Best Online Master’s in Psychology

by TBS Staff
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Master's in Psychology Online

Completing an online master's degree in psychology can help you advance in the field to provide therapeutic services, advance research, and manage administrative functions.

Prospective master's students may wonder, "What can I do with a master's degree in psychology?" With a master's degree in psychology, graduates work as behavioral therapists, school psychologists, therapists, and counselors. The degree also prepares enrollees for doctoral programs.

Many online colleges offer psychology graduate degrees. Our list ranks the top online master's in psychology programs for 2021. Prospective applicants can use the rankings to find the best fit for their interests and professional goals.

Best Online Master's in Psychology Programs

  1. McNeese State University
    Location

    Lake Charles, LA

    Tuition

    $9985

    A public university founded in 1939, McNeese welcomes more than 7,000 students each year.

    The university offers an online master of arts in psychology with three concentration options: applied behavior analysis, counseling psychology, or general/experimental psychology. The applied behavior analysis concentration leads to qualification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Those planning careers as therapists typically choose the counseling psychology track, while the general/experimental psychology concentration prepares students for doctoral study.

    Applicants must submit transcripts reflecting a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.5 and at least three credits in statistics and 18 credits in psychology. Applicants also need combined GRE scores of 285. Following the completion of 12 credits or one semester in the program, the Departmental Admissions and Retention Committee makes a final decision on whether to accept the student to candidacy.

  2. University of Louisiana at Monroe
    Location

    Monroe, LA

    Tuition

    $9455

    Founded in 1931, ULM, a member of the University of Louisiana system, serves approximately 8,400 students per year.

    ULM offers a 100% online master of science in psychology with an optional concentration in forensic psychology. Students pursuing the general degree take just one core, personality and social psychology, along with their choice of 24 elective psychology credits. Those in the forensic psychology program take such required courses as advanced theories of crime and delinquency and minorities, crime, and criminal justice, along with six credits of approved electives. Both tracks offer an optional clinical practicum and thesis.

    Applicants must have a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA or demonstrate one of the following: a minimum 2.75 GPA, a combined GRE score of 290, or any combination of GPA and GRE score that together equal or exceed 800.

  3. The University of Alabama
    Location

    Tuscaloosa, AL

    Tuition

    $20465

    UA, opened in 1831 and now the oldest and largest public university in the state, enrolls more than 38,000 undergrads and graduate students each year.

    UA's online master of arts in educational psychology - learning and assessment prepares students for careers as youth leaders and educational professionals and for graduate study. The program does not lead to teacher certification.

    All students take the same sequence of courses, including evaluation of classroom learning and advanced educational psychology. Students must also complete a non-thesis research project in their final semester.

    Admission requirements include official transcripts reflecting a 3.0 GPA, GRE scores of 300 or MAT 50th percentile (waived through fall 2021), three letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose.

  4. Eastern Washington University
    Location

    Cheney, WA

    Tuition

    $10751

    A public university founded in 1882, EWU welcomes more than 12,000 graduate and undergraduate students annually.

    EWU offers an online educational specialist in school psychology program. All students must attend synchronous courses Monday evenings from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. PST and attend a three-day on-campus session each year. Students may choose a two-year accelerated program or a three-year regular program. Both options require the completion of a full-time, 1,200-contact-hour internship.

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in psychology, education, or a closely related field, with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Additional online admission requirements include three references and three years of full-time teaching experience or five years of relevant professional experience.

  5. Southern New Hampshire University
    Location

    Manchester, NH

    SNHU, a private university established in 1932, enrolls approximately 3,300 students each year.

    SNHU offers an online master of science in psychology with three concentration options: child and adolescent development psychology, forensic psychology, or industrial organizational psychology. The non-licensure program offers an optional internship. All students must complete a capstone project.

    Applicants need to send official transcripts showing a 2.75 minimum GPA for full admission or a minimum of 2.0 for provisional admission.

