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Online Master’s in Psychology Programs

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What Are the Goals of a Master’s Program in Psychology?

While earning an online master’s degree in psychology, students gain comprehensive knowledge of psychological theories and best practices. Master’s-level psychology students gain research skills and specialized knowledge within the discipline. Earning a master’s degree in psychology prepares students to advance in psychology or counseling-related careers. Master’s degree-holders can also pursue a doctorate and obtain state licensure.

Graduates of online master’s in psychology programs often pursue roles in human service organizations, group homes, healthcare agencies, law enforcement agencies, nonprofit organizations, schools, and government agencies. However, a master’s degree does not qualify psychologists to obtain licensure. Individuals need a doctorate to practice independently or work in clinical settings.

Master’s programs in psychology typically require 36-60 credits and take 1-2 years to complete. Some online programs offer accelerated course schedules that allow students to graduate sooner. Learners must typically maintain a satisfactory GPA while completing coursework. Most master’s programs require an internship, capstone project, or thesis.

 FAQ

QUESTIONSANSWERS
What is psychology?The field of psychology deals with cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior. Psychologists observe, analyze, diagnose, and treat issues pertaining to psychological disorders.
Do I need a bachelor’s in psychology to get a master’s in psychology?Applicants to master’s programs must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Master’s programs in psychology may accept applicants with a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field as long as they complete certain prerequisites.
How long does it take to earn a master’s in psychology?Master’s programs in psychology typically require 36-60 credits, which most students complete in 1-2 years.
What is the difference between counseling and psychology?Counselors guide clients through life’s challenges, while psychologists focus on cognitive and behavioral issues.

Top 10 Online Master’s in Psychology Programs

Rank School Location
1 Arizona State University-Online Scottsdale, AZ
2 University of Louisiana at Monroe Monroe, LA
3 McNeese State University Lake Charles, LA
4 National Louis University Chicago, IL
5 Harvard University Cambridge, MA
6 Angelo State University San Antonio, TX
7 National University La Jolla, CA
8 University of West Alabama Livingston, AL
9 Ball State University Muncie, IN
10 Mercy College Dobbs Ferry, NY
Advertisement BestValueSchools.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Featured Online Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

Why Study Psychology Online?

Online psychology programs can be ideal for working professionals. Earning a master’s degree online can help individuals transition to a career in psychology or advance their current career in the field. Distance learning can also help students balance academics with family obligations, and online programs are often more flexible and affordable than on-campus options.

  • LEARNING MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS
    Most institutions deliver online psychology programs through a learning management system such as Canvas or Blackboard. Distance learners typically access lectures, assignments, quizzes and tests, and discussion boards online. Students often communicate with classmates and professors through email, chat, and video conferencing.
  • AFFORDABILITY
    Online master’s programs in psychology are often more affordable than on-campus programs. Many distance learners save on housing and transportation costs, and some schools charge all online students the same tuition rate, regardless of residency. Additionally, distance learners often work full time while earning their degree.
  • ASYNCHRONOOUS COURSES
    Many online programs feature asynchronous courses, which allow students to watch lectures and complete assignments at their convenience, as long as they meet deadlines. Many online programs also offer courses in accelerated formats, which may last 6-8 weeks and can help learners graduate sooner. Online students may also save money on course materials, since distance learners often use digital textbooks.
  • IN-PERSON REQUIREMENTS
    Online psychology programs may include some in-person requirements, such as an internship with a local institution that provides mental health services. Programs may also feature residency requirements. When selecting a program, prospective students should consider their ability to complete in-person components.

Accreditation for Online Psychology Programs

Advertisement BestValueSchools.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Featured Online Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

Accreditation demonstrates that institutions and programs meet set standards of quality. To obtain accreditation, schools undergo regular evaluation by a third-party agency. In the United States, institutions can receive regional or national accreditation.

Regional accreditation is considered more prestigious and requires schools to meet more rigorous standards than national accreditation. Six agencies in the U.S. award regional accreditation to institutions in specific geographic areas. National accreditation typically applies to vocational, technical, or for-profit schools. Regionally accredited institutions rarely accept credits or degrees earned from nationally accredited schools.

Learners can also look for field-specific accreditation, which generally applies to individual programs or departments. Psychology programs can receive accreditation from the American Psychological Association (APA), the National Association of School Psychologists, and the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System.

Additionally, agencies such as the Distance Education Accrediting Commission evaluate online programs. Each of these organizations maintains a list of accredited programs and schools, which can help prospective students locate an accredited online master’s in psychology program.

