Online Psychiatry Degree Programs

If you're interested in becoming a psychiatrist, you must pursue a degree on campus. However, you can earn a degree partially through online study if you're looking to become a psychiatric nurse. Learn more about these program options, and find out how online classes work. Explore the typical curriculum in a psychiatric nursing program. Review the requirements for becoming a psychiatrist, which include going to medical school and becoming a licensed physician. Schools offering Clinical Psychology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Can I Earn a Psychiatry Degree Online?

While you can't earn a medical degree online if you want to practice psychiatry, you can earn a Master of Science in Nursing or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) with a psychiatric and mental health specialization. Online programs that award these degrees are designed for students with bachelor's degrees in nursing, but DNP programs also accept students with master's degrees in nursing. You may also need to complete prerequisite courses in biostatistics, allied health, psychology or physiology. Most master's programs prepare you for the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) certification examination.

Program Levels Master's degree, doctorate
Online Availability Online programs are available; graduates cannot be practicing psychiatrists, as medical degrees are not offered online
Common Courses Master's: Health policy, research methods, pharmacology, advanced nurse practice, mental health assessment
Doctorate: Nursing informatics, psychopathology, epidemiology, clinical therapy, nursing leadership
Job Requirements Pre-medical bachelor's degree, medical doctorate, medical license, and residency program must all be obtained or completed to become a practicing psychiatrist
Median Salary (2018)$30,860 (Psychiatric Technicians and Aides)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)6% growth (Psychiatric Technicians and Aides)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

How Are Online Courses Conducted?

You can access all the course material through your school's website, including recorded lectures, exams and tests. Asynchronous discussions take place with classmates and instructors on threaded message boards. Some programs may have brief on-campus requirements in addition to your clinical requirements.

Although coursework will be completed online, you'll need to complete a certain amount of clinical hours before you earn a degree. Online schools will generally locate an advanced practice nurse or psychiatrist to supervise your clinical experience. During this experience, you'll learn how to monitor individual patients and conduct group therapy sessions. You'll also learn about the different medications used to manage psychiatric symptoms.

What Will I Learn?

Some master's programs give you the choice between pursuing a clinical nurse specialist or nurse practitioner curriculum. A clinical nurse specialist provides individual and group therapy in private practice, while a nurse practitioner works with a psychiatrist to provide assessment, therapy and treatment to patients. Common curricular requirements among the two specialties include patient assessment, pharmacology, health policy, advanced nurse practice and research methods. You'll learn how to assess different changes in a patient's mental health state, monitor a patient's overall health condition and work with other professionals in a psychiatric facility.

Core coursework in a DNP program may include epidemiology, nursing informatics and nursing leadership. The coursework focused on psychiatric nursing may cover topics such as psychiatric and mental health evaluation and management, psychopathology, clinical therapy and biological treatments. A dissertation is not generally required.

What Do I Need to Become a Psychiatrist?

Unlike psychologists who only provide psychotherapy and counseling, you'll need to become a licensed doctor. Although psychiatry does involve many of the same counseling and psychoanalytical tasks, you'll also be prescribing medication, comparing a patient's progress with his or her overall health and monitoring patients for side effects.

To become a psychiatrist, you'll first need to earn a bachelor's degree as a pre-medical student. The undergraduate coursework you complete to prepare you for medical school should cover organic chemistry, anatomy, biology and physics.

In medical school, you'll complete coursework and clinical rotations to acquire the pharmacological, medical and psychotherapy skills to practice psychiatry. After you graduate from medical school, you'll need to sit for and pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination to obtain a license to practice in your state. Afterwards, you must undergo a supervised residency program in psychiatry which lasts an average of four years.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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