The scientific study of human behavior is a fascinating and complex endeavor. Psychologists analyze thought patterns, brain functions, and emotional responses to gain a better understanding of the human experience. Psychology is a popular subject of study, in part because there are so many areas where it can be applied. Concepts of psychology are used in nearly every sector, from creating user-friendly technology to guiding effective marketing campaigns. There are also a range of concentrations within the field. The need for marriage and family therapists, for example, is projected to grow by 22% in the next decade and the need for substance abuse, behavioral, and mental health counselors will grow by 25% from 2019 to 2029. Continue reading for our ranked list of the best online psychology degrees, and for more information on specializations, licensing, and frequently asked questions about psychology.
2020 Best Online Colleges Offering Bachelor's in Psychology Degrees
The 25 online colleges on this list are the best value options for online bachelor's degrees in psychology, based on their tuition and alumni-reported salaries. At #1, Houghton College charges $32,930 per year for their B.A. in Psychology. Students can choose to specialize in Clinical Counseling, Neuroscience, or Social Development. University of Idaho ranks #2, with a median salary of $106,100 and an annual tuition rate of $8,304.
Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about OnlineU.
The Bachelor of Arts in Psychology degree at Houghton College offers four tracks of study: general psychology, clinical/counseling, social/development, and neuroscience. This fully online psychology degree program approaches the study of human behavior from a faith-based perspective. The full- or part-time degree requires a minimum of 124 semester hours to complete, with new classes starting every eight weeks. In addition to online classes and lectures, students will conduct research and complete internship opportunities.
Exceptional students in this program can choose an honors research focus that requires the completion of an honors course in each of the three non-general program tracks. Honors students will also complete two semesters of research collaboration and a project during their senior year. High-achieving students also have the opportunity to be inducted into Psi Chi, the national honor society for psychology. Distance learners have access to a host of support resources, including tutoring, writing center, and career services.
Requirements for admission to this online psychology degree program include an application, a personal statement, an official high school transcript, test scores, and a letter of recommendation. Students who meet certain eligibility factors may have their admissions test requirement waived. Transfer students can finish this program in as few as 12 to 18 months, depending on the number of prior credits and whether they attend as part-time or full-time students.
#2 University of Idaho
Annual Tuition: $8,304
Median Salary: $106,100
Locations: Moscow (ID)
The Department of Psychology and Communication Studies at the University of Idaho offers both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. The BA option provides students with a humanities-centered education and includes a foreign language requirement. The BS program places more emphasis on the scientific and applied aspects of psychology. Students in both programs have opportunities to earn academic credit and develop practical experience through completing internships. There are also opportunities for students to support faculty research projects.
Students who completed a two-year associate degree at a partner school can finish their degree at the University of Idaho in two years through the 2+2 Program offered online and on campus. Full-time students are eligible to receive in-state tuition benefits. Merit- and need-based scholarships are available to those who qualify. Distance learners gain access to services, including tutoring, academic advising, and nontraditional student resources.
Students can begin the program in the fall, spring, or summer. Applicants should complete advanced science and math coursework in preparation for the statistics and research requirements of this program. Prospective students are required to submit ACT/SAT scores and transcripts from high school or college. For GED students, homeschooled students, and applicants who graduated from non-accredited high schools, a written essay and three letters of recommendation are also required. There is no application fee for Idaho residents.
#3 Virginia Wesleyan University
Annual Tuition: $12,768
Median Salary: $103,200
Locations: Norfolk (VA)
Accreditation: SACS COC
The Bachelor of Arts in Social Science - Psychology program at Virginia Wesleyan University allows transfer students to finish their degrees in one year. This program offers a rigorous liberal arts education. The online curriculum covers cognition, child development, industrial/organizational psychology, and psychology in the law. Students in this program may also focus on studies in business, criminal justice, and social welfare.
Full-time students should expect to commit approximately 18 to 24 hours per week to completing coursework. Lectures and discussions are facilitated through Blackboard, where students can engage with faculty and their classmates. Distance learners receive access to online tutoring, writing assistance, academic advising, and more.
