California Southern University: Online

California Southern University Online is located in Costa Mesa, California, approximately 40 miles southeast of Los Angeles in Orange County. Because of the school’s proximity to Irvine, the school is sometimes referred to as California Southern University Irvine.

Some University History

Not to be confused with California Southern College, Southern California University began its operation in 1978 and offers degrees at all levels and certificates entirely online. It is a private, for-profit institution.i

Since California Southern University’s inception, it has focused on providing quality programs to non-traditional students, especially working adults. As such, it offers monthly start dates and flexible schedules to accommodate working professionals.

Program Formats

While all of its programs are offered entirely online, some programs offer options for students to attend courses on campus, in person.i

Get to Know California Southern University

Whether attending on-campus courses or not, California Southern University invites prospective and current students to visit its facilities in Costa Mesa to meet faculty, talk to advisors, and get a better sense of the school.

The current president of California Southern University is Dr. Donald Hecht, the founder of the school. His office strives to make education accessible, useful, and practical.ii

What Makes California Southern University Unique

California Southern University was one of the country’s first correspondence schools, enabling students to use available technology to attend classes as conveniently as possible. As technology evolved, so too did the school, and now California Southern University offers everything through a highly specialized digital platform.iii

To maintain the personal touch and connection of on-campus education, California Southern University gives students one-to-one faculty mentoring, a benefit it has offered since its beginning. Through the 1990s and 2000s, the school has focused its efforts on providing education in a few core subjects, enabling it to focus its intentions on developing high quality programs.iii

California Southern University Ranking

California Southern University is currently not ranked by U.S. News. We can, however, give you some of the school’s key performance indicators.

In terms of California Southern University reviews, in response to the school’s 2017 Institutional Effectiveness Survey, students reported the following:iv

  • 96% of learners at California Southern University achieved the goal they set for their course or program
  • 97% of learners said they were satisfied with their studies
  • 97% of learners said they would recommend California Southern University to a friend

Graduates by the Numbers

In terms of the school’s graduation rates, California Southern University reported the following in 2017:iv  

  • Southern California Southern University’s School of Behavioral Sciences graduate rates were 63 percent for the Master of Science in Psychology, 39 percent for the Master of Arts in Psychology, and 42 percent for the Doctorate of Psychology
  • The School of Business’ graduation rates were 42 percent for the M.B.A. and 38 percent for the D.B.A. The School of Law’s graduation rates were 41 percent for the Master of Laws and 33 percent for the Juris Doctorate.
  • The School of Criminal Justice’s graduation rate was 64 percent for the Master’s Degree Law Enforcement Executive Leadership.

California Southern University Accreditation

California Southern University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission. The Commission is one of six regional accrediting agencies recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education.iii

Other Recommendations


  • The California Board of Behavioral Sciences recognizes California Southern University’s Master of Art in Psychology as meeting the educational requirements for licensure as a professional clinical counselor or marriage and family therapist.
  • The Doctor of Psychology meets the educational requirements of the California Board of Psychology for licensure as a clinical psychologist
  • The Juris Doctor enables students to sit for the California State Bar Examination to become a licensed attorney

California Southern University Online Majors and Programs

Students can pursue California Southern University Online degrees in business, law, psychology, nursing, and criminal justice at the associate’s degree, bachelors’ degree, master’s degree, doctorate degree, and certificate levels.

Cal Southern: 5 Schools in 1

California Southern University offers its online programs through five schools:

  1. The School of Behavioral Sciences
  2. The School of Business
  3. The School of Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement
  4. The School of Law
  5. The School or Nursing

School of Behavioral Sciences: Through the School of Behavioral Sciences, graduate students can earn a Master of Arts in Psychology (M.A.), a Master of Science in Psychology (M.S.), or a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.).vii

The California Southern University PsyD, one of the schools more popular programs, requires students to earn 66 credits (all online) over four years (with full-time status). The M.A. in Psychology requires students to earn 60 credits and the M.S. in Psychology requires students to earn 42 credits. Each programs has unique additional requirements students must meet.vii

School of Business: Through the School of Business, graduate students can earn a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) or Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.), both online. To earn the M.B.A., students must earn 36 credits and to earn the D.B.A., students must earn 60 credits. Students in each program must meet additional requirements according to their program level.viii

California Southern University Law School: Through the California Southern University Law School, graduate students can earn a Master of Laws (LLM), Master of Science in Dispute Resolution (MSDR), Master of Science in Law (MSL), or Juris Doctor (JD). To earn their degrees, students must earn the following number of credits:ix

  • 24 credits for the LLM
  • 36 credits for the MSDR
  • 36 credits for the MSL
  • 88 credits for the JD

Graduate students must meet additional requirements according to their program.

Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement and Nursing: Through its schools of Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement and Nursing, California Southern University offers a Master’s Degree Law Enforcement Executive Leadership (MSLEEL), a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), and Associate Degree to Masters (AND-toMSN), all online.

Qualified Teachers

Online courses in each of these areas are taught by instructors who are educated and experienced professionals in their fields.

California Southern University Admissions

The California Southern University admissions process requires 10 steps, five of which take place before acceptance into a program. To apply, prospective students must:x

  1. Complete an enrollment application (whose requirements could vary by program)
  2. Submit transcripts from all previously attended colleges and universities
  3. Submit a government-issued identification card
  4. For graduate programs, submit a personal statement
  5. Pay an application fee of $75 (2018)

Once applicants have submitted their application materials, they take the next five steps:x

  1. Receive an acceptance notification and letter of acceptance from a program Dean
  2. Review a degree plan
  3. Choose a payment option
  4. Sign an enrollment agreement
  5. Start an academic program

California Southern University’s admissions process is straightforward. All prospective students, whether applying for associates, bachelors, masters, or doctorate degree programs, must:x

  • Complete an enrollment application
  • Submit transcripts (from high school or other higher education institutions)
  • Provide a copy of their government-issued ID
  • Pay an application fee of $75.00

Additional Admissions Requirements

In addition, international students must submit satisfactory TOEFL or IELTS scores and potentially have their transcripts from other countries evaluated.x

There are no entrance exams to attend California Southern University, and classes have monthly starts. Because programs are self-paced, students can progress toward their degrees at a pace that works for them.x

Tuition at California Southern University

California Southern University strives to offer reasonably priced tuition. Once students have enrolled in a program and registered in classes, their tuition remains the same for the duration of their program so long as there are no gaps in their enrollment.xi

California Southern University’s tuition were as follows in 2017:xi

  • $495 per semester credit for the following degrees: a Master of Laws, Master in Education, Master of Arts in Psychology, Master of Science in Psychology, Master of Business Administration, Master of Science in Dispute Resolution, Master of Science in Law Enforcement Executive Leadership, and Master of Science in Law
  • $425 per semester credit for a Master of Science in Nursing
  • $375 per semester credit for a Juris Doctor
  • $495 per semester credit for a Doctor of Psychology

Additional Expenses

Students pay additional money for books, fees, and other materials for courses. The average cost of textbooks per course is $145 with the exception of JD courses. The average cost of textbooks for the JD program is $900-$1,200 per year.xi

A Payment Plan for You

To help students pay for their programs, California Southern University offers interest-free payment plans. Students can pay in full, one semester at a time, month-by-month, or using third-party benefits, such as those from the military. California Southern University does not participate in any federal student aid plan, so students cannot apply for grants or loans through the federal government.xi

Explore California Southern University Online

Use the search tools on our website to find graduate programs in psychology, business, law, nursing, and criminal justice. Begin your search now!

i | ii | iii | iv | v | vi | vii | viii | ix  x | xi

Sort programs by: Default | Alphabetical

Why Consider CalSouthern?

CalSouthern offers a unique blend of academic quality, flexible learning methods, and personal support. This means that courses of study may be continually enhanced to reflect any latest trends or best practices.

  • California Southern University is a candidate for accreditation of its business programs through the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).
  • The master program in nursing at California Southern University is a new applicant pursuing initial accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
  • California Southern University School of Law's degree-granting authority, in connection with learners qualifying to take the California Bar Examination and obtain admission to the practice of law in California, is based on its registration as an unaccredited law school with the Committee of Bar Examiners.

Program Model: 100% Online

CalSouthern uses a proprietary 100% online learning platform. There are no group projects and no required log-in times. This means students can study on their schedule, helping afford a balance with work and family duties. Extra convenience may be provided by a cloud-based suite of tools. Through this, students access coursework, research tools, productivity software and study resources. This can be done anytime, anywhere, on virtually any device. All that is needed is an Internet connection. Plus, CalSouthern’s IT support team provides any technical help needed along the way.

Student Support Services

In addition to faculty mentors, a team of advisors and academic staff is in place to provide support. Each student is provided with an academic advisor and learning success advisor.

CalSouthern students also have access to an online library. This provides research tools and databases, along with multimedia resources. Students may even tap into research and writing help from an ALA-certified librarian.

Other resources include a Master Lecture Series offered each year. Students are invited to attend in person, via live streaming video or on-demand viewing.

Services and Programs for Service Members and Veterans

CalSouthern extends several benefits to qualified service members and veterans.

