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.
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 an online master's in psychology degree program. Our comprehensive guide will teach you more about what you can do with a master's degree in psychology and what kind of career opportunities you can pursue upon graduation.
2019's Best Online Master's in Psychology Programs
Choosing an master's in psychology program is a very personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a school's strengths match your educational and professional ambitions. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best psychology master's programs offered online in the United States. If you are considering an online master's in psychology, be sure to contact admissions specialists at each school under consideration to learn more about their specific requirements and offerings.
|1||University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 86%||
Located in Philadelphia, this renowned Ivy League college ranks among the country’s top schools. Penn was the world’s first institution to offer a master of applied positive psychology, which uses scientific inquiry to explore the main qualities of successful organizations and individuals. Ideal for working professionals and those interested in advanced academic study, this rigorous one-year program attracts students from around the world.
Penn's psychology program uses a hybrid format, combining online instruction with 10 monthly on-campus sessions. These campus immersion experiences provide opportunities for hands-on learning, group activities, one-on-one meetings with faculty, networking, and socializing. While most on-campus sessions last one weekend each, new Penn students must attend a weeklong introductory immersion session at the program's start in September.
Candidates pursuing an online masters in psychology complete eight courses and a capstone project. Students complete core coursework during the fall semester, gaining a broad understanding of positive psychology through courses in research methods and foundations of positive interventions. The spring semester explores application strategies for positive psychology techniques, with courses such as humanities and human flourishing, positive education, and applying positive interventions in institutions.
The program concludes with a summer capstone course, during which students synthesize and apply their knowledge to a positive psychology project conducted in a career-relevant setting. Candidates work independently throughout the summer, receiving ongoing faculty guidance.
Prospective students should hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, demonstrate an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better, and provide exceptional quantitative GRE scores.
|2||Harvard University Cambridge, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 96%||
One of the best-known Ivy League institutions, Harvard boasts world-renowned faculty and top-notch educational resources, including a variety of cutting-edge programs available through the university’s Extension School.
Harvard's master's in psychology online presents advanced concepts in human behavior, behavioral science research, scientific outcomes, and investigation design. The unique hybrid curriculum format lets students complete three introductory courses before officially applying to the program: introduction to graduate study and scholarly writing in the social sciences; statistical methods; and one graduate-level psychology course. Candidates who complete these courses with a minimum 3.0 GPA may then submit their official application.
Admitted students fulfill the remaining 12 course requirements through a mixture of online classes and three on-campus sessions. Candidates complete four psychology courses, one psychology seminar, one general elective credit, and three thesis or capstone courses. Learners who choose the thesis option work with a faculty adviser to develop an in-depth psychology research project. Taking a practice-oriented approach, the capstone track requires students to apply psychology principles to a real-world problem. Capstone candidates also compose an extensive written paper detailing their project’s scientific background.
Prospective students must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution, and may not have previously earned a degree in a similar field. Applicants should provide their official transcripts and a current resume along with their online application. The program offers fall, spring, and winter start dates, making it easy for students to apply at any time.
|3||University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 92%||
A prestigious private college based in Los Angeles, USC serves more than 45,000 students. The university’s robust distance education division offers a variety of graduate certificates and degrees, allowing students around the world to pursue one of California's top psychology master's programs online.
Integrating research, theory, and practice, USC's master of science in applied psychology explores psychology principles in business practices. The program offers concentrations in organizational psychology and consumer psychology. The organizational track focuses on workforce management strategies, while the consumer track emphasizes marketing services management. Most candidates take two courses each term and complete their studies in about 16 months.
The 34-credit curriculum consists of core courses, concentration electives, and a practicum. The 20-credit core addresses foundations and applications of human behavior, research methods, and major organizational and consumer psychology principles. Candidates build specialized knowledge and skills during 12 credit hours of advanced concentration coursework. For example, students on the organizational psychology track complete courses in strategic business relationships, psychology of organizational change, and group dynamics and leadership. Students may also enroll in courses from either concentration to better fit their professional goals and interests.
While distance learners complete all coursework online, the program includes a two-credit practicum/internship experience in an approved professional environment. USC typically allows students to perform the field experience at an organization in their own community. The program offers three annual start dates in the fall, spring, and summer.
|4||University of Georgia Athens, GA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 85%||
Founded in 1785, UGA is one of the nation’s oldest public colleges. Today, the school serves more than 38,000 students through its Athens campus and sizeable distance education program. UGA’s unique web-based degree offerings include graduate programs in avian health, media writing, and a master's in psychology online.
The two-year master of education in educational psychology, applied cognition and development examines cognitive, developmental, and motivational practices within educational and psychology practice contexts. The program offers four secondary concentration areas: learning across the lifespan, learning with technology, qualitative approaches to education, and development of high intellectual capability.
Students complete the 34-credit curriculum in 10-person cohorts, adhering to a set course sequence. In addition to 25 core credits, candidates take nine credit hours within their chosen concentration.
The program core introduces major psychology and education concepts, including foundations of educational cognition, nurturing independent learners, and research methods in education. Each candidate then selects three courses in their focus area. For example, students specializing in learning across the lifespan take classes such as a survey of educational gerontology, adult learning and instruction, multicultural issues in adult education, and student learning in workforce education. The program concludes with an applied project in educational psychology, during which students address a topic or problem in their focus area.
Georgia residents and out-of-state students pay the same tuition rates for online programs. Prospective UGA students must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and an undergraduate GPA of 2.7 or better. Applicants should also provide GRE or MAT scores, three letters of recommendation, and a personal statement.
|5||Touro University Worldwide Los Alamitos, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 60%||
Based in New York and founded on Jewish values, the Touro College and University System is comprised of 30 schools around the world and the TUW distance education platform. Emphasizing applied skills and flexibility, TUW’s online degrees were developed to accommodate working students.
TUW’s online master of arts in psychology focuses on the practical application of psychology principles in professional contexts. Students pursuing an online master's in psychology can choose from three concentration options: media psychology, educational psychology, and health psychology. Most courses follow an asynchronous format with no required meeting times, allowing distance learners to complete assignments when convenient. Full-time students can earn their degree in just 12 months.
The 36-credit curriculum consists of 27 core credits and nine credit hours within the student’s concentration. Core courses explore fundamental general psychology concepts, including developmental issues across the lifespan, professional ethics, group dynamics, and applied research methods and statistics. During three concentration courses, candidates build specialized knowledge in their focus area. The health psychology concentration, for example, explores changing health behaviors, psychology and aging, and stress and coping. All learners complete a final research-based capstone project in their area of professional interest.
Prospective students must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and demonstrate an undergraduate GPA of 2.5 or higher. Applicants may transfer up to 30% of their required credits from another accredited school. TUW offers an assortment of student support services, including enrollment assistance, academic advising, and career counseling.
|6||Golden Gate University-San Francisco San Francisco, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 56%||
This private San Francisco college was an early pioneer in distance education, offering its first online courses in 1997 and an entirely web-based degree in 1998. Today, the school hosts one of California's top psychology master's programs online: a master of arts in industrial-organizational psychology. This program is also available in a hybrid format. The program imparts versatile, broadly applicable skills, and graduates find work in many different industries and settings, including healthcare, technology, consulting, entertainment, and government.
Over 42 credit hours, candidates explore strategies for increasing employee wellbeing and workplace functionality by applying psychological principles to business organizational practices. The 33-credit core curriculum introduces fundamental topics in industrial-organizational psychology, including organizational group dynamics, managerial excellence, executive coaching theory and practice, and international human resources management.
Students complete nine elective credit hours, choosing from a variety of human resources and psychology courses that examine workforce trends, ethics in employee management, and conflict resolution skills and techniques. The program also includes an applied psychology internship, which provides practical training in an approved professional environment. Online learners may complete the internship at a location within their own community.
