Selecting an APA-Approved Online School
Students considering online APA-approved clinical psychology schools must make their decision based on several key factors. American Psychological Association (APA) approval is reserved for traditional, on-campus psychology programs, making fully online APA-approved clinical psychology programs unavailable. However, students can find some APA-approved institutions that offer a few courses online. It's important to note that, as of 2016, the APA did not approve any fully online clinical psychology programs. A few universities and online colleges do, however, provide some online coursework.
APA Approval Requirements
The APA only approves doctoral degrees, internships and residencies, and the conditions for program approval prohibit fully online degree programs from gaining APA acceptance. In order to earn APA approval, students must complete two out of the three years at the institution granting the degree and at least one year as a full-time resident. This means that for APA approval to be granted, degrees must be completed at least partially in a traditional format.
Although fully online programs cannot be APA-approved, the APA has no regulations against the inclusion of some online coursework within an approved program. This is still uncommon, but prospective students may want to check the curricula for the schools they're considering to see if online options are available for any courses. The APA maintains a list of accredited clinical psychology programs on its website to assist students in researching and choosing a school.
Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology
Although this program requires a lot of face-to-face clinical training, some APA-approved programs offer foundational courses in the science and theory of psychology in an online format. Since foundational courses are intended to help students acquire a base of knowledge rather than to advance their practical skills, it's easier to adapt these core classes into an online format.
At some schools, courses might be offered in a hybrid format, incorporating distance-learning technology to make an on-campus course more flexible and accessible. For example, some multi-campus schools use features like video conferencing and online course management systems to synchronously teach students enrolled at different campuses.
Even in programs with online components, students should expect to complete most of their APA-approved clinical psychology training in a traditional, on-campus setting. Examples of class topics that may be offered online include:
- Social bases of behavior
- History of psychology
- Teaching methods
Though the American Psychology Association doesn't accredit any wholly online programs, students who want to study clinical psychology can look for universities that offer some foundational courses online. The APA only accredits doctoral programs and requires students to spend two or three years on campus and complete a full-time residency.