As more and more colleges across the United States offer online degree programs, many people question how respected these degrees really are. The opinion of online degree programs varies depending upon which study you look at. Some studies show online learning to be superior to traditional classroom learning. Other studies show that there is a general negative opinion of online degrees. For students pursuing a career or a degree in psychology, the American Psychological Association is the major governing body for the education and practice of psychology.
Online Doctoral Training in Psychology
The APA made a somewhat controversial decision in 2010 that no online Doctoral training programs in Psychology would be awarded APA accreditation. This was largely due to the findings of the Sloan Consortium Report on Online Learning in that same year that “a third of academic leaders believe online education is inferior to traditional face-to-face learning”. The decision was made by the APA’s Commission on Accreditation (CoA) when they adopted an “implementing regulation” that excludes doctoral programs that are “primarily or completely online” from being awarded APA accredited.” The CoA outlined the importance of face-to-face learning for successful completion of the Doctoral Degree. They agreed, however that the use of online learning was not something to be eliminated from Doctoral Psychology Degree Programs. Instead, it should be used as a supplemental learning tool that could enhance existing programs. The CoA chose not to outline a definitive limit on how much distance education is too much, the new regulation states that doctoral training programs offering education and training “substantially or completely” by distance educational measures are not complying with the APA’s Guidelines and Principles for Accreditation of Programs in Professional Psychology.
Online Undergraduate Training in Psychology
While the decision was made to refuse APA accreditation for online Doctoral Training Programs, the decision did not extend to undergraduate or Master’s Degree Programs. These training programs are not eligible for APA accreditation so they were much less affected by this decision. The APA has not issued the same strength of language for those undergraduate programs in psychology who offer fully or largely online degree programs.
What Does the Future Hold For Online Learning in Psychology?
The biggest question is whether this decision will change in the future. The APA prides itself on regularly reevaluating its role in the educational process and it is expected that they will regularly revisit the issue of online learning. Questions have ranged from whether a specific threshold of online offerings will be outlines to whether the APA might eventually grant accreditation to some superior online programs. No one is sure what the future of online learning holds in the eyes of the APA.
While the APA does not accredit fully online doctoral degree programs, they do believe that online learning has a place in the modern psychology curriculum. It is expected that as modern advancements reach the academic world, this decision on accreditation will be reevaluated. For now, we know that the American Psychological Association sees some positive value in the place of Online Learning in Psychology Higher Education.