The knowledge and skills graduates develop in a Ph.D. program prepare them for highly specialized career paths that often come with high salaries. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that industrial-organizational psychologists earn a median annual wage of $97,260. The BLS also projects jobs for all types of psychologists to grow by 14% from 2018-2028 — a rate far faster than the national average.

Enrolling in a doctoral program is a major professional and academic undertaking, and this page offers a general idea of what to expect from your Ph.D. in psychology program. Below, you can find information on admission requirements, common courses, concentration options, and career pathways after graduation.

Accredited Online Doctorate in Psychology Programs

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Keiser University

Fort Lauderdale, FL

Ranked among the top schools in Florida, Fort Lauderdale-based Keiser offers a primarily online Ph.D. in industrial and organizational psychology. Students pursuing this degree apply psychological theories and methods to workplace dynamics for all types of organizations.

Keiser's hybrid doctorate in psychology program accepts applicants who have completed a master's and/or bachelor's degree in psychology or a related behavioral science discipline. Bachelor's degree-holders must complete an additional 18 credits of coursework, which includes a graduate thesis (in addition to a dissertation).

All Ph.D. candidates complete two campus residency sessions, which offer opportunities to meet and collaborate with peers and faculty. The first residency serves as an orientation, while the second session focuses on individual student research. Both sessions include workshops, presentations, and individual meetings with faculty.

Program Overview

Program Name: Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology
School Status: Private
Tuition: $21,008
Credit Requirements: 60-78 credits


Format: Hybrid (online/on campus)
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 recommended
Standardized Tests: GRE or MAT


Phone: (888) 753-4737
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

Michigan State University

East Lansing, MI

A public school based in East Lansing, MSU offers a Ph.D. in educational psychology and educational technology that explores the use of psychological research and theories in the design of learning environments. The program uses a hybrid format that caters to working educators.

Hybrid students enroll part time and complete four courses per year. They usually graduate in about five years. Learners interact with faculty and peers through various video conferencing platforms. They also complete collaborative projects and other group work.

Courses are delivered primarily online, although the structure of the hybrid program is currently undergoing revision. Students should check with the program to learn more details.

Program Overview

Program Name: Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and Educational Technology
School Status: Public
Available Concentrations: Educational psychology; educational technology
Tuition: $755/credit
Credit Requirements: 66 credits
Program Length: 5 years


Format: Hybrid (online/on campus)
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: GRE


Phone: (517) 355-6683
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

Saybrook University

Pasedena, CA

Located in Pasadena, California, Saybrook was a pioneer of hybrid learning. The university offers a Ph.D. in psychology and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology — both available in a hybrid format that blends online learning with low-residency campus sessions. Both programs take around 5-6 years to complete.

Saybrook's doctorate in psychology programs combine online courses with campus residency conferences held twice per year at the beginning of the fall and spring semesters. These residencies last five days each and feature various academic and social activities. New students also attend a two-day orientation residency at the program's start.

The clinical track meets professional licensure requirements in several states, while the general psychology track does not lead to licensure. Clinical candidates complete several additional requirements, including a clinical practicum and internship.

Program Overview

Program Name: Ph.D. in Psychology; Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology
School Status: Private
Available Concentrations: Consciousness, spirituality, and integrative health; creativity studies; existential, humanistic, and transpersonal psychology; psychophysiology
Tuition: $1,150/credit (psychology); $1,170/credit (clinical psychology)
Credit Requirements: 60-75 credits (psychology); 105-108 credits (clinical psychology)
Program Length: 5-6 years


Format: Hybrid (online/on campus)
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum


Phone: (800) 825-4480
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

Touro University Worldwide

Los Alamitos, CA

Serving students around the world, TUW offers a Psy.D. in human and organizational psychology that emphasizes the application of psychological principles to workplace environments and other organizational dynamics. Available fully online with no required campus visits, the degree also features an accelerated admissions process with no GRE requirement.

Psy.D. candidates complete 66 credits, divided among several sections, beginning with theory, applied research, and application of theory and research. Students then move into the program's dissertation development and research stages, in which they produce substantial original research that contributes to the field.

Applicants to the program must possess a master's degree from an accredited college, though a psychology background is not required. Applicants should note that TUW's Psy.D. degree does not lead to any form of professional licensure.

Program Overview

Program Name: Psy.D. in Human and Organizational Psychology
School Status: Private
Tuition: $700/credit
Credit Requirements: 66 credits


Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.4 minimum


Phone: (818) 575-6800
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

Online Doctorate in Psychology Program Overview

Earning an online doctorate in psychology builds clinical and/or research skills for advanced practice in a variety of professional environments. Most degree tracks focus on research or clinical work, though programs may combine both approaches.

Research-based programs place candidates in the role of a scientist-practitioner and emphasize theoretical perspectives and quantitative research. These programs commonly prepare graduates for academic and research-oriented positions, rather than direct patient or client service.

Alternatively, clinical programs often focus on direct client contact in environments such as schools, health service organizations, and counseling practices. While also rooted in a strong theoretical and research-based framework, clinical programs emphasize skills for direct interaction, and they typically require a significant experiential component, such as a practicum or internship.

A doctorate in psychology serves as the highest level of education necessary for most careers in the field. Certain highly specialized, research-based positions may call for additional postdoctoral work, but a doctorate should suffice for almost any psychology career path.

