Best Online Clinical Psychology Programs
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Clinical psychologists provide direct care to patients living with mental health disorders, including addiction, anxiety, and depression. The demand for clinical and counseling psychologists has increased since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
A bachelor's in clinical psychology prepares graduates for entry-level work and to pursue a master's or doctoral degree. Online clinical psychology programs may offer accelerated schedules, potentially lowering completion times to under four years. Online programs may also offer set or in-state tuition rates.
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Bachelor's in clinical psychology graduates qualify for entry-level jobs in school and career counseling, correctional treatment, and community services. These careers offered median salaries between $60,000 and $74,000 per year, according to May 2021 BLS data. Graduates can earn more than $101,000 per year as healthcare managers as of May 2021.
The BLS states that graduates of an online clinical psychology program can become a psychiatric aide or technician to gain field experience while working toward a higher degree. A bachelor's in clinical psychology lays the groundwork for students to pursue a master's or doctoral degree and licensure to become practicing clinical psychologists.
Keep reading to learn more about the best online bachelor's in clinical psychology programs and see how you can pursue a career in the field.
What Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Clinical Psychology Program?
A bachelor's in clinical psychology is the first step toward a career in counseling or psychology. Schools may offer a major in clinical psychology through a bachelor of arts (BA) or bachelor of science (BS) degree. In some cases, clinical psychology is considered a concentration of a BA or BS in psychology.
Schools often offer many specializations within a clinical psychology program. Popular concentrations include school psychology, childhood development, and abnormal psychology. Students may also choose to pursue field experience in a particular concentration.
A practicum or internship is a key component of an online bachelor's degree in clinical psychology. Students can satisfy core coursework online while meeting the in-person field requirements locally. Graduates are prepared to continue accumulating field hours as a requirement of both master's and doctoral clinical psychology degrees.
A traditional bachelor's in clinical psychology takes four years to complete. However, some full-time, accelerated programs offer the same coursework online that students can finish in three years. Most bachelor's degrees require 120 credits to graduate. But some schools accept transfer credits for psychology prerequisites and other prior experience.
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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Bachelor's in Clinical Psychology Program?
Introduction to Counseling
As a cornerstone of clinical psychology, counseling skills are critical to a successful practice. This course emphasizes developing a supportive relationship with patients through counseling. Topics cover active listening, interviewing techniques, and the art of persuasion.
Theory of Psychology
Students learn the history of major psychological theories and clinical methodologies in this course. Many programs emphasize contemporary theory and the practice of psychology. Most courses incorporate a writing-intensive component and may serve as a capstone.
Behavioral neuroscience explores psychology from a biological and physiological perspective. Students learn how the development and function of neurons affect behaviors like learning, sleeping, and reacting to stress. Coursework also details how psychopathologies impact neural systems.
Clinical psychologists must know a variety of psychopathologies and mental conditions, including their root causes and effective treatments. Common subjects include anxiety, depression, and sleep and eating disorders.
Clinical Psychology Practicum
Students working toward becoming clinical psychologists must complete a practicum to gain hands-on field experience involving direct patient care. The length and location of the internship or practicum vary by program. However, most span 9-12 months or 2-3 semesters.
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What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Bachelor's in Clinical Psychology Program?
Schools maintain their own admission policies for online clinical psychology programs. Many clinical psychology programs request the same materials but are highly selective in choosing applicants. When applying, students should anticipate admission deadlines and consider a school's reputation, admission requirements, and acceptance rates.
Students can apply for an online bachelor's in clinical psychology through a convenient platform like the Common App, which streamlines the application process. The application form verifies basic personal information, including GPA, state of residence, and financial aid eligibility.
While many online programs have adopted test-optional policies, SAT or ACT scores are commonly required for admission into a bachelor's in clinical psychology. Of the schools that request standardized test scores, most require entrance exams from within the last five years. Some programs may also require extra placement exams for admission consideration.
