Best Online Applied Psychology Programs
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The American Psychological Association reports that about 6.5% of undergraduate students pursue a psychology degree, making it the fourth most popular college major. In lieu of clinical psychology, many learners choose to focus their studies on applied psychology. This interdisciplinary field applies psychological theories and principles to areas like business, engineering, and criminal justice.
We've ranked the best online bachelor's in applied psychology programs to help you pick the right school for your budget and schedule. Read on to learn about applied psychology career paths, education at top online schools and get answers to frequently asked questions about the field.
What Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Applied Psychology Program?
To earn any bachelor's degree, students must complete 120 credits of coursework, fieldwork, and capstone requirements. This process traditionally takes four years, but many colleges and universities offer degree completion programs and accelerated tracks that allow learners to graduate within two years.
Students should expect to spend their first 2-3 semesters taking required classes in general education topics like statistics, English composition, and philosophy. Core coursework differs between BA and BS programs.
Although BA students usually need to satisfy a foreign language requirement, their flexible degree plans allow them to pursue a minor or even second major through open electives. BS students typically pursue fewer electives but get to learn about specialized scientific topics like behavioral neuroscience and psychopharmacology.
The best bachelor's in applied psychology programs prepare students for success in their chosen occupation, whether it be curriculum development, career counseling, forensic research, or another field. Applying psychological concepts and processes also requires learners to gain technical skills in counseling and quantitative analysis.
Depending on their program, students may need to complete an internship, which offers opportunities for professional networking and potential job placement. Most programs culminate in a capstone course or research project.
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Popular Online Bachelor's in Applied Psychology 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 Applied Psychology Program?
Learners examine the cognitive, biological, social, and emotional changes humans experience from birth to death. Students focus on the interplay between nature and nurture at each progessive stage of development. Students also learn how to differentiate between normative developmental transitions and abnormal patterns, contextualizing these deviations within paradigms of family, age, and economic status.
In this class, students explore the causes and and symptoms of abnormal human behavior through the scientific study of mental illness, otherwise known as psychopathology. Learners delve into how these illnesses are diagnosed, assessed, and treated. The course also covers the official classification and definition of these illnesses as well as related controversies and legal issues.
This course covers the major theories on cultural similarities and differences within and across national boundaries. Students learn how cultural influences impact the development of cognition, communication, emotion, and gender identity. Learners also examine multicultural and cross-cultural counseling practices, which highlight ethnic, racial, and economic factors that can influence counselor-patient relationships.
Psychological Research Methods
This class teaches students the fundamental concepts and tools used in social science research, including inferential and descriptive statistical analysis. Learners also develop the ability to design experiments using survey and observational methods. Additional topics include sources of variability, higher order factorial experiments, and writing reports using proper style and format.
In this specialized course, learners explore the history, development, and principles of behaviorism. This theory emphasizes the systematic impacts environmental conditioning have on human behavior. Students then learn about the contemporary field of applied behavior analysis, including the implementation and assessment of behavior management techniques in settings like schools, hospitals, and prisons.
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Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Applied Psychology Programs
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What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Bachelor's in Applied Psychology Program?
Admission requirements are often similar for on-campus and online bachelor's in applied psychology programs. Most schools require a combination of the materials listed in the following section. In rare cases, certain programs may also require applicants to complete an interview with a member of the admissions department or a program alum.
All online bachelor's in applied psychology programs require prospective students to complete an application form. These forms capture basic info like name, background, and contact information. Some schools participate in application systems like the Common App or Coalition App, which allow prospective students to easily apply to multiple schools at once.
Many schools have turned to test-optional policies, allowing applicants to submit standardized test scores only if these scores strengthen their candidacies. However, ACT or SAT scores are still required at many prestigious universities. Score minimums vary widely by school and by program.
Letters of Recommendation
Many undergraduate programs, regardless of discipline, require prospective students to submit 2-3 letters of recommendation. If you are applying to a bachelor's in applied psychology program, you should ask former high school teachers to write these letters on your behalf. Make sure to ask them several months in advance of the deadline so that they have plenty of time to write.
Many schools require students to submit responses to 1-3 essay prompts. These responses are generally short, usually approximately 300-700 words, although this requirement can vary. Most prompts are relatively standard, asking students why they want to attend the school or what their career goals are. Some prompts ask students to describe a time they overcame a challenge.
Most undergraduate programs require prospective students to submit official transcripts from all prior schools they have attended. If you hold an associate degree from a community college, you should be able to receive approximately 60 credits, or two years, worth of coursework.
What Can I Do With an Online Bachelor's in Applied Psychology Degree?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that social science occupations will grow by 8% between 2020 and 2030, resulting in over 113,800 new jobs. Demand is particularly high for psychologists who can help K-12 students improve academic performance and overcome mental health challenges.
Beyond counseling roles, a bachelor's in applied psychology can prepare students for education careers as program evaluators and curriculum developers. Graduates may also work as corporate trainers, criminal investigators, and engineering psychologists, depending on their degree focus.
See where a bachelor's in applied psychology degree can take you.
Career counselors help people discover and achieve academic, professional, and personal success. These professionals conduct aptitude tests and evaluate background information to help clients identify realistic goals before guiding them to make the right career decisions. Schools, social services organizations, and private companies offer career counseling positions.
Median Annual Salary: $60,510
Forensic psychologists apply their knowledge of human development, mental disorders, and behavior modification to the fields of law and criminal justice. They often assist with the trial process, helping select jurors and providing testimonies as expert witnesses. Forensic psychology specialists can also work as social workers. They generally need a doctoral degree and a license to practice.
