The Best Online Psychology Degrees for 2020

Rankings, Salaries & Courses

Updated on: 03/18/2020
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U.S. colleges and universities conferred more than 1.9 million bachelor's degrees for the 2015-16 academic year (the most recent period that data is available). In the same academic year, U.S. schools conferred 117,000 psychology degrees, making it the fourth most popular undergraduate degree after business, health professions, and social sciences.

Top 10 Psychology Degree Programs 2020

Rank University Annual Tuition
1 Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College $16,337
2 University of Florida $11,313
3 University of Illinois at Springfield $10,733
4 Rutgers University $12,279
5 The Baptist College of Florida $9,252
6 Mary Baldwin University $16,556
7 Mercer University $21,202
8 Florida International University $9,180
9 Trine Online $14,712
10 McKendree University $19,676

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 14% growth rate for psychologists from 2018-28, which is much faster than the 5% average growth rate for other professions. Psychologists earn a higher median pay ($79,010) than the national median ($38,640) for other professionals. Psychology graduates, therefore, enter a robust job market with plenty of lucrative opportunities.

If you want to earn a psychology degree but you wonder how to afford college, read on. This guide features the most affordable online colleges, including information about online programs in psychology. You can also gain insight into the field through an expert interview.

Best Online Bachelor's Programs in Psychology for 2020

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Best Online Psychology Programs

Deciding which college to go to is no easy task, so ACO evaluated more than 3,500 colleges to give you the information you need to make the search more manageable. Our 2018 college rankings are based on statistical data from trusted sources, eligibility criteria and various ranking factors

Data Sources: Eligibility Criteria:
  • Each college must be accredited
  • Each college must be a not-for-profit institution
  • Each college must be located in a state (US territories and Washington DC were excluded)
  • Each college must have at least one online program 1
  • Each college must have a maximum four-year tuition of $25,000 or a maximum two-year tuition of $5,000
Ranking Factors:
  • Affordability
  • Quality
  • Flexibility
  • Program

Several individual data points were objectively evaluated to calculate a score for each ranking factor listed above. For affordability, the most impactful data points were tuition2 and grants; for quality, graduation and acceptance rates; for flexibility, part-time enrollment options; and for program, degrees granted in that specific program area. Each score was then weighted, with affordability being the most highly weighted factor for all ACO rankings.

1 Best Vocational Programs included data for both online and campus programs.

2 Both in-state and out-of-state tuition rates were used in our methodology; however, our rankings tool currently only displays in-state rates.

2-Year Schools

According to the Institute of Education Sciences, 13.3% of undergraduate students enrolled exclusively in distance education courses during the 2017-18 school year. An additional 19.5% of degree-seekers enrolled in at least one off-campus class.

Online education offers several advantages, including flexibility, affordability, and accessibility. Accredited schools ensure that their online offerings maintain the same rigor and standards as their on-campus programs. The same professors often teach on-campus and online courses. Students pursuing one of the most affordable online psychology degrees graduate with the same degree as their on-campus counterparts while enjoying the advantages of offsite enrollment.

Rank Logo School Tuition # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid Credit For Experience Placement Service Counseling Services Description & Additional Information Toggle
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1 Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Saint Mary of the Woods, IN
$16,337 Tuition
57% Graduation Rate

Based in Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, SMWC is a private institution dedicated to educating the whole person. Students earning an online bachelor of science (BS) in psychology take modern courses like psychology of women and stress management. SMWC's BS in psychology requires 43 credits, six of which are psychology-related elective credits. Courses follow a semester format. Students can complete the entire program in four years and choose from an entirely online or a hybrid format. The same faculty teach both the on-campus and online courses. SMWC also offers the same flat tuition rate to all students. Depending on previous education, studying online could be a more affordable way to earn a psychology degree than studying on campus. Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

2 University of Florida Gainesville, FL
$11,313 Tuition
90% Graduation Rate

UF Online is a large public research school based in Gainesville, Florida. The school allows students to pursue many cheap online degrees, including an online bachelor of arts (BA) in psychology. The BA in psychology requires 120 credits, 30 of which must be in psychology. Of those 30 credits, students must complete 18 at the University of Florida, and 24 must be in upper-division courses. Transfer students may bring in credits earned with a 2.75 GPA or higher. UF Online emphasizes flexibility and affordability. Online students may take as many courses as they wish for a low flat tuition rate. UF Online does not penalize degree-seekers for taking a semester off or reducing their course load to 1-2 classes per semester. University of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

3 University of Illinois at Springfield Springfield, IL
$10,733 Tuition
51% Graduation Rate

Founded just over 50 years ago, UIS grew from a small state school to one of the most well-respected public research universities in the Midwest. As one of the country's most affordable colleges and a top public research school, UIS maintains strict admission standards. The online BA in psychology requires a 3.0 GPA since admission is highly competitive and limited by capacity. In addition to a minimum GPA, applicants need at least 30 semester hours worth of undergraduate coursework before applying. Once in the program, students complete the remaining 120 credits and required psychology courses entirely online. UIS stresses the flexibility and cost-efficiency of earning an online degree over an on-campus degree. All UIS online programs are accredited, and the same faculty that teach the on-campus courses teach the online courses. University of Illinois Springfield is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

4 Rutgers University-Camden Camden, NJ
$12,279 Tuition
58% Graduation Rate

Founded as South Jersey Law School, Rutgers University-Camden joined Rutgers in 1950. One of the country's most affordable colleges, the school offers undergraduate and graduate courses. Degree-seekers can take advantage of the school's low 10-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio and an extensive alumni network. Best for self-motivated students, the online undergraduate psychology degree requires some visits to the Camden campus. The major requires 40 credits, 13 of which are core courses and 27 of which are electives. Learners need a 2.5 GPA or higher. For students with a 3.5 GPA in their psychology courses, Rutgers-Camden also offers an accelerated BA-to-MA program. Like the traditional undergraduate program, learners cannot complete this program entirely online. Rutgers University-Camden is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

5 The Baptist College of Florida Graceville, FL
$9,252 Tuition
62% Graduation Rate

Based in Graceville, Florida, BCF recently expanded its traditional education to include study-abroad opportunities, additional learning sites, and a comprehensive online school. Students can complete degrees entirely online, including the BA in psychology. This degree draws upon BCF's religious background and leads to a double concentration in psychology and biblical/theological studies. One of the country's most affordable online bachelor's programs in psychology, the degree requires 120 credits, 33 of which must be in general education. As a religious school, BCF also requires degree-seekers to complete 12 credits of biblical/theological foundation as part of the core. The psychology major requires 60 credits, 18 of which cover biblical/theological studies and the rest in psychology. Students may complete the degree either in a hybrid on-campus and online format or entirely online. BCF charges a flat tuition rate per credit. The Baptist College of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

