Best Online Master’s in Psychology

Janice Monti, Ph.D.
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Updated May 23, 2024
Edited by
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Thinking about earning a master’s in psychology? Explore the best online psychology master’s degrees. Learn about program requirements and career prospects.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

A master’s in psychology prepares you for various careers helping others cope with life’s problems. It also provides a pathway to doctoral studies, the minimum requirement for becoming a licensed clinical psychologist. If you are juggling personal or work responsibilities, an online master’s in psychology offers an appealing alternative to traditional on-campus programs.

Check out the best online psychology master’s. Learn what to expect from this degree and what you can do once you graduate.

Popular Online Psychology Master’s Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

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Best Online Master’s in Psychology Programs

#1 Best Online Master’s in Psychology

McNeese State University

  • Location-markerLake Charles, LA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$5,147
  • Out-of-state$13,185
  • Retention Rate70%
  • Acceptance Rate81%
  • Students Enrolled7,295
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment56%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 Best Online Master’s in Psychology

University of Louisiana at Monroe

  • Location-markerMonroe, LA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$5,788
  • Out-of-state$17,888
  • Retention Rate73%
  • Acceptance Rate80%
  • Students Enrolled8,673
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment43%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 Best Online Master’s in Psychology

The University of Alabama

  • Location-markerTuscaloosa, AL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$10,780
  • Out-of-state$30,250
  • Retention Rate87%
  • Acceptance Rate83%
  • Students Enrolled38,100
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment13%
  • AccreditationYes
#4 Best Online Master’s in Psychology

Southern New Hampshire University

  • Location-markerManchester, NH
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$30,756
  • Out-of-state$30,756
  • Retention Rate65%
  • Acceptance Rate88%
  • Students Enrolled113,514
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment94%
  • AccreditationYes
#5 Best Online Master’s in Psychology

Arizona State University

  • Location-markerScottsdale, AZ
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$8,867
  • Out-of-state$19,282
  • Retention Rate74%
  • Acceptance Rate64%
  • Students Enrolled45,073
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment98%
  • AccreditationYes
#6 Best Online Master’s in Psychology

Regent University

  • Location-markerVirginia Beach, VA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$17,220
  • Out-of-state$17,220
  • Retention Rate78%
  • Acceptance Rate86%
  • Students Enrolled10,365
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment92%
  • AccreditationYes
#7 Best Online Master’s in Psychology

Pepperdine University

  • Location-markerMalibu, CA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$55,640
  • Out-of-state$55,640
  • Retention Rate91%
  • Acceptance Rate32%
  • Students Enrolled8,824
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment18%
  • AccreditationYes
#8 Best Online Master’s in Psychology

University of Idaho

  • Location-markerMoscow, ID
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$6,182
  • Out-of-state$25,418
  • Retention Rate77%
  • Acceptance Rate78%
  • Students Enrolled11,926
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment32%
  • AccreditationYes
#9 Best Online Master’s in Psychology

Fayetteville State University

  • Location-markerFayetteville, NC
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$2,982
  • Out-of-state$14,590
  • Retention Rate74%
  • Acceptance Rate69%
  • Students Enrolled6,551
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment70%
  • AccreditationYes
#10 Best Online Master’s in Psychology

Lynn University

  • Location-markerBoca Raton, FL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$36,680
  • Out-of-state$36,680
  • Retention Rate71%
  • Acceptance Rate74%
  • Students Enrolled3,247
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment46%
  • AccreditationYes
#11 Best Online Master’s in Psychology

Fort Hays State University

  • Location-markerHays, KS
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$3,990
  • Out-of-state$14,070
  • Retention Rate74%
  • Acceptance Rate91%
  • Students Enrolled15,908
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment55%
  • AccreditationYes
#12 Best Online Master’s in Psychology

Nova Southeastern University

  • Location-markerFort Lauderdale, FL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$31,150
  • Out-of-state$31,150
  • Retention Rate81%
  • Acceptance Rate80%
  • Students Enrolled20,576
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment45%
  • AccreditationYes
#13 Best Online Master’s in Psychology

