Best Online Psychology Degrees 2021

| TBS Staff

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A bachelor's degree in psychology qualifies graduates for many in-demand jobs, like substance abuse counselors and behavioral disorder counselors.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the demand for these psychology jobs to grow 22% between 2018 and 2028 — much faster than the national average for all occupations.

Students pursuing an online bachelor of psychology take courses on topics like abnormal psychology, human development, and school psychology. Earning this degree builds critical thinking and research skills, and students also explore areas like social, emotional, and behavioral psychology.

The flexibility of an online psychology degree track lets students balance their studies with professional and personal responsibilities. It also allows learners to attend the best psychology schools in the country without needing to relocate. This guide ranks the best online schools for psychology in addition to providing information on common courses and potential careers and salaries for graduates.

Top 10 Online Bachelor's Programs in Psychology 2021
#1 University of Florida Gainesville, FL
#2 Florida International University Miami, FL
#3 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL
#4 Eastern Washington University Cheney, WA
#5 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH
#6 Northwestern State University of Louisiana Natchitoches, LA
#7 Lincoln Christian University Lincoln, IL
#8 University of Louisiana at Monroe Monroe, LA
#9 Trine University Fort Wayne, IN
#10 Fort Hays State University Hays, KS

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Choosing an Online Bachelor of Psychology Degree Program

Prospective students researching online psychology programs should consider several factors — such as cost, available specializations, and a school's reputation — to find the best online psychology degree that matches their interests and professional goals. For example, students planning to earn a master's or doctorate in psychology may prefer a program with a strong reputation in terms of its graduate placements.

In-state, public schools typically offer the lowest tuition costs. However, many out-of-state, public schools offer tuition discounts to online learners. An online psychology program that accepts transfer credits can also save students time and money on their online psychology degree.

Students should also research whether a program offers specializations aligned with their career goals. Potential specializations include abnormal psychology, social psychology, and school psychology.

Many psychology careers require a graduate degree. After completing a bachelor's degree in psychology, graduates can consider enrolling in one of the best online master's programs in psychology.

What Will I Learn in an Online Bachelor of Psychology Program?

The curriculum of an online psychology degree covers topics like behavioral development, the influence of social context over behavior, and mental health disorders. The following list outlines several common online bachelor of psychology courses.

  • Psychological Foundations of Learning: This course introduces key concepts in human development, including the cognitive, social, and emotional development of children. Students explore research related to the most effective teaching methods, educational practices, and environments to encourage student learning. The course may incorporate a field experience that allows learners to directly observe child development and educational practices.
  • Social Psychology: Social psychology explores the way social context influences people's thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. Students learn about the role of social influence on group behavior and how social environments shape behavioral attributes like aggression and attraction. Students also explore gender norms and apply social psychology research to practical problems, preparing for psychology positions like industrial-organizational psychologists and social psychologists.
  • Physiological Psychology: This class covers the connection between the brain and human behaviors, feelings, and thoughts. Students examine the role of neurons in the central nervous system and how neuron communications shape behavior and the understanding of mental health disorders. The course may also cover the influences of biological psychology, gender, and culture on physiological psychology. The class prepares students for advanced courses in neuropsychology and related fields.
  • Abnormal Psychology: Abnormal psychology courses explore the causes and treatments of mental health disorders. Students learn how psychologists classify mental health disorders and how classifications evolve over time. Learners also study various treatments for mental health disorders. The course may survey disorders like addictive disorders, eating disorders, and personality disorders. Coursework emphasizes critical thinking, psychology theory, and clinical practice.
  • Behavioral Psychology: This course examines the mind-behavior connection. Learners study the development of behavior across the lifespan, various behavioral disorders and treatments, and behavioral research. Students also examine the assessment and diagnosis of common behavioral disorders. Additionally, students learn how to design and implement a behavioral research project. Some behavioral psychology courses incorporate a lab or practicum. The course prepares graduates for research careers and graduate study.

Accreditation for Online Bachelor of Psychology Degrees

When researching prospective schools, students should look at an institution's accreditation status. Degrees from non-accredited schools may not meet licensure and certification requirements, and many graduate programs only admit students with an accredited undergraduate degree. To earn accreditation, schools submit to a voluntary review from an independent accrediting agency, which assesses the institution's faculty qualifications, graduation requirements, and student learning outcomes.