The admissions committee requires applicants to this online psychology degree program to submit an online application, a high school transcript (transfers must also submit college transcripts), and ACT or SAT scores. Students may have their test requirement waived based on a strong high school GPA. Transfer students need a GPA of 2.0 or higher to be admitted into the program and may finish their degree in one year.
#4 Biola University
Annual Tuition: $20,125
Median Salary: $103,000
Locations: La Mirada (CA)
The Bachelor of Science in Applied Psychology at Biola University combines research and a biblical-based approach to the study of psychology and human behavior. This program is suited for both transfer and first-year students. Accelerated courses run for seven weeks, and students can choose from one of six start dates throughout the year.
Online coursework follows an asynchronous format. Undergraduates take 30 credits of biblical studies, 12 of which are part of the psychology major coursework. Students in the online psychology degree program have access to a variety of online resources, including the library catalog, tutoring, and disability services. Each student is assigned a personal success coach who serves as an academic and career advisor throughout the program.
Applicants are required to submit an online application, personal essay, and official transcripts. High school students must have a 3.0 GPA or higher to be admitted; transfer students must have a 2.5 GPA or higher. Full-time students with transfer credits can complete the program in as few as two full years. Students may apply up to 70 transfer credits to the degree program, which includes courses taken at an accredited school and credit earned through AP exams and CLEP/DANTES.
#5 Saint Joseph's University
Annual Tuition: $17,520
Median Salary: $97,500
Locations: Philadelphia (PA)
The online Bachelor of Liberal Studies (BLS) - Psychological Studies program at Saint Joseph’s University is offered on a full-time or part-time basis. This program aims to prepare students with the research and analytical skills necessary for career opportunities in various clinical, counseling, and healthcare settings. The BLS program also teaches students the morals and ethics of psychology.
The curriculum is designed to equip graduates for jobs in the human service field or advanced study in psychology, research, or counseling. The online platform allows students to receive and submit assignments, access lectures, and communicate with peers and instructors. Distance learners receive full access to university resources, including 24/7 tech support, academic advising, and the writing center.
Applicants to the online psychology degree program at Saint Joseph’s will be connected with admissions counselors experienced in helping both traditional and non-traditional students succeed. A maximum of 75 credits can be transferred into the program. For students with fewer than 30 credits or a GPA lower than 2.5, application requirements include the submission of official transcripts, a personal statement, and one letter of recommendation.
Coursework is delivered asynchronously and includes assigned readings, recorded lectures, and participation in web-based discussion boards. Classes for the BA in Psychology cover topics in cognitive psychology, global psychology, social psychology, and personality theory. The BA in Sports Psychology program is created for individuals interested in a coaching career and offers classes on motivation techniques, counseling, and the psychological benefits of athletics. Online students have access to a live chat feature, virtual tutoring, career services, electronic library resources, and academic advising.
Prospective students must submit a completed application and must meet a 2.0 GPA requirement for high school work. An online orientation course is available online to new students. Military-connected students can access veteran services and may be eligible to receive Yellow Ribbon benefits.
#7 Chaminade University of Honolulu
Annual Tuition: $16,500
Median Salary: $93,800
Locations: Honolulu (HI)
The Chaminade University of Honolulu offers an online Bachelor of Science in Psychology program that can be completed in four years and consists of 120 credits. Online classes run in 10-week terms, providing prospective students with four start dates throughout the year. The curriculum covers topics in counseling theory, applied practice, cross-cultural psychology, and research.
Online coursework is delivered asynchronously and includes pre-recorded lectures, assignments, and syllabi available 24/7. In addition to psychology coursework, students will complete several general education classes in global awareness, religion, natural sciences, and social sciences. A senior seminar is required before graduation.
Online students have access to academic advisors and admissions counseling, as well as tutoring and career services. Candidates should submit a completed application and official transcripts. Military students are encouraged to apply and will receive additional support and coaching through the application process.
