Course Descriptions

The Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) curriculum contains four course series designed to cover the broad domains of Behavior, Assessment, Psychopathology, and Intervention. In addition, each semester contains individual courses that address key areas of competency. Electives are taken in the third and fourth years of the program. In years two, three, and four, the Practicum Case Conference provides space for students to present cases, discuss clinical experiences, and receive group supervision while they are engaged in external practicum training.

Foundations of Behavior Series

PSY 601 – 3 cr
This course focuses on the biological underpinnings of behavior including neural, physiological, anatomical, and genetic influences.

PSY 602 – 3 cr
This class focuses on the human lifespan, transitions through various stages of growth, and the intellectual and behavioral changes that occur across an individual’s lifespan.

Cognitive and Affective
PSY 606 – 3 cr
This course examines the ways in which humans learn, elements that affect memory, how thought processes are categorized, and a general overview of decision making. It will also cover response, mood, feeling states, and the interplay between behavior and emotion. Topics will include arousal, intensity, and interaction.

Social and Cultural
PSY 607 – 3 cr
The study of social and cultural behavior includes group process, attributions, discrimination, societal attitudes, and the interface between the subjects of sociology and psychology.


Assessment Series

PSY 720 – 3 cr
This class focuses on intellectual assessment of both children and adults. It also introduces students to assessment report writing, the various components necessary in patient interviews, and how to review supplementary information.

Personality and Emotion
PSY 721 – 3 cr
This portion of the Assessment Series focuses on tests that gauge a patient’s personality and emotional state. Measurements will include those that detect personality disorders and mood disturbances.

PSY 722 – 3 cr
This course is the culmination of the assessment series, using knowledge students have gained about both brain function and the capabilities of psychological assessment. Students will complete full neuro-psychological batteries and review cases of severe impairment, injury, stroke, and dementia.


Psychopathology Series

PSY 603 – 3 cr
This series goes through the DSM-V reviewing mental conditions found in adult patients. Attention will also be given to the construction of the DSM and a comparison to the ICD 10.

PSY 604 – 3 cr
This course will review DSM-V diagnoses that are most commonly found among children or adolescents. Special attention will be given to the autistic spectrum and learning disabilities.


Best Practices Series

Child and Family
PSY 710 – 3 cr
This course will examine common psychological conditions and their scientifically proven treatments for children and their families in a variety of settings.

PSY 711 – 3 cr
This course will examine common psychological conditions and their scientifically proven treatments for adult patients in a variety of settings.

Groups and Organizations
PSY 712 – 3 cr
This course focuses on interventions for groups, with special attention given to substance disorders and the ethical and professional issues that differentiate work with groups and individuals. The course will also examine the structure, process, and culture of organizations by examining the relationship between employees and the companies they serve. Motivation, change management, and the process of business consultation will be major topics of the course.


Individual Semester Courses

History and Systems
PSY 605 – 3 cr
This course includes the origins and development of major areas in the discipline of psychology. The class will move through historical changes in the profession while examining the social and cultural factors that contributed to the advent of particular theories. The course will also examine the changes that have occurred in the discipline, its expanding role in healthcare, and its current state as a profession.

Standards and Ethics
PSY 608 – 3 cr
This course reviews the current American Psychological Association’s Ethics and Professional Code through the lens of real world cases. Students will be challenged in their thinking as they move from recipients of healthcare to practitioners.

PSY 703 – 3 cr
This course builds on the basics learned in Research Methods and Statistics, preparing students for a deeper understanding of topics that will be necessary as they move through the assessment series and start work on their dissertation. This course reviews theory and techniques of psychological measurement, scale and inventory construction, reliability, validity, evaluation of measurement quality, classical and contemporary measurement theory, and standardization. This is also the first class that introduces students to the formal requirements of the dissertation process.

Human Diversity and Cultural Awareness
PSY 801 – 3 cr
This course will review the social and cultural context of both patient care groups and the clinicians themselves. Students are expected to promote a healthy and safe environment in the class while challenging their own preconceptions and attitudes. They will also be taught the latest research regarding cultural attitudes and norms and the way human diversity effects psychological treatment.

Consulting and Supervision
PSY 804 – 3 cr
All psychologists will be consulting throughout their career, whether it is with other psychologists and healthcare providers or with members of the public and professional organizations. This course addresses effective means of supervision and spotlights ethical issues that present themselves in the supervisor/supervisee relationship.

