Top Accredited Online Psychology Degree Programs of 2014

With each passing year, the number of accredited online schools offering psychology programs grows. This makes choosing the right school an increasingly difficult decision. To help make your research a little easier, we’ve put together this list of 2014′s Top 15 Online Psychology programs. The criteria we used in selecting the top schools began with accreditation. As of 2014, all included schools were listed as accredited by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Also, please note we ranked the schools that are sponsoring this site.

From there we looked at a combination of factors, including program availability, affordability, the school’s reputation and the academic quality. When considering academic quality, we paid particularly close attention to the school’s online academics. For example, a great psychology program with poor online technology would not be included because the online nature of the school is an essential factor in this list.

Sponsored Accredited Online Psychology Programs of 2014

Start by clicking on any school to get information on each of the top programs. *Please note all four of these links are from sponsored schools.

1. Capella University

2. Grand Canyon University

3. Walden University

4. Kaplan University

Is Earning an Online Psychology Degree Right for You?

Before you choose an online psychology program, you should consider a number of factors including your own learning needs, the cost of attendance, the type of degree available and the school’s accreditation status.

In 2001, the American Psychological Association (APA) appointed a task force to investigate the issues and demands of online psychology programs. According to the task force, the key concerns of a quality distance education course or program focus on: access; learning community; faculty support; student support; curriculum and instruction; evaluation and assessment; institutional context and commitment; facilities and finance; library and learning resources. When considering an online program in psychology keep these key factors in mind, as it could affect future APA accreditation of the program.

When choosing an online psychology program, look for a school that is accredited by an institution recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The best online psychology programs will also be APA-accredited. Although the APA only accredits doctoral programs, schools with this accreditation also typically have high-quality undergraduate psychology programs. You may also want to consider schools that offer opportunities to participate in student research projects, to work with faculty or to intern in real-world settings.

Earning an online psychology degree requires strong time management skills. While online education can be either synchronous or asynchronous, you will be expected to manage your own study and homework schedule without much direct oversight from your instructor. Be honest with yourself. Are you able to set a definite schedule and stick to it, or do you like to procrastinate? Your ability to stay on task and keep up with the readings will play a large role in your success.

(*Sponsored Schools) 15 Schools Offering Psychology Programs Online in 2014

1. Capella University

With an online psychology degree from Capella, you will develop an understanding of human learning, emotions and behaviors utilizing specialization criteria that are designed around American Psychological Association (APA) Guidelines. Whether you’re pursuing a new career or looking to continue your studies at the graduate level, their online Bachelor’s program in Psychology provides the skills to help you develop and achieve your goals.

With your Bachelor’s in Psychology from Capella, you’ll learn skills in research, writing, problem solving, and synthesizing and evaluating information, which are valued in a wide range of professions beyond psychology.

With Capella’s Combined Bachelor’s-to-Master’s degree options, you can start building for your future by completing master’s-level credit as your earn your bachelor degree. Combined degree options are designated bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, with a set of shared master’s-level courses applied to both degrees. This enables you to save significant time and money when combining the degree options.

Capella provides a flexible online learning environment designed for working adults who want to advance in their profession. Capella University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).

Additional Information

Click here for additional information about Capella University’s Psychology program.

*Please note this is a sponsored link

2. Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University is an Arizona-based private school that offers an online psychology degrees at the Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral levels. The curriculum covers a range of courses on topics including social psychology, human sexuality, lifespan development, fundamentals of counseling and guidance, and health psychology. Applicants must be at least 21 years of age and have some college credits to be considered. Established in 1949, GCU is a Christian school and is regionally accredited by the North Central Association.
Additional Information

Click here for additional information about Grand Canyon University’s Psychology program.

*Please note this is a sponsored link

3. Walden University

With an online B.S. in psychology from Walden University, you will gain the knowledge and experience you need to make a difference in your profession and help advance your career. Broaden your understanding of psychology as you develop a wide-ranging perspective on the field and learn to apply psychological principles to personal, social, and organizational issues. Through a range of concentrations, you can explore theories, concepts, and techniques to help you enhance your psychology education in an area that matches your career interests.

Available concentrations include: Addictions; Applied Psychology; Child and Adolescent; Psychology; Criminal Justice; General Psychology; Human Services; Infant and Toddler Development; Preparation for Graduate Studies; and Workplace Psychology

As an accredited institution with over 40 years of experience, Walden has graduated more than 61,000 alumni, all of whom now have the credentials and desire to make a real difference and be a force for good. Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and is a member of The North Central Association.
Additional Information

Click here for additional information about Walden University’s Psychology program.

*Please note this is a sponsored link

4. Kaplan University

Working as a psychologist requires a doctoral degree; however, with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Kaplan University you may qualify for many entry-level jobs in community mental health centers, vocational rehabilitation centers, and correctional programs. The Kaplan University Bachelor of Science in Psychology program offers a broad liberal arts education combined with an in-depth look at how psychology relates to your everyday life.