6 Mary Baldwin University Staunton, VA
$16,556 Tuition
47% Graduation Rate

Originally created for adults who wanted to earn a degree later in life, MBU now educates all students and offers undergraduate and graduate degrees. Part of this growth included the addition of MBU online, which accounts for 490 of the 1,900 enrolled students. MBU offers an entirely online BA or BS in psychology. MBU requires 120 credits for an undergraduate degree. Students earning a BA in psychology must earn 39 semester hours while BS degree-seekers must earn 48 semester hours. In addition to choosing a BS or BA, learners may choose a concentration in child psychology, mental health work, physical/occupational therapy, elder care, or forensic psychology. Degree-seekers with previous college experience may transfer up to 84 credits, significantly reducing the cost and time of the psychology program. Mary Baldwin University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

7 Mercer University Macon, GA
$21,202 Tuition
66% Graduation Rate

Mercer is among the nation's oldest universities, educating students for over 185 years. With campuses across Georgia in Macon, Atlanta, Savannah, and Columbus, Mercer boasts plenty of experience maintaining academic quality across multiple sites. Degree-seekers can pursue Mercer's BS in psychology in a blended on-campus and online format or entirely online. Mercer offers five start dates throughout the year. The BS requires 120 credits, 36 of which must be related to the major. Courses in the online program take as little as eight weeks to complete. Applicants need a 2.25 GPA and a high school diploma or GED. Mercer charges a flat per-credit tuition rate, making it one of the nation's most affordable online psychology degrees. Students with an associate degree or previous college experience may transfer some credits into the psychology program. Mercer University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

8 Florida International University Miami, FL
$9,180 Tuition
58% Graduation Rate

Boasting more than 54,000 students, FIU is among the country's largest universities. Based in South Florida, FIU prides itself in its diverse student body. To better reach international students, FIU offers entire degrees online, including a BA in psychology. The program is one of FIU's more popular online options, with more than 2,400 undergraduate enrollees. However, program size does not diminish the quality. The accredited online bachelor in psychology carries the same value as its on-campus equivalent. Psychology students complete 120 credits, including 12 prerequisite psychology courses, 36 major credits, and 15 credits within a focus area. Degree-seekers can choose from focus areas including cognitive and neuroscience, social psychology, and applied psychology. Learners complete nine upper-division elective courses in psychology. Florida International University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

9 Trine Online Fort Wayne, IN
$14,712 Tuition
50% Graduation Rate

TrineOnline, Trine University's online campus, extends the university's strong programs to students across the country. Trine boasts a 99.7% job or graduate school placement for recent grads. The online BS in psychology allows learners to either start a new career or begin a graduate program. The psychology degree requires 120 credits, 42 of which must be in psychology courses. Trine also requires 42 general education credits. Degree-seekers can choose a minor with the remaining 36 credits. TrineOnline's classes last just eight weeks to maximize student flexibility. Some undergraduate credits also count toward a graduate degree. Learners follow the semester setup but with two terms each semester for a total of six terms. Degree-seekers can complete the BS in psychology in four years. Students with transfer credits can transfer up to 90 of the 120 credits to reduce the program's length. TrineOnline is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

10 McKendree University Lebanon, IL
$19,676 Tuition
54% Graduation Rate

Based in Lebanon, Illinois, McKendree University boasts nearly 50 years of distance education experience. Designed for busy adults, the online psychology degree allows students to earn their degree entirely online and at their own pace. McKendree offers courses through Blackboard, which takes learners either eight or 16 weeks to complete. The school advises students who want to complete their degree quickly to choose accelerated eight-week courses. Each course caps at 20 students, so online learners receive the same attention as they would on campus. Psychology courses include abnormal psychology, military psychology, and sport and health psychology. Applicants may bring in transfer credits and do not pay an application fee. The online BA in psychology prepares students to either pursue a graduate degree or begin a new career. McKendree University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

11 Huntington University Huntington, IN
$19,709 Tuition
61% Graduation Rate

Founded by the Church of the United Brethren in Christ in 1897, Huntington offers a Christian education to students in Huntington, Indiana, and online. As one of the country's most affordable colleges, Huntington offers a flat per-credit tuition rate for online students. Created for adults, the online psychology program offers accelerated, fully online, five-week courses. The accelerated course structure allows students to continue working while earning their degree. The degree takes four years or less to complete, though most learners choose to take longer and study part time. Degree-seekers can complete the program in a hybrid format with some on-campus courses in Huntington or Peoria, Arizona. As a Christian school, Huntington teaches courses from a Christian background. Huntington allows students to transfer previous college credits and earn credits through work experience. Huntington University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

12 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA
$36,727 Tuition
74% Graduation Rate

Drexel is a global research university with roughly 25,000 students. The school has a reputation for combining traditional education with experiential learning. Drexel began offering courses online nearly 20 years ago and now runs a comprehensive online school, including an online BS in psychology. One of the nation's most affordable online psychology degrees, the program offers courses taught by the same professors who teach on-campus courses. The degree requires 180 quarter credits, of which students may transfer in 135 (equivalent to 90 semester credits). Most of the required credits fall under general education and psychology, though students can choose a minor with 49 credits of free study. Drexel offers the degree in four, 10-week quarters per year, letting students finish courses faster than in a semester system. Learners regularly finish the program in fewer than four years. Drexel University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

13 Concordia University-Saint Paul Saint Paul, MN
$18,591 Tuition
59% Graduation Rate

CSP is a private liberal arts university that offers various undergraduate and degree-completion programs. CSP's online BA in psychology helps both new students and working professionals with some college credit earn a degree at their own pace. The school requires 44 credits for the psychology degree and 120 to graduate. Transfer students may bring in most of the credits needed to finish this degree. Learners take seven-week courses for the online bachelor's. Each course runs entirely online. However, CSP requires students to complete an eight-credit internship to gain real-life experience. Degree-seekers complete the internship locally and in person. The internship is the degree's only in-person requirement, though learners may take some courses on campus if they choose. CSP reports that 95% of its online psychology graduates receive a job offer within one year of graduating. Concordia University, St. Paul is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

14 University of Arizona Tucson, AZ
$15,594 Tuition
64% Graduation Rate

Commonly regarded as one of the country's top public universities, the University of Arizona offers various degree choices, including dozens of online degrees, for all types of students. The school's online BA in psychology requires no on-campus studies and offers courses taught by the same faculty as on-campus courses. Degree-seekers must complete 33 psychology credits for the major, 18 of which must be upper-division courses. Full-time students can finish the program in fewer than four years. Learners take courses in health psychology, social psychology, and cognitive neuroscience. One of the nation's most affordable colleges, Arizona charges a flat per-unit tuition cost for online programs, even for learners who do not reside in Arizona. Online students also gain access to an advisor for their degree and future career. Upon completing the program, most graduates find a psychology-related position. University of Arizona is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