GGU's program provides flexibility for working adults, using an asynchronous format that requires few scheduled class meetings. Online students also benefit from a generous credit transfer policy and significant administrative support, including academic advising and career counseling. Before gaining admission, prospective students must demonstrate math and writing proficiencies through placement testing. GGU may waive placement testing requirements for candidates with sufficient GMAT or GRE scores.
|7||Pepperdine University Malibu, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 85%||
Located in Malibu, California, Pepperdine is a private Christian college known for its exceptional psychology programs. Pepperdine’s online master of arts in clinical psychology with an emphasis in marriage and family therapy examines the social, economic, and psychological factors that affect couple and family relationships. The rigorous curriculum provides students with the skills to diagnose clients, devise treatment plans, and facilitate patient therapy processes. Graduates hold the educational background to pursue credentials as licensed marriage and family therapists or licensed professional clinical counselors.
The online master's in clinical psychology curriculum includes 62-68 credits. Candidates with an undergraduate background in psychology may be permitted to skip up to six credits of foundational coursework. All candidates complete a total of 22 general psychology and marriage and family therapy courses, exploring topics such as multicultural counseling, individual and family substance abuse treatment, human sexuality and intimacy, and trauma in divorced populations.
Emphasizing hands-on training, the curriculum requires all students to complete 700 total clinical hours across four field placements. Licensed marriage and family therapy counselor candidates must complete at least 225 hours of direct patient contact, while licensed professional clinical counselor candidates must fulfill at 280 direct contact hours.
Although Pepperdine's counseling curriculum meets California licensure requirements, out-of-state students should consult their state licensing board to ensure that the program meets all eligibility guidelines. For example, the curriculum does not meet licensed marriage and family therapy counselor requirements in Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, New Hampshire, and Texas.
|8||Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 52%||
Based in Davie, Florida, NSU maintains regional campuses around the state and a substantial distance program. NSU’s unique graduate-level programs include degrees in oceanography, osteopathic medicine, and an online master of science in general psychology. The online psychology degree features 30 total credit hours, with 21 credits dedicated to core coursework and nine credits in the student’s concentration area. The program core introduces major topics in general psychology, including behavioral neuroscience, social psychology, research design, and psychological quantitative methods.
The program builds generalized knowledge in psychological theories and research methods, preparing graduates for professional employment or doctoral study in the field. Emphasizing flexibility for working students, NSU offers a fully online, mostly asynchronous course delivery format with start dates in the fall, winter, summer. Prospective students should note that the online master's in psychology does not meet licensure or certification requirements in the state of Florida.
Candidates may pursue a general psychology or applied health science concentration, both of which offer several additional pathways. Students who select the general psychology track may substitute two courses with a six-credit thesis, performing in-depth, original research related to an approved psychology topic. NSU recommends the thesis track for candidates who intend to pursue doctoral studies after graduation.
Students who forgo the thesis option complete courses in adult psychopathy, human sexuality, and history and systems of psychology. The applied health sciences track looks at psychological methods within a healthcare industry framework, examining psychological aspects of disease treatment, the business of psychology, and interviewing techniques.
|9||The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 46%||
This graduate college offers several specialized psychology master's programs online, including degrees in general psychology, forensic psychology, industrial-organizational psychology, and international psychology. While most programs are presented entirely online, many include mandatory field experiences that may necessitate travel.
The general psychology path offers an assortment of concentration options, including public health, social and community psychology, and child and adolescent psychology tracks. All candidates complete 36 credits, divided among a 21-credit core curriculum, nine concentration credits, and a six-credit applied research project.
The general program core introduces fundamental psychological theories and research methods, while the three concentration courses delve into specialized subfields of psychology. Students pursuing the organizational leadership track, for example, examine topics in gender and leadership, organizational behavior, and emotional intelligence and leadership. In lieu of an internship, candidates complete an extensive applied research project, during which they synthesize and apply course concepts to a workplace psychology issue. Full-time general psychology candidates typically complete the program in one year, while part-time students usually graduate in two years.
Other programs maintain different graduation requirements, feature more coursework, and take longer to complete. The industrial-organizational degree generally requires two years of full-time enrollment or up to four years of part-time study. The three-year forensic psychology pathway, which leads to professional counselor licensure, exclusively accepts full-time students. The international psychology pathway requires two years of full-time study and offers three concentration tracks: environmental advocacy, management and leadership, and trauma and group conflict.
|10||The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 68%||
Based in Tuscaloosa, this public institution has committed itself to making higher education accessible and affordable. The university’s Bama By Distance division offers an array of web-based degrees and certificates, including an online master of arts in educational psychology with a concentration in learning and assessment.
Through 10 required courses, the 30-credit curriculum explores key educational assessment practices and their roots in psychological theory. Covering topics in both education and psychology, the curriculum presents statistical methods in education, the social and cultural foundations of behavior, classroom learning evaluation, and lifespan development. During their final semester, students conduct a capstone research project related to educational assessment. Prospective students should note that completing the master's degree in psychology online does not lead to teaching certification or counseling licensure.
Distance learners benefit from UA’s diverse academic support services, which include tutoring, technical support, academic advising, and career counseling. The school's Center for Academic Success provides supplementary instruction workshops on study skills and time management to assist returning students as they adjust to academic life.
UA’s library hosts a large selection of full-text information resources online, including periodicals and books. Online learners can also connect with librarians for one-on-one research assistance. The campus writing center provides online tutoring and remote feedback on writing assignments. Students may contact the university’s career center for resume critiques, interview strategies, and employment resources.,/
|11||University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
UND is North Dakota’s oldest college, serving more than 14,000 students from its Grand Forks campus, including nearly 7,000 through distance education. The university’s online master of arts in forensic psychology explores psychological theories and skills through the lens of civil and criminal justice, preparing graduates to assist state agencies in forensic capacities such as trial preparation and jury selection. Ideal for working students, the two-year program follows a part-time schedule and does not require applicants to provide GRE scores.
Consisting of a 21-credit core curriculum and nine elective credits, the program includes seven required courses in forensic psychology and general research. Candidates explore readings in psychology and major concepts in psychology, law, advanced univariate statistics, and behavioral pathology. Students may fulfill the elective credit requirement through unique course offerings, including classes on insider threat analysis, cognitive psychology, and the foundations of behavioral data analytics.
In addition to major and elective coursework, learners complete an independent study course, performing either research or a practicum experience. Students typically do not perform original research; instead, they analyze existing ideas in current psychology literature and present their conclusions. The practicum offers hands-on experience in an approved professional setting. Students may also perform additional fieldwork for elective credit. The program concludes with a forensic psychology capstone during the final summer semester, requiring candidates to attend a one-week intensive session on the UND campus.
Prospective students must hold a bachelor’s degree in a related field and demonstrate an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0.
|12||Ball State University Muncie, IN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 62%||
Located in Muncie, Indiana, BSU's sizeable distance education program offers two online master's in psychology programs: a master of arts or master of science in educational psychology and a master of science in quantitative psychology. All degrees are presented entirely online and feature start dates in the fall, spring, and summer. Learners who take a full course load each semester may earn their degree in just 18 months.
Students pursuing an educational psychology degree can choose from tracks in gifted and talented students, human development, neuropsychology, and applied behavior analysis. Candidates may also create a custom concentration by combining courses from different specialization tracks. All students complete 18 core credits and 12 credits of specialized coursework.
Exploring topics in developmental psychology, assessment, and human learning and achievement motivation, the core curriculum introduces and strengthens foundational concepts and skills. Electives delve deeper into specific focus areas, including learning disorders, aging, and psycholinguistics. The neuropsychology specialization confers a graduate certificate and requires candidates to complete an additional three-credit course.