  6. Arizona State University-Skysong
    Location

    Scottsdale, AZ

    Tuition

    $14166

    ASU, a public university established in 1885, serves more than 53,000 undergraduate and graduate students every year.

    ASU offers a fully online master of science in psychology. The flexible program offers full-time and part-time options and various electives in areas such as health psychology, cognitive psychology, and psychophysiology. The program concludes with a comprehensive capstone experience.

    Applicants must submit official transcripts showing a minimum 3.0 GPA, a statement of purpose, and two recommendation letters. GRE scores are not required.

  7. Regent University
    Location

    Virginia Beach, VA

    A private Christian university founded by Pat Robertson in 1977, Regent today enrolls just over 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students annually.

    Regent offers an online master of science in psychology grounded in a Christian worldview. Optional concentrations include addictions, cyberpsychology, and leadership coaching. Regardless of concentration, all students take such core courses as biological bases of behavior and integrative psychology.

    Applicants must submit transcripts showing a minimum GPA of 2.75 (3.0 preferred). The program may request an interview.

  8. Pepperdine University
    Location

    Malibu, CA

    A private Christian university founded in 1937, Pepperdine serves nearly 9,000 students each year.

    Pepperdine offers an online master of arts in psychology. The non-licensure, clinically-oriented program prepares students for careers such as child development specialist, executive coach, or group facilitator. All students take the same core courses, along with two electives. Sample courses include interpersonal skills and group therapy, trauma in diverse populations, and career development theory and techniques.

    Admission requirements include official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose. Pepperdine does not require GRE scores for this program.

  9. University of Idaho
    Location

    Moscow, ID

    Tuition

    $15061

    A public university opened in 1892, U of I today welcomes nearly 12,000 students per year.

    The university's online master of science in psychology, human factors, blends psychology and engineering, placing students at the heart of the user experience. Graduates find successful careers in such areas as software usability, nuclear power, and aviation systems. Courses include engineering psychology, human factors in engineering design, and human-computer interaction.

    Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA (no GRE score required). The program might consider lower GPAs with strong GRE scores, five or more years of related work experience, a letter of support from within the department, or a detailed statement explaining the applicant's ability to succeed.

  10. Fayetteville State University
    Location

    Fayetteville, NC

    Tuition

    $5685

    A historically Black university (HBCU) founded in 1867 and now part of the University of North Carolina system, FSU serves approximately 6,500 students each year.

    FSU's online master of arts in psychology takes 18 months to complete. The non-licensure program gives students a broad foundation in diversity, ethics, research, and professional identity. Some graduates go on to doctoral study, while others establish careers in areas such as human resources, data analysis, or social services.

    Admission requirements include official transcripts showing six credits of psychology courses and a minimum 2.6 GPA, GRE scores (290 or above preferred, waived through spring 2021), a curriculum vitae, two recommendations, and a personal statement.

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.

Our Methodology

Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

Featured Online Master's in Psychology Programs

What Is an Online Master's in Psychology?

While individuals who complete bachelor's degrees in psychology can work in several types of support roles, they lack the credentials and licensure required to provide therapeutic services. The curriculum 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. Learners can also pursue concentrations in developmental psychology, clinical psychology, or school psychology, among others.

Individuals who want to work in specific clinical roles often pursue this degree, along with learners looking to take on managerial and leadership positions. Students who aspire to earn a doctorate in psychology can either complete a master's degree first or apply directly to a doctoral program. A master's degree is not typically required for admission into a doctoral program.

Why Pursue a Master's in Psychology Online?

Many programs deliver degrees asynchronously, which allows learners to watch pre-recorded lectures, interact with faculty and peers, and submit assignments at their convenience.

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

Other programs offer synchronous classes, which require students to sign in at specific times to participate in live lectures. These schools often schedule meetings on evenings or weekends for busy students.

Online psychology degrees at the master's level may also appeal to individuals looking to save money. Some public colleges allow out-of-state enrollees to pay the same rate as in-state learners 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 I Expect in an Online Master's in Psychology Program?

