Best Online Master’s in Psychology Programs

Psychologists study and observe various emotional, social, and cognitive behaviors exhibited by individuals and groups in different settings. A bachelor’s degree in psychology is an important first step toward pursuing a career in this richly rewarding field, but a master’s degree is considered the minimum credential for most positions. In many cases, a Ph.D. or doctoral degree will be required as well.

An online master’s in psychology can help you advance your career in psychology and prepare you for doctoral studies. Web-based programs are delivered in a flexible format that ensures you’ll be able to work throughout your master’s program. If you have completed a bachelor’s degree in psychology and wish to continue your education, then you may be a strong candidate for a master’s in psychology online degree program.

Choosing a Program

Will an online program give me the skills I need to advance my career?

Master’s courses in psychology cover a range of patient types and conditions. For more focused study, psychology students may choose to focus on a specialty in the field, including leadership and coaching, child psychology or crisis management. Schools typically combine their curriculum with professional training through a practicum or internship. You’ll emerge from an online master’s in psychology program with all the tools to succeed in your new, advanced career.

What concentrations are available in online master’s in psychology programs?

Online master’s in psychology programs offer a variety of focuses and concentrations. These include educational psychology, forensic psychology, developmental psychology, media psychology, experimental psychology and industrial and organizational psychology, among others. These programs are aimed at giving you the experience and knowledge to succeed in careers as researchers, professors at community colleges, clinicians, and other professions. If you’ve completed previous undergraduate work in a specific psychology concentration, it’s likely there’s an online master’s program out there for you.

Will this program work with my schedule?

Juggling full-time work, family life, and other obligations can be difficult, but an online master’s in psychology provides the flexibility to allow you to continue your education and advance your career. Today, you can work on assignments on your mobile phone, anytime, anywhere, with asynchronous online courses. Many programs offer 24/7 online support, too.

What is the best online master’s in psychology program for me?

Below, we’ve ranked the best online master’s in psychology programs in the country. Each of these schools offers students a comprehensive foundation in psychological concepts, preparing graduates for practice in healthcare, education and business environments. Our rankings recognize each school’s relative academic strengths and review their learning goals, innovative courses and online classroom experience. If you’re considering pursuing a master’s in psychology online, start your search with a glance at these top schools.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description    
1

University of Wisconsin – Madison

 1/583.68%Madison, WI

campus_university_of_wisconsin_madison

The online degree program offered by the Department of Educational Psychology at UW-Madison is the Master of Science for Professional Educators Program (MSPE). Students who complete the program will receive a Master of Science in Educational Psychology.

Online courses are taught asynchronously and are designed for experienced teachers. As part of the program, students can pursue one of four concentrations. Options include:

  • Human Development
  • Learning Sciences
  • Quantitative Methods
  • School Psychology

Students can complete the program in just two years.

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2

University of Georgia

 3/584.62%Athens, GA

campus_University_of_Georgia

Georgia offers two MEd degrees in educational psychology online: one with a focus in applied cognition and another that examines gifted and creative education. The cognition program prepares students for careers in teaching, research, and educational technology. Graduates from the online master’s in psychology gifted education program are prepared to work with exceptional students from all ages, and to design innovative curriculums. Prospective students must submit either GRE or MAT scores as part of their application.

Students take courses in a scheduled sequence during their the first year, and then work with their advisors to design the rest of their curriculum thereafter. In addition to core classes, students must pass a comprehensive exam to earn their degree. Online psychology master’s students have access to student support services, including a disability resource center, online tutoring, virtual career fairs, and more.

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3

University of Southern California

 5/590.84%Los Angeles, CA

campus_university_of_southern_california

An online master’s in applied psychology from USC prepares professionals to apply consumer and organizational psychology in a variety of professional settings. Classes cover the underlying psychology of human capital and consumer audience behavior, and how they impact organizational performance and marketing efforts. Coursework also provides online master’s in psychology students with detailed insight into employee behavior and motivation, another important factor influencing organization-to-consumer communication.