The 33-credit quantitative psychology degree consists of a 21-credit core, a six-credit thesis, and six concentration credits. Core coursework emphasizes theory and methods for quantitative study, including variance analysis, multivariate statistical analysis, and applied regression analysis. Learners may pursue either a quantitative or mixed methods track, with each option providing two different pathways. The quantitative track examines data analysis methods in greater depth, while the mixed methods track addresses include qualitative techniques. All candidates complete a graduate thesis based on original research.
|13||The University of Tennessee-Knoxville Knoxville, TN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 70%||
Founded in 1794, UT Knoxville claims a unique distinction as the first chartered public university located west of the Appalachian Divide. As Tennessee's premier research-based land-grant institution, UT Knoxville boasts the prestigious R1 Carnegie classification. The school offers more than 900 undergraduate and graduate programs across 11 academic colleges, including a online master of science in educational psychology.
The online master's in psychology at UT Knoxville features concentrations in adult education and applied educational psychology. Each focus area encompasses the same core curriculum but features unique concentration course requirements. While the MS in educational psychology is a non-thesis program, candidates must pass a comprehensive exam before graduation.
The 36-credit master's in psychology online was created exclusively for a distance learning environment. UT Knoxville faculty and field professionals carefully developed the program to graduate students in six semesters, requiring learners to take two courses per semester. Graduates qualify to pursue a doctorate in educational psychology or a related specialty or for school, nonprofit, business, or government employment in the educational psychology field.
UT Knoxville students complete courses synchronously through Canvas. Distance learners must attend classes in the evening at predetermined times. New students are admitted to the online MS in psychology program in the fall, spring, and summer semesters, provided they apply at least eight weeks before the start of the next term. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited school and a minimum 3.0 GPA.
|14||University of Northern Iowa Cedar Falls, IA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 68%||
UNI has held many previous incarnations since the mid-1800s, including an orphanage and a normal school. Today, UNI's sprawling Cedar Falls campus enrolls nearly 12,000 students and offers more than 90 majors across six academic colleges. The university ranks among the nation's top schools for value and enjoys a positive reputation throughout the Midwest.
Honoring its roots in teacher training, UNI's master's in psychology online emphasizes professional development for teachers in educational psychology. The program offers thesis and non-thesis options, each requiring 36 and 33 credit hours for completion, respectively. Combining required professional core and advanced academic coursework, the curriculum features a strong research component. Graduates sharpen their career skills by exploring advanced educational psychology concepts specific to classroom instructors.
The online MAE in professional development for teachers explores assessment practices, mental health and wellbeing in educational contexts, and culturally responsive teaching methods. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and should submit letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose along with their application. Prospective MAE in educational psychology candidates do not need to provide GRE scores.
Students access coursework through Blackboard and additional learning technologies like Panopto, Adobe Connect, and Lynda.com. Each UNI instructor dictates their own preferred communication methods and technology requirements. Using a variety of online learning tools such as the G Suite, students complete assignments and conduct all correspondence in the virtual environment, including advising, tech support, and test proctoring.
|15||Carlos Albizu University-Miami Miami, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 70%||
After founding the Puerto Rico Institute of Psychology in 1966, Dr. Carlos Albizu-Miranda expanded his educational endeavors to include a U.S. campus and opened Miami's Albizu University in 1980. Today, both locations offer programs that incorporate traditions and cultures unique to the San Juan and South Florida communities. Albizu University offers dozens of academic programs across seven schools, including an MS in industrial and organizational psychology online.
Albizu University's online master's in psychology with a focus in industrial/organizational psychology prepares graduates for careers as I/O practitioners. The program, which comprises 42 academic credits and six applied research credits, culminates in a capstone experience. Students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 for the program's duration.
The curriculum emphasizes concepts and strategies related to training and development, organizational development, selection and placement, performance measurement, and quality of work life. Applicants to the Miami campus must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and submit a statement of purpose and proof of appropriate United States citizenship. Admissions advisers show preference to applicants who hold a 3.0 GPA or better.
Albizu University students complete online coursework through the SunPortal platform. Distance learners can access a variety of comprehensive support resources, including 24/7 tech support, an online bookstore, and communication through social media. Traditional and online students pay the same per-credit tuition rate for both the master's psychology and I/O psychology programs, regardless of their residency status.
|16||University of North Texas Denton, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
Located in Denton, UNT offers the amenities of a college town while placing students in close proximity to the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. The university offers over 200 bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees across 14 academic colleges, including more than 20 master's and four bachelor's degrees online. UNT's 38,000-strong student body includes National Merit finalists, Honor College students, and Terry Scholars.
Candidates pursuing UNT's online master's in educational psychology can select from concentrations in research and evaluation or gifted and talented education. The 33-credit program features coursework unique to each concentration and a universal supervised research/program evaluation requirement. Students on the research and evaluation track examine survey research methods and statistics in education while practicing writing grant proposals. The gifted and talented emphasis explores human lifespan development, social and emotional elements of giftedness, and curriculum design for this subset of students.
The curriculum follows a rotating schedule of consecutive three-, five-, and eight-week courses. Students in either concentration can complete the "summer to summer" program in roughly 15 months, although the gifted and talented emphasis includes an additional three-week semester. Distance learners may also complete a standalone master's certificate in either concentration or earn a certificate concurrently with their degree.
Online students access course materials through Canvas. While out-of-state learners pay a higher tuition rate than Texas residents, UNT offers discounts to Oklahoma residents and military service members. The school offers payment plans to qualifying candidates and conducts registration during fall, spring, and summer terms.
|17||Missouri University of Science and Technology Rolla, MO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 64%||
Established in 1870, Missouri S&T serves students one of the oldest technological universities in the western United States. The school administers programs to 8,600 learners from around the world and offers nearly 100 degrees in the arts, science, business, engineering, and computing.
Missouri S&T's acclaimed distance education division offers an online MS in I/O psychology with thesis and non-thesis options. Students may choose a graduate certificate concentration in either applied workplace psychology or statistical methods in psychology. The curriculum includes 40 credits of core content, methods coursework, and thesis or non-thesis elective courses. For thesis students earning a master's in psychology online, the program culminates in a research project.
Prospective Missouri S&T students must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited university with at least a 3.0 undergraduate GPA. Applicants should also submit GRE scores, a statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation for consideration. Distance learners must also complete prerequisite courses in statistics or data analysis and research methods.
Distance learners access online coursework through Canvas. Online students new to the virtual learning environment can participate in webinars and request help from the Missouri S&T's student support team. The university offers four-, eight-, and 16-week courses online throughout the spring, summer, and fall semesters. Distance students pay a set per-credit rate for the I/O psychology graduate program, regardless of their state of residence. Eligible military students may qualify for tuition discounts.
|18||National Louis University Chicago, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 50%||
Founded in 1886, NLU functions as one of Chicago's oldest nonprofit schools in the private sector. In addition to its main campus in downtown Chicago, the university maintains five locations across the city and in Florida. NLU offers nearly 20 undergraduate and graduate programs in business, education, criminal justice, healthcare, and psychology and enjoys recognition for both affordability and graduate achievements.
Students can complete NLU's MA in psychology in a web-based or blended format. The program offers three concentration options: general psychology, community psychology, and teaching of psychology. Each concentration's curriculum emphasizes mastery of human development and behavioral assessment and evaluation. Graduates take on a variety of psychology-based leadership positions in fields such as business, human services, and education.
Distance learners enrolled in NLU's online master's in psychology program may concurrently pursue a master's certificate in one of five focus areas. Additionally, the university offers a related MS in I/O psychology. Candidates who choose to take hybrid or blended courses fulfill on-campus requirements at NLU locations in Elgin, Lisle, downtown Chicago, Skokie, or Wheeling.
