APA-Approved Online Schools with Clinical Psychology Programs

Oct 20, 2021

Learn about important considerations when selecting an online APA-approved clinical psychology program online. Keep reading to get an overview of the program options, clinical requirements, and common topics offered for the field of study.

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Selecting APA Approved Programs

Program Field Clinical psychology
Program Levels Doctoral degrees, internships and residencies
Format Hybrid (select online coursework only) - APA does not approve any fully online programs
In-Person Requirements At least 1 year as a full-time resident on campus

There are many schools in the United States that offer psychology graduate programs, but students looking for online APA-approved clinical psychology schools must make their decision based on several key factors. The American Psychological Association (APA) approval is reserved for traditional, on-campus psychology programs. It's important to note that, as of 2016, the APA did not approve a fully online degree in clinical psychology programs. However, students can find some APA-approved institutions that offer a few courses online.

APA Approval Requirements

The APA only approves doctoral degrees, internships and residencies, and the conditions for program approval prohibit fully online clinical psychology programs from gaining APA acceptance. There are no APA accredited online programs. 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.

Program Availability

Although fully online clinical psychology 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 online clinical psychology PhD programs are rare due to the significant face-to-face clinical training required, 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 when completing a clinical psychology degree 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
  • Ethics
  • Cognition
  • 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. Prior to a doctorate degree, students may be interested in graduate level studies, such as a masters in clinical psychology online program. The APA only accredits doctoral programs and requires students to spend two or three years on campus and complete a full-time residency.

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