Online Master’s in Psychology Programs

Institutions throughout the nation offer a variety of online psychology programs. Below are the top 10 online master’s in psychology programs for 2020. This ranking can help students compare schools to identify the program that best suits their academic and career goals.

Ranking Methodology

Selection Criteria

For this ranking, we looked for public and private (non-profit) colleges and universities that offer psychology master’s programs online. Because the focus of this list is on affordability, we only considered programs with average* tuition rates of $20,000/year or less.

*For public schools, we calculated the average value of their in-state and out-of-state rates.

Ranking Factors

After compiling a list of all the colleges that offer online psychology graduate programs and meet the above criteria, we then collected data in four categories:

  • Program Popularity: Out of all master’s degree students, how many choose to major in psychology? That is, how successful is the psychology program at attracting students to their degree over other options available at the school? To find out, we considered both the number of students who earned their master’s degree in psychology in the most recent school year as well as the percentage of all master’s program graduates that this number represents.
  • Overall Program Strength: How many total psychology master’s programs does the college offer (online and on campus)? Having multiple programs in one discipline indicates a school that is seriously dedicated to preparing students for success in that field (in this case, psychology).
  • Online Accessibility: Of all the psychology master’s degree programs that the school supports, how many of those are available online?
  • Affordability: What is the average annual cost of attendance?

After collecting and sorting all the information, we ranked the candidates according to their performance in each area. Finally, we summed up the results and gave each school a final score using a curve so that the top-scoring program earned an even 100 points.

Read more about the best cheap online master’s degrees in psychology below!

  1. Arizona State University-Online
    Location

    Scottsdale, AZ

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Based in Scottsdale, Arizona State University offers over 300 online degrees and certificates, including an online master's in psychology. The 36-credit program includes 12 classes on topics such as professional issues in psychology, quantitative analysis, and research methods. Students culminate the degree with a capstone project.

    Full-time students can graduate in 18 months. ASU charges the same tuition rate for all online students regardless of residency. Applicants need a bachelor's from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must also submit official transcripts, a statement of purpose, two letters of recommendation, and proof of English proficiency.

    Arizona State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

  2. University of Louisiana at Monroe
    Location

    Monroe, LA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Louisiana at Monroe offers over 35 fully online degree programs, including a 36-credit online master's in psychology program. Prerequisites for this degree program include six credit hours of undergraduate psychology courses and three credit hours of statistics.

    Students can pursue an optional forensic psychology concentration. All learners take classes like advanced theories of crime and delinquency, counseling in criminal justice, sociology of law, and psychological assessment.

    Applicants must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA or meet two of the following criteria:

    • A minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75
    • A minimum combined GRE score of 900
    • A total of at least 1900 when adding the overall GPA multiplied by 400 plus the overall GRE test score

    The University of Louisiana at Monroe is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

  3. McNeese State University
    Location

    Lake Charles, LA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Lake Charles, Louisiana, McNeese State University enrolls over 6,000 students each year. McNeese offers 17 online degree programs, including an online master's in psychology program with an applied behavior analysis concentration.

    The program comprises 55 credits, including 24 core psychology credits and 31 applied behavior analysis credits. Students also complete a supervised practicum. Full-time online learners can graduate in about two years. This psychology program prepares students for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst examination.

    Applicants need a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum 2.5 GPA. In-state students enjoy a tuition discount.

    McNeese State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The master's in psychology -- applied behavior analysis is accredited by the Association of Behavior Analysis International (ABAI).

  4. National Louis University
    Location

    Chicago, IL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Based in Chicago, Illinois, National Louis University hosts around 9,000 students through more than 60 undergraduate and graduate programs. The online master's in industrial and organizational psychology requires 36 credits.

    Students take classes such as performance analysis and measurement, talent acquisition and retention, and organizational effectiveness and development. Students culminate the degree with a capstone project during which they complete a case study of a real-world business and offer professional solutions.

    Applicants must hold a regionally accredited bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit transcripts and two letters of recommendation. NLU accepts graduate transfer credit from classes with a minimum 3.0 GPA on a case-by-case basis.

    National Louis University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

  5. Harvard University
    Location

    Cambridge, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University is the oldest postsecondary institution in the country. The school hosts around 20,000 students through diverse undergraduate and graduate programs, including an online master's in psychology.

    The mostly online program requires students to complete at least three courses on campus. Students can choose between thesis and capstone tracks. The thesis track involves in-depth research guided by a faculty mentor. Students on the capstone track examine real-world applications of psychological methods and write a scholarly article.

