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For those who wish to pursue a psychology program with the goal of gaining a clinical psychology degree, an associate degree in psychology is a terrific place to start. Depending on the state in which you plan to work, there may also be degree options in addictions counseling which can lead to state licensure and one's first job as a counselor. These positions don't offer the same level of professional autonomy that a master's degree in clinical psychology provides, but it's not a bad idea to build a career on this sort of early experience. The up-front educational investment is minimal and it's then easier to see whether the field is appealing enough to pursue all the way to a master's or doctoral degree. However, students who wish to work as clinical psychologists or psychiatrists must complete clinical psychology degree programs at the master's and doctoral/PhD level, respectively. Even a bachelor's degree in psychology won't be enough to let you run a private practice.

Since an associate degree in psychology includes the core courses most four-year degrees require, it will be all the easier to return to school and complete a bachelor's degree in psychology or a clinical psychology degree. Whether it's an Associate of Science or an Associate of Art, a psychology associate degree focused on this field should also cover a few courses required for the bachelor's degree such as statistics, intro to psychology, and perhaps a few counseling-specific psychology courses. In-depth programs may offer abnormal psychology, research methods, and others that students will need when they go back to school for a more advanced degree. Bachelor's programs in clinical psychology will also offer a variety of coursework with content covering child development, theories of personality and behavior, the DSM and behavioral and developmental disorders, forensic psychology, the hard sciences, and maybe even an internship.

Psychology students who graduate with an associate degree in psychology may find work as psychiatric aides or phychiatric technicians working in a mental health facility or hospital ward. They may also work to support those with addiction issues. Luckily, accessing an associate degree in psychology only requires that you have your high school diploma and perhaps that you take and pass the SAT or ACT.

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  • One of the chief benefits of launching a career with a psychology associate degree is the low cost. Two-year degrees from community colleges often feature lower per-credit fees, as well as lower student-to-faculty ratios. Those who launch into a career with their associate degree can have their tuition and loans paid off by the time they decide to go back for their bachelor's degree.
  • Since many states provide licensure for addictions counselors with associate degrees, it's possible to start gaining vital experience in an entry-level position in addictions or as psychiatric technicians that can help shape psychology student's whole careers. In fact, one of the key benefits is that this route allows someone to discern whether or not the field is for them or not. Counseling is a demanding field and it is advantageous to explore the field with an associate degree prior to investing in a master's psychology program. Even if counseling isn't desirable, the experience is bound to be enriching for your communication skills and overall insights into the human condition and the field of psychology.


  • One of the main downsides to an associate degree is that it’s limiting. Even for those who are able to achieve a state licensure and work as counselors, their earnings and professional abilities are curtailed by their degree level. Further, they can only achieve certain certifications, if any. Any professional who wishes to have a fully developed career will need to add at least two more years of college to their transcripts, culminating in a bachelor's degree.
  • Community college degree programs also only provide a limited numbers of courses in one's desired field of study. Much of the time in a two-year degree program is spent satisfying core curriculum or general education requirements such as college algebra, composition 101, and other courses. There may be time for perhaps four courses in psychology or counseling, which means your knowledge base is necessarily limited relative to a graduate with a bachelor's degree.

Certificate Vs. Associates in Clinical Psychology

What Clinical Psychology Associate Degrees are Available Online?

Even at the community college level, there are a wide range of possible degrees. The differences often seem small and arbitrary, but then some online programs may create strong distinctions in terms of required courses and outcomes. For a future clinical psychologist, it's important to determine one's career path. That is, if the goal is to move directly into a baccalaureate program after an associate degree program, then the distinctions may not mean as much. However, those who are seeking to immediately start working on state licensure may need to consult with their academic adviser to determine the best possible degree type for them.

  • Associate of Science: This degree will likely focus more on psychological research and statistics. While students may also delve into theory and practice, AS degrees tend to be research oriented. Nevertheless, this is a terrific foundation for later learning.
  • Associate of Applied Science: AAS degree holders are generally trained to get straight to work. The focus of these degrees is usually on practical matters relative to the profession more than theory or other academic concerns.
  • Associate of Arts: This degree type will prepare a future psychologist with courses that focus on skills such as communication, interpretation, and psychological theory. However, some AA degrees also include courses that pertain to statistics and psychological research.
  • Associate of Applied Arts: This degree may be best suited for someone who is seeking to get to work on a state licensure as an addiction counselor. The focus of this degree may include communications and counseling skills but with a clear focus on practical applications.

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Psychology Associates Admission Requirements

Typically, admission into an online associate degree program is open. Students will need to show that they have a high school diploma or an equivalent degree, but not much more. Community colleges seldom have an SAT/ACT requirement or any rigorous application process.

However, those who wish to become counselors should self-assess and determine whether that is truly the field for them. Many enter the field after having been through some sort of therapy, but younger students may not have had that experience. Nevertheless, all students who complete an associate degree and enter an entry-level counseling position can apply their credit hours to some other baccalaureate degree later on.

How long does it take to earn an Online Associate Degree in Clinical Psychology?

An online associate degree in clinical psychology typically takes only two years to complete. For those who wish to pursue a state license to practice as addictions counselors, however, the full process may take longer. State boards have experience requirements that can add a year or more to the process.

However, many students who are in more of a hurry may be able to complete their studies in a year and a half or so if they forgo summer break and take accelerated online courses. Some students may even be exempt from certain classes if they have AP courses on their transcript or if they are able to test-out of some courses. Each degree program is unique, however, so it's vital to ask one's academic adviser about the best way to expedite the degree.

