2020 Best Online Master's in Psychology Degrees

By OnlineU Staff | Updated 3/9/2020
2020 Best Online Master's in Psychology Badge

This list highlights the 13 best value colleges offering online master's programs in psychology. At #1, University of Idaho charges $9,876 per year for their M.S. in Psychology - Human Factors. At #2, University of Nevada - Reno has the least expensive tuition on the list, charging only $7,525 per year for its Master of Arts in Psychology, Behavior Analysis Specialization - Satellite Program.

Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about OnlineU.

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RankSchool Annual Tuition Mid-Career Salary
# 1 #1 University of Idaho $9,876 $131,400
# 2 #2 University of Nevada - Reno $7,525 $81,400
# 3 #3 University of Southern California $32,776 $88,500
# 4 #4 Roosevelt University $13,920 $76,800
# 5 #5 National University $15,028 $76,100
# 6 #6 Pepperdine University $38,040 $85,000
# 7 #7 John F. Kennedy University $27,300 $77,800
# 8 #8 Nova Southeastern University $11,850 $69,400
# 9 #9 California Institute of Integral Studies $24,120 $72,600
# 10 #10 Eastern Michigan University $13,012 $64,900
# 11 #11 Ball State University $11,067 $54,900
# 12 #12 Liberty University $13,560 $55,300
# 13 #13 National Louis University $16,698 $56,300
Salary data provided by Payscale Logo

2020 Online Colleges Offering Psychology Degrees - Ranking Details

#1 University of Idaho

  • Annual Tuition: $9,876
  • Median Salary: $131,400
  • Locations: Moscow (ID)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

Established in 1889, the University of Idaho remained the state’s only university for over 70 years. The institution offers a Master of Science in Psychology: Human Factors as a fully online program. The degree focuses on the application of psychology to human factors in various industries and spheres of employment. Examples are human performance and error, interaction with machines and computers, safety, and ergonomics. The university partners with several area companies to place students in optional internships. A minimum of 30 credits are required to complete the degree, and students can choose from a thesis or non-thesis (comprehensive exam) option. The thesis option is generally completed in four semesters plus a summer session. Full-time online students pay in-state tuition. Students use the Blackboard learning management system to access and organize their coursework and have the flexibility to complete assignments on their own schedule. There are two start dates for this online program. Prerequisites include a bachelor’s degree with at least a 3.0 GPA. Eligible students can apply by submitting an online application, academic transcripts, a statement of purpose, three letters of recommendation, and an updated CV. GRE scores are not required. Resources for distance learners include library services, career services, IT support, and academic advising.

#2 University of Nevada - Reno

  • Annual Tuition: $7,525
  • Median Salary: $81,400
  • Locations: Reno (NV)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

The University of Nevada, founded in 1874, is made up of 17 different schools and colleges. The state’s flagship institution offers a Master of Arts in Psychology with a specialization in Behavior Analysis. The program focuses on theories and methodologies related to human behavior and behavior analysis, as well as how these relate to areas such as business, administration, technology, teaching, raising children, and government. A total of 36 credits are required to complete the degree. The university offers this as an off-campus program, which may include face-to-face instruction at a satellite location, online learning, or both. The virtual coursework is available 24/7 through the Canvas learning management system. Although students study independently, they progress through the program with a cohort of fellow participants. Students can expect to learn through online lectures and activities and complete research projects, essays, and quizzes. There are a number of virtual resources designed to support students earning their graduate degrees from the University of Nevada, including professional development services and mental health and wellness services. Interested students must apply to both the university’s graduate school and the satellite program. The university requirements include an application, official transcripts, and GRE scores, while the program requires a separate application, three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a resume.

#3 University of Southern California

  • Annual Tuition: $32,776
  • Median Salary: $88,500
  • Locations: Los Angeles (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

The University of Southern California offers an online Master of Science in Applied Psychology that can be completed in 16 months, taking two courses per term. Students can choose eight electives from two concentrations: Organizational Psychology and Consumer Psychology. Classes include Principles of Consumer Psychology, Organizational Psychology, and Research Methods in Applied Social Psychology. A total of 34 units are required for the program. Coursework is available entirely online through the Blackboard learning management system. However, an in-person internship, which may occur at various locations, including Dublin, Ireland, is also required. Students complete team-based projects, research projects, and written, oral, and social media assignments. A capstone project concludes the program curriculum. There are three start dates: fall, spring, and summer. Prospective students must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. No specific undergraduate major is required; however, completing prerequisites in social sciences and human behavior is beneficial. To be considered for admission, students must submit an online application, three letters of recommendation, GRE test scores, transcripts, a short statement of purpose, and a current resume. Distance learners at USC have access to resources such as career services and IT support.

