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Best Online Master’s Degrees in: Clinical Psychology

Editor’s Picks: Online Schools for Clinical Psychology

Value

The best online master’s degree in clinical psychology is at Walden University. This private, primarily distance education institution based in Minneapolis offers students well-rounded academic programs taught by experienced faculty members. With flexible degree tracks and strong financial aid awards, working adults are able to pursue further educational opportunities through Walden that may not have otherwise been possible. All programs are designed to focus on both theoretical and practical education, ensuring students are prepared for success as working professionals in their field. With all this considered, Walden University was awarded the top spot in this category.

Flexibility

Capella University was chosen as the top online master’s degree in clinical psychology for flexibility. All online classes at Capella are delivered in an asynchronous format. This means students do not have a specific time they must log in to the virtual platform to attend class. Instead, they can log in at any time, access assignments and reading materials, turn in work, and participate in discussion boards as fits with their personal and work schedule. Some course work can also be completed on tablet computers and mobile devices for added flexibility. For these reasons, Capella was selected as the best school in this area.

Financial Support
Capella University was also recognized as the best online master’s degree in clinical psychology for financial support. Federal financial aid, private loans, scholarships, and grant aid are all possible options for eligible Capella students. According to figures reported by the National Center for Education Statistics, 97% of students received some grant or scholarship aid for the 2010-2011 school year. In addition, approximately 84% of students took out federal students loans to help manage the cost of continued education. In 2009, the student loan default rate remained relatively low at 6.7%, demonstrating manageable repayment terms for the majority of graduates.

Student Engagement

The award for best online master’s degree in clinical psychology for student engagement was given to Walden University. A number of Walden’s online graduate programs earned recognition from U.S. News & World Report for their levels of student engagement and accreditation. A highly interactive virtual learning environment, smaller class sizes, and experienced instructors all help to distinguish Walden in this category. In addition, students can interact with their peers directly via chat, video conferencing, or locally organized study groups.

Faculty Credentials

Walden University was selected as the top online master’s degree in clinical psychology for faculty credentials. U.S. News & World Report noted the school’s strong reputation in this category as part of their online graduate program rankings. The average instructor at Walden has several years of experience working with online students. In addition, the school places a great deal of importance on selecting professors who are both professionally and academically accomplished. This helps to ensure students receive practical instruction in their field along with learning theoretical concepts. With all this in mind, Walden ranked at the top of our list for faculty credentials.

New Online Student Orientation

The top online master’s degree in clinical psychology for new online student orientation is Capella University. Prospective students have the opportunity to complete a free one week mini-course before committing to enrollment. This will help students become familiar with the online learning platform and better understand what is expected of them as distance learners. Students can also take single courses at Capella to test out the online curriculum before enrolling in a full degree program. These options help to place Capella at the top of our list for this category.

Prior Learning Options

 

Walden University was awarded the title of best online master’s degree in clinical psychology for prior learning options. Students looking to get a head start on their degree plan may be able to transfer credits from another accredited college or university if they took the classes within the past 10 years and earned a grade of B or higher. In addition, students can potentially earn credit by portfolio review, certification, or exam. This may allow working adults to apply some of their real-world experience toward their degree. With all these options available, Walden was chosen as the top school for this area.

Explore a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology

A master’s degree in clinical psychology may provide course work, clinical training, and research opportunities to train graduate students for work in cognitive-behavior therapy, clinical assessment, psychopathology and treatment, health psychology, and behavioral medicine. Clinical psychologists require communication and people skills, as well as observation and analytical skills to examine data collected and draw conclusions from that data. Most clinical psychologists require a degree at the doctoral level, either by completing a Ph.D. in psychology or a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree.

Class Curriculum

A master’s degree in clinical psychology will require course work in cognitive, experimental, personality, developmental, social, and clinical psychology. Students will also require psychobiological course work in the genetic, evolutionary, physiological, pharmacological, and experiential factors that affect behavior. Advanced course work may include psychological statistics and research methods, neuroscience, and cognitive psychology. Students may study specific psychobiological factors of fear, anxiety, depression, stress, sleep, dreams, sex, and aging. The following are a few examples of specific courses a master’s degree in clinical psychology may offer:

  • Psychological Statistics and Research Methods. Psychological statistics covers statistical procedures and their application to research and practice in multiple areas of psychology. Research Methods, which may be offered in a separate survey, covers the research methods and critical analysis in psychology through statistical design, and experimental and nonexperimental research methods.
  • Behavioral Neuroscience. Behavioral neuroscience covers the nervous system anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology. Students may expect corresponding laboratory course work and lecture discussing the effects of neuroscience on behavior.
  • Cognitive Psychology. Cognitive psychology studies how verbal and nonverbal information is acquired, represented, manipulated and used. Perception, attention, imagery, memory, representation of knowledge, language, action, decision making, and thinking due to verbal and nonverbal information is explored.

Students may be required to complete a thesis throughout their graduate degree studies in clinical psychology. Graduate students may expect assignments and reading in related and current psychological research studies and theory, and to participate in research within their departments. Most clinical psychology programs will require an internship for professional development.

Building a Career

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), psychologists had a median pay of $68,640 per year in 2010. Employment for psychologists is expected to increase by 22% between 2010 and 2020. Factor like employer, area, experience, and position may affect wages and employment opportunities. For instance, the median annual wage for clinical psychologists in 2010 was $66,810.

Most states require those practicing using the title of “psychologist” to be licensed or certified. Most clinical and counseling psychologists need a doctorate in psychology, internship experience, and at least one to two years of professional experience. Licensure also requires passing the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology. Professional experience may be obtained through predoctoral or postdoctoral supervised experience or a residency program. Some may also require further supervised internship experience.

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