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Completing an online master's degree in psychology can help you progress your career and take on roles focused on providing therapeutic services, advancing research, and managing administrative functions.

While a master's in psychology does not qualify you to work as a licensed psychologist, it does lead to several growing roles that offer substantial salaries and the opportunity to help others.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that roles for psychologists will grow by 14% between 2018 and 2028, which is much faster than the national average for all occupations. More than 26,000 new roles should be created by the end of this time frame.

Top 10 Online Master's Programs in Psychology 2020

Table of Contents

If pursuing a master's in psychology seems to fit with your career goals, keep reading this guide. You can find information on common jobs, typical salaries, required coursework, and professional organizations.

Best Online Master's in Psychology Programs

1
Harvard University
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4

University of Idaho 

Moscow, ID

About this school

The University of Idaho offers a variety of online programs for undergraduate and graduate students. The online master's degree in psychology features two tracks: one that culminates in a comprehensive exam and one that ends with a thesis. Both tracks require a minimum of 30 credits to graduate.

The comprehensive exam includes three parts. The first part features a mix of multiple-choice and short-answer questions about basic psychology principles. The second part of the exam features 2-3 applied problems that learners must solve. The third part tests students' knowledge of research methods and applied statistics.

The thesis track requires students to research and write a paper on a psychology topic of their choice. Learners must defend the thesis before a panel of faculty members. Most students complete their theses over the course of four semesters and a summer session. Regardless of their track, all students take classes on topics like human factors in engineering design, sensation and perception, advanced research methods, and cognitive psychology.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. All full-time, online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. The university accepts relevant transfer credits from regionally accredited postsecondary institutions.

5

Ball State University 

Muncie, IN

About this school

Ball State University offers online undergraduate and graduate programs taught by the same faculty who teach on campus. The school's 33-credit, online master's in psychology degree includes 21 core credits. Core courses include human learning and achievement motivation, introduction to statistical methods, multivariate statistical techniques, and theory of measurement. 

This program prepares graduates for professional careers and further education. Students can tailor the degree to their interests and goals through one of two six-credit, research-based concentrations: quantitative methods or mixed methods. Graduates can find psychology jobs in settings such as testing and assessment companies, college and university institutional research offices, and federal and state departments of education.

Applicants to the psychology master's program must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited postsecondary institution with a minimum 2.75 GPA. They must also submit GRE scores, a letter of intent, letters of recommendation, and official transcripts. In-state students receive a tuition discount. Ball State approves transfer credits on a case-by-case basis. 

6

Regent University 

Virginia Beach, VA

About this school

Regent University offers over 135 online programs that span topics like arts and communication, business and leadership, cybersecurity, and psychology and counseling. The 39-credit, online master's in psychology program offers six concentrations: addictions, cyberpsychology, doctoral preparation, industrial-organizational psychology, leadership coaching, and marriage and family.

Regardless of their concentrations, all learners take classes in biological basis of behavior; affect, cognition, and motivation; research methods in psychology; and contemporary psychology. Students can customize the degree through electives like life coaching, psychopathology, psychology of religion, and health psychology.

All online learners pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. Students can begin on one of eight start dates per year. Applicants must hold an accredited bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA and submit an application fee, unofficial college transcripts, and a resume. Some applicants may need to complete an admissions interview.

7

University of Hartford 

West Hartford, CT

About this school

The University of Hartford offers online graduate programs in subjects like business, accounting, psychology, and education. The 36-credit, online master's degree in organizational psychology includes 15 core psychology credits and 21 elective credits. 

Required psychology classes include introduction to industrial/organizational psychology, advanced research methods, experimental design, and personnel psychology. Learners can tailor the degree to their interests through electives like teams in organizations, contemporary studies in psychology, and leadership theory and practice. In addition to coursework, students must complete an internship at an approved local site or a capstone research project.

The asynchronous program gives students the flexibility to balance their studies with personal and professional obligations. Graduates can pursue psychology careers in organizational psychology, consulting, research, and communication. 

The university offers rolling admissions. Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited postsecondary institution, with a preferred minimum 2.5 GPA. They must also submit transcripts. Students can transfer up to six credits toward the program. Transfer applicants must complete the Graduate Transfer Credit Form for consideration. 

8

Eastern Kentucky University 

Richmond, KY

About this school

Eastern Kentucky University offers a variety of online undergraduate and graduate programs taught by the same expert faculty who teach on campus. The 33-credit, fully online master's in psychology with a concentration in applied behavior analysis fulfills the education requirements to become a board-certified behavior analyst.