#8 Spalding University
Annual Tuition: $12,900
Median Salary: $88,900
Locations: Louisville (KY)
Accreditation: SACS COC
Spalding University’s online Bachelor of Arts in Psychology program emphasizes the theory and practical application of human behavior studies. Students are able to choose from three specializations: General Psychology, Pre-Clinical/Pre-Counseling, and Organization Psychology. In addition to the liberal arts requirements, students will complete a senior capstone project or an internship to develop real-world experience.
Online classes are hosted on the Moodle learning management platform, where students can participate in discussions and view grades and class materials 24/7. Elective options allow students to pursue courses of interest outside the psychology major. Online students have access to resources from the Spalding University Library and Academic Commons, which houses a tutoring lab, a writing center, disability services, and a live chat feature.
A completed application and official high school transcripts are required to apply. Some academic credit may be awarded for prior college experience or military experience. Up to 90 credits can be applied toward an undergraduate degree.
Online coursework follows an asynchronous format and is delivered through the Blackboard learning platform. Courses are taught by faculty in the Department of Psychology and Sociology and the School of Public Health and Health Sciences. Students take classes in substance abuse, social class inequality, women’s health, leadership, and child psychology. Online students have access to academic advising, financial aid assistance, technological support, and off-campus library resources.
Students may transfer credit hours from previous college experience or work experience. Applications are accepted for spring or fall entrance. To apply, students should have a minimum of 12 college credits, and a 2.0 GPA is required. Additionally, students should submit a completed application (with fee) and official transcripts.
#10 University of Louisiana-Monroe
Annual Tuition: $12,000
Median Salary: $82,500
Locations: Monroe (LA)
Accreditation: SACS COC
The University of Louisiana Monroe (ULM) offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a curriculum that features a liberal arts core. The 120-credit program can be completed in four years, with classes running in four-, eight-, and 16-week terms.
Online coursework is delivered through the Moodle learning management platform, where students can access the syllabus and other materials. Classes use both asynchronous formats (discussion boards, e-mail, and assignments) and synchronous, real-time lectures and group work. Online students have access to technical assistance and academic advising.
To apply, prospective students should submit a completed online application (with fee) and official transcripts. Transfers students must have a 2.0 GPA and have completed college-level English and mathematics requirements.
#11 Southern New Hampshire University Online
Annual Tuition: $9,600
Median Salary: $78,300
Locations: Manchester (NH)
Southern New Hampshire University offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Psychology that requires 120 credits to graduate. The BA in Psychology offers tracks in social psychology, mental health, forensic psychology, child and adolescent development, applied psychology, and addictions. Coursework covers fundamental concepts, human behavior theories, and research skills.
Online classes follow an asynchronous format, allowing students to access materials and complete coursework 24/7. Students also earn a certificate in Data Literacy in Psychology that prepares them to synthesize data and communicate findings to a professional audience. Seniors complete a final three-credit capstone seminar. Online resources include access to the writing center, tutoring services, career services, academic advising, 24/7 tech support, and an online library.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, and candidates must submit an official high school transcript and a completed application (no fee). Applicants can transfer up to 90 credit hours.
#12 Southeastern University
Annual Tuition: $12,090
Median Salary: $79,100
Locations: Lakeland (FL)
Accreditation: SACS COC
Southeastern University’s online Bachelor of Science in Psychology is a 123-credit program that incorporates psychology principles with the Christian faith. The full undergraduate program requires 123 total credits and can be completed in four years. Semesters run for 16 weeks, with two sessions of eight-week classes in each semester. The curriculum combines a liberal arts general education core and major courses.
Online coursework is delivered through Brightspace, a D2L learning management program, and is offered asynchronously, with no on-campus requirements. Students in the psychology program develop real-world experience through completing a supervised field experience. Support for students includes enrollment counselors, tutoring, career services, and electronic library resources.
Start dates are offered in the spring, summer, and fall terms. To apply, candidates must submit a completed application, official high school transcripts, a personal essay, one personal reference letter, and ACT or SAT scores. Students may transfer in up to 90 credits.