Colleges may receive national or regional accreditation, with regional accreditation considered the more prestigious of the two. Programs within a school can also receive specialized accreditation. While no programmatic accrediting agencies exist for bachelor of psychology programs, several agencies accredit graduate psychology programs, such as the American Psychological Association Commission on Accreditation, the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System, and the National Association of School Psychologists.

Psychology Jobs

A bachelor's degree in psychology prepares graduates for diverse psychology positions, such as substance abuse counselors and behavioral counselors. With additional education, graduates can become psychologists or psychology professors. Learn more about what you can do with a psychology degree by visiting this link.

Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists
Median Salary: $50,090 Projected Job Growth: 22%

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists help clients manage mental health disorders and life challenges. Marriage and family therapists help couples and families process changes and cope with difficult situations. Mental health counselors treat individuals and groups dealing with issues like anxiety, depression, and stress. These professionals may specialize in working with specific populations, such as children or the elderly.

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists need a master's degree to practice. As with many psychology careers, they also need a professional license.

Substance Abuse Counselors and Behavioral Disorder Counselors
Median Salary: $44,630 Projected Job Growth: 22%

Substance abuse counselors and behavioral disorder counselors help people struggling with substance use and behavioral disorders. They meet with clients to evaluate their mental and physical health and create customized treatment plans. Through counseling, they help clients modify their behavior and develop new skills.

In addition to providing counseling services, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors may refer clients to support services and lead outreach programs to educate the public on destructive behaviors. These professionals typically need a bachelor's degree.

Psychologists
Median Salary: $79,010 Projected Job Growth: 14%

Psychologists observe and interpret people's behavior to understand their cognitive and emotional processes and diagnose and treat disorders. Psychologists may specialize in several areas, such as clinical psychology, which focuses on diagnosing and treating mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. Psychologists may also specialize in an area like criminal behavior or student learning.

Many psychologists need a doctorate, but school and industrial-organizational psychologists only need a master's degree.

Postsecondary Teachers
Median Salary: $78,470 Projected Job Growth: 11%

Postsecondary teachers — also known as professors — educate college students. Psychology professors teach undergraduate and graduate classes on topics like human development, behavioral disorders, and abnormal psychology. They design syllabi, prepare and deliver lectures, and assess student learning through examinations and papers.

In addition to teaching, professors may conduct research and publish their findings in academic journals. They may also present research at conferences and serve on academic committees. Most tenure-track professor jobs require a doctoral degree. However, postsecondary teachers with a master's degree can sometimes work as adjuncts or at community colleges.

Psychology Professional Organizations

Professional organizations help psychology students and professionals connect with colleagues, stay up-to-date in the field, and transition from a bachelor's track to graduate school or the workforce.

The leading professional organization for psychology, APA represents over 120,000 researchers, educators, practitioners, and students. APA publishes research on the profession, hosts 54 topical divisions, and provides news and trends in the field.

The association's career resources help psychology students understand the requirements for different psychology career paths. APA also accredits doctorate-level psychology programs, setting the standards for quality education in the field.
A professional association for clinical mental health counselors, AMHCA provides education, training, and professional development resources. The association offers an exclusive job board, publishes the Journal of Mental Health Counseling, and hosts webinars. AHMCA also offers credentials for independently licensed clinical mental health counselors.

Members receive access to continuing education opportunities, a subscription to AMHCA's magazine and research journal, and discounts on conferences and webinars. The association offers membership discounts to students.
APS represents and advocates for researchers, educators, and practitioners of psychological science. The association publishes research in several journals, including Psychological Science, Current Directions in Psychological Science, and Clinical Psychological Science.

APS also encourages connections between members through an annual convention and a members-only online directory. Members can access the APS Employment Network, which posts job openings, and receive subscriptions to all APS scholarly journals and the Observer magazine.