With an emphasis on child development, you will explore behavioral development from birth to adolescence. Study the various approaches to understanding and helping children with special needs and diverse backgrounds. Gain insight into the importance of social relationships created and maintained during childhood. Career options for graduates include coordinating services for children with developmental disabilities or serving as a child care worker or a child welfare caseworker.

Kaplan University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Additional Information

Click here for additional information about Kaplan University’s Psychology program.

*Please note this is a sponsored link

5. Keiser University

Keiser University offers online Bachelor, Masters and Doctoral programs in Psychology. The school boasts a diverse curriculum, providing a broad-based education in many facets of behavior, mental processes, communication, research and writing. Courses include forensics, sports and positive psychology, as well as the traditional courses needed to prepare students for graduate studies. Student learning objectives include the application of the scientific method, neuroscience relations to behavior, and the ethical treatment of human and animal research subjects.

Keiser University has been conferring degrees for more than three decades. The school is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award certificates and degrees at the associate, baccalaureate, masters, and doctoral levels.

Additional Information

Click here for additional information about Keiser University.

*Please note this is a sponsored link

6. University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix offers online Masters and Bachelors degrees in Psychology.
Courses in the Bachelor program are designed to provide supervisors, managers and other professionals with greater skills in critical thinking, communication, collaboration and information utilization. The Bachelor program does not have a clinical emphasis nor does it lead to professional licensure. The same is true of the Master of Science in Psychology program which focuses on the general rather than clinical psychological study of individuals, including their behaviors, thought processes and emotions. It provides an understanding of the processes that underlie behavior and research methodologies.

University of Phoenix is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission which is a member of the North Central Association. As of 2013 and continuing into 2014, University of Phoenix was placed on Notice by the Higher Learning Commission. Notice is a Commission sanction indicating that an institution is pursuing a course of action that, if continued, could lead it to be out of compliance with one or more Criteria for Accreditation. An institution on Notice remains accredited.

Additional Information

Click here for additional information about University of Phoenix’ Psychology program.

*Please note this is a sponsored link

7. Liberty University

Liberty University offers online Associates and Bachelors Degrees in Psychology, as well as a Master’s of Arts in Professional Counseling Degree program, a Master’s of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy Degree program, and a Master’s of Arts in Human Services Degree program to individuals who possess at least a Bachelor’s Degree. These programs are affordable, offered through a distinguished school and come with a variety of concentration options. The following courses are included in each program: Theories of Counseling, Human Growth and Development, and Career Development and Counseling.

Liberty University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. In addition, Liberty University, a Christian school, is the largest, private, non-profit university in the country.

Additional Information

Click here for additional information about Liberty University’s Psychology program.

*Please note this is a sponsored link

8. Colorado Technical University

Colorado Technical University offers an online BS in Psychology. The CTU Bachelor of Science in Psychology is designed to provide an overview of the major psychological concepts, perspectives and skills that explain human behavior. The curriculum has four themes threading through it: workplace application of psychology, career advancement, technological acumen and service to society.

Core courses in the program include managerial psychology, historical perspectives in modern psychology, learning and cognition, organizational psychology, positivist psychology and leadership, theories of personality, and careers in psychology. CTU is a private, for-profit school. Military Times ranked it as the best online school for veterans. Colorado Technical University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Additional Information

Click here for additional information about Colorado Technical University’s Psychology program.

*Please note this is a sponsored link

9. Saint Leo University

The School of Arts & Sciences at Saint Leo University offers an online psychology degree that introduces you to the broad spectrum of theories used in understanding human behavior. The program provides a well-rounded education in the discipline, with the opportunity to tailor the curriculum to meet your individual needs. Graduates are prepared for advanced study in psychology and related disciplines, as well as employment in professional entry-level positions in human service settings and mental health facilities. A psychology major is also an excellent way to prepare for a career in law, business, human resources management, advertising and sales.

Saint Leo University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, and doctoral degrees.

Additional Information

Click here for additional information about Saint Leo University’s Psychology program.

*Please note this is a sponsored link

10. Post University

The online Bachelor of Arts in Psychology degree program at Post University will help you make a positive impact on people’s day-to-day lives. This program is designed to help you enhance your social maturity, interpersonal effectiveness, critical thinking, collaboration, persistence, initiative, and oral/written expression. Post boasts a faculty whose extensive backgrounds in the social sciences, social services, and business allow them to provide hands-on experiences that integrate theory and practice. This program includes two applied concentration tracks: Human Development, Education and Health; and Organizational Studies

Post University offers a wide range of quality Certificate, Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in a highly interactive online format that emphasizes flexibility, convenience, and support. Whichever program you choose, you can take classes in 8-week modules, six times a year from faculty members with advanced degrees and extensive real-world experience. You’ll also enjoy access to a full array of academic support services, including advising, tutoring, writing center assistance and Post’s virtual library at no additional charge. Post University is accredited through the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc.

