In today’s connected world, there are ample opportunities to advance your education without ever stepping foot on a college campus. Instead, you can get your degree from the comfort of your home, on your own schedule, and still get a high-quality education.
At one point, online education was really just for associate’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees, diplomas, and certificates. But now, you can get an advanced degree online, including graduate degrees in educational and clinical psychology.
Better still, many colleges and universities no longer have the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) requirement. This means you can apply to master’s in educational and clinical psychology programs knowing that the admission decision is based more on your academic merits and not your performance on a standardized test.
Let’s take a look at a few common questions about online master’s degrees in this field.
What Do You Learn in a Master’s Educational Psychology Program?
Educational psychologists study the processes of education. Many educational psychologists work in K-12 settings, but they can find employment in any setting in which learning occurs, like trade schools, colleges, and even in business settings.
Since educational psychologists focus on the components of learning, master’s degree programs also focus on these elements. For example, a typical educational psychology master’s program might include courses like:
- Learning theory – This course focuses on the major theories of human learning, such as social constructivism, behaviorism, and cognitive constructivism, and how each theory explains information acquisition.
- Cognitive psychology – Cognitive psychology is the study of human thought and related processes. This course explores topics such as memory, motivation, and decision-making. It also examines attention, problem-solving, and language acquisition, to name a few.
- Educational technology and instructional design – Educational psychology students learn to use different technologies and instructional tools to help students learn and retain information.
The above is not a complete list of the courses you might take in an educational psychology graduate program, but it gives you an idea of the broad topics you’ll study.
What Do You Learn in a Master’s Clinical Psychology Program?
A clinical psychologist works with clients to address psychological, emotional, and behavioral problems. This is often done in a one-on-one or group setting in which the psychologist uses therapeutic techniques to bring about positive change. Clinical psychology is practiced in many settings, too, from schools to hospitals to mental health clinics.
Given what clinical psychologists do in practice, preparatory degree programs focus on learning psychological theories and techniques. A few common courses you might take in a clinical psychology master’s program include:
- Counseling theory – This course focuses on classic and modern theories of clinical psychology practice. This might include psychoanalysis, solution-focused therapy, and behaviorism, to name a few. Likewise, this course includes discussions of how major counseling theories are applied and the types of psychological issues they’re best suited to treat.
- Psychopathology – Helping people with psychological issues requires an understanding of how mental health disorders develop in the first place. This class takes a look at the etiology, diagnosis, and treatment of common disorders, usually within the context of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (which is currently in its fifth edition).
- Research methods and statistics – Many clinical psychology graduate programs focus on psychological research in preparation for doctoral studies. Courses in research methods and statistics help you develop the skills needed to conduct effective research in an ethical manner.
Are There Any Master’s in Educational or Clinical Psychology Programs Without GRE?
Some programs in clinical psychology and educational psychology don’t require a GRE. The number of these programs is growing every year, though.
As you search for a graduate program in one of these fields, you will find that program information pages on school websites list the specific admissions requirements. That’s where you’ll find details regarding the GRE and if it’s required or not.
To help you begin your search, here are a few master’s programs that do not require the GRE:
- ‘M.A. in Psychology, Online Teaching and Learning Concentration’ from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology
- ‘M.S. in Educational Psychology’ from Walden University
- ‘M.A. in Clinical Psychology’ from Pepperdine University
- ‘M.S. in Counseling / Clinical Mental Health Counseling’ from the University of Phoenix
Are Online Degrees in Psychology Respectable?
In short, yes! Online programs are typically mirror images of on-campus programs. You will study the same concepts, read the same texts, and have the same professors as on-campus students. In fact, the majority of schools don’t distinguish whether a degree was earned in person or online on the diploma.
The school you attend should be accredited to ensure you get a high-quality education (whether online or in person). Accreditation is a voluntary process in which colleges meet strict standards of academic excellence. Schools can be nationally accredited or regionally accredited, the latter of which is more difficult to get, and is therefore more respected.
When you search for online graduate degrees in psychology, look for each school’s accreditation. If the school is regionally accredited, the online program will be of very high quality.
Are Psychology Degrees Without GRE Any Different Than Degrees With GRE?
Apart from differing requirements for the GRE, these programs really don’t have any differences. You will study the same topics, learn the same techniques, and develop the skills needed to apply those techniques whether the program you choose requires the GRE or not.
Not only is the course of study the same between these two types of programs, but the admissions process is often highly similar as well. Programs that require the GRE may also look at factors such as:
- Undergraduate GPA (usually 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, or higher)
- Letters of recommendation from undergraduate professors
- Relevant academic or research experience
- Personal statement or essay
In some cases, graduate psychology programs also require a personal interview with an admissions committee, which is usually comprised of faculty members from the psychology department.
However, the same requirements are often not found in non-GRE graduate programs.
Can You Skip Master’s in Psychology?
There are two ways to look at this question:
- Is a bachelor’s in psychology enough?
- Can you get a doctorate in psychology without first getting a master’s degree?
Regarding a bachelor’s degree, depending on your career goals, an undergraduate degree in psychology might be enough. For example, you might work as a probation officer, a substance abuse technician, or a psychiatric technician with a bachelor’s degree in this field. However, bachelor’s-level jobs tend to pay less than those requiring an advanced degree.
If you want to get a doctorate, but don’t already have a master’s degree, you might be able to skip your master’s degree. Some programs – not many, though – allow you to get your master’s degree as part of the doctoral program. In some cases, these programs are accelerated, meaning, you can complete both degrees faster than if you get them separately.
Ultimately, skipping a master’s degree requires that you do your due diligence. Determine what level of education you need for your career goals, then pursue a relevant degree to attain your goals.