Diploma programs in clinical psychology, both traditional or online options, aren't common. However, aspiring clinical psychologists can pursue distance learning programs that result in M.S. (Master of Science) and Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) degrees in clinical psychology or counseling psychology. It's important to note that the master's is typically not a terminal degree in the field of clinical psychology, where the doctorate is standard.
Many distance learning programs offer hybrid models: students complete didactic courses online and extensive supervised sessions in-person. Students may view and participate in online lectures and seminars synchronously with fellow students or asynchronously download class materials, upload assignments and contribute to class discussion forums. Courses are offered fully online but may require in-person orientation. Other in-person requirements may include an internship and practicum.
Clinical psychology involves integrating research, theory and practice to help promote personal development and social, behavioral, emotional and psychological functioning. Distance learning clinical psychology programs at the graduate level typically include the topics listed below:
- Addictive disorders
- Group psychotherapy
- Marriage and family counseling
- Personality and psychology
- Practicum in counseling
- Research methods in psychology
- Social psychology
Online clinical psychology programs typically require students to participate in supervised psychotherapy sessions and successfully submit and defend capstone projects examining original research questions. Online master's degree programs may prepare students to continue on to a doctoral program. Meanwhile, online doctoral clinical psychology degree programs prepare students for licensure exams in the states where the schools physically exist. Out-of-state students may need to meet different requirements prior to gaining licenses to practice clinical psychology.
Graduates work in the fields of counseling, psychotherapy and research. Clinical psychologists, who typically need a doctorate, assess patients' psychological health and intervene with psychotherapy designed to improve patients' health and satisfaction. Some clinical psychologists work in research organizations and academic institutions where they conduct research and publish the results of their studies.
Students who are interested in clinical psychology can earn either a master's or doctorate if they meet the right requirements. Coursework can include addictive disorders, group psychotherapy, and social psychology.