The Best Online Bachelor's in Psychology Degree Programs

University of Florida View School Profile $$ Gainesville, FL 88% 24% 50% AccreditationUniversity of Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

UF's online bachelor of arts in psychology is a five-semester program. The curriculum includes core coursework in general psychology, biological science, statistics, and math. Additionally, students must choose electives in subjects like developmental changes, learning and cognition, or biological bases.

To pass, students must earn a 2.0 or better in all major classes and maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5. Applicants must hold a high school diploma or GED and earn a "C" grade average. If you graduated high school within the last five years, you must submit SAT or ACT scores.

Florida International University View School Profile $ Miami, FL 58% 34% 65% AccreditationFlorida International University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

FIU's research-based online bachelor's degree in psychology requires students to complete 120 credits. Among FIU's most popular undergraduate majors, the psychology curriculum reflects the latest trends in psychotherapy. Graduates are qualified to pursue careers in human resources, social services, and statistical analysis.

Students may complete a culminating independent research project or field experience. FIU offers fall, spring, and summer start dates. Applicants must submit high school transcripts and SAT or ACT scores.

University of Central Florida View School Profile $$ Orlando, FL 73% 39% 57% AccreditationUniversity of Central Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

UCF enrolls nearly 72,000 students annually and offers more than 230 programs across 13 colleges, including a bachelor's degree in psychology.

UCF's bachelor of science in psychology offers students several specialization tracks, including clinical, experimental, industrial/organizational, human factors, or neuroscience concentrations. The 120-credit program explores foundational terminology, physiology, and research and statistical methods used in psychology.

Students can opt to complete a field experience or capstone project. Graduates often pursue careers as counselors, mental healthcare providers, or human resources administrators.

Eastern Washington University View School Profile $$ Cheney, WA 44% 67% 28% AccreditationEastern Washington University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

Founded in 1882, EWU enrolls more than 12,000 students annually at its main campus in Cheney and online. Students can choose from more than 150 academic programs, including a bachelor of science in health psychology.

EWU's psychology program is offered entirely online. The curriculum explores how cultural, behavioral, and psychological factors can affect a person's physical well-being. The program comprises 67-68 credits, depending on which courses you take. Requirements include an internship, seminar, or directed study course, culminating in a capstone or senior thesis.

Enrollees may start in the fall, winter, spring, or summer term. EWU offers set, per-credit tuition rates for online learners, regardless of the student's state of residence.

Southern New Hampshire University View School Profile Manchester, NH 54% 68% 93% AccreditationSouthern New Hampshire Univeristy is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

Founded in 1932, SNHU enrolls more than 135,000 students online and over 3,000 on its campuses in Manchester, Nashua, and Salem, New Hampshire, every year.

SNHU's online bachelor of arts in psychology allows students to pursue one of six concentrations: addictions, applied psychology, child and adolescent development, forensic psychology, mental health, or social psychology. The 120-credit program also features an embedded certificate in data literacy.

SNHU accepts applications on a rolling basis for enrollment in one of six annual online terms. Applicants do not need to submit SAT or ACT scores or pay an application fee. SNHU charges a set, per-credit tuition rate for online learners, regardless of where they live.

Northwestern State University of Louisiana View School Profile $$ Natchitoches, LA 45% 63% 81% AccreditationNorthwestern State University of Lousiana is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Established in 1884, NSU occupies Louisiana's oldest site continually used for higher education. By contrast, the university's electronic campus, eNSU, is the first and largest in the state.

NSU offers its online psychology degree through the eNSU global campus. The program comprises 120 credits in core psychology, humanities, and elective coursework. Students can explore a concentration in substance abuse counseling or prevention through elective courses. The school also offers a major in addiction studies.

Applicants must submit official high school or previous college transcripts, SAT or ACT scores, and immunization records. NSU charges a flat tuition rate for online students, regardless of their residence location.

Lincoln Christian University View School Profile Lincoln, IL 71% 59% 45% AccreditationLincoln Christian University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Founded as a Bible college in 1944, LCU now offers dozens of graduate, undergraduate, and seminary programs. The university enrolls nearly 1,000 students on campus and online.

LCU's online bachelor's degree in psychology explores the anatomy and functions of the human brain and psychology from a Christian perspective. The curriculum includes courses in lifespan developmental psychology, personality theory, and psychology and religion.