11. Drexel University

Although Drexel University offers several highly-regarded Psychology degrees, only its APA-accredited Bachelor degree is available to online students. The online Bachelor of Science in Psychology is designed to provide students with the same strong foundation in psychology that on-campus students receive, combined with the flexibility and convenience of online learning. The online curriculum allows students to explore a broad range of topics, issues, and methods in psychology while preparing them to meet today’s challenges in the field. Drexel offers a top-quality online BS degree that prepares students for future graduate study in a wide range of applied fields including business, the health sciences, forensics and law, education, counseling, and applied neurosciences. The Department of Psychology is at the forefront of areas like neuropsychology, forensic psychology, cognitive neuroscience, health and clinical psychology.

Philadelphia-based Drexel University is accredited by MSCHE (Middle States Commission on Higher Education). It’s School of Psychology is further accredited by the APA.

12. NorthCentral University

NorthCentral University offers online psychology degrees at the Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral levels. In addition, the university’s School of Psychology also confers post-Masters and post-Baccalaureate certificates in Psychology. The school offers a unique, one-one-one teaching model in which each student is paired with a faculty member in each course for a highly personalized experience. Available concentrations include: Gender Diversity Studies; General Psychology; Health Psychology; and Industrial Organizational Psychology.

NorthCentral University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

13. Ohio Christian University

Offering an online Bachelor of Arts in Psychology since 2011, Ohio Christian’s degree program equips students with a strong foundational understanding of human behavior and mental processes. This program prepares you to integrate Christian principles into your personal and professional life, conduct research in the field of psychology, and articulate various counseling methodologies and their diagnostic application. Ohio Christian University understands and supports your commitments to your family and career. Our program has been designed specifically for working adults. You take one class at a time from academically and experientially qualified instructors with textbooks and materials mailed directly to your home.

Ohio Christian University is accredited by Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. It is also accredited by the Association for Biblical Higher Education. The school is authorized by the Ohio Board of Regents to offer associate, baccalaureate, and masters level education.

14. Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University offers both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Psychology, online. The SNHU online degree in Psychology format provides a small class environment, enabling our professional faculty to give you the personalized attention you need. Concentrations include: Child and Adolescent Development; Forensic Psychology; and Mental Health. You will also have opportunities to join the Psych Club and Psi Chi, the Psychology International Honor Society.

SNHU is a private, nonprofit university that has been offering degree programs for nearly a century at its five regional campuses, as well as online. The school is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

Online Psychology Degree Programs Directory

Welcome to, a comprehensive online resource for students who are thinking about earning a degree in psychology. Our goal is to tell you everything you need to know to make the right decisions about your education so you can prepare for a career in the field.

Using the Directory

Discover more than 7,100 psychology degree programs at over 1,800 schools by using this search-friendly directory. This site is designed to help you define what factors are most important to you in order to locate the program that best matches your interests and career aspirations. Make sure to check out the guide to psychology programs beneath the directory to find out everything you need to know about earning a psychology degree.

Studying Psychology

I’m interested in studying psychology. What can you tell me?

Psychology is a social science that is concerned with why people behave the way that they do. If you are considering studying psychology, you will need to decide whether you want to become a professional psychologist or simply earn a broad degree that you can apply to other fields in the future.

If you want to become a licensed clinical psychologist, you will need to attend graduate school in order to earn your doctorate. Getting a doctoral degree usually takes 4 to 7 years of school beyond the bachelors degree, so you should be prepared to be a student for a long time before you are qualified to practice psychology professionally.

A bachelors degree in psychology will only prepare you to assist those with higher level degrees in the field. However, the study of psychology is broad and knowledge of this field will give you a better understanding of the human psyche and behavior. Therefore, any level of psychology degree can lead to opportunities in other fields like sales, customer service or business management.

Let’s hear some other perspectives

An Interview with Amy Dodson

Amy Dodson

Graduate, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Ashford University

“The most important study tip that I can offer another online student is to stay organized. At the beginning of a new class, you should sit down and look at the syllabus. Plan your own schedule out so that you can look ahead and anticipate when you will have deadlines. This will keep you from procrastinating and will help you to turn things in on time.”

Read the Full Interview >>

An Interview with Patricia Nicholls

Patricia Nicholls

Student, Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology, Alliant International University

“For managing stress, I try to take care of myself by getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising, playing as hard as I work, incorporating friends and family into my life as much as possible, and taking a break when I need it.”

Read the Full Interview >>

An Interview with Richard Valencia

Richard Valencia

Professor of Educational Psychology and Mexican American Studies, University of Texas, Austin

“The optimal level of education needed in the field of educational psychology is at least a masters degree, but even then, there isn’t a lot of opportunity to work in educational psychology without a higher degree.”

Read the Full Interview >>

Psychologist Overview

What exactly is a psychologist?

A psychologist is a social science professional who studies human behavior and mental processes. Psychologists try to understand why people do what they do by observing and interpreting how people interact with each other and with their environment.