Medaille College

  • Location-markerBuffalo, NY
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$29,950
  • Out-of-state$29,950
  • Retention Rate61%
  • Acceptance Rate62%
  • Students Enrolled2,002
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment29%
  • AccreditationYes
#14 Best Online Master’s in Psychology

Indiana Institute of Technology

  • Location-markerFort Wayne, IN
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$26,990
  • Out-of-state$26,990
  • Retention Rate68%
  • Acceptance Rate60%
  • Students Enrolled2,223
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment36%
  • AccreditationYes
#15 Best Online Master’s in Psychology

Tiffin University

  • Location-markerTiffin, OH
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$25,710
  • Out-of-state$25,710
  • Retention Rate65%
  • Acceptance Rate69%
  • Students Enrolled2,926
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment51%
  • AccreditationYes

Why Pursue a Master’s in Psychology Online?

A master’s requires a major investment in time and money but can lead to significant professional and personal rewards. Choosing an online program may make it easier to achieve your goals. Before enrolling in graduate school, consider how you might benefit from a psychology master’s and the reasons for getting your degree online.

Benefits of a Master’s Degree in Psychology

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    More career opportunities:

    A master’s in psychology opens more doors for advanced careers than a bachelor’s degree in therapeutic or counseling settings and areas outside of psychology, including human resources and marketing
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    Higher Salaries:

    Earning a master’s degree in general, including one in psychology, increases your earning potential. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a master’s degree holder makes over $900 more monthly than someone with only a bachelor’s.
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    Foundation for doctoral studies:

    A master’s degree increases your admission chances and preparation for doctoral studies. A doctorate in psychology helps you qualify to practice as a licensed psychologist, earning the top salaries in the field.
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    Personally rewarding work:

    A psychology master’s degree qualifies you for an array of fulfilling careers. These careers can help you positively impact people’s lives and advocate for mental health awareness.

Reasons to Get Your Master’s Degree Online

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    Flexibility and convenience:

    An online master’s degree allows you to access course materials according to your schedule, helping you balance your educational goals with your personal and work commitments.
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    Wider access to degree programs:

    The expansion of online degrees enables you to pursue your master’s at schools nationwide, including many top-tier private and public institutions. An online master’s may offer specializations that interest you but are unavailable at programs closer to your residence.
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    Cost savings:

    Distance learning may help you reduce the overall cost of your education by saving housing and commuting expenses. Some online programs offer discounted tuition or virtual course materials, saving you the money spent on textbooks.
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    Time management skills:

    Mastering time management skills, including discipline, self-motivation, and responsibility, is essential to successful online learning and will serve you well in the workplace.

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. Learners take a mix of core courses and specialized courses in their concentration areas.

Most programs require clinical counseling or psychology work under the supervision of a licensed psychologist or counselor. 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.

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: Graduates of these programs can pursue careers as marriage and family therapists, mental health counselors, and applied behavioral analysts.
  • Forensic Psychology: Graduates of a master’s in forensic psychology program can pursue careers such as victim advocate, court liaison, or counselor for people in the justice system.
  • Industrial and Organizational Psychology: With this concentration, graduates can pursue careers like training and development specialists, hiring managers, and human resources specialists.
  • Child and Adolescent Psychology: This concentration helps graduates enter careers as school counselors, family counselors, and postsecondary psychology teachers.
  • Counseling Psychology: Graduates with this concentration can pursue careers as mental health counselors, bereavement counselors, crisis response counselors, and substance use counselors.

Courses

  • Counseling Theories and Therapy: This course covers psychoanalytic, cognitive, behaviorist, interpersonal, humanistic, existential, biological/genetic, and social psychological theories.
  • Psychopathology: This overview of psychopathology includes behavioral, developmental, biological/neurological, and social/cultural approaches and the theories of the etiologies of psychopathology
  • Developmental Psychology: This course explores the life span in human development from birth through death, examining physical, cognitive, social, and emotional growth.
  • Research Design and Analysis I: This introduction teaches students basic research design and the conceptual basis for statistical applications.
  • Psychological Assessment: Students in this course learn to administer personality, intellectual, and industrial/organizational assessments and evaluate the use of assessment data.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Psychology Degrees

Attending an accredited master’s in psychology program is essential to earning a valid degree that licensing boards, doctoral programs, and employers recognize. Failing to do so can create problems when you try to transfer credits, qualify for licensure, and compete for jobs.

