Accreditation and Online Colleges

Going to college online can be a great start to a college career or a viable option for seniors in high school. An online academic career may even be practical for individuals looking to return to school in the midst of a demanding family life or a hectic full time job. According to All Psychology School (2011), psychology is one of the most popular areas of online education and there are many schools that offer comprehensive and accredited psychology degrees online.

As with any online college, accreditation is an important component of choosing the best online school. Without regional accreditation, the validity of the degree becomes jeopardized. Furthermore, specific accreditation may be required depending upon the area of study. Therefore, it is important for prospective students to carefully consider which psychology path they want to take.

Specifically, a career as a clinical psychologist requires at least a master’s degree and often a Ph.D from a college with American Psychological Association (APA) accreditation. Alternatively, prospective who students who could see themselves studying psychology as well social work would want ensure that their college is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Therefore, specialized accreditation is just as important as regional accreditation when considering an online school. It is both easy and important for students to directly ask about the type of accreditation a prospective college maintains.

Types of Online Psychology Degrees

There are copious amounts of psychology degrees online and finding the best one means finding an area of psychology that best fits the aspirations and personality of the student. In other words, the ‘best’ online college is the one that meets the unique needs of the student. For instance, school psychologists often deal directly with the student body of a high school, elementary school, or college.
While working within the educational system, school psychologists help students to deal with a variety of issues including behavioral problems, disabilities, emotional problems, and academic problems. Often, school psychologists collaborate with teachers and parents to promote an optimal learning environment and help students achieve the most from their education.
Alternatively, clinical psychologists work directly with individuals and apply theoretical frameworks to help them cope with a variety of psychological issues and psychiatric disorders.Clinical psychologists find themselves working in private practice, medical facilities, and academic areas.
Therefore, as varying disciplines of psychology have different degree requirements and opportunities it may be more beneficial to decide upon a career path before deciding upon a college or university.
Ultimately, there are is a vast amount of sub-disciplines of psychology that are offered through distance or online education. An example of some prominent areas of online psychology education includes:

  • School Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Industrial-Organizational Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Forensic Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Educational Psychology
  • Online and Distance Schools


Furthermore, a variety of online and distance colleges offer degrees in psychology varying from an associate’s to doctoral degree. Popular online and distance colleges offering psychology degrees include:

  • University Of Phoenix
  • Walden University
  • Fielding University
  • Cappella
  • The University of Maryland University College (UMUC)
  • University of Southern California (USC)
  • Kaplan University
  • Argosy University
  • Northcentral University

Distance versus Online Education

The aforementioned colleges offer both distance and online education. The primary difference between distance and online education is that distance education often requires students to occasionally travel to complete various components of the coursework and course requirements. Online education does not typically require travel for coursework but may require travel for other academic proceedings. For example, Fielding University does not offer online education but rather distance learning.

They do currently offer an APA accredited Clinical Psychology Program, but require a sufficient amount of travel and class interaction as per the perquisites for APA certified psychology programs. APA certified distance programs are rare, but expected to increase over the years. Interest in a vocation that requires APA certification like clinical psychology is an important focal point of enquiry when pursuing a distance/online education.

Alternatively, most on-campus programs from institutions such as state universities have APA accreditation. Additionally, it should be mentioned that residency requirements always require some form of travel and interaction when pursuing a doctoral degree online. This is often the only type of travel associated with online doctoral degrees.

Closing Considerations

  1. Ensure that the online college meets regional and specialized accreditation requirements
  2. Perform independent research on various psychology careers and then choose the college which best suits the desired career
  3. Perform independent research on a variety of prospective colleges
  4. Perform in-depth independent research on the college or university of choice and make phone calls with faculty and academic advisors.
  5. Physically visit local community or state colleges to cross-reference pertinent information and glean advice
  6. Discern whether the academic program is online or distance and consider if the travel requirements are personally viable