Core courses include behavioral research and measurement, addressing problem behaviors, and advanced topics in behavior analysis. Students also examine biological bases of behavior, social psychology and cultural diversity, and cognitive and affective bases of behavior. EKU also provides free online career services and a personalized graduation plan for each online student. 

All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. Military students may qualify for a discounted rate. Students can transfer up to 12 credits toward the degree.

Applicants must hold an accredited bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA. Students with a GPA lower than 3.0 must submit GRE scores. Before applying, prospective students must complete undergraduate courses in research, statistics, and three psychology-related topics. 

9

Southwestern Assemblies of God University 

Waxahachie, TX

About this school

The Southwestern Assemblies of God University offers more than 50 online undergraduate and graduate degree programs rooted in the Christian tradition. The 63-credit, online master's in clinical psychology examines psychological theories and practices through a Christian lens.

Students gain an advanced understanding of the diagnosis, assessment, prognosis, and treatment of mental disorders. Learners study topics like behavioral sciences, theories of counseling and psychotherapy, and cognitive assessment. Core courses include integrative issues in the behavioral sciences, human growth and lifespan development, and advanced psychotherapy and treatment planning.

Graduates can pursue jobs such as consulting services director, management consultant, and social behavior scientist. Graduates can also pursue a doctoral degree in psychology. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited, postsecondary institution with a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA. They must also submit an essay, letters of reference, transcripts, and GRE scores. SAGU enforces standards of Christian conduct for all students.

10

Southern New Hampshire University 

Manchester, NH

About this school

Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit university that offers over 200 online degree programs. Online students can access an online library, 24/7 tech support, and tutoring services. The 36-credit, online master's degree in psychology offers three concentrations: child and adolescent development psychology; forensic psychology; and industrial-organizational psychology.

Regardless of their concentrations, all students take courses in research methods, ethical practice in psychology, cognitive processes, and theories of personality. Students culminate the degree with a capstone project, integrating theories and skills from previous classes. Students gain the research, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills needed for many psychology careers and doctoral study.

All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. Military students may receive a tuition discount. Applicants must hold an accredited bachelor's degree and submit official transcripts. SNHU recommends that applicants work with an admissions counselor before applying.

11

Touro University Worldwide 

Los Alamitos, CA

About this school

Touro University Worldwide offers flexible, self-paced, online education programs. All of Touro's professors hold Ph.D.s in their respective fields, offering knowledge and practical experience to students. 

The 36-credit, online master's in psychology includes 18 core credits and nine elective credits. Students can customize the degree to their interests through one of the following concentrations: media psychology, educational psychology, health psychology, or forensic psychology .

Regardless of their concentrations, all students take core courses in the psychological impact of media and technology, principles of consumer psychology, applied research methods and statistics, and developmental issues across the lifespan. Students gain research, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. Graduates can work in business, criminal justice, marketing, and media. They can also pursue doctoral study.

Touro offers rolling admissions for all programs and six different start times throughout the year. Applicants to the psychology master's program must hold a bachelor's degree and submit transcripts. Touro does not require GRE scores. All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. 

12

Albizu University 

Miami, FL

About this school

Albizu University offers two fully online degree programs and additional online classes. The school's online master's in organizational and industrial psychology requires 42 credits. 

In addition to coursework on psychological theories and practices, students must complete six credits of applied research or a six-credit capstone project. Students who choose the capstone project gain practical experience in the field, while students on the research track conduct research into a psychology topic of interest.

All students must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA to graduate. The online psychology degree prepares students for further education and professional careers. Graduates can find jobs in employee training and development, compensation and benefits, research and development, and personnel selection. They can also pursue doctoral study.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited university and submit three letters of recommendation, a resume, a personal statement, and official transcripts. The university prefers prospective students with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students can transfer up to six credits from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA toward the degree.

13

Austin Peay State University 

Clarksville, TN

About this school

Austin Peay State University offers a variety of online associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees, most of which are fully online. The 34-credit, online master's in industrial-organizational psychology follows a scientist-practitioner model, training students in the application of science-based psychology principles and theories in the workplace. Full-time students can graduate within two years.

Thise online master's in psychology includes core courses on topics like research methods and statistics in psychology, foundations of applied psychology, applied measurement in industrial/organizational psychology, and leadership and organizational change. To culminate the degree, students must complete either two approved electives and a comprehensive exam, or a master's thesis.

