Psychology, the scientific study of mental functions and behaviors, is one of the most popular college majors. Online psychology degrees prepare students for a variety of career paths. Many online psychology degree students go on to earn graduate and doctoral degrees and pursue careers in research or go to medical school. Others become psychotherapists and focus on treating mental health issues. Online psychology degree graduates work in corporations, correctional institutions, hospitals, human service agencies, the military, schools, and laboratories. Some psychologists work with very specific demographics, such as children, the elderly, or veterans.
An online psychology degree can help students develop analytical and problem-solving skills. These skills, coupled with knowledge of human behavior, renders psychology relevant and applicable to most every field, including business, human resources, social work, law, political science, sales, teaching, journalism, and public relations.
The American Psychological Association (APA) has developed Guidelines for the Undergraduate Psychology Major to encourage traditional and online psychology degree programs to foster specific skills. The organization has identified five general areas of focus, to ensure students graduate with:
Psychology degrees, whether campus, online or hybrid, can be earned at nearly every level of education. Associate degrees introduce students to the field, while doctorate degrees prepare students for academic research or professional practice. Here’s how psychology degrees break down at each level:
Because the field is so varied, online psychology degree students will find they a slew of concentrations available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, including:
Specific online psychology degree curriculum requirements will vary from program to program. Undergraduate students can expect a broad liberal arts foundation, including courses in math, writing, sociology, political science, history, economics, literature, and science. Psychology classes at all levels of study may include:
|Intro to Psychology|
|The Psychology Profession|
|Research Methods in Psychology|
|Psychology of Personality|
|Psychological Testing and Assessment|
|Death and Dying|
|Drugs and Human Behavior|
|Psychology of Sexual Behavior|
|Child and Adolescent Psychology|
Anyone interested in an online psychology degree program needs to keep many different decision-making factors in mind. Tuition and fees certain top the list, but students should also be mindful of the following elements:
There are two different kinds of certifications in the field of psychology: state and board. It’s good to know the requirements of each while you’re selecting an online psychology degree program or still in school, to ensure you will be able to meet them. All psychologists must have state certification in order to practice in that state. Board certification, while advantageous, is optional.State Certification:
State certification requirements vary. The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards provides links to the different state licensing boards, where you can get more information on specific requirements, but in general candidates must:
School psychologists have different requirements and must obtain a certificate or license to work in public schools, usually through the state’s department of education versus the state psychology licensing board. The National Association of School Psychologists provides links to each state’s requirements.Board Certification:
While board certification is not required to practice psychology, it can lead to higher pay and may be required for employment at certain health care organizations and by third-party payers, such as insurance companies.
The American Board of Professional Psychology awards specialty certification in 13 areas of psychology:
In addition, The National Association of School Psychologists awards the Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) designation, which recognizes professional competency in school psychology.
The term “internship,” in relation to psychology generally refers to programs geared to pre-doctoral and doctoral students. Completion of an internship is a requirement for a PhD degree and certification.
There are, however, some internship opportunities at the undergraduate level, including several ongoing summer internship programs, which are outlined in the Internships section. Other opportunities will come and go as research projects begin and end, so students should check with their schools, local non-profit organizations, and health care institutions for current opportunities.
This course surveys the scientific study of human nature, including how the mind works, and how the brain supports the mind. Taught by Prof. John Gabrieli, topics include the mental and neural bases of perception, emotion, learning, memory, cognition, child development, personality, psychopathology, and social interaction. Students will consider how such knowledge relates to debates about nature and nurture, free will, consciousness, human differences, self, and society.
Prof. Paul Bloom provides a comprehensive overview of the scientific study of thought and behavior in this online psychology course. He explores topics such as perception, communication, learning, memory, decision-making, religion, persuasion, love, lust, hunger, art, fiction, and dreams. The course looks at how these aspects of the mind develop in children, how they differ across people, how they are wired in the brain, and how they break down due to illness and injury.
Instructors Susan Snycerski and Greg Feist lead students through all of the major psychological concepts and principles. The goal is to enable students to critically evaluate psychological research and have a more in-depth understanding of human thought and behavior.
Students in this online psychology course learn how psychology has developed a body of knowledge about behavior and mind through the use of scientific methods. Prof. Anderson D. Smith teaches students the basic principles in each area of psychology and how each requires good research. Students learn to recognize and describe major psychological principles, theories, and perspectives, and to describe the nature-nurture controversy across different areas of psychology.