#13 Ottawa University-Ottawa
Annual Tuition: $15,469
Median Salary: $79,200
Locations: Ottawa (KS)
Ottawa University’s Ottawa offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with an optional concentration in Communications. Students can expect a faith-based curriculum with a liberal arts core and classes that run in 8-week sessions. Students take courses in topics such as social psychology, research and design, statistics, and multiculturalism.
Classes follow an asynchronous format and are facilitated by Blackboard’s learning management software, where students can access class materials, communicate with faculty, and complete assignments. Prospective students have the opportunity to test-drive an online course before enrolling. Online students have access to electronic library resources, disability services, and enrollment and academic advising.
To apply, candidates should submit a completed application (with fee) and send official transcripts. Transfer students may be awarded up to 80 transfer credits toward their bachelor’s degree. Ottawa University is a designated Military Friendly school.
#14 University of Florida
Annual Tuition: $15,000
Median Salary: $78,400
Locations: Gainesville (FL)
Accreditation: SACS COC
The University of Florida offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Psychology program for prospective students. The 120-credit program combines a liberal arts core with classes in the natural and social sciences. The program is offered through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and includes core topics in comparative psychology, developmental psychology, behavior analysis, and abnormal psychology.
Online coursework is delivered through the Canvas learning management platform and Zoom video-conferencing tools. Students have the option to pursue independent study or complete a thesis. Online students have access to career services, academic advising, a 24/7 IT Help Desk, a writing studio, and electronic library resources.
Applications are accepted for summer, fall, and spring terms. To be considered, prospective students should submit a completed online application (with fee) and all applicable transcripts. Transfer students should have a 2.75 GPA from prior college-level coursework.
#15 Loyola University Chicago
Annual Tuition: $20,790
Median Salary: $80,700
Locations: Chicago (IL)
Loyola University Chicago offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Applied Psychology available through the School of Continuing and Professional Studies. The program requires 120 credit hours, including core requirements, general electives, and 13 courses related to the major. The curriculum for the BA in Applied Psychology combines topics from multiple disciplines, including business and psychology. Classes run in eight-week sessions.
Online coursework includes synchronous video conferencing and simulation labs, along with asynchronous discussion boards and case studies. Learning outcomes for students include applying psychological theory, analyzing human behavior, and evaluating data. A final capstone project and a professional development course are also mandatory components.
Online learners at Loyola University receive academic advising, career development services, and tech support for its online learning management tools, Zoom and Sakai. To be considered, students should submit a completed application and official transcripts.
#16 University of Missouri
Annual Tuition: $11,622
Median Salary: $75,200
Locations: Columbia (MO)
The University of Missouri (Mizzou) offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Psychology degree through the College of Arts and Sciences. The degree requires 120 credit hours to complete and includes coursework that emphasizes scientific research and real-world applications. Students take courses in cognitive, clinical, and developmental psychology. Seniors will complete a writing-intensive relationship capstone.
Mizzou’s online courses follow an asynchronous format, with no scheduled class times. Students are responsible for completing their assignments and engaging in discussion boards with their peers. Online learners have access to academic advising, disability services, the career center, an IT Help Desk, and electronic library resources.
To apply, first-year students must submit an ACT or SAT score and official transcripts. Applicants will be considered based on test scores, GPA, and class rank. To qualify as a transfer student, individuals must have at least 24 credit hours of college-level credits and a 2.5 GPA.
#17 Houston Baptist University
Annual Tuition: $12,865
Median Salary: $75,400
Locations: Houston (TX)
Accreditation: SACS COC
Houston Baptist University (HBU) offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Psychology that requires 120 credit hours to complete. HBU is a faith-based institution, and students may select a concentration in Christian Counseling or Marriage and Family Studies.
Online courses are available in the Pampell Online Division and follow an asynchronous format; students may access content and complete assignments when most convenient. The psychology major includes research methodology courses and a final capstone experience.
