Date of Conferral







Susan Rarick


As online graduate programs gain popularity, it has become more important to understand how students enrolled in these programs develop their professional identities. Researchers have demonstrated that there are both benefits and drawbacks to participation in blended learning programs (which incorporate in person and online instruction). It is not known how students enrolled in blended clinical psychology PhD programs experience the in-person portion of these programs and what their experiences mean for their professional identity development. This study examined the perceived impact of one part of an online clinical psychology doctoral program, the in-person classroom experiences, on the professional identity of clinical psychology trainees. Drawing from theories such as actor network theory and transactional distance theory, the current study explored how interactions between students and professors shaped professional identity. The study was qualitative phenomenological, using NVivo software to organize interview data from participants enrolled in blended doctoral programs. There were 6 participants total. A total of 8 themes were found in the data. These themes included fear, expertise, improved understanding, adjusting, growth, change, dissatisfaction, and finding support. Students valued the time spent with professors and perceived themselves to have grown after participating in in-person intensives. The themes found gleaned insight into the professional identity development of students enrolled in blended clinical psychology doctoral programs. This study has implications for how training programs for those in blended programs can be improved, thus improving the quality of patient care.