Psychologists can be classified into 3 broad categories:

Clinical Professionals

Clinical professionals use therapeutic treatment to counsel patients with mental, emotional or behavioral problems. For instance, patients may seek short-term therapy to deal with crises like the death of a loved one. But other patients may need long-term treatment in order to cope with chronic conditions like personality disorders. Clinical professionals generally either run their own private practice or work in hospitals or schools. Examples of clinical professionals include clinical psychologists, counseling psychologists and school psychologists.

Industry Professionals

Industry professionals are advanced researchers. They conduct applied research in an attempt to solve real world issues using psychological theories and techniques. They typically work for the government, corporate businesses or industrial settings, like drug laboratories. Some examples of industry professionals are social psychologists, industrial-organizational psychologists and forensic psychologists.

Academic Professionals

Academic professionals teach psychology classes and conduct theoretical and applied research into unexplored or poorly understood areas of mental processes and behavior. These professionals typically work for colleges and universities as paid social science researchers and psychology professors.

Let’s hear some other perspectives

An Interview with Steven Cohen

Steven Cohen

Clinical Psychologist, Based in Fort Myers

“If you like working with people and dealing with various types of psychiatric issues, this may be a good field for you. Those who succeed in this profession are those who enjoy figuring out puzzles and testing solutions, and who can look at a problem from more than 1 perspective.”

Read the Full Interview >>

An Interview with Nicole Lipkin

Nicole Lipkin

Consultant, Equilibria Leadership Consulting

“I enjoy being able to bring human nature back into the way that people think about business. A lot of companies are so driven by profit that they overlook the role of human interaction. So I help people think about the way that group dynamics affect a project and how personal interactions enhance or detract from productivity.”

Read the Full Interview >>

An Interview with Mona Cardell

Mona Cardell

Feminist Psychologist, Private Practice in Havertown, Women’s Therapy Center in Philadelphia

“I would advise any aspiring psychologist to take time away from school to gain real-world knowledge.”

Read the Full Interview >>

Personality Quiz

How do I know if psychology would be a good fit for me?

Here is a quick quiz to help you decide if you have the personality it takes to succeed as a psychologist. Rate, on a scale from 1 to 5, how well each of the following statements describes you.

I am a people person and I enjoy interacting with others.

The majority of psychologists work in the clinical arena, so they spend countless hours working directly with patients. If you dislike personal interaction with others, you are not likely to succeed in the field of psychology.

I enjoy advising my friends and helping them to work through their problems.

Psychologists make their livings by counseling and advising others. You may enjoy working as a psychologist if you are inclined to help others resolve personal issues.

I work well under stressful circumstances.

Psychology can be a stressful career because so many clients come to rely on you. If you do not have a healthy way to handle the pressures that come from this type of work, you are likely to burn out.

I do not judge others.

Psychologists often work with people who make physically or emotionally destructive decisions. You must be unbiased when you provide therapy to people who struggle with issues like drug addiction, eating disorders or self-harm.

I am patient and willing to wait for results.

Achieving results in research or in the psychological treatment of patients can be a slow process. Patience is an essential trait if you plan to work in psychology.

I do not give up easily and I am willing to work hard to overcome obstacles.

Psychologists will find that their experiments sometimes fail and their clients do not always listen to their advice. Perseverance is important to success in the field of psychology because it takes constant and dedicated effort to get results.

I am able to convey my thoughts and feelings in words.

Psychologists must communicate with patients and colleagues on a daily basis. Whether you are a clinical or a research psychologist, you will be at a disadvantage if you do not have good writing and speaking skills.

I am a careful listener.

Most psychologists work in therapeutic settings where they are required to spend countless hours listening to their clients. If you tend to speak more than you listen, you may face difficulty as a psychologist.

I am open-minded and willing to look at situations from many perspectives.

All people are different, so they require different methods of therapy. A willingness to try new techniques in order to discover what works best for each of your clients will be essential to any psychology practice.

I know how to keep a secret.

Psychologists need to keep the information their clients tell them strictly confidential. If you cannot keep things to yourself, psychology is not the ideal career for you.

Get My Score

*Note that this is not a scientific quiz. The result is simply my rough estimate of how well I believe your personality matches that of a successful psychologist.

By my assessment, a career in psychology is probably not a good fit for your personality. Please go to the Admission Advisor homepage for a listing of other careers you may want to consider.

By my assessment, although a career in psychology may not be an ideal fit for your personality, if you are willing to adapt in a few areas, you can still find success in the field. Please see the list to the right for information on the areas that you may need to work on.

By my assessment, your personality is a good fit for a career in psychology. Scroll through our site to gain valuable insight into what it will take you to earn the necessary credentials.

Making the Right Choice

Is there anything else I should consider in deciding if psychology is the right choice for me?

Aside from personality, there are some practical considerations that you need to take into account before deciding on a career in psychology.