Applicants must submit high school or college transcripts with a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or better. Freshman applicants age 22 or younger must also submit SAT or ACT scores.

University of Louisiana at Monroe View School Profile $ Monroe, LA 44% 40% 34% AccreditationUniversity of Lousiana at Monroe is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

ULM enrolls more than 9,000 students every year, from 39 states and 47 countries. Students can choose from nearly 35 degrees offered entirely online, including a bachelor of arts in psychology.

ULM's psychology program requires students to complete 120 credits over four years. The curriculum includes general education courses, required psychology classes, and several electives. Courses explore research methods, statistics, and physiology. The online psychology degree culminates with a capstone course.

Online students follow an accelerated schedule comprising eight-week courses. ULM assigns a set, per-credit tuition rate for online learners, regardless of their residence location.

Trine University View School Profile Fort Wayne, IN 63% 55% 93% AccreditationTrine University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Trine University offers more than 20 degrees and professional programs, including online programs through TrineOnline. Enrollees enjoy unlimited access to academic tutors and library and career services.

Trine's bachelor of science in psychology covers psychology, sociology, and interpersonal communication courses, totaling 120 credits. Students can choose from subject area concentration coursework in clinical core, social/cognitive core, and developmental core areas. The online psychology degree requires a clinical internship or capstone.

Each course in the online program lasts eight weeks. Students may enroll full or part time. TrineOnline students pay a set, per-credit tuition rate, regardless of their state of residence.

Fort Hays State University View School Profile $$ Hays, KS 44% 39% 83% AccreditationFort Hays State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Founded in 1902, FHSU enrolls nearly 16,000 students annually, including nearly 7,000 through FHSU Online. Students can choose from hundreds of programs across five schools and colleges, including a BA and BS program in psychology, with both degrees offered entirely online. It is one of the best schools for psychology majors.

Both of FHSU's psychology programs require students to complete 124 credits. Curricula cover the science of psychology, psychology as a profession, and neuropsychology. Students pursuing the BA must take additional foreign language classes, while those in the BS program will need to take a few more math and science courses.

FHSU's program is designed with flexibility in mind and allows students to enroll in 3-18 credits per semester. Online enrollees pay a set, per-credit tuition rate, regardless of where they live.

Online Bachelor's in Psychology Programs Ranking Guidelines

We selected the following degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

The motto of TheBestSchools.org is Finding the best school for you. Here is how we do it:

The value of any ranking list of schools and/or degree programs depends on having a methodologically sound assessment of each school’s/program’s characteristics, especially insofar as these can be objectively measured. A college or university is a complex entity, with numerous factors to consider, and distilling these down to the place where meaningful comparisons can be made to form a defensible ranking list becomes part science and part art.

To meet this challenge—and thereby provide you with the most useful and insightful educational rankings on the Internet — TheBestSchools.org formulates our rankings based on five informational categories (six, when considering online schools). The major metrics and qualities for which we rank are these (with expanded, detailed considerations and weights listed):

1. Academic excellence based on a school’s curriculum generally or within the selected discipline [weight = 25%]

  • Weighs school against known leading schools in that discipline
  • Weighs number of core curricula listed as advanced courses within that discipline and compares against introductory courses
  • Weighs school’s curriculum against known knowledge needs of major employers in that discipline
  • Considers number and types of specializations offered within that discipline
  • Considers faculty expertise in that discipline
  • Considers range of electives within that discipline
  • Considers quality of online environment offered to students (if applicable), particularly within that discipline

2. Strength of faculty scholarship [weight = 25%]

  • Considers education background of the faculty
  • Considers years of faculty experience both inside and outside of academia.
  • Considers faculty membership and leadership within relevant, prominent associations
  • Considers academic papers published by faculty in relevant, prominent periodicals
  • Considers awards and recognitions given to faculty members from prominent organizations and from other sources

3. Reputation [weight = 20%]

  • Considers a school’s reputation among academic peers and employers regarding the following:
    • Faculty
    • Curriculum
    • “Freshness” of academic knowledge
    • Adaptability to changes in employment sectors
    • Suitability of graduates for the workplace