15 Bay Path University Longmeadow, MA
$21,100 Tuition
59% Graduation Rate

Based in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, BPU created its undergraduate catalogue specifically for adult women who want to continue their education. BPU created the nation's first women-only online program and only accepts women into its on-campus and online undergraduate programs. BPU offers an online BA in psychology, a four-year degree that covers a range of psychology topics. However, women can pursue other online options, including degrees in child psychology and forensic psychology. Each degree requires 126 credits, most of which must be in general electives and psychology. The online program also allows women to study on campus during the day, at night, or on weekends. Many online students at BPU continue working while earning their degree. Bay Path University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

16 Houghton College Houghton, NY
$24,938 Tuition
91% Graduation Rate

With just over 1,000 students, Houghton is a small yet eclectic school composed of students with various geographical, ethnic, and religious backgrounds. Each degree instills Christian values, so students interested in the online psychology degree must take some Christian education courses. Houghton's online BA in psychology requires 36 credit hours, 15 of which are core classes. With the remaining required credits, learners either study general psychology or specialize in clinical/counseling psychology, social/development psychology, or neuroscience. Specific course requirements vary by specialization. Houghton's program runs entirely online, and degree-seekers may study part time or full time. Houghton's bachelor's program offers courses in accelerated eight-week periods, allowing students to graduate in as little as 18 months. Houghton also offers multiple study-abroad opportunities. Houghton College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

17 LeTourneau University Longview, TX
$23,386 Tuition
61% Graduation Rate

Based in Longview, Texas, LeTourneau is a small school with many non-traditional students. Dual-enrollment high school students make up over one-third of the on-campus student body. Online students, which LeTourneau groups together with graduate students, comprise over one-quarter of the student body. LeTourneau teaches its online BS in psychology with a faith-based approach, requiring some Christian courses. The degree requires 120 credits, 12 of which must be in theology, 42 in psychology, and 50 in general education. Students complete every course entirely online. Courses take a full term to complete, though online learners may take accelerated courses instead. The online bachelor's degree prepares students for both a psychology career and a potential graduate program. If students plan to continue their education, LeTourneau recommends that undergraduates take specific courses that lead into a master's degree. LeTourneau University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

18 Maryville University Saint Louis, MO
$26,540 Tuition
72% Graduation Rate

Located near downtown St. Louis, Maryville began in 1872 as a small private school. Today, Maryville offers dozens of online undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs. Online degree-seekers outnumber all undergraduate students. Learners select one of three start dates for the online bachelor of psychology. The degree requires 128 credits, only 24 of which must be in psychology. Students have up to 50 credits of general electives to complete, leading many psychology students to choose a minor. Courses include biological psychology, human cognition, and multicultural psychology. Maryville's psychology degree runs entirely online. Students may transfer previous college credits. Maryville estimates that full-time students with transfer credits finish the program in less than two years. Maryville's online school does not require entrance exams or application fees, and learners can transfer previous college credit. Maryville University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

19 University of Mary Bismarck, ND
$17,216 Tuition
55% Graduation Rate

University of Mary is a small, private, Catholic school based in Bismarck, North Dakota. The school accepts students from all backgrounds and does not require enrollees to take specific religion or theology courses. This same flexibility extends to the online school. The school offers one of the country's most affordable online bachelor's programs in psychology. The degree requires 124 credits, including 31 required psychology core courses. Degree-seekers also select specific psychology electives that align with their professional goals, essentially specializing their degrees. Students with transfer credits complete the program in as little as 15 months. Courses begin every five weeks. Applicants who have previous college experience may transfer a minimum of 24 credits earned with a 2.0 GPA or higher. The University of Mary charges a flat, per-credit tuition rate plus some technology fees. University of Mary is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

20 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL
$13,016 Tuition
73% Graduation Rate

Founded in 1963, UCF confers more than 16,500 degrees each year, including online education. Created for busy students who cannot commit to a full-time, on-campus program at one of the 12 UCF campuses, the online school allows new and transfer students to complete their degrees from anywhere with internet access. UCF's online bachelor of psychology mainly helps transfer students with at least 30 transferable credits finish their degree, though select students with no college credit may apply. UCF requires 120 credits to earn the degree, all of which students can complete entirely online. Degree-seekers choose a track in clinical, experimental, general, human factors, industrial/organizational, or neuroscience to specialize their degree. While not required, online students may find local in-person internships or fieldwork opportunities to earn credits. One of the country's most affordable colleges, UCF charges a flat per-credit tuition rate for online students. As a public school, Florida residents receive a significantly lower tuition rate. University of Central Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

21 University of Louisiana at Monroe Monroe, LA
$9,455 Tuition
44% Graduation Rate

ULM is a public school based in Monroe that offers affordable online education. In addition to low tuition rates, ULM also awards scholarships to most undergraduate students, including those studying entirely online. ULM's online BA in psychology requires 120 credits and takes roughly four years to complete. Many online students continue working while earning their degree. ULM's accelerated courses and abbreviated terms allow learners to complete courses faster than on-campus students. Psychology courses include evolutionary psychology and positive psychology. Learners with transfer credit can earn their degree sooner. ULM's online psychology degree prepares individuals for the workforce, though some students choose to pursue graduate school. Transfer students need a "C" grade or higher on courses they hope to transfer. Transfer students also must complete one college-level English course and one college-level math course. University of Louisiana at Monroe is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

22 DeSales University Center Valley, PA
$28,244 Tuition
71% Graduation Rate

Based in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley, DSU is close to many major New England cities. However, not all degree-seekers can regularly commute to campus. DSU's online school gives students more study options, letting them choose between entirely online courses or flex classes that allow both on-campus and online study. Online students also choose whether to complete courses synchronously or asynchronously. Students interested in an online psychology degree complete DSU's accelerated BS in psychology. This flexible program lets degree-seekers transfer up to 75 of the 120 required credits, then offers courses in an accelerated format. DSU requires 40 psychology credits to graduate, though students focusing in clinical counseling or experimental research must meet different requirements. Online students receive access to personal advising and financial aid assistance. DSU also accepts credits from work experience, military training, and non-traditional education. DeSales University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

23 Chatham University Pittsburgh, PA
$25,687 Tuition
63% Graduation Rate

With just over 2,200 students, Chatham is a relatively small school. However, the Pittsburgh-based university makes a big community impact, particularly for adult women who want to continue their education. Chatham began as a women's college, but today accepts all students for its on-campus and online programs. Chatham's online BA in psychology helps working adults either begin or continue their education. Potential courses include health psychology, social psychology, and the psychology of eating. Transfer students may bring up to 90 credits. Learners with no transfer credits can complete the program in fewer than four years. Chatham offers credits based on previous work experience, saving students time and money. Chatham's online program uses a cohort system to create a sense of community for online students. Some courses may offer occasional on-campus visits with the cohort to strengthen student bonds. Chatham University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

