Online Psychology Degree Programs in Washington

Good mental health helps individuals live fuller, happier lives. However, many people need assistance dealing with depression or relationship conflicts, while others suffer from long-term mental illnesses that need specialized care. Clinical psychologists study the causes of and treatments for mental illness, treating patients through individual or group therapy. Individuals with analytical abilities and a caring and compassionate demeanor may find psychology a fulfilling career. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) projects 14% job growth nationally for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists through the year 2026. Growth in Washington is expected to be even faster, with projections showing a 17% increase in the number of psychology jobs by 2026. An aging population drives part of this growth, but more people are also seeking out professional mental health practitioners to deal with a variety of issues, including stress and substance abuse. Completing an online psychology degree in Washington serves as the first step toward this rewarding and challenging career.

Mental Health Initiatives in Washington

The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services works to strengthen families and communities and provide mental healthcare to residents. More than 2.6 million people receive care or support through the agency’s services. Top priorities in the state include battling addiction to alcohol, drugs, and gambling. Public information campaigns seek to educate people about the dangers of addiction, both to families and the related impacts on communities. This is done through the justice system, foster care services, financial assistance, and medical care. A helpline provides access to crisis intervention services and referrals to public and private treatment options. Lottery revenues and taxes on horse racing and recreational gambling licenses fund specialized outreach programs to combat problem gambling. The state also operates treatment programs and interventions to help communities identify and help those in need of mental health treatment. Washington also provides specialized care services for mental health and substance abuse treatment for Native Americans.

How do I Become a Psychologist in Washington?

Students interested in the field of psychology can earn an on-campus or online psychology degree in Washington state. Psychology programs provide students with the opportunity to take part in hands-on learning activities through practicums, internships, and/or volunteer service. Individuals who earn a master’s in psychology online in Washington are prepared to pursue some mental health professions or continue on to one of the many psychology Ph.D programs in Washington.

Choose the Path That’s Right for you: Students should work with their advisors to craft a curriculum that prepares them for their chosen career. Individuals who earn an undergraduate online psychology degree in Washington receive a foundation in psychological theory and practice. Students can continue their education and earn a master’s in psychology, which often meets the requirements needed to undertake jobs related to counseling or social work. However, students interested in teaching or practicing clinical psychology should be prepared to commit an additional five years of study to earn a PhD.

Earn Your Degree: Psychology offers many subspecialties, such as child psychology and research psychology. While an online psychology degree in Washington offers students increased flexibility and convenience, research opportunities may be harder to find for distance learners; practicum and internship activities are often limited by geography. Individuals in Washington must complete 1,500 internship hours and at least 3,000 hours of supervised experience before they can apply for a license.

Earn Your License: The Washington Department of Health requires students to complete 3,000 hours of supervised psychology practice before they can take the Examination of Professional Psychology Practice (EPPP), which they must pass to become licensed. Graduate programs must meet specific curriculum requirements or have accreditation from the American Psychological Association (APA) or Canadian Psychological Association (CPA). Individuals must also complete a one-year residency, submit their doctoral dissertation, and provide three professional references before receiving their license.

Psychology Licensing in Washington

Washington’s Department of Health regulates mental health practitioners through licensing requirements. Individuals may not advertise their services in psychology, counseling, therapy, or social work without being granted a license by the state. Psychologists can evaluate, diagnose, and treat individuals, families, or groups of patients; however, psychologists in Washington are not permitted to prescribe or administer medication. The state also grants licenses to mental health counselors and licensed social workers, with state laws governing the services each type of practitioner can provide. See the table below for information about the types of licenses and careers available in the state.

Licensed Psychologist

Prerequisites: Applicants must earn a doctoral degree from a regionally-accredited university. If the program has not been accredited by the APA, applicants must also provide a record of their coursework. A one-year residency and 3,300 hours of supervised work must be completed and three professional references must be submitted. Applicants also need to submit their doctoral dissertation and pass the EPPP and the Washington State Jurisprudence Examination.