#4 Roosevelt University

  • Annual Tuition: $13,920
  • Median Salary: $76,800
  • Locations: Chicago (IL)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Founded in 1945, Roosevelt University provides degree programs to distance learners through their online portal. A fully online Master of Arts in General Psychology is among the programs offered through Roosevelt Online. Students can choose to start the program in the spring or fall. The program requires a total of 30 credits and can be completed in one year of full-time study. Students who are balancing other commitments can choose to study part-time. Two concentrations are available: Applied or Quantitative Methods. Coursework covers subjects such as psychopathology, statistics, and ethical issues. The Blackboard learning management system provides Roosevelt University’s online graduate students with a virtual learning environment where they can find their course materials, communicate with classmates, submit assignments, and check their grades. After completing the program, students are prepared for doctoral study or career advancement in counseling, business, nursing, or social work. Students interested in applying must have received an undergraduate degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0. They also need to have taken prerequisite courses in research methods, general psychology, and abnormal psychology. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and require students to submit their academic transcripts. While enrolled, students have access to professional development services, counseling resources, and virtual wellness programming.

#5 National University

  • Annual Tuition: $15,028
  • Median Salary: $76,100
  • Locations: La Jolla (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

A nonprofit university founded in 1971, National University offers more than 90 different degree programs that can be completed fully online. The online Master of Arts in Performance Psychology teaches students how the field of psychology applies to performance in athletics — including teaching and coaching in both school and community organizations — and other areas such as the performing arts, business, and the military. The program is delivered in four-week classes using an online platform that supports discussion forums, interactive tutorials and activities, and email. Distance learners work independently; however, the program incorporates collaborative learning styles, such as group projects. Students can expect to take courses such as Organizational Behavior, Sport/Performance Psychology, and Theories of Behavior Change. The degree requires a minimum of 67.5 quarter units, and students may transfer up to 13.5 quarter units toward the degree. Online students can benefit from support resources like career services, IT help, testing services, and academic advising. To apply to the program, students must submit their academic transcripts and an online application. A 2.5 minimum GPA is preferred, but students with a lower GPA may be admitted if their GRE scores are satisfactory. Applications are accepted year-round, and classes start at the beginning of every month.

#6 Pepperdine University

  • Annual Tuition: $38,040
  • Median Salary: $85,000
  • Locations: Malibu (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

The Graduate School of Education & Psychology at Pepperdine University has an online Master of Arts in Psychology. The program focuses on topics in human behavior, mental disorders, and the principles of psychological theory. Online classes have some synchronous, face-to-face requirements, and the degree includes volunteer experience within a student’s community. Classes share the same faculty as the on-campus versions. The MA in Psychology follows a cohort model with four start dates each year. Students can complete the online psychology degree full-time or part-time in 18 to 24 months. The full degree requires 36-48 credits to graduate. The curriculum includes five foundation classes, nine major classes, and two electives. There is no practicum or internship component. A Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy and a Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis are also offered online. Pepperdine‘s online students are granted free membership to WeWork locations around the world, giving students a WIFI-enabled, professional space in which to complete their online classes. Students also get a membership to LinkedIn Premier. Furthermore, online learners can access student success advisors, admissions officers, and 24/7 career services support. No GRE scores are required for admission, and applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Interested candidates must have a completed bachelor’s degree. Students are also required to submit official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a completed application form (with fee).  

#7 John F. Kennedy University

  • Annual Tuition: $27,300
  • Median Salary: $77,800
  • Locations: Pleasant Hill (CA) (and 2 others)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

Online degrees from John F. Kennedy University rely on FlexCourse learning management software. With this program, students take an initial knowledge assessment to determine course placement. Coursework includes asynchronous tools, free digital textbooks, videos, and an online final exam. Individuals pursuing a master’s in psychology online can apply for John F. Kennedy University’s Master of Arts in Sport Psychology. This program features regular online meetings, lectures, and scheduled testing. Available through the College of Psychology, this curriculum is designed to prepare graduates for the Association for Applied Sport Psychology certification exam. The full degree requires 77 units and can be completed full-time or part-time in two to three years, respectively. Courses run in quarters and have weekly assignment deadlines. Learning outcomes include assessment skills, counseling strategies, an appreciation for diversity, research methods, and professional ethics. Students are expected to complete four internships throughout the online psychology degree. Online learners in the MA in Sport Psychology program have access to the John F. Kennedy library system, career services, a writing center, and academic advising. Applications are accepted year-round. Interested candidates should complete an online application, submit official transcripts, and speak with the department chair. Enrollment counselors assist students through the process. There is no application fee.  