Graduates can pursue psychology careers in research, business, and education. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit GRE scores, official transcripts, a personal statement, and letters of recommendation.

14

Saint Leo University 

Saint Leo, FL

About this school

Saint Leo University delivers career-focused, online undergraduate and graduate programs that offer flexible schedules and professional development opportunities. The 36-credit, online master's in psychology uses a cohort model, meaning students take courses with the same group of peers throughout the program.

The program exposes students to psychological theories and practices, giving learners skills in data analysis, research, problem solving, and critical thinking. Learners take online psychology courses on topics like history and systems of psychology, advanced social psychology, learning and cognition, and lifespan development.

The university encourages students to join the American Psychological Association. Saint Leo's also offers an online psychology club and other online student associations for distance learners. Graduates can work as human resource executives, market and survey researchers, and statistical consultants. The program also prepares students for doctoral programs in psychology.

Saint Leo's accepts relevant transfer credits from regionally accredited postsecondary institutions. The university considers transfer credits from non-accredited schools on a case-by-case basis. Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit transcripts and two letters of recommendation. Applicants with a GPA lower than 3.0 must also submit GRE scores. 

15

Mercy College 

Dobbs Ferry, NY

About this school

Mercy College offers over 30 online certificate and degree programs, including online master's degrees in areas like education, nursing, computer science, and psychology. The 36-credit, online master's degree in psychology includes 26 core credits and 12 elective credits. 

Students take core courses on topics such as statistics and research methodology, professional issues and ethics, contemporary theories in psychology, and psychopathology. In addition to coursework, learners complete a supervised internship to gain practical experience in the field. All students must choose from two capstone options to culminate the degree: a written comprehensive test or a thesis paper. Students must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA to graduate.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree and submit official transcripts and a personal statement. Mercy makes all transfer credit decisions on a case-by-case basis. The college uses a dedicated transfer team to determine how many credits from other universities may transfer.

16

Lynn University 

Boca Raton, FL

About this school

Lynn University offers a variety of online undergraduate and graduate programs. The university offers accelerated learning tracks for some online programs, allowing students to expedite graduation. The 37-credit, online master's degree in psychology includes an orientation class, core courses, and specialized electives. Students can customize the degree with a concentration in industrial/organizational psychology or they can stick with the general track.

Each concentration requires 15 credits, including a psychology seminar. Regardless of their concentration, all students take courses in advanced research in psychology, thesis and advanced statistics, testing and assessment in psychology, and social and cultural foundations.

In addition to coursework, students must complete a thesis project that combines research and learning material from prior courses. Graduates can work as market research analysts, industrial and organizational consultants, operations research analysts, and survey researchers.

All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. Applicants must hold an accredited bachelor's degree and submit official transcripts, a personal statement, letters of recommendation, and a resume. The school evaluates transfer credits on a case-by-case basis, but students can determine which credits are likely to transfer with Lynn's credit evaluation tool.

17

LeTourneau University 

Longview, TX

About this school

LeTourneau University offers online degree programs with flexible scheduling and helpful online resources. The 39-credit, online master's degree in psychology includes 24 core credits and 15 elective credits. Core courses include ethical, legal, and professional standards in counseling; group counseling methods; counseling theories and family therapies for professional counselors; and counseling skills and techniques.

Students can customize the degree through electives on topics like advanced abnormal psychology, counseling diverse populations, and research methods. In addition to coursework, learners complete a practicum at a local, approved site to gain counseling experience. Graduates can work as mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, human resources managers, and school psychologists.

The university accepts transfer credits on a case-by-case basis. Applicants to the online psychology master's program must hold an accredited bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA and submit official college transcripts and a resume. LETU may require applicants who do not meet the minimum GPA requirement to submit GRE scores. 

18

Arizona State University-Skysong 

Scottsdale, AZ

About this school

Arizona State University at Skysong offers over 200 online undergraduate and graduate degree programs that feature flexible scheduling, online resources, and award-winning faculty. The university boasts that 87% of graduates receive job offers within 90 days of graduation.

The 36-credit, online master's degree in psychology includes 12 courses and takes about 18 months of full-time study to complete. Students take courses on topics like professional issues in psychology, quantitative analysis, and research methods. Students culminate the degree with a capstone project that synthesizes degree knowledge and skills. 

Graduates can work in fields like rehabilitation services, behavioral health, human resources, and market research. They can also pursue a psychology doctorate. ASU accepts transfer credits with a "C" grade or higher from regionally accredited universities. 

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA in the last 60 credits of undergraduate coursework. They must also submit official transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. Applicants can optionally submit GRE scores to bolster their applications. 