Online classes are accessible through the Blackboard learning management system. Students should expect to spend about 20 hours per week on assignments. An internship and final capstone project is required; students may complete the 240-hour internship in any industry with approval from the program director. Students of online psychology master’s programs have access to a number of online support services, including an online writing center and tutoring services. Full-time students can complete their degree in just 16 months over four semesters.

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4

The University of Tennessee – Knoxville

 3/569.31%Knoxville, TN

campus_University_of_Tennessee_Knoxville

Tennessee offers an online educational psychology master’s degree that suits professionals working in a range of fields, from education to government. Students can pursue two concentrations: adult education or applied educational psychology. Innovative courses include motivation in learning, facilitating group change, and meeting the needs of nontraditional learners.

Courses are delivered through Blackboard, and most are taught synchronously; students are expected to log in to evening class sessions at a scheduled hour. Students of the online master’s in psychology program have access to several tutorials, workshops, and other resources online. Beyond core coursework, students must also complete a comprehensive exam as part of their degree requirements and maintain a 3.0 GPA to graduate. Students can complete the program in two years by taking two online courses during each of six semesters.

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5

Marist College

 5/578.19%Poughkeepsie, NY

campus_marist_college

Professional teachers can pursue a hybrid online master’s in educational psychology at Marist. While most courses are available online, students are expected to complete brief on-campus residencies during each summer they’re enrolled. Once in the program, distance learners can choose from two degree tracks, focusing on either childhood education (grades 1-6) or adolescence education. Applicants must have a teaching certification.

The online master’s in psychology program can be completed in two years. Online courses are asynchronous and delivered through the Sakai-iLearn system. All students must complete and defend a capstone portfolio to graduate.

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6

Colorado State University – Fort Collins

 2/565.25%Fort Collins, CO

CSU offers distance learners an online master’s in industrial and organizational psychology. Courses cover individual behaviors in various organizations, analyzing how behavior affects an institution’s performance and productivity. Students learn the principles of psychology, along with research and statistical skills, to help human resource professionals and organization leaders strategize and solve performance problems. Students can also opt to earn an industrial/organizational psychology certificate without applying to the master’s program.

As part of the curriculum, students complete multiple group projects as part of virtual consulting teams. Courses are self-paced and allow for optimal flexibility for working professionals. Students can complete the program in less than two years by taking two courses per semester, including summer sessions. Online master’s in psychology students must complete a capstone project to graduate.

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7

Sacred Heart University

 5/566.97%Fairfield, CT

SHU offers an online Master of Science in Applied Psychology with three possible concentrations to choose from: Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Community Psychology or General Applied Psychology. There is no clinical component to this program, as the MSAP is research-based and does not lead to clinical licensure. Depending on course availability, most students take one class at a time, completing the 38-credit hour program within just two years. Each course is asynchronous and lasts for eight weeks. The program culminates with one of three capstone options: a thesis, an exam or a role immersion experience.

Online SHU students used the Blackboard learning platform. This convenient interface provides students with access to their course content 24/7. Instructors post assignments, discussion threads, group activities, lectures, reflective journals, videos and other interactive learning tools to convey information and assess students’ progress and performance.

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8

Nova Southeastern University

 4/546.11%Fort Lauderdale, FL

NSU offers a Master of Science in Forensic Psychology and a Master of Science in General Psychology both fully online. The MSFP is a 36-credit hour program preparing students to apply their technical forensic skills in a professional setting. The MSGP is a 30-credit hour program geared towards growing students’ fundamental understanding of psychological theory and research. Several specialty tracks are available in this program, as well as the option to classify as a non-degree seeking student; however, neither of the two programs lead to licensure.

Courses are conducted primarily through NSU email accounts and Blackboard, the popular learning management system. With this platform, students and their instructors have access to a number of web-based tools, such as distance library services and subscription library databases, not to mention email and collaborative software for student and faculty interactions. Communication occurs in the form of chats, discussion threads, email, multimedia presentations and virtual whiteboards. Students submit their assignments online and receive feedback from their professors in the same manner.

