Applied psychology is a multidisciplinary field that uses principles and theories of clinical, behavioral and organizational psychology to address real-world problems related to human behavior and interaction. Applied psychology is utilized in a wide range of industries. Marketers and advertisers use applied psychology to study consumer demographics and launch successful product campaigns; police officers, lawyers and other criminal justice professions rely on applied psychology to solve cases and prosecute offenders; and educators often study applied psychology to determine suitable lesson plans in their classrooms and schools.
'Psychology' and its subfields (such as applied psychology) are among the most popular majors for bachelor's degree-seekers. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, roughly 114,000 psychology bachelor's degrees were conferred during the 2012-13 academic year. However, careers in psychology require an advanced education; job candidates typically enter the workforce with a master's or doctoral degree. Additionally, psychologists in public practice must be licensed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. A bachelor's in applied psychology will provide foundational knowledge and skills for students who are planning to obtain a graduate degree, complete their state-specific licensure requirements and compete for jobs in their field.
Many of today's students are choosing to earn their bachelor's degree in applied psychology online, rather than in a classroom. Online students follow the same rigorous curricula as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, leading to the same number of post-degree employment opportunities. The asynchronous (or self-paced) format of many online programs is also ideal for students with part-time jobs, childcare duties and other commitments that may interfere with campus-based learning.
Learn more about what you can do with an online bachelor's degree in applied psychology and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.
Choosing a Program
WILL AN ONLINE APPLIED PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?
For most students, a bachelor's degree in applied psychology will serve as an important stepping-stone for their career. The curriculum for an online applied psychology bachelor's will cover foundational areas of psychology, including cognitive, behavioral, developmental, social and organizational psychology. Students will also review case studies and become familiar with best-practice research methods, which they will be able to demonstrate as part of their practicum coursework. Although bachelor's degrees in applied psychology are widely available, many students receive their education as part of a bachelor's in psychology program with an applied psychology minor or specialization. The best online bachelor's in applied psychology degree programs will prepare students to advance into any master's pathway.
WILL AN ONLINE APPLIED PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE PROGRAM WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?
Online applied psychology degree programs offer a flexible alternative to traditional brick-and- mortar education. Students can access course readings and lectures, submit written assignments, take exams and communicate with their professors on their own schedule. Current technology also enables them to study away from their home computer using a laptop, tablet, smartphone and other Wi-Fi-compatible devices. For added convenience, online psychology students can normally coordinate internships and other practicum courses at sites that are reasonably close to their current residence.
WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY BACHELOR'S IN APPLIED PSYCHOLOGY?
A bachelor's degree in applied psychology on its own will not be sufficient for a career in this field. In addition to state licensure, most positions require candidates to hold a master's degree ― and, in many cases, a doctorate as well. However, a bachelor's in applied psychology recipient may be eligible for certain positions outside the psychology profession. These candidates commonly land jobs in fields like marketing and advertising, human resources, criminal justice, law, education and social work.
WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE BACHELOR'S IN APPLIED PSYCHOLOGY PROGRAMS?
Choosing a program is an incredibly personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school's strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online bachelor's degree in applied psychology programs in the United States. Our ranking is based on the courses schools offer, available specializations, student outcomes, career support services, and other criteria used to determine academic excellence. If you are considering an online bachelor's in applied psychology, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific bachelor's degree requirements and offerings.
Accredited Online Bachelor's in Applied Psychology Programs
University of Massachusetts - Amherst
|Amherst, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 77%||
UMAss Amherst's University Without Walls (UWW) boasts a 45-year tradition of providing nontraditional learners with flexible, accessible higher education. UWW's self-paced bachelor's completion program makes it easy for students with previous college credit to earn an online applied psychology degree. Candidates may apply up to 105 transfer credits toward the 120-credit degree, receiving college credit for qualifying professional training, military experience, and independent study. Graduates go on to work in areas like victim advocacy, counseling, and child and youth services.