19

University of Louisiana at Monroe 

Monroe, LA

About this school

The University of Louisiana at Monroe offers over 35 online undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Students pursuing the psychology master's program online focus on essential psychological theories and research. 

Learners can tailor the degree to their interests and goals through a forensic psychology concentration, which includes courses in advanced theories of crime and delinquency; counseling in criminal justice; minorities, crime, and criminal justice; and sociology of law. 

All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. To take participate in classes, distance learners must have their own internet-capable personal computers, a webcam and headset, and word processing software.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university with a minimum 2.75 GPA. They must also submit official transcripts and combined GRE scores of at least 900. Students can use the university's transfer credit equivalency guide to determine potential transfer credits.

20

McNeese State University 

Lake Charles, LA

About this school

McNeese State University offers online certificate, undergraduate, and graduate programs tailored to working professionals. The online master's in psychology program offers the following concentrations: applied behavior analysis, counseling psychology, and general/experimental psychology.

Credit requirements vary by concentration; the general/experimental track requires 39 credits, the counseling track requires 60 credits, and the applied behavior analysis track requires 58 credits. Graduates of the applied behavior analysis concentration meet education requirements for national board certification.

Regardless of their concentration, all students take classes on principles of learning and behavior, applied research methods in psychology, and behavioral assessment. Some concentrations require a thesis.

Applicants to the psychology master's program must hold a bachelor's degree and submit official transcripts, an application fee, and GRE scores. The university accepts transfer credits on a case-by-case basis.

21

Life University 

Marietta, GA

About this school

Life University offers online degree programs and continuing education courses with flexible scheduling and self-paced study options. The online master's in psychology focuses on positive human functioning, including life satisfaction, happiness, and life meaning. Students can tailor the degree to their interests and goals through concentrations in general psychology or coaching psychology.

Each concentration requires 45 credits. Distance learners pursuing the coaching psychology track qualify to sit for certification exams after graduation. All students take foundational courses such as introduction to positive psychology, research methods and statistics, and theories and techniques of coaching psychology. 

Students culminate the degree with a capstone project and a comprehensive exam. The capstone project combines evidenced-based research techniques with foundational psychological theories and principles. The program requires three weekend-long, on-campus residencies. 

All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit transcripts, GRE scores, three letters of recommendation, a letter of intent, and a resume. 

22

Tiffin University 

Tiffin, OH

About this school

Tiffin University offers a variety of online undergraduate and graduate programs. The online master's degree in psychology requires 37 credits, and students can begin on one of multiple start dates per year. The program emphasizes competencies in the following areas: developmental psychology, social psychology, cognitive psychology, and neuropsychology.

Students take courses like research design and analysis, cross-cultural issues in psychology, advanced theories of personality, and history and systems of psychology. Graduates can work in fields like business, education, and counseling. They can also pursue psychology doctoral studies.

TU offers rolling admissions. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a recommended minimum 2.0 GPA and submit official transcripts. 

23

Angelo State University 

San Angelo, TX

About this school

Angelo State University offers online certificate, undergraduate, and graduate programs. The university uses Blackboard as its primary online instruction tool. ASU recommends that all online students have high-speed internet, a webcam, and Microsoft Office.

ASU's online master's degree in psychology requires 36 credits and includes thesis and non-thesis tracks. All students take core courses like applications of industrial/organizational psychology, the psychology of human performance, health and wellness psychology, and the applications of psychological research.

In-state students receive a tuition discount. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Prospective students with fewer than 18 undergraduate psychology credits must complete a graduate leveling course. All applicants must submit official transcripts, an application form, and a personal statement.

24

Indiana Institute of Technology 

Fort Wayne, IN

About this school

The Indiana Institute of Technology offers a variety of online undergraduate and graduate programs. Students pursuing the 33-credit, online master of science in psychology learn psychological theories and research methodologies.

Online psychology courses include legal and ethical issues in psychology, research methods in psychology, advanced counseling theory, and statistics for behavioral science. Students gain a strong ethical foundation and professional communication skills, culminating the degree with a comprehensive exam. Graduates can find psychology careers in the criminal justice system, human services organizations, mental health or social services organizations, and private or public businesses.

All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA and at least two years of work experience. They must also submit official transcripts. Students with a GPA below 2.5 may need to submit standardized test scores.

25

Franklin University 

Columbus, OH

About this school

Franklin University is a private, nonprofit university that offers online undergraduate and graduate programs, including a 36-credit master's in business psychology. The program focuses on the intersection of business and psychology. Full-time students can finish the degree in 14 months.

