Your Complete Guide to

Online Psychology Degrees

The best psych programs, benefits, list of universities, rankings, FAQs and everything you ever wanted to know.
Grant Aldrich on August 05, 2021

Why We Love Them

  • High Job Satisfaction
  • Problem Solving
  • Challenging Cases
  • Great Potential Salary

Are you thinking about going back to school to pursue your psychology degree? That’s an awesome idea and one that will help you improve your and your family’s life. But with so many degrees to choose from, how do you know which one is right for you?

Well, we can help you decide.

Did you know that psychology is the most popular college major among undergraduate students around the entire world?! Now you may be wondering what makes psychology so popular.

Well, a psychology degree not only offers individuals the opportunity for personal growth; it also provides numerous potential and exciting career paths.

If you think a career in psychology might be a good fit for your interests and skillset, then keep reading, because we’re going to explore everything you need to know about obtaining a psychology degree.

We’ll cover the best online psychology degrees that offer the biggest career potential, compare online programs with traditional programs, and take a look at the differences between Associates, Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral degrees.

Make sure you read this ENTIRE article because we’re also going to share how OnlineDegree.com could help you save a LOT of time and money toward your tuition!

Let’s get started…

8 Best Online Psychology Degrees

Before we get into the specific online psychology degrees, let’s talk about WHY we believe these degrees are the best.

Economically Viable

These psychology degrees can set you on a rewarding and lucrative career path. No matter what the economy is doing, there will always be a need for people who possess the knowledge and skills provided by these degrees.

Perfect for a Career Change

If you are an adult who is looking for a career change to help you earn more for your family, then we encourage you to give the following degrees your attention.

Online Degrees are Flexible and Affordable

We’ve decided to focus on those psychology degrees that can be earned online because they allow busy working adults the opportunity to make a positive change in their lives. An online program will allow you to study at your own pace and during those hours that are convenient for YOU.

Now that you know why we chose the online psychology degrees we did, let’s dive in:

Here are 7 psychology degree concentrations to consider:

Addiction Psychology

Addictions take a significant toll on people’s lives. Whether someone is addicted to drugs, gambling or sex, the inability to control their emotions and impulses often leads to a breakdown of their personal and professional relationships.

A psychology degree with a concentration in addiction will help graduates understand how habits and activities can evolve into an addiction and how the cycle of addiction can be treated and eventually broken. Students will learn about biopsychology and how it affects behavior as well as the common social causes of addictive actions.

Your Career Path with This Concentration

Once you have completed your degree you will have the ability to apply your skills and knowledge in a variety of professional settings. You may decide to go after one of these specific careers:

  • Case manager
  • Community relations officer
  • Court liaison
  • Health educator
  • Law enforcement advocate
  • Probation and parole officer
  • Psychiatric assistant
  • Researcher
  • Treatment specialist
  • Victims’ advocate

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors is projected to grow 25% from 2019 to 2029. That is much faster than the average for all occupations. The BLS also reported the median annual wage for these professionals was $46,240 in May 2019.

Applied Psychology

Mental Health Counselor

Are you interested in how to successfully navigate both personal and business relationships? Are you someone that has always been a problem solver? If so, a psychology degree with a concentration in applied psychology may be the perfect fit!

This program will take psychological theories and approaches and actually put them to work, taking concepts and research and turning them into real-world solutions. Students will look at specific areas of human behavior, covering a wide array of areas including educational, sports, health, industrial, community and forensic psychology.

Career Outlook

Your applied psychology degree provides the concepts and communication skills needed to succeed in numerous industries such as education, business and human services. Some graduates may decide to become a market research analyst, a position the BLS projects will see 20% growth through 2028. Other graduates may become a human resource manager, a role with a 7% expected job growths, or a public relations specialist, a career with 6% projected job growth according to the BLS.

Forensic Psychology

It was in the 1920s that psychologists first began appearing in courtrooms across the country as expert witnesses, offering their insights into human behavior. These appearances led to further study and exploration, leading to the robust discipline we have today.

Students enrolled in this program will study the intersection between clinical psychology and the legal system. Coursework tends to cover psychology topics while tailoring them towards forensic and criminal psychology.

Graduates have multiple options as far as career paths. They may decide to work as a psychologist in a correctional facility, working with inmates. They may also choose to work with law enforcement and prosecutors, assessing criminals and defendants to determine their ability to stand trial.