UWW's academic calendar features 14-week fall and spring semesters, a three-week winter session, and two, six-week summer terms. Applied psychology majors can take as many or as few courses as they like each semester, but must enroll in at least two in fall and spring terms to qualify for financial aid. Candidates may begin taking classes on two annual start dates. All distance learners pay the same per-credit tuition rate regardless of their residency status. The university sponsors a variety of institutional scholarships for UWW students.
Prospective students must hold at least 12 college credits and a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.0 or higher. Former UMass Amherst students do not need to meet the GPA requirement. Individuals with a bachelor's degree already do not qualify for admission to the program. The university accepts applications during two periods each year. UMass Amherst holds regional accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
|Denver, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 71%||
Regis is a private Roman Catholic institution located in Denver, Colorado. The university offers 70 rigorous, web-based degree options, including an online bachelor of science in applied psychology. Exploring issues from stress and well-being to abnormal behavior and forgiveness, the 120-credit curriculum includes 45 required core, 15 foundational, and 27 required upper-division credits.
Students who add a minor to their applied psychology degree take 12 minor and 21 general elective credits; those who do not complete 33 elective credits. The program offers courses such as professional ethics in psychology, understanding trauma and PTSD, and the psychology of intimate relationships. In addition, all applied psychology majors complete a three-credit senior capstone course.
Candidates pursuing a bachelor's degree in applied psychology may simultaneously begin graduate studies for a degree in counseling or marriage and family therapy. With departmental permission, distance learners can take up to two graduate-level courses during the bachelor's program, earning credit toward a bachelor's and a master's degree.
Regis does not set minimum GPA or standardized test score guidelines for prospective students. Instead, the university evaluates applicants based on multiple factors, including their resume, transcripts, and personal statement essay. All distance students in the applied psychology bachelor's program pay the same tuition rate, and online learners qualify for the same financial aid opportunities as their on-campus counterparts, including scholarships, loans, and grants. The university's Center for Career and Professional Development helps students meet their professional goals through employment resources, advising services, and training.
Oregon Institute of Technology
|Klamath Falls, OR||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 45%||
Located in Klamath Falls, Oregon Tech is a nationally recognized institution that holds regional accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Developed according to American Psychological Association standards, the school's online applied psychology degree explores research methods, behavior modification strategies, and social, developmental, and counseling psychologies. Many program graduates pursue careers as behavior specialists, therapists, teachers, and researchers.
Oregon Tech's BS in applied psychology program requires 180 credit hours, including 67 applied psychology credits. While students must complete at least 45 credits at Oregon Tech, they may fulfill the remaining degree requirements through transfer credits. The program requires a grade of 'C' or better in all applied psychology classes. Students who graduated from high school after 1997 must also complete at least two terms of a foreign language, with a grade of 'C-' or better, unless they took two years of high school foreign language.
Major classes address topics in human growth and development, psychological research methods, and cognitive psychology. The program culminates in an applied psychology capstone course during students' final term. Candidates also complete a 12-credit applied externship. Oregon Tech's applied psychology externship program pairs learners with relevant organizations in their own local communities, allowing distance students to gain real-world professional experience.
Oregon Tech's affordable, flat-rate tuition applies to both in-state and out-of-state online students. The school offers exclusive scholarship opportunities for distance learners. While prospective students do not need to meet minimum GPA requirements, applicants to the applied psychology program must submit ACT or SAT reasoning scores.
|Dayton, TN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 46%||
Founded in 1930, Bryan strives to foster spiritual, academic, and personal growth by providing liberal arts programs grounded in biblical principles. Located in Dayton, Tennessee, the college holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Bryan's online bachelor of science in applied psychology features flexible, asynchronous scheduling and accelerated six-week classes, allowing students to work full time as they earn a degree. Distance learners may begin the program during any month of the year. Thanks to the college's generous transfer policies, candidates can gain academic credit for prior life and professional experience along with previous college coursework.
The 124-credit curriculum includes 36 psychology credits and 30 general education credits. Candidates fulfill any remaining credits through elective coursework. Students can choose to create a non-credit portfolio of their work and enroll in an optional psychology practicum course.
Learners who do not complete the practicum take an additional elective class. Applied psychology courses include research design and methodology, counseling techniques, and methods and models of integration. All students must receive a grade of 'C-' or better in all psychology courses. Candidates must earn at least 48 graded credits at Bryan to graduate with honors.
