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Online Psychology Degree Programs in Washington

Students considering pursuing an online psychology degree in Washington can review this page to learn more about the state's options and opportunities. This page details requirements for pursuing an online master's in psychology in Washington, including specialization options and licensing requirements. Prospective students can explore psychology colleges in Washington as well as common courses at all levels, including psychology master's programs in Washington.

This page reveals salary and job outlook, internship and fellowship information, professional organizations, and mental health initiatives. By reviewing this page, learners can choose the program that best fits their goals and educational needs.

How Do Online Psychology Degree Programs in Washington Work?

Washington has a variety of colleges and universities that offer psychology programs at all degree levels. Many learners pursue online opportunities, which provide more flexibility and convenience than on-campus formats. Online opportunities have the same rigorous coursework as on-campus counterparts, but many online options use asynchronous delivery, allowing learners to complete their work at any time and from any location.

The same instructors often teach both on-campus and online classes, which take the same amount of time for students to complete, though many institutions offer accelerated online opportunities that allow degree-seekers to graduate sooner.

What Courses Are Part of an Online Psychology Degree Program in Washington?

Coursework varies by school, but degree-seekers focused on online psychology programs in Washington often take similar course content. Below are a few example courses you can expect to encounter at psychology colleges in Washington.

Social Psychology

Learners review foundational concepts and major theories along with research findings in the psychology field. Course topics include prejudice, interpersonal relations, group processes, social cognition, attitudes, and aggression. The course also explores concepts related to understanding self-reflection and identification.

Cognitive Neuroscience

This course explores the key concepts and principles of cognitive psychology and neuroscience, teaching students how the brains of different animals fit their needs and how this is reflected in humans. The course reviews current psychology research, and there may be some lab work components.

Health Psychology

Degree-seekers explore the connection between psychological processes and physical health. Students examine stress-induced illnesses and how to apply research-backed psychological techniques to fight physical illness.

Abnormal Psychology

Students review various psychological disorders and behaviors, including psychotic, personality, and mood disorders. In addition to introducing learners to the identification and diagnosis of these disorders, the course reviews the different treatment options and typical patient outcomes.

Research Methods

This course teaches degree-seekers how to use different methods to collect, analyze, and apply data. Learners examine case studies and design psychological experiments reviewing collected data. Students review the most common types of research methods and learn to apply those techniques in a research environment.

Becoming a Psychologist in Washington

Before becoming a psychologist in Washington, individuals must complete educational and licensure requirements. This usually means earning bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees and completing experience and exam requirements. The section below details Washington's requirements for becoming a licensed psychologist.

  • Specialize

    Psychology students at all degree levels should pursue specialization opportunities, which allow them to tailor their degrees to their personal interests and career goals. Psychology students should consider specialization areas such as clinical psychology, child psychology, and counseling psychology.

  • Earn Your Degrees

    Before becoming a psychologist in Washington, individuals must first complete a bachelor's degree in psychology, followed by a master's degree and a doctoral degree. Earning a bachelor's degree in psychology typically takes about four years. At the bachelor's level, learners build foundational knowledge of the psychology field, developing basic skills for entry-level roles.

    At the master's level, learners focus on more advanced, specialized coursework. These programs usually take around two years to complete, although some colleges and universities offer online programs with accelerated formats. Doctoral programs have the most advanced scope of study and take 2-3 years to complete. Learners should ensure that their doctoral programs are from a regionally accredited college or university, and that their program is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA).

  • Obtain Licensure

    While satisfying educational requirements, aspiring psychologists must also complete 3,000 hours of supervised experience. This experience is usually acquired through internships or fellowships. However, candidates who do not earn those 3,000 hours while they are students can also satisfy this requirement with 1,500 hours of post-doctoral, supervised experience.

    Once experience requirements have been met, candidates must complete a professional background check, disclosing any past history with liability claims. Once cleared, psychologists must pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP), followed by the state jurisprudence exam, which is multiple-choice and open-book. Washington psychologists must also take a seven-hour HIV/AIDS training course before licensure.

Other Licenses and Certifications

Graduates who hold a bachelor's or master's in psychology but not a doctorate have other licensing and certification opportunities, including a career as a licensed clinical social worker, marriage and family therapist, or licensed professional counselor.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

LCSWs practice in a variety of settings, providing therapy services, mental health evaluations, case management services, and emotional support for individuals struggling with emotional, social, and psychological challenges.

Marriage and Family Therapist

Working with couples and families to provide psychotherapy services, these therapists help people across a variety of settings lead happier, more fulfilling lives.

Licensed Professional Counselor

Graduates who hold a master's degree in psychology can become licensed professional counselors, providing substance abuse and mental healthcare for individuals, families, and groups.

Salaries and Job Outlook for Psychologists in Washington

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for psychologists will grow 14% from 2018-2028, which is much faster than average. In Washington, jobs for psychologists are projected to grow 10% during that same time period.

The national mean salary for psychologists is $95,610. Washington reports a higher mean annual salary than nearby states, with psychologists earning $102,760 in Washington, compared to $87,410 in Idaho and $94,260 in Hawaii.