24 University of Northwestern-St Paul Saint Paul, MN
$24,286 Tuition
63% Graduation Rate

UNW began in 1902 as Northwestern Bible and Missionary Training School. Many UNW programs remain religious in nature, though some degrees -- including the online bachelor of health psychology -- separate education and theology. Available only online, the degree requires 125 credits. Depending on previous transfer credits or other credits earned at UNW, degree-seekers usually complete this program in 18-22 months. Potential classes include stress and pain management, health promotion through the lifespan, and abnormal psychology. Courses in the psychology program maintain a low 14-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio. As one of the nation's most affordable colleges, UNW charges a per-credit tuition rate. The average online student completes six credits each of the three semesters. Most students also receive financial aid to help cover tuition costs. University of Northwestern, St. Paul is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

25 Bryan College Dayton, TN
$15,619 Tuition
50% Graduation Rate

Bryan offers bachelor's and master's degrees that lead to high-growth positions, including psychology. Curriculum in the school's online bachelor of applied psychology program focuses on marketable traits, helping students increase their earning potential. Students can complete the program's required 124 credits entirely online. However, learners may study on campus if they choose. Courses take just six weeks to complete, giving degree-seekers an accelerated education. As a Christian school, Bryan applies a Christian worldview to the psychology degree. Students must complete some theology courses. Bryan offers its online psychology program in part-time and full-time formats. Some undergraduate students who complete a degree through Bryan may also earn a tuition-free master's degree. To do so, degree-seekers must select a hybrid program, study full time, and earn a 3.5 GPA. Bryan College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

26 Campbell University Buies Creek, NC
$22,458 Tuition
53% Graduation Rate

Founded on Christian principles, Campbell is an inclusive school that welcomes learners from all backgrounds. The university set out to elevate the nearby community by teaching employable skills, something that Campbell continues today. Designed to meet the needs of busy adult learners who want to continue their education, the online school also accomplishes this goal. Available entirely online, Campbell's BS in psychology covers various topics, including human development, human relationships, and personality development. Campbell requires 124 credits, 52 of which must cover general education and 40 of which must cover psychology. Degree-seekers can use the remaining 32 credits for a minor. Campbell teaches courses in accelerated eight-week periods, allowing learners to complete degrees faster than they could on campus. As a Christian school, Campbell applies some Christian doctrine to the psychology degree. Because many psychology positions require a graduate degree, Campbell recommends that students continue their education after completing their BS. Campbell University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

27 Eastern Illinois University Charleston, IL
$13,168 Tuition
58% Graduation Rate

Considered among the region's best universities, EIU is a public school located in Charleston, Illinois. EIU ranks high in job placement and alumni satisfaction. While online students do not receive the same experience as on-campus students, graduates of the online school enjoy similar outcomes. As a degree-completion program, EIU's online psychology degree is best suited for students who have either an associate degree or at least 30 transferable credits. Degree-seekers who meet these requirements complete the rest of the program entirely online. EIU created the psychology program for working adults who want to finish their degree. Learners need 120 credits with a 2.0 GPA or higher. EIU also requires a senior seminar or capstone, the latter of which is also a study-abroad opportunity. Transfer students may also be eligible for special scholarship opportunities. Eastern Illinois University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

28 Trevecca Nazarene University Nashville, TN
$18,996 Tuition
55% Graduation Rate

Founded in 1901, Trevecca is a private school in Nashville, Tennessee. While Tennessee residents cannot take advantage of an in-state tuition rate, 99% of Trevecca's students receive scholarships or financial aid. This makes earning an online degree particularly affordable. One of the most affordable online bachelor's degrees in psychology, Trevecca charges a flat per-credit tuition rate. Applicants need at least 40 transferable credits when applying. Of the 120 total required credits, learners complete at most 80 through Trevecca Online, including 36 credits required for the psychology major. Degree-seekers can choose from several elective courses to specialize their degree in fields such as healthcare administration, management and leadership, or Christian ministry. Trevecca uses a cohort model for its online program. While degree-seekers complete courses with other psychology students, learners take most courses at their own pace. Trevecca Nazarene University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

29 Washington State University Pullman, WA
$17,297 Tuition
59% Graduation Rate

Pullman-based WSU is a large public research institution with various undergraduate and graduate degrees. To meet the needs of students with busy schedules, WSU opened its global campus in 1992. Today, the global campus consists entirely of online students. WSU's online psychology program offers three start dates throughout the year. The on-campus faculty also teach the online courses. Students need a total of 120 credits to graduate, 40 of which must be upper division and 35 in psychology. Specific course requirements depend on which of the three focus areas (neuroscience/cognition, social/motivational, clinical/counseling) students choose. Most online courses at WSU use open education resources, meaning students may not need to purchase books for most of their courses. Online learners also receive access to networking opportunities, various resources, and membership to the global campus chapter of the psychology club. Washington State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

30 North Carolina Central University Durham, NC
$12,470 Tuition
46% Graduation Rate

NCCU is a top-ranked historically black school enrolling more than 8,000 students. Today, the university continues to help students by offering dozens of online programs, including an online psychology degree. As part of the extensive University of North Carolina system, North Carolina residents receive a low in-state tuition rate on top of the discounted online tuition rates. NCCU's BA in psychology requires 121 credits, all of which students can complete entirely online. The degree prepares individuals for a future in psychology and potentially a graduate degree. Learners cover various psychology topics, combining both theoretical and applied psychology. Degree-seekers need a 2.0 GPA average or higher on the 121 credits. The school provides online students with networking opportunities and job and internship openings. After completing their psychology degree, learners can immediately begin a graduate degree at NCCU. North Carolina Central University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

31 University of Utah Salt Lake City, UT
$13,460 Tuition
70% Graduation Rate

A Salt Lake City-based public school, Utah enrolls over 31,000 students from across the nation. The school offers degree-seekers an innovative education structure, world-class sports programs, and flexible education options, including online education. Utah's online psychology degree lets students choose between a BA or BS with only slight degree requirement differences between the two. Learners also select a developmental, social, clinical, cognitive, or behavior/neuroscience core to specialize their degree. To graduate, degree-seekers need a minimum "C" grade on all psychology courses. They must complete 41 psychology credits. Utah does not cap the number of credits students may take, so undergraduate learners can complete the psychology degree as quickly as they want. Each semester offers at least 15 different course options for the psychology program. University of Utah is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

32 John Brown University Siloam Springs, AR
$22,390 Tuition
66% Graduation Rate

JBU ranks among the top private schools in Arkansas and the region. The small private school enrolls only 2,300 students, 165 of whom study entirely online. JBU's online psychology degree is a degree-completion program. Applicants need at least 45 transferable credits or an associate degree from an accredited institution. JBU's psychology program is the school's third most popular undergraduate option. The degree requires 35 general education credits, 39 psychology credits, and roughly 46 credits earned through transfer credits or an associate degree. To graduate, students must complete 120 credits with a 2.0 GPA or higher (2.25 for all psychology courses). As a Christian school, JBU teaches the online psychology degree from a Christian perspective. Classes start five times per year. Degree-seekers typically finish the program in just 15 months. John Brown University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