Online students have access to an academic advisor and an admissions consultant. Students may also seek disability accommodations. To apply to HBU, students should submit a completed application (with fee) and official transcripts.
#18 Missouri State University
Annual Tuition: $8,850
Median Salary: $72,800
Locations: Springfield (MO)
Missouri State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Psychology degree program available entirely online. The online BA is non-comprehensive, so students must declare a second major or minor to earn the 120 credit hours needed to graduate. Recommended minors include business, child and family development, criminology, disability studies, or sociology.
Missouri State Online, the virtual learning platform for Missouri State University, shares the same faculty as on-campus programs. Courses are asynchronous, and students engage in discussions and complete assignments on their own time. The curriculum includes professional development courses, foundation courses, electives, and general BA requirements. Seniors will complete a public affairs capstone to graduate.
Distance education students have access to support resources, including career counseling, financial aid, tutoring, library resources, virtual research assistance, and a writing center. Interested candidates may complete an online application and submit ACT or SAT scores and official transcripts. High school GPA, rank, and test scores are all considered in the admission decision. Transfer credit may be awarded for previous college-level work, AP exams, or military education and experience.
#19 University of Kansas
Annual Tuition: $11,916
Median Salary: $72,900
Locations: Lawrence (KS)
KU Online, the distance education platform for the University of Kansas, offers an online Bachelor of General Studies (BGS) in Psychology. To complete the 120-credit hour degree, students must declare a minor or two undergraduate certificates. Online courses follow a semester schedule, though classes can run for four, eight, or sixteen weeks.
Online coursework is delivered through the Blackboard learning management platform and follows an asynchronous format. Students have access to a live chat feature, virtual office hours, web-based discussion boards, videos, and PDF articles. Students take courses in the following topics, cognitive psychology, child development, abnormal psychology, social psychology, and cognitive neuroscience. An optional internship component is also offered.
To apply, students should complete the application (with fee) and submit standardized test scores, a list of senior year courses, and self-reported high school grades and GPA. Transfer students with at least 24 credit hours and a 2.5 GPA have assured admission.
#20 Excelsior College
Annual Tuition: $15,300
Median Salary: $73,900
Locations: Albany (NY)
The online Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Excelsior College is a 120-credit program with no on-campus requirements. The program features self-paced courses and includes general education and core class requirements. Students will take at least one course from the following subject areas: biological and physiological foundations, developmental perspectives, social influences, abnormal psychology, and cognitive biases.
Online coursework is completed in modules and includes lectures, discussions, textbook readings, and links to articles. A research-intensive capstone course completes the degree. Online students may utilize academic advising services, a career center, disability accommodations, a veteran's center, 24/7 technical support, an online writing center, and electronic library resources.
Applicants submit an online application (with fee) and official transcripts. Students pursuing an online program may work with admission counselors to navigate the process. Transfer credit may be awarded for prior college courses, military and job training, and professional certifications.
#21 Buena Vista University
Annual Tuition: $14,432
Median Salary: $73,500
Locations: Storm Lake (IA)
The online Bachelor of Arts in Psychology offered at Buena Vista University (BVU) is a degree completion program intended for students with previous college credit. Online courses have six start dates each year, and classes run in eight-week terms. The psychology major is 33 credit hours and includes statistics courses, psychology electives, and a capstone course.
Online coursework is managed through the Canvas learning management system and follows an asynchronous format. Online students have access to virtual tutoring, digital library resources, technical assistance, and career services.
Applicants to the BA in Psychology online should complete an application and send official transcripts. There is no application fee. Transfer students may use a free online assessment tool to determine transfer applicability.
#22 Hamline University
Annual Tuition: $15,750
Median Salary: $73,700
Locations: Saint Paul (MN)
Hamline University offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Psychology through the College of Liberal Arts. This degree completion program requires that a minimum of 56 credits are taken at Hamline and can be completed in 18 months. Students complete courses in statistics, cognitive neuroscience, research methods, and social and cultural psychology. A capstone in positive psychology is required.