    Prospective students must complete three trial courses. If they pass these classes, students can apply for admission into the psychology program. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution.

    Harvard University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

  6. Angelo State University
    Location

    San Antonio, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Based in San Angelo, Texas, Angelo State University enrolls over 10,000 students through a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs.

    The 36-credit online master's in psychology includes thesis and non-thesis tracks. The thesis track requires an in-depth research project, while the non-thesis track requires additional courses. Regardless of their track, all learners take courses on topics like motivation, emotion, and stress; health and wellness psychology; and psychology of human performance.

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit official college transcripts and a 500-word essay. In-state students enjoy a tuition discount.

    Angelo State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

  7. National University
    Location

    La Jolla, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Based in La Jolla, California, National University offers over 75 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Students can choose from a variety of online options, including an online master of arts in counseling psychology.

    The program offers professional clinical counselor and marriage and family therapy tracks. The marriage and family therapy track requires 225 hours of fieldwork and the professional clinical counselor track requires 280 fieldwork hours. Regardless of their track, all students take courses on topics like lifespans development, perspectives on psychology, and treatment of addictions.

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree and submit transcripts, GRE scores, and a resume. Students may transfer up to 13.5 quarter units from courses with a minimum "B" grade into the psychology program.

    National University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

  8. University of West Alabama
    Location

    Livingston, AL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Based in Livingston, the University of West Alabama offers a variety of on-campus and online degrees. The online master's in experimental psychology offers three concentrations:

    • General Studies (36 credits)
    • Clinical Psychology (39 - 57 credits)
    • Health and Sports Psychology (36 credits)

    The general studies track requires a master's thesis. The clinical psychology track requires a supervised practicum, an internship, and either a thesis or a comprehensive exam. The health and sports psychology track requires a supervised practicum and a thesis or a comprehensive exam. Students take eight-work courses and typically graduate in two years.

    Applicants need an accredited bachelor's degree. Students can transfer up to nine credits toward the degree.

    The University of West Alabama is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

  9. Ball State University
    Location

    Muncie, IN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Based in Muncie, Indiana, Ball State University boasts almost 200,000 alumni worldwide. The school features a 16-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio, allowing students to receive personalized attention from instructors.

    The 33-credit online master's in quantitative psychology offers two concentrations:

    • Quantitative Psychology
    • Mixed Methods Psychology

    Regardless of their concentration, all students take core classes like advanced educational psychology, introduction to statistical methods, analysis of variance, and multivariate statistical techniques. Students culminate the degree with a thesis project.

    The school also offers an online master's in educational psychology. The 30-credit program takes 18 months of full-time study to complete and includes the following specializations:

    • Human Development
    • Gifted and Talented
    • Neuropsychology
    • Applied Behavior Analysis

    Students can also create their own specialization through electives. Core courses for all specializations include tests and measurements, advanced educational psychology, and psychology of human development.

    Applicants must hold an accredited bachelor's degree and submit official transcripts, GRE scores, a letter of intent, a resume, and two letters of recommendation. Transfer students need a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA. Ball State accepts transfer credit from courses with a minimum 2.0 GPA from regionally accredited institutions.

    Ball State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

  10. Mercy College
    Location

    Dobbs Ferry, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Based in Dobbs Ferry, New York, Mercy College offers over 40 online degree programs. The online master of science in psychology features 36 credit hours, including 24 core credits and 12 elective credits. Core classes include psychopathology, professional issues and ethics, and contemporary theories in psychology.

    In addition to coursework, students must complete a field practicum. They need a minimum 3.0 GPA before signing up for the practicum. Learners culminate the degree with a thesis or comprehensive exam.

    Applicants need a bachelor's degree in psychology, sociology, behavioral science, or education. Mercy requires prospective students to complete 12 credit hours of undergraduate psychology courses and a statistics course before applying.

    Mercy College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

Career and Salary Outlook for Psychology Graduates

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), psychologists earned a median annual salary of $80,370 in 2019. The BLS projects employment in the field to increase 14% from 2018 to 2028, a rate much faster than average.

Individual salary potential varies based on geographic location and personal experience. According to data from PayScale, psychologists with 1-4 years of experience earn an average annual salary of $70,792, while psychologists with 10-19 years of experience earn an average salary of $88,533 per year. Factors such as cost of living can also impact earning potential. According to the BLS, the top-paying states for psychologists include California, Maryland, Alaska, Kansas, and Washington.

