Is an Online Post-Baccalaureate Program for Psychology Careers Right for You?

No longer behind closed doors

Location, location, location—that’s not always a requirement when you’re looking at schools to further your education. Living hundreds or even thousands of miles away from Berkeley, you can still take courses online that offer the same academic rigor as their in-class counterparts.

And now, those seeking a strong foundation in psychology to apply to graduate school can complete UC Berkeley Extension’s Post-Baccalaureate Program for Counseling and Psychology Professions from anywhere in the world.

Dan Copulsky, Post-Baccalaureate Program for Counseling and Psychology Professions graduate

And that’s exactly what graduate Dan Copulsky did. But first, a little backstory.

After bouncing around from job to job in Chicago—including stints as a sandwich shop delivery driver, a warehouse manager for a toy and game company, and a licensed massage therapist—Copulsky was still searching for the right career. Work as a sales associate for an adult toy store, a volunteer coordinator for a transitional house for the homeless with HIV, and a website manager of informational graphics about sex and relationships for Sex Ed Plus made Copulsky want to learn more about his passion: the psychology of sexuality. Already having a B.A. in English and Creative Writing, Copulsky took advantage of Extension’s online opportunity to make his passion into a successful career. The Post-Baccalaureate Program for Counseling and Psychology Professions provided just what Copulsky had been looking for: online, self-paced courses in an organized program that didn’t require a full commitment upfront.

Completing the program entirely online let me balance my education with work and other projects.

"The program being offered completely online was important in a day-to-day and week-to-week sense," Copulsky says. "Being online also allowed me to take a couple of breaks—even for a few months at a time—while completing the courses."

What other key factors did Copulsky consider before choosing this program? "Enrollment that was straightforward. The program also needed to fit my budget, grant a certificate and be offered by a prestigious university," he replies.

"The program gave me tools and opportunities for research, both through the research methods class and through essay assignments in other courses," Copulsky points out. "In the Psychology of Personality course, I was able to focus my final research paper on the personality of non-monogamous individuals. I hope I will be able to build on this paper for a future article or perhaps conduct new research to fill in some of the gaps."

Research and focusing his psychology skills on sexuality themes are of high import to Copulsky, and drew him to instructor Richard Sprott’s class. "I was already familiar with his work behind the Community-Academic Consortium for Research on Alternative Sexualities (CARAS) and the Alternative Sexualities Conference that CARAS helps organize," the recent graduate says. Copulsky has since worked on his own research and presented his poster at the Alternative Sexualities Conference. "It focused on the intersection of polyamorous and asexual communities and the unique challenges and benefits that non-monogamy may hold for asexuals," he explains. "I then expanded this work into an article that was recently published in the Journal of Positive Sexuality."

Copulsky has also turned this interest into a volunteer position, working as a research assistant with the Center for Positive Sexuality, where he worked on a project focused on sexual experiences connected with genital piercings. "This was a remote volunteer position, which appealed to me for similar reasons as an online post-baccalaureate program did," he explains.

From research opportunities to preparing for graduate school—and the all-important upper-division psychology courses that can be taken from anywhere in the world—the program’s curriculum continues to attract students like Copulsky who live a plane ride from Berkeley. Knowing that he received a well-rounded psychology education, Copulsky is ready to continue his focus on sexuality and apply to graduate schools later this year. Whether or not he decides on a graduate program for psychology, sociology, interdisciplinary studies or something else that piques his interest, of his new career Copulsky is "confident that the background in psychology will be helpful regardless."