The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs primarily accredits counseling degree programs. This organization accredits master’s and doctoral programs, while the APA only accredits doctoral psychology programs. 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 Graduates of Online Master’s in Psychology Programs Do?

A master’s degree often serves as a stepping stone to a doctorate, preparing you to become a licensed psychologist. However, you can enter the workforce directly after earning a master’s to pursue careers in various areas, including counseling, social and community services, criminal justice and law, and industrial-organizational settings. A master’s also prepares you for careers outside psychology in human resources, marketing, and public relations.

Careers

A master’s in psychology offers concentrations that prepare you for careers that match your interests. While not definitive, this list of potential careers highlights the variety of professional opportunities you can enter with a master’s degree.

  • School Counselor: School counselors provide guidance and support to help K-12 students create academic plans, overcome academic and interpersonal challenges, and explore career choices. Many school districts require a master’s to practice as a licensed school counselor; some states may require a teaching certificate.
  • Behavioral Counselor: Behavioral counselors conduct assessments and develop treatment plans to help clients manage or change their behaviors, including conditions such as addictions, eating disorders, and phobias. This career requires a master’s in psychology and, depending on state regulations, a specific license to practice as a professional counselor or clinical professional counselor.
  • Mental Health Counselor: Mental health counselors assess and treat clients with emotional and mental health disorders, using multiple techniques to address a wide range of issues such as anxiety, anger management, and depression. These positions usually require a master’s degree and the appropriate licensing examination to become a state-licensed mental health counselor or professional counselor.
  • Training and Development Specialist: Training and development specialists create, plan, and administer training programs for businesses and organizations to improve employee skills and organizational performance. While you may enter this field with a bachelor’s degree, many employers prefer to hire master’s degree holders with training management or talent development certifications.
  • Survivor Advocate: These advocates use their crisis intervention, advocacy, and case management skills to assist survivors of crime. They help clients find needed resources and accompany them through criminal justice proceedings. Earning a master’s degree and certification in survivor assistance or advocacy can qualify you for more advanced positions.

Salary and Career Outlook for Graduates of Online Master’s in Psychology Programs

The overall employment outlook for graduates of online master’s in psychology is promising, although earnings depend on several factors, including years of experience, type of employer, and location. Median salaries for the most common psychology careers employing master’s degree graduates range from $53,000 to $68,000 annually.

Employment and Median Annual Salary for Common Psychology Careers
Career Employment Median Annual Salary
School and Career Counselors327,660$61,720
Marriage and Family Therapists63,340$58,510
Substance Use, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors397,880$53,710
Training and Development Specialists 403,480$64,340
Human Resources Specialists 895,970$67,650
Source: BLS

Frequently Asked Questions About Psychology Master’s Degrees

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. Yet, a counseling degree might focus on community mental health, social justice, research, and the socio-emotional well-being of individuals, families, and groups.

A master’s of arts in psychology rests on a strong liberal arts foundation, while a master’s of science focuses on the scientific method and empirical investigation. The M.A. emphasizes cultural and social approaches to clinical and counseling psychology, while the M.S. provides training in research methodology, statistics, and evidence-based inquiry.

In most psychology fields, you need a Ph.D. or a Psy.D. degree to use the title of psychologist and practice as a licensed psychologist. However, you may qualify for positions as an industrial/organizational psychologist or a sports psychologist without earning a doctorate. Master’s degree holders find employment in various settings, including counseling, social services, human resources, and criminal justice.

Both the M.A. and the M.S. in psychology require approximately 60 credits and take about two years of full-time study. The curriculum covers counseling applications, theory and methods, diagnosis, assessment and treatment, and ethics. Most programs require a fieldwork or internship component.

Gaining admission into a master’s in psychology has become increasingly competitive. At the best schools, the number of applications greatly exceeds the number of admitted students. A strong undergraduate record in science, math, and writing strengthens your chances for admission. A high GPA, above 3.5, and upper-tier GRE scores certainly give you a competitive edge. Clinical, research, or volunteer experience also distinguishes you from other applicants.

Note: The insights on this page — excluding school descriptions — were reviewed by an independent third party compensated for their time by TheBestSchools. Page last reviewed May 15, 2024.

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