Prof. Scott Plous teaches this fun online psychology class, Coursera’s most popular. The course offers answers to why people behave in certain ways, based on the latest social psychology research. Students get an introduction to classic and contemporary social psychology, covering topics such as decision making, persuasion, group behavior, personal attraction, and factors that promote health and well-being.
Prof. Phoebe Kazdin Schnitzer explores the question of what makes a man or a woman. Is it biology, society, or interactions among many types of influences? Topics include: gender differences in cognitive abilities; the social construction of gender; developmental, family, educational, and medical influences; and political and economic forces.
APF awards 15 annual scholarships for graduate student research, ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. Graduate students enrolled in a psychology master's program or doctoral program are eligible to apply. Students enrolled in a master's program must intend to continue on to a PhD program.
Each year at its annual meeting, the Association of Black Psychologists (ABPsi) awards $750 to a student who has conducted outstanding research. Research should have relevance to the psychological experience of African-descent populations.
Available to both graduates and undergraduates, the Epilepsy Foundation's Behavioral Sciences Student Fellowship targets students who are studying behavioral psychology and the psychological implications and causes of epilepsy.
The Elizabeth Munsterberg Koppitz Fellowship program awards as many as four research awards of up to $25,000 each, and up to two $5,000 runner-up scholarships yearly. Applicants must be doctoral degree candidates.
Sponsored by DatingAdvice.com, this scholarship awards $1,000 to U.S. undergraduates and graduates majoring in psychology who seek a career in relationship counseling or a related field. Applicants must have a minimum 3.5 cumulative GPA and submit a 500 to 900-word essay entitled "The Psychology of Online Dating."
The Gallagher Koster Health Careers Scholarship Program is a need-based scholarship for undergraduate students pursuing a health-related career. Students entering their junior and senior year of undergraduate study are eligible and must demonstrate academic excellence, a strong motivation to pursue a healthcare career, a dedication to community service, and a need for financial support of their education.
The Kay Wilson Presidential Leadership Award is a $500 cash award given to one outstanding Psi Chi chapter president annually who has demonstrated excellence in leadership at the local level. Candidates cannot apply for this award, but must be nominated by chapter members.
The NIH UGSP offers scholarships of up to $20,000 to students from disadvantaged backgrounds who are committed to careers in biomedical, behavioral, and social science health-related research. Scholarships are awarded for one year, and can be renewed up to four years. For each full or partial scholarship year, recipients commit to two NIH service obligations, which provide additional training and experience.
The National Association of Junior Auxiliaries awards scholarships to graduate students majoring in psychology and other related fields and who plan to work directly with children. Applicants must be U.S, citizens and residents of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, or Texas.
The National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students pursuing research-based master’s degrees in several disciplines, including psychology. Students must be enrolled at accredited U.S. institutions. The NSF welcomes applications from all qualified students and strongly encourages under-represented populations, including women, under-represented racial and ethnic minorities, and persons with disabilities, to apply for this fellowship.
Psi Chi awards more than $350,000 annually to both undergraduate and graduate psychology students through a variety of grants and scholarships.
The Wayne F. Placek grant is a $15,000 award to support empirical research from all fields of the behavioral and social sciences on any topic related to lesbian, gay, or bisexual issues. The goal is to increase the general public's understanding of homosexuality and to alleviate the stress that gay men and lesbians experience living in our society.
A quarterly magazine published by the American Psychological Association, gradPSYCH provides students with information on psychology careers, training, student lifestyle issues, and emerging trends in the field of psychology.
The Graduate Student Journal of Psychology is a peer-review journal published annually by Columbia University. It consists of empirical and theoretical articles written by graduate students in the areas related to clinical and counseling psychology.
The Journal of European Psychology Students is a peer-reviewed journal for psychology students worldwide. The publication gives psychology students the chance to gain experience in publishing and to improve their scientific skills.
The Journal of Psychological Inquiry only accepts contributions from undergraduate students. It aims to showcase the high quality of undergraduates' scholarly work.
JPBS is an annual periodical published by the Psychology and Counseling Department of Fairleigh Dickinson University. It offers undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty, an opportunity to publish in a recognized academic journal.
Modern Psychological Studies publishes research by undergraduates in any area of psychology. It accepts both empirical research (quantitative and qualitative), and literature reviews.
The Psi Chi Journal of Psychological Research publishes empirical manuscripts that make a contribution to psychological knowledge. Authors are Psi Chi members at the undergraduate, graduate, and faculty level.
The Department of Psychology at the University of North Carolina – Charlotte publishes the Undergraduate Journal of Psychology (UJOP). Undergraduate students submit their original research or literature reviews to this peer-reviewed journal.