Online Psychology Courses | TheBestSchools
Updated September 1, 2022 • 6 min read
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Students can take online psychology courses to explore the field, learn new skills, or prepare for formal degree programs. These courses come in flexible formats and often at no cost.
Free online psychology courses offer a great way to broaden your knowledge and explore new ideas about human behavior. The classes use flexible, self-paced formats, making it easy for busy learners to advance. Online psychology courses are suitable for current psychology majors, prospective students, or individuals with a general interest in psychology.
Online psychology courses also offer opportunities to:
- Earn a certificate of completion
- Explore topics that benefit your mental health
- Network and meet new people
Classes come in free or paid formats and commonly explore:
- Social psychology
- Emotional intelligence
- Stress and anxiety management
- Forensic psychology and criminal justice
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
This guide to online psychology courses can offer a great starting place. Keep reading to explore how these classes work and where you can enroll.
Free Online Psychology Courses
Free psychology classes from the established providers discussed in this section offer a high-level introduction to the discipline. These courses do not lead to college credits but can help you prepare for future studies.
As one of the world's largest free online learning platforms, Alison offers nearly 50 psychology classes developed by industry leaders and experienced professionals. Most classes take 1.5-3 hours to complete, with some more intensive sequences lasting up to 10 hours in total. Each course uses an asynchronous, self-paced delivery format with a personalized knowledge dashboard, allowing users to track their progress.
- Beating Depression
- Hidden Secrets of Psychology
- Fundamentals of Emotional States and Processes
edX partners with over 160 colleges and universities to provide free online learning experiences to students across the globe. Some courses were originally taught at institutions like the University of Queensland and the University of California, Berkeley. edX's free psychology classes explore abnormal psychology, child development, and mental health. Most of the self-paced courses last around eight weeks. An enrollee can receive a verified certificate for an additional fee.
- Introduction to Social Psychology
- Developmental Psychology
- Empathy and Emotional Intelligence at Work
Harvard University offers free online psychology courses on an intuitive learning platform where learners can engage with content on their own time. Each introductory class requires 2-4 hours of study per week for up to seven weeks and is taught by renowned university faculty. Like other providers, Harvard does not charge for these courses. Interested learners can pay for certificates of completion.
- The Science of Corresponding With Busy People
- The Path to Happiness
MIT maintains a massive archive of past courses, including material from over 2,500 high-quality graduate and undergraduate classes. Its psychology and cognitive science courses include recorded video lectures with captions, self-administered exams, and instructor-developed lecture notes. They are available to the general public at no cost. Some come with free online textbooks and built-in assessment tools.
- Neuroscience of Morality
- Human Memory and Learning
- Psychology of Gender
Yale University uses a flexible and intuitive web interface to house previous course content. Self-paced learners can audit classes taught by Yale faculty and expert practitioners. The lecture-driven material provided by the Yale's Department of Psychology includes 75-minute talks on introductory and advanced topics. Students can also access past syllabi, assigned readings, and other course materials to advance their psychology knowledge.
- Introduction to Psychology
- The Psychology, Biology, and Politics of Food
The free online psychology courses at the University of Oxford use a podcast format with audio and video options. Class offerings focus on comparative and experimental psychology, self-help, and social psychology. Students can access course materials at any time and engage with lectures from established scientists and researchers. All course content includes closed captioning and other assistive tools.
- Managing Stress and Overcoming Anxiety
- The Science of Mindfulness
- Overcoming Mistrust and Paranoia
Paid Online Psychology Courses
Similar to free courses, paid online psychology classes do not confer college credit. However, the fee provides a certificate of completion and, in some cases, continued access to course content. Many of the following platforms offer discounts and promotions for their online psychology courses.
Online psychology courses at Class Central come optimized for students at beginner, intermediate, and advanced learning levels. The platform partners with prominent colleges and universities and other education providers, offering quality course experiences that typically last 3-15 weeks, depending on the topic. Most classes offer self-paced delivery. Pricing varies by course and provider, with some discounts and payment plan options available.
- Psychological First Aid
- What Is a Mind?
- Social Psychology
Over 82 million learners worldwide use Coursera to develop new skills, explore specializations, or complete degrees. The California-based platform currently offers hundreds of courses in psychology and popular subfields like child psychology and cognitive science. Each class is 100% online, with flexible deadlines to accommodate more students. Many of these psychology classes offer free enrollment, but some require payment for a certificate of completion.
- Buddhism and Modern Psychology
- Positive Psychology
- Addiction Treatment: Clinical skills for Healthcare Providers
This subscription-based service features fully online psychology courses that last up to eight weeks. The classes are taught by established instructors and experienced educators from international institutions. Each course includes multiple start dates with built-in tools for progress tracking and collaboration throughout. Most classes require 2-4 hours of outside study time per week. A free, seven-day trial grants new students access to most experiences, after which the platform charges an annual fee.
- Forensic Psychology
- Professional Resilience: Building Skills to Thrive at Work
- Introduction to Cognitive Psychology
Udemy frequently offers discounts and promotions for its psychology classes to accommodate learners from varying backgrounds and circumstances. Enrolled students earn certificates after completing classes and enjoy lifetime access to course content. The platform uses on-demand videos to deliver material. Each class comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Additional tools include practice tests, self-guided quizzes, and course-specific readings.
- Introduction to Criminal Psychology
- Child Psychology
- Transactional Analysis: Psychotherapy and Counseling
Next Steps for Your Psychology Education
Individuals who enjoy taking free online psychology courses can pursue psychology degrees. Earning an online bachelor's in psychology will take time, but it can lead to fulfilling careers in counseling, social work, or human services.
You can start even more competitive careers by obtaining a master's degree or doctorate in psychology. Both options feature specializations in areas like psychotherapy, education, and clinical psychology.
Common Questions About Online Psychology Courses
Are There Certificate Courses for Psychology?
Yes. Most online learning providers offer certificates of completion for their online psychology courses. Depending on the platform, you may need to pay a fee for the credential.
How Long Is an Online Psychology Degree?
An online bachelor's in psychology generally takes full-time students four years to complete. However, degree timelines depend on your background and degree level. The best online psychology degrees offer accommodating pathways with accelerated options that can significantly reduce your time in school.
Can I Get a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology Online?
Yes. Many top-ranked colleges and universities offer undergraduate psychology degrees online with options for busy learners and working professionals.
Blake Huggins is a Boston-based writer and researcher with roots in north Texas and southern Oklahoma. He holds degrees in religion and philosophy and writes widely on higher education, healthcare, and the humanities broadly conceived. He earned a PhD from Boston University and has taught college courses in philosophy, writing, and composition.
Reviewed by: Megan Pietrucha, Psy.D.
Megan Pietrucha, Psy.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist who currently practices in the Chicago area. She holds a bachelor's in psychology from Illinois Wesleyan University and a master's and doctorate in clinical psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University. Her clinical interests include the treatment of eating and body image concerns, college student and student-athlete mental health, mood disorders, health and wellness, mindfulness, sport and performance psychology, and consultation. In addition to her clinical work, Dr. Pietrucha has served as the training director for an APA-accredited internship program and has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in psychology. She has also worked with high school and college athletes and teams, as well as recreational fitness programs, to provide mental skills training for athletic performance and fitness adherence.
Header Image Credit: Halfpoint Images | Getty Images
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