Online Master’s in Psychology

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Masters Degree in Psychology

Psychologists use their training and expertise to research mental health disorders’ causes and treatments. The profession allows for specialization in one of multiple subfields, including clinical, forensic, and occupational psychology. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that psychologists earn a median $82,180 annual salary and projects the field to grow 3% from 2019-2029.

A master’s degree in psychology helps students attain admission to a doctoral program or qualify for a new career. Many degree-seekers benefit from an online psychology degree. Online learning features numerous benefits, such as affordability, accessibility, and flexibility.

Master's in Psych Questions


  • How long does it take to become a psychologist?

    After completing a two-year master’s degree, students enroll in either a Ph.D. or Psy.D. program. Learners in the former may need roughly eight years to graduate.


  • Is a psychology degree hard?

    Students who excel in a master’s degree in psychology program possess honed research, communication, and interpersonal skills. Learners facing difficulty should contact their school’s student services center.


  • What can you do with a master's degree in psychology?

    Psychology degree jobs for workers with a master’s include human resources analyst, developmental specialist, and public relations representative. Professionals working toward licensure must possess a doctorate in psychology.


  • What psychology field makes the most money?

    BLS data indicate that psychologists working for a government agency or hospital earn $8,000-$15,000 more than the profession’s median annual salary.


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Why Get a Degree in Psychology?

Professionals need not possess a doctorate to attain a fulfilling career. A master’s in psychology degree qualifies graduates to pursue numerous positions featuring one-on-one contact with people in need. Jobs include employment counselor, child protection worker, and psychiatric technician. These and other careers may require a psychology degree and relevant professional experience.

Online psychology degrees allow students to attend one of the best schools in the nation without uprooting their lives. Learners in an asynchronous program schedule their education around their work or other responsibilities. Earning a salary while in school may reduce degree-seekers’ need for financial aid and prevent student debt.

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How Much Does a Psychology Masters Cost?

Tuition, fees, and related expenses such as textbooks comprise a degree’s cost. Prospective students on a budget should research whether their state’s public universities offer an online psychology degree. If not, some out-of-state public schools may extend in-state tuition to all degree-seekers, regardless of residency. Typical fees include semester-based technology fees. Many universities also charge a one-time graduation fee.

Online students may pay the same for a degree as on-campus learners but save money in other ways, such as not living on campus or buying a meal plan. Degree-seekers who select an out-of-state program do not pay commuting or relocating costs either.

Online universities provide cost savings other than institutional and departmental aid programs, such as an automatic discount for active-duty service members. Learners may qualify for an employee reimbursement program. Other degree-seekers save significantly on their psychology degree by earning credit at a less expensive school before transferring.

Calculating the Cost of a Pyschology Degree

A psychology degree’s tuition may exceed what some students can pay out of pocket. A free calculation tool helps learners determine their ability to pay by comparing their income, cost of living, and financial aid to a school’s tuition. A result exceeding expected monthly tuition bills suggests degree-seekers do not need additional financial assistance to avoid student loans.

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Break down your current financial situation, and receive a college tuition estimate you can afford to pay.

How Much Do Psychology Majors Make?

Top-paying careers such as clinical psychologist, counseling psychologist, and forensic psychologist require a doctorate. However, professionals with a master’s degree in psychology may qualify for one or more jobs with a salary exceeding the national median, such as marriage and family therapist and survey researcher. Students work with a career advisor to learn more about these and related positions.

No matter their career, professionals increase their salary potential by moving to a state with a high median salary. Marriage and family therapists living in Utah, New Jersey, and Illinois earn over $13,000 more than the typical U.S. therapist. Career opportunities in Hawaii and Oklahoma also offer a higher-than-average salary.

Other options for earning more money include obtaining an industry certification. Typical requirements include taking a short course and passing an exam. Like a psychology degree, a certification increases employability and may qualify professionals for a raise or promotion.

Master’s in Pyschology Course Work

Psychology degrees emphasize the academic knowledge and communication skills professionals need to work with patients and collaborate with peers. Courses cover human behavior’s numerous facets, such as emotion, attitudes, and cognition. Students customize their education by selecting a concentration, and many programs require a final-semester capstone course.

The sample curriculum below describes three foundation courses most programs offer or require. However, all programs use a unique curriculum, and course offerings may affect which careers graduates pursue. Contact a university admissions advisor to learn more about the student experience and graduate outcomes.


  • Foundations of Professional Psychology

    An introductory course, foundations of professional psychology features coursework in the basic skills and knowledge psychologists need to work with patients. Students master APA-style writing, examine numerous scholarly articles, and explore careers related to each psychology subfield. The course also emphasizes state licensure requirements and other avenues professionals take to advance their career.