#8 Nova Southeastern University

  • Annual Tuition: $11,850
  • Median Salary: $69,400
  • Locations: Fort Lauderdale (FL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Nova Southeastern University’s (NSU) online degrees employ a variety of instruction methods for students and faculty to use. Classes are entirely online, but asynchronous discussion boards and real-time class presentations allow for networking among peers and interaction with teachers. NSU’s online psychology degree programs rely on Blackboard’s learning management software to house course materials and assignments. NSU online students have access to free webinars, career development services, academic advising, veteran student services, and resources from the NSU Alvin Sherman Library, Research, and Information Technology Center.  NSU’s College of Psychology has an online Master of Science in Forensic Psychology and a Master of Science in General Psychology. The 36-credit MS in Forensic Psychology has concentrations in Legal System or Mental Health Workers, First Responders, and Disaster Teams. Students are expected to complete a capstone course. The 30-credit MS in General Psychology has concentrations in Applied Health Science or General Psychology. Students have the option of completing a master’s thesis. Both degrees are ideal for working adults, as the curriculum is non-clinical and the online format offers a flexible schedule. Interested applicants must submit an online application (with fee), a personal statement, two letters of recommendation, and may be asked to complete an interview. Successful completion of a bachelor’s degree in the psychology, social work, or education field with at least a 3.0 GPA is preferred.  

#9 California Institute of Integral Studies

  • Annual Tuition: $24,120
  • Median Salary: $72,600
  • Locations: San Francisco (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

The California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) has an online Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology. Online learning at CIIS is unique in that students begin each semester with a residential intensive in the San Francisco area. Intensives last between three-to-seven days and include faculty networking, workshops, advisement, and team-based learning. Classes utilize tools through the Canvas learning management system, allowing easy access to course materials and discussion boards, even from mobile devices. The MA in Counseling Psychology offers a concentration in Expressive Arts Therapy. The curriculum is founded on adult learning and is designed to meet the requirements for the state of California’s Marriage and Family Therapist licensure, Professional Clinical Counselor licensure, or the Registered Expressive Arts Therapist credential. The degree is a three-year program that includes one year of practicum experience supervised by a licensed mental health professional. A minimum of 60 units is required for graduation. Students can apply for the fall semester. Candidates must have a completed bachelor’s degree with two psychology prerequisite courses and a minimum GPA of 3. 0. Admission requires a completed application (with fee), official transcripts, a short essay, academic writing samples, two letters of recommendation, and a current resume. CIIS students may access disability accommodations, career development services, a writing center, and veterans’ services.  

#10 Eastern Michigan University

  • Annual Tuition: $13,012
  • Median Salary: $64,900
  • Locations: Ypsilanti (MI)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Individuals seeking an online graduate degree in psychology may consider Eastern Michigan University's Master of Arts in Education Psychology. Offered entirely online via the Canvas learning management system, classes follow an asynchronous format. Learning outcomes include research skills, understanding of diversity and impacts on the field, and understanding of psychological concepts concerning children and adolescents. Online learners may use resources from the Halle Library, including a live chat with a librarian. Students also have access to academic advising career services and a disability resource center. The degree requires 30 credit hours to complete. These are earned through a combination of foundation classes and developing learner courses. The developing learner courses are divided into three categories: cognitive, emotional, and social. Students must select from all three areas. Finally, a six-credit culminating experience is required. This includes a seminar in education psychology and either a thesis or a capstone project. Admission to the MA in Education Psychology at EMU includes a completed application (with fee), a personal statement, official transcripts (including proof of a completed bachelor’s degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA), GRE scores, and two letters of recommendation.  

#11 Ball State University

  • Annual Tuition: $11,067
  • Median Salary: $54,900
  • Locations: Muncie (IN)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Ball State Online, Ball State University’s hub for online learners, provides part-time and full-time degree programs and support services designed specifically for distance learning students. This includes full access to academic advising services, peer mentoring, tutoring, career planning, and tech support. Students will also complete an online student orientation before beginning their programs. Classes use Canvas learning management software and follow an asynchronous format. Students receive computer and software discounts through Ball State Online. These degrees are recognized as Military-Friendly and certified by Quality Matters. The Master of Arts in Education Psychology offers a curriculum for working adults that can be completed part-time or full-time. Students who attend full-time can complete the program in less than a year (including summer term). Courses offer graduates a foundation towards a variety of fields, emphasizing research, statistics, and assessment. The complete program requires 30 credits. Twelve elective credits are awarded through specializations, which include Gifted and Talented, Human Development, Neuropsychology, Applied Behavior Analysis, and a customizable option.  A Master of Science in Quantitative Psychology and a Master of Arts in Executive Development and Public Service with a focus in Psychology are also offered online. Students can apply for fall, spring, and summer terms. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree with at least a 2.75 GPA. GRE scores are not required, but candidates must submit two professional references, a personal statement, a resume, official transcripts, and a completed application (with fee).  