Letters of Recommendation
Admissions officers request letters of recommendation for more insight into a student's academic potential and personal disposition. These qualities are especially critical for aspiring clinical psychologists. Undergraduate applicants may request recommendation letters from high school teachers, mentors, coaches, or counselors. They should give sources at least three weeks to draft and send their letters.
College essays allow students to express their goals and interests in their words. Even essay-optional programs recommend that applicants take advantage of the chance to showcase their ideas and writing skills. This requirement also prepares students for the writing-intensive curriculum of a bachelor's in clinical psychology.
Schools require transcripts alongside a student's application. While programs vary, most clinical psychology programs require students to hold a minimum 3.0-3.2 GPA. Some programs may even include minimum class rank requirements. A bachelor's in clinical psychology may accept transfer credits for college psychology prerequisites already taken.
What Can I Do With an Online Bachelor's in Clinical Psychology Degree?
Graduates of an online bachelor's in clinical psychology can pursue entry-level work in counseling, community service management, and healthcare administration. They can also gain experience while earning a graduate degree, which is the minimum education requirement for licensed clinical psychologists.
Bachelor's degree-holders commonly start work as psychiatric technicians or aides while furthering their education in clinical psychology. Others enter the fields of correctional treatment advising, school or career counseling, or community service management. These positions offered median annual salaries between $36,000 and $74,000 in 2021, according to the BLS.
Among the most lucrative entry-level clinical psychology jobs are medical and health services managers. The BLS projects these jobs to grow by 32% from 2020-2030 and reports that they earned median salaries of more than $101,000 in 2021. Bachelor's degree graduates who go on to earn a master's or doctoral degree and state licensure can earn more than $80,000 a year as clinical psychologists.
Explore the best online clinical psychology programs. Learn more about clinical psychology careers.
Psychiatric Aides and Technicians
These professionals work alongside clinical psychologists providing direct patient care. Aides and technicians perform many of the same tasks, including monitoring patients' behavior and assisting patients in their daily routines. However, technicians may also administer medications under a physician's orders, take vital signs, and maintain intake or discharge records.
Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $36,230
Correctional Treatment Specialist
Also known as case managers or case counselors, correctional treatment specialists help parolees and probationers seek treatment to reintegrate into society after imprisonment. They implement psychological evaluation techniques to develop personalized rehabilitation plans. These plans may include mental health or substance misuse treatment, housing, and job training.
Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $60,250
Also called medical or health services managers, these professionals coordinate and supervise all services provided through hospitals, clinics, and treatment facilities. They need administrative experience, versatile clinical expertise, and knowledge of the latest psychological trends and treatments. Some healthcare administrators need a master's degree for senior roles.
Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $101,340
School or Career Counselor
School counselors provide support for students experiencing academic, social, or emotional issues. They specialize in treating students in elementary, middle, or high school. Career counselors advise students and other aspiring professionals on career options and training. Aspiring school or career counselors can gain experience while pursuing a master's degree.
Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $60,510
Social and Community Service Manager
Social and community service managers work with nonprofits or other service organizations to raise awareness for community programs. Clinical psychology training prepares these professionals to build trust in their community and work with citizens directly to understand the need for social and psychological services.
Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $74,000
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Since most clinical psychology fields require practitioners to hold a doctoral degree, most bachelor's in clinical psychology graduates continue their education. Schools commonly offer condensed programs that confer both bachelor's and master's degrees or enable bachelor's degree-holders to directly enroll in a Ph.D. in psychology or Psy. D. Some specializations require only a master's degree in psychology.
Professionals also need a state-issued license to practice clinical psychology. While clinical psychologist licensure is required in all 50 states, individual regulations vary. Most states require psychologists to hold a doctorate, pass a licensing exam, complete an internship, and possess 1-2 years of supervised field experience.
How Do I Choose an Online Bachelor's in Clinical Psychology Program?
The cost of earning an online bachelor's in clinical psychology varies by factors like where the school is located, its reputation, and whether it assigns in- or out-of-state tuition rates. Many online programs offer in-state tuition for all learners, which may help students significantly cut costs. Students may also need to consider the expenses involved in completing their practicum, a common requirement of clinical psychology programs.
