Residency requirements - licensing implications

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by PsychPhD, Mar 15, 2007.

  1. PsychPhD

    PsychPhD New Member

    It has been brought to my attention that the Kansas Behavioral Sciences Board has denied psychologists licenses to graduates of Capella and Walden Universities, primarily because the residencies of these programs are not "equivalent" to those at a Kansas state university. (The rulings are posted at:, scroll down to Distance Learning.) Both rulings were appealed to the Kansas state courts and upheld.

    Now I realize there is a sizable cadre of people who simply cannot be convinced that learning anything online is legitimate.

    Still, I am perplexed by these rulings.

    My understanding of university "residency requirement" is that it usually falls under one of two categories:
    1. certifying one lives in a state in order to receive in-state tuition
    2. completing a certain number of classes in order to receive that institution's degree.

    Obviously, it is #2 that is the contention in these cases.

    However, I have never read anything in a residency requirement that stipulates -- or even insinuates -- that one must literally be physically on campus.

    Ironically, the only time I have seen such a specifically worded requirement is for online programs. As many threads here demonstrate, often people are looking for distance-delivered programs that do not require physical attendence of some form. Both Capella and Walden do require physical attendence at a collection of colloquia to provide some "face time" which is important in a professional psychology program.

    Curiously, on a website discussing distance learning for members of the military, the entry for Kansas State University has this to say about residency:

    Does K-State have a residency requirement?
    The residency requirement is 25% of the degree you are completing. If you are military and have a SOCAD agreement, the requirement to receive the last 30 hours from K-State is waived. However, 25% of your classes must be taken from K-State.

    So, it appears Kansas State University itself does not require physical presence only a certain number of that university's courses completed.

    Does this strike anyone else as a convenient, but twisted, interpretation of residency?
  2. eric.brown

    eric.brown New Member

    Yes. Is it surprising? No.
  3. PaulC

    PaulC Member

    I don't think this references state residency, it seems to refer to academic residency. They do not consider the "residency" requirements of Capella to be the equivilent of their required two semesters in full residency at the institution that grants the degree.
  4. PsychPhD

    PsychPhD New Member

    That's what I said ...

    Yes, Paul, I only included the in-state interpretation as an example of the only two "residency" rules of which I am aware.

    What is particularly disingenuous about the "required two semesters in full residency" is the apparent interpretation that this literally means a full year of physical presence. Capella's "Year-in-Residence" was designed to replicate a year of seat time in graduate study. Even if you do attend a conventional program, how can anyone assert that you are literally spending a full year in study? (Let's also not forget that "two semesters" represents only nine calendar months.)

    One of the rulings (against the Walden grad) said “… a total of no more than 21 to 29 days does not constitute the equivalent of 1-year ‘full-time residence.” The court was literally counting calendar days. By that standard, no program -- conventional or online -- would suffice.

    The Capella grad was told by the court “… attempting to qualify under the or equivalent language of the regulation could be much like, proverbially, ‘fighting windmills’, the arguments overlook the unequivocal ‘one year … in full time residence’ precedential standard from which any equivalency must be tested.”

    Sorry, the logic here is extraordinarily tenuous.
  5. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    Hi - I think it's great that you brought this up. It's a good illustration of why people are generally told to check with their state licensing board before entering a program. Some states are very open to distance degrees and some much less so. Similarly, I believe there are still a few states that require that the PhD come from a school that is accredited by the APA. Most states do not. Is it logical? Perhaps not but then, what has that got to do with anything?
  6. PsychPhD

    PsychPhD New Member

    Yes, but ...

    The point about checking with your licensing board is well taken.

    1) We don't always know -- given where we go to school, intern and post-doc or, heck, just life events -- where we might end up;
    2) Licensing boards will not "pre-approve" an application, so -- in most states -- it isn't until an applicant has completed a doctorate, internship, and post-doc that s/he will learn about about a problem;
    3) Licensing boards are given broad latitude in interpreting laws, regulations and applications, so that it is theoretically possible that they can disallow specific aspects of your training (like the content of an ethics class);
    4) In the Kansas example, there was nothing in the laws/regulations that would have given a hint that distance degrees would have been unacceptable -- this only came out after two such grads filed lawsuits

    In fact, there are reports that the Kansas board has stated they would not accept a degree from the Fielding Graduate Institute which is APA accredited. That would seem to violate the very regulations that were cited in upholding the denials of the Capella and Walden grads applications.

    While there are some reports of online grads being licensed without problem in other jurisdictions, the Kansas situation does seem to be an instance of extraordinarilly strict interpretations of regulations with the express intent of disallowing specifically online degrees.
  7. japhy4529

    japhy4529 House Bassist

    Eh, I think Kansas is just backwards in general... Okay, that was harsh! My apologies to those on this board who are from Kansas. I'm sure you are all quite level headed and an exception to my broad sweeping statement! :p

    - Tom
  8. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    Kudos to Kansas! Perhaps they, like I, simply believe that online doctoral psychology programs allegedly leading to licensure are most likely crap.*

    Be that as it may, I think the key issue is still APA approval. Doesn't it strike anyone as odd that, after all these years, Fielding remains the only significant distance program that has APA approval?