Distance learners who enter the program with fewer than 48 transfer credits can take a series of general education and elective courses. Those with more than 48 transfer credits may enroll in a combination of core and elective psychology, general education, and elective classes.
Southern New Hampshire University
|Manchester, NH||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 49%||
SNHU enrolls more than 90,000 distance learners each year, making this private Manchester institution one of the nation's fastest growing universities. SNHU offers over 200 academic programs, including an online applied psychology degree.
Presented in an asynchronous format, the 120-credit BA in psychology with an applied psychology concentration examines human behavior in different environmental and social contexts. Along with general education coursework, learners complete introductory psychology and anatomy classes, synthesizing their acquired knowledge in a final capstone seminar.
Using psychological research methods and statistics to solve real-world problems, candidates explore contemporary issues in applied psychology as they acquire a versatile skill set. While graduates are qualified to pursue entry-level business, marketing, and public service positions, many go on to seek psychology master's degrees.
Distance learners complete six, eight-week terms each year, enjoying 24/7 access to all course materials and support from dedicated career and academic advisers. Students may participate in the online SNHU Psychology Club and build industry connections through the university's nationwide alumni network. New Hampshire residents and out-of-state distance learners pay the same tuition rate.
The university's free and simple online application process retrieves applicants' transcripts from previously attended schools and includes an official transfer credit evaluation. Students can transfer up to 90 credits toward their undergraduate degree, and candidates may receive college credit for qualifying life, work, and military experience. Prospective students do not need to meet minimum GPA or standardized test score guidelines.
City University of Seattle
|Seattle, WA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 49%||
CityU provides career-focused programs specially designed for working professionals. The private, nonprofit university holds regional accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and boasts partnerships with some of the nation's top companies. Along with web-based degrees in business and management, teaching and education, and professional leadership, CityU offers a 180-credit online bachelor of arts in applied psychology. Full-time distance learners can complete the accelerated applied psychology BA in as little as three years. Graduates take positions as case managers, coordinators, and agency managers, or pursue advanced degrees like a master of counseling.
Candidates study under expert faculty with professional experience in abnormal psychology, research methodology, and neuropsychology. The program requires 90 lower-division and 90 upper-division credits. Distance learners must complete two introductory psychology and human development courses before enrolling in major classes. Other notable courses include critical-thinking and writing skills in the social sciences, fundamentals of abnormal psychology, and sociology of the family.
Distance learners enjoy access to support services like the university career center, library resources and research help, and a counseling center. CityU's prior learning assessment program grants academic credit for professional training and military experience. Learners may also transfer up to 135 credits with a minimum 2.0 GPA toward their degree.
CityU's straightforward application process does not require students to submit standardized test scores or hold a minimum GPA. However, applicants should submit transcripts from all previously attended colleges. International students may need to provide proof of English proficiency.
|La Mirada, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 73%||
Biola got its start in 1908 and continues to welcome faculty, staff, and students who profess their belief in Christianity. Based in La Mirada, California, the university's Rosemead School of Psychology offers an online applied psychology degree from a Christian perspective. The 120-credit program's asynchronous format and accelerated, seven-week courses give students the flexibility to schedule their study time around work and other responsibilities.
Applied psychology majors can graduate in as little as two years, depending on their per-term course load and the number of transfer credits they bring to Biola. Candidates may transfer up to 70 credits toward their degree.
Introducing concepts in psychosocial development, foundational psychological theories, and research methods, the curriculum includes classes such as psychology and Christian thought, psychological health and wellness, and counseling techniques. In keeping with Biola's Christian roots, all undergraduate students must complete 30 Bible and theology classes. While 12 of these credits are integrated into the psychology curriculum, applied psychology majors must take the other 18 credits outside of the program's academic plan.
Prospective online students can try a free sample applied psychology course before applying to the program. Biola prefers candidates with at least three years of relevant work experience. Applicants must also demonstrate a GPA of 2.5 or higher and provide ACT or SAT scores, or complete the Post Traditional Test-Optional Rubric process. All distance learners pay the same per-credit tuition and fees. The university offers four payment plan options.