33 Corban University Salem, OR
$19,150 Tuition
64% Graduation Rate

Located just a short drive from Portland in Salem, Oregon, Corban educates students using its Christian heritage as an influence. That religious influence extends to the online campus, where learners pursuing the online bachelor of psychology receive education from a Christian faculty. Corban's online psychology program offers two specialty options: family studies and interdisciplinary studies. Degree-seekers do not need transfer credits or previous college experience, though transfer students may bring credits earned with a 2.0 GPA or higher. Courses start at three different points throughout the year. Christianity plays a significant role in all degree options at Corban. Applicants must profess faith in Jesus Christ and live a consistent Christian lifestyle. Students accomplish this by submitting a faith statement and a Christian character reference with their application. Corban University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

34 Missouri State University Springfield, MO
$24,260 Tuition
67% Graduation Rate

A public university school system, MSU maintains campuses in Springfield, West Plains, and Mountain Grove, Mississippi, as well as in Dalian, China, and online. More than 26,000 students study through the system. Learners who want a flexible education opt to study online. MSU's online BS in psychology offers courses taught by the same full-time faculty who teach on campus. The curriculum emphasizes employable skills so students can find a position after completing their degree. MSU accepts more transfer students than any other public school in Missouri. MSU offers every course fully online and provides a streamlined transfer process. Online students receive access to resources such as virtual research assistance, one-on-one tutoring, and writing assistance. MSU charges online learners a lower tuition rate than on-campus students. Missouri State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

35 University of Memphis Memphis, TN
$10,235 Tuition
54% Graduation Rate

Located in Memphis, Tennessee, UofM is a regional leader in public education. For busy students and adult learners, UofM created UofM Global, a comprehensive online school. Every program offered through UofM Global runs entirely online, including the BA in psychology. The degree requires 120 credits to graduate, some of which may be transfer credits. Of the 120 credits, 35 must be in psychology and 41 in general education. Students also choose a concentration in behavioral neuroscience, cognitive science, or general psychology, each of which requires 24 credits. Most courses teach students employable skills, though some graduates choose to earn a master's degree over entering the workforce. Degree-seekers receive access to various learning support resources, including online tutors. Students may also complete some of their degree on campus if they choose. University of Memphis is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

36 Indiana University-East Richmond, IN
$13,174 Tuition
48% Graduation Rate

Based in Richmond, IU East is part of the Indiana University system. IU East offers programs on campus and online. The university's distance offerings are ideal for learners with previous college experience. The online BS in psychology program requires 120 credits, at least 60 of which must be transfer credits earned with a minimum 2.0 GPA. Of the remaining credits, 36 must comprise upper-division courses, and half of those must be in psychology. The curriculum includes courses in behavioral neuroscience and social psychology, along with a three-credit capstone course. Students must maintain at least a 2.0 GPA and must complete at least 30 upper-division courses through IU East.

37 Mercy College Dobbs Ferry, NY
$8,877 Tuition
29% Graduation Rate

Founded in 1950 by the Sisters of Mercy, Mercy College is a private school based in Dobbs Ferry, near New York City. Mercy College recently absorbed the College of New Rochelle, increasing the size and scope of Mercy's educational and alumni offerings. The BS in psychology requires 120 credits, which students complete entirely online. The curriculum includes 60 general education credits, 36 psychology credits, and 24 elective credits. The flexible curriculum allows learners to select electives that are relevant to their career goals. Additionally, students can choose to combine online and on-campus learning. Mercy College offers an online dual degree option, which leads to both a BS in psychology and a master's in education. Learners pursuing this route complete up to 15 graduate credits during their senior year.

38 Buena Vista University Storm Lake, IA
$13,972 Tuition
44% Graduation Rate

Buena Vista University is a private school based in Storm Lake, Iowa. While BVU does not offer in-state tuition rates, 100% of on-campus students receive financial aid, and many of the university's online students also receive financial aid, making BVU's offering one of the most affordable online psychology degrees. Students can earn the psychology degree entirely online or in a hybrid format. The psychology major comprises 33 credits and culminates in a capstone course. BVU offers six start dates per year and delivers courses in an accelerated eight-week format. The university accepts all transfer credits from Iowa community colleges and most credits earned from other accredited institutions. Through the Plus One program, online psychology students can work toward a bachelor's and master's degree concurrently. Most students complete the Plus One program in about five years.

39 Caldwell University Caldwell, NJ
$20,580 Tuition
54% Graduation Rate

Caldwell University is a private Catholic school based in New Jersey. The university offers cheap online degrees that meet the same standard of quality as on-campus programs. The online BA in psychology requires 120 credits, and students can apply up to 90 transfer credits toward the degree. Students must complete at least 15 of the 30 required psychology credits through Caldwell University. Learners can specialize their education through elective coursework in areas including psychology of learning, cognitive psychology, biopsychology, and sensation and perception. Graduates often pursue roles in counseling, social work, and addiction treatment. Caldwell University delivers online courses in an accelerated format. Each class lasts 7-8 weeks, allowing students to graduate more quickly.

40 Palm Beach Atlantic University West Palm Beach, FL
$19,096 Tuition
57% Graduation Rate

Palm Beach Atlantic University is a private school based in West Palm Beach, Florida. PBA enrolls about 3,700 learners, many of whom study online. Undergraduate online courses feature an average class size of 17 students, allowing learners to receive individual attention. PBA offers an online BS in community psychology. Full-time students typically complete the 120-credit program in four years. The curriculum includes 36 psychology credits, 12 of which comprise elective credits. The psychology program is designed for working professionals. To graduate more quickly, students can transfer credits from previous institutions. Applicants with no previous college experience must submit high school transcripts.

41 Cornerstone University Grand Rapids, MI
$24,557 Tuition
53% Graduation Rate

CU is a private Christian institution based in Detroit, Michigan. The university offers an online BS in psychology, which includes 46 credits in the major. Learners must take some religious classes, such as Christian foundation in psychology. Students can complete the 46 psychology credits entirely online. The curriculum also includes general education courses. However, students with previous college experience often meet general education requirements through transfer credits. Learners who transfer credits can graduate in less than two years. Students can study in a hybrid format by completing some courses at the Grand Rapids or Kalamazoo campus. CU offers start dates throughout the year and delivers online courses in an accelerated format.

