A master’s degree emphasizing clinical psychology, to be offered completely online, is now open for applications and enrollment for fall 2013.

The belief that psychology is a clinical science that can be supported by research and experiments is relatively recent and still extremely controversial among psychologists, said Julia Felton, Masters in Clinical Psychological Science director. But extending students the opportunity to understand the science can only benefit their psychology knowledge and skill, Felton said.

“In the past, there has been less of an evidence-based practice in psychology, and clinical psychology is still shockingly new to the field,” Felton said. “We saw this area where the field needed to provide something, and we wanted to convey to students that they can help people in ways based in science.”

The almost year-and-a-half program takes place through Adobe Connect, which will provide students with live, interactive lectures supplying training in clinical psychology, in addition to groundbreaking research methods and critical thinking skills. The curriculum was based off the university’s clinical psychology doctorate program, which is enormously popular and brings in hundreds of applications per year, said Jack Blanchard, psychology professor and department chairman.

“A lot of the students who were rejected for the doctorate program just weren’t ready for it and needed a stepping stone between the levels,” he said. “There was no program in the area addressing this need, and we received a lot of student inquiries requesting this type of master’s program.”

Aimed at attracting working professionals, the master’s lectures will be in the evenings, after typical work hours, to accommodate those with full-time jobs who wish to expand their careers in the mental health field. The program will also focus on preparing psychology students to apply for and obtain their doctorate degrees, as gaining enrollment in these types of programs is considered more difficult than for medical school, Felton said.

“We saw many psychology undergraduates that didn’t have the type of preparation to pursue these types of degrees,” she said. “We want this program to be the launching pad for students to further themselves in their careers and get them ready for the next level: grad school.”

Applicants of all majors, with no previous psychology background or a GRE required, can apply to the program by its June 1 deadline.

“The master’s program design is targeted for people with diverse backgrounds and majors,” such as sociology and family science, he said. “The classes can address wide, diverse needs, especially for those who have studied related fields.”

Though officials did not disclose the total cost of the program, Blanchard said it will support itself through its tuition cost. The program does not require the use of facilities and the department plans to hire only one new full-time faculty member, and all students will be charged in-state tuition, Felton said.

“Something we are committed to is making sure that our program is worth the money, and is affordable for students,” she said. “We wanted the price to be reasonable and help further students in the psychology field.”

Monica Kearney, who is currently in the process of applying to doctorate and master’s programs, said she appreciates the department’s concern for students as the procedure is already difficult.

“Applying wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but it is a lot to take on,” the senior family science and psychology major said. “If I get in, I hope that these programs will advance my skills and make myself competitive in the job market.”

Though Kearney does not plan to apply for this university’s program, she said it will help students attempting to make the shift into graduate school.

“I think the program will get a lot of students who are in a transitional phase in their life, which I think is a good thing,” she said. “These students are impressionable and are critical and active thinkers who can bring a new perspective to the university.”