    Face it, kiddies, if you want to become a shrink by going through the back door, you just might get the left foot of fellowship.

    * Of course, I think that most online programs in general are crap. Get over it. :D
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2007
  9. PsychPhD

    PsychPhD New Member

    Charming ...

    The claim of license eligibility may be questionable but your dismissive comment illustrates the pervasive ignorance of what is actually involved in a distance delivered program.

    Gosh, Steve, hmm ... could politics have anything to do with it?
    Perhaps, just maybe, once the APA old guard saw what the Fielding model represented there was a bit of a freak out and the door was closed before another horse left the barn?

    Yeah, and that's what people said about PsyDs 30 or so years ago.
    They seem to be a pretty well established facet of the profession now.

    Got something substantive to say, by all means ...
    But could we please be spared the simplistic?
  10. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    Sorry. I guess the five books I've written (two of which were highly regarded volumes on non-traditional and distance education) don't count. Before you make accusations, psych, do your research. :D

    Or perhaps they realized that even Fielding was not as comprehensive as a B&M doctoral program in psychology. Could it be politics? Perhaps - but to make posit such a statement without elaboration involves too much speculation without documentation of your theory.

    Um, you did study theory, didn't you?

    Actually, they never said that about PsyD's 30 years ago, or 20 or 10. And for what it's worth, to me a Psy.D. is simply a pseudo-Ph.D. who doesn't have as strong a research background. I have no problem with the notion of a Psy.D. as a counseling-based degree (as opposed to the Ph.D.'s basis in clinical psych), but I would submit that's not a significant issue today. Much of the psychologist's role has been taken over by LPC's in many states, reducing psychology to testing and assessment. If ya wanna whine, dude, there's your culprit.

    Sure, feel free to get substantive. But do do your research. And, more important, when I comment on something - whether online programs or Psy.D. degrees - don't take it so personally. I can't help it if I'm perfect and you're not - which means you shouldn't take me so seriously either. ;)
  11. BlackBird

    BlackBird Member


    You say that most online programs are crap.

    Do you feel that about the several graduate online programs (Masters and Doctoral) you graduated from ?

    Do you consider Union, Capella, and Walden "crap"?
  12. PsychPhD

    PsychPhD New Member

    Well butter my buns and call me a biscuit ...

    I am SO sorry ... I didn't realize I was sparring with DOCTOR Steve Levicoff, distance learning expert ( and "a leading and outspoken critic of diploma mills, of nearly all unrecognized accrediting bodies, and of unaccredited institutions of higher learning" (

    Now that I have learned that you earned all of your own degrees non-traditionally, I stand corrected -- your original comments are not "pervasively ignorant" now they fall in the category of "stunningly hypocritical." Might this arise from your longstanding work with fundamentalist Christian education?

    So, you chastise me for not having read your bio and exert your expertise by referencing your books (most of which were published by your own organization, mind you and only three of which are available on Yet, at the same time you tell me not to take you seriously?

    OK, I won't take you seriously. Especially since one of your "books" criticized an accreditor of Christian programs that is, in fact, a recognized accrediting agency under CHEA and US DoE (CHEA, 2006).

    What I do take seriously is the work I did to earn my degrees and do take issue when my ability to then pursue my chosen career is capriciously derailed by petty political turf protection by people who are pervasively ignorant about what is involved in distance learning.

    (Tell us .. did you write your own Wikipedia entry?)

    Look, if you really are the expert you claim to be, what would be your motivation for trashing regionally accredited distance delivered psychology programs? I thought your beef was with "diploma mills, nearly all unrecognized accrediting bodies, and unaccredited institutions of higher learning"
  13. PsychPhD

    PsychPhD New Member

    Additional biscuit

    So it is only TRACS you take issue with, or just Christian program accreditors, or the entire accrediation process?

    Trying to ascertain your true position is remarkably difficult for one cited as an "expert" on non-traditional learning.
  14. fortiterinre

    fortiterinre New Member

    Thanks for posting this, VERY interesting. My state (Illinois) has residency requirements even for master's degrees in psych to sit for the LPC. They're not enforced, I called the dept of professional regs and their exact words were, "As long as it's a regionally accredited degree you'll be okay," but it's a troublesome rule that could lurch into enforcement at any time.

    If a full academic year is seen as at least 3 quarters of 10 weeks each, would they expect 150 class days to be a year of residency? 29 days would come close to how often someone taking one or two classes at a time is probably actually in the classroom. No one takes classes 5 days a week, and my university does not prevent me from getting on a plane the days I am not in class.
  15. Andy Borchers

    Andy Borchers New Member

    Is there a possible reason for residency in psychology?

    I'm a B-school guy - and know nothing about psychology....

