While the popularity of online education continues to rise, online psychology degrees have seen an uptick in employer acceptance, student enrollment, and overall notoriety. These degree programs offer students unique flexibility and often the option to complete their degree on their terms while still receiving a quality education.
However, these degree programs may vary in caliber, and students must consider accreditation when selecting a program. Accreditation ensures that the program meets specific quality standards and has been reviewed by an independent accrediting agency. In this article, we will review the respectability of online psychology degrees and speak to the importance of accreditation in ensuring that students receive a top-notch education.
Do Employers Respect Online Psychology Degrees?
There is a common misconception that employers only respect psychology degrees earned in person and on campus. Yet, this is not entirely true. While an in-person psychology degree may be beneficial for many reasons, online degrees are becoming increasingly respected by employers for their flexibility and quality of education. For example, 61% of HR professionals now approve of online degrees, including online psychology degrees, and 71% have personally hired people with online degrees before.
The quality of online education has improved significantly in recent years, and many reputable universities and colleges offer online degree programs comparable to traditional on-campus programs in terms of curriculum and rigor. These programs are designed to provide students with a high-quality education delivered in a flexible and convenient format.
Additionally, many online psychology degree programs offer interactive learning that can further enhance students’ skills and knowledge. These programs may include virtual simulations, online discussions, and other interactive activities that can provide students with a respected hands-on learning experience. Moreover, many online degree programs allow students to learn at their own pace, which can benefit working professionals.
When considering pursuing an online degree, it is essential to understand that just like selecting an on-campus program, accreditation is the key to choosing an online degree program that employers will respect.
Accreditation is evaluating and approving educational institutions or programs to ensure that they meet specific quality standards. Accreditation is important because it assures students and employers that the degree program meets standards of quality and rigor.
When selecting an online psychology program, it is crucial to look for two types of accreditation: regional accreditation and programmatic accreditation.
Regional Accreditation is a type of accreditation that evaluates the entire institution, including the faculty, curriculum, and student support services. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) has approved the following regional accrediting agencies to serve different parts of the United States:
- The Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
- The New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
- The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
- The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commissions on Colleges (SACSCOC)
- The Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities (WSCUC)
Ensuring that the online psychology program you are considering is accredited by one of these CHEA-approved regional accrediting agencies can significantly impact the respectability of your degree and improve your credibility with future employers.
On the other hand, programmatic accreditation evaluates specific programs within an institution. For example, the American Psychology Association Commission on Accreditation (APA-CoA) is the programmatic accrediting agency for psychology programs. APA-CoA accredits doctoral, internship, and postdoctoral residency programs in psychology. This accreditation is essential to ensure the psychology program meets specific educational standards and prepares students for a professional psychology practice.
Career Outcomes for Psychology Majors
The salary and job outlook for those who enter this field can vary depending on the specific career path and geographic location. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for psychologists was $81,040 in May 2021.
However, this figure can vary greatly depending on the type of psychology, education level, and years of experience. For example, clinical and counseling psychologists earn a median annual wage of $82,510, while industrial-organizational psychologists earn a yearly median salary of $105,310.
The job outlook for psychologists is generally positive, with an expected growth rate of 6% from 2021 to 2031, which is on par with the average for all occupations nationwide.
Median salary (May 2021): $82,510
Clinical psychologists typically work in an office or clinical setting. They may work with patients one-on-one or in group therapy sessions to diagnose and treat various mental health issues using evidence-based therapies. Additional job responsibilities may include:
- Conducting assessments and evaluations.
- Creating treatment plans.
- Conducting research.
- Collaborating with other mental health professionals.
Clinical psychologists may specialize in a particular area of psychology, such as adolescent psychology or neuropsychology. In addition, they may work with diverse patients, including those with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and addiction.
Median salary (May 2021): $82,510
Counseling psychologists work with individuals, families, and groups to help them cope with emotional, social, vocational, and educational issues. While there is some overlap with clinical psychologists, counseling psychologists typically focus on providing short-term, solution-focused counseling to help clients manage specific issues and improve their quality of life. They may work in an office, clinic, or hospital and usually have flexible schedules to accommodate their clients’ needs.
Counseling psychologists may specialize in marriage and family counseling, career counseling, or substance abuse counseling. They work with individuals of all ages, from children to older adults. In addition, they provide counseling services for various issues, including anxiety, depression, stress, relationship problems, and more.
Median salary (May 2021): $78,780
School psychologists typically work in educational settings to support students’ academic achievement and social-emotional well-being. In addition, they frequently work with students, teachers, and families to promote positive learning environments and help students facing academic, behavioral, or emotional challenges.
The job responsibilities of school psychologists can include the following:
- Conducting assessments.
- Developing and implementing interventions.
- Providing individual or group counseling.
- Consulting with teachers and parents.
- Advocating for students’ needs.
They work with students of all ages, from early childhood through high school, and specialize in learning disabilities, behavior management, or mental health.
Median salary (May 2021): $105,310
Industrial-organizational (I-O) psychologists focus on applying psychological principles and theories to the workplace to improve employee well-being and organizational effectiveness. They may work in consulting firms, government agencies, and private corporations, as independent consultants, or in academic positions.
Job responsibilities include conducting job analysis, developing and implementing selection and assessment procedures, designing and delivering training programs, researching workplace issues, and consulting with organizations to improve their management and work practices.
Median salary (May 2021): $81,040
Forensic psychology applies psychological principles and theories to legal issues and the criminal justice system. Forensic psychologists may work in law enforcement agencies, courts, correctional facilities, or private consulting firms. They can also be employed in research or academic settings, conducting studies on psychology and the legal system. They may specialize in a particular field, such as criminal profiling, eyewitness testimony, or risk assessment.
The job duties of forensic psychologists may vary depending on their specific role and setting. Typical job duties may include the following:
- Conducting evaluations of individuals involved in legal cases.
- Providing expert testimony in court.
- Developing and implementing treatment programs for individuals in correctional settings.
- Consulting with law enforcement agencies or attorneys.
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