  • Group Counseling

    Group counseling differs significantly from one-on-one counseling, as psychologists must meet multiple individuals’ needs simultaneously. Students explore different theories, best practices, and motivational techniques through simulated group counseling sessions with their classmates. These sessions help degree-seekers understand group counseling’s challenges and opportunities as a treatment method.


  • Behavioral Measures and Interpretation of Data

    Psychologists measure patients’ progress by keeping detailed records over a long period. Behavioral measures and interpretation of data trains students to measure behavior correctly and analyze large data sets. Other course topics include communicating this information in a way people without a psychology background can understand clearly.


Certifications and Licensure for Psychology

Professionals with a doctorate in psychology must earn a license before treating patients unsupervised. Workers with a master’s degree advance their career in other ways, such as possessing one or more certifications. Certification steps may include obtaining professional experience and passing an exam. Some certifications’ renewal requirements involve continuing education courses.

Board Certification


The American Board of Professional Psychology grants board certification to licensed psychologists demonstrating mastery in 1 of 13 specialization areas, such as group, school, or rehabilitation psychology. Candidates submit work samples and take oral and written exams that cover professionalism, reflective practice, and ethical standards. Doctoral students may begin the certification process while in school.

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Certified Cognitive-Behavioral Therapist


The National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists awards the CCBT to professionals with a master’s in psychology or a related field. Other requirements include 10 years of experience and three recommendation letters. Workers recertify every five years by completing professional development courses or publishing original research in a peer-reviewed journal.

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State Licensure


Licensed psychologists treat patients in private practice and other healthcare settings. Although requirements vary somewhat by state, candidates must possess a doctorate in psychology, meet their state’s experience requirement, and pass one or more exams. Psychologists renew their license every 1-2 years by completing continuing education courses.

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Scholarships for Psychology Grad Students

Learners apply for scholarships to finance their master’s degree in psychology while reducing reliance on student loans. Multiple scholarships for psychology majors and online learners accept applications in 2021, making them the perfect option for current and prospective degree-seekers.


  • The Clubs of America Scholarship Program

    Who Can Apply: The Clubs of America accepts applications from college students majoring in any subject. Applicants submit a 600-word essay or brief video detailing their career aspirations.

    Amount: $1,000

    Explore Here

  • Future Counselors of America Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: DatingAdvice.com awards this competitive scholarship to undergraduate and graduate students majoring in psychology. Application materials include a 500- to 900-word essay detailing the relationship between online dating and psychology.

    Amount: $1,000

    Explore Here

  • Pride Foundation Scholarships

    Who Can Apply: LGBTQ+ degree-seekers in select states may qualify for one of the Pride Foundation’s 60 annual scholarship opportunities. Some scholarships require an interview, and the next application window opens on Oct. 11.

    Amount: Varies

    Explore Here


Online Master’s in Psychology Programs 2021

  1. Harvard University
    Location

    Cambridge, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Harvard University’s master’s in psychology, offered by the Harvard Extension School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, tops the list of best master’s in psychology programs for good reason. Rather than requiring prospective students to receive admittance to the program via standard application procedures, the school provides a unique alternative. Once deciding they want to pursue this degree, learners enroll in three classes that are required for all new students. After completing the first two, they apply to the program (in the fall, spring, or summer) and admissions panels consider their readiness for the remainder of the program based on performance in the previous months and traditional application materials.

    If accepted, students continue working through the required 12 courses by taking classes online and at the school’s brick-and-mortar location. Of the 32 credits needed to graduate, at least nine must be completed offline. Some of the classes required in this program include research methods and scholarly writing in the social sciences, statistical methods, and introduction to social anthropology. The final three classes for all psychology students include crafting the thesis proposal and master’s thesis parts one and two. When it comes time to write the thesis, students work with a director to conduct original research and write about a topic that ties in with previous professional experience or academic interests. Given the learning focus of this program, many graduates go on to complete a doctoral program and work in areas of research or academia. When they walk across the stage, newly minted graduates receive a master of liberal arts in extension studies, with an emphasis in psychology. Harvard is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

    Harvard Extension School:
    Massachusetts Hall, Cambridge, MA, 2138

    Phone Number: (617) 495-4024

    Email:inquiry@extension.harvard.edu

  2. Divine Mercy University
    Location

    Sterling, VA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located just outside the nation’s capital in neighboring Arlington, Virginia, Divine Mercy University provides a fully online master’s in psychology via its Institute for the Psychological Sciences. With a focus on instilling Catholic-Christian virtues while educating future mental health professionals, DMU’s curriculum offers an innovative and cutting-edge educational experience. Comprised of 36 credits and completed in two years of full-time study, this program covers topics such as human growth and development across the lifespan, the Catholic-Christian vision of flourishing and evidence-based practice and program evaluation. The final course, a capstone, helps students learn to be transformational leaders within the helping professions. This course is taken in lieu of a thesis.

