I want to earn an online PhD or a counseling master’s and change my career from a sales manager to a mental health counselor or therapist. What are the best online PhD psychology programs for this goal? I want an online counseling program that is accredited by the American Psychological Association. Can you give me a list of the online options that are APA accredited programs?
—Jamie in California
I understand your concern. Many psychologists consider approval by the American Psychological Association (APA) the gold standard for accredited professional psychology degrees. This is especially true in the areas of clinical, counseling and educational psychology, all areas that interest you.
Most professionals would agree that the best online psychology degrees—at least for career reasons in clinical and educational psych—should have full APA approval.
Online APA Accredited Programs
Online PhD Psychology: APA Approval Necessary?
Online Psychology Programs in California & APA Approval
c) Possess a doctoral degree in psychology, educational psychology, or in education with a field of specialization in counseling psychology or educational psychology from a nationally or regionally accredited (if recognized by the USDOE), or an approved academic institution that meets the provisions of Section 2914 (g) of the Business and Professions Code, as follows.
An applicant holding a doctoral degree in psychology from an approved institution is deemed to meet the requirements of this section if all of the following are true:
- (1) The approved institution offered a doctoral degree in psychology designed to prepare students for a license to practice psychology and was approved by the Bureau for Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education on or before July 1, 1999.
- (2) The approved institution has not, since July 1, 1999, had a new location, as described in Section 94721 of the Education Cod.
So, in California, you can become a licensed psychologist without attending an APA accredited doctorate degree program.
In fact, in California, they will even let you take the psychologist exam if you attended a completely unaccredited but state-approved school and completed your degree prior to 1999.
(State approved here means “approved” by the Bureau for Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education. The BPPVE was once recognized as a licensing agent for California trade schools. Many distance learning psychology PhD programs in the 1980s through the 1990s were awarded by unaccredited schools that were state approved by the BPPVE. The BPPVE no longer exists.)
If you do not need or want APA accreditation, and you want to earn an online PhD, EdD or PsyD in psychology, Get Educated profiles online psychology degrees that match this criteria.
Start your online degree search here: Online PhD & Doctorate Programs.
You mentioned you might begin by earning an online master’s in mental health counseling. To find out more about online master’s for counselors, read my article on being a Mental Health Counselor.
Online Masters Psychology: Best Salaries, Careers, and Jobs
Vicky Phillips was cited in 2009 by US News & World Report as “for 20 years the leading consumer advocate for online college students.” In 1989 she designed America’s first online counseling center for distance learners on AOL. In 1998 she authored the first print guide to online graduate degrees, Best Distance Learning Graduate Schools put out by the Princeton Review. In 2001 she authored Never Too Late to Learn the Adult Student’s Guide to College.