Schools typically choose to deliver courses exclusively through live (synchronous) or pre-recorded (asynchronous) means. Although, some schools offer combination delivery methods or allow students to choose their preference. Some online programs may also offer accelerated programs or part-time schedules.
Even though students can complete their core courses online, location is important for students who must complete a practicum. Learners may choose to enroll in an online program near their desired internship facility or organization. Furthermore, students may prefer to stay near campus to use amenities like the library or labs.
Students should only consider an accredited college or university as their final choice. Accredited schools complete the rigorous process outlined by the U.S. Department of Education to demonstrate their excellence among higher education institutions. While agencies do not accredit bachelor-level programs, the American Psychological Association provides accreditation to select doctoral programs, including clinical psychology.
Student support is especially critical in an online bachelor's in clinical psychology. Online students not only need comprehensive technical and technology support but also guidance through the in-person components of this degree. In addition, career services and internship counseling are key for this program. Mentorship opportunities can also help boost student success in an online degree.
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How We Rank Schools
Each year, the BestColleges Ranking Team evaluates hundreds of programs to produce our annual Best Online Bachelor's in Clinical Psychology ranking. In 2022, the team sourced the most recent data available from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Navigator, both of which are hosted by the National Center for Education Statistics. We identified five schools that qualify for our ranking list based on the following criteria.
- Each school must be an accredited public or private, nonprofit institution.
- Must offer an online Bachelor's degree program in the given subject.
- Must submit an annual report to the National Center for Education Statistics.
To ensure the accuracy and quality of our final ranked list, the ranking team reviewed each qualifying school to ensure it met the criteria for our ranking, and then applied our proprietary ranking methodology to identify the best schools offering this program in the nation. Each school is ranked based on a formula measuring admissions rate, enrollment rate, full-time retention rate, and graduation rate. Review our Editorial Policy and Standards to learn more about the standards we uphold.
Popular Online Clinical Psychology Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Clinical Psychology Programs
Is a bachelor's in clinical psychology worth it?
Yes. A bachelor's in clinical psychology prepares graduates for entry-level psychology assistant and counseling jobs. It also helps boost their qualifications for a master's degree, making the degree worth it for many.
An online bachelor's in clinical psychology can offer faster completion times and lower tuition than a traditional degree. Furthermore, this program enables students to satisfy basic coursework online while focusing on building field experience through a practicum.
What can I do with a bachelor's in clinical psychology?
Graduates of a bachelor's in clinical psychology can build practical experience as assistants or aides of clinical psychologists. They may also pursue entry-level positions in counseling, community service management, or healthcare administration.
Many students work in counseling while leveling up to a doctoral degree, which is the minimum education requirement for most clinical psychology specializations. Industrial/organizational psychologists, school psychologists, and community college professors may require only a master's degree.
Are clinical psychology majors in demand?
Yes. According to the BLS, clinical psychologists are in demand due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health and wellness. The BLS projects psychologist jobs to grow 8% from 2020-2030, which is about as fast as the average growth rate of 8% for all occupations. This amounts to an average of 13,400 openings each year in that time span.
How much money can I make with a bachelor's in clinical psychology?
Graduates of a bachelor's in clinical psychology can earn $36,000-$102,000 in a variety of nonclinical, entry-level positions in counseling, healthcare, and community services.
According to May 2021 BLS data, psychiatric aides and technicians earn a median annual salary of $36,230. Correctional treatment specialists, school and career counselors, and social and community service managers earned a median of $60,250, $60,510, and $74,000, respectively, per year as of 2021.
What are the highest-paying jobs with a bachelor's in clinical psychology?
Healthcare administrators, also known as medical and health services managers, earned one of the highest entry-level salaries in 2021. That year, they made a median salary of $101,340, as per the BLS. Professionals who go on to earn a doctorate and licensure can earn a median salary of $81,040 a year as practicing clinical psychologists.
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