • Analyze current and future criteria for diagnosing substance use disorders.
  • Assess the implications of multicultural issues when working with addicted families.
  • Identify strengths, limitations, and ethical issues related to relapse prevention.
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.
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:

  • Differentiate among a test, a measurement and an assessment.
  • Correctly interpret descriptive statistics.
  • Isolate major threats to validity.
  • Compare and contrast categorical and dimensional diagnostic models.
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 their physical and social environments.

Course Objectives

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

  • Demonstrate knowledge of changing demographics of the U.S. aging population.
  • Identify global trends in aging, including the countries that are aging faster than others and what can be learned from them.
  • Comprehend normal physiological changes associated with aging, including changes in organ and sensory systems.
  • Differentiate the kinds of loss that older adults may experience, including non-death related losses.
  • Identify limitations of current policies and future directions for long-term services and supports.
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:

  • Evaluate the nature of physiological psychology and the goals of research.
  • Examine the evolution of the human species and a large brain.
  • Assess the value of research with animals and ethical issues concerning their care.
  • Compare research techniques to identify genetic factors that may influence behavior.
  • Analyze the behavioral, autonomic, and hormonal components of an emotional response and the role of the amygdala in controlling them.
  • Examine psychoneuroimmunology and the interactions between the immune system and stress.
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:

  • Evaluate the unique values of group counseling for special populations.
  • Analyze issues and cases that deal with the ethics of group work.
  • Assess key concepts of the psychoanalytic and Adlerian approach as they relate to group process.
  • Analyze the basic concepts that are a part of the existential approach and person-centered perspective.
  • Develop a knowledge of the rationale for the Gestalt techniques that are commonly used in group work.
  • Evaluate how an emphasis on present behavior, self-evaluation, and making a commitment to change behavior are each a basic part of reality therapy.
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:

  • Examine the educational, licensure, and certification requirements to be a clinical psychologist.
  • Assess the personal and ethical criteria that are needed to be a good clinical psychologist.
  • Consider how cultural diversity affects approaches to psychological treatment.
  • Analyze the challenges and major areas of transition facing clinical psychology today.
  • Distinguish the main categories to tests used by clinical psychologists.
  • Predict the ways in which clinical neuropsychology is likely to continue to grow.
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:

  • Demonstrate competencies comparable to those achieved within traditional institutions of higher learning that require resident instruction and evaluation.
  • Exhibit a broad comprehension of research methodologies utilized in the social sciences, health sciences, government, business, and other related fields.
  • Analyze, synthesize and evaluate the knowledge acquired in this subject area and apply it in practical situations.
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:

  • 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.
    • 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 master's level 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 master's degree program:

    • Master's degree students may receive transfer credit for up 6 semester units of previously completed coursework.
    • Courses must have been completed at a college or university accredited by an agency recognized by the United States Department of Education or its foreign equivalent.
    • Transfer grades earned must be equivalent to a letter grade of B (3.0 GPA) or higher.
    • No specialized training or experiential learning credit can be awarded at the graduate level.
  • 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.