Students take core courses in psychology of creativity, innovation, and change; psychology of organizational coaching; behavioral economics and neurofinance; and individual and organizational intelligence. Learners culminate the degree with a capstone project that addresses a self-selected business psychology issue.

Graduates can find psychology careers in business fields like marketing and communication. Graduates can also pursue a doctoral degree in psychology. Franklin offers rolling admissions for all online programs. Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA. Prospective students who do not meet the GPA requirement must submit GRE scores. Students can transfer up to 12 credits toward the degree. 

26

Medaille College 

Buffalo, NY

About this school

Medaille College offergs online programs that provide flexibility and accessibility for distance learners. Online students can choose how many classes they take each semester, selecting from part-time, full-time, or accelerated learning schedules. The college also assigns personal success coaches to each student.

This 36-credit, online master's degree in psychology uses seven-week classes and takes about one year of full-time study to complete. Core classes cover topics like fundamentals of psychology, clinical psychology, and behavioral psychology. Students can customize the degree through an optional concentration in sports psychology. Students can pursue an optional internship at the Medaille Family Counseling Center to gain practical experience.

Graduates can work as psychiatric technicians, human resource managers, public relations representatives, and sports psychologists. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree and submit a personal statement, resume, transcripts, and two professional references. The college offers rolling admissions.

27

National Louis University 

Chicago, IL

About this school

National Louis University offers online degree programs at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels, promising the same education for both online and on-campus students. Its online master's in industrial and organizational psychology program requires 36-42 credits.

Students take core courses on topics like research methodology and writing, performance analysis and measurement, psychology of organizational leadership, and organizational effectiveness and development. Learners culminate the degree with a capstone project that requires them to identify a business, analyze its challenges, and develop solutions to overcome them. All students receive guidance from a faculty advisor for the duration of the project.

Graduates can find psychology jobs in human resource management, public relations, communications, and marketing. This degree also prepares students for further education. All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree and submit a personal statement, two letters of recommendation, and a professional writing sample. The university accepts transfer credits on a case-by-case basis.

28

National University 

La Jolla, CA

About this school

National University offers over 90 fully online undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The online master's degree in psychology features four-week classes and requires 85 quarter units. Students can pursue one of two concentrations: licensed professional clinical counselor or licensed marriage and family counselor. Each concentration requires a 225-280-hour practicum. NU urges students to join a professional association if they plan to seek licensure. 

Regardless of their concentrations, all students take classes in perspectives on psychology, treatment of addictions, psychology of trauma, and legal and ethical issues in psychology. Graduates can work as marriage and family counselors, clinical counselors, mental health and substance abuse counselors, and human resources managers. 

All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. Applicants must submit official transcripts demonstrating that they hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA. Some applicants may need to submit GRE scores. NU accepts transfer credits on a case-by-case basis.

29

University of West Alabama 

Livingston, AL

About this school

The University of West Alabama offers a variety of online programs for undergraduate and graduate students. Its online master's in psychology requires 36-57 credits, depending on the student's concentration. Concentrations include general psychology (36 credits), clinical psychology (39-57 credits), and health and sports psychology (36 credits).

Regardless of their concentrations, all students take core psychology classes on topics like statistics and research methods, advanced developmental psychology, marriage and family therapy, and the diagnosis process for mental disorders. Students pursuing the clinical psychology and health and sports psychology concentrations must complete a practicum to gain practical experience. All students must also complete a thesis project. 

All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit a statement of purpose, transcripts, a writing sample, GRE scores, and letters of recommendation.

30

Golden Gate University-San Francisco 

San Francisco, CA

About this school

Golden Gate University offers over 60 online undergraduate and graduate programs. The university offers small class sizes, with a 15-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. The online master's degree in industrial-organizational psychology prepares students for leadership roles in private and public businesses.

The 42-credit program includes 33 core credits and nine elective credits. Core courses include group dynamics in organizations, executive coaching theory and practice, acquiring and retaining human resources, and conflict resolution skills and techniques. Most classes combine psychological theory with business best practices. Graduates can work in consulting agencies, pharmaceutical companies, and technology firms.

All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency, and active-duty military receive a tuition discount. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university and submit official transcripts. Some applicants may need to submit GRE scores. Students can transfer up to six credits toward the program.

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End of list, bravo!