A professional’s position also affects salary potential and career growth. An online master’s degree in psychology can lead to jobs as industrial-organizational psychologists, supervised clinical psychologists, engineering psychologists, forensic psychologists, and school psychologists. Additional education typically increases an individual’s job opportunities and earning potential. Master’s-level psychologists are not eligible for state licensure.

BOTTOM 10%MEDIAN ANNUAL SALARYTOP 10%
Less than $45,380$80,370More than $132,070

Source: BLS

Certifications and Licensure for Psychology

Most states require candidates for a psychology license to hold a doctoral degree in psychology, pass a licensing exam, and complete a certain number of supervised clinical hours. However, learners should research their state’s specific requirements. For example, candidates in some states must hold a doctoral degree from a program with accreditation from a specific agency, such as the APA.

Candidates for licensure must typically complete supervised practice hours during graduate school, and some states also require postgraduate supervised practice. All states require candidates to pass the examination for professional practice in psychology. Psychology students or professionals who are considering relocating should become familiar with the licensure requirements in the new state. Licensed psychologists can typically transfer their credentials between states, as long as they have fulfilled the destination state’s requirements.

The American Board of Professional Psychology recognizes 13 areas of specialization and provides board certification in these specialties.

Specializations in Psychology

Along with formal specialization through board certification, psychology students can pursue a specialization through focused educational training and experience. Undergraduate students develop general knowledge in the field of psychology, and learners typically begin to specialize during graduate studies.

Most master’s programs offer concentrations in a variety of subfields, such as substance abuse and addiction counseling, forensic psychology, clinical psychology, developmental psychology, and abnormal psychology. Graduate students who choose programs without concentration options can focus their studies through elective courses. Depending on their program’s curriculum requirements, learners may be able to pursue multiple specializations.

Courses in Psychology Programs

Students earning an online master’s degree in psychology learn how to apply theory and techniques to promote wellbeing. Learners prepare to conduct research into mental and behavioral health, and students explore topics related to professional ethics. Master’s-level psychology students typically pursue one or more specializations, and most programs require independent research in the form of a capstone project or thesis. Although available courses vary by school, many online master’s psychology programs feature the classes below.

  1. PSYCHOPATHOLOGY
    This course introduces students to the definitions, conceptions, diagnoses, and treatments of mental health disorders and other abnormal cognition and behaviors. Students learn about various types of developmental, anxiety, cognitive, mood, eating, sleeping, substance, psychotic, somatoform, and personality disorders.
  2. SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY
    This course examines the relationship between an individual’s cognitive processes and their social environment. Students learn about the impact of development and interpersonal influence on cognition, obedience and conformity, attitude formation, leadership, stereotyping and prejudice, and altruism and aggression. Coursework also explores concepts related to social thinking, social influence, and social behavior.
  3. MULTICULTURAL COUNSELING
    Learners examine how characteristics such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, religion, and ableness can affect social dynamics and mental health struggles. Students explore these impacts on individuals, couples, and families. This course prepares learners to address multicultural and societal factors and stressors while counseling patients.
  4. THEORIES OF COUNSELING AND PSYCHOTHERAPY
    This course introduces theoretical approaches to counseling and psychotherapy, along with their applications. Students learn about the role of the therapeutic relationship, techniques for helping patients and clients change behaviors and thought patterns, and methods for applying techniques in various cultural contexts.

Scholarships for Psychology Students

Students pursuing an online master’s in psychology can apply for scholarships to defray costs associated with tuition, room and board, textbooks, and travel to conferences. Many scholarships support students from particular backgrounds, learners who are studying specific subfields, or members of a certain organization. Master’s students in the field can also apply for grants and fellowships.

Financial Aid for Psychology Students

Students considering pursuing an online master’s in psychology should research available financial aid. Learners can submit the FAFSA form to determine which federal aid they qualify to receive. Federal aid includes scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study programs. Students must complete the FAFSA form before June 30 each year. Some states, colleges, and universities set an internal FAFSA deadline.

Loans comprise most of the federal aid available at the graduate level. Graduate students can qualify for direct unsubsidized loans, which are not based on financial need. While the U.S. Department of Education pays interest on direct subsidized loans during schooling and a period of deferment, unsubsidized loans are only available to undergraduate students. Learners are responsible for paying interest on unsubsidized loans during all periods. Additionally, students often receive direct PLUS loans to cover remaining expenses.

Learn More…

25 Cheap Online Bachelor’s Programs in Psychology 2020
Four Cheap Online Doctorates in Psychology
What is the Difference Between Counseling and Psychology Degrees?

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