Common Doctorate in Psychology Degree Courses

Developmental Psychology

Offering an overview of psychology across the human lifespan, this course emphasizes perspectives on the aging process, including the social, biological, and cultural implications of aging. It also explores types of human psychological growth, including intellectual, cognitive, social, perceptual, and emotional.

Ethical Professional Practice

This course covers principles for legal and ethical interactions in professional psychology settings. It explores standards for conducting ethical psychological research, along with additional topics such as malpractice and cultural competency.

Research Methods

Outlining major perspectives and approaches to academic and clinical research, this class prepares students to complete their dissertation. Coursework often focuses on data collection, research design, and technology tools.

Dissertation Preparation

The dissertation serves as a key component for doctoral programs, and candidates often complete a preparatory course before formally beginning their work. Students commonly use this course to refine their research topic and scope, conduct literature reviews, and determine effective research methods and strategies for conducting research.


Many programs include a required internship component that builds experience in a professional setting. Internships vary depending on a student's area of study; for example, clinical psychology candidates may intern at a mental health agency, while industrial-organizational candidates may intern in the private sector with a company's human resources department.

Related Doctorate in Psychology Degree Concentrations

Clinical Psychology

Often focused on direct interaction in the form of diagnosis and treatment, clinical psychology explores research and treatment related to varied psychological and emotional conditions. Graduates may pursue academic or research-based positions as well as licensed professional practice.

Industrial-organizational Psychology

Focusing on the application of psychological techniques and principles to workplace environments, industrial-organizational psychology trains candidates to foster effective workplace dynamics that support and motivate employees. Graduates of these programs work for organizations of all types, often in human resources departments.

Forensic Psychology

Exploring the intersection of psychology and the legal and criminal justice systems, forensic psychology commonly focuses on the relationship between mental health and criminal behavior. Programs address criminal and victim psychology, the psychological roots of crime, and strategies for preventing and rehabilitating criminal behavior.

Educational Psychology

Educational psychology examines varied perspectives related to the practices and processes of learning and education, using the tools of psychology to improve education environments and student learning outcomes. Educational psychology programs focus on cognition, learning and instruction styles, and the use of technology to improve learning outcomes.


This concentration focuses on brain structure and function, examining the various neurological processes that produce behavior and cognition. Neuropsychology graduates often assume research and/or academic positions, where they pursue various topics related to the brain, from neurological disorders to visual processing.

Online Doctorate in Psychology Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor's or Master's Degree

    Doctoral programs maintain different educational requirements for applicants. Some programs may accept students with only a bachelor's degree, while others require a master's degree in a relevant discipline. Candidates admitted with only a bachelor's degree typically complete additional credits equivalent to a master's.

  • Standardized Test Scores

    Many Ph.D. programs require applicants to submit scores from standardized tests like the GRE. Score requirements for doctoral programs are often higher than those for master's tracks, though many schools evaluate applicants holistically. Alternatively, some Ph.D. programs do not require standardized test scores.

  • Letters of Recommendation

    Nearly all Ph.D. programs require applicants to submit multiple letters of recommendation from former teachers, supervisors, and/or other professionals familiar with an applicant's work. Doctoral programs may require that these letters speak directly to an applicant's potential for advanced study in psychology.

  • Academic Transcripts

    All Ph.D. programs require applicants to submit their postsecondary transcripts for consideration. Given the intensity of study in a doctoral program, most schools maintain a specific GPA requirement. However, they may consider other factors, such as professional experience and research, in addition to GPA.

  • Professional Experience

    While significant professional experience is not always a requirement for a Ph.D. program, many schools do prefer applicants with some experience in the field. Even programs that do not call specifically for relevant professional experience may ask applicants to submit a resume or CV detailing their professional background.

Online Doctorate in Psychology Career Paths

Individuals who earn an online doctorate in psychology can access top careers in the field, and degree-holders rarely need to complete additional education in the form of another degree. Ph.D. graduates may pursue a variety of positions, depending on their area of specialization, such as clinical psychologist, school psychologist, researcher, industrial-organizational psychologist, and psychology services director.

Professional licensure and certification requirements in the field also vary widely depending on a worker's area of focus. For example, clinical practitioner positions that include direct client interaction almost always require state licensure, while research and academic positions rarely do.

Related Careers

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a Ph.D. and a Psy.D.?

Both the Ph.D. and the Psy.D. function as the highest level of education attainable in psychology, but the degrees typically serve different ends. Ph.D. programs typically maintain a stronger focus on research and college-level teaching, while Psy.D. programs emphasize clinical practice.

How much does a psychologist with a Ph.D. make?

Earning a Ph.D. in psychology often leads to strong employment prospects; however, as with any field, potential earnings can vary widely. The BLS reports that psychologists earn a median annual wage of $79,000, though certain subfields, such as industrial-organizational psychology, offer greater salary potential.

How many years does it take to get a doctorate in psychology?

Completion times vary among programs. In general, a doctorate in psychology requires 4-7 years to complete. Ph.D. programs typically take slightly longer to complete than Psy.D. programs, although this varies between schools.

What are the requirements to get a doctorate in psychology?

As with any advanced degree, requirements vary from program to program. However, most doctoral programs include a comprehensive academic curriculum and either a research-based dissertation or an extensive experiential component (or possibly both).

Are clinical psychologists in demand?

The BLS projects positions for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists to increase by 15% from 2018-2028 — a rate much faster than the national average. Much of this growth stems from increasing demand for psychological services in social services agencies, schools, hospitals, and mental health centers.

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