4. Financial aid [weight = 10%]

  • Mandatory: Requires full accreditation from an agency endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education and listed on the federal register to accept student federal financial aid
  • Considers range of school-sponsored financial aid such as scholarships and grants

5. Range of degree programs [weight = 20%]

  • Considers range of degree levels: associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral and professional
  • Considers range of degree subjects offered, such as art & design, computers & technology, education & teaching, criminal justice, and business

6. Strength of online instruction methodology (if applicable) [weight = 25%; subtract 5% from each of the above for online schools/programs]

  • Considers the following of the online classes:
    • Types of online technology used to deliver content
    • Pedagogy style: asynchronous, synchronous, or both (depending on the degree)
    • Extent and quality of the online, community learning environment, including options for communication, interactivity, and collaboration between students and also between students and instructors
    • Variety, breadth, and depth of coursework, and its support, including project options and online tutoring
  • Considers the following of instructors:
    • Extent of training for teaching within an online learning environment
    • Amount of timely, consistent feedback to students
    • Extent of collaboration with prospective employers to ensure suitability of instructional materials for achieving desired skills
    • Ratio to number of students in a class
  • Number and quality of internships in a student’s geographical area for applicable degrees

Because students tend to review a variety of information when choosing a school, the weight a student gives any one criterion will vary. For instance, it’s not enough to offer a carefully constructed ranking of great schools if many are too expensive or too difficult to get into.

To better serve the needs of prospective students, we are therefore increasingly offering filters that help you better use our rankings to find the schools that match your specific needs. These supplement our ranking criteria and include:

  • Accreditation
  • Public or private status
  • Acceptance rate
  • Retention rate
  • Graduation rate
  • ACT/SAT requirements
  • Cost in-state / out of state
  • Undergrad, grad, or both offered
  • Region
  • State
  • City

Get the best rankings here AND get them to suit your personal needs. That’s TheBestSchools.org advantage!

If you have any questions about our ranking methodology, please contact us.

Citations: For a broader account of our ranking methodology, especially as it relates to TheBestSchools.org's underlying educational philosophy and, in other ranking articles, looks beyond academic excellence (as here) to such factors as return on investment or incidental benefit, see our article "Ranking Methodology: How We Rank Schools at TBS." Reputation of schools and degree programs can at least in part be gauged through the school or department's publishing activity, citations, and desirability. At TheBestSchools.org, we keep track of such social and peer validation: "Making Sense of College Rankings." For nuts-and-bolts information about colleges and universities, we look to the National Center for Education Statistics and especially its College Navigator. Insofar as salary and inflation data are relevant to a ranking, we look to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Finally, nothing beats contacting schools and degree programs directly, which our researchers often do, with the result that all the entries in this article should be considered as belonging to this citation!

Frequently Asked Questions

true Can I get a degree in psychology online?

Yes — an online psychology degree from a regionally accredited college meets the same educational standards as an on-campus psychology degree.

Are there any APA-accredited online programs?

APA only accredits doctoral programs in psychology. While the association does not accredit online-only programs, it does accredit doctoral programs with an online component.

Is a bachelor's degree in psychology worth it?

Earning a bachelor's degree in psychology prepares graduates for jobs such as substance abuse counselors and behavioral counselors. This degree also meets the educational requirements needed to enroll in psychology graduate programs.

What is the best online college for psychology?

The best online colleges for psychology let students earn their degree in a flexible format. Prospective students can use our ranking to identify the best online psychology degree for their career goals.

Is a psychology degree a BA or a BS?

Many schools offer a bachelor of psychology as a BA and/or a BS. Students who choose a BA need to complete more humanities and foreign language requirements, while BS in psychology students complete more natural science and math classes.

Can you get a psychology degree in two years?

Transfer students with an associate degree can earn an online psychology degree in as little as two years. Some of the best online schools for psychology also offer accelerated enrollment options.

How much does it cost to study psychology?

The cost associated with earning an online psychology degree varies depending on several factors, like the specific program, financial aid opportunities, and a student's enrollment status. Choosing an online program can save students money.

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