Clinical Psychology Graduate Programs Online

Online clinical psychology graduate programs offer students the opportunity to take courses through web-based learning systems instead of having to attend classes in person. The appeal of distance learning extends beyond the flexible schedule; if you live too far to commute to a college campus, working towards your masters or doctorate clinical psychology degree online might bring you closer to your top personal and academic goals.

Online Clinical Psychology Graduate Programs: Basics

Online Clinical Psychology Graduate Programs may be found as masters and doctorate degrees and examine this diverse specialty area within psychology. Clinical psychology is fairly complex; it uses science, research and various techniques to address, prevent, assess, diagnose and treat a wide variety of mental, emotional and behavioral issues.[i] Depending on the program, students may be required to have an undergraduate degree such as, but not limited to, a Bachelor of Psychology, for Clinical Psychology Masters Programs. Doctorate clinical psychology programs either require applicants to have a Bachelor’s degree with a major in psychology or a Master’s degree[ii].

DID YOU KNOW? “Overall, candidates with a doctoral or education specialist degree and post-doctoral work experience will have the best job opportunities in clinical psychology positions. Candidates with a master’s degree will face competition for most positions, and many of them will find jobs with alternative titles, as nearly all states restrict the use of the title “psychologist” to Ph.D. or Psy.D. degree holders.”[iii]

Online Clinical Psychology Graduate Programs

Why Earn a Clinical Psychology Degree Online?

With options for both residential and distance-learning clinical psychology graduate programs, you may be wondering why earn your clinical psychology degree online?


Students who deliberately choose an online clinical psychology program may have a number of reasons, although convenience ranks high on the list.[iv] In some cases, courses are completely prerecorded. Professors may lecture in front of a live audience and then upload the material to a course management system for the online students. In other cases, you may be on the other end of a livestreaming seminar and be able to use your computer, a head set or other methods to participate, ask questions, and simulate attendance from wherever you are and have Internet.


While universities vary in terms of formatting their programs, in some cases, you are getting a mirror of the residential program, without the in-person requirement. This can be appealing to working students, international or out of state students as much as to those who live close to a campus but prefer not to struggle with a commute.

Research Tools

For online clinical psychology graduate students, best research tools may include online libraries, publications, and e-books. Some programs may require you to have specific software or may incorporate text books.


While online study does involve autonomy, students may be expected or encouraged to participate in online group discussion, and may be able to contact faculty via email, the course web portal, phone or whatever methods have been pre-arranged.

Appeal of a Graduate Degree

While a bachelor’s degree in psychology might lead to potential careers in business or education, most clinical psychologists need a doctoral degree along with state licensure; a master’s degree might be sufficient to work as an assistant as long as there is supervision from a doctoral clinical psychologist[v].

Online Masters in Clinical Psychology Programs

Online masters in clinical psychology programs may be available as master of arts or master of science degrees, each of which may have different potential outcomes. Some students may be looking for a ‘terminal’ degree which means that after graduation they aspire to enter the workforce. This choice may mean finding a program that could lead to a counseling license; programs of this nature could be accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.[vi] Other students may know they want to pursue a doctoral clinical psychology degree in which case they might choose a master’s degree program that involves writing a thesis. The APA does not accredit clinical psychology master’s programs[vii], however, the institution offering the graduate degree could be accredited by one of several regional accrediting agencies.

Online Clinical Psychology Doctorate Programs

The American Psychological Association does accredit doctoral clinical psychology programs.[viii] If you are more interested in a clinical practice degree, you might choose an online Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) in Clinical Psychology. Students who are more interested in scientific research and academia, may prefer the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Clinical Psychology.[ix] Clinical psychology doctoral students may have internship requirements in addition to coursework, and a dissertation and/or examinations[x].

Beyond Your Clinical Psychology Degree

While earning an online clinical psychology graduate degree could bring you closer to using the title “psychologist”, in most states, psychologists who practice independently must be licensed where they work as well, although licensing laws do vary by state.[xi] While a degree does not guarantee employment or licensure, If this is your desired career, some of the academic steps to follow, suggested by the American Psychological Association might be[xii]:

  • Earn a Bachelor’s in Psychology to learn the fundamentals;
  • Work towards a clinical psychology graduate degree (Bachelor to Doctorate or Bachelor to Master to Doctorate);
  • Pass your comprehensive exam and write and defend a dissertation;
  • Complete a one-year internship as part of your doctoral degree program;

From these steps, you may be required to have at least 1 to 2 years of supervised professional experience and to pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology.[xiii]You may also be required to maintain your license through continuing education courses[xiv].

Take the Next Step

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a 20% growth in employment is projected for clinical psychologist between 2014 to 2024[xv]so now may be a great time to take that next step and find an online clinical psychology graduate program. Review our sponsored listings to find options that might include Online PsyD – Doctor of Psychology and Online MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Use the ‘request info’ tab to contact prospective schools and inform yourself about possible enrollment.

sources: [i] |[ii] |[iii] |[iv] Online College Students 2016: Comprehensive Data on Demands and Preferences |[v] |[vi] |[vii] |[viii] |[ix] |[x] |[xi] |[xii] |[xiii] |[xiv] |[xv]

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