Educational Requirement

The main decision that you have to make is whether or not you want to attend graduate school. If you only have a bachelors degree in psychology, your job prospects and salary will be limited in the field of psychology. To work with patients in a clinical setting or to perform research that is related to psychology, you will need a graduate degree from an accredited school. So if you do not plan to go to graduate school, psychology is not the right career choice for you.

Psychology Professions

What professions can I choose from?

Some of the most common professions for those with a psychology degree include:

Education Required:

Doctorate (4 – 7 years of graduate school)

Average Salary:

Average Salary: $63,000 (Lowest 10% earned less than $37,900; highest 10% earned more than $106,840)

Work Environment:

Private practice, mental health clinics, hospitals

Job Description:

Clinical psychologists assess and treat a wide range of mental, emotional and behavioral disorders ranging from eating disorders to schizophrenia. Some clinical professionals specialize in specific problems such as phobias or depression. Others only work with specific population groups like children or the elderly.

Education Required:

Doctorate (4 – 7 years of graduate school)

Average Salary:

Average Salary: $55,000

Work Environment:

Universities, government agencies, corporate businesses, private practice

Job Description:

Cognitive psychologists study how people perceive, think and remember. Some of the topics that they explore include language, attention, memory and the processes that people use to make decisions and solve problems. Cognitive psychologists also sometimes use their skills for practical tasks likes creating educational curricula or designing software.

Education Required:

Doctorate (4 – 7 years of graduate school)

Average Salary:

Average Salary: $63,000 (Lowest 10% earned less than $37,900; highest 10% earned more than $106,840)

Work Environment:

Private practice, mental health clinics, hospitals

Job Description:

Counseling psychologists help clients deal with problems that occur in day-to-day life. For example, they help people to work through social and emotional problems, career setbacks and health concerns. Counseling psychologists use a variety of methods to treat patients such as testing, interviewing and intervention.

Education Required:

Doctorate (4 – 7 years of graduate school)

Average Salary:

Average Salary: $56,500

Work Environment:

Universities, government agencies, assisted living facilities, healthcare facilities

Job Description:

Developmental psychologists study how people change and grow throughout their lives in order to help people live better. In particular, they observe physical, social, intellectual and emotional growth patterns. They often study specific age groups like the elderly or young children.

Education Required:

Masters (2 – 3 years of graduate school); doctorate (4 – 7 years of graduate school) recommended

Average Salary:

Average Salary: $59,440

Work Environment:

Law enforcement, government agencies

Job Description:

Forensic psychologists apply psychology to the field of criminal investigation and the law. Those who work in the court system often provide psychotherapy to crime victims and evaluate whether alleged criminals are mentally fit to stand trial. They can also perform child custody evaluations and investigate reports of child abuse.

Education Required:

Doctorate (4 – 7 years of graduate school)

Average Salary:

Average Salary: $100,000

Work Environment:

Hospitals, medical clinics, private consulting

Job Description:

Health psychologists study how health and illness is affected by biological, social and psychological factors. They study issues like how patients deal with illness, pain management and how to change poor health habits. Health psychologists often work with medical doctors to provide patients with total health care.

Education Required:

Masters (2 – 3 years of graduate school)

Average Salary:

Average Salary: $97,820 (Lowest 10% earned less than $38,690; highest 10% earned more than $149,120)

Work Environment:

Corporate businesses, government agencies, universities, private consulting

Job Description:

Industrial-organizational psychologists apply psychological research to problems in the workplace. They tend to be expert communicators who can analyze business hierarchies to determine the weak points in an organization like a lack of productivity or a misuse of company resources.

Education Required:

Masters (2 – 3 years of graduate school)

Average Salary:

Average Salary: $59,440 (Lowest 10% earned less than $37,900; highest 10% earned more than $106,840)

Work Environment:

Schools, universities

Job Description:

School psychologists aim to promote a healthy learning environment that focuses on meeting the emotional, social and academic needs of children by collaborating with parents, teachers and students. They consult with families and teachers, evaluate children who need learning accommodations and conduct research into educational issues.

Education Required:

Masters (2 – 3 years of graduate school)

Average Salary:

Average Salary: $54,000

Work Environment:

Athletics, universities, private practice

Job Description:

Sports psychologists apply psychological principles to motivate athletes and improve their performance. Some sports psychologists focus on teaching skills like goal setting and imagery, which can enhance athletic performances. Others counsel patients who suffer from mental health problems like eating disorders or depression by using sports psychology strategies.

Job Outlook

What is the job outlook for psychologists?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2008, there were approximately 170,200 working psychologists in the United States. About 34% of these were self-employed as private practitioners. Around the nation, employment of psychologists is predicted to grow by an average of 12% over the next 10 years, which is on par with the national projected growth for all occupations. Job prospects are expected to be best for psychology graduates with doctoral degrees in an applied specialty such as health or counseling. In particular, the number of clinical, counseling and school psychologists is expected to grow by 11%, while industrial-organizational psychologists will see a 26% surge in growth.