Career and Salary Outlook

Graduates with this degree have myriad criminal justice career paths to choose from. Some may go on to build a career as a substance abuse and behavioral counselor, a position with a median annual salary of $46,240, according to the BLS. Some may decide to become a bona fide forensic psychologist, earning an annual income of roughly $69,855 per year. Those candidates looking to take on more leadership roles and increase their earnings potential exponentially may decide to continue their education to earn their master’s or doctorate degree. (We’ll talk about the benefits of each in just a bit, so keep reading!)

Crisis Counseling

grief-counselor

Do you have a desire to help people during some of the most trying times in their lives? Crisis counselors are people that assist clients in acute mental health crises effectively work through their feelings in an effort to prevent self-harm. These crises are often brought on by past trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, or other acute mental health illnesses.

These counselors are life-saving professionals that typically work either on staff for a mental health facility, providing emergency aid to patients in need, or have a roster of their own clients they work with.

Students in this program will focus their studies on the human brain and how it reacts during a mental health crisis, as well as the effects of acute and long-term trauma on an individual’s mental health and overall well-being. Coursework will also focus on building each students own individual strengths so they will be prepared to work in critical situations.

Potential Career and Salary

The BLS does not currently offer employment or salary data for crisis counselors, but they do for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors, which would be very similar. For these individuals, employment is projected to grow 25% from 2019 to 2029, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. The BLS also reports the median annual salary for these professionals was $46,240 in May 2019.

Child Development Psychology

school-psychologist

The most important timeframe in human development is during childhood. If you are someone that has always wanted to have a positive impact on a child’s life and on the future leaders of the world, then a degree in psychology with a concentration in child development may be the perfect fit!

Students in this program will study both the biological and psychological advancement of children, through every stage of their lives. You will come to understand how factors such as family, culture, and friends can affect a child’s development into adulthood. 

What Kind of Career and Salary Can You Have with This Degree?

Graduates with this degree can pursue a wide variety of rewarding careers. You may decide to become a:

  • Social Worker
  • Preschool Teacher
  • Child Life Specialist
  • Special Education Paraprofessional
  • Early Childhood Education Regulator
  • Early Childhood Education Consultant

The options are almost endless!

As far as salary, that really depends on specific roles and level of education. For instance, those who wish to pursue teaching will typically need to earn an advance degree to become licensed.

Here are some of the most common career paths with this degree along with their median annual salaries according to the BLS:

  • Preschool and Childcare Center Director: $45,790
  • Elementary School Teachers: $55,490
  • Special Education Teacher (Kindergarten and Elementary School): up to $90,260

Of course, empowering today’s youth is priceless!

Mental Health

This is one of those awesome degree concentrations that can really lead to a career in myriad fields. For those students not entirely sure they want a career in classic clinical psychology or counseling, a concentration in mental health will provide you with the skills that transfer to a wide range of fields such as human resources, social services, marketing and public relations.

In this program, you will learn how to:

  • Adhere to ethical standards
  • Build trust with others
  • Communicate effectively
  • Conduct and apply research
  • Implement scientific approaches

What Will Your Career Path Look Like?

There was a time when the topic of mental health was considered taboo. But over the last decade, people with mental health issues alongside mental health professionals have fought hard to counter that stigma. As a result, more and more people have come forward to seek treatment.

With this increase in those seeking treatment comes an increased demand for mental health professionals. In fact, the BLS has reported a projected growth of employment for mental health counselors of 22% through 2028. This is much faster than the national average of other occupations. The BLS also reports the median annual salary for these professionals was $46,240 in May 2019.

Of course, this particular set of data points relates to mental health counselors. But again, this is a concentration that can lead you down paths in marketing and public relations as well. Your options are truly exciting!

Industrial Organizational Psychology (I/O)

If you are looking for a career in psychology that offers high pay and job security, this is the degree for you! I/O psychology is one of the fastest growing areas of psychology today. Graduates with this degree can go on to help employees, organizations, and workplaces improve operations and outcomes through psychological theories.

Essentially, these professionals help organizations solve problems around employee morale, efficiency, and growth. Some graduates will decide to work as an in-house psychologist for a single company while others may decide to build their own consulting agency, working with a variety of client.

