Written By Aunice Yvonne Reed, M.S., M.A., AMFT
This area of Top Online Psychology Schools is dedicated to discussing topics essential to obtaining an education in psychology (or other mental health field) at the undergraduate level, meaning a bachelor degree or an associate degree (pre-psychology). If you are wanting to complete a psychology degree and you are in the pre-psychology or bachelor degree phase of education, you are in the right place.
Here I will explain, discuss and highlight online programs in psychology, as well as discuss topics related to getting a degree at this level and how to prepare for a graduate level education in psychology or other mental health majors. At the undergraduate stage, you are just going to be covering a myriad of psychology subjects (introduction to psychology, history and systems in psychology, biological psychology, health psychology and abnormal psychology, research methods, for example.). It is simply a survey of the field, so that you can understand what psychology generally covers and includes.
An undergraduate degree does not permit you to independently practice and work with clients. You won't be able to start working on that journey until you are done with the BA/BS degree and are enrolled in a graduate school program. With an undergraduate degree, you can work in the field as an addiction counselor, behavioral technician working with people with developmental conditions or with those admitted to addiction facilities and mental institutions). You can also work as a social worker. These fields will permit you to work and gain experience under supervision of credentialed professionals.
In my own experience in the undergrad psych program (at a brick and mortar university) we were given a choice to either follow a clinical track or an experimental track. Because I planned to eventually work with clients, I decided to follow the clinical track. Those wanting to primarily be organizational psychologists, researchers and professors at the college level, chose to do the experimental track. All students got research experience, either way. There was a core that all the psych students were required to complete, then we followed our respective tracks from that point onward towards graduation.
Not all schools will have this option, but many do. I knew that I was going to work with clients; not all people are sure of this at the undergrad level. If you even think you might want to work with clients in the future, I'd advise to follow the clinical track if you have the choice. Graduate schools require that your undergraduate program has a clinical focus, if you want to enroll in a program to learn how to work with clients such as in school psychology, counseling or marriage and family therapy. In an undergraduate clinical track path, you will get some research experience as well as clinical theory. You will also learn about the components of law, ethics, and treatment planning in depth. While you will obtain research experience, your program focus is clinically applied.