Online coursework is delivered asynchronously through the Canvas learning management platform. Students interact with peers and faculty via email and web-based discussion boards. Video conferencing software is used for meetings and feedback sessions. Students have access to technical assistance, electronic library resources, and a military student center.
Transfer applicants must have earned a minimum of 40 college credits and have completed courses in general psychology and composition. To be considered, transfer students must have a 2.0 GPA for all prior college coursework. Two years of professional work experience is also required. No application fee is required.
#23 George Mason University
Annual Tuition: $41,700
Median Salary: $83,800
Locations: Fairfax (VA)
Accreditation: SACS COC
George Mason University’s online Bachelor of Science in Psychology is a 120-credit program offered through the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. This degree completion program is offered entirely online for students with prior college credit. Students can select from a wide variety of concentrations, including clinical psychology, cognitive and behavioral neuroscience, developmental psychology, educational psychology, forensic psychology, and more.
Online courses are delivered asynchronously through the Blackboard learning management platform, where students can access blogs, videos, discussion boards, and email. The program requires that students complete a faculty-supervised independent research project and a service-learning experience in a mental health facility. Online students have access to
academic advising, library resources, disability accommodations, and guidance from an online program coordinator.
Prospective students may apply for the spring or fall semester. First-year students should submit a completed application, official transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, two letters of recommendation, a list of extracurricular activities, and an optional personal statement. Students with at least 24 credits from college courses may apply as a transfer student.
#24 Northeastern University
Annual Tuition: $16,230
Median Salary: $73,400
Locations: Burlington (MA)
Northeastern University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Psychology through the College of Professional Studies. This degree completion program requires 120 credit hours to graduate. Sixty credits must be taken at Northeastern University. Online courses cover fundamental areas in psychology, including social and abnormal psychology, human development, sensory function, emotion, learning, and memory. Seniors are required to complete a four-credit research seminar.
Online courses follow an asynchronous format, allowing students to access materials and complete assignments when convenient. Northeastern uses Blackboard learning management software to deliver course content and provide web-based communication tools. Students use instant messenger and discussion boards to communicate with faculty members. Resources available to online learners include an enrollment counselor, disability accommodations, and technical assistance.
Students may enroll for fall, spring, or summer terms. To apply, students should submit an online application and official transcripts, with the option to include a resume, a personal statement, and references. Test scores are not required.
#25 University of Minnesota Online
Annual Tuition: $13,864
Median Salary: $71,745
Locations: Minneapolis (MN)(and 4 others)
University of Minnesota’s (U of M) Digital Campus offers a fully online Bachelor of Applied Science in Psychology through the College of Education and Human Service Professions. The degree completion program requires 120 credit hours to graduate. Core major requirements include topics in developmental psychology, experimental psychology, human services, industrial/organizational psychology, and clinical/counseling skills.
Online coursework is delivered through the Moodle learning management platform, which houses podcasts, videos, and class materials. Online students are encouraged to undertake one of the following engagement opportunities, membership in Psi Chi Psychology club, apply for an undergraduate research opportunity project, or complete independent study. Online students have access to 24/7 technical assistance, electronic library resources, and a collection of online tutorials and workshops.
The online psychology program admits 15 students every fall semester; Incoming students must have a 2.5 GPA from previous college credit and submit official transcripts. Prospective students must have an associate degree or have completed the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum to apply.
Online Psychology Degree Overview & Career Information
Associate degrees in psychology are often used as a first step before transferring to a four-year program; bachelor’s degrees are considered the basic foundational program in this discipline. Both associate and bachelor’s degrees provide a significant amount of coursework in liberal arts and science topics like math, humanities, natural science, and history. Core classes within the psychology major explore topics such as social psychology, personality, psychology of learning, and depression and mood disorders. Many online psychology programs require that students work in psychology labs or on research projects.