Career Potential

The BLS reported the media annual salary for I/O psychologists was $97.200 in 2018.

And, when reporting by industry, the BLS reports the following for these professionals:

  • Government: $96,400
  • Hospitals: $86,500
  • Ambulatory healthcare services: $79,100
  • Elementary and secondary schools: $75,800

Social Psychology

How do social psychological areas important in our modern society influence people’s thoughts and actions? A degree in social psychology will help you discover the answer to that question!

Knowing why people do what they do is profoundly helpful in all aspects of life. Students will examine scientific studies of various areas of social psychology, which will help them understand themselves, others and society at large. Insights into how human develop their thoughts, feelings and attitudes are priceless! In this program you will develop a robust set of skills that can then be applied to your everyday life as well as business, community relations, marketing and sales-related careers.

Career Outlook

Graduates can take their degree and apply it to many high-growth industries such as labor relations, human resources, top- and mid-level management, real estate, sales and government work. Your career options are endless and your earning potential incredibly high!

Online Vs Traditional Campus Psychology Degrees

Now that we’ve explored what we feel are the 7 absolute best online psychology degrees, you may be wondering why we are focusing solely on online degrees. That’s simple: online degrees offer adult students a few amazing benefits:

  1. A Flexible Learning Schedule

If you’re an adult looking to go back to school to obtain your degree, you know balancing your work, life and school responsibilities could pose challenging. An online degree will allow you to study when is most convenient for YOU. Never worry about having to miss an important work or family function going after your online degree.

  1. Online Degrees are More Affordable

Online programs tend to be far more affordable than traditional college campus programs, because there isn’t the overhead involved. (That overhead tends to get passed on to the students!) On top of these initial savings, an online degree doesn’t require the expense of room and board, or even gas money to get to your local community college! In addition, you can continue to work while you pursue your degree.

  1. Psychology Degrees Fit Online Learning Perfectly!

These days, students can earn just about any kind of degree online. But unlike some degrees, such as those in certain science fields that require lab work, the field of psychology is perfect for online learning.

Benefits of a Psychology Degree

Why a Psychology Degree?

The world is run by human beings. But what runs those human beings? Discover the inner workings of the human mind and learn human behavior with a psychology degree.

This degree will prepare you for a rewarding career in psychology and help you build the skills needed to perform scientific inquiry, interpret data, and communicate and apply that data. Graduates will not only strengthen their communication and critical thinking skills; they will also develop a newfound respect for diversity, inclusion and equity.

Here are just a few benefits of getting a degree in psychology:

Demand is Strong

Demand for psychological services in schools, hospitals, and abuse treatment centers is strong and continues to increase. Especially in high demand are specialists in school psychology, clinical psychology, and I/O psychology.

The Degree Opens Many Doors

Did you know that the average psychology major will NOT pursue a career in psychology or counseling? Instead, they will take their degree and apply it to other fields such as marketing, business, advertising, criminal justice, education, sales, public affairs, health services, human resources, and numerous other areas. In other words, this degree opens to the door to endless career paths!

You Can Make a Difference

If you are a problem solver and someone who has always wanted to help people in profound ways, earning your psychology degree will help you have a career that can be emotionally satisfying.

Cost and Tuition of Obtaining a Psychology Degree

 We understand that going back to school to earn your degree is a time and financial commitment for you and your family. No doubt you have already wondered how exactly you’ll pay for your education.

 In addition to discussing financial aid options with your school’s financial advisor, there are some other ways you could save, and save BIG.

First, we encourage you to read our article on 5 ways you can save on college tuition. Most prospective students don’t know there are some really great savings options out there.

Next, take some time to use our free Smartplan to find ways to save at various schools across the country. Our Smartplan will show you how you can take advantage of free courses, discounts and more. In fact, that’s why we created OnlineDegree.com so that everyone could have access to an affordable education.

Choosing the Right Type of Psychology Degree

If you’ve read this far, you might already be starting to recognize what the best psychology degree is for YOU. But now you may be wondering what type of degree you should pursue. After all, the type of degree will dictate the length of time you are in school and the total cost of your education.

Let’s take a look the degrees available to you:

Associate’s Degree in Psychology

An associate’s degree is a two-year degree that is typically obtained through a vocation school or community college, though there are online associate’s degrees as well. While the majority of jobs in psychology will require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, an associate’s degree can lead to excellent careers as psychiatric technicians and aides, and social and human services assistants, among other opportunities. In other words, this degree will help you get your foot in the door and gain some experience and start earning.