42 East Tennessee State University Johnson City, TN
$20,461 Tuition
55% Graduation Rate

Founded in 1911 as East Tennessee State Normal School, ETSU enrolls more than 14,500 students at its Johnson City campus and online. The university offers more than a dozen fully online and mostly online programs. ETSU delivers the BA and BS in psychology programs mostly online. Students take most courses online and attend some required classes and meetings on campus. ETSU offers BA and bachelor's degrees in general psychology, child psychology, and clinical psychology. Each of the mostly online psychology programs require 120 credits. For example, the BS in general psychology curriculum includes 16-23 elective credits, while students earning the BA in clinical psychology only take 13-14 elective credits. Although outcomes vary by program, graduates often pursue a master's degree in the field.

43 Sacramento State Sacramento, CA
$11,062 Tuition
45% Graduation Rate

Sacramento State estimates that one in 20 adults in the Sacramento region graduated from the university. Earning a degree from Sacramento State could help graduates secure a position in the area. Sacramento State offers a hybrid BA in psychology program, which requires learners to take some general education and lower-division psychology courses on campus. However, learners with sufficient transfer credits can avoid the on-campus requirements entirely. The university delivers upper-division psychology courses fully online and in sessions lasting six or eight weeks. The curriculum comprises 120 credits and is ideal for busy learners with previous college experience. All online students pay the same flat per-credit tuition rate, regardless of state residency.

44 University of Charleston Charleston, WV
$12,499 Tuition
49% Graduation Rate

The University of Charleston is a private school based in Charleston, West Virginia, on the banks of the Kanawha River. UC enrolls more than 2,600 students, many of whom are working professionals who study online. Of the university's two psychology tracks, only the BA in psychology is available entirely online. The program requires 120 credits, including 36 credits related to psychology and research. Psychology students take courses including life-span development, social psychology, and a capstone. Online students must take at least two foreign language classes. Students with no previous college experience must have a minimum 2.6 high school GPA and must have graduated from high school or earned a GED credential within the past three years. Transfer students need at least a 2.0 GPA.

45 University of Idaho Moscow, ID
$18,780 Tuition
39% Graduation Rate

The University of Idaho enrolls more than 11,000 students online and at campuses in Moscow, Boise, Coeur d'Alene, and Idaho Falls. Students can pursue a BA or a BS in psychology entirely online through U of I. Learners can earn either degree in four years, and transfer students with an associate degree can graduate in two years. Full-time online students who transfer an associate degree into the BA or BS program receive in-state tuition rates. The BA and BS programs feature similar curricula. However, the BS requires more lab courses. Because the University of Idaho maintains state-of-the-art laboratories, many learners study in a hybrid format to take advantage of on-campus labs. Students can also earn credit through local internships.

46 Northwestern State University of Louisiana Natchitoches, LA
$15,061 Tuition
59% Graduation Rate

Founded as a two-year school for teachers in the port city of Natchitoches, NSU is now a four-year public school that offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees. The university also offers online degrees, including an entirely online BS in psychology. Both the on-campus and online BS in psychology programs follow the same curriculum. Full-time learners typically graduate in four years. Students earning an online psychology degree can choose from two concentrations: substance abuse and prevention specialist. The concentration options prepare students to obtain certification or licensure. Transfer students must have either an associate degree or at least 18 college credits earned with a minimum 2.0 GPA. Transfer students must have completed college-level English and math courses.

47 University of Louisville Louisville, KY
$10,448 Tuition
45% Graduation Rate

The University of Louisville is a public research institution with more than 22,000 students. UofL delivers undergraduate and graduate programs on campus and online. Distance learners receive in-state tuition rates, regardless of residency, and military students qualify for additional discounts. The fully online BA in psychology program requires 121 credits, including 39 psychology credits. The curriculum also includes 29 elective credits, which learners can use to pursue a minor. The curriculum explores topics including abnormal psychology, cognition, and mental health. The University of Louisville admits online students in the fall, spring, and summer. Applicants must have completed 30 credits, including courses in psychology and math. Learners can apply up to 60 transfer credits toward the degree.

48 Saint Leo University Saint Leo, FL
$17,098 Tuition
57% Graduation Rate

A Florida-based Catholic university, Saint Leo accepts students of all faiths and does not require students to take religious courses. The university enrolls more than 2,000 students on its Tampa campus and nearly 13,000 students online. Distance learners can pursue two undergraduate psychology degrees: a BA in psychology or a BA in clinical psychology. Saint Leo offers both options entirely online. The general psychology degree requires coursework in areas such as forensic psychology, military psychology, and interviewing and counseling skills. The variety of available courses allows learners to specialize their education, and students can participate in internships and regional conferences. Online psychology students can access research opportunities and can join psychology clubs and societies.

49 University of the Cumberlands Williamsburg, KY
$20,036 Tuition
51% Graduation Rate

Based in Williamsburg, Kentucky, the University of the Cumberlands is a private school that enrolls more than 2,000 undergraduate students on campus and online. The online bachelor's degree in psychology provides an overview of the field. The program requires 128 credits, 56 of which comprise psychology coursework. Learners complete 18 credits in a specialization area, such as clinical psychology, business psychology, ministries, or graduate psychology. Transfer students can apply up to 90 previous credits toward the degree. Applicants with no previous college experience must submit ACT scores. Cumberlands is a Christian school and requires undergraduate students to complete coursework in Christian faith and values.

50 Lincoln Christian University Lincoln, IL
$18,653 Tuition
71% Graduation Rate

Founded in Lincoln, Illinois as a Bible institute, LCU offers undergraduate degrees on campus and online. Distance learners can pursue an online BA in psychology, one of the most affordable online bachelor's degree programs in psychology. The online psychology program explores the field from a Christian perspective. Students take courses in areas such as personality theory and social psychology, along with classes such as psychology and religion. Graduates often pursue roles as case managers, social workers, and pastors. The program also prepares students to enroll in a master's program. Applicants must submit high school transcripts, test scores, and a written essay. Prospective students must also provide a Christian character reference. Lincoln Christian University holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

Meet the Expert: Dr. Lindsay Jernigan

Dr. Lindsay Jernigan Licensed Psychologist – Doctorate Burlington, Vermont

Dr. Lindsay Jernigan is a Vermont-based licensed clinical psychologist in private practice. She has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and a master's in counseling psychology. She provides individual and couples therapy for adults. In addition to her clinical practice, Dr. Jernigan is a clinical supervisor, a public speaker, and a writer for Psychology Today.

Why did you choose to pursue a psychology career? Has this field always interested you?

I knew from the get-go that I was interested in psychology. I always encourage students to explore different options and not choose a path too soon. And yet, for me, personally, this has always been the path. From a young age I was highly attuned to emotions and relationships, and enjoyed helping friends and family.

I enrolled in Psych 1 my first semester at Colby College, and I never looked back. I explored the worlds of social, developmental, and school psychology, but I returned pretty quickly to my primary interest, which was counseling and clinical psychology.

What did your educational journey look like?