UNL students can complete their degree in around 20 months. Distance learners enjoy access to a variety of online resources through the UNL portal, including advising, virtual assignments, and dynamic communication tools. Dedicated enrollment specialists walk new students through the process of applying for financial aid. Funding opportunities include tuition discounts for military members and their families and exclusive scholarships for online students.
|19||California Baptist University Riverside, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 59%||
Praised for its online master's programs by outlets such as U.S. News and World Report, CBU Online offers more than 40 web-based bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. Students may choose from dozens of majors in healthcare, business, and education, all centered around Christian principles and values.
CBU's online master's in psychology prepares candidates for careers in Christian marriage counseling, family psychology, and clinical counseling. Students may choose an optional professional clinical counselor concentration. The 62-credit program consists of core coursework, electives, and concentration courses when applicable. Candidates must fulfill prerequisite coursework in developmental psychology, research methods and statistics, and theories of personality. Graduates are eligible to pursue a state marriage and family therapist license or professional clinical counseling licensure.
Distance learners complete a two-part practicum and supervised psychotherapy experience before earning an MS in counseling psychology. Course topics explore counseling techniques, human growth and development, and diversity issues in counseling. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.5-2.75 GPA and provide a personal statement describing the student's religious background and interest in counseling psychology.
CBU students use Blackboard to complete assignments and review materials. Online learners enjoy access to a variety of resources including a help desk, disability services, and career assistance. New students can also participate in a series of orientation webinars. Most students earn their MS in counseling psychology at CBU in 24 months. Regardless of their state of residence, all distance students pay a flat, per-credit tuition rate.
|20||Lamar University Beaumont, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 30%||
Located in Beaumont, Texas, LU enrolls more than 15,000 students, placing it among the state's fastest-growing schools. The university occupies a 292-acre campus between Houston and the Louisiana state border. LU proudly offers over 100 programs across five academic colleges, including more than 40 online options.
LU's online MA in education features a specialization in clinical mental health. Consisting of 60 credits, the program introduces advanced concepts related to counseling, human growth and development, and crisis prevention and intervention. Students must complete a two-part practicum, an internship, and two on-campus academic residencies to earn their master's in psychology online. Distance learners must complete practicum and internship courses consecutively throughout the fall, spring, and summer semesters. The residency requirement includes a five-week Blackboard course and periodic face-to-face sessions on campus. Financial aid is available to help cover costs associated with the residency session.
Distance learners on an accelerated schedule can complete their online master's in psychology in as little as 30 months. The CACREP-accredited program qualifies graduates to seek licensure in Texas or the student's home state. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA. LU charges one flat tuition rate for the entire program.
LU students complete online coursework through a customized learning platform called LULearn. Most online courses feature an asynchronous format in the virtual classroom. Distance learners enjoy 24/7 tech support, video tutorials, test proctoring, and discussion boards. Candidates may begin their studies on one of eight start dates throughout the year.
|21||University of Louisiana at Monroe Monroe, LA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 41%||
Established in 1931, ULM's 238-acre campus sits atop Bayou DeSiard in eastern Monroe. The university encompasses twin cities Monroe and West Monroe, the city of Bastrop, and Union Parish, serving a student body of roughly 91,000. ULM offers more than 72,000 academic programs over four primary colleges: arts, education, and sciences; business and social sciences; health sciences; and pharmacy.
ULM's online master's in psychology enjoys a nationwide reputation for value, affordability, and academic rigor. The MS in psychology offers optional psychometric and forensic concentrations. Students who do not choose a concentration must complete a core course in personality and social psychology, 18 hours of electives, and a directed study project. All psychology master's program candidates must complete prerequisite coursework in research methods, neuropsychology, and quantitative methods in the behavioral sciences.
While distance learners can complete the master's in psychology almost entirely online, the psychometric concentration requires one semester-long residence on campus. Applicants must hold a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 for unconditional admissions consideration. Students with a minimum 2.75 GPA must also demonstrate either a minimum combined GRE general test score of 290 or a minimum formula score of 800. ULM students pay a special per-credit tuition rate for online-only graduate coursework.
Online students access course materials through the Moodle learning platform. Distance learners can use additional resources such as advising, proctoring, and tech support. Students may consult a dedicated student advocate for assistance with online registration, scheduling, and specific program requirements. ULM also offers career services, disability services, and financial aid advising.
|22||LeTourneau University Longview, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 60%||
Founded in 1946 in Longview, Texas as a male-only technical institution, LeTourneau went coed in 1961. The same year, LeTourneau began offering innovative evening and weekend courses through the LEAP program. Today, this Christian university serves more than 1,100 students, offering over 140 majors across eight schools and colleges. Graduates of the university's School of Psychology and Counseling enjoy a 93% career placement rate.
LeTourneau's online master's in psychology provides the knowledge and skills needed to land nonlicensed psychology or counseling positions. Students interested in pursuing a Texas licensed professional counselor certification may do so by applying credits earned in this program toward LeTourneau's MA in counseling degree. Combining core and elective coursework, the 39-credit curriculum culminates in a field experience. The program's unique interdisciplinary approach allows students to choose elective courses in a variety of fields, including education, religion, business, and leadership.
Like traditional on-campus students, distance learners can fulfill the field experience requirement through LeTourneau's School of Psychology and Counseling; Psi Chi, the international honor society in psychology; or Kappa Psi Delta, the university's psychology club. Prospective students may apply during the spring or summer semesters. LeTourneau offers a special annual discounted tuition rate for all online programs, although the MA in psychology may incur per-credit fees specific to certain courses.
LeTourneau students complete coursework and submit assignments through Blackboard. Distance learners also use software and platforms through the university portal, LetNet, to access school email, library databases, and MyFiles services. Most online courses are presented asynchronously.
|23||University of Northern Colorado Greeley, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 48%||
Set amidst the Rocky Mountains, UNC has built a reputation as one of the nation's premiere research universities since it was founded as a teachers' college in 1889. Today, the school serves nearly 13,000 learners, over 40% of whom are first-generation college students. UNC offers more than 100 undergraduate and 120 graduate majors through six academic colleges. The university strives to provide students with a personalized learning experience, and most classes boast a student-instructor ratio of just 18-to-1.
UNC's online master's in psychology includes an education psychology concentration with a specific emphasis on teaching applications. This unique MA degree prepares graduates for advanced career positions that utilize psychology in classroom contexts. Learners complete 39 credits, examining problem-solving, practical classroom applications, and education technology. Students who complete the online master's in educational psychology can pursue nonlicensed positions in K-12 education, education or business training, and school management.
Students complete the program within a cohort, beginning the degree in the summer term and taking two courses per semester. Each summer term consists of one eight-week session, while fall and spring terms comprise two consecutive eight-week sessions. The program culminates in a comprehensive written exam administered during students' final semester.
A leader in distance learning as early as 1902, UNC offers online students the latest technologies and support services, including an Extended Campus advising team and three satellite learning centers throughout Colorado for students interested in a blended program format. Online students pay flat tuition rates, regardless of their state of residence, and can earn their degree in just 19 months.
|24||Medaille College Buffalo, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 43%||
With campuses in Buffalo and Rochester and a thriving online learning division, this western New York institution features accessible degree options to fit every schedule. The college's eight academic schools offer associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs and certificates that emphasize both professional training and academic scholarship. Medaille offers courses in a variety of learning formats — including day and evening classes and FLEX Advantage — and proudly features transparent tuition pricing and small class sizes.
Presented through the Buffalo and virtual campuses, Medaille's master's degree in psychology online provides flexible course schedules and completion times. Students may pursue an optional sports psychology concentration. The 36-credit program encompasses 1-4 seven-week courses each semester (depending on the individual student's preferred course load) and includes an internship component. Distance learners can complete the core program in just one year.