Loyola University Chicago
|Chicago, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 77%||
Loyola boasts more than 100 years of experience delivering professional education and serves 17,000 students annually. An early adopter of distance education, Loyola began delivering online programs in 1998. Today, the Roman Catholic university offers seven bachelor's degree completion programs, 18 certificates, and 21 graduate programs online.
The university's career-oriented online bachelor or arts in applied psychology presents topics such as social psychology, industrial psychology, and personality studies in a convenient format ideal for working professionals. Along with courses in organizational development and change, judgement and decision-making, and program evaluation, the 120-credit curriculum introduces fundamental business principles and management theories. Each session lasts eight weeks.
While students must complete 36 of the 120 required credits within the applied psychology major, Loyola allows distance learners to transfer up to 18 psychology credits toward the required 36-credit major requirement.
Distance learners receive full access to student support services, including academic advising, technical assistance, and library and research help. All of Loyola's online instructors receive special training in distance education instruction and curriculum design.
Applicants to the applied psychology program must submit official transcripts from all previously attended colleges and hold a minimum 2.0 GPA. Prospective students can meet one on one with an admissions counselor for additional guidance. Applicants usually receive the university's admission decision within two weeks of applying. Loyola maintains rolling admission dates, and students may begin the program during any of the academic year's five terms.
|Naples, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 27%||
A private institution located in Naples, Florida, Hodges holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. In an effort to meet student demands for flexible education, Hodges redesigned many of its on-campus programs, making them available online. Today, the university offers more than 40 undergraduate and graduate distance education programs, including an online applied psychology degree.
The business-focused, liberal arts-grounded degree readies candidates for careers in social services, education, and mental health. The curriculum explores theoretical and practical aspects of the applied psychology field, offering insight into human motivation and behavior. Courses in the 120-credit curriculum include assessment and case management, psychology of conflict management, and cognitive development. Students must complete 36 applied psychology, 36 general education, and 48 elective credits to graduate.
While Hodges' applied psychology BS program takes a primarily asynchronous approach to online learning, some classes may require students to log on at specific times and participate in activities or discussions. Distance learners may attend virtual office hours with instructors and take advantage of real-time conferencing and instant messaging features.
Candidates benefit from a 14-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio that facilitates one-on-one attention, individualized assistance, and peer collaboration. Hodges' academic calendar consists of three annual sessions. Full-time learners typically graduate in 10 sessions.
Hodges does not require applicants to hold a minimum GPA or submit standardized test scores. Admissions advisers help prospective learners plan a course of study based on their prior education, professional experience, and career goals.
|Elgin, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
Located in Elgin, Illinois, Judson is a Baptist liberal arts institution that strives to uphold evangelical values, developing community leaders and ambassadors for Christ through education. While prospective students need not identify as Christians, all learners must sign a biblically informed commitment to lifestyle statement. The university offers several professional programs that lead to associate and bachelor's degrees, including a bachelor of arts in applied psychology.
Tailored to meet the needs of busy professionals, the program teaches students to critically analyze human behavior and find practical solutions to real-world problems in the field. The curriculum includes an internship that gives learners hands-on applied psychology experience in their local community. During the program, students gain skills in assessment, intervention, and counseling as they learn to analyze individual and group behavior, craft a professional ethical code rooted in Christian principles, and conduct and present research projects.
Applied psychology candidates must complete 46 credits of core courses. Major classes introduce concepts in statistical theories and applications, psychological tests and measurements, and interpersonal communication and relationships. Students take just one class at a time. The cohort-style program groups together small clusters of learners who progress through the curriculum together, from the first class to the last. The cohort approach fosters close relationships among students, creates networking opportunities, and allows for more one-on-one attention from instructors.
Applicants to Judson's applied psychology bachelor's program must hold a minimum 2.0 GPA and two years of professional experience. Program graduates find work in educational settings, businesses, and nonprofit organizations.
|Jackson, MS||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 49%||
Founded in 1883, Belhaven is a Jackson, Mississippi university offering more than 30 undergraduate and graduate online programs from a Christian perspective. The university holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Many Belhaven graduates go on to work in roles like social service director, child protection worker, and substance abuse counselor.