Online master’s programs in psychology are available in specialization areas like forensic psychology, industrial organizational psychology, counseling, or sport psychology. Most master’s programs require a thesis project or fieldwork. The doctoral degree in psychology is the minimum requirement to work as a licensed psychologist who treats patients. Students take advanced coursework, do clinical assessments, and perform research. Most programs require a lengthy internship prior to or after graduation.
Online Bachelor's Degrees in Psychology
Psychology careers generally require a master's degree or higher, but jobs for bachelor's graduates do exist. Common positions at this level include psychological assistants or aides to established doctors and professionals. Bachelor's degree holders may also work at psychology offices or schools to help patients under the supervision of a licensed doctor. With a background in psychology, students can also get jobs managing people or working in human resources within many kinds of businesses.
Bachelor's degrees in psychology require students to have completed high school and achieved good scores on a college-entry exam such as the SAT or ACT. Bachelor's programs in psychology take about four years to complete with a total of approximately 120 units of coursework. Psychology degrees at the bachelor's level may also include some fieldwork, which plays an important role in the education program; fieldwork allows students to see how psychology works in offices and healthcare facilities.
The first year or two of a psychology bachelor's program will focus on general education courses such as introduction to psychology, biology, English, statistics, history of psychology, human lifespan development, research methods, learning cognition, and culture, ethnicity and diversity. Once the general education is complete, the courses will get more specific, and students will be able to choose electives depending on the field of psychology they're most interested in. Common courses include child development, abnormal psychology, criminal psychology, family and marriage, human sexuality, and psychology of personality.
The Importance of an Accredited Online Psychology Degree
Accreditation can be thought of as a qualification that a school or degree program earns by meeting a set of criteria. Accreditation is an important part of the US higher education system because it is one of the few mechanisms by which independent organizations can evaluate a program or a school and ensure that students who are attending the school are getting a quality education.
Each regional or specialized accreditation board has its own standards that schools or programs must meet in order to be granted accreditation. In general, a program must cover certain topics in their curriculum, provide students with appropriate resources through libraries and faculty, and possibly even provide certain nonacademic services.
It is important for schools to maintain their accreditation and important for students to ensure that the schools to which they are applying are accredited, because only accredited schools can use federal money. This means that only accredited schools can provide students with federal student loans, work study, or federal grants, and the majority of postsecondary students utilize these resources. It's also important for students who plan to continue their education at the graduate level to attend an accredited school so that their credits will transfer. Students who plan to become a licensed psychologist will also need a degree from an accredited institution.
Licensing and Certification Requirements for Psychologists
The path to becoming a psychologist is a long one, requiring many years of education and several more years of internships and professional development. It also mandates earning and maintaining a valid license. The type of psychology a person practices and the state in which they wish to practice may have some effect on the exact course a person takes to become a psychologist. There are some general licensing requirements that apply to all or nearly all states, such as a doctoral degree, an internship, a number of years of professional experience, and a passing score on a state examination. Many states require students to take the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP), administered by the The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards, or a variation of this test.
Licensed psychologists who specialize in a particular area of psychology, such as clinical neuropsychology, clinical psychology, cognitive and behavioral psychology, or counseling psychology, may also choose to earn professional certification. Certification is offered by several different professional agencies, such as the American Board of Professional Psychology, which issues credentials in many different areas. Although board certification is voluntary and not legally required for most specializations, many employers prefer hiring candidates with these credentials. Board-certified professionals are held accountable for their experience and knowledge, as candidates must fulfill extensive education, work experience, and continuing education requirements to earn these marks. Psychologists who have a specialized certificate will find it easier to market themselves to clients, and they will become part of ABPP's database of certified professionals.
Before beginning a specific educational or career path, it is recommended that students investigate the requirements for psychology practice in their particular state. The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards provides helpful information about licensure and psychology education that an aspiring psychologist in the United States needs to know, as well as information for consumers who utilize the services of licensed psychologists. It is especially helpful for people who are still in school because there is information about which schools are accredited and the scores earned on licensing examinations by graduates of different doctoral degree programs. People who are already licensed will find resources to help them complete required continuing education hours.