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9

University of North Texas

 2/550.2%Denton, TX

The online master’s in educational psychology from UNT is designed for teachers with experience in the field. Students take three-week, five-week, and eight-week courses as part of the program. Students can graduate and earn an integrated gifted and talented education certificate in less than a year-and-a-half. A certificate-only option is also available to students who already hold a master’s degree. There is no internship or practicum requirement.

UNT uses Blackboard to deliver online courses. Coursework introduces students to research methodology and educational statistics. Students also learn how to build a curriculum, provide social and emotional support, and assess various learning theories. They must maintain a 3.0 GPA to graduate. Online psychology master’s students also have access to many of the same support services as residential students, including 24/7 online tutoring through Smarthinking.com and a library materials delivery service.

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10

CUNY School of Professional Studies

 1/566.67%New York, NY

The CUNY School of Professional Studies offers a MA in psychology online, and the program is designed for working professionals and other students who need a more flexible schedule. Students can pursue concentrations in industrial/organizational psychology or developmental psychology, which studies human growth and behavior across the lifespan. Graduates are prepared for a variety of careers in social services, human resources, marketing, and many other fields. Applicants are not required to have an undergraduate degree in psychology, but should have completed introductory courses in the discipline.

Courses are available through Blackboard, which hosts assignments, videos, and other class materials. Tests and quizzes can be completed online. Students must complete 12 core courses, electives, and a capstone project to graduate. Those pursuing their master’s in psychology online have access to the school’s virtual support services, including e-tutoring, library materials, and ePortfolio software.

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11

University of North Dakota

 2/555.49%Grand Forks, ND

The Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology offered online at UND is semester-based and typically takes two years to complete. In that time, students are taught to apply psychology to legal situations, social/civil service systems, criminal justice and the law. The program does require one on-campus visit and a two-week on-campus capstone, during which students will collaborate with their classmates on a paper and presentation, work with their instructors in person and meet local professionals in the field of forensics. No GRE score is required to apply.

UND’s virtual platform is Blackboard, which allows students asynchronous access to all of their course materials, recorded classroom lectures, assignments and exams. Student support for online and distance learning is available 24/7 via email or live chat, ensuring a successful online learning experience.

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12

University of Alabama

 2/565.66%Tuscaloosa, AL

Alabama’s online master’s in educational psychology teaches students to assess and evaluate the cognition of individuals and groups and the efficacy of educational programs. Online students take classes from the same faculty members as residential students. Distance learners leave school prepared for careers in counseling, management, and education.

The school’s Bama By Distance center uses Blackboard to facilitate all coursework. Students have access to Blackboard Collaborate, which allows them to actively participate during lectures. Courses may be taught synchronously or asynchronously. Tests must be taken on campus or at an off-campus proctoring center. Those pursuing a master’s in psychology online need to complete 10 courses and a capstone project to graduate.

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13

Medaille College

 4/544.36%Buffalo, NY

The online Master of Arts in Psychology at Medaille can be completed within a single calendar year. Students must choose between a capstone thesis project or an internship, both of which combine and incorporate the skills acquired throughout the program. Those interested in pursuing a doctorate of psychology are encouraged to follow the thesis track, while internships often develop into permanent, full-time employment. The program is formatted into seven-week sessions, with students spending approximately 20 hours per week on coursework. Online learners receive significant one-on-one attention from professors and are also assigned to an instructor-created learning team.

Medaille’s online courses are delivered through the popular course management system, Blackboard. Through this platform, students submit assignments, communicate with their classmates, interact with professors and participate in class discussions asynchronously. Online course syllabi are organized into "Blueprints" that are divided into weekly "Roadmaps" to help students stay on track. Collaborative learning and self-directed study are both emphasized in the online environment.

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14

University of Northern Colorado

 2/546.35%Greeley, CO

Northern Colorado’s online educational psychology master’s program is designed for teachers looking to broaden their skillset. The program provides educators with an understanding of how the brain responds to external stimuli, how society and culture influence learning, and how to assess and improve student motivation. The degree is also useful for prospective educational consultants and business professionals.

