Most Affordable Online Psychology and Counseling Degree Programs

Check out our guide to learn more about the most affordable online bachelor's in psychology and counseling programs.

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Published August 9, 2022

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If you are fascinated by human nature, want to connect with people through your work, and can listen in an empathetic way, an online bachelor's in psychology or bachelor's in counseling could be a good fit for you. While these two fields are related, a counseling degree focuses more on that specific field, while a bachelor's in psychology covers additional theory in subfields like abnormal and social psychology. With both degrees, you can pursue a master's in counseling, which is a requirement for counselor licensure in most states.

Like most bachelor's degree programs, both psychology and counseling programs usually require students to earn approximately 120 credits. They take around four years of full-time study to complete at most of the top-ranked accredited colleges. However, requirements vary by school and program, so check specific requirements on program websites. Read on to learn more details about bachelor's in psychology and bachelor's in counseling programs, including courses, careers, and admission requirements.

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

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How Much Does an Online Bachelor's in Psychology or Counseling Cost?

The average cost of college was approximately $35,500 in 2021. Tuition for online bachelor's in psychology programs often falls in a similar range. However, the cost of college varies based on many factors, including whether you attend a private or public institution in state or out of state.

Online students can save on several costs compared to their on-campus peers, including parking, transportation, and room and board. As such, true program costs are often lower for distance learners than traditional on-campus students.

What Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Psychology or Counseling Degree Program?

Empathetic, observant, and emotionally mature students often succeed in online bachelor's in psychology and online bachelor's in counseling programs. Nevertheless, no matter your natural traits, you can gain the knowledge and hard skills you need to succeed in relevant careers if you work diligently throughout your program.

Most online bachelor's programs in both fields consist of approximately 120 credits, and full-time students usually need around four years to earn their degrees. In psychology programs, you might be able to pursue concentrations in fields like clinical psychology, behavioral psychology, and industrial-organizational psychology. Counseling programs may offer concentrations in fields like addictions counseling and human services.

Counseling programs may include some sort of field experience under the supervision of a licensed counselor. Most states require a certain number of supervised hours for licensure, which graduates typically earn after completing their bachelor's degrees.

Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Degree Programs.

Popular Online Psychology and Counseling Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Bachelor's in Psychology or Counseling Degree Program?

Psychology Courses

  • Social Psychology
  • Human Development
  • Sensation and Perception
  • Research Methods in Psychology
  • Abnormal Psychology

Counseling Courses

  • Introduction to Counseling
  • Ethical Leadership
  • Crisis Counseling
  • Group Counseling
  • Internship or Practicum

What Are Admission Requirements for Online Bachelor's in Psychology and Counseling Degree Programs?

In most cases, for online bachelor's programs in counseling and psychology, admission requirements are the same as on-campus programs. In rare cases, applicants might need to complete an interview with a professor or member of the admissions department.

Application

All online programs, no matter the discipline, require prospective students to fill out an application form, which collects background and contact information. In some cases, undergraduate applicants can submit materials to multiple schools at once through application systems like the Common App and Coalition App.

Test Scores

Some counseling and psychology programs require applicants to send in ACT or SAT scores. Other schools maintain test-optional policies or eliminate this requirement. If some of your prospective schools require standardized test scores, try to take the ACT and SAT at least one time each.

Letters of Recommendation

Most counseling and psychology bachelor's programs require applicants to submit 1-3 letters of recommendation. If you are in your last year of high school, you should ask current or former teachers to write these letters for you. If you are an adult learner, you can ask professional supervisors.

Essays

For most undergraduate programs, applicants must write 1-3 short essays of around 500-700 words. Common prompts include a statement of purpose, a time you overcame a challenging situation, and why you want to become a counselor.

Official Transcripts

All undergraduate programs require incoming students to submit transcripts from all of their prior secondary and postsecondary education. If you have completed an associate degree at a community college, you should be able to earn approximately 60 transfer credits at your new four-year school.

What Can I Do With an Online Bachelor's in Psychology or Counseling Degree?

Career Outlook

In recent years, the national discourse around mental health has shifted. Nationwide, people have become more aware of the importance of mental health, more willing to talk about it openly, and more interested in services like therapy and counseling.