Across metropolitan areas in the state, professionals enjoy high salary opportunities, especially in Vancouver, which is just across the border from Portland, Oregon. Clinical, counseling, and school psychologists experience salary figures ranging from $75,640 to $107,130, and the general unemployment rate in these areas ranges from 3.6% to 6.9%.

Washington at a Glance

Population: 7,535,591

Population Growth (2010-2018): 12.06%

Population Growth Rank: 9

Source: United States Census Bureau

Salary and Projected Job Growth for Psychologists in Washington Compared to Nearby States
  Mean Annual Salary Projected Job Growth (2016-26)
Washington $102,760 10.0%
Idaho $87,410 20.0%
Oregon N/A -5.0%
Alaska N/A N/A
Hawaii $94,260 N/A
National Average $95,610 10.3%

Source: BLS, Projections Central

Economies of Metropolitan Areas in Washington
  Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologist Salary General Unemployment Rate Education and Health Services 12-Month Employment Growth
Portland - Vancouver - Hillsboro $107,130 4.3% 3.6%
Spokane - Spokane Valley $81,870 >5.8% 1.6%
Olympia - Tumwater $77,690 5.3% N/A
Seattle - Tacoma - Bellevue $76,660 3.6% 4.5%
Yakima $75,640 6.9% 3.4%

Source: BLS

Psychology Degrees and Careers in Washington -- Frequently Asked Questions

The section below answers some common questions regarding psychology careers and degrees in Washington.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Psychologist in Washington?

Individuals spend about 10 years completing psychology coursework in Washington, starting from a bachelor's degree and working up to a doctorate. Actual time may vary depending on the types of degrees individuals pursue and the formats they enroll in.

Are Online Psychology Classes Hard?

Psychology courses vary in terms of difficulty depending on the degree level. At the bachelor's level, learners focus on foundational skills and knowledge. Once students move into master's and doctoral programs, their coursework becomes more advanced and specialized. Online programs are typically just as difficult as their brick-and-mortar counterparts.

What Skills Are Needed to Be a Psychologist?

Psychologists need excellent research skills because much of their work requires thorough, in-depth research. Psychologists also need strong critical-thinking skills to determine their patients' best treatment plans and solid communication abilities to help them earn patient trust.

What Schools Are Best for Psychology in Washington?

Students can pursue psychology degrees at all levels throughout Washington, including several online opportunities. Some of the state's best universities for psychology include the University of Washington, Washington State University, and Western Washington University.

Is a BA or a BS in Psychology Better?

Earning a bachelor of arts in psychology is different than earning a bachelor of science in psychology. While one is not necessarily better than the other, BA programs focus on general education topics while BS programs explore concepts in math, science, and statistics. Students interested in research careers would do best with a BS, while those who are still narrowing down their career interests should pursue a BA.

Accreditation for Online Psychology Programs in Washington

Accreditation serves as an endorsement of a school's academic rigor and gives students confidence that their degrees meet minimum standards. Independent national or regional agencies confer general accreditation for undergraduate and graduate programs. The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities is the regional accrediting agency for Washington.

Many programs also seek accreditation from industry organizations, including APA, which accredits doctoral-level psychology programs. Earning a doctorate from a program accredited by APA or the Canadian Psychological Association is required for licensed psychologists in Washington. Students should always confirm their chosen school holds regional accreditation.

Psychology Internships and Fellowships in Washington

Washington's psychology licensing laws require applicants to work under the supervision of a licensed practitioner before they can treat patients independently. Internships can provide this professional experience. Schools often arrange internship opportunities through associated network providers or mental health centers, but students can also find opportunities with government institutions or nonprofit treatment centers.

Fellowships can also provide practical experience working with patients. These positions typically require students to have already completed advanced coursework and may include specialized practice in a particular area of psychology. Fellowships sometimes fund research activities or travel to conferences.

Psychology students in Washington can explore internship and fellowship opportunities to help fund their education. Learners can find opportunities across organizations and companies in the state, including the sources below.

Cascade Behavioral Health

This organization's multidisciplinary mental health team treats patients with addiction issues, behavioral disorders, and mood disorders. The team operates a treatment facility in Tukwila. Inpatient services provide medical detox and rehabilitation services, while intensive outpatient treatments offer individual and group counseling. Cascade also offers specialized inpatient geriatric care to treat dementia-related diseases or mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety.

Chaplaincy Healthcare

This nonprofit offers behavioral health services with evidence-based treatment programs that incorporate spiritual and emotional care. The organization began with a network of chaplains and volunteers working in the Mid-Columbia region in southeast Washington. Licensed behavioral health therapists work with patients at the office in Kennewick or through in-home visits.

Excelsior Youth Center

This organization specializes in treating children and adolescents with behavioral or emotional problems. The center provides family therapy, day and inpatient treatment, and substance use assessment and treatment. The center also houses an accredited middle school and high school. By collaborating with the Volunteers of America, Crisis Residential Center, and other community partners, Excelsior provides alternatives to hospitalization.