Online courses are delivered through Blackboard. Students are placed in a cohort, and take two classes with their peers every term. Courses are taught asynchronously. Students must pass comprehensive exams and complete a research paper relevant to professional interests to graduate.

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15

Eastern Michigan University

 2/5N/AMI

EMU’s educational psychology program allows students to pursue concentrations in developmental learning or research and assessment. Both programs prepare educators to become researchers and practitioners, with a focus on integrating psychological theory and principles into practice in schools and other organizational settings. The developing learner concentration, offered entirely online, helps educators design curriculums capable of fostering educational development in students from all backgrounds. The research and assessment concentration, offered in a hybrid format, covers research and assessment techniques and theories in the field. Continuing education scholarships are available to all distance learners.

Students in both programs take seven foundational courses, along with five to seven concentration-oriented courses. EMU-Online courses are asynchronous and accessible via Canvas’s course management system. Classes feature active discussions and are taught by the same faculty that teaches residential students. All online students pay in-state tuition.

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16

Touro University Worldwide

 3/5N/ALos Alamitos, CA

TUW offers a Master of Arts in Psychology with two possible concentrations: media psychology and educational psychology. The twelve-course program is divided into nine required and three elective courses. Both research methods and practical theory are addressed, along with cognitive and social psychology, ethics, personality and learning theory. To ensure learned skills are indeed useful, extra emphasis is placed on practical application. This degree does not transfer to licensure of any kind.

Via their MyTUW portal, students gain access to their online courses with the popular learning management system, Blackboard. Using this virtual classroom, instructors and students interact through email, discussion boards, lightweight chat and messaging. All assignments, projects, tests and exams are conveyed through either TUW email or Blackboard.

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17

University of Idaho

 2/557.79%Moscow, ID

The University of Idaho offers an online Master of Science in Experimental Psychology with an emphasis in Human Factors. Applicants are required to hold a bachelor’s degree in a related area, such as computer science, design or engineering. If they do not, they must complete the appropriate undergraduate level work, which typically adds one year to the total length of the program. The 30-credit hour long program is completed either with a thesis or final exam. Upon graduation, students typically continue to the doctoral level or find employment in the fields of private consulting or commercial industry.

The distance education program delivers coursework through web-based classes, chat rooms and newsgroups via the premier learning management system, Blackboard. Additionally, students and instructors take part in an interactive, real-time virtual classroom environment hosted by the software, Elluminate. This program allows live discussions and communication in the online learning environment, increasing the quality of the distance learning experience.

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18

University of Houston-Victoria

 2/5N/AVictoria, TX

Houston-Victoria offers a master’s in school psychology online as a hybrid program. Seventy percent of instruction is available online; the remaining 30% of courses can be taken on campus or in a hybrid format. Students are trained to become licensed specialists in school psychology, with an emphasis on using empirically-based practices when serving diverse populations in schools.

Online courses are accessible through Blackboard. Face-to-face courses are usually held in the evenings or on Saturday mornings to accommodate working professionals. Students can enroll full-time or part-time, and most students taking one or two courses per semester. Those earning their master’s in psychology online must complete a practicum and yearlong internship in a school district of the student’s choosing to graduate.

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19

University of Hartford

 5/552.7%West Hartford, CT

Hartford’s online organizational psychology master’s program prepares leaders and managers to address organizational effectiveness. The program introduces students to theory and practice in research and communication in the field. Students can enroll at three different start times per year and they generally take one or two classes at a time. Small cohorts allow students to meet and network with each other. All enrolled distance learners are eligible for a scholarship; the school gives preference to working parents.

Classes are offered asynchronously and are accessible through Blackboard. Students complete five core courses, including a capstone project or optional internship, along with 21 credits of electives. By taking two courses per semester, students can complete the program in four years. Applicants to the online master’s of psychology program do not need to have a bachelor’s in psychology.