Students may complete their internship at the Medaille Family Counseling Center, a licensed outpatient mental health facility in Buffalo. Learners may begin their studies in the fall or spring semester. Prospective doctoral candidates who wish to become licensed clinical psychologists may apply completed credits toward Medaille's Psy.D. degree. Medaille's MA in psychology or sport psychology readies graduates to take nonclinical positions in PR, HR, higher education, and sports management.
Medaille students complete online coursework in Blackboard. Applicants must submit transcripts from all previously attended colleges, a resume, an essay describing their academic and professional goals, and two personal references. All distance learners pay a flat, per-credit tuition rate, and active-duty military members enjoy special tuition discounts.
|25||McNeese State University Lake Charles, LA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 42%||
Established in 1939, this Lake Charles, Louisiana institution ranks among the top national public universities. McNeese holds a crucial position within the Louisiana State University System, one of the country's largest state college networks. The university enrolls more than 7,500 learners and offers over 60 undergraduate and graduate degrees across eight schools and colleges.
McNeese's master's in psychology online features an applied behavior analysis (ABA) concentration. The MA in ABA holds programmatic accreditation from the Association for Behavior Analysis International. This 55-credit program explores topics like behavioral assessment, psychopathology, and social and cultural diversity. While students do not need to complete a thesis to earn the degree, graduation requirements include a practicum/internship component. Learners can fulfill in-person requirements through the Clinical Applied Behavior Analysis Academy or the McNeese Autism Program.
Applicants must earn a minimum GRE score of 285 and demonstrate a cumulative undergraduate GPA of at least 2.5. Prospective online MA in psychology candidates must also complete prerequisite coursework in abnormal, experimental, and social psychology. All students pay the same per-credit tuition rates. Courses are held over the fall, spring, and summer semesters.
McNeese students use the Moodle virtual learning platform to review course materials and submit assignments. Distance learners must enroll in at least six credit hours to claim full-time status and qualify for financial aid. Transfer students must complete at least 25% of their overall course credits, including the final 30 credits, at McNeese. Online students enjoy flexible payment options and funding opportunities, including financial aid, scholarships, diverse payment methods, and installment plans.
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Interview with Troy Dvorak
Troy Dvorak holds a master's in psychology and has been an instructor at Minneapolis Community & Technical College since 2005. Prior to that, he worked as a psychometrist, providing psychological assessment and counseling services to kids, teens, and families for seven years.
- Why did you initially decide to pursue psychology?
I was always curious about mental health, or lack thereof, with people around me. In my first year at Lakehead University, I really enjoyed my general psych class and knew that was the direction for me. Once I was a psych major, I knew I made a good decision: Helping others seemed a great way to spend a career. It was not until I was in grad school, however, that I began to really know who I wanted to work with. From undergraduate volunteer experience, I knew I did not want to work in a psychiatric facility (because work with inpatients felt like it was just medical maintenance as opposed to insight and progress). Over time, I chose to work with children, teens, and families. Children and teens are capable of remarkable insight, especially when supported by a loving family that is also willing to make change.
- What led you to switch from psychometrics to teaching?
I was born in Minneapolis but moved to Canada when I was six. At the age of 32 -- and because I had family in the Twin Cities -- I decided to leave my job as a psychometrist and return to the Minneapolis area. Becoming a licensed clinician would have taken me about a year and I needed work right away. I was able to get some classes at community colleges and slowly started to build a reputation as a good teacher. Over the years, my adjunct role offered the equivalent of full-time employment so I simply never pursed licensure as a clinician. As of 2017, I became tenured at Minneapolis Community & Technical College.
- Having assumed roles in both clinical and academic settings, what do you find most fulfilling about each? Most challenging?
As cliche as it is, a day spent helping others is a day well-spent. Whether as a clinician or teacher, assisting others is very fulfilling. As a clinician, helping people overcome psychological and social difficulties was always gratifying. As a teacher, the thing I enjoy most is the diverse student population I have the privilege to serve. The class discussions and myriad viewpoints make teaching psychology a ton of fun. The most difficult thing about both clinical work and teaching is seeing someone with amazing potential get sidelined by things beyond their control. A prime example of that is the caustic influence of poverty. However, where there are significant barriers, there is the concomitant potential for exceptional transformation.
- What advice would you give to undergrad students who are considering a graduate degree in psychology? Is a master's worth it?
Without question, if you are going into psychology, know you are in it for the long haul. Get a Ph.D. Do not stop at a master's. Even though my degree has served me well, the profession is set up for Ph.D.'s. The other thing I would tell students is that psychology is a fantastic career because there are so many things you can do with your doctorate in psych. There is no shortage of work in our field.
- What additional advice would you give to prospective students considering a career in psychology?
Every class matters. All your grades matter. Taking things seriously and devoting time to reading and studying is essential, not optional. Go to office hours and really get to know your professors. Ask questions in class. Engage with others. Keep an open mind -- remember that your perspective is only one of billions.
You do not have to know exactly what field of psychology you're going to pursue when you start college. You will have a couple years to sort that out.
I would encourage all students in psychology to know two things:
1. How to establish and maintain appropriate personal boundaries. If you don't have them, you will burn out.
2. You must engage in self-care. Deal with the thing staring back at you in the mirror before you try to help others.
Interview with Jeni Woodfin
Marriage and Family Therapist
Jeni Woodfin is a licensed private practice marriage and family therapist in San Jose, CA. She serves as the clinical director of a residential substance abuse treatment center. She specializes in supporting women and men considering or recovering from separation or divorce, couples interested in infidelity recovery, and those struggling with addiction or codependency. Jeni obtained her bachelor's degree in psychology from Marian College in Indianapolis and her master's from John F. Kennedy University. She completed a fellowship through the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis sponsored by Stanford University.
- Why did you choose a degree in psychology over similar degrees that prepare you for clinical practice (e.g., a degree in counseling or social work)? What, specifically, does a counseling psychology degree offer?
Prior to starting graduate school, I knew my goal was to create a private practice that centered on supporting high-functioning individuals and couples who are interested in changing longtime wounds and patterns. My understanding at the time was that a degree in social work would most likely lead to working in an agency setting that was not conducive to providing "real" therapy, but mostly case management.
Now, having known many social workers, I realize they also are able to work in private practices offering psychotherapy. However, social workers tend to be trained in a "systems" approach, i.e. how is the client affected by all the factors of their environment, whereas a counseling psychology degree looks more at the individual's experience of their environment and more psychological theory. This foundational difference in how to conceptualize lead me to pick a counseling psychology master's.
- What were some of the most crucial skills you gained throughout your master's program? Were most of these skills learned in class or through internships?
The most valuable skill, and one I believe I continue to develop during my career, is to meet the client where they're at. Learning to let go of your own agenda, preferences, biases, and values while in session is crucial to allowing yourself to be open to your client's experience. This openness is what allows your client to feel accepted enough to bring all the bits and pieces of themselves into the therapy. For me, this openness allows clients to have a reparative experience in a relationship.
This skill was drilled into our heads as students in grad school, but until you're in the room with clients you can't begin to feel it. So, the concept was taught in class, but the practice began during my internship, in the room with clients.
- What was the job search like after completing your degree? Did you feel fully prepared to make the transition from school into practice?
I began my job search prior to graduation and found it fairly painless. I was fortunate enough to have been working at a group practice during grad school as an administrator, but also interviewed at a few local county-funded agencies. I found each agency interview experience to be similar: usually a group interview, with questions regarding my theoretical orientation, populations of interest, and vignettes. In the end, I was offered every job I applied for and found each agency eager to hire new interns.
At the beginning of my internship, I was nervous! I experienced a healthy dose of imposter syndrome that (I believe) I was able to mask, except in supervision. For the most part, I felt prepared to make the leap from student to intern, although I clearly remember sitting in a particularly difficult session one day, early in my internship, and [catching] myself thinking about my client, "You need to see a therapist," then realizing with a massive feeling of anxiety, "I AM the therapist."