    Described by the university as a non-therapeutic degree, DMU’s online M.S. in psychology prepares graduates for professional roles in fields related to psychology but does not lead to licensure. Some of the competency outcomes of the program include the ability to find and lead volunteers, crisis intervention, de-escalation and negotiation, and the ability to expertly review research and data produced by other professionals in the field. Learning is divided into five terms per year, with start dates available in January, May and August. Admission is dependent on a bachelor’s degree from a properly accredited college or university (which does not have to be in psychology), GPA of at least 2.75, GRE scores, two letters of recommendation, a resume and a personal statement outlining how the student’s goals align with the goals of the curriculum. To graduate, all learners must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher throughout the program. DMU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

    Institute for Psychological Studiese:
    2001 Jefferson Davis Highway, Suite 511, Arlington, VA, 22202

    Phone Number: (703) 416-1441

    Email:shollman.ips@divinemercy.edu

  3. Ball State University
    Location

    Muncie, IN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Although Ball State University provides degrees from its home base in Muncie, Indiana, individuals interested in pursuing the master of arts in educational psychology need never visit campus since the program exists fully online. BSU’s program requires students complete 30 credits, 18 of which form the core curriculum and the final 12 are devoted to one of four available specializations. Some of the core topics include advanced educational psychology, child and adolescent development, and human learning and achievement motivation. The four concentrations currently offered online are gifted and talented, human development, statistical and research methods, and neuropsychology. Students who already hold an Indiana teaching license and are following the gifted and talented path can complete what’s known as a high ability license alongside the degree program.

    If studying on a full-time basis and able to take summer classes, students can finish this program in less than a year; those enrolled on a more part-time basis usually need 18 months. BSU’s program appeals to learners from many different walks of life as it can open the doors to numerous professional options. While some graduates use their degrees to help school administrators make informed decisions about appropriately catering to developmental stages, others aspire to move into a Ph.D. program and become child psychologists. Still others decide on further education to pursue research. Online students receive instruction from the same notable faculty that lead classes at the brick-and-mortar campus and BSU is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

    Department of Educational Psychology:
    2000 University Ave, Muncie, IN, 47306

    Phone Number: (765) 285-1581

    Email:online@bsu.edu

  4. Colorado State University
    Location

    Aurora, CO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Though based in Fort Collins, students hoping to complete Colorado State University’s master of applied industrial/organizational psychology degree don’t have to visit campus to pursue this fully online program. CSU’s degree helps students learn how to study and categorize workers’ behavior in various business settings in order to maximize productivity and performance. Aside from understanding the psychology behind the decisions workers make, I/O psychologists-in-training gain skills in identifying and retaining top-tier employees, implementing and overseeing leadership development initiatives, handling sensitive and multifaceted issues, and assessing whether workplace programs are effective and efficient.

    CSU’s program comprises 38 credits, with options for completion ranging from two to four years, depending on how much time students devote to the program. Coursework ranges from applied organizational psychology and workforce training/development to succession planning and leadership development. To round out their time at CSU, all students enroll in a two-part capstone comprised of a practicum and skills development course. In addition to participating in a consulting project with a volunteer organization, learners receive virtual support and mentorship from a faculty member during the capstone. Students considering this program must submit GRE General and Psychology Subject Tests to be accepted, but they can take up to nine credits without formally enrolling to get a feel for the program. The department currently consists of four full-time industrial/organizational psychology faculty members. CSU is accredited by the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.

    Department of Psychology:
    102 Administration Building, Fort Collins, CO, 80523-0100

    Phone Number: (970) 491-6363

    Email:LINDA.THORNTON@COLOSTATE.EDU

  5. Texas A & M University-College Station
    Location

    College Station, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    From its College of Education and Human Development, Texas A&M University at College Station offers a master’s in educational psychology with an emphasis in school counseling. Made available completely online, students studying full-time can complete this program in just two years if they take classes in the fall and spring alongside two summer sessions. Courses are offered in both synchronous and asynchronous formats, so learners planning to work while enrolled may want to discuss times when live classes are typically offered to ensure the courses fit within their current schedules. When competing for admission, all applicants must provide an application, evidence of a 3.0 undergraduate GPA, three letters of recommendation, certification as a school counselor, and preferably at least two years of experience teaching in a classroom. Students based in Texas can use the degree to qualify for school counselor certification whereas learners from other states should check with their department of education to learn about certification requirements and whether out-of-state programs are permissible.