    But here is a question - might the concern be about the ability of a student to learn the practice of a profession without sufficient one-on-one contact? Don't people learn about counseling by working with skilled psychologist and live clients in a clinical setting?

    Would anyone of us go to a physician who learned brain surgery via a DL program? Is psychology in any way similar?

    Also, on your K-state reference to residency - are you talking apples and oranges here? Your quote appears to refer to undergrad programs in general, and not graduate level clinical psycology.

    I might also note that Nova Southeastern (my alma mater) operates a clinical psych program - but they only do so in a traditional on-campus setting. NSU is big in DL, but they apparently don't see DL for clinical psych.

    Wondering here in Clarkston....

    Regards - Andy
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 16, 2007
  16. PsychPhD

    PsychPhD New Member

    Not apples and oranges at all


    Actually, the apples and oranges comparison is the tired ol' chestnut "Would you go to a ___ surgeon who earned a DL degree?" As has been discussed here, ad nauseum, there are some fields (e.g. medicine, dentistry, auto repair, optician dispensing) which are so highly technical and hands-on that they simply cannot effectively be delivered via DL.

    Clinical psychology simply does not qualify.

    And for the record, ALL license preparatory DL clinical psych programs DO have face-to-face components.

    The issue here is not the adequacy of the delivery model, rather the overly concrete interpretation of what "residency" means.

    The K-state example is not off-track, but directly on point. I, briefly, considered a position at a Kansas state hospital (run by a member of the Capella faculty, no less) so I did my due diligence regarding the state requirements. The cited policy (along with rules for eligibility for in-state tuition) is the only residency requirement in the Kansas university system.

    The Kansas Court of Appeals, in Caporale v. Kansas Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board (KBSRB), conceded Walden grad Caporale's argument that the requirement does not specify physical presence. He was not, however, able to convince them of the overall equivalence. However, both Caporale and Covington-Kent v. KBSRB (a Capella grad) were undermined by a strict, day-for-day accountings of the Walden and Capella residential components. Neither case, surprisingly, apparently argued the content equivalence. Capella's "Year-in-Residence" was specifically designed to replicate the seat time of an academic year.
    It would be rather disingenuous for a DL program to ever assert chronological equivalence to a campus-based program. However, it is equally disingenuous to presume that a year spent on a campus literally means 525,600 minutes of contact.

    fortiterinre, don't succumb to needless worry. My understanding is that ALL licensing laws contain residency requirements along the lines of what Kansas has. Many also contain specific outlines of which courses are needed and that the degree be earned in a program specifically called "psychology." Actually, the Illinois licensing board contains a member of the Capella faculty and has already licensed a Capella grad. Now, Illinois is notoriously non-user-friendly and a royal pain to traverse, but they do not appear to be DL-negative. (I know this personally as I am living in the state myself, having moved here for my pre-doctoral internship.)

    Oh and Andy, you might want to double check NSU's offerings ... I found a PhD in Family Therapy and a PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy both being offered through primarily distance learning.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 16, 2007
  17. Ike

    Ike New Member

    Family/Marriage Therapy program and Psychology program are run by two different schools. The homepage of NSU School of Psychology is here and the homepage of NSU Family/Marriage Therapy program is here.. Whereas the psychology program is accredited by APA, the Family/Marriage Therapy program is not (I don't think that APA accreditation is required for Marriage/Family Therapy).
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 16, 2007
  18. PsychPhD

    PsychPhD New Member

    NSU clarification

    Thanks for the clarification Ike ...

    Still, it does seem curious -- given the theoretical and practical overlap -- that School of Psychology does not offer a DL program, while the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences does.
  19. Andy Borchers

    Andy Borchers New Member

    I'm sure you feel that clinical psychology does not qualify as needing to be done with traditional B&M instruction. I can certainly understand why you might feel this way. However, could a reasonable, uninvolved third party see this in a different light? I suspect so.

    As for the face to face requirements - do DL programs have the same content as traditional B&M schools? I'm just curious.

    Regards - Andy

  20. simon

    simon New Member

    1).The kansas requirment appears to be very stringent in contrast to the majority of other state boards of Psychology licensure (with the obvious exception of states that require that one complete an APA doctoral program and an APA internship). It is interesting that Kansas will not accept a doctorate from Fielding and I am wondering if there there are other factors that currently remain unspoken for this decision.

    2) I believe that if one completes a clinical Ph.D, not a Psy.D, from a distance online RA Psychology doctoral program coupled with completion of requisite face-to-face academic/training residences that this should be substantially equivalent to a similar traditional doctoral degree program.

    3) IMHO, I generally believe that individuals who recieved doctorates (such as the "name it and frame it" variety) from Union prior to the recent implementation of higher and more substantive standards for the attainment of a doctorate, are hardly in any intellectually advantaged position to criticize the credibility of anyone who has successfully completed a structured and highly demanding doctorate from a distance online RA program in Cinical Psychology.

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