- What are some of the greatest day-to-day challenges you face in your practice?
The challenges in a sole clinician private practice are a little different from those in a group practice or agency. One of the challenges I find myself very aware of is loneliness. It sounds a little strange to be lonely after sitting with people all day, but it's a very one-sided relationship with clients. I've found it important to have other therapists to meet for coffee, meet during classes, and attend consultation with in order to prevent feeling too isolated.
A second challenge is the stress of how unpredictable your income can be. Marketing yourself is a large part of having your own private practice, but even the best marketers can have slow times. Your clients will all go on vacation over the summer, want to take holiday weeks off, or magically all be cured at the same time! Being aware that you may need to plan for the ebbs and flows of income can help.
- What advice would you give to bachelor's students who might be on the fence about earning a graduate degree in psychology?
Be prepared to learn a little about a whole lot. Your undergraduate degree gives you a little taste of what you'll learn in graduate school and professionally. Getting a sneak peek into the patterns of human behavior is amazing and can leave you wanting more, which leads to the advice of: Be prepared to go to graduate school.
Unfortunately, a bachelor's in psychology rarely opens doors into a career in mental health. If your goal is to work as a therapist or counselor, be prepared to get your master's or doctorate. But once you've got that, the doors open wide.
- Any additional advice you'd give to students considering a master's degree in psychology?
Do your own work! Learning to be a therapist and then being a therapist stirs up all kinds of emotions that it's important to process. Going to therapy and showing all your messy bits to a stranger is tough! Being in your own therapy helps you remember how vulnerable your clients might be feeling. Also, you'll need somewhere to process your own feelings that come up in session. Spending your days with people who are struggling can be draining and self-care, which includes therapy, is vital to avoid burnout.
Consider grad school and your internship your initial foray into networking. The people in your graduate school cohort, your professors, your supervisors, and fellow interns are the people you'll be referring to and, hopefully, [who will be] referring to you if you open your own practice. The impression you give off during grad school and internship will be the very beginning of your professional reputation. Present yourself as the therapist you plan to be.
And, finally, don't let anyone tell you it's impossible to make a good living in private practice. If you network, keep working on yourself, and hang your shingle, the clients will come.
Questions to Ask When Choosing an Online Master's in Psychology Program
WILL AN ONLINE MASTER'S IN PSYCHOLOGY PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?
According to the APA Center on the Workforce, 52.4% of professional psychologists earned a doctoral or professional degree from 2005 to 2013. The remaining 47.6% completed their education with a master's degree. Depending on your career path, a master's degree in psychology may be sufficient for beginning your career or serve as a stepping stone toward a doctoral program. In either case, the best online master's degree in psychology programs are designed to prepare you for the next step. Earning a specialized degree can further boost your career standing in the area of psychology that interests you most.
WILL AN ONLINE MASTER'S IN PSYCHOLOGY PROGRAM WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?
Online master's degree programs in psychology offer a flexible alternative to traditional classroom-based education. You'll be able to access course materials, submit written assignments, take exams, and communicate with your professor any time of day from the comfort of your home computer. The interactive technology also allows you to study on the go using a laptop, tablet, smartphone, and other portable devices. For added convenience, many programs allow students to fulfill their supervised practicum or internship requirements at facilities located close to their home.
WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY MASTER'S IN PSYCHOLOGY?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most states require clinical and counseling psychologists to earn a doctorate, complete an internship, and log one to two years of supervised professional experience before they can pursue licensure. However, a master's degree will be sufficient for industrial-organizational psychologists. Master's-holders in psychology may also find work as assistants for licensed psychologists in clinical, counseling, or research settings. Others graduates pursue careers in counseling, where most professionals are able to obtain licensure with a master's degree.
What Else Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Psychology Program?
Earning a bachelor's degree is an important first step towards entry or advancement in many fields, but a master's in psychology is a minimum requirement for most positions in the field. While most schools offer a general graduate curriculum, specific coursework and requirements vary depending on the history and mission of the program you choose. The information in this section will give you an idea of what you can expect from an online master's in psychology degree.
Types of Psychology Degrees
Earning a degree in psychology opens graduates to an array of career opportunities beyond a private counseling practice. The critical engagement and therapeutic tactics of psychology can benefit employees and organizations such as hospitals, businesses, and schools. Psychologists rely on communication and observational skills to problem-solve situations with individual clients or small focus groups. They also work one-on-one with disabled or aging clients as a home care aide, enter the educational system as a youth counselor, or pursue an academic career as a clinical research coordinator and analyst. Various degree specializations can also prepare graduates for these specific professions. The list below details some of the more common specializations for psychology master's programs online, from research-oriented positions to educational careers.
- Forensic Psychology
Forensic psychologists apply clinical analytical skills to legal and investigative cases. Working as crime analysts or court liaisons, they translate assessment, evaluation, and treatment skills into evidence. These professionals also focus on cognitive and social psychology to comprehend the motives behind criminal actions.
- Clinical Psychology
As the foundation for mental and behavioral healthcare, clinical psychology uses advanced theoretical knowledge and analysis to diagnose and treat individuals and groups. Students in this specialty explore patient consultation and research analysis, as well as the tenets of private practice and patient confidentiality. Graduates are prepared for careers in clinical case management, medical psychology, or as a psychology professor.
- School Psychology
Psychologists in this field focus on children, youth, and families. They work in school settings, and meet with students and families to address social issues or emerging mental imbalances. These professionals also promote healthy lifestyle choices through preventative programs, and assist children as they transition into young adulthood.
- Counseling Psychology
Students in this specialization study the emotional, social, work, and family stressors affecting modern American communities. They gain skills in crisis intervention, clinical supervision, and treatment analysis. Additional training may be available in substance abuse or geriatric counseling.
- Educational Psychology
Coursework in this specialization explores the ways people gain knowledge in order to better understand their mental and social development. Students also explore educational retention by examining the variety of settings and contexts in which people learn. Graduates may work as a learning disability counselor or consultant, or as a K-12 school counselor.
CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE MASTER'S DEGREE IN PSYCHOLOGY
Most online psychology master's programs are offered as either an MA, which focuses on the liberal arts aspects of the field, or as an MS, which is more research-oriented and grounded in the natural sciences. When choosing a program, be sure to select one that best suits your specific career goals. Regardless of which program you choose, each online master's in psychology should include some fundamental courses. Below are a few examples of general curriculum courses that you can expect to find in any psychology program:
- Lifespan Development: This course provides students with an advanced look at human development from conception through death, with emphasis on biology, social/emotional, and cognitive changes as they relate to counseling and other applied practices. While this topic deals with all branches of psychology, this course is particularly relevant for students who want to work as clinical psychologist or other positions of personal counseling.
- Gerontology (or the Psychology of Aging): The course is designed for students who want to work with aged populations as nursing home psychologists or professional caretakers. Coursework provides an overview of the social and emotional changes that happen to an individual later in life, including intellectual functioning and mental illness. The course also explores ways to assist the elderly through professional treatment and agency referrals or placement.
- Human Neuropsychology: This course explores the causes, consequences, and treatment of brain disorders and diseases and prepares students for a wide variety of careers, including substance abuse counselor or forensic psychologist. Students also learn about the functions of the brain in normal human functioning and exceptional conditions such as brain damage and neuropsychological syndromes in order to help them properly help diagnose and treat these conditions.
How Long Does it Take to Get an Online Master's in Psychology?
The average master's in psychology online program has a curriculum of 30 to 36 credit hours. Students can earn their degree in two years or less with full-time enrollment, though many schools will allow up to five years for those who want to enroll part-time. Those who want to pursue a more scientific track may find that their program requires campus visits, usually scheduled during summer sessions far in advance to accommodate work schedules and other obligations. Many online master's programs also require a capstone project or thesis work, and depending on what a student chooses to accomplish, this may add some time to degree completion.
