Skip to Top Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Footer
man standing next to horse

Animal-Assisted Therapy Certificate

Undergraduate Certificate in Animal-Assisted Therapy

Quick Facts

Total Credit Hours: 9
Tuition: $398 per credit hour*


Undergraduate Certificate in Animal-Assisted Therapy

A dog sits with her ownerAnimal assisted therapy, and the study of human–animal interactions, is an exciting and growing field of scientific inquiry focusing on our relationship with animals. Through this Assisted-Animal Therapy Certificate program, you will learn to integrate companion animals safely and ethically into a variety of treatment settings. You’ll study how human–animal bonds have both emotional and health benefits, how to safely and ethically apply animal interactions as a therapeutic tool, and learn techniques for working with therapy animals.

Over your course of study, you’ll write a manual that is tailored to your professional needs and species of choice. The final manual will consist of three parts that mirror the animal therapy program's outcomes and will create a professional reference manual tailored for your use. 

Upon completion of this animal therapy certificate program, you’ll have the knowledge and skills to:

  • Evaluate animal-assisted therapy standards of best practice.
  • Explain safe and effective animal assisted therapies.
  • Analyze the physiological and mental health benefits of the human-animal bond.
  • Interpret the legal, ethical, and beneficial aspects of animal-assisted therapies.
  • Identify the role of animal-assisted therapies as it pertains to different fields of practice.


*All rates subject to change


Upcoming Start Dates

July 1, 2024
September 3, 2024

Multiple start dates throughout the year
Stop out for a term for flexibility


Apply Now

Request Info

Animal-Assisted Therapy Courses

AB 110 The Human-Animal Bond: Animal Behavior, Evolution, and Therapeutic Applications

In this course, students will study the evolution of human-animal relationships and the emotional and health benefits of the human-animal bond, animal behavior, and common methods of animal training. Students will explore human social and cultural factors relevant to Animal-Assisted Therapy to maximize safe interactions between clients and animals in professional settings.

AB 210 Emotional Support and Service Animals

The unique bond between people and animals is a powerful tool for healing. This animal-assisted therapy course will examine the different ways animals can be used to support human health and explore the role of pets and other animals in the treatment and rehabilitation of persons with a variety of physical and psychological disabilities. Students will examine case studies such as correctional institutions and “cell dogs”, therapeutic riding, child development and pets, mental health canines, animal therapy with homeless populations, and animal therapy in substance abuse programs. Students will be encouraged to engage with a program within their own community, or connect with one online.

AB 310 Animal-Assisted Therapy: Understanding Techniques, Regulations, and Risks

Professional animal-assisted therapies demonstrate how the human-animal bond can create lasting social, emotional, cognitive, physical, spiritual and psychological changes. Animal-assisted therapeutic activities and learning are found in many settings.  It is important that psychology practitioners understand how to safely, legally, and ethically integrate animals into their practice. Students will study various techniques specific to animal-assisted therapy and understand best practices for working with animals during counseling sessions.

Faculty Spotlight

Emily Kieson, Ph.D, MS, PgDip


Emily Kieson, Ph.D, MS, PgDip, serves as research director and educator at MiMer Centre, a Swedish-based nonprofit focused on education and research in equine-human interactions and horse welfare. Kieson's research focuses on equine behavioral psychology, equine welfare and horse-human interactions as they apply to both horse owners and equine-assisted activities and learning programs. She holds a doctorate degree in comparative psychology, master's degree in psychology, graduate degree in equine science and also holds multiple certifications in various models of equine-assisted activities. She currently serves as chair of the Equine Welfare Committee with the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH). Her current research involves looking at equine affiliative behaviors to study how horses create and maintain social bonds and how those can overlap with human affiliative behaviors for application in management, horse ownership and equine-assisted activities. She also has a passion for supporting sustainable systems of horse management and husbandry that promote physical and psychological welfare of the horse while simultaneously supporting sustainable ecosystem practices on small and large scales (for both feral and domestic equids).

Frequently Asked Questions

What is animal-assisted therapy?

Animal-assisted therapy is a safe, legal and ethical way to integrate animals in goal-directed physical and psychological treatment sessions for human patients. At Husson University, our nine-credit hour certificate program offers three courses designed to help you better understand human-animal
relationships and how animal-assisted therapies can make a difference in the mental and physical well-being of the patient.

How to become certified in animal-assisted therapy?

Animal-assisted therapy is a tool mental and physical healthcare practitioners can use to help patients reach designated goals. However, not every companion animal activity requires certification. Certifications are offered by organizations such as the American Association for Veterinary State Boards and the Animal Behavior Institute. Requirements may vary by state.

Programs such as the Animal-Assisted Therapy Certificate at Husson University are designed to provide the tools to better understand human-animal interactions and how to integrate companion animals safely, ethically and legally into a treatment plan.

What is the difference between pet therapy and animal-assisted therapy?

Both animal-assisted therapy and pet therapy can involve incorporating companion animals into a treatment plan to help improve the mental or physical well-being of a patient. Because animal-assisted therapy is goal-oriented, often documented and well planned, it could be considered the more structured of the two. Pet therapy could involve the same, or it could be as simple as adopting an animal companion to fill a need to nurture in the patient’s life.

What do you learn in animal-assisted therapy programs?

Animal-assisted therapy offers a number of benefits for the patient, from helping boost self-esteem, improve social skills and foster nurturing skills to simply motivating movement. A program focused on animal-assisted therapy (AAT), such as the certificate program at Husson University, will provide insight into how to structure programs to help patients enjoy those benefits. At Husson, you’ll explore the human-animal bond, therapeutic applications, service animals in general and how to safely, legally and ethically integrate animals into relevant treatment plans.

What is an AAT certificate?

An AAT (Animal-Assisted Therapy) certificate is marketable proof of an education focused on the study of human-animal interactions and how they can be implemented into a treatment plan for mental or physical needs. Husson University offers a 9-credit, three-course certificate program designed to help you learn understand the human-animal bond and learn techniques for working with therapy animals.


Husson University has been approved to participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements.

Apply Now Request Info

For more information

Phone and Email Address
Online Enrollment Counselor Online Enrollment Counselor

Peabody Hall
1 College Circle
Bangor, Maine 04401