As a result, the demand for skilled, qualified counselors is fairly high. Between 2020 and 2030, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 23% job growth for substance misuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors. This rate nearly triples the agency's average projected growth rate for all occupations (8%) during that period.

Psychology is very popular among undergraduate students. According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), during the 2018-2019 school year, psychology was the sixth-most popular undergraduate major. Approximately 116,500 students earned bachelor's degrees in psychology that year.

See what careers a bachelor's in psychology degree or a bachelor's in counseling degree can land you.

Career Paths

Mental Health Counselor

Mental health counselors work with individuals, groups, and couples, helping them cope with conditions like addiction, stress, anxiety, and other behavioral challenges. They can work in mental health centers or private practice. All positions require state licensure, which most professionals earn after completing a master's degree program.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $48,520

Career Counselor

Career counselors work one-on-one with clients, helping them assess their strengths and interests to choose the best career path. They can work in private practice, in counseling centers, or in colleges and universities. Some states require that career counselors earn a state-issued license.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $60,510

Social and Community Service Manager

Social and community service managers take charge of nonprofits, faith-based organizations, and government agencies. They usually need a bachelor's degree and a significant amount of relevant professional experience.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $74,000

Market Research Analyst

Market research analysts study the market to predict possible sales numbers for products, goods, and services. Job candidates usually need a bachelor's degree. Psychology majors often make good market research analysts because they understand human nature.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $63,920

Social Worker

Social workers help different groups of people cope with everyday issues in their lives. They can work for social services agencies, schools, and healthcare providers. Job candidates need a relevant bachelor's or master's degree depending on the level of services they provide. Social workers also need a state-issued license.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $50,390

Psychology or Counseling Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Continuing Education

Many bachelor's degree-holders in psychology and counseling ultimately decide to pursue further education in the field. Because many counseling positions require a master's degree, some graduates decide to enroll in master's in counseling programs. These programs can help them sharpen their skills, complete supervised hours, and prepare for professional counseling roles.

Some psychology graduates also pursue continuing education. Most psychologist positions, which are among the most advanced and lucrative careers in the field, require either a master's or doctoral degree in psychology. Bachelor's degree-holders who aspire to these roles often enroll in Ph.D. or Psy.D. programs.

How Do I Choose an Online Bachelor's in Psychology or Counseling Degree Program?

Cost

Average costs for online bachelor's in psychology and online bachelor's in counseling programs vary widely. Online students can often save on additional fees like room and board and transportation.

Program Format

All online students must decide whether they prefer synchronous or asynchronous learning. Synchronous learning involves scheduled and live online sessions, but asynchronous learning does not. Pending availability, you must also choose between full-time, part-time, and accelerated enrollment.

Location

Part of the theoretical appeal of distance learning is not having to worry about your school's location; nevertheless, you still may want to choose a nearby school. Most counseling programs include in-person practicum or internship experiences, and it may be easier to arrange them if you live near campus.

Accreditation

Accreditation, a third-party school review process overseen by the U.S. Department of Education and Council for Higher Education Accreditation, is a crucial factor in choosing an online program. You should prioritize enrolling at accredited schools. Otherwise, you are ineligible for federal financial aid.

Student Support

Student support can make a huge difference in the quality of a program, especially for online students. Before enrolling, check if a school offers student services like tutoring, internship placements, and mentorship pairings.

How Do I Pay for an Online Bachelor's in Psychology or Counseling Degree?

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

Filling out the FAFSA is often square one for prospective college students seeking federal financial aid. Some schools even require that you fill out the FAFSA application online before they decide on scholarships and grants.

Loans

In an ideal world, college loans should be your last resort when seeking financial aid. Seek out scholarships and grants before resorting to loans. In some cases, if you pursue certain careers in certain areas after graduation, you can get some or all of your loans forgiven.

Grants

Grants are specific amounts of funding available for specific purposes. While there aren't currently any federal grants specifically for psychology or counseling, you may be able to get grants if you pursue certain adjacent careers, like teaching.

Work-Study Programs

Work-study programs provide students with part-time employment to help them pay for tuition. Many work-study jobs are relatively low-stress and allow you to study and do homework while you are on the clock.

Scholarships

Scholarships are the best form of financial aid because you don't have to pay back the money you receive. Psychology students can use the American Psychological Association database to search for relevant scholarships.