    Admitted students follow a course sequence as part of a cohort, with year one topics including multicultural counseling in schools, planning and organizing comprehensive guidance programs, and issues in child and adolescent development. Year two sees learners delving into studies of school counseling group interventions, consultation in special education, and assessment in school settings. During their final fall semester, students complete a counseling practicum in a school setting, while their final spring semester sees them participating in a field practicum in school counseling. No thesis is required. In addition to graduate academic advising and support related to financial services, TAMUCS students can also participate in a range of clubs and organizations. Students in the school counseling program may especially be interested in the educational psychology student organization, the student council for exceptional children, or the student affiliates of school psychology. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accredits TAMUCS.

    Department of Educational Psychology:
    JKW Administration Building, Suite 200, College Station, TX, 77843-1248

    Phone Number: (979) 845-1831

    Email:skallina@tamu.edu

  6. Concordia University
    Location

    Mequon, WI

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    In addition to operating campuses in Michigan and Wisconsin, Concordia University provides a vibrant online campus for students seeking distance education opportunities. One such program is the master of science in education with a concentration in school or professional counseling. Concordia’s program requires between 45 and 60 credits depending on student outcomes and is usually completed within two or three years of full-time learning. With a focus on making college affordable, the university provides a 25 percent tuition discount for educators at Christian schools and a 24 percent discount for preferred educational partners.

    After completing foundational courses in social/cultural foundations in counseling, models and methods of Christian family counseling, and human development, degree seekers move into core requirements. These include studies in Christian trauma counseling, individual counseling, and consultation strategies within the church. To finish up the degree, learners choose a number of counseling electives and complete two practicum experiences. No thesis is required with this degree. Upon graduation, learners living in Wisconsin qualify for 1) a School Counselor license, 2) a Licensed Professional Counselor – In Training credential, or 3) a Substance Abuse Counselor – In Training credential. Distance learners living in other states should check with their department of education or counseling board of licensure to learn whether Concordia’s program prepares them for similar credentials in their own state. Upon finishing the program, graduates have moved into roles as guidance counselors, counselors, Christian counselors and therapists. Some have also continued on to doctoral programs. To be considered for admission, students need to submit transcripts showing a 3.0 GPA from their undergraduate degree, two letters of recommendation, a resume, and a one-page essay on why they want to attend Concordia University. The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities accredits this school.

    12800 N Lake Shore Dr, Mequon, WI, 53097-2402

    Phone Number: (877) 289-1897

    Email:onlineadmissions@cuw.edu

  7. University of Houston-Victoria
    Location

    Victoria, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Houston’s Victoria campus provides an in-depth master of arts degree in counseling psychology for students preparing to work directly with clients after graduation. Comprising 60 credits, this degree typically takes three years of study if enrolled on a full-time basis and helps students meet requirements for receiving the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) credential within Texas. With this qualification, UHV graduates find work in settings such as residential treatment centers, psychiatric hospitals, university counseling offices, or mental health agencies – in addition to having the opportunity to operate in private practice. Admission hinges on a graduate admissions index score of 980 or higher, an essay stating why the applicant wants to attend UHV’s program, evidence that the student has already taken courses in abnormal psychology, research, and statistics (and received “C” grades or higher), and an interview with a UHV faculty member.

    Coursework is divided into three sections: core, specialization, and practicum. Core credits take up 21 hours and cover topics such as advanced research methods, theories and issues in psychology, and intellectual assessments. The counseling psychology portion of the degree covers 30 credits and includes studies in vocational psychology and career counseling, group psychotherapy, and professional practices. The final nine hours of the program focus on the counseling psychology practicum. Students must complete 150 practicum hours to meet all requirements, and 50 of those hours must provide direct client contact. To graduate, learners must successfully pass a comprehensive exam. UHV receives accreditation via the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

    School of Arts & Sciences:
    3007 N. Ben Wilson, Victoria, TX, 77901

    Phone Number: (361) 570-4201

    Email:perzc@uhv.edu

  8. University of Northern Colorado
    Location

    Greeley, CO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    From its home base in Greeley (located 50 miles from Denver), the University of Northern Colorado provides an M.A. in educational psychology with a concentration in teaching applications for learners throughout the country. Available fully online, the program offers flexibility while still providing an accelerated format. Degree seekers hoping to move through the program quickly can complete requirements in just one year. Those who prefer a slower pace can take three to four courses per eight-week term and finish in three or four semesters.