Ranking Methodology

Online Master's in Psychology Programs Ranking Guidelines

We selected the following programs based on their quality, the types of courses offered, the faculty, rankings, awards, and reputation -- including the school's reputation for effectively providing online degrees.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to earn a psychology master's degree?

Most learners complete their online psychology degree in two or three years.

Can you be a psychologist with a master's?

No. You must earn a doctorate to work as a psychologist.

Is a master's in psychology worth it?

If the job you want requires a master's degree, then yes. Many doctoral programs do not require a master's degree to enroll, so pursuing a master's could add an extra step if a Ph.D./Psy.D. is your final goal.

What kind of jobs can you get with a master's in psychology?

Common titles include marriage and family therapist, school counselor, career counselor, and survey researcher. Both clinical and professional roles exist.

What Is a Master's in Psychology Degree?

While individuals who complete a bachelor's in psychology can work in several types of support roles, they lack the credentials and licensure required to provide therapeutic services. A master's in psychology gives you the qualifications required to take on clinical and non-clinical roles. The curriculum also provides an advanced understanding of generalist and specialized topics.

A master's in psychology gives you the qualifications required to take on clinical and non-clinical roles.

Pursuing an online master's degree in psychology helps you build skills and knowledge in psychopathology, lifespan development, theories of behavior and change, and assessment/consulting. You can also select a concentration in an area such as developmental psychology, clinical psychology, or school psychology to build niche understanding.

Individuals who want to work in specific clinical roles often pursue this degree, as do those looking to take on managerial and/or leadership positions. Learners who aspire to a doctorate in psychology often skip this degree, as it is not typically required for admission into a doctoral track.

Online Master's in Psychology Programs

Online learning often appeals to degree-seekers who need to balance academic learning alongside professional duties and personal responsibilities. Many degrees are delivered in an asynchronous format, making it possible for learners to watch pre-recorded lectures, interact with faculty and peers, and submit assignments at their convenience.

Some programs offer synchronous classes, meaning students must sign-in at specific times to take part in live lectures. Many schools that use this type of course delivery also schedule meetings on evenings or weekends to help busy students.

Online learning often appeals to degree-seekers who need to balance academic learning alongside professional duties and personal responsibilities.

Online psychology degrees at the master's level may also appeal to individuals looking to save money. Some public colleges allow out-of-state learners to pay the same rate as in-state students if they study exclusively online. Distance learning can also help save on costs related to transportation, insurance, campus-based fees, and room and board.

What Can You Do With a Master's Degree in Psychology?

Pursuing a master's degree in psychology qualifies you to take on a variety of positions based on your individual interests and career goals. In the following section, we take a look at some of the top jobs available to graduates of these programs.

Psychology Jobs

Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists

These professionals work with a variety of people seeking counseling services. They may work with individuals, couples, families, and other groups to address relational problems, such as infidelity, infertility, anger issues, and other hardships leading to family strife.

Mental health counselors work across the lifespan to help people experiencing behavioral, emotional, and psychological issues in their everyday lives. Both mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists must maintain licensure. Most states require an advanced degree as a prerequisite for licensure.

Median Annual Salary

$50,090

Projected Growth Rate

22%

Substance Abuse Counselors and Behavioral Disorder Counselors

Substance abuse counselors work with individuals who struggle with substance abuse. They provide counseling to individuals in inpatient or outpatient treatment centers, prisons, and other rehabilitative settings. Many employ 12-step programs, while others use newer frameworks.

Behavioral disorder counselors work with people experiencing addictions, eating disorders, and other mental health issues. They offer therapeutic services, develop treatment plans, and provide assessments for clients. They may also give referrals for other mental health services as needed.

Median Annual Salary

$44,630

Projected Growth Rate

22%

Psychologists

Psychologists work in myriad clinical, research, and academic settings. To work with clients, these professionals must possess a license and earn a doctoral degree.

Psychologists use their advanced knowledge of behavioral, cognitive, emotional, and social brain processes to treat patients, develop new therapeutic frameworks, educate up-and-coming psychology professionals, and publish their findings within the discipline. They may choose to use a variety of psychological frameworks (e.g., developmental and experimental) to better understand brain functions.

Median Annual Salary

$79,010

Projected Growth Rate

14%

Postsecondary Teachers

Postsecondary psychology professors work in public and private colleges and universities across the globe to help teach aspiring psychologists. They develop syllabi, lead lectures, assign and grade projects and papers, and offer guidance and support to learners as they progress toward graduation.

When not in the classroom, postsecondary psychology teachers may engage in research projects designed to shed light on new psychological topics. They may also attend psychological academic conferences to share their findings and publish reports in academic journals.