Some online psychology programs structure their classes based on a cohort model, where students progress through the coursework with the same group of peers in order to build a community of professional relationships. However, most online courses are offered asynchronously, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. When researching online programs, it is good to ask yourself which model, or combination of models, will work best with your own learning process.
Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Psychology Prepares for
- Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) : Many graduates choose to pursue an LPC title in order to work as a licensed counselor at their own practice or another site, like a mental health facility, a university campus, or a psychiatric hospital. The LPC is granted at the state level and each state has its own set of requirements, such as a certain number of practicum or experience hours.
- Teaching of Psychology Certificate: Earning the TPC is a good way for those who want to pursue a career as a college instructor to boost their overall job prospects. Offered through certain university departments, the TPC is a post-baccalaureate program that gives graduates the chance to learn fundamental teaching skills as well as specific practices related to the field of psychology.
- Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW): Required for all clinical social work, this state license guarantees the quality of therapeutic analysis. Social work can cover issues in mental health, substance abuse, public health, marriage counseling, or family therapy. This license typically requires two years -- or about 3,000 supervised clinical hours -- and LMSW licensure to qualify for the exam (see below).
- Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT): Another state license, the LMFT typically follows standards set by the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. To sit for the exam, most states require an accredited professional degree and two years of monitored clinical experience. Students can meet their clinical requirements and gain real-world experience through nonprofits, charitable organizations, or mental health clinics.
- Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC): The LMHC also requires clinical experience prior to licensing; however, the amount of training varies by state, with clinical experience ranging from between one year to 3,000 supervised hours. Most states require a degree from a school program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.
- Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW): The LMSW is the foundation for LCSW certification, and qualifies you to work as a social worker under direct supervision of an LCSW. To be eligible for this license, you must pass the Association of Social Work Boards exam, which costs $230.
Admission Requirements for Psychology Master's Programs OnlineOnce you decide to return to school for a master's degree in psychology online, it is important to review program admission requirements. Though submission materials vary by school, most institutions require similar information about your background and professional aspirations. All schools require proof of a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, though applicants without a degree in a related field may be required to complete prerequisites prior to enrolling in the master's program. This can include coursework in abnormal psychology, statistics, or an introduction to research methods. The GRE is another popular requirement. The exam's subject test in psychology focuses on subspecialties such as biological, cognitive, developmental, and clinical psychology to demonstrate a student's aptitude for specific areas. Some schools accept strong GRE subject test scores instead of an undergraduate degree in a related field. In addition to the GRE, applicants can demonstrate their dedication to the field through local volunteer and internship positions.
Accreditation for Online Master's in Psychology Degrees
When searching for an online master's in psychology program, you should look for national, regional, and field-specific official recognition. National accreditation is the standard and is conferred by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Nonprofit schools are unable to operate without this designation. Regional accreditation is granted by seven national organizations and is more important because it denotes that the college or university meets the specific standards of the state where it operates. Most employers look for regional accreditation when hiring candidates.
The DOE and CHEA oversee national accreditation of colleges and universities in the United States. The DOE is a government institution that works to create and enforce a cohesive set of educational standards, while the CHEA is a non-governmental organization that works towards similar goals. Since the DOE and CHEA works towards similar goals, it is rare to find a school that is accredited by one and not the other. The USDE and CHEA are also responsible for maintaining the credibility of organizations of regional accreditation. To see what colleges and universities have the DOE and CHEA's stamp of approval, visit their websites.
There are also industry-specific organizations that establish and maintain standards and offer accreditation. Those pursuing a master's in psychology online should be aware that the American Psychological Association (APA) only gives out its stamp of approval to doctorate programs. Another organization to look for is the Master's in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC). Although the organization is relatively new, some of the best psychology master's degrees online operate under its direction.
What Can You Do With a Master's Degree in Psychology?
Graduates of a master's in psychology degree program are well prepared for a rewarding career. Job availability will largely depend on the kind of degree one earns, as well as the degree specialization. Some of the most common career paths for licensed degree-holding psychologists can be found below.
Clinical Psychologist: Clinical psychologists observe, diagnose, and treat patients suffering from a range of emotional and mental health disorders, including anxiety, depression, behavioral disorders, and addictions. They often work alongside other psychologists and medical professionals to discuss patient history and determine how to best administer therapy.
Neuropsychologist: Neuropsychologists study the way that mental health disorders, emotions, social interactions, and other factors affect brain activity. They often work with patients who have suffered a traumatic brain injury, or are experiencing mental decline due to factors like age or developmental disability.
School Psychologist: Found at all academic levels, school psychologists work with students who are living with mental health disorders or interpersonal problems. They often conduct tests on their patients, and may meet with parents, teachers, and other individuals who are invested in their clients' welfare.
Forensic Psychologist: Forensic psychologists apply their training to areas of criminal justice, such as crime scene investigations or legal proceedings. They study evidence to determine criminal motives, evaluate accused criminals and defendants for mental acuity, and often have the final say as to whether or not a person is fit to stand trial.
Marriage and Family Therapist: These therapists engage with families coping with difficult issues. Marriage and family therapists encourage communication in a neutral zone, and help family members process personal or professional losses, resentments, or difficult life changes. They also encourage families to find ways to express their feelings and cope with challenging situations.
Substance Abuse Counselor: Counselors monitor and evaluate patients struggling with substance abuse and addiction. They develop treatment plans and build development goals collaboratively with patients and their families. These professionals may also create outreach programs to help multiple members of the community.
Industrial-Organizational Psychologist: Organizational psychologists apply analysis and therapeutic concepts to companies and organizations. They promote workplace productivity and mental wellness through one-on-one consultations, group workshops, and workplace initiatives. They also act as confidants for workers in stressful environments and advocate for positive communities.
Continuing Education Requirements for Master's in Psychology Graduates
Graduating from an online master's in psychology program and passing state licensure exams does not mark the end of your education. To maintain licensure, you must pursue continuing education opportunities throughout your career. The objective of this additional training is to keep professionals up-to-date on the latest innovations in the field, as well as updates to analysis and treatment. Though continuing education requirements vary by state and subfield, all psychologists should aim to complete between 20-60 continuing education credits every two years. Various professional associations, such as the APA, provide ongoing education opportunities through online courses, intensive workshops, and professional conferences. An I-O psychologist, for example, may take ongoing educational courses on stress and coping or human motivation, while an educational psychologist could pursue cognitive neuroscience and the latest research on early childhood development.
Employment and Salary Outlook for Online Master's in Psychology Graduates
Job Placement: MPsych vs Bachelor of Psychology
Although a bachelor's degree in psychology will lay the groundwork for a successful career, jobs are limited for candidates who complete their education with an undergraduate psychology program. Bachelor's-holders may qualify for roles as case managers, technicians, career counselors, and other non-clinical titles. Interestingly, only 25% of individuals with a bachelor's in psychology go on to pursue careers in this field.
A graduate degree in psychology will help improve your job placement rate and boost your earning potential. A recent report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce notes significant gaps in pay and employment between college graduates with a bachelor's and those who advance on to a graduate degree program:
|Graduate Type||Unemployment Rate||Median Annual Salary|
|Recent college graduate with degree in psychology||7.3%||$30,000|
|Experienced college graduates with a degree in psychology||5.9%||$48,000|
|Psychology graduate degree-holder||3.2%||$61,000|
Earning Power for Master's in Psychology Graduates Over Time
Pursuing a career in psychology can be deeply rewarding, but also very lucrative. As the table below illustrates, psychologists experience progressively higher wages throughout their career, whether in counseling, therapy, or clinical psychology. Generally speaking, professions that focus on research and scientific study -- including clinical, neurological, and forensic psychology -- earn more across the span of one's career than those dedicated to community outreach, such as school psychology or substance abuse treatment. Note that these median annual wages are profession-wide averages; actual salary will vary by state and professional setting.
|Job Title||Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years)||Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years)||Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 years)||Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)|
|Marriage and Family Therapist||$50,000||$55,000||$64,000||$73,000|
|Substance Abuse Counselor||$34,000||$38,000||$41,000||$44,000|
Where Do Master's in Psychology Graduates Work?