The university's online applied psychology degree presents major psychological theories and practices within a Christian context and biblical worldview. Students explore human mental processes and behavior, counseling theory, abnormal psychology, and statistics for the behavioral sciences.
Distance learners take classes like cross-cultural psychology, psychology from a Christian perspective, and human growth and development. The 124-credit degree requires 36 core psychology credits, six elective psychology credits, a 40-credit general education component, and 42 credits of elective coursework. The program's asynchronous format provides online students with the freedom to maintain personal, professional, and family responsibilities as they study.
Distance learners may also add an optional criminal justice concentration to their BA in applied psychology. Ideal for students who want to pursue leadership careers in the correctional and judicial systems, the concentration requires 12 additional credits. Specialized classes include criminology, an introduction to criminal justice, and police organizations.
Applicants with fewer than 12 transfer credits must submit their ACT or SAT scores, although Belhaven waives this requirement for prospective learners who graduated from high school more than five years ago. Applicants are not required to meet minimum GPA guidelines.
|Columbus, OH||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 6%||
This Columbus, Ohio university's tradition of helping working professionals pursue their academic and career goals dates to 1902. Distance learners at Franklin can pursue a transfer-friendly online bachelor of science in applied psychology and graduate in only four years of full-time study. Developed to meet the needs of busy professionals, the program's flexible schedule allows students to work full-time while earning their degree. The 120-credit applied psychology degree takes four full-time years to complete.
Building foundational applied psychology knowledge, the program explores human strengths and weaknesses through courses on the psychology of personal development, assessment and intervention in organizations, and applied research methods. Learners also gain experience with instrumentation, coaching, and psychological assessment.
Unlike many undergraduate programs, Franklin provides bachelor's candidates with the opportunity to complete a hands-on, field-based practicum in their final semester. The curriculum imparts versatile skills, making it ideal for learners interested in applied management, social and behavioral science, and human resources management careers.
Franklin offers one-on-one transfer support to ensure learners get all the credit they deserve. Applied psychology majors can transfer up to 94 credits towards the degree, saving time and money. In addition to credit for prior academic coursework, students may receive college credit for military training, professional training, prior learning assessments, and portfolios. Prospective learners can also use Franklin's free 10-minute online transfer credit tool to help determine how many of their credits qualify for transfer. All distance students at Franklin pay the same tuition, regardless of their residency status.
Gwynedd Mercy University
|Gwynedd Valley, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 49%||
Founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1948, GMercyU is a Catholic institution located in Pennsylvania. One of 17 Sisters of Mercy universities in the U.S., GMercyU offers liberal arts degrees that emphasize experiential learning and service. The Catholic school holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Distance learners at GMercyU can choose from around two dozen accelerated online undergraduate and graduate programs in nursing, education, psychology, and management. The university's online applied psychology degree focuses on professional development and emphasizes values like compassion, diversity, and human dignity. As a bachelor's completion program, the degree is intended for working professionals who have previously earned at least 30 college credits.
Covering topics like counseling skills, ethical issues in behavioral and social sciences, and group processes, the 120-credit curriculum imparts both theoretical and practical skills. Learners take courses like abnormal psychology, research methods, and organizational theory and behavior. The program culminates in a capstone course during which learners complete an in-depth research project.
The 120-credit BS in applied psychology features a flexible, asynchronous instructional format. Students can complete coursework and review class materials at their convenience. Online students receive personalized attention from instructors and develop connections with other learners through virtual class discussions.
GMercyU charges the same affordable tuition rate for all distance learners, regardless of where they live. Military members and veterans receive a generous tuition discount.
University of Maine at Machias
|Machias, ME||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 32%||
UMM is a small public university that began as a teacher training school in 1909. Today, the university offers 12 liberal arts undergraduate degrees, including an interdisciplinary, web-based BA in psychology and community studies with a concentration in applied psychology. Incorporating concepts from anthropology, psychology, natural sciences, the arts, and economics, the 120-credit program explores change and human community.