Most Affordable Accredited Online Bachelor's in Psychology and Counseling Degree Programs

Rankings compiled by the the BestColleges Ranking Team

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How We Rank Schools

At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you can make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering transparent, inclusive, and relevant school rankings.

Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our ranking methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

#1

University of the Cumberlands

School Information
Location Williamsburg, Kentucky
Admission Rate 80%
Graduation Rate 44%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 91% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | $335
Out-of-State | $335

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | N/A

Based in Williamsburg, Kentucky, Cumberlands offers an online bachelor's in psychology program that allows students to earn either a bachelor of science or bachelor of arts. The program's 16-credit core curriculum covers basic psychology, research design and statistics, and history and systems in psychology. Students also complete a senior seminar as a culminating experience. 

Learners have the option of completing an optional minor in sport and wellness psychology. Applicants need a high school or GED diploma and must have earned a minimum 2.0 GPA on prior coursework. 

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#2

Brandman University

School Information
Location Irvine, California
Admission Rate 89%
Graduation Rate 60%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 96% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | $500
Out-of-State | $500

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | N/A

Based out of Irvine, California, UMass Global offers an online bachelor of arts in psychology program that offers three concentration options: general psychology, child psychology, and industrial organizational psychology. Students in the program must complete a 48-credit core curriculum, which includes courses like critical thinking, human development across the lifespan, social psychology, and abnormal psychology. 

Applicants need a high school or GED diploma and must have earned a minimum 2.0 GPA on all prior coursework.

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#3

Eastern Washington University

School Information
Location Cheney, Washington
Admission Rate 96%
Graduation Rate 54%
Accreditation Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Percent Online Enrollment 31% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | $246
Out-of-State | $246

Credits to Graduate
68-70 (Major Credits)

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | N/A

Based in Cheney, Washington, EWU provides an online bachelor of science in health psychology that offers four start dates throughout the year. Notable core courses in the curriculum include abnormal psychology, human memory and cognition, health psychology, and biological basis of behavior. 

All students also complete either an empirical study or a thesis as a capstone project. They must also complete an internship experience.  

Prospective students must have a high school diploma or equivalent. 

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#4

East Central University

School Information
Location Ada, Oklahoma
Admission Rate 59%
Graduation Rate 37%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 65% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes 

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | $316
Out-of-State | $541

Credits to Graduate
124

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | N/A

Based in Ada, Oklahoma, ECU offers a fully online bachelor of science in psychology. With a focus on behavioral health, the coursework covers topics like child and adolescent psychology, personality disorders, psychology of seniors, and mental health testing best practices. 

In addition to the core curriculum, students can choose from a variety of elective courses to specialize their degree. Students can complete this degree in as little as two years and transfer up to 94 credits. 

Prospective students must submit high school transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. 

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#5

Northwestern State University of Louisiana

School Information
Location Natchitoches, Louisiana
Admission Rate 82%
Graduation Rate 44%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 82% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | $375
Out-of-State | $375

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | N/A

Based in Natchitoches, Louisiana, NSU offers an online bachelor of science in psychology program that delivers all coursework asynchronously through Moodle. Notable courses in the core curriculum include ethics in psychology, theories of personality, and history of psychology. All students also complete a two-part senior research seminar as a culminating experience. 

Prospective students hold a high school or GED diploma. The university does not require ACT or SAT scores for admission to this program. 

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#6

Toccoa Falls College

School Information
Location Toccoa Falls, Georgia
Admission Rate 60%
Graduation Rate 46%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 65% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | $360
Out-of-State | $360

Credits to Graduate
126

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | N/A

Located in Toccoa Falls, Georgia, TFC offers an online bachelor's in counseling psychology program with two concentration options: social work and counseling in ministry. The program's 42-credit psychology core includes courses like Christ-centered counseling, developmental psychology, crisis and trauma counseling, and a counseling practicum. All TFC students must also take 30 credits of Bible-centered courses, including introduction to the Old Testament and introduction to the New Testament.

Prospective students need a high school diploma or its equivalent. 