Comprehensive Life Resources

This organization uses a team of behavioral health practitioners to provide counseling services in outpatient and inpatient settings. The staff provides individual and family counseling sessions, case management, and skills training. This nonprofit also offers homelessness outreach in Tacoma and therapeutic foster care services. Additionally, the agency partners with the Tacoma School District to provide counseling services.

Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute

This organization conducts public-interest, non-proprietary research in multiple areas of health and wellness. In 2016, 55 health scientists at KPWHRI worked on more than 300 active grants and contracts. Mental health research includes designing methods to make mental health more accessible, effective, and convenient through technology or by integrating mental healthcare with medical services.

Professional Organizations for Psychologists and Mental Health Professionals

Graduates of online psychology programs in Washington can explore membership opportunities through a variety of professional organizations. Joining a professional organization can expose graduates to networking and professional development opportunities. These organizations often allow members to attend events and take advantage of valuable resources.

  • Washington State Psychological Association This organization represents psychologists in Washington. The association boasts more than 400 members who work in private practice settings along with academia and government services. It is dedicated to expanding and advocating for the psychology career in Washington.
  • American Psychological Association APA promotes the communication, application, and advancement of psychological knowledge and science to improve lives and benefit society. The association uses psychology to cultivate a positive impact on societal issues and prepare the psychology discipline for future developments.
  • Washington Counseling Association A partnership of associations that represent professional counselors, this group promotes communication between counseling organizations and groups in the state, helping advocate for the profession as a whole. It also provides professional resources for working psychologists and for psychology students.
  • American Mental Health Counselors Association AMHCA is an organization that represents licensed mental health counselors in the United States. It creates and enforces standards for licensing, ethics, and education for mental health counselors and also publishes the Journal of Mental Health Counseling.
  • Washington State Association of School Psychologists WSASP is a volunteer organization of school psychologists at all stages of their careers. It provides professional development and guidance opportunities, including career assistance and access to information about licensure and professional insurance.

Scholarships for Online Psychology Degree Programs in Washington

Kaiser Permanente Health Care Career Scholarship Program

This scholarship helps high school graduates in southwest Washington and Oregon become health professionals. At least one scholarship is awarded to students from each of the area's 133 public high schools. The program distributes awards to students during their first and second years of college, although recipients may apply for a third year of funding if they continue to meet requirements.

  • Amount Offered: $5,000-$10,000
  • Scholarship Deadline: December 13
  • Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must submit high school transcripts, financial information, and a teacher or counselor nomination. The application includes essays on the chosen health profession, inspirational teachers, and a personal statement.

Washington Health Corps Loan Repayment Program

This program awards up to $75,000 in loan forgiveness in exchange for a minimum three-year service obligation, encouraging individuals to enter health professions in areas that suffer from a shortage of qualified providers, including psychologists.

  • Amount Offered: Up to $75,000
  • Scholarship Deadline: Varies
  • Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must commit to working a minimum of 24 hours a week for at least three years in a qualified service area.

Ruth H. Hagenstein Endowed Scholarship

This scholarship supports students seeking degrees in psychology or sociology.

  • Amount Offered: Varies
  • Scholarship Deadline: N/A
  • Eligibility Requirements: Undergraduate students pursuing degrees in psychology or sociology from the University of Washington (UW) may apply.

Aric Chandler Memorial Fund

This fund helps undergraduate students transferring into the psychology department at UW from any two- or four-year college in the state.

  • Amount Offered: Varies
  • Scholarship Deadline: N/A
  • Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be transferring from a two-year or four-year college with a declared major in psychology at UW.

Psychology Diversity Fund

The UW psychology department awards these funds to minority students of color seeking a graduate degree to encourage diverse enrollment in the field.

  • Amount Offered: Varies
  • Scholarship Deadline: N/A
  • Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be minority graduate psychology students at UW.

Warren and Elizabeth Street Psychology Scholarship

Central Washington University awards the Street Scholarship, which provides support for graduate students in the school's applied behavior analysis program.

  • Amount Offered: Varies
  • Scholarship Deadline: February 1
  • Eligibility Requirements: Application requirements include a current CV and a brief essay explaining how the candidate plans to work with special needs children.

Find Online Psychology Degree Programs in Washington

Earning an online psychology degree in Washington allows students to pursue a challenging and rewarding career in mental healthcare. The following database provides information about all of the accredited online psychology programs in Washington. When browsing schools, be sure to consider the specializations available in each program as well as the opportunities for practical learning at nearby clinics and research centers.

School Degree Levels State

Mental Health Initiatives in Washington

Washington recognizes the need for resources and outreach for individuals struggling with mental health issues and offers a variety of mental health initiatives. Washington State Health Care Authority emphasizes behavioral health and recovery resources for individuals who struggle with opioid use, youth and children, and those in mental health crisis. The initiatives for children and youth include suicide prevention and emotional support.

Washington State Health Care Authority also offers trainings and events, substance use treatment options, recovery support, resources for individuals addicted to gambling, peer support opportunities, client rights information, child and youth behavioral health services, and resources for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Homelessness is also a problem in Washington state, where 22,304 people were homeless on any given day in 2018. Washington offers a variety of programs to assist individuals who need help finding housing or employment, peer support, or help with alcohol abuse.