It is true that the convenience of an online education can be quite alluring for many students, especially older students and those who work full-time. In today’s world, you can find a variety of traditional and fully-online colleges and universities that offer doctoral psychology degrees (Ph.D.). If you are contemplating earning an online doctoral degree in psychology, there are a number of factors you should consider before enrolling. Some of the questions that you should think about include: “Will a doctoral degree help me achieve my career goals?” and “Do I need to be licensed and/or certified to accomplish those goals?”
Find a Legitimate Online Doctoral Psychology Program
There are a couple of things that you must look for in order to find an accredited online doctoral psychology program. First, do not be tricked by fraudulent diploma mills. It may be beneficial for you to research diploma mills so that you are not enticed by their promises of quick and easy doctoral degrees. Most doctoral degrees take between four and seven years to complete so if an online “college” or “university” claims that you can graduate with a doctoral degree in psychology in as little as a year or two, it is duplicitous.
The best way to make sure that the doctoral program you are looking at is legitimate is to check for accreditation. In order for an educational intuition to receive accreditation, it must follow specific quality standards and meet certain educational requirements. You want to enroll in an online program that is accredited by 1 of six regional accrediting organizations such as: the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and/or the United States Department of Education.
Schools That Offer Online Psychology Ph.D. Programs
Capella University: Capella University offers doctoral degrees (Psy.D. and Ph.D.) in clinical psychology, educational psychology and industrial/organizational psychology. Each program consists of 120 credit hours. The best thing about Capella is that it is a fully-online accredited educational institution. This university even allows you to “try out” a free online course before officially enrolling in a doctoral program. Each course consists of 5 credit hours.
In 2010, tuition was approximately $460.00 per credit hour. Each summer Capella holds a week long intensive residency. This residency is held in different states (Atlanta, Chicago, Florida, etc.). The university is not only accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, it is also a valued member of the North Central Accreditation. Contact information: Harold Abel School of Psychology, Capella Tower, 225 South 6th Street, 9th Floor, Minneapolis, Minneapolis 55402, 1-888-227-2736, capellauniversity.edu
Argosy University: Argosy University provides you with an opportunity to earn a Ph.D. Education and Counseling psychology online. This program typically attracts older (non-traditional) students who work full-time and who prefer the convenience of pursuing a doctoral degree in the comfort of their home. As an Argosy online psychology doctoral student, you will be required to complete two or more thee (3) day residencies to graduate. You will also be required to complete 60 credit hours of psychology-related coursework.
Furthermore, you will be required to complete a research-based psychology-related dissertation. Argosy’s online doctoral psychology program is also accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. In addition, it is a member of the North Central Accreditation. Contact information: Argosy University, 225 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 1300, Chicago, IL 60601, 1-800-377-0617, online.argosy.edu
Walden University: Walden University is another accredited fully-online educational institution. This online university offers a variety of online doctoral (Ph.D.) psychology programs (counseling, general, clinical, health and organizational psychology). Walden’s online clinical and counseling psychology doctoral programs consist of 160 credit hours. It is important to note, however, that health, general and organizational psychology doctoral programs consist of 121 hours instead of 160 credit hours.
As a Walden University student you are required to complete at least 500 hours of residency training at one or more of Walden’s satellite locations. These residencies give you an opportunity to meet and talk with psychology professors in a traditional college setting. Moreover, you are required to successfully complete a practicum, internship and dissertation.
Walden’s clinical psychology program is not only accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, it is also an esteemed member of North Central Accreditation. Contact information: Walden University, 650 South Exeter Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21202, 1-866-492-5336, waldenu.edu
Steps to Getting a Ph.D. in Psychology Online
- Research a variety of online doctoral programs: As online learning becomes more and more popular, there will be an increase in the number and types of degree programs offered online. It is important to note, at this time, not all educational institutions offer online Ph.D. doctoral programs, although psychology doctoral programs tend to be offered at many colleges and universities.
- Network: In order to get the most out of your program, you will need to network with other doctoral students, work with college instructors from all parts of the world and actively participate in online discussions, study groups and online teams.
- Practice self-discipline: Doctoral psychology programs, in general can be quite challenging, especially when they are offered online. To successfully obtain a Ph.D. in psychology online, you will need to be self-disciplined and driven. You will also need good computer skills and work best independently. As an online student, it will be essential that you log into your online classes several times a week, maintain consistent study hours, complete all assignments by their deadlines and set realistic, long-term goals.
- Ask for a mentor: A disadvantage of online education is the ability to directly connect with your peers and the college instructor. In order to be successful, you will need to develop online relationships with your teacher and classmates. In addition, it may be beneficial for you to ask for a mentor (if the school does not assign them) who shares your professional and research interests. This individual will be able to provide professional references, evaluate and comment on your work and offer valuable tips and suggestions.
- Complete degree requirements: To obtain an online psychology Ph.D., you will need to complete a specific number or credit hours, pass specific online courses and comprehensive exams and complete a research-based psychology dissertation. It is important to note that some degree programs also require clinical experience and completion of collaborative online doctoral psychology programs also require clinical internships in your state.
References and Further Readings