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Distance Learning Clinical Psychology Degrees by Program Level

Research online degree programs in clinical psychology. Find out what you can learn in these courses and what career options are open to holders of these degrees.

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Essential Information

Many schools offer doctor of psychology degree programs with specializations in clinical psychology as online programs or as hybrids, which offer some classes online and others on-campus. These programs have extensive clinical requirements involving internships and practicum hours, meaning degrees cannot be earned totally through online study. These doctoral programs can be completed in as little as three years of full-time study or as long as seven years.

Students learn about the techniques of clinical psychology such as diagnostic interviewing, psychological testing and treatment planning. Other courses cover personality assessment in adults and children, case formulation and assessing the effectiveness of treatment. Students practice their skills and gain experience during internships and clinical practica at treatment facilities.

All states require that clinical psychologists be licensed. Requirements usually include a doctorate in psychology, internship, experience and passing a competency exam, but requirements vary by state. Students should make sure that any online doctoral program they are considering meets their state's licensing requirements.

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Doctor of Psychology

Clinical psychologists work with a wide range of patients, such as children, adults, families and individuals, to help them adjust and adapt to aggravating and uncomfortable emotional issues. Doctoral students specializing in clinical psychology practice treating psychological and behavioral problems with detection, early intervention and behavior modification. Advanced training prepares graduates to practice clinical psychology in a number of settings, such as healthcare centers, inpatient psychiatric units and private practices.

Interested students need to have at least a bachelor's degree; some programs also require a master's degree in psychology or a related field. A doctorate in clinical psychology is generally considered a prerequisite for practicing as a clinical psychologist. Some states may require licensing from the American Psychological Association (www.apa.org), which may or may not recognize degree programs from certain online academic institutions.

Program Information and Requirements

A distance-learning doctoral program in clinical psychology is available fully online or in hybrid format, which merges online instruction with on-site residencies, a component that may be required for licensure. Part-time students can generally complete a doctoral program in about seven years. Instructors combine traditional text with online methods, such as audio and video presentations, chatrooms and discussion forums. Course management systems, like Blackboard, allow students to manage their homework and class materials online.

Distance learning requires access to a computer with Internet connectivity. Students communicate with instructors and classmates via e-mail, so they need an active account.

Course Topics

Coursework in psychopathology and personality set the clinical psychology concentration apart from other psychology areas. Doctoral candidates split their time between classroom instruction, dissertation research and clinical study. The program culminates in a dissertation and examinations.

Psychology of Personality

Through research study, students explore theories of personality development. They discuss major aspects of personality differences, such as biological, cognitive, psychoanalytic, humanistic, existential, gender and cultural. The course highlights the theme of diversity.

Basics of Human Motivation

This course looks at historical and contemporary theories of motivation from all aspects, including physiological, psychological and social, and how they can be applied to personal, professional and social issues. Instructors cover moral and ethical influences, decision making and problem solving as some of the topics.

Basics of Psychological Tests and Assessments

Students get a comprehensive overview of the various psychological tests and tools used in clinical, educational and organizational settings. They learn about specific test issues, such as standardization, test score interpretation and test development.


Career Information

All states require practicing clinical psychologists to earn a license, which involves holding a doctorate and passing exams. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that job growth for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists would increase by 20% between 2014 and 2024. (www.bls.gov). Individuals with a doctorate are also eligible to teach at colleges or universities. Clinical psychologists don't generally prescribe medications, but they work with medical doctors to determine if medication is needed or might be beneficial. In May 2015, the BLS reported that the mean annual wage for clinical, counseling and school psychologists was $76,040.

Students who would like to earn an online degree in clinical psychology can obtain a doctorate degree completely online or in a hybrid format with clinical requirements. Courses that students will study in this degree include psychology of personality and basics of personality.

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