Profession Employment Projected Average Growth

Average Salary Growth 2006 - 2011

Profession 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011

Salary By Percentile

Profession 10th 25th 50th 75th 90th

Education Requirements

How long would it take me to become a psychologist?

The time that it takes to become a psychologist depends on what area of psychology you want to go into. For instance, to become a clinical or counseling psychologist, you must earn a doctoral degree. Doctoral degrees typically take 4 to 7 years of graduate school in addition to your 4-year bachelors degree. And for these professions, you will also need to complete an additional 1 to 2 year internship.

However, in some cases, you might be able to work as a professional psychologist after you earn your masters degree, which usually requires 2 to 3 years of study after the bachelors degree. For example, industrial-organizational psychologists only need a masters degree in psychology to practice. And school psychologists typically need only a 2-year graduate level degree.

Areas of Study

What can I expect to learn while studying psychology?

As a psychology student, you can expect to grow in both knowledge and skills.


Abnormal Psychology

Abnormal psychology is the study of unusual patterns of behavior, emotion or thought. The term abnormal refers to anything that is considered socially unacceptable. Some examples of areas that are studied in abnormal psychology include depression, obsession, compulsion, sexual deviation and eating disorders.

Cognitive Psychology

Cognitive psychology studies mental processes, such as how people think, perceive, remember and learn. It is the branch of psychology that seeks to understand how people acquire, process, and store information. Cognitive psychology methods are used to improve memory, increase accuracy in decision making and enhance learning.

Developmental Psychology

Developmental psychology is the study of how people grow and change physically, socially, emotionally and intellectually as they age. This branch of psychology examines changes in areas like motor skills, problem solving abilities, ethics, language acquisition and self-identity over a person’s lifetime.

Personality Psychology

Personality psychology examines the thoughts, feelings and behavior that make individuals unique. It also addresses personality disorders like paranoia, antisocial behavior and narcissism. For example, personality psychology is used to create personality tests that people take to determine suitable partners and career options.

Social Psychology

Social psychology uses scientific methods to study social influence, perception and interaction. It examines how the way that people think, feel and behave is affected by the thoughts and actions of other people. Social psychology explores topics like behavior, social perception, leadership, nonverbal behavior, conformity and prejudice.


Problem Solving

Psychologists strive to understand and explain human behavior and mental processes. As you study psychology, you will learn how to identify, understand and solve complicated issues by viewing them from a variety of perspectives. You will be trained in different analytical strategies that can help you to apply practical solutions to challenging and complex questions.

Statistical Analysis

As you study your psychology curriculum, you will learn to collect valid data and analyze it to discover what the numbers seek to convey. You will be trained to use statistical tools to interpret data and to understand probability statements. You will also learn statistical procedures and processes.


While studying psychology you will learn how to systematically gather and evaluate information about human experience and behavior. You will receive explicit training in experimental and observational research methods. For example, you can expect to learn methods like surveying and sampling techniques and qualitative analysis.

Professional Communication

Strong written and verbal communication skills are vital for psychologists. In your career, you will speak with patients, colleagues and your patients’ families as you provide treatment. Written communication skills are also important since you will regularly write reports about your patient’s progress and your research findings.

Critical Evaluation

As you progress through your psychology courses, you will gain critical thinking skills that will help you to provide treatment to your patients. You will learn how to question the evidence placed before you rather than jumping to conclusions. You will also learn to critically evaluate the quality of an argument based on logic.

Academic Degrees

What academic levels are available in the field of psychology?

Psychology is a versatile field and not all psychology majors become professional psychologists. Therefore, you can earn every level of undergraduate and graduate psychology degree. Specifically, you can earn psychology degrees at the associates, bachelors, masters and doctoral levels. But keep in mind that you generally need a doctorate to practice and undergraduate degrees have little value in this field.

Select the degree level you are interested in:

  • Associate’s
  • Bachelor’s
  • Master’s
  • Doctorate

Associates Degree

Associates degrees in psychology are not particularly valuable in this field, because the vast majority of psychology jobs require graduate level education. However, an associates degree serves as a basic introduction to the fundamentals.

What are the different types?

Associate of Arts AA

An AA in psychology has liberal arts classes to give you a broad educational background. The AA degree is the best choice if you plan to transfer your credits into a bachelors degree program.

Associate of Science AS

An AS in psychology has science, mathematics and computer classes to give you a technical education. However, the AS is very similar to the AA and can also be used to transfer into most bachelors programs.

How long will I have to study to earn my degree?

An associates degree in psychology generally requires students to complete 60 to 65 credit hours. Most students take about 2 years to complete associates degrees.

What types of courses will I take?

To earn your associates degree in psychology, you will be required to complete introductory courses like developmental psychology and personality theory. You may also take classes in statistics and research methods to prepare you to conduct scientific research.

What types of jobs can I hope to secure?

