Online Psychology Degrees

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Ever wonder why people act, think, or feel the way they do?

Are you always the person that someone leans on during a crisis? Do you have a knack for empathizing and finding solutions to a problem?

Some people are born with a passion for helping others, and if this sounds like you, then an online degree in psychology may be the perfect choice to make a difference with your future career!

Psychology Careers and Salaries

Psychology is a unique field that offers a wide range of career opportunities, and there are countless options to customize your online psychology degree program so that it works for you.  Before beginning, it is beneficial to have a clear understanding of your future goals so you can concentrate on the courses throughout the program that will best suit your career choice.

In order to give you a better picture of the options available to you in the field of psychology, we have put together a list of some of the most popular careers and their mean salaries:

Job Title Job Summary

Mean Salary

Psychiatrist Type of medical doctor who evaluates, diagnoses, and treats patients with mental health disorders.

$209,861

Clinical Psychologist Often works in a private practice to treat clients with various forms of therapy.

$80,559

Forensic Psychologist Provides a psychological perspective for insurance claims, abuse accusations, and various legal cases.

$70,031

Genetics Counselor Offers support and guidance to families or individuals that are at risk of a genetic disorder.

$73,138

Marriage & Family Therapist Provides insight and guidance to families or couples in order to solve relationship issues.

$56,870

*Job and salary data provided by Payscale.com

From reading through the above chart, you may have noticed the large variance in the mean salaries for the different careers. This is largely due to the amount of schooling required for the individual job. Within the psychology field, often the more education you have, the better the outlook for a higher rate of pay!

Types of Online Psychology Degrees

Most people are used to the standard time-frame for the various degree programs. For example, an associate’s degree generally takes two years to complete while a bachelor’s degree is approximately four years. While this can hold true to an extent with online psychology degree programs, they have much more flexibility to achieve your goals at a faster pace. You can often choose to take a heavier course load, register for accelerated courses, or even ask your college about credits by examination or for your life experience.

When pursuing an online psychology degree, it is also important to keep in mind the differences in the type of degree that you choose. Most colleges offer psychology degree programs in both the arts and science tracks.

For example, if you choose to enroll in a bachelor’s of arts (B.A.) Psychology program, you are likely more interested in therapeutic career paths. A bachelor’s of science (B.S.) Psychology degree, on the other hand, will be geared towards scientific paths such as medical school or health-related graduate programs.

Online Associates Degree in Psychology

When you need a basic introduction into the world of psychology to start your educational journey or enhance your current career, an online associate’s degree may be a good place to start!

There are several broad areas of psychology that you can expect to study throughout the associate’s degree program, including an emphasis on the following topics:

  • Psychology through various developmental stages
  • Examination of major human relations issues
  • Understanding the relationship between the environment and behavior
  • Critical thinking
  • Written and oral communication skills
  • In-depth look at personality development

Most online associate’s psychology degree programs are working towards building your foundation within the field. After completing this program, you will likely find it very easy to transfer into a bachelor’s program in order to continue your education.

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology

Earning an online bachelor’s degree in psychology is the most common starting point for someone looking to enter into the field. While an associate’s degree will get your feet wet, a bachelor’s degree will open more doors when it comes to your future career paths.

Throughout the course of your online bachelor’s degree program, you will begin to look deeper into the science of psychology and its influence on society. You will also have the opportunity to start looking towards the future and choose a specialized concentration.

A few of the many topics that you may cover throughout this online psychology degree program include:

  • Professional communication skills
  • Strategies for conflict resolution
  • Ethics and legal considerations within the field
  • Broader understanding of cultural and religious influences
  • Mass media and society

Earning your online bachelor’s degree in Psychology will allow you to either jump right into the workforce or seamlessly transition to a graduate program. Some of the common careers associated with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology include case management, intake counseling, and social work.

Online Master’s Degree in Psychology

An online master’s degree in Psychology allows you to build upon your previous education by specializing in a concentration that supports your future goals. These concentrations may include sports psychology, child and adolescent development, forensic psychology, and clinical counseling.

While courses for an online master’s degree will vary based upon the specific psychology degree you are pursuing, some of the common topics that will be covered include the following:

  • Quantitative reasoning and analysis
  • Research theory and methods
  • In-depth look at cognitive bases of behavior
  • Concentration-specific courses
  • Accelerated graduate courses to prepare for Ph.D. program

To successfully complete your master’s degree in Psychology, you will likely be required to do an internship or residency program, even if you are pursuing an online degree. These mandatory courses allow you interact directly with faculty and classmates to further develop your skills.

Online Doctorate Degree in Psychology

In the psychology field, having a doctorate degree maximizes your career options and your long-term salary. Regardless of your chosen specialization, having a doctorate will allow you to utilize your knowledge in a way that directly helps clients in a variety of professional settings.

There are two general options for doctorate programs in Psychology – a Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (Ph.D.) or a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D). If you have dreams of a research or administration based career, a Ph.D. will be your best option. A Psy.D, on the other hand, focuses on treating clients in a clinical setting.