Careers Available With This License:

  • Child psychologist
  • Clinical psychologist
  • Military psychologist
  • Neuropsychologist
  • Rehabilitation psychologist
  • School psychologist
  • Social psychologist

Total Fees: $206


Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Prerequisites: Applicants must earn a master’s degree in social work from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, complete 4,000 hours of postgraduate supervised experience, and pass the American Association of Social Work Boards exam.

Careers Available With This License:

  • Medical social worker
  • Psychiatric social worker
  • School social worker
  • Mental health social worker
  • Child and family social worker
  • Gerontological social worker

Total Fees: $216


Marriage & Family Therapist (MFT)

Prerequisites: Washington requires applicants to earn a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy or behavioral science, complete 3,000 hours of supervised postgraduate experience, and pass the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards exam.

Careers Available With This License:

  • Family therapist
  • Couples counselor

Total Fees: $241


LMHC (Licensed Mental Health Counselor)

Prerequisites: Applicants must complete a master’s degree in behavioral science or mental health counseling and three years of supervised work experience. They must also pass the National Counselor Exam or the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam.

Careers Available With This License:

  • School counselor
  • Grief counselor
  • Rehabilitation counselor
  • Mental health counselor
  • Addiction counselor

Total Fees: $191


National Certified Counselor (NCC)

Prerequisites: Mental health counselors must pass the National Board of Certified Counselors exam. However, completing the NCC requirements does not take the place of state licensing.

Careers Available With This License:

  • Mental health counselor
  • School counselor
  • Addiction counselor

Total Fees: Varies

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 hands-on 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. Additionally, fellowships sometimes fund research activities or travel to conferences.

  • Madigan Army Medical Center: Madigan Army Medical Center offers an APA-accredited doctoral internship program in clinical psychology. This one-year program includes rotations in active duty service, neuropsychology, and primary care consultation. Elective rotations include intensive outpatient services, child and family services, and pediatric psychology. Interns work with licensed providers to develop skills in research, assessment, communication, and intervention. The program emphasizes interdisciplinary care consultation.
  • Western State Hospital: Western State Hospital, operated by the Washington Department of Social and Health Services, offers a postdoctoral fellowship in forensic psychology. Fellows complete pre-trial evaluations of mentally ill offenders, work with inmates, evaluate patients for civil commitment, and work with sexually violent predators. Participants primarily work out of a 1,000-bed psychiatric hospital in the town of Steilacoom, although the program also requires a rotation in the outpatient services program.
  • Walla Walla-Spokane Doctoral Psychology Internship: Accredited by the APA, the Walla Walla-Spokane doctoral psychology Internship provides training for third-year doctoral students enrolled in APA-accredited programs. The Walla Walla VA and Spokane VA medical centers jointly administer the program, which admits four interns each year. Students complete six-month rotations at each medical center, receiving experience in both urban and rural settings. The program grants priority to students planning to work with veterans after graduation. Specialized rotations are available in the areas of substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, and neuropsychology.

Psychology Careers in Washington

A psychology degree provides students career flexibility depending on their interests, with specialty areas that include child psychology, educational psychology, neuropsychology, and health psychology. Clinical psychology training prepares students to work for a range of employers, including hospitals, outpatient centers, and schools. Alternatively, specializing in a particular field can allow graduates to command a higher starting salary, especially in the areas of forensic psychology or industrial-organizational psychology. Industrial-organizational psychologists work with companies to develop effective hiring practices and implement programs to improve employee morale and retention. They may also help evaluate consumer behavior and develop effective marketing campaigns. Forensic psychology can be emotionally challenging but incredibly rewarding; these psychologists work with the justice system to evaluate defendants and provide effective treatment for young offenders.

How Much do Psychologists Make in Washington?

Psychologists in Washington earn a mean salary of $69,430 a year. A worker’s education, training, certification, and treatment specialty all influence how much money they can expect to make. Their location can also affect their wages, with metropolitan areas typically offering a higher salary due to the higher associated cost of living. Skills in counseling and testing can also improve compensation, along with specialization in developmental disorders, such as autism.