Most jobs in the field of psychology require graduate level degrees. But, with an associates degree, you might be able to work as a staff member at a residential treatment center, a psychiatric technician at a state mental hospital or an information counselor at a drug or mental health hotline. In order to increase your psychology-related job prospects, you should consider volunteering or doing an internship while studying for your AA or AS.

What about getting an online degree?

A few schools offer psychology associates degrees online. Pursuing an online psychology associates degree has few drawbacks because associates degrees in psychology are simply introductory degrees, which are not particularly valuable in this field. But if you decide to get your degree online, you need to make sure that the online school that you choose to attend awards transferable credits that you can apply toward a bachelors degree program in psychology.

Bachelors Degree

Psychology is the fourth most popular major for undergraduates, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Although a bachelors degree in psychology provides a strong foundation if you want to earn a graduate level degree in psychology, it is generally not enough to qualify you to work as a professional psychologist. But you can use the knowledge and skills that you gain to work in disciplines like sales, customer service or business.

What are the different types?

Bachelor of Arts BA

A BA in psychology offers more liberal arts courses so that you will have an opportunity to explore other disciplines along with psychology. The BA is preferable if you want to continue your studies in graduate school.

Bachelor of Science BS

A BS in psychology has more science and mathematics courses, so you will spend more time learning research methods. The BS is a better choice if you want to start a technical career as soon as you graduate.

How long will I have to study to earn my degree?

A bachelors degree in psychology typically requires students to complete about 120 credit hours. Students are usually able to finish bachelors degrees in 4 years.

What types of courses will I take?

Although exact course requirements will vary by program, most undergraduate psychology programs require students to complete core psychology courses like statistics, experimental psychology and abnormal psychology. You will also get to choose some elective courses, which could include classes like consumer psychology, social processes and human performance.

What types of jobs can I hope to secure?

If you want to work in the field of psychology after completing your bachelors degree, you can become a case manager, career counselor, rehabilitation specialist or psychiatric technician. In addition, a select few bachelors in psychology graduates have the opportunity to work as psychologists for the government, which only requires entry-level psychologists to have a bachelors degree that includes at least 24 semester hours in psychology. But you should be prepared to face stiff competition if you are interested in a government psychology position.

What about getting an online degree?

If you plan on joining the workforce directly after completing your bachelors degree, then pursuing an online psychology bachelors degree may be a viable option. Because a bachelors degree is not research intensive, there is no reason that you cannot learn your course material online. But if you decide to do so, make sure that the online psychology program that you choose is accredited and reputable.

However, if you intend to continue your education to earn a masters or doctorate, you might want to think twice about enrolling in an online psychology school. Admission to a good masters degree program in psychology can be competitive, so graduating with an online psychology bachelors degree will be a disadvantage when you apply to graduate school.

Masters Degree

A masters degree in psychology is a graduate-level degree that will allow you to delve deeper into the field of psychology and broaden your job prospects. Some psychology masters programs offer terminal degrees, which are designed to prepare you for professional practice in your area of specialization. Terminal masters degree programs open the door for psychology jobs in fields like mental health, industrial-organizational psychology and forensic psychology. However, if you want to obtain your doctorate in psychology, you should not enroll in a terminal program because many doctoral programs will not accept those credits.

What are the different types?

Master of Arts MA

The MA in psychology technically focuses on the liberal arts. However, there is no significant difference between the MA degree and the MS.

Master of Science MS

The MS in psychology technically offers a stronger research and science curriculum. But in reality, the MS degree is very similar to the MA.

Education Specialist EdS

An EdS degree applies psychology research to educational settings. The EdS degree is preferable if you want to work in the field of school psychology.

How long will I have to study?

Masters degrees in psychology typically require students to complete 30 to 45 credit hours. Students typically finish masters degree programs in 2 to 3 years.

What types of courses will I take?

As a masters degree student in psychology, most of your classes will be related to the specialization that you choose. But no matter what your specialization is, you will take classes like applied therapeutic techniques, psychological testing, developmental psychology and pathology. In addition, you may be required to write a thesis based on your original research, although some programs allow you to select a non-thesis option.

What types of jobs can I hope to secure?

Although a masters degree opens up more job opportunities than a bachelors degree, your qualifications will still be limited and you will generally work under the supervision of doctorate-level psychologists. However, you can work independently as an industrial-organizational psychologist, a forensic psychologist or a school psychologist. In addition, you will be qualified to work as a social services manager, drug and alcohol specialist, behavioral counselor or child protective services worker.

What should I consider when deciding on a school?

As you choose a school for your masters degree, you should consider your motivation for pursuing this level of education. If you plan to get a job as soon as you graduate, you should look for a school that offers a terminal program in your area of specialization. Terminal degrees prepare you for psychology jobs in specialized fields like mental health, industrial-organizational psychology and forensic psychology.

