Certificates in Psychology

Psychology certificates provide additional opportunities for students to increase their knowledge in the field. Even professionals who hold degrees in psychology take certificate programs to further advance their careers such as taking state licensure or offering specialized care to patients. These psychology certificate programs also complement learning and can be applied as credit hours to a master’s or doctorate level.

The different types of certificates are post-baccalaureate, post-master’s, post-doctoral, and non-degree.

Psychology Certificates At a Glance

Post-Baccalaureate Post- Master’s Post-Doctoral Non-degree
Program Length 1 year 1 year 3-5 years 6-12 months
Intended for: Professionals with bachelor’s degree Professionals with master’s degree who wish to gain state credentialing Licensed professionals who wish to have advanced training or gain specialization Professionals who wish to gain familiarity with psychology or acquire specialization
Goals: Advance knowledge and skills in a specialty Advance knowledge and skills beyond the master’s level and preparation for the doctorate level Acquire additional license or gain new specialization Introduction to psychology or a specialization
Requirements: Bachelor’s degree Master’s degree, license, or eligibility to apply for a license Doctorate degree High school diploma, GED, or any equivalent
Coursework: Mostly consists of lecture, research, and electives Can include internship and dissertations Includes lecture, clinical laboratory, and hands-on experience Depends on the chosen specialization

Post-Baccalaureate Certificate

Students who already have a bachelor’s degree in psychology or related fields can take the post-baccalaureate psychology certificate. This certificate program typically requires 18 credit hours which take one year to complete.
The aim of this psychology certificate program is to enhance knowledge and skills and focus on a specific specialty. Students use this type of psychology certificate to pursue a master’s degree or advance their careers.
Courses in the post-baccalaureate certificate involve lecture and research. Some programs include electives that cater to a student’s interest. Sample topics are:

  • Abnormal psychology
  • Experimental psychology
  • Perception and sensation
  • Psychology statistics
  • Research methods
  • Social psychology

Post-Master’s Certificate

Students who have taken a master’s degree can take the next step by taking a post-master’s certificate. Typically, this psychology certificate is comprised of 18 credit hours which can be finished in a year. This is beneficial for professionals who want to enhance their knowledge and skills beyond what they have learned at the master’s degree level. Many students who take this have a doctoral degree as a goal.
Post-master’s psychology certificate programs require a master’s degree, licensure, or eligibility to acquire a license. Further, many students who take this certificate program have the benefit of additional state-credentialing.
The program may include internship, assistantship, or even dissertations. Sample topics are:

  • Behavioral research
  • Clinical therapy
  • Human development
  • Group communication
  • Psychological assessment and experiments
  • Psychopharmacology

Post-Doctoral Certificate

The post-doctoral certificate in psychology is designed for licensed mental health professionals. This is intended to give additional credentials and training. This allows the professionals to increase or gain new specialization and additional licensure. Since this is an intensive certificate program, it may last up to 3 to 5 years depending on the full-time or part-time option chosen. Advanced training and coursework include lectures, clinical laboratory, and hands-on experience. There are rigorous evaluations and exams to test the knowledge and skills learned. Sample topics are:

  • Adult and child assessment
  • Clinical psychology practicum
  • Intervention techniques
  • Personality theories
  • Psychology morals and ethics
  • Psychotherapy

Certificates for Non-Degree Seeking Students

Students who wish to gain familiarity with psychology or a subspecialty of psychology will find this type of certification program suited for them. This program requires a high school diploma, GED, or an equivalent. Typically 6 to 12 months long, this psychology certificate program lets students choose certificate specialization such as sports, forensic, counseling, and many more. Below are some of the most popular specializations in psychology.

General Psychology
• Limitations: None
• Ideal for: teaching in public schools or community colleges
• Sample courses: social psychology, learning, developmental psychology
• Work settings: education, healthcare, human resources, marketing, advertising

Sports Psychology
• Limitations: None
• Ideal for: professionals engaged in and interested in sports
• Sample courses: psychology of coaching and sport psychology
• Work settings: sports

Industrial Organizational Psychology
• Limitations: None
• Ideal for: professionals engaged in human resources, corporations, management business, and the like.
• Sample courses: conflict management, leadership, organizational culture
• Work settings: corporations, government, hospitals, and a lot more.

Forensic Psychology
• Limitations: None
• Ideal for: professionals in the criminal justice or law enforcement
• Sample courses: theories on crime, interpersonal interaction, and ethics
• Work settings: police stations, government, courts, and many more.

• Limitations: post-masters or post-doctoral only
• Ideal for: those who want to pursue a career in counseling
• Sample courses: counseling assessment and techniques
• Work settings: counselors can work in a variety of health and support centers

• Limitations: post-doctoral only
• Ideal for: professionals who aim to be independent clinical neuropsychologists
• Sample courses: neuropsychological assessment and intervention
• Work settings: hospitals, clinics, centers, rehabilitation centers, and a lot more.

Benefits of Certification More and more professionals are seeing the value of certification because of the various benefits they can gain. Some of the benefits cited in the APA website* are:

  • Added credentials
  • Respect from colleagues and community
  • Increased marketability
  • Increased rank and pay
  • Lifts the profession

Christine Maguth Nezu, PhD, the president of the American Board of Professional Psychology provides further input. Initially, she explains, certification was seen as proof that a psychologist was at the top of the profession. However, certification became much more important.
“Certification doesn’t just benefit the public. It can also increase your marketability. More importantly, certification lifts the profession.”

  • References:
  • * http://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2010/03/specialty-certification.aspx
  • http://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2010/03/specialty-certification.aspx
  • http://www.learnpsychology.org/degrees-online/certificate/
  • http://study.com/psychology_certificates.html