  Employment Hourly Mean Wage Annual Mean Wage
Washington 2,050 $33.38 $69,430
United States 122,310 $38.77 $80,640

Source: BLS

Mental Health Service Providers in Washington

While many psychologists eventually want to open their own practice, seeking out employment from established mental health providers helps build professional skills and complete required supervised practice hours. Many providers tailor their services to specific areas of need, such as adolescent behavior or family counseling. Programs also provide inpatient care for substance abuse, severe mental illness, or age-related mental health conditions, such as dementia. These specializations give new practitioners the opportunity to gain experience in a particular area of the field.

  • Cascade Behavioral Health: The multidisciplinary mental health team at Cascade Behavioral Health treats patients with addiction issues, behavioral disorders, and mood disorders. It operates a treatment facility in the city of Tukwila. Inpatient services provide medical detox and rehabilitation services, while intensive outpatient treatments offer individual and group counseling. Cascade also has specialized inpatient geriatric care to treat dementia-related disease or mood disorders, like depression and anxiety.
  • Chaplaincy Healthcare: Chaplaincy Health Care offers behavioral health services with evidence-based treatment programs that incorporate spiritual and emotional care. This nonprofit 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: Excelsior Youth Center specializes in the treatment of children and adolescents with behavioral and/or emotional problems. This organization provides family therapy, day treatment 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.
  • Eastern State Hospital: The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services operates Eastern State Hospital in the city of Medical Lake. This 287-bed facility provides inpatient mental health services with specialized units that include an adult psychiatric unit, geropsychiatric unit, and forensic services unit.
  • Comprehensive Life Resources: Comprehensive Life Resources utilizes a team of behavioral health practitioners to provide counseling services in both outpatient and inpatient settings. The staff provides individual and family counseling sessions, case management, and skills training. This nonprofit organization also offers homeless outreach in Tacoma and therapeutic foster care services. Additionally, the agency is partnered with the Tacoma School District to provide counseling services.

Mental Health Research Centers in Washington

Schools and nonprofit organizations in Washington continue to investigate the cause of mental illness and behavioral disorders to develop more effective treatments. Researchers seek biological and environmental causes of disorders and evaluate how culture/society impacts mental health and recovery. Students seeking a career in research can find internships or fellowships to assist faculty or staff with research projects.

  • University of Washington: The research initiatives at the University of Washington’s psychology department seek to promote social equality, optimize human potential by increasing resilience in individuals, and understand human behavior by analyzing brain science. The school features several centers, including an addictive behaviors research center and a center for anxiety and traumatic stress.
  • Washington State University: Located in Spokane, Washington State University hosts multiple psychology research labs. For example, its coalition for healthy and equitable workplaces lab provides research in industrial-organizational psychology, while its pedagogical research lab focuses on instructional strategies for educational psychology.
  • Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute: The Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute conducts public-interest, non-proprietary research in multiple areas of health and wellness. Fifty-five health scientists worked on more than 300 active grants and contracts in 2016. Mental health research includes designing methods to make mental health more accessible, effective, and convenient, such as through the use of technology or implementing integrated mental healthcare with medical services.

Professional Organizations for Mental Health Professionals

Connecting with other professionals in the mental health field allows psychologists and counselors to build support networks and learn from their peers. Washington also requires psychologists to complete at least 60 hours of continuing education every three years to renew their license. Professional organizations help meet these needs and provide legislative advocacy and volunteer opportunities.

  • Washington State Psychological Association: The Washington State Psychological Association is made up of many licensed psychologists and offers special memberships to students and postdoctoral residents. Member benefits include a listing in the referral service; free consultation on practice management issues, such as insurance panels and licensing; and a subscription to the association newsletter. The WSPA also provides discounts on continuing education, with online and in-person sessions held throughout the year. Bi-yearly conferences offer additional continuing education and networking opportunities.
  • Washington State Association of School Psychologists: School psychologists gain access to professional development and continuing education resources through the Washington State Association of School Psychologists. They can also apply for grant funding and research opportunities. Discounted membership is available for retirees and students. Members enjoy access to a job board and internship listings as well as information related to school psychologist license requirements. The association hosts a fall conference, summer summit, and spring lecture series.
  • Washington Mental Health Counselors Association: The Washington Mental Health Counselors Association advocates for legislation and administrative rules to support the mental health profession. It also works to improve cooperation among mental health providers. Members gain access to continuing education workshops, seminars, and networking events. The association also helps connect students with clinical supervisors.