#12 Liberty University

  • Annual Tuition: $13,560
  • Median Salary: $55,300
  • Locations: Lynchburg (VA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Liberty University Online is a Christian institution that offers nearly 300 master's degrees. Prospective students interested in psychology have three graduate-level options: a 36-credit Master of Arts in Applied Psychology, a 34-credit Master of Arts in Medical Sciences with a concentration in Biopsychology, or a 36-credit Master of Science in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Forensic Psychology. These graduate programs are delivered entirely online and run in eight-week terms. Students in the MA in Applied Psychology complete the degree in 1.5 years and can choose from two concentrations: Industrial/Organizational Psychology or Developmental Psychology. The MA in Medical Sciences takes 1.5 years to complete and focuses on anatomy and cell biology. Students can choose an elective in either child, adolescent, or adult psychology. The MS in Criminal Justice takes 1.5 years to complete and requires a thesis to graduate. Online learning is facilitated through Blackboard learning management software. It follows an asynchronous format, allowing students to complete work at their own pace without needing to log in at specific times for class. Students can continue working full-time while completing their degrees. Applicants must submit a completed application and official transcripts showing the successful completion of a bachelor's degree. Applicants who serve in law enforcement or are first responders can receive a tuition discount and credit for professional training. Online learners have access to Adobe products, an IT Helpdesk (with hours Sunday through Saturday), an online writing center, resources from the Jerry Falwell Library, and free tutoring.

#13 National Louis University

  • Annual Tuition: $16,698
  • Median Salary: $56,300
  • Locations: Chicago (IL)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Graduate students seeking an online psychology degree from National Louis University (NLU) have two options: a Master of Arts in Psychology or a Master of Science in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. NLU’s online programs are mostly self-paced, yet contain the same course materials and expectations as on-campus classes. Content is managed through the D2L learning management system and includes an orientation course. Online learners have access to library resources, including a live chat with a librarian. The NLU Helpdesk is available 24/7 for technical assistance. Both programs are housed in the College of Professional Studies. The MA in Psychology has four concentrations from which to choose: General Psychology, Community Psychology, Psychological Assessment, or Teaching of Psychology. The degree requires 36 credits to complete and includes a thesis or comprehensive exam. The MS option is an interdisciplinary program combining courses in psychology, human resources, and organizational behavior. The degree requires 36-42 semester credit hours, including a capstone course. There are seven start dates throughout the year. NLU’s virtual learners partner with an enrollment specialist to navigate the application process. The application is free. Candidates must submit official transcripts from a completed bachelor’s degree, two letters of recommendation, and a written personal statement. If applicants to the MS in Industrial and Organization Psychology do not meet a minimum 3.0 GPA requirement for undergraduate work, a professional writing sample must also be submitted.

Online Master's in Psychology Overview

Program Requirements

Applicants to a master's degree program in psychology must hold an undergraduate degree and provide official transcripts from any accredited schools they have attended. Some schools require that applicants meet a minimum GPA in previous coursework to be considered for admission. These 42-credit programs can be completed in two years. Some graduates continue their education by enrolling in a PhD program to become a clinical psychologist.

Curriculum

Master's degrees delve into more specialized areas of psychology and have course requirements that are quite different from those of undergraduate degrees. Core courses for master's psychology programs may include topics such as lifespan development, social psychology, tests and measurements, cognitive and affective psychology, learning theories in psychology, counseling theories and strategies, and therapeutic boundaries. Some graduate degree programs may require students to write a thesis or participate in an externship before they graduate.

Students may choose an area of concentration in their field and take elective courses tailored to that area. For example, a counseling graduate degree might require classes in interviewing, cultural awareness, and patient assessment, while sport psychology degrees would cover the biological basis of behavior, the psychology of coaching, applied sport psychology, and performance enhancement. Other specializations could include courses in human sexuality, the psychology of religion, family systems theory, dual diagnosis, eating disorders, alcoholism, organizational psychology, and interpersonal conflict in the workplace.

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