Specializations in Psychology
There’s a big difference between studying psychology and training to be a psychologist. Prospective online students should be aware of these differences and evaluate their own career aspirations before enrolling in a program. While those with an understanding of psychology can act as consultants in a variety of capacities, only those with the proper training and credentials can become licensed psychologists.
Psychology is a very broad field, and a psychologist's job responsibilities will depend upon their chosen specialization. The following list represents just some of the areas in which professional psychologists can specialize:
Clinical Psychology: This is the area of psychology you are probably most familiar with from popular culture. Clinical psychologists meet with patients to treat their mental and emotional problems. They listen to the patient and help them find ways to change problematic or destructive behaviors. Clinical psychologists may work with different types of patients, such as children, families, or individuals with developmental disabilities.
Developmental Psychology: These psychologists study the ways people's behaviors and thoughts change as they age. Some study the psychology of children and teens, while others focus on the elderly.
Forensic Psychology:Forensic psychologists apply psychology to criminal justice issues and often work on a particular type of case. For example, some might work in criminal court and offer insight on the motivations of criminals, while others work in civil and family court.
Health Psychology: Health psychologists work with people and families who are experiencing illness. The psychologist helps patients learn coping strategies to deal with the mental strain of being unwell. Some health psychologists educate doctors, nurses, and other healthcare practitioners on behavioral aspects of illness.
Industrial Organizational Psychology: IO psychologists apply their understanding of psychology to business. They help businesses become more productive and healthy places to work. IO psychologists may work with managers to interview job candidates, create company policies, or make the workplace more enjoyable.
Rehabilitation Psychology: Rehabilitation psychologists help people cope with the aftermath of a serious illness or injury, especially when the illness or injury has resulted in a serious mental or physical disability. Rehabilitation psychologists support their patients so that they can accept and understand their new abilities and limitations and improve their quality of life.
School Psychology: School psychologists help students and education administrators. They may work with students who have behavioral or learning problems to help them do better in school. School psychologists also design educational programs, such as awareness campaigns about bullying or drugs. They work with teachers to make the classroom a better learning environment.
Social Psychology: Social psychologists examine the ways individuals act within a group. They study the ways social interactions affect people, and they may offer advice to improve group dynamics.
Sport Psychology: As an interdisciplinary field, sport psychology curricula draw content from various departments, including counseling, physical education, and psychology. Bachelor’s programs cover the foundations of sport psychology and engage in a historical analysis of sports and related behaviors. Master's programs give students the opportunity to develop their theoretical and practical knowledge in individual and team motivation, injury recovery, performance enhancement, and stress management in sporting activities.
Frequently Asked Questions About Psychology Degrees
Are online psychology degrees respected?
Online degrees in psychology are generally respected, but it depends on what program or school you get your degree from. Most of the time, employers and other schools can’t tell if a degree was earned online. However, they are able to check if the school you attend is accredited or not. Accreditation ensures schools and programs are held to high academic standards and provide a quality education. Degrees from schools that are not accredited are often not seen as legitimate.
Is it better to get a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in psychology?
Choosing between a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology will depend on what your personal goals and interests are. BA programs are usually more focused on psychology from the social sciences aspect, and will give students a strong foundation in the subject. These programs give students a wide range of options for future career paths and specializations as the course load allows for some flexibility. A BS program will focus on mathematical, statistical, and scientific courses related to psychology. These programs are a better fit for those looking to pursue a career in science, or who plan to go on to medical or graduate school.
What can I do with a BA in psychology?
Students who earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology will likely graduate with a diverse skill set they can apply in any number of careers. While careers as a therapist or psychologist usually require higher levels of education, a bachelor’s degree often qualifies applicants for entry-level positions as substance abuse, mental health, and behavioral disorder counselors. A BA in psychology can also be useful for roles in marketing, human resources, social work, criminal justice or corrections, and even technology development.
Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Accessed February 1, 2018. http://www.siop.org.
The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards. Accessed February 1, 2018. http://www.asppb.net.
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