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#7

North Park University

School Information
Location Chicago, Illinois
Admission Rate 48%
Graduation Rate 62%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 20% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Hybrid | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | $585
Out-of-State | $585

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | N/A

The bachelor of arts in psychology counseling at NPU is a hybrid program offered through a combination of online courses and in-person courses taught at the Chicago or Grayslake campuses in Illinois. 

The program emphasizes the role of counseling in human services, social services, and corporate settings. Students also learn how to apply psychology and counseling principles to diverse populations. 

There is no application fee for prospective NPU students, but all applicants must submit a resume and all previous transcripts. 

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#8

Arizona State University-Downtown Phoenix

School Information
Location Phoenix, Arizona
Admission Rate 82%
Graduation Rate 58%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 57% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes 

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | $621
Out-of-State | $621

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | N/A

ASU offers an online BA or BS in psychology. The BA degree coursework focuses on statistics, learning and motivation, and brain function, while the BS has additional coursework in math and neuroscience. Based in Phoenix, ASU offers multiple start dates throughout the year. Courses are 7.5 weeks long. 

In addition to a BA, ASU also offers a BS in counseling and applied psychological science and a BA and a BS in forensic psychology. 

In-state and out-of-state students pay the same tuition price at ASU, and the school reports that 80% of students receive financial aid. Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.0. Arizona residents must have ACT or SAT scores of 22 and 1120, respectively. Non-residents must have ACT or SAT scores of 24 and 1180, respectively.

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#9

Ottawa University-Online

School Information
Location Ottawa, Kansas
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | $499
Out-of-State | $499

Credits to Graduate
35 (Major Credits)

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | N/A

Based in Ottawa, Kansas, OU offers an accelerated online bachelor's in psychology program that focuses on broad skills like critical thinking and research. Notable and relevant courses in the program's 35-credit major curriculum include general psychology, developmental psychology, theories of personality, and a capstone seminar in which students write a major paper in APA format. 

All applicants must hold a high school diploma or equivalent.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Psychology and Counseling Degree Programs

Is a bachelor's in psychology or counseling worth it?

The value of every online degree depends on each student and their goals and circumstances. Nevertheless, for most students, a bachelor's in counseling or psychology is often worth it. After graduation, degree-holders can immediately find work in several different industries. They can also pursue additional education to access well-paying careers with high growth potential.

Many students pursue bachelor's in counseling programs because they know they want to become counselors. For these students, this degree is a necessary stepping stone that is often worth the investment.

What can I do with a bachelor's in counseling?

With a bachelor's degree in counseling, you can pursue some entry-level substance misuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counseling and career counseling positions. In both cases, you may need to earn a state-issued license before you can practice, which also requires a master's degree. You can also go on to pursue a master's in counseling, which can qualify you for more jobs, more advancement opportunities, and higher salaries.

Bachelor's degree-holders in counseling may also be able to pursue entry-level careers in adjacent industries, such as social services and the nonprofit space.

What can I do with a bachelor's in psychology?

You can pursue many different careers with a bachelor's degree in counseling. A psychology major equips you with skills that apply to most fields, including critical thinking and an understanding of human nature. Some psychology degree-holders decide to become market research analysts, predicting demand and market conditions for certain products and services.

Other bachelor's degree-holders in psychology pursue additional education, working toward a Ph.D. or Psy.D. to become a researcher, professor, or practicing psychologist.

Are psychology and counseling majors in high demand?

Yes, psychology and counseling majors are in high demand. Between 2020 and 2030, the BLS projects 23% job growth for substance misuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors, a rate that far eclipses the average projected growth rate for all careers (8%) during that decade.

Projected demand is also high for psychology graduates. Between 2020 and 2030, the BLS projects 22% job growth for market research analysts and 15% for social and community service managers. Keep in mind that no one degree can guarantee you a specific job or salary.

What are the highest-paying jobs with a bachelor's in psychology or counseling?

The highest-paying job you can get with a bachelor's degree in psychology or counseling is likely social or community service manager. According to the BLS, as of May 2021, these professionals earned a median annual wage of $74,000. The top 10% of earners in the field made more than $118,650 annually.

Remember that while most of these positions only ask for a bachelor's degree, they typically require several years of relevant experience in the field. For example, you may have to work with a nonprofit organization as a program manager for a few years before having a chance at becoming its executive director.

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