The applied psychology concentration prepares students to pursue graduate-level study in a related field or entry-level roles such as caseworker or direct care counselor. Centered in traditional psychology, the program emphasizes service learning and community engagement. Students collaborate with other classmates and community members, applying their classroom learning to real-world situations during internships and fieldwork.
Along with general education coursework, distance learners complete concentration courses like physiological psychology, learning and memory, and developmental psychology. Candidates also explore issues like substance abuse, prejudice and discrimination, and the effects of policies on communities. Some courses prepare students to seek professional certification in social service areas like mental health and rehabilitation technician, birth to five years special education, and drug and substance use counseling. Applied psychology majors must earn a cumulative 2.0 GPA to graduate.
Students who qualify for the New England Regional Program or who live in Canada receive a tuition discount. While applicants must submit ACT or SAT scores, UMM does not set minimum GPA requirements for prospective students. The university sponsors a variety of need- and merit-based scholarship opportunities.
|Portland, OR||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 32%||
Online students can complete Multnomah's bachelor of arts in applied psychology in as little as 25 months, depending on how many transfer credits they apply to the degree. A private, nondenominational Christian university located in Portland, Oregon, Multnomah encourages its students to serve the broader community. The university offers ten undergraduate-level and graduate-level distance education programs, including an online applied psychology degree with no on-campus requirements.
Featuring a discussion-focused learning model, the program takes a practical, rather than theoretical, approach to psychology. Students learn to help people solve problems from a biblical perspective and Christian worldview, applying psychological theories to everyday issues. The 124-credit program includes 30 applied psychology, 41 elective, and 35 general education credits. Undergraduates must also complete 18 Bible and theology credits through courses such as Bible study methods, New Testament gospels, and Old Testament Pentateuch.
Major courses like the psychology of religion and spirituality, foundations of counseling, and introduction to psychopathology examine the cognitive, behavioral, and biological factors that influence human development. The program also investigates foundational psychological theories and research methods.
Students take two courses at a time and must earn a cumulative 2.0 GPA or higher to graduate. Multnomah students must fulfill a series of program prerequisites, including introduction to psychology and English composition, before enrolling in upper-division coursework.
Prospective applied psychology majors should provide official transcripts from all previously attended schools and a letter of academic or professional recommendation.
What Else Can I Expect from an Online Applied Psychology Program?
|Timeline||4 to 5 years|
|Program Costs||$10,000 to $25,000 in annual tuition|
|Concentrations||General Psychology, Behavioral Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Social Psychology, Organizational Psychology, Experimental Psychology, Child Psychology, Educational/School Psychology, Counseling, Social Work|
|Accreditation||There is no programmatic accreditation for this major field of study at the undergraduate level. Students should defer to the regional/national accreditation of their four-year college or university.|
|Additional Considerations||All U.S. states and the District of Columbia require public-practice behavioral psychologists to be licensed in the state where they work; in most states, candidates for licensure must first earn a doctoral degree, complete an internship and fulfill at least one to two years of supervised work experience.|
Learn More About Other Psychology Degree Programs
Psychology is a complicated field that lends itself to concentrated areas of study. If you want to consider your options beyond a general online psychology degree, click through the following list for information about schools that offer specializations within their psychology degree programs.
Employment Outlook for Applied Psychology Graduates
For students who earn a bachelor's in applied psychology, the job outlook is somewhat mixed. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that bachelor's degree-holders report lower unemployment rates than candidates with lesser educational credentials. The median unemployment rate for a bachelor's degree-holder in the U.S. is 2.8%; by comparison, the unemployment rate for associate degree recipients is 3.9%, while the unemployment rate for all occupations is currently set at 4.9%.
However, psychology and its subfields are highly specialized and unemployment rates are much higher for bachelor's degree-holders in these industries. Using data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the following table looks at the unemployment rates of college graduates between the ages of 25 and 29 based on their undergraduate major.
|Bachelor's Degree Field of Study||Unemployment Rate for 25 to
29-Year-Old Degree Recipients
|Computer and Information Systems||4.5%|
|English Language and Literature||6.1%|
|Criminal Justice and Fire Protection||6.2%|
|Political Science and Government||8.2%|
As the table indicates, the unemployment rate for psychology degree-holders is significantly higher than most of the other majors. However, the employment outlook is much stronger for psychology degree-holders who advance to master's and doctoral programs.