Potential Careers in Clinical Psychology with an online Associate Degree

  • Addictions Counselor: This position typically requires state licensure and can be terrifically rewarding. With an associate degree, licensed professionals might work as intake professionals for a drug rehab, substance abuse educators, or other supervised positions. Each state handles its licensed addictions counselors in their own way, but candidates should expect to work in a supervised position. Counselors with a private practice must have at least a master's degree and have completed a more rigorous licensure process. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that this position earns a median salary of $46,000 per year.
  • Social Worker: This is a loose term that covers a broad range of duties and job descriptions. However, with an associate degree in clinical psychology, a student can start their career working with people in need. Social workers might be found in hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, or government office buildings. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports their median salary at $50,000, but those with an associate degree might expect a bit less.
  • Community Health Educator: Requirements for these positions vary according to the employer, but students with a strong desire and an associate degree can often land an entry-level position. Some work with elderly populations to inform them of basic health concerns, while other positions may be highly technical and aimed at healthcare workers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that this position earns a median salary of $47,000 per year.
  • Human Services Assistant: This position is very much in line with what many social workers do. Depending on the population one works with, a human services assistant will help their clients find the services they need. Some will direct the mentally ill towards counseling services or inpatient treatment. Others might help elderly patients receive in-home care including meal assistance and more. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that this position earns a median salary of $35,000 per year.
  • Home Health Aide: This profession helps various populations deal with their day-to-day life. There are agencies that work with every sort of population imaginable. For instance, some may work with persons who have a cognitive delay. In that work, the aide might help their client plan daily routines including fun outings. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that this position earns a median salary of $25,000 per year.

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Educational Options to Advance Your Psychology Career

An online associate degree in clinical psychology is enough to get someone started on the path to becoming a full-time therapist, but more work is needed. To advance toward a position with more responsibility and higher salary, a higher-level degree is necessary. Ultimately, to become a fully licensed clinical psychologist, professionals need to attain at least an online master's degree.

Along the way, students can bolster their resume and experience level by taking important jobs. For instance, many states will license a person with an associate degree to work as an addiction counselor. This position not only provides invaluable experience, but it can help the budding counselor form a network of professionals. These colleagues can impart career advice, help with job opportunities, and write letters of recommendation.

When students take breaks from school to gain experience and pay off loans, they can assess their career goals. In fact, there is no better way to assess the road ahead than by working in the field and figuring out one's own skills and needs.

Colleges That Offer Traditional Associate Degrees in Clinical Psychology

  • Quesnsborough Community College
    Queens, NY

    NYC-area students can start their careers at Queensborough Community College. The school is dedicated to providing top-quality academic programs that form a foundation for a career and later learning. A psychology degree from Queensborough can kick off a life of learning that leads to a terrific counseling career.

    Degrees Offered:

    • AS in Psychology
    • AS in Public Health
  • Portland Community College
    Portland, OR

    Portland's multi-campus community college system confers high quality degrees to graduates who move on to become counselors. Students who stay in town might complete their counselor training at Portland State University or maybe in Eugene, at the University of Oregon.

    Degrees Offered:

    • AA in Psychology
    • AA in Addiction Counseling
  • Los Angeles City College
    Los Angeles, CA

    Los Angelenos and students from all over California flock to LACC for degrees and certificates that help them boost their career aspirations. In fact, LACC has been bolstering the intellectual life of Los Angeles for over 90 years.

    Degrees Offered:

    • AA in Human Services – Drug/Alcohol Services
    • AA in Psychology
  • Cuyahoga Community College
    Cleveland, OH

    Cuyahoga Community College offers a terrific array of associate degrees to students from Cleveland and the greater Ohio area. Students at CCC are studying over 190 degree programs all year around. Whether it's an associate degree or certificate program, a skill training session, continuing education courses, or simply a fun course for personal enrichment, CCC is there for its community.

    Degrees Offered:

    • AA in Psychology
    • AA in Sociology
  • Borough of Manhattan Community College
    New York, New York

    Manhattan students needn't leave the island to find one of the very best two-year psychology degrees in the nation. Students from BMCC find that the sky is the limit once they've achieved their diploma.

    Degrees Offered:

    • AA in Psychology
    • AA in Human Services

Colleges That Offer Online Associate Degrees in Clinical Psychology

  • Liberty University

    Liberty University is a Christian, faith-based institution in Southern Virginia. However, their online degree programs extend worldwide. Their academic programs are rooted in their faith, but they also deliver top-notch instruction to their students.

    Degrees Offered:

    • AA in Psychology – Christian Counseling
    • AA in Psychology
  • Ashworth College

    Ashworth consistently posts top numbers for student satisfaction. Those who choose to start their careers via Ashworth's flexible online platform can be assured success. Though their physical address is in Georgia, Ashworth students are all over the world.

    Degrees Offered:

    • AA in Psychology
    • AA in Early Childhood Education
  • Northern Vermont University Online

    Students needn't be from New England to attain a degree from Northern Vermont. No matter where they log in from, an online psychology degree will help them launch into a career as a counselor.

    Degrees Offered:

    • AA in Psychology
    • AA in Early Childhood Education
  • City University of New York - Online

    Students no longer have to live a borough of New York City to complete an associate degree in psychology from a New York school. In fact, the Kingsborough Community College branch offers an Associate of Science degree in Chemical Dependency Counseling that is wholly conducted through their online program.

    Degrees Offered:

    • AS in Chemical Dependency Counseling
    • AS in Community Health
  • State University of New York - Online

    With such a well-known name as the State University of New York on an associate diploma, there's no doubt that any psychology major will skate right through to their chosen master's programs. The psychology program is offered through the Monroe Community college.

    Degrees Offered:

    • AS in Psychology
    • AS in Healthcare Management

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