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Clinical Psychology Masters Degree Through Distance Learning

Clinical psychology master's degree programs are available in a distance learning format where students complete virtual courses and attend online lectures. Students study psychological theories and learn the foundations of the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. Graduates may go on to a doctoral program that prepares them for state licensure as clinical psychologists.

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Distance Learning Master's Degree Programs in Clinical Psychology

Clinical psychology is a branch of psychology that focuses on the study of the nature, causes and treatment of mental illnesses. Master's degree programs in clinical psychology typically take two years of full-time enrollment or three years of part-time enrollment to complete. The majority of distance learning courses are asynchronous, but students are generally required to access their courses weekly in order to keep pace with the curriculum schedule.

Common Requirements

Many distance learning master's programs in clinical psychology also require students to attend approximately three week-long residencies on campus. These week-long programs give students the benefits of in-class instruction, and students typically begin certain courses during residencies and complete them online. Residencies also allow students to meet with faculty members and staff, discuss licensing, clinical training and research requirements, ask questions and network with other students. Most clinical psychology master's programs also require students to conduct a research project and complete a master's thesis.

Common Courses

The clinical psychology curricula for both online and traditional on-campus master's programs generally cover the following topics:

  • Psychopathology
  • Psychopharmacology
  • Life span development
  • Clinical and diagnostic skills
  • Assessment and intervention
  • Professional ethics
  • Diversity and multicultural issues
  • Research methods

In addition to online courses, clinical psychology master's students must complete supervised practica or internships. Students are placed at practicum sites and supervised by faculty members online. Virtual practicum supervision is accomplished through scheduled group and one-on-one online meetings between faculty and students. In order to participate in these virtual meetings, students must have access to a computer, a broadband Internet connection, a webcam and the appropriate software.

Career Opportunities

Many graduates of online master's programs in clinical psychology choose to pursue doctoral degrees in clinical psychology, after which they qualify for licensure as clinical psychologists. Master's degree holders who meet state and national licensure requirements may pursue careers in:

  • Licensed professional counseling
  • Marriage and family therapy
  • Applied behavior analysis
  • Substance abuse counseling

According to projections data prepared by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2006, employment of psychologists and counselors is expected to increase by 15% and 21%, respectively, between 2006 and 2016 (www.bls.gov). Counselors and psychologists who work as private practitioners typically earn the highest income.

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