The courses involved with an online doctorate degree in Psychology vary widely, as they are geared specifically towards your chosen specialization. There are several stages of the doctoral program that are common to many universities offering psychology degrees online, and these include:

  • Online courses with a focus on real-world scenarios
  • In-person (or virtual) residencies
  • Academic Year in Residence (AYR) in certain concentrations
  • Opportunities for challenging fieldwork
  • Dissertation development

Earning an online doctorate degree in Psychology is a major accomplishment and a crowning achievement for years of diligent work. There are several career options available to you once you have a Ph.D. behind your name, including becoming a professor, researcher, or a political or business strategist.

Psychology Career Outlook and Salary Information

If you are at the beginning of your educational journey, you are likely wondering about the longevity of the career options within the field of psychology. With any career, there is an ebb and flow to the demand of that specific field and psychology is no different. Luckily, with the increase in technology and development of new psychological career paths, the future is looking bright!

For example, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment outlook for general psychologists is expected to grow 3% between 2019 and 2029 – about as fast as the average for all occupations. With the increasing awareness of mental health concerns, the demand for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists is projected to grow due to greater demand in schools, hospitals, mental health centers, and social service agencies.

With the nature of the psychology field, the more education you have, the better your chances at building a thriving career. Working towards an advanced degree is recommended in order to keep your options open in a competitive job market.

Check out our comprehensive list of the Top 40 Psychology Careers & Salaries to learn more.

Is an Online Degree in Psychology Right for Me?

Times have changed, and over the last several decades, online schooling has become a popular choice for pursuing a higher education. With the flexibility to work around your busy schedule, taking psychology classes online can be a great fit for working students or those with family obligations.

Earning a psychology degree through an online program has several benefits that make it an attractive choice for a wide-range of students, including:

  • Convenient scheduling options
  • The ability to interact in unique ways with classmates and instructors
  • Access to online psychology resources
  • The ability to easily advance your degree

…. and so much more!

So, what are you waiting for?

With over 3 million students currently participating in full-time online degree programs, there is no better time to start working your way toward the psychology career of your dreams!

Comparing Top Psychology Degree Programs

After taking an in-depth look at the various aspects of earning an online psychology degree, now you need to start looking at which university will best suit your needs!

With the increased demand for online degree programs, many of the top-tier schools are jumping on board to better serve their students – and that is great news for you! However, you also need to be aware of “degree mill” programs that are taking advantage of the demand for online degrees.

To help you understand what to look for in an online university, below we will discuss a few of the key factors to keep in mind.

Accreditation

The term accreditation is used a great deal when discussing online universities, and if you are wondering what it means, you aren’t alone! In basic terms, accreditation is the process through which colleges and universities are reviewed for their academic quality and financial resources.

There are six regional accreditation agencies that are endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education, but there are other agencies that look at individual graduate psychology programs for an added level of quality (specific to the field of psychology).

Some of the agency names you may come across include:

By closely examining the accreditation and reputation of your chosen university before beginning your online degree program, you can save yourself a lot of trouble in the long-run!

Student to Faculty Ratio

Even in a fully-online degree program, having a low student to faculty ratio is essential to your success. Virtual classrooms still require a great deal of interaction between you and the professor. If the ratio is too high, it may be difficult for the instructor to provide the individualized support and attention you need (and deserve). By seeking out a college that emphasizes a low student to faculty ratio, you are setting yourself up for a successful educational journey!

When discussing the faculty of a college, it is important to make mention of the credentials of the instructors employed by the institution. Take time to check out the websites of your prospective schools and focus on their “Faculty” section. Here you will be able to get a picture of the professional accomplishments of the instructors who will be leading your online courses.

After all, if you are working hard to earn your degree in Psychology, you want to ensure that you are being taught by experts in the field!

Academic Advising and Student Services

There is more to a university than the classes themselves! Having the academic support of your school can play a big role in the success of both on-campus and online students. There are several things a school can do to stand out from the crowd when it comes to student support, including:

  • Mentoring with those in your psychology specialization
  • Online bookstores
  • Interactive online tools to connect with mentors and classmates
  • Availability of internship and residency programs
  • Online tutoring
  • Advisement staff for career and course counseling

Choosing to pursue one of the many online Psychology degrees being offered by accredited universities is a big decision that can come with great rewards.

Whether you are looking for an associate’s program to enhance your current career, or you plan on taking your education all the way to a Ph.D., the field of psychology has a wide range of options available.

If you take into consideration your long-term goals and work with a reputable university, the sky is the limit when it comes to achieving professional success with an online Psychology degree!

Ready to start your journey?
Elizabeth Abner
WRITTEN BY Elizabeth Abner

Elizabeth is pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in Foreign Policy and earned her master's degree in business administration. For her undergraduate studies, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a concentration in international business. Elizabeth's research is focused on universities offering online degree programs.