online psychology degree

Online Psychologist Degree: Full Guide

Online degrees are becoming increasingly popular among people who work jobs or are looking to complete another while already studying one on-campus. An online degree gives you the flexibility to choose your hours, allows access to study materials 24×7 and also gives you the freedom to finish your coursework when you can take time out of your schedule. This does not mean you can be lax. Online courses do require dedication and time. A degree in online psychology will not necessarily be easy but it is a great way to make use of your time if you cannot attend college physically. Online degrees are also a lot cheaper than regular degrees. The following is a brief guide to an online psychology degree:

What Is an Online Psychology Degree?

online psychologist degreeAn online psychology degree covers all the aspects of psychology that a regular degree does but the main difference, as is apparent from the nomenclature, is that it is a degree you can complete online.

This mode of learning is ideal for professionals with full-time jobs. You can learn on your own time and move forward with coursework based on how much time you can devote to it. Most online courses at reputed universities offer access to course material 24×7, so you do not have to feel the burden of a time constraint.

An online course may also be suitable for somebody who cannot make themselves available at the class physically, for whatever reason. Perhaps the fee is too high or perhaps you are simultaneously working on another degree. Whatever your reasons to enroll in distance learning, an online degree in psychology will prepare you for the same jobs that a regular psychology degree will.

Types of Psychology Degrees

There are a few different fields of psychology you can enter into, even through an online course. In the first few semesters, you may learn the basics of psychology but you will eventually want to specialize in a specific field. The following are some of the fields of psychology you may want to consider:

Clinical Psychology

psychology degree onlineClinical psychology is a vast field of psychology that tries to assess and treat psychological distress and mental illness in people. A clinical psychologist typically interacts with patients in hospitals and private clinics. They perform psychotherapy and ascertain the issues the patients are facing.

Often, their job includes drawing out a treatment plan and equipping the patient with the skills to work through their distress. With an online clinical psychology master’s degree you can specialize in certain areas. For example, you can focus on treating substance abuse, geriatric health or go into child psychology, even. It is a spread out field that has several options to choose from. Clinical psychologists are different from clinical psychiatrists and are not licensed to prescribe medication.

Developmental Psychology

Developmental psychology is yet another field you can study. Psychologists who specialize in this field study human development through different stages. As a developmental psychologist, you can focus on different phases in a person’s life. Early adolescence, adulthood, old age, etc. With your patients, you may try to ascertain if there are any delays in development, especially among minor patients. Even if you do not choose to practice psychology in an applied form, as a developmental psychologist, you can conduct research and widen the spectrum of this field by conducting studies and writing papers.

Counseling Psychology

psychology online degreeGetting an online counseling degree is one of the most popular choices for specialization within the subject. Counseling psychologists also use psychotherapy as clinical psychologists do. There are a few similarities between clinical psychology and counseling psychology, but the latter can also enter fields of research, teaching, student counseling and do not specialize in psychotherapy alone. Their focus is on overall well-being and not on psychotherapy alone. This difference is, naturally, reflected in their training and education as well.

With an online master’s degree in counseling, counseling psychologists can work in hospitals and clinics, as well as in schools or academic environments to counsel students. They use a wide range of therapeutic skills and understanding and do not rely only on psychotherapy. However, it must be said that clinical psychologists typically deal with more severe cases of mental health, whereas patients with less severe symptoms may turn to a counseling psychologist.

Forensic Psychology

Forensic psychology is an exciting field of study. Its focus is at the intersection of psychology and the law. As a forensic psychologist, you may work as a consultant for law enforcement bodies working on criminal cases or even in the case of civil disputes. You may also specialize in providing psychotherapy to victims or survivors of a crime.

You will be working with juvenile offenders and making notes assessing whether they have the tendency to repeat offenses. You may also work with witnesses and ascertain their psychological health to stand in a trial and offer testimony in court.

As with most types of psychology specializations, you can enroll and get a forensic psychology degree online.

Cognitive Psychology

psychologist online degreeCognitive psychology is a field of the subject where experts try to ascertain how people arrive at decisions. It is a field of psychology that focuses on how the brain absorbs information, processes it, stores and then, in turn, uses it.

As a cognitive psychologist, you may work in universities, as researchers at medical centers, at rehabilitation facilities, hospitals, etc. You can even have your own private practice. As has been the case with most of the other fields of psychology described above, you can choose to focus on a specific aspect of cognitive psychology, like decision making, problem solving, memory, language skills, etc.

Educational Psychology

Online educational psychology degrees have been rising in popularity in recent years. Educational psychologists focus their attention on learning techniques and how to better them in order to get through to students and people. They study how different factors, like cognitive and emotional factors, can affect how the process of learning is impacted. An educational psychologist may work with schools and teachers to develop teaching techniques and strategies. As an educational psychologist, you may also focus on the problematic aspects of teaching and the factors that may be hindering a child from learning.

There are a variety of areas you can work in when you have an online master’s in educational psychology. You can work at a school and design learning techniques or you can even conduct research at a center or lab to further this field of study.

Child Psychology

Child psychology is yet another highly popular specialization within the broader ambit of psychology. As a child psychologist, you study the growth and development of children in a variety of ways – from mental to emotional, behavioral and more – all with the purpose of detecting and correcting any issues children might have. With an online child psychology degree, you’ll learn how to inspect cognitive functions, language and motor skills, among others, to see if a pattern is built and a disorder is found such as autism, mood swings, and more. You’ll also study and learn how to correct them with therapy and other techniques and methods – all circling around the major principles of child psychology.