But if you want to earn your doctorate, you will want to make sure that the program you choose prepares you for admission to a doctoral program. For example, if you are interested in a clinical doctorate program, you should choose a masters program that gives you the most opportunities to gain experience interacting with patients. And if you are interested in a research-based doctorate program, you should choose a masters program that focuses on psychological research.

What are the requirements for admission?

In addition to the general admissions requirements for graduate school, most programs require that you major or minor in psychology during your undergraduate education.

What about getting an online degree?

Pursuing an online psychology masters degree is not a wise decision for a variety of reasons. For example, it will be extremely difficult to conduct research and gain practical counseling experience in an online program. In addition, you will need strong letters of recommendation from your professors if you want to apply to a doctoral program in psychology. It is much easier to foster strong relationships with your professors in person that it is through an online school. Even so, if you still want to get your psychology masters degree online, you should make sure that your program is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). APA accreditation will be essential if you decide to transfer to a clinical, counseling or school psychology program for your doctorate.


An overwhelming majority of psychology professions require you to get a doctoral degree, which is the highest level of education that is available in this field. A doctorate in psychology is the only degree that will allow you to open your own private practice and work as a professional psychologist.

What are the different types?

Doctor of Philosophy PhD

Psychology PhD programs focus heavily on theoretical research. A PhD is a good option whether you plan to practice professionally or you want to teach and conduct research.

Doctor of Psychology PsyD

PsyD programs are practice-oriented, so they focus less on research than PhD programs. The PsyD is the best choice if you want to open your own practice.

Doctor of Education EdD

EdD programs are similar to PhD programs, but they emphasize educational research. The EdD is ideal if you want to work as a school psychologist or in educational policy development.

How long will I have to study?

The amount of time it will take you to complete your doctorate depends on a variety of factors such as the type of degree you are pursuing, your educational background and the specific doctoral program that you are enrolled in. However, generally speaking you must complete 90 to 120 credit hours to earn a psychology doctorate. Most students complete their doctoral degrees in 4 to 7 years.

What types of courses?

As you pursue your doctoral degree, you can look forward to taking specialized courses in your concentration. Even so, most programs will require all students to take courses in behavioral analysis, clinical practice techniques, statistics and research design. You should also keep in mind that some doctoral programs in psychology require you to participate in personal psychotherapy. Finally, you should expect to spend several years writing a dissertation based on your original academic research. You will also be required to complete internships in your area of psychology.

What types of jobs can I hope to secure?

With a doctorate, you can work in virtually any field of psychology, from clinical and forensic psychology to teaching and conducting research at colleges and universities. However, a psychology degree will not limit you to this particular field. With this degree, you will be a strong candidate for any job where an understanding of the human psyche is beneficial, such as sales, market research or business management.

What should I consider when deciding on a school?

No matter what your concentration is, it is important that your school’s psychology program is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). The APA accredits clinical, counseling and school psychology programs. Many states require that students have a degree from an APA-accredited program in order to be eligible to earn a professional license, which you need to work as a psychologist.

What are the requirements for admission?

Getting into a doctorate program can be challenging because the admissions process is very competitive. However, it is important to note that a masters degree is not necessary to apply to a doctoral program in psychology. Many doctoral programs accept students who have just finished their undergraduate studies. But you need to have a background in psychology, statistics and mathematics to be considered for admission with just a bachelors degree.

What about getting an online doctorate?

Although some schools offer online psychology doctorates, there are a couple of reasons that you should not pursue this option if you want to be taken seriously as a professional. First, doctoral programs require heavy research and clinical experiences, which are difficult to manage through online psychology programs. Next, there are currently no online psychology doctorate programs that are accredited by the American Psychological Association. That means that after you graduate with an online doctorate, you will still be unable to get a license to practice in many states.

Licensing Information

What else should I keep in mind when considering studying psychology?

Professional Licensing

As you study psychology, keep in mind that if you want to open up your own practice, you will need to be licensed. Therefore, you need to pay attention to the licensing requirements in your state. You can either contact the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards or your state’s licensing board for information on state-specific licensing laws.

Although some requirements vary by state, all states require that psychologists pass a state licensing exam. But before you can take that exam, you need to complete an approved internship, which consists of 3,000 hours, or about 1 to 2 years, of supervised professional experience. In addition, some states also require psychologists to take a number of continuing education courses to renew their license.

School psychologists can also earn specialized professional certification from the National Association of School Psychologists. In addition to passing the National School Psychology Examination, you must earn 60 graduate credit hours in school and a complete a 1,200 hour supervised internship.

Questions & Answers

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What are some other resources that can help me learn more about pursuing a degree in psychology?

Bureau of Labor Statistics – Psychologists

American Psychological Association (APA)

Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards

Association for Psychological Science

American Board of Professional Psychology

American Psychoanalytic Association

National Association of School Psychologists

Psi Chi – The International Honor Society in Psychology

Encyclopedia of Psychology

Pysch Web – Comprehensive Psychology Information for Students and Teachers