Median Annual Salary

$78,470

Projected Growth Rate

11%

Additional master's in psychology careers

  • Behavioral Counselor
  • Career Counselor
  • Case Manager
  • Chief Executive
  • Child Protection Case Manager
  • Clinical Practitioner
  • Data Analyst
  • Developmental Specialist
  • Director of Community Outreach
  • Family Services Worker
  • Forensic Psychologist
  • Group Home Coordinator
  • Human Resource Manager
  • Human Service Worker
  • Industrial/Organizational Psychologist
  • Laboratory Assistant
  • Legal Psychologist
  • Market Researcher
  • Marketing Specialist
  • Parole Officer
  • Project Manager
  • Psychology Professor
  • Public Relations Representative
  • Rehabilitation Specialist
  • School Counselor
  • School Psychologist
  • Social Service Counselor
  • Sports Psychologist

How Do I Choose an Online Master's in Psychology Degree Program?

Pursuing a master's degree in psychology represents a massive personal, academic, and professional decision. As such, you should give several program components serious thought.

Program Cost

If degree cost represents a significant factor in your decision, look for public, in-state programs or online degrees that allow distance learners to pay a reduced rate.

Transfer Policies

Despite your best efforts, sometimes your first school is not the best fit. Try to find a school offering friendly transfer policies so you do not need to retake multiple classes if you need to switch schools.

School Size and Type

Decide whether a large school with tens of thousands of students or a smaller, more intimate student body provides the best learning environment for your needs.

Program Length

Master's in psychology programs usually take 2-3 years of full-time study, but some schools provide accelerated and/or part-time options.

On-campus Requirements

Some programs require learners to visit campus for residencies or learning intensives. If traveling does not fit your budget or schedule, look for a fully online degree plan.

Thesis, Fellowship, and Work Requirements

Different programs set different graduation requirements. Decide which type of culminating project best matches your future goals.

How Are Online Psychology Master's Degree Programs Accredited?

Attending an accredited school and master's in psychology program is very important. Failing to do so can create problems related to transferring credits, receiving licensure, and competing for jobs. Accreditation comes in two forms: institutional and programmatic.

When looking at schools, find a regionally accredited institution. The U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education recognize six regional accreditation commissions, which award accreditation to individual schools.

You can use the U.S. Department of Education's Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs to verify that a school or program holds proper accreditation.

The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs is the main accrediting organization in psychology. This organization accredits both master's and doctoral programs, while the American Psychological Association (APA) only accredits doctoral tracks. You can use the U.S. Department of Education's Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs to verify that a school or program holds proper accreditation.

How Long Does It Take to Earn a Psychology Master's?

Earning an online master's degree in psychology typically takes 2-3 years for full-time learners. Part-time students usually need 3-4 years, while students in accelerated programs can usually graduate in 18-24 months.

Several factors affect how long a program takes, including the number of credits required, whether or not you can transfer in credits, and if a school offers courses year round or only during the fall and spring semesters. A program's culminating project can also determine when you graduate.

Courses in an Online Master's in Psychology Program

Online master's in psychology programs cover advanced topics that help graduates prepare for clinical and administrative positions. The list below reviews a few common courses.

Lifespan Development

Typically taken in the first year of a program, this foundational course examines how humans change, evolve, grow, and decline as they age. Students consider questions related to the behavioral, cognitive, physical, and socioemotional shifts that take place during key developmental stages and how those can shape our lives. Learners who take this course should be able to identify the psychological shifts taking place at the eight stages of development and explain how culture and society affect development.

Culture and Psychology

Students in this class learn how psychology and culture intersect in meaningful ways. Learners discover different meanings associated with culture and how this concept plays out in different communities, socioeconomic groups, age brackets, and geographic locations. Students also consider how cultural identities shape how we see ourselves and others. The course uses case studies to help students develop a deepened sense of cultural competency.

Psychology of Personality

This course helps students understand how personalities develop, evolve, and grow over the lifespan. Learners consider various frameworks and methodologies related to personality development and complete assignments designed to help them better utilize these theories in research and practice. They also consider how factors such as gender identity, sex, and age can affect how personalities differ and how that knowledge can better inform their practice.

Cognitive and Affective Bases of Behavior

This course covers theories around cognition and how individuals process new information, organize their thoughts, and store their emotions. Students learn how brain functions, such as memory, language use, reasoning, and categorizing, take place and how external factors affect each function. Coursework also takes a look at how stress, anxiety, depression, and trauma affect cognition.

