What to Expect from a Certificate Program in Psychology
There are very few legitimate certificate in psychology programs, because there are no careers that actively recruit people who have such qualifications. There is such a large pool of people who have bachelor's degrees and even master's degrees in psychology seeking entry-level pscyhology jobs that those who have only certificates and no other qualifications in the field are unlikely to see much benefit from such a program.
The exception is for people who are already working in an industry that is related to psychology but have never directly studied the discipline. These people have bachelor's degrees in another area, and hold careers like probation officer and elementary school teacher -- careers where holding an extra professional certificate in psychology can be useful, if not directly beneficial in the logistic sense.
Earning a Certificate in Psychology
Many certificate in psychology programs will only accept those people who already have bachelor's degrees or, at the very least, already have associate's degrees, though not in psychology. People who are looking to change professions may decide to earn a certificate in psychology rather than an entire new degree. Some psychology certificates are offered through professional organizations that give students the chance to choose a psychology discipline that is of particular interest to them, and tailor their certification to that specialization. Common specializations include criminology, psychiatrics, forensic psychology, and child psychology.
Most certificate programs last no more than one year. Earning a certificate typically requires completing a set framework of classes. These classes may include general psychology, if it is intended as a first-time psychology program, but most classes will be more advanced because a short certification program does not provide enough time to go over all of the basics. A specialized program will assume that most people have earned a degree in psychology already and will assume that students are familiar with psychology basics and research fundamentals. Certification programs also often involve a cumulative certification exam to prove that a student has mastered the fundamentals of psychology or their specialized subset of psychology.
Using a Certificate in Psychology
Completing a certificate in psychology is unlikely to improve a person's chances of being hired for a certain position (there are some specialized areas of psychology that are exceptions to this rule). For those individuals who are simply interested in learning about psychology, and not necessarily using it in their career, some online short-term certification courses can be valuable, as they are less expensive than actual degrees. (APA)