Many students use an associate’s in psychology as a stepping-stone to a bachelor’s degree, which will open up more career opportunities and help them earn more.

Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology

All of the degrees we covered in this article are bachelor’s degrees, which traditionally take 4 years to complete, though there are ways you can shave some time off your studies.

A bachelor’s degree in psychology will prepare you for numerous career paths in psychology and other fields such as education, social services, personnel management, business and marketing, counseling and healthcare. Many graduates with this degree will continue on with their education and obtain a master’s or doctorate degree.

Master’s Degree in Psychology

Once you’ve obtained your bachelor’s degree in psychology, you may decide to continue your education and obtain your master’s degree in a chosen concentration. These programs are highly specialized and typically require another two to four years of coursework.

A master’s degree in psychology usually does one of two things: prepare graduates for professional practice in their specialty area or prepare them to further study at the doctorate level. Either way, a master’s degree will give you more opportunities for career advancement and help you earn an even higher salary!

Doctorate Degree

The most advanced degree you can earn is a doctorate. Graduates holding this degree are typically regarded as experts in their chosen fields. Doctoral degrees in psychology prepare graduates to conduct scientific research or prepare them for professional practice or both. Most individuals receive either the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or the Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degree.

Earning a doctorate degree is not easy and will require an additional 4 years of study or more. But graduates with this degree can and do earn top dollar in their field as well as earn the accolades of their peers.

Choosing the Correct University or College for Psychology

Now that you have a good idea of which online psychology degree interests you, it’s time to find the right school to help you reach your educational and professional goals.

Admittedly, that’s no easy task. To help you, we’ve created this short list of criteria we feel are incredibly important for adult students. You’ll want to look for schools with:

  • Online Programs
  • $0 in application fees
  • No required SAT/ACT testing scores
  • Faculty and professors that understand adult students’ needs
  • Discounts or scholarships
  • Convenient enrollment dates year-round (so you don’t have to wait for Spring or Fall)
  • Accreditation

Finding adult-friendly schools that match these can certainly be challenging! 

That’s why we created our Smartplan.  

When you use our Smartplan, we could help you find the right school you’re looking for AND one that has these crucial criteria to make pursuing your degree that much easier.

Register today to get your free Smartplan and compare different colleges! >>

Salary Data for Psychology Professionals

As you’ve already seen, obtaining a degree in psychology can set you on numerous career paths in varied industries, and each are going to offer you different earnings potential.

Here are just a few of the careers you can have with these degrees as well as their median annual salaries:

  • Addiction Counselor: $46,240
  • Clinical Psychologist: $81,000
  • Behavioral Health Director: $85,000
  • School Psychologist: $62,000
  • I/O Psychologist: $97, 200

FAQs

Q: What Psychology Degree Options Do I Have?

A: You have various options when it comes to concentrations/specializations, and we’ve covered 7 of the top degrees here today. You also have the option of earning your associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate degree. The higher your level of education, the more advancement opportunities and the higher your earning potential.

Q: What Will I Learn During a Psychology Degree Program?

A: A bachelor’s degree in psychology will provide you with the foundational skills in varying areas such as child development, adult development, aging, social psychology, cognitive neuroscience and abnormal psychology. Students will also learn how to research, analyze and share critical data.

Q: How Long Does it Take to Get a Psychology Degree?

A: The length of time it takes to complete your degree depends on several factors. Bachelor’s degrees, like the ones we’ve listed here, typically take 4 years to complete. There are, however, accelerated programs available for adult learners, and our Smartplan can help you find those!

Should you decide to continue on with your education to obtain your master’s or doctorate degree, you are looking at an additional two to six years of study.

How to Get Started 

Gee! We just covered a LOT of information here. You are probably wondering what you should do next.

We encourage you to take a few moments to use OnlineDegree.com’s Smartplan to find the right school that offers all of the criteria you’re looking for.   We’ve provided this helpful and free tool for you to help you make the right decision, and find ways that could end up saving you a lot of time and money toward your online psychology degree!

Register today for free >>

About the Author
Grant Aldrich
Grant founded OnlineDegree.com with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.

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