  • Discounted tuition for military service members, military spouses and veterans
  • Waives application fees for active-duty military service members, their spouses and dependents
  • Accepts education benefits offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs as well as military spouse education benefits
  • Offers credit for military training and experience
  • Provides a dedicated support team

CalSouthern Accreditation

CalSouthern is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission.

CalSouthern Academics and Degree Programs

CalSouthern has five schools, each offering ‘applied’ degrees. They are intended to be relevant, practical, and develop skills and knowledge that can be applied to their respective fields. Choose from behavioral sciences, business, criminal justice and law enforcement, law and nursing. Some California Southern University degrees may satisfy state educational requirements for licensure in several fields.

Program Highlights: Online Psychology Degrees (MA, MS, PsyD)

CalSouthern’s School of Behavioral Sciences offers degree “developed by practitioners, for practitioners”.

Online MA in Psychology

Do you aspire to counsel others? CalSouthern’s online Master of Arts in Psychology (MA) is a 60-credit program. It is designed to provide a solid base for those interested in marriage and family therapy or clinical counseling. Taken on a full-time basis, students may complete their degree in 4 years.

  • Learning OutcomesThe MA program satisfies the educational requisites for licensure as a marriage and family therapist (MFT) and licensed professional clinical counselor (LPCC) in the state of California.
  • Courses: Students take a series of required core courses and fulfill a 9-credit practicum. They fulfill their clinical experience in a clinical setting approved by California Southern University. A sample of core courses, like: Counseling theories and strategies, Psychopathology, Systems of family therapy, Psychopharmacology, Crisis and Trauma.

Online M.S. in Psychology

If you are looking for a more focused option, CalSouthern’s online Master of Science in Psychology (MS) is a 42-credit program. It may be completed in 2 years of full time study or, in up to four years. Students in the MS program take a series of six core courses. Among these are counseling theories, social psychology and psychopathology. At the end of their program, students complete a masters thesis.

  • Learning OutcomesThe MS may be used as a stepping-stone to CalSouthern’s PsyD program. The PsyD satisfies the education requisites for those seeking licensure as a clinical psychologist in California.
  • Areas of Emphasis: Once enrolled in the MS program, students focus their studies through an area of emphasis, such as: Sports Psychology, Chemical Dependency, Industrial Psychology, Pastoral Counseling, and General Psychology

Online PsyD

Are you looking for an alternative to the PhD in Psychology? The Doctor of Psychology is a 66-credit applied degree that is clinically focused. The program is capped off by a doctoral project on a topic chosen by each student. Based on full-time study, the coursework may be completed in four years. A practicum is done at approved local sites.

  • Learning OutcomesAs a terminal degree, the online Doctor of Psychology meets education requisites for licensure as a clinical psychologist in California.
  • Courses: Aside from clinical practice and the doctoral project, PsyD students take 36 credit hours of required core courses. Some of these include statistics and advanced personality theory. Students also take 15 credit hours of elective courses. Choices span applied sports psychology, hypnosis, and dream analysis, among others.

Program Highlights: Online Business Degrees (MBA, DBA)

CalSouthern’s School of Business offers programs “designed by business professionals, for tomorrow’s business leaders”.

Online MBA

Are you interested in fine tuning your ability to devise business strategies? CalSouthern’s online MBA is a 36-credit program, designed to help prepare graduates to pursue leadership careers in all business sectors. In addition to taking courses in basic business concepts, students may tailor the program. This can be around a specific area of interest, around prior work experience, career goals or past education. It may take 2 years of full time study to complete the MBA online. However, students with transfer credits may take as few as 18 months. Students are also given up to four years should they need it.

  • Areas of EmphasisAside from core courses, students may take 15 elective credits in a specific business field. These are: Management, Finance, Healthcare Administration, International Business, Project Management, and Human Resources

Online DBA

Do you aspire to launch your own venture or cultivate business expertise? Are you hoping for that extra edge over MBA graduates? CalSouthern’s Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) is a 60-credit program. As a possible next step to an MBA, DBA students may develop quite focused business skills. This is done through an advanced course of study which is followed by an exam. In the final year, students work on a doctoral research project.

  • CoursesDBA required courses are taken in the first 3 years. Topics span managerial economics, technology for managers and global business strategy among others.

Choose a Program at California Southern University

Browse more of CalSouthern’s 100% online masters and doctorate degree programs below. Click an icon to read on. Use the on-page button to submit a form for more information. Take the next step today!


School Headquarters: California Southern University 3330 Harbor Blvd, Costa Mesa, California 92626


Sponsored Programs

Find Schools