Earning a Living
In addition to degree attainment level, salary expectations for employees with a bachelor's in applied psychology will largely depend on their specific job title. Other factors include licensure status and city/state of employment. Using data from PayScale, the next table examines career salary projections for five of the most common professions in behavioral psychology. All of these career paths are generally attainable with a bachelor's degree or less.
|Occupation||Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years)||Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years)||Median Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 years)||Median Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)|
|Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapist||$32,797||$37,493||$42,268||$45,781|
|Medical Social Worker||$48,343||$51,525||$56,112||$59,446|
|Medical Social Worker||$54,180||$65,686||$73,090||$76,601|
All five careers listed on the table reported a salary growth rate of at least 15% after 20 years in the workforce. Marketing managers experience the highest rate of growth: a 41.4% increase in earnings between the entry-level and late-career stages. Behavior analysts and ABA therapists ranked second in terms of salary growth; both career paths reported a career increase of roughly 40% after two decades on the job.
Career and Further Education Opportunities
Students who earn an online bachelor's in applied psychology will be well-positioned for the demands of successive master's and Ph.D. programs, as well as their state's licensure requirements after receiving an advanced degree. However, many bachelor's in applied psychology recipients will enter the workforce after graduation and launch a career in a non-psychology field without obtaining higher credentials. Four common career pathways for individuals who complete their education with a bachelor's in psychology are outlined below.
Human Resources Specialists: HR specialists handle recruitment, screening and hiring of job applicants, as well as orientation for newly acquired employees. Depending on their organization's size, they may also work in other areas of HR, such as compensation and benefits or conflict mediation.
Social Workers: Social workers aid clients who require assistance in different aspects of everyday life, such as job training, employment and mental health counseling. They often rely on applied psychology to determine their clients' greatest needs, as well as suitable ways for them to achieve their goals. Clinical and non-clinical social workers must be licensed in most states.
Market Research Analysts: Market research analysts lean on applied psychology to determine where, why and how different segments of the population respond to ― and purchase ― various products and services. They must analyze a wide range of data metrics related to both consumer trends and market activity in order to launch successful marketing campaigns and promote products.
Training and Development Managers: Training and development managers are responsible for educational programs that equip employees at their organization with essential knowledge and skills. They often study their company's personnel needs, and will use applied psychology principles to determine which training and development programs are suitable for different employee groups.
|Occupation||Median Annual Salary||Projected Industry Growth (2014-24)|
|Human Resources Specialists||$58,350||5% (+22,000 jobs)|
|Social Workers||$45,900||19% (+92,300 jobs)|
|Market Research Analysts||$62,150||19% (+92,300 jobs)|
|Training and Development Managers||$102,640||7% (+2,300 jobs)|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Students who graduate with a bachelor's degree in applied psychology often go on to pursue a master's degree in the same field. For more information about opportunities for grad students and more advanced careers in this field, please visit our Guide to Online Master's in Psychology Programs.
Making professional connections and learning about different approaches to applied psychology is crucial to your 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 country's most prominent organizations established for applied psychology professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates.
- International Association of Applied Psychology: The IAAP was created in 1920, and today boasts more than 1,500 members from over 80 countries worldwide. Member benefits include complimentary journal and newsletter subscriptions, reduced fees for industry events and continuing education opportunities; membership discounts are offered to students and candidates from 'low-income' countries.
- 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.
Financing Your Online Bachelor's in Applied Psychology Program
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 Bachelor's in Applied Psychology Programs of 2018
Ranking School Location 1 Regis University Denver, CO 2 Bryan College-Dayton Dayton, TN 3 Florida International University Miami, FL 4 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA 5 Azusa Pacific Online University Glendora, CA 6 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH 7 Judson University Elgin, IL 8 Oregon Institute of Technology Klamath Falls, OR 9 Hodges University Naples, FL 10 Florida Institute of Technology Melbourne, FL