After a master’s in child psychology online, you can study even further and get a doctorate. There are sub-specialities available or you to take such as pediatric, adolescent, abnormal, among others, all of which will train you further to more effectively deal with a certain type of child.

School Psychology

After counseling, school psychology is the most popular type of specialization as of late. Combining the principles of educational psychology, developmental psychology and community psychology, among others, school psychology has the goal to create the very best learning environment for children, pre-teens and teenagers while also focusing on the students’ emotional and behavioral health. When you complete an online school psychology program and get your degree, you’ll be able to work with teachers and other educators, as well as parents, to achieve this.

School psychologists work mainly in the K-12 educational system, though it’s also increasingly popular for organizations to hire them so that they develop tailor-made learning programs for children and teens. With an online master’s in school psychology, you’ll also be able to work independently as a consultant to schools and other educational organizations as well as with individual students.

Levels of the Degree

psychology degree online levelsTo become a psychologist professionally, regardless of the field you wish to specialize in, there a few basic educational qualifications you need to have.

The following are the various degree levels you can attain to practice, as well as a quick overview of what they entail:

Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree majoring in psychology or with a considerable amount of coursework in psychology is the least requirement. To be accepted in any psychology doctoral programs, you need to have a B.A, possibly even a master’s degree. During your bachelor’s degree, it would be useful to explore opportunities to assist in research studies. You may also be required to select your specialization at the end of the four-year bachelor’s program.

Master’s Degree

An online master’s degree in psychology is an opportunity for you to advance the practical realm of the skills you have learned at the undergraduate level. With a master’s degree, you can work as a school psychologist in some states. You may also qualify to work as an industrial-organizational psychologist at workplaces.


To work in research and clinical fields, and to become a counseling psychologist, you need to complete a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree or a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D) degree. These degrees offer a lot more practical training and on-the-job experience. To be eligible for a doctoral program, you typically need a master’s degree from an accredited school. After that, you can apply for an online PhD in psychology or for an online doctorate in psychology.

Internship Followed by Residency

Most jobs as a psychologist require you to log in a certified amount of time as an intern and then as a resident. As an intern and a resident, you will be working at a hospital or medical practice and apply your theoretical knowledge in practical situations. You will be interacting with patients, solving medical cases and possibly even conducting research and studies. In order to acquire your license and practice as a psychologist, you will need to have completed your internship and residency. These programs are competitive and cannot be completed online.

Top Online Schools to Enroll in

The following are the top online schools you can enroll in:

Oregon State University

Oregon State University has a variety of online programs, including a B.A. or B.S. in Psychology. The course is on a quarter-term system and the classes go on for 11 weeks. You can choose to take the course in the distance-learning method or if you live in the Portland area, you can engage in a mix of online coursework and face-to-face classes in Portland, Oregon. The course requires 180 credits and costs $297 per credit.

Colorado State University

The Colorado State University offers a B.A. in Psychology. At the end of the course, the duration of which varies based on previous coursework and the intensity of the study, you will be able to explore jobs in areas of study like social psychology, organizational psychology, cognitive psychology, etc. The course requires 120 credits and costs $476 per credit.

Pennsylvania State University — World Campus

Pennsylvania State University offers an online course in B.A. Psychology. You will be able to apply your knowledge in fields like social work, rehabilitation, recreational therapy, caregiver for the elderly and children, etc. The course requires 123 credits and costs $555/$596 per credit.

Sam Houston State University

The Sam Houston State University offers an undergraduate program in psychology. This is one of the few programs that does not mention the word ‘online’ in your transcripts. With a degree in psychology from the university, you can apply for further programs in graduate schools. You can also explore areas of psychotherapy, mental health services, advocacy, management, etc. While this is an online program with 75% of the coursework being made available online, the remaining courses need to be attended on campus. The course requires 120 credit hours and costs approximately $5,085 per semester.

University of Massachusetts

The University of Massachusetts offers a B.A in Psychology and initiates students into the fields of clinical, experimental and developmental psychology, among other things. The course requires 120 credits and costs $380 per credit. At the moment, due to legislative changes, the online course is not offered to residents of Arkansas, Kansas and Minnesota.

University of Florida

The University of Florida offers a B.A in Psychology. The course has an interdisciplinary curriculum, with an approach to psychology through the lens of natural and social sciences. The university offers transferred credits, as long as the transfer applicants have a GPA of at least 2.75. With a degree in psychology, students can explore employment opportunities in fields of behavior analysis, clinical psychology, customer relations and more. The course requires 120 credits and costs $129.8 per credit.

Washington State University — Global Campus

Washington State University’s B.A in Psychology offers students an understanding of psychological principles and their use in the scientific field. The course is conducted entirely online and offers access to free online materials. The tuition fee is based on the campus you take admission in, through summer tuition, which is the same on all campuses, costs approximately $5,664.50 for non-Washington-residents.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University’s online B.A in Psychology is a respected course for you to take. There are 40 classes in total and each class takes about 7.5 weeks. As a graduate from Arizona State University, you can seek employment in fields like animal training, counselors, health educators, clinical data managers, etc. The course requires 120 credit hours in total and costs $520-$728 per credit hour.

Final Thoughts

It is never too late to get an education. Most of these degrees do not have an age limit so you can enroll in a class at whatever age and at your own time. An online psychology degree is an ideal way for somebody older to go back to learning without the stares and smirks of younger students. But apart from that, it is a great way for somebody who has to maintain a day job to also acquire a degree. The course work is not any less, however, you do get the freedom to choose your hours and have the flexibility to complete the course in less trying circumstances.

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