    Students move through coursework as part of a cohort, giving them plenty of support and encouragement along the way. The program requires 30 credits and starts in the summer each year. Rather than focusing exclusively on theory, UNC’s program emphasizes assignments that allow students to apply their knowledge to real-world problems. Some of the assignments include reviewing and revising lesson plans, creating assessment models, and addressing issues of diversity. Some of the classes offered include educational psychology for teachers, cultural issues in educational psychology, and educational assessment. To graduate, students provide a research proposal, conduct a project, and write a paper about the results. They must also take a comprehensive exam.

    After graduating from UNC, newly minted degree holders have gone on to work as teachers, educational consultants, business trainers, and data professionals measuring and assessing programmatic effectiveness. Admittance to UNC is based on students holding a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, a GPA of at least 3.0 on the last 60 credits, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. UNC does not require GRE scores. Regardless of location or style of learning, all students pay the same rate of tuition per credit. UNC also provides Student Health Insurance Plans (SHIPs) to online students. The Higher Learning Commission provides regional accreditation to UNC.

    Department of Psychology:
    Carter Hall - Rm 4000, Greeley, CO, 80639

    Phone Number: (970) 351-2989

    Email:kevin.pugh@unco.edu

  9. University of Nevada-Las Vegas
    Location

    Las Vegas, NV

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Nevada, Las Vegas serves more than 30,000 students annually, with learners electing to study both at the Paradise campus and online. Individuals seeking a master’s degree in educational psychology have the option to complete a program of study via either format, although they should check the institution’s state compliance listing to ensure they’re eligible for enrollment. UNLV’s program appeals to degree seekers with a variety of interests and goals, ranging from classroom teachers looking to better understand learners and enhance teaching to individuals hoping to do research in the field after completing a doctoral degree. Roles of UNLV graduates include educational assessment coordinator, educational psychologist, human resources education specialist, program evaluator, and research analyst for school districts.

    Admission for UNLV is considered competitive, with most accepted learners having a GPA of 3.0 or higher and scores on the verbal and quantitative parts of the GRE in the 50th percentile or above. In addition to transcripts and exam scores, students also provide three letters of reference, a writing sample, a personal statement on interests and goals, and a completed application. Once accepted, students choose to specialize their studies. Options currently include learning, development, evaluation, instructional design, or quantitative and/or qualitative research methodologies. Examples of general, core coursework include learning and development, research methods and measurement, and descriptive and inferential statistics.

    All told, students take 34 credits and usually finish the program in one-and-a-half to two years if studying on a full-time basis. After completing all required coursework, distance learners choose between completing a thesis or sitting for a comprehensive exam. Students planning to continue into a Ph.D. program typically opt for the first option, while those moving into a classroom or professional setting choose the second. UNLV is accredited via the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

    Department of Educational Psychology & Higher Education:
    4505 S Maryland Pky, Las Vegas, NV, 89154

    Phone Number: (702) 895-3245

    Email:steven.mccafferty@unlv.edu

  10. University of Idaho
    Location

    Moscow, ID

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Because Idaho maintains low population density, the University of Idaho makes it possible for learners wanting to participate in the master of science in psychology with an emphasis in human factors to do so without ever visiting the Moscow location. If learners do want to visit campus, the department maintains modern laboratories at which student research can be conducted. As an added bonus, full-time distance learners pay the same tuition as their in-state counterparts. A unique degree path, the human factors concentration offers a broad look at things like motivation and performance to ensure students have lots of options upon graduation. Some of the classes offered in this innovative program include sensation and perception, human factors in engineering design, ergonomics and biomechanics, and human-computer interaction. Students need 30 credits to graduate. All learners participate in advanced statistics and research methods courses to round out their knowledge.

    Once degree seekers complete all required courses, they complete a comprehensive examination focused on basic knowledge, application, and research methods and statistics. Another component of graduation requirements is the thesis. Students create a proposal outlining their proposed methods and research project and recruit three faculty members to serve as their thesis committee. After turning in the final product, degree seekers participate in a two-hour thesis defense to answer questions and explain the choices they made.

    Students hoping to attend UI’s program must have an undergraduate degree in psychology or a related field, a GPA of at least 3.0 and a GRE score of at least 1,000 (old scoring system) or 300 (new scoring system). Before learners receive full admittance, they must take and pass an introductory statistics class. Distance students receive in-state tuition rates but pay an additional fee of $35 per credit for technology fees. UI’s offering is housed in the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences which provides approximately $1.6 million in scholarships per year. UI receives accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

    Department of Psychology:
    875 Perimeter Drive MS 2282, Moscow, ID, 83844-2282

    Phone Number: (208) 885-4944

    Email:tthorste@uidaho.edu

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