Research Theory, Design, and Methods

Designed for distance learners who want to focus their talents on psychological research, this course teaches students to design, implement, and conduct scientific research projects. Content focuses on quantitative and qualitative data retrieval, ethical considerations, mixed-method study design, and using various frameworks to carry out successful projects. As part of class requirements, students must frequently design their own research studies.

Psychology Concentrations

APA recognizes 54 divisions of psychology. Psychology master's programs mirror these divisions by offering a variety of specializations, some of which are highlighted below.

Behavioral Psychology

Behavioral psychology looks at how our experiences, ways of thinking, and habits inform how we behave. Psychologists working in this area use evidence-based practices to help clients identify problematic behaviors, create treatment plans, and address common mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, panic disorders, and substance abuse. They deploy a variety of methodologies to improve behavior and develop strategies for avoiding issues in the future.

Careers this concentration prepares for:

Social worker, mental health counselor, substance abuse counselor, behavioral specialist

Educational Psychology

Educational psychology concerns itself with improving outcomes for preK-12 and college students -- in their educational lives and beyond. Educational psychology professionals conduct research related to cognitive development, social-emotional learning, and other topics that affect a child's ability to learn. When working as practitioners or administrators, they often liaise with school leaders, educators, families, and students to help learners achieve their potential and address any roadblocks that keep them from doing so.

Careers this concentration prepares for:

Student development specialist, crisis intervention counselor, school counselor, assessment coordinator

Forensic Psychology

Forensic psychology sits at the crossroads of psychology and criminal justice. The interdisciplinary curriculum familiarizes learners with theories of criminality, victimology, and the rule of law, while also instilling knowledge of behavioral issues, personality disorders, and psychopathology. Individuals working in this area of the field often study the minds of criminals in an effort to understand aberrations that cause them to break the law. They may also assist in jury selection and interview eyewitnesses.

Careers this concentration prepares for:

Jury consultant, victim advocate, court liaison, juvenile offender counselor

Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Another interdisciplinary branch, industrial and organizational psychology combines studies in business and psychology. The discipline looks at how businesses can improve in efficiency, effectiveness, production, and safety while also increasing employee happiness, quality of life, and loyalty. Topics commonly include workforce training and development, organizational change, team dynamics, and occupational health psychology.

Careers this concentration prepares for:

Behavioral analyst, human resources manager, talent management specialist, hiring/management consultant

Counseling Psychology

Counseling psychology focuses on providing therapeutic services to clients across the lifespan. Students build skills in identifying emotional and mental health concerns, assessing client needs, developing treatment plans, and helping clients develop coping mechanisms to improve their mental state. Common courses include socio-cultural competence in counseling; human development; counseling theories and practice; and therapies for children, adults, and families.

Careers this concentration prepares for:

Counseling psychologist, mental health counselor, bereavement counselor, crisis response counselor

Professional Psychological Organizations

Professional organizations help students, mid-level professionals, and industry veterans alike build contacts, participate in continuing education, and stay attuned to industry news.

American Psychological Association

APA was founded in 1892. Today, the organization serves more than 121,000 members throughout the United States. APA serves as the largest member organization for professionals in this field and works diligently to act as an industry leader. The group provides educational resources for students and teachers, including curricula development tools, scholarships, and advanced education funding.

Members can also access several publications and professional resources, industry news, events, and job listings.

Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology

Psi Chi is one of the largest honor societies in America with nearly 1,200 campus chapters and approximately 750,000 lifetime members. What started as a conversation between two students at the University of Kansas in 1927 has blossomed into a meaningful professional group that serves members in many ways.

Aside from providing nearly half a million dollars in awards and grants each year, the society publishes several academic journals and magazines, hosts regional conventions, produces a podcast, and offers access to industry news.

Association for Psychological Science

APS has established itself as an international association since its founding in 1988. The group hosts domestic and international conventions throughout the year, publishes several journals alongside the Observer magazine, offers member discounts and affinity services, and provides helpful resources on research topics. Members can also search through a regularly updated database of jobs, fellowships, and research opportunities.

International Association of Applied Psychology

Formed in 1920 by a leading applied psychologist, IAAP serves professionals around the world. Membership comes in five different forms: full members, fellows, students, honorary members, and alliance members. The group provides awards, releases publications, manages 18 professional divisions, and offers meetings in the U.S. and abroad. IAAP also presents at the United Nations and hosts the International Congresses of Applied Psychology every four years.

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