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20

LeTourneau University

 4/551.47%Longview, TX

LeTourneau offers an accelerated, fully online Master of Arts in Psychology degree designed for students who already hold a bachelor's in psychology. In addition to customizing their program by selecting 14 credit hours of graduate electives, students can also participate in a practicum set in a counseling environment. Although the program is accelerated, at least 24 semester hours must be taken through LeTourneau. Students are allotted seven years to complete their coursework.

Through the MyLETU portal, students gain access to their Webmail account, their Blackboard account, their campus calendar and more. Once enrolled and registered, students can send and receive assignments from their instructors, participate in coursework, collaborate with classmates and complete exams entirely online.

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21

Saint Cloud State University

 2/544.76%Saint Cloud, MN

Saint Cloud State’s MS in applied behavior analysis online degree covers autism spectrum disorders and developmental disabilities. Students learn how to integrate behavioral strategies into an organizational or school setting, evaluate and create behavioral programs, and train and oversee staff. Faculty have partnerships with 120 behavioral analysis agencies in nearly 20 countries and 49 states. Graduates are prepared for a variety of careers, including clinical behavior therapy, education behavioral support, and behavioral analysis.

To graduate, students can either complete a thesis or comprehensive exam. Online courses are delivered through the D2L online course management system. All students complete a 750-hour clinical internship; your faculty advisor must approve your choice of facility and work. The program is competitive, and requires applicants to submit recommendations from an immediate supervisor. Applicants should also document all relevant work experience.

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22

Mercy College

 3/528.8%Dobbs Ferry, NY

Mercy offers a comprehensive online psychology master’s program that blends coursework, research, and on-site supervised internships. The curriculum incorporates elements of psych theory, statistics, physiology, and pathology to produce graduates with a well-rounded skill set. Students must pass eight core psychology classes, including a practicum, along with up to 12 elective credits. In addition to the on-site practicum, students must also fulfill a capstone requirement; taking the form of either a thesis project or a comprehensive exam. Mercy's Four-Plus-One program allows undergraduates with at least 90 credits to enroll in the psychology master's program early and earn their degree on an accelerated track.

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23

Edinboro University of Pennsylvania

 2/544.71%Edinboro, PA

Edinboro’s master’s in educational psychology online degree is a 30-credit program offered entirely online. Part-time students can complete the program in two years, and the curriculum culminates with a comprehensive exam that includes 25 questions from the five required courses. To earn their degree, students must pass this exam and finish the program with a cumulative 3.5 GPA or better. Each candidate will be paired with an advisor upon acceptance into the program; students are encouraged to contact their advisor at the outset of each semester to discuss learning goals, exam prep, and career counseling.

Courses are delivered through Desire2Learn, a platform that enables students to receive assignments, access course materials, take online exams, and chat with their professors and classmates. A high-speed internet connection is required to run D2L; the software is accessible on any computer or laptop, as well as iOs, Android, and Blackberry smart devices.

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24

Tiffin University

 4/538.82%Tiffin, OH

Tiffin’s online master’s in psychology program provides students with a comprehensive overview of the field from a research standpoint. The 37-credit program includes 13 required courses; key areas of focus include statistical analysis, research design, developmental psychology, psychopathology, and neuropsychology. Additionally, students must fulfill a pair of two-credit capstone research requirements. Tiffin's master's-level psychology degree is grounded in scientific research and experimental psychology, and does not feature a clinical or counseling focus; consequently, the degree does not directly lead to licensure.

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25

Fort Hays State University

 1/543.01%Hays, KS

Fort Hays State offers an online master of science in school psychology, a program that prepares students to work in public and private school settings at all grade levels. The online degree pathway can be completed in four semesters; the curriculum is divided into 30 credits of master's-level psychology and 36 credits dedicated to education specialist in school psychology courses. Additionally, students must attend a mandatory five-day workshop on-campus for distance learners.

Online courses are delivered through Blackboard. Fort Hays State also uses an innovative software platform called SafeAssign, which is designed to detect plagiarism and instruct students on the proper ways to cite and attribute sources in their work. Distance learners may also access tech support and software tutorials on the school's website.

