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Accredited Online Schools in Clinical Psychology

Updated on May 5, 2015

Specialists are in Demand

Obtaining your license in clinical psychology won't be enough in today's job market. Specializing is important in this field, which is accomplished by completion of a post-doctorate residency in an area such as clinical, forensic or cognitive psychology. Other specialties include organizational, school and health psychology.

Clinical psychologists who specialize do have to complete a lot of school, however it does pay well in the end. As of 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that those completing specialist degrees can command some of the highest salaries in the field. The job outlook is best for psychologists with a doctorate in school psychology or some other type of specialist degree. Those with doctorates or post-doctorate work under their belts will have the competitive edge in the job market.

See: How Do I Become a Clinical Neuropsychologist?

*A Word About Accreditation in the United States

The American Psychological Association (APA) is the primary accrediting organization for doctorate programs in psychology in the United States. The APA does not accredit undergraduate or master's degree programs, however. Regional associations accredit the institutions as a whole, such as the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. Licensing of psychologists is regulated by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards.

Earn Your PhD or PsyD in Clinical Psychology Online

Clinical psychologists must earn a Ph.D. or PsyD degree in clinical psychology and pass a state licensing examination in order to practice. While some states require completing a clinical psychology program accredited by the American Psychological Association, not all states do. It is possible to complete all the licensing requirements through enrolling in an online clinical psychology school. Check state psychology boards as requirements, such as those regarding accreditation vary. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, clinical psychologists comprise the largest specialty in psychology.

Fielding Graduate University

Fielding University offers a Ph.D. in clinical psychology utilizing a distributed learning model. Distributed learning combines online learning and cohort group meetings with two yearly national sessions. Students also attend research and clinical sessions held in various parts of the U.S. The PhD program provides several specializations: forensic psychology, health psychology, neuropsychology, parent-infant mental health and violence prevention and control.

Fielding is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). The PhD program is also accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). Fielding has the only distance learning psychology program with both regional and APA accreditation. Students have up to 10 years to complete the program.

Fielding Graduate University School of Psychology

2112 Santa Barbara Street Santa Barbara, CA 93105

800-340-1099 ext.4035

Saybrook University

Saybrook University Graduate College of Psychology and Humanistic Studies offers both the PhD and PsyD in clinical psychology. While the PhD program focuses more upon research, the PsyD places emphasis on clinical application and offers students a choice of specialization. PsyD specialization areas include Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Adolescence and Integrative Health.

Accredited by the Senior Colleges and University Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Saybrook University’s PhD program meets licensure requirements for licensure in the state of California and other states not requiring additional accreditation. Saybrook University is not accredited by the American Psychological Association, however.

Saybrook University

741 Front Street, 3rd Floor San Francisco, CA 94111


Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, Palo Alto University

Pacific Graduate School of Psychology (PGSP) now offers an online Masters in Counseling that leads to licensing in many states. A 1-week residency is required for the entire duration of the program and offers two areas of emphasis: Mental Health Family Counseling, and Cross-Cultural Crisis in Trauma. Students may attend full or part-time. A typical course of study for this program includes Counseling Theory, Advanced Psychotherapeutic Techniques and Group Psychotherapy. PGSP is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and is approved by the California Board of Behavioral Science Examiners. Those who complete the program are eligible for licensing as Professional Clinical Counselors in California and it meets requirements of many other states and foreign countries. Candidates for licensing must complete 3,000 supervised hours post-masters. It is important for those residing in states other than California, to check with their respective boards for specific information and requirements.

Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, Palo Alto University

1791 Atrastadero Road, Palo Alto, CA 94394


Northcentral University, School of Marriage and Family Sciences

The School of Marriage and Family Sciences at Northcentral University offers several degrees at the doctorate (PhD) and one at the masters level. At the doctorate level, students may earn a PhD in Child and Adolescent Therapy, Couple Therapy, General Family Therapy, Medical Therapy, or in Therapy with Military Families. NU offers the masters in General Family Therapy. All of the programs are regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges. Northcentral University programs in the School of Marriage and Family Sciences are also accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). It is the first online MFT school that has received COAMFTE accreditation.

COAMFTE accreditation is the highest accreditation attainable in the field of family therapy at this time. It is important to note here that while you can obtain the MFT license in your state by completing the MFT program, it does not qualify you to be a licensed "psychologist." You will assume the title of "psychotherapist." This means you can work in private practice, or for an agency. Check with your local state licensing board for specific information.

Northcentral University, School of Marriage and Family Sciences

10000 E. University Drive Prescott Valley, Arizona 86314


California Southern University, School of Behavioral Sciences

California Southern University offers the PsyD in applied clinical psychology completely online. This degree permits licensing as a clinical psychologist in the state of California. A typical course of study includes psychopharmacology, advanced theories of personality, physiological psychology and psychological assessment. Fieldwork practicum hours are completed in the student's local area. Students can earn the BA, MA or MS in psychology online as well. California Southern is accredited by the Council on Higher Education and Distance Education Accrediting Commission. The PsyD program is approved by the CA Board of Psychology, but although the school is eligible, it has not received accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Completing the PsyD program at California Southern University does lead to licensing as a psychologist in the state of California.

California Southern University, School of Behavioral Sciences

930 Roosevelt, Irvine, CA 92620


PhD or PsyD?

If you're thinking about a doctoral degree in clinical psychology, you'll need the know about the Ph.D. and PsyD, as well as the differences between them. While both types of programs award the doctorate degree in clinical psychology, the Ph.D. curriculum emphasizes more research than the PsyD. Ph.D. students spend equal amounts of time between research and clinical work. PsyD students do more clinical training than research. The focus for PsyD students is assessment, diagnosis and treatment.

If your goal is more research-oriented and you want to teach at the university level, then the Ph.D. is what you need. If you desire to specialize in the treatment and learning advanced therapeutic techniques, then the PsyD will work best for you. Typical courses of study do overlap, but there are some distinct differences.

PsyD Curriculum Versus PhD Curriculum:

Advanced Statistics
Advanced Psychopathology
Advanced Research Methods
Clinical Supervision and Consult
Multivariate Statistics
Interventions with Children
Psychometric Theory
Advanced Biopsychology


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