Several of these online learning institutions

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Several of these online learning institutions aggressively advertise doctoral programs in clinical psychology, including Walden, Capella, Phoenix, and Fielding. Fielding Graduate University requires sev- eral weeks of in-person residency per year, making it the only distance program that has ever been APA accredited. APA does not accredit fully online pro- grams in professional psychology. We are frequently approached by students intrigued with these and other distance-learning doctoral programs and asked whether we think they are credible programs. Our answer is that a couple of programs may prove credible, but definitely not preferred, for several reasons. First, we recommend that students favor APA-accredited programs, and only one of these programs has ever met the mini- mum educational standards set forth by APA. Sec- ond, many psychology licensing boards will not issue licenses to graduates of distance learning programs (Hall, Wexelbaum, & Boucher, 2007). Third, online programs lack quality control over their clinical supervisors, who are scattered around the country. Fourth, much of the learning in clinical and counsel- ing programs occurs in close, interpersonal relation- ships with faculty on a daily basis. Frequent computer contact is useful, but in our opinion, not equivalent. And fifth, without sounding too stodgy, we believe online programs are still too new and alternative to have developed a track record of producing qual- ity psychologists. Most psychology faculty, intern- ship directors, and potential employers feel likewise (Mandernach, Mason, Forrest, & Hackathorn, 2012); graduates of non–APA-accredited distance programs have experienced difficulty in securing employment as psychologists. Online education increases accessibility and convenience for students in many areas of study. However, this benefit does not extend as readily to students in graduate psychology programs because, in addition to coursework, they need practical expe- rience, clinical supervision, research mentoring, and residency requirements (Murphy et al., 2007). APA
Copyright © 2018 The Guilford Press 10 INTRODUCING CLINICAL AND COUNSELING PSYCHOLOGY objects to the lack of ongoing, face-to-face interac- tion and quality control in fully online graduate pro- grams for health service psychologists. Of course, each online program needs to be eval- uated on its own merits, and each doctoral student must be considered for his or her individual abili- ties. In the end, graduate students will get out of a program what they put in—whether through a tra- ditional, bricks-and-mortar institution or an innova- tive, online program. The early research on distance and online education indicates that it produces com- parable outcomes to traditional education, at least in acquiring knowledge and academic skills. Unfor- tunately, there is insufficient research on the online preparation of professional psychologists to render any conclusions.

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