Graduates of an online master's in psychology degree can be found in a variety of work environments. For example, childhood and young-adult psychologists work in elementary and secondary schools, child welfare offices, substance abuse clinics, and hospitals. Educational psychologists work as therapists and educators in secondary and post-secondary schools to encourage mental wellness and train future psychologists and therapists. In fact, the BLS indicates school psychologists are in particular demand in the northern central and southeastern United States.
By contrast, industrial occupational psychologists work within companies or institutions to promote adult wellness. They act as office practitioners, human resources representatives, and upper-level management. The BLS ranks California as a state in particular need of more I-O psychologists. Similarly, geriatric psychologists and therapists are needed in out-patient clinics, hospitals, home healthcare providers, and retirement communities.
Psychologists may additionally act as a liaison for healthcare companies and programs to design and troubleshoot healthcare initiatives, and decrease stigmas against healthy healthcare management. The following tables detail industries with strong employment opportunities and commensurate salaries for online master's in psychology degree holders.
Industries With the Highest Levels of Employment for Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists
|Industry||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|Elementary and Secondary Schools||43,570||$77,430|
|Offices of Other Health Practitioners||16,300||$92,130|
|Individual and Family Services||7,100||$81,160|
|Outpatient Care Centers||5,840||$82,700|
|General Medical and Surgical Hospitals||5,510||$85,090|
Top-Paying Industries for Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists
|Industry||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|Home Health Care Services||270||$93,910|
|Specialty (Except Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Hospitals)||520||$93,710|
|Management of Companies and Enterprises||350||$92,640|
|Offices of Other Health Practitioners||16,300||$92,130|
|Local Government, Excluding Schools and Hospitals||3,270||$90,450|
Making professional connections and learning about different psychological approaches is crucial to your career success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you'll find three of the most prominent organizations established for professional psychologists. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates. Resources like these often prove invaluable as you complete your degree requirements and prepare to enter the job market.
- American Psychological Association: The nation's leading organization for professional psychologists, the APA today boasts more than 117,000 members. The website features a vast online library, a job board, continuing education opportunities, and a Psychology Help Center with links to blogs and articles about various psych-related topics. The APA also serves as the official accreditation agency for collegiate psychology programs.
- American Board of Professional Psychology: Established in 1947, the ABPP oversees the standards and criteria used to certify and license practicing psychologists. The board awards certification to qualifying applicants in 15 different niche areas, including clinical psychology, couple and family psychology, and school psychology.
- National Alliance of Professional Psychology Providers: NAPPP is dedicated to promoting professional psychology through academic research and public advocacy. Members receive discounted electronic health records and reduced malpractice insurance, along with free continuing education courses, training tools, and job leads.
- American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy: The AAMFT maintains chapters across the United States and Canada, and provides a directory of state licensing boards. This association brings together clinical and psychiatric professionals and students, and provides job search engines and ongoing education venues to maintain excellence across the field of marriage and family therapy.
- National Association of School Psychologists: A major center for psychologists, NASP gathers professionals and graduate students to increase awareness of contemporary issues in school psychology, and connect established career professionals with new generations. The international community base encourages cross-cultural awareness and outreach.
- Society of Neuroscience: Relevant for psychologists in clinical and therapeutic fields alike, the Society of Neuroscience promotes understanding of complex neural connections and their greater role in human behavior and cognition. The organization offers access to the society's journal, JNeurosci, an annual meeting, and community education and awareness programs.
Financing Your Online Master's in Psychology
Despite the relative affordability of online programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.
Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.
Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.
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, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.
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.
Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.
Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.
- Best Online Master's in Psychology Degrees 2018
Rank School Location 1 Harvard University Cambridge, MA 2 University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 3 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA 4 Adler University Chicago, IL 5 University of Georgia Athens, GA 6 Ball State University Muncie, IN 7 Pepperdine University Malibu, CA 8 Golden Gate University-San Francisco San Francisco, CA 9 The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL 10 Palo Alto University Palo Alto, CA 11 William James College Newton, MA 12 Carlos Albizu University-Miami Miami, FL 13 Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL 14 Touro College New York, NY 15 Sacred Heart University Fairfield, CT 16 Arizona State University-Tempe Tempe, AZ 17 Saybrook University Oakland, CA 18 University of Northern Colorado Greeley, CO 19 Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA 20 University of Northern Iowa Cedar Falls, IA 21 National Louis University Chicago, IL 22 University of North Texas Denton, TX 23 The University of Tennessee-Knoxville Knoxville, TN 24 University of Houston-Victoria Victoria, TX 25 Medaille College Buffalo, NY 26 University of Memphis Memphis, TN 27 LeTourneau University Longview, TX 28 University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND 29 University of Louisiana at Monroe Monroe, LA 30 University of Idaho Moscow, ID 31 McNeese State University Lake Charles, LA 32 Fort Hays State University Hays, KS 33 University of Nevada-Las Vegas Las Vegas, NV 34 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH 35 Eastern Kentucky University R, chmond KY
- Best Online Master's in Psychology Degrees 2017
Rank School Location 1 Harvard University Cambridge, MA 2 University of Georgia Athens, GA 3 Touro University Worldwide Los Alamitos, CA 4 Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL 5 Adler Graduate School Richfield, MN 6 Adler University Chicago, IL 7 William James College Newton, MA 8 The University of Tennessee-Knoxville Knoxville, TN 9 Carlos Albizu University-Miami Miami, FL 10 University of Houston-Victoria Victoria, TX 11 University of Northern Colorado Greeley, CO 12 Fielding Graduate University Santa Barbara, CA 13 Ball State University Muncie, IN 14 Institute for the Psychological Sciences Arlington, VA 15 University of North Texas Denton, TX 16 LeTourneau University Longview, TX 17 Sacred Heart University Fairfield, CT 18 University of Memphis Memphis, TN 19 Palo Alto University Palo Alto, CA 20 Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA 21 Fort Hays State University Hays, KS 22 University of Idaho Moscow, ID 23 University of Nevada-Las Vegas Las Vegas, NV 24 Medaille College Buffalo, NY 25 National University La Jolla, CA
- Best Online Master's in Psychology Degrees 2016
Rank School Location 1 University of Wisconsin - Madison Madison, WI 2 University of Georgia Athens, GA 3 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA 4 The University of Tennessee - Knoxville Knoxville, TN 5 Marist College Poughkeepsie, NY 6 Colorado State University - Fort Collins Fort Collins, CO 7 Sacred Heart University Fairfield, CT 8 Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL 9 University of North Texas Denton, TX 10 CUNY School of Professional Studies New York, NY 11 University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND 12 University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL 13 Medaille College Buffalo, NY 14 University of Northern Colorado Greeley, CO 15 Eastern Michigan University MI 16 Touro University Worldwide Los Alamitos, CA 17 University of Idaho Moscow, ID 18 University of Houston-Victoria Victoria, TX 19 University of Hartford West Hartford, CT 20 LeTourneau University Longview, TX 21 Saint Cloud State University Saint Cloud, MN 22 Mercy College Dobbs Ferry, NY 23 Edinboro University of Pennsylvania Edinboro, PA 24 Tiffin University Tiffin, OH 25 Fort Hays State University Hays, KS
Also Available: Online Bachelor's in Psychology Rankings
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