Average Annual Salary: $73,750
This career path involves the use of psychological skills and principles to enhance the performance and general well-being of athletes. Sport psychologists often work for professional teams, teaching players attention control strategies and providing counseling to help them recover from burnout or injury. These professionals can also occupy research positions, studying the developmental aspects of athletic participation and systemic challenges found in sports organizations. Sport psychologists generally need a doctoral degree and a license to practice.
Average Annual Salary: $75,070
Industrial-organizational psychology involves the scientific examination of human behavior in the workplace and other professional settings. Professionals in this field often work in management positions, supervising the recruitment process and designing appropriate incentive programs. They may also work as training and development specialists, identifying employee needs and designing effective training.
Average Annual Salary: $86,100
Applied Psychology Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.
If you earn a bachelor's in applied psychology and aspire to become a practicing psychologist or researcher, there is plenty of school in your future. Many bachelor's degree holders in applied psychology enroll in graduate programs in various psychological fields, while others pursue graduate degrees in counseling.
While it is common for graduates of these programs to pursue further education, others immediately enter the workforce. These professionals can seek out various certifications to expand their career opportunities instead of advanced degrees.
How Do I Choose an Online Bachelor's in Applied Psychology Program?
True program costs for a bachelor's in applied psychology programs vary widely by school. To save the most money on tuition, consider enrolling at an in-state public university instead of an out-of-state private school. You can also avoid paying different fees, including transportation and housing, by enrolling online instead of on campus.
Online students must consider whether they prefer synchronous learning, which provides structure through live, scheduled online courses, or asynchronous learning, which provides flexibility by eliminating live classes. Distance learners can often choose between part-time, full-time, and accelerated enrollment.
Even if you decide to enroll in an online program, you may want to pick a school with a campus close to you. Some online bachelor's in applied psychology programs include lab courses that students must complete on campus. Furthermore, your program might maintain connections with local companies for internship or job opportunities.
You should only enroll at schools that hold accreditation. Regional accreditation is a process overseen by the U.S. Department of Education that evaluates the quality of a school's programs. If you earn a degree at a non-accredited school, you cannot receive federal financial aid, and employers may not recognize your education.
Student support can make the difference between an excellent online learning experience and a bad time in school. Before you enroll, check if your school and program offer services like mentorship opportunities, career services, tutoring, internship placements, and networking events.
Certifications and Licenses a Bachelor's in Applied Psychology Prepares For
Licensed Professional Counselor
An LPC is able to provide mental health and substance abuse support and services to individuals, groups, and organizations. Applying for an LPC requires that individuals complete a master's degree in counseling or a related field.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Psychologists with an LCSW are qualified to provide therapy to individuals, groups, and families. Settings include hospitals, private practices, and schools. Earning a bachelor's in applied psychology is a solid foundation for continuing graduate studies in social work, as a master's in social work is required to apply for an LCSW.
Certification in Occupational Therapy
An OT works to assess individuals with physical impairments and provide personalized interventions. OT certification is required in all 50 states, and a master's in occupational therapy is required to earn OT certification.
Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst
A BCBA offers opportunities to analyze the behavior of children and adults, often those with disabilities, and implement interventions. A BCBA is available to anyone with an accredited bachelor's degree, though candidates must also complete appropriate coursework and a supervised practicum.
Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor Certification
A CADC is a national and international credential with worldwide reciprocity. Professionals with a CADC are qualified to provide substance abuse recovery services in various health settings, such as outreach centers and inpatient centers, and also manage individual clinical cases. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree and register through their state of residence.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Applied Psychology Programs
Is a bachelor's in applied psychology worth it?
For many learners, a bachelor's in applied psychology is worth it. Psychology is among the most popular college majors for a good reason, as the degree can lead to graduate programs that ultimately open the doors to lucrative and rewarding careers.
There are many jobs available in various psychological fields, and the BLS projects steady growth for many of these careers between 2020 and 2030. However, the value of any degree depends on the needs of each student.
What can I do with a bachelor's in applied psychology?
Graduates who hold a bachelor's degree in applied psychology can pursue graduate programs in any psychological field. Many degree-holders also pursue graduate degrees in marriage and family therapy, mental health counseling, and school and career counseling.
While graduate school is a common path for many degree-holders, some graduates also choose to immediately enter the workforce. Bachelor's degree-holders in applied psychology qualify for entry-level positions in careers like forensic psychology, sports psychology, and career counseling.
Are applied psychology majors in high demand?
Yes. According to the BLS, many psychology-related careers are projected to be in high demand in the near future. For example, between 2020 and 2030, the BLS projects 11% job growth for school and career counselors. This rate eclipses the average projected growth rate for all occupations during that period.
During the same decade, the BLS also projects 8% job growth for general psychologists, roughly comparable to the average projected growth rate for all careers.
How much money can I make with a bachelor's in applied psychology?
Salary potential depends heavily on several key factors, including employer, location, and professional certifications. According to PayScale, graduates with a bachelor of arts in applied psychology earn an average annual salary of approximately $56,000. Meanwhile, professionals with a bachelor of science in the field earn an average annual salary of around $64,000.
Notably, both graduates boast a high job satisfaction rate of nearly four out of five stars. This is likely because they benefit from high starting salaries and potential for advancement.
What are the highest-paying jobs with a bachelor's in applied psychology?
The highest salaries available for graduates with a bachelor's in applied psychology are in education administration. According to the BLS, as of May 2021, postsecondary education administrators earned a median annual wage of $96,910. However, some jobs will need additional certifications and educational background.
Keep in mind that many postsecondary administration positions require a master's or even doctoral degree. This is the case for many of the highest-paying positions available in psychology and adjacent fields. If you want to earn a high salary as a psychologist, you will likely need to earn an advanced degree.
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