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Employment Outlook for Psychology Graduates

Graduates of online psychology programs are prepared to apply their skills in a number of professional capacities. Outside of traditional clinical psychology practice, qualified graduates may choose to conduct research, teach or work in social services. The following positions are just a few of the diverse options available to graduates:

Industrial Organizational Psychologist – Industrial organizational (I/O) psychologists are responsible for assessing and treating issues in the workplace and between coworkers. I/O psychologists analyze organizational management systems and emphasize teamwork and morale-building exercises in the workplace. They may treat individuals, teams or whole organizations in an effort to boost communal and individual morale.

Survey Researcher – Psychology graduates are well-suited to a career in research. Survey researchers develop and conduct surveys to collect data pertaining to various demographic groups. Professionals with psychology experience are qualified to analyze the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, consumer behavior or education statistics in an effort to study the psychological characteristics of particular social and cultural groups.

Psychology Professor at Community College – While professors at four-year universities typically require a PhD, graduates from a master’s program in psychology are generally eligible to teach at community colleges. In guiding students as they start college, community college psychology professors provide introductory coursework and help students explore potential careers in the field.

These are just some of the positions available to graduates in the field. While there is no shortage of positions available to psychology students, the three jobs profiled above are among the most commonly sought by recent graduates.

Position Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate
Industrial Organizational Psychologist $70,700 19%
Survey Researcher $46,760 12%
Psychology Professor at Community College $70,790 13%

Pursuing a master’s in psychology degree online has its advantages, particularly for certain field specialties. Students interested in research or data analysis, for example, can expect to gain experience with digital data collection tools and interactive research platforms. As new technologies develop, the field is wide open to a variety of new and exciting positions for qualified candidates, offering you the opportunity to prepare for the career you have always wanted.

Financing Your Online Master’s Degree in Psychology

Despite the relative affordability of online programs, the need for financial aid is still a reality for most students. But rest assured, loans aren’t your only option. Explore our collection of financial aid resources or dig into one of the following guides to read more about financing your education.

An Overview of Financial Aid

Approximately two-thirds of today’s college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options savvy students can use to reduce the total costs of their education.

Understanding the FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first and most crucial step for any student seeking financial aid. Follow our step-by-step guide for answers to frequently asked questions.

Financial Aid for Online College Students

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you’ll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn’t always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place and funding opportunities for online students.

Scholarships for Psychology Majors

We’ve hand-curated a list of 35 scholarships for psychology students representing $225,000 in total award dollars. Students at all levels can find an opportunity to apply for free money to help offset the cost of tuition.

Scholarships for Women

Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We’ve curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.

Financial Aid for Veterans and Active Military

Millions in education benefits are available for veterans and active members of the military. Unfortunately, much of this goes unused. Find out if you’re entitled to help with college and start planning for your future.

Original Research

Best Online Master's in Psychology Degrees of 2015
Rank Name Location
1 Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA
2 LeTourneau University Longview, TX
3 Missouri University of Science and Technology Rolla, MO
4 University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND
5 Tiffin University Tiffin, OH
6 Medaille College Buffalo, NY
7 The Sage Colleges Troy, NY
8 University of Idaho Moscow, ID
9 Southwestern Assemblies of God University Waxahachie, TX
10 California Baptist University Riverside, CA
11 Sacred Heart University Fairfield, CT
12 Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL
13 Mercy College Dobbs Ferry, NY
14 Austin Peay State University Clarksville, TN
15 Angelo State University San Angelo, TX
16 Touro University Worldwide Los Alamitos, CA
17 Lynn University Boca Raton, FL
18 Union College Barbourville, KY
19 Adler Graduate School Richfield, MN
20 Fielding Graduate University Santa Barbara, CA
21 National University La Jolla, CA
22 Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology Newton, MA
23 Palo Alto University Palo Alto, CA
24 Saybrook University San Francisco, CA
25 Sofia University Palo Alto, CA