PSY 808 – 3 cr
Patients are often prescribed medication in conjunction with behavioral interventions. It is imperative that students learn about the medications that can be used to treat disorders, the resultant physiology, and their overall effectiveness.

Preparation for Internship Workshop
PSY 860 – 2 cr
This course takes place in the 4th year of the program and assists students in the construction and development of their internship application. Materials will be reviewed and constructive criticism given to improve students’ chances of obtaining the internship of their choice. Students will also assist each other through mock interviews, needed motivation, and assistance in finding the best fit for each applicant.


Year-long Courses

Research Methods and Statistics
PSY 613/PSY 614 – 3 cr each
These classes prepare students to critically read research, understand the mathematical underpinnings of assessment measures, and to begin work on their own research and dissertation. They will learn the strengths and limitations, means of interpretation, and the technical aspects of rigorous case study. They will learn the difference between correlational, descriptive, and experimental research designs while studying measurement techniques such as sampling, replication, and theory testing. Along with quantitative measures, students will be introduced to qualitative methods including meta-analysis and quasi-experimentation. Using statistics, they will learn to engage in mathematical modeling, analysis of psychological data, description, inference, univariate and multivariate analysis, null-hypothesis testing, power, and estimation.

Practicum Preparation
PSY 650/PSY 651 – 3 cr each
These two courses are designed to prepare students for starting work in the community as new practitioners. Students work toward understanding theoretical orientations, their role as a student volunteer, what their rights and responsibilities will entail as a practicum student, procedural elements such as charting and organizing their appointments, and how they can best use practicums as a means of applying the knowledge they have learned in class. These courses are also an open forum where students can express concerns, support, and questions regarding their first year in graduate school. As part of this course, students will engage in interaction with standardized patients (actors) under the guidance and observation of faculty.

Leadership in Health Professions
PSY 811/PSY 812 – 3 cr each
This year-long course is attended by students from all three colleges at California Northstate University. It uses experiential learning, real-world cases, class discussion, and the latest research to help students develop their own voices as future leaders in the healthcare industry. Students will also gain a deeper appreciation of the talents, skills, and abilities each profession brings to case formulation and the treatment of patients.

Dissertation Research Seminar
PSY 861/PSY 862 – 2 cr each
This series takes place in the 4th year and is designed to assist students with the completion of their dissertation. Students will find a supportive environment where they can work through challenges, seek feedback, and progress in a systematic fashion towards completion of the capstone to their doctorate experiences.


Multi-year Courses

Practicum Case Conference
PSY 713/PSY 714, PSY 813/814, PSY 913/PSY 914 – 2 cr each
This seminar series takes place while the student is in practicum and provides space for participants to share their clinical experiences and receive feedback from their peers and the professor. These sessions occur once per week.

PRC 750/PRC 751/PRC 752, PRC 850/PRC 851/PRC 852, PRC 950/PRC 951/PRC 952 – 16-24 cr total
In years 2, 3, and 4 of our doctoral program, students are placed in practicum sites offering a diverse experience with regard to site, clientele, and clinical presentation. Practicums promote the integration of academic knowledge with practical experience in a real-world setting, preparing students for future training in professional psychology. Yearly practicum commitments vary by site and training year. Some practicum contracts require students to be on-site during summer months.



Introduction to Health Psychology
PSY 802 – 3 cr
This class will focus on the interface between behavior, cognition, and illness. A review of conditions most commonly referred to psychologists in a hospital setting will form the foundation of the subject along with the interface between psychologists, physicians, and nursing staff. Special attention will be given to healthcare delivery systems and the different populations they serve.

Crisis/Trauma Intervention
PSY 803 – 3 cr
Students in this course will learn effective means to evaluate and treat patients in crisis or who have experienced recent traumatic events. Subjects covered will include an extensive review of the legal avenues for treatment and the ethical responsibilities of clinicians.

Substance Abuse Treatment
PSY 805 – 3 cr
This course will focus on both individual and group treatment, the interaction between substance abuse and mental disorders, and community resources. Students will go into depth regarding substances and their effects on the brain.

Introduction to Forensic Psychology
PSY 806 – 3 cr
This course will examine the interface between psychology and the law. Discussion topics will include competency, violence risk, commitments, malingering, and testimony. There will also be a review of common assessment tools and report writing for the courts.