Online Psy.D. Programs, Schools and Coursework Overview

Several schools offer online Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) programs with varying specializations. Read on for an overview of coursework common to a Psy.D. program, and explore some distance learning options in the field.

Essential Information

Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degrees are professional doctoral degrees designed for students looking to practice psychology. These advanced programs often have rigorous admissions standards, with most minimum requirements starting at a master's degree. In addition to standard coursework, students in these programs are also expected to fulfill other learning objectives, such as a residency or dissertation.

For students looking to earn a doctoral degree but lacking the necessary time or resources, online degree programs are a convenient and affordable option that allow students to fit courses into their busy schedules. Although these programs are available online, some still have in-person requirements, such as a residency.

Degree Specializations International leadership, sports & performance psychology, non-profit management
Online Availability Coursework is available entirely online, though some programs do feature required in-person sessions
In-Person Requirements Many programs require residency periods

University of the Rockies

Information & Requirements

Located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, University of the Rockies doesn't offer a traditional clinical psychology program. Instead, it offers specializations such as business psychology, educational leadership and non-profit management. Students must log in at least twice a week for each online class, and three courses require weekend on-campus attendance. Two examples of the 14 specializations offered are discussed below.

Psy.D. Specialization in Organizational Leadership

Students of this program learn human performance psychology in relation to leadership of business enterprises. They are trained in assessment not only of individuals, but also of organizational and team behavior. Instruction includes methods for improving performance and integration in organizations.


Some of the courses in this 68-credit program are:

  • Behavioral biological bases
  • History of psychology
  • Group leadership

Psy.D. Specialization in Sport and Performance Psychology

A sports and performance psychologist's job is to foster self-mastery and top performance by sports teams and their individual members. Students in this specialty develop acumen in making people more effective athletes and performers. Graduates are prepared to work not only in sports programs, but also in educational and research situations.


Coursework includes:

  • Kinesiology and psychomotor development
  • Sports and performance rehabilitation
  • Sports and performance group dynamics

California Southern University

Information & Requirements

Not to be confused with the University of Southern California, California Southern University (CalSouthern) is a private college that offers only online programs. Founded in 1978, CalSouthern offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in liberal arts, business and psychology. CalSouthern is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council.

This Psy.D. program trains students in a variety of psychotherapeutic techniques for treating individuals, couples and families. According to the Board of Psychology of the State of California, this online program meets the requirements for state licensure.

CalSouthern also requires students in the online Psy.D. program to participate in at least 30 hours of core courses along with 15 hours of electives. Prior to practicum work, students must pass a comprehensive final exam, demonstrating proficiency in all coursework covered.


Required courses in the program include:

  • Personality theory
  • Psychological assessment
  • Psychopharmacology

Capella University

Information & Requirements

Accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, Capella University offers primarily online degree programs. Formed in 1991, Capella offers 39 graduate and undergraduate programs in nearly 130 areas of study. Over 37,100 students attend Capella, which offers over 1,250 online classes.

Although Capella University offers primarily online programs, the online Psy.D. program requires some residencies, as well as field practica and internships. The final year of study is called the 'year-in-residence.'

During the summers at the beginning and end of that school year, 2-week residencies are required at the Minnesota headquarters. During the course of the school year, students must attend nine in-resident weekends. Practicum and internship hours are completed at locations arranged by the students.


Core courses included in the required 145 quarter credits are:

  • Professional psychology orientation
  • Biological psychology
  • Cognitive/affective psychology
  • Social psychology
  • Multicultural contexts of behavior

Doctoral Dissertation

After completing coursework, Psy.D. students complete dissertation research. Students typically work under the supervision of an advisor and receive approval on the finalized focus of the dissertation. The goal of the dissertation project is to identify an issue in the field and offer an original way to address the issue. Students incorporate the knowledge they have acquired as well as field-specific research. In addition to writing a thorough paper on their subject, students are typically required to verbally defend their dissertation.

Career Information

Graduates of online Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) programs are prepared to be clinical psychologists, but not always in the usual sense of a patient coming to an office for therapy. Many clinical psychologists work in or with a business or organization. Graduates with an online Psy.D. are prepared to conduct client interviews and perform psychological testing in order to devise a treatment plan.

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