Scholarships for Online Psychology Programs in Washington

Washington State Association of School Psychologists Minority Scholarship

Students pursuing a specialist degree from an NASP- or regionally-accredited psychology program may apply for this scholarship. The selection committee evaluates applications based on a student’s experience, personal statement, academic and professional achievement, references, and financial standing. Applicant must be enrolled at least half-time in the program and be a minority student.

  • Amount Offered: $2,500
  • Scholarship Deadline: TBA
  • Eligibility Requirements: Applicant must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 and submit a résumé, statement of professional goals, unofficial transcripts, and two letters of recommendation.


Kaiser Permanente Health Care Career Scholarship

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

  • Amount Offered: $2,000 to $10,000
  • Scholarship Deadline: December 13
  • Eligibility Requirements: The application includes essays on the chosen health profession, inspirational teachers, and a personal statement. High school transcripts, financial information, and a teacher or counselor nomination are also required.


Health Professional Loan Repayment Program

CONTENT 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: December 8
  • 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 was established to support students seeking degrees in psychology or sociology.

  • Amount Offered: Varies
  • Scholarship Deadline: TBA
  • Eligibility Requirements: Undergraduate students pursuing degrees in psychology or sociology from the University of Washington are eligible to apply.


Aric Chandler Memorial Fund

This fund was established to help undergraduate students transferring into the department of psychology at the University of Washington from any two- or four-year college in the state.

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


Psychology Diversity Fund

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

  • Amount Offered: Varies
  • Scholarship Deadline: TBA
  • Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be minority graduate psychology students at the University of Washington.


Dr. Elizabeth Street Scholarship

Awarded by Central Washington University, the Street Scholarship 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.


Merle Prim Memorial Scholarship

This scholarship supports students majoring in psychology or neuroscience at Western Washington University. Applicants must demonstrate financial need.

  • Amount Offered: Varies
  • Scholarship Deadline: TBA
  • Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be U.S. citizens and represent an ethnic minority. They must also be majoring in psychology or neuroscience with a departmental GPA of 3.5 and a cumulative GPA of 3.3.


Ethan Remmel Scholarship

This scholarship was established to support students planning to enter a career where they will help children, such as teaching, school counseling, social work, or research psychology.

  • Amount Offered: Varies
  • Scholarship Deadline: TBA
  • Eligibility Requirements: This scholarship is open to undergraduate or graduate students in the department of psychology at Western Washington University. Applicants must have a cumulative 3.3 GPA and a departmental GPA of 3.5.


Adams-Woodring Scholarship

The Adams-Woodring Scholarship at Western Washington University supports students whose career goals include service to others. While the scholarship grants preference to education students, students majoring in psychology, human development, and neuroscience can also apply.

  • Amount Offered: Varies
  • Scholarship Deadline: TBA
  • Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be enrolled at Western Washington University as undergraduate or graduate students in education, psychology, or neuroscience. A minimum 3.3 cumulative GPA is required with a 3.5 GPA in the student’s major.

Accreditation for Online Psychology Programs in Washington

Accreditation serves as an endorsement of a school’s academic rigor and lets students be confident that their degrees will meet minimum standards when transferring credits to another school, enrolling in graduate programs, and applying for jobs. Independent national or regional agencies confer general accreditation for undergraduate and graduate programs. The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities serves as the regional accrediting agency for the state of Washington.

Many programs also seek accreditation from industry organizations, including the American Psychological Association (APA), which accredits doctoral-level psychology programs. Earning a degree from a program accredited by the APA or the Canadian Psychological Association eases the licensing process for clinical psychologists in Washington and may be required by prospective employers. Students should check to see that their school holds regional and/or national accreditation to verify the quality of an institution’s instruction.

Program Database of Online Psychology 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 state. When looking at schools, be sure to consider the specializations available in each program as well as the opportunities for hands-on learning at nearby clinics and research centers.