Master's in psychology programs train students in research methods, ethics, behavioral assessment, and experimental design. In addition to core psychology classes, learners take specialized courses in their concentration area.

Most programs also offer practicum options for degree-seekers to develop practical experience. A clinical practicum will be required to do clinical work such as counseling and therapy. Graduate students may also complete master's thesis projects or exams.

Earning a master's degree in psychology typically takes two years for full-time students. Some programs offer part-time or accelerated options.

Master's in Psychology Concentrations

The American Psychological Association (APA) recognizes 54 divisions of psychology. Many psychology master's programs offer specializations in these divisions, such as those highlighted below.

Behavioral Psychology

  • Social worker
  • Mental health counselor
  • Crisis intervention counselor
  • Substance abuse counselor
  • Applied behavioral analyst
  • Marriage and family therapist

Educational Psychology

  • Student development specialist
  • School counselor
  • Assessment coordinator

Forensic Psychology

  • Jury consultant
  • Victim advocate
  • Court liaison
  • Juvenile offender counselor

Industrial and Organizational Psychology

  • Human resources manager
  • Talent management specialist
  • Hiring/management consultant

Counseling Psychology

  • Mental health counselor
  • Bereavement counselor
  • Crisis response counselor
  • Substance abuse counselor

Child and Adolescent Psychology

  • Child therapist
  • Behavior therapist
  • School psychologist
  • Postsecondary psychology teacher

Accreditation for Online Master's in Psychology Degrees

Attending an accredited 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.

The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs primarily accredits counseling degree programs. This organization provides accreditation for master's and doctoral programs, while the APA only accredits doctoral programs in psychology. 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.

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

What can you do with a master's in psychology? Graduates can pursue careers as counselors or therapists or enroll in doctoral programs to pursue licensure as a psychologist. Behavioral counselors, child protection case managers, human resource managers, rehabilitation specialists, and school counselors can launch their careers with master's in psychology degrees.

Psychology Careers
Career Median Annual Salary (2020)
Psychologists $82,180
School and Career Counselors and Advisors $58,120
Marriage and Family Therapists $51,340
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors $47,660

Common Questions About Psychology Master's Degrees

What's the Difference Between a Master's in Counseling and a Master's in Psychology?

Graduate-level counseling and psychology programs both emphasize assessment and treatment plans. However, there are some key differences. A psychology degree focuses on behavioral research, psychopathology and cognitive processes, while a counseling degree might focus on community mental health, social justice, research, and the socioemotional well being of individuals, families, and groups.

What's the Difference Between a Master of Science and Master of Arts in Psychology?

Graduate-level counseling and psychology programs both emphasize assessment and treatment plans. However, there are some key differences. A psychology degree focuses on behavioral research, psychopathology and cognitive processes, while a counseling degree might focus on community mental health, social justice, research, and the socioemotional well being of individuals, families, and groups.

Can You Be a Psychologist With a Master's?

Some psychology careers only require a master's degree. School psychologists often hold master's degrees. A career in industrial organizational psychology is also possible with a master's degree.

Can You Open Your Own Practice With a Master's in Psychology?

Professionals with master's degrees in psychology can open counseling or therapy practices once they have achieved the appropriate level of independent licensure in their state. However, a clinical psychologist must hold a doctorate and be licensed in their state to practice independently.

Portrait of Genevieve Carlton

Genevieve Carlton

Genevieve Carlton holds a Ph.D. in history from Northwestern University. After earning her doctorate in early modern European history, Carlton worked as an assistant professor of history at the University of Louisville, where she developed new courses on the history of science, Renaissance Italy, and the witch trials. Carlton has published five peer-reviewed articles in top presses and a monograph with the University of Chicago Press. She also earned tenure with a unanimous vote before relocating to Seattle. Learn more about Carlton's work at genevievecarlton.com.

Portrait of Reviewed by: Megan Pietrucha, Psy.D.

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.

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