I received a bachelor's in psychology from Colby, and after working for a couple of years as an entry-level provider at residential programs for troubled teens, I decided to return to school. I was intrigued by how therapists worked with residents, and I decided to pursue a master's in counseling psychology at Boston College. This was a great experience. Through this two-year program, I learned how to work thoughtfully and with multicultural competence using a range of counseling theories and modalities.

With a master's in hand, I found a job as a therapist at a residential program for kids. I soon began to miss the learning curve of school, and I wanted the option to dive deeper into clinical roles, free of the administrative and case management work that many of the master's-level positions entailed. So, I returned to school and earned a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Vermont. I extended this six-year program to seven years so I could stay home for a year following the birth of my first daughter.

One of my proudest moments was walking across the stage to receive my diploma while I was nine months pregnant with my second daughter and carrying my three-year-old toddler on my hip. There weren't many role models for women managing graduate school while starting a family, and I was thrilled to have found a way to follow both dreams at once.

Is a bachelor's in psychology a versatile degree?

With a bachelor's in psychology, you can venture directly into a helping profession, marketing and advertising, business, or any other field that requires analytical thinking, a developmental perspective, keen social awareness, and strong communication skills.

You can also choose to deepen your knowledge and skills in the field by pursuing graduate degrees at the master's or doctoral level in social work, counseling or clinical psychology, marriage and family therapy, alcohol and drug counseling, or organizational psychology. Professionals can pursue careers in research, teaching, and counseling in settings such as schools, hospitals, and private practice.

What are some crucial skills for pursuing a degree in psychology?

Crucial skills for psychology include empathy, communication, and self-reflection. The field requires a high degree of personal and professional integrity, and a keen sense of curiosity. It's important to love the learning process, as you will need to keep your skills fresh and to keep up with best practices.

It is helpful to be a strong writer and to possess good analytical thinking skills. You should bring a compassionate and non-judgmental attitude to your clients. You should also strive to support the authentic development of individuals of all backgrounds and orientations. Finally, it's important to be self-aware and to know how to take care of yourself to avoid second-hand trauma and compassion fatigue.

What are the most critical skills you acquired in your psychology program?

In my bachelor's program, I was exposed to general branches of the field such as developmental, clinical, and social psychology. I learned how to think analytically and how to be curious about the psychological, internal world.

In my master's program, I learned the nitty gritty of counseling -- how to be an effective and active listener, how to choose and apply different counseling theories with different clients, and how to progress through a treatment process. I learned skills for diagnosis, for writing treatment plans, and for conducting safety assessments. I also learned to be aware of my own emotional and psychological experiences so that they wouldn't blindly impact my work. I learned to be humble and curious, to be open to feedback, and to honor the fact that I was being entrusted with people's hearts and minds.

In my doctoral program, I learned to conduct and understand research. I learned to assess the efficacy of and implement new clinical programs, and I deepened my clinical knowledge and skills through additional coursework and multiple clinical internships. I learned to administer a range of psychological tests, write reports, and communicate results effectively.

I practiced working in a range of settings, including private practice, college counseling, and reflective family therapy teams. I learned to collaborate with an interdisciplinary team of professionals, and I learned to think and practice in an integrated manner, bringing knowledge of biological, social, and emotional systems to bear.

What are some of the most rewarding aspects of a psychology career?

The most rewarding aspect of a psychology career is making a real and positive difference in peoples' lives. Clients share their deepest struggles, their inner worlds, and their most heartfelt experiences, entrusting you to help them transform their struggles into growth and learning. I feel honored to work so closely with other human beings in such a meaningful way.

I find it tremendously rewarding to create a career high in variety and autonomy, with so many possible applications. I work with clients in therapy, I provide intensives for couples, I write for Psychology Today, I supervise new clinicians, I run retreats, I engage in public speaking gigs, and I'm preparing to launch a podcast. I have never felt bored with my work, because when one plateau is reached, there's always another new path to explore.

What advice would you give to students who are considering a bachelor's degree in psychology?

Go for it. Check out what the field offers. Talk to people who work in research labs, hospitals, schools, counseling centers, and businesses. Talk to professionals who teach, counsel, write, assess, and implement programs. The opportunities are endless. Once you complete your schooling, you are only just getting started. The real learning happens on the job. You will be personally and professionally enriched by the process.

How Much Can You Make With a Psychology Degree?

A psychology degree from one of the most affordable online colleges opens up several possible career paths. Psychology also lays a solid foundation for further studies. Graduates of accredited programs in psychology can pursue a master's or doctorate in the field itself or in related areas such as sociology, criminal justice, and social work.

Postgraduate degree-holders typically qualify for teaching posts in colleges and universities and leadership positions in corporations, nonprofits, and government agencies. Additionally, BLS data shows that professionals with postgraduate degrees usually receive higher salaries and face lower unemployment rates than other workers.

The table below shows the different kinds of jobs that psychology majors can explore after graduation.

Job Growth (2018-28): 14%
Job Description

Although students need a master's or doctorate in psychology to pursue this career, working as a psychologist is a fascinating profession. Psychologists analyze thought processes and how humans react to their environments. Using their findings, they provide a diagnosis and treatment plan for their patients.

Job Growth (2018-28): 10%
Job Description

Rehabilitation counselors specialize in helping individuals with disabilities lead fulfilling and productive lives. These professionals may help clients locate resources, such as medical equipment. They may also develop care plans and provide individual and group counseling. Most employers require rehabilitation counselors to earn their master's degree before practicing.

Job Growth (2018-28): 5%
Job Description

Human resources specialists work with businesses and recruiting agencies to help screen and hire candidates. They conduct interviews based on their client's needs and then take new hires through the onboarding process. They may also outline employee benefits and payroll. These specialists must understand human behavior and demonstrate excellent communication skills.

Job Growth (2018-28): 8%
Job Description

Marketing managers develop strategic plans to help generate business for their company. They plan promotional and advertising campaigns and develop competitive pricing for their products. These managers must consistently conduct research on their target populations and analyze the market to develop effective marketing plans. Studying psychology provides an excellent foundation for the human analysis and behavioral component of advertising and marketing.

Sources: BLS 2020

Not only is the job outlook for psychologists growing faster than the national average, but depending on where you practice the career can be incredibly lucrative. Browse the table below to see a breakdown of salaries and job growth data by state for psychologists. The differences in cost of living, educational requirements, average experience levels, and professional need within a specific location all contribute to the variations in salary and growth by state.

Find the Best Online Psychology Program for You

With an abundance of options, finding the most affordable online psychology program can prove daunting. However, learners should note that a cheap online degree may not always be the best choice. Use this guide to learn more about online psychology schools and programs, including accreditation, specialization areas, and scholarship opportunities.

Common Courses in an Online Psychology Degree

Schools craft undergraduate psychology curriculum to align with their broader academic objectives. While course offerings vary among institutions, many colleges and universities offer a core of psychology subjects that give students a strong foundation in the discipline. See below for some common psychology courses.

General Psychology

Learners often take this introductory class in their junior year. The class covers major theories and concepts as well as the philosophical foundation of various schools of psychology. Degree-seekers explore mental health, the biological basis of behavior, social psychology, and personality and human development.

Abnormal Psychology

Students examine the nature of different mental illnesses and disorders. They study the various causes of mental disorders and learn how to implement both traditional and emerging treatment options for different groups of patients. The course may include literature on social stigma and mental illness as well as accepted clinical characteristics of mental disorders.


This course explains how the brain works and how it affects a person's nervous system in terms of influencing their behavior and cognition. Students learn how to diagnose and treat brain injuries caused by an accident or illness and study how the brain correlates with the mind.

Sensation and Perception

In this course, students explore how humans experience the world around them and how perceptions are formed based on auditory, visual, and chemical (smell and taste) stimuli. Enrollees study topics such as fundamental and multi-sensory perceptual processing, sensory pathways, creation of meaning, and how people perceive the passage of time.

Psychology of Health and Illness

This course draws from several disciplines including biology, pharmacology, nutrition, and social psychology to present learners with the cognitive, physiological, and behavioral elements that impact human health and illness. Students explore different illnesses and examine how factors such as personality, gender, cultural background, and ethnicity influence an individual's perception of and response to illness and health issues.

Specialties and Fields of Study in Psychology

A multifaceted field, psychology contains various subdisciplines. Degree-seekers can focus on one of several specialization areas. While not all schools offer all programs, most accredited colleges and universities in the U.S. offer the following specializations.

Clinical psychology is the field's largest specialization area. Explore this specialty if you enjoy working directly with clients in a group or one-on-setting assessing and treating emotional, mental, and behavioral disorders. Clinical psychologists need a doctorate to establish a private practice. Most states also require clinical psychologists to be licensed whether they practice privately or work for a healthcare organization.

If your interest lies in education, you can explore educational psychology or school psychology. Both specializations place you in an elementary or secondary school environment. Educational psychology focuses on classroom dynamics, teaching techniques, and the factors that affect the learning process in developing minds. These professionals work with school districts to evaluate, enhance, implement, and monitor their academic programs. School psychologists usually work directly with students, teachers, parents, and other stakeholders to resolve a student's learning and behavior problems. Most employers require a postsecondary degree for these positions.

If you prefer to apply your psychology training in the workplace, consider becoming an industrial or occupational psychologist. Large corporations typically hire these professionals to help increase productivity, improve employee satisfaction and retention, and enhance work-life balance. Most employers require a master's or doctorate to assume leadership roles in this field.

Attending Online vs. On-Campus

During the 2017-18 academic year, more than 6.6 million students took online courses while pursuing their degree. Many of these students cite flexibility as a top reason for enrolling in an online course or pursuing a fully online degree. Flexibility means learners can access course materials, participate in group discussions, and take exams from anywhere. Asynchronous classes make online learning even more flexible by allowing degree-seekers to attend class at their convenience.

Online students save on transportation, housing, and food expenses. Online materials often cost less to download than buying books, providing additional savings. However, be aware that schools often charge online enrollees a technology fee, which can be a fixed one-time cost or a variable per-credit expense. Some online programs also require occasional campus visits for lab work or orientation.

As you research the most affordable online psychology programs, take note of the colleges and universities that charge online students the same tuition as resident students, no matter where they live. You can realize significant savings by paying in-state tuition as an online student even if you are not a state resident.

Scrutinize an online program's characteristics and requirements closely. Prospective students should contact each school and talk to an admissions counselor. With expert guidance, you can choose from among the most affordable online psychology degrees.


Many schools opt to complete the rigorous and time-consuming process for postsecondary accreditation, which serves as a supervised self-check mechanism for postsecondary institutions. Although not required, accreditation allows schools to assure students, parents, donors, and other stakeholders of their commitment to providing excellent education.

Earning your degree from an accredited institution can also increase your employability. Employers understand the value of a school's accreditation and how it helps in shaping learners into knowledgeable, disciplined, and forward-thinking professionals.

School Accreditation

Although the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Commission for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) play a major role in the accreditation process, neither agency directly accredits schools. Instead, they act as overseers and ensure that the accrediting agencies apply their standards to each school without bias.

The ED and CHEA acknowledge six main accrediting bodies that grant regional accreditation to degree-focused, nonprofit, private and public institutions. They also recognize accrediting bodies that grant national accreditation. These agencies usually focus on sectarian for-profit schools that offer vocational degrees and certification programs. Approximately 85% of colleges and universities hold regional accreditation. The remaining 15% hold national accreditation.

Many educators view regional accreditation as the more prestigious designation. Regional accrediting bodies work with institutions with high admission standards and whose programs qualify for corporate tuition reimbursement. These schools also raise funds through private donations and are deemed qualified by both state and federal governments to administer various federal financial aid programs.

Program Accreditation

ED and CHEA also oversee accrediting bodies that focus on specific programs, rather than entire institutions. Many practitioners and educators in the psychology arena consider the American Psychological Association (APA) to be the field's premier accrediting body. In addition to its strict quality standards, the APA requires an onsite review prior to accreditation, which can take up to 18 months.

The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) is another highly regarded accrediting agency for psychology programs. ASPPB relies mostly on submitted documents and communication with school officials as the basis for accreditation. An onsite visit is optional. Both the APA and ASPPB accredit only doctoral programs.

The following agencies accredit both doctoral and non-doctoral programs in fields that are closely related to psychology: Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education, Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, and National Association of School Psychologists.

Scholarships and Financial Aid for Psychology

From 2006-2017, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reported a 31% increase in college costs for public institutions (roughly 3% per year). NCES pegs the increase for private colleges and universities to be at 24% (2.4% per year) for the same period. Many education experts expect this upward trend to continue, making it increasingly expensive for Americans with a 2018 median household income of $61,937 to earn a college degree.

On the other hand, the Federal Student Aid Office allots more than $120 billion annually for scholarship, grant, and student loan programs. Money exists, but you must qualify for it. Learners do not need to repay scholarships and grants, but they must repay student loans. However, federal college loans often offer lower interest rates and easier repayment plans than private loans.

Scholarships usually require recipients to meet some type of academic or athletic criteria while grants are typically need-based. Scholarship funds often come from private donors and special interest organizations. Most grant monies originate from state and federal funds and are channeled through colleges and universities for disbursement.

AP-LS Award for Best Undergraduate Paper

The American Psychology-Law (AP-LS) society provides awards for outstanding research papers on topics related to psychology and law. Current undergraduate students must make significant research contributions to submit their work. Papers are judged on originality, quality of writing, and contribution to the field. First-place recipients receive $500; second place $300; and third place $150.

NIH Undergraduate Scholarship Program

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Undergraduate Scholarship Program offers scholarships to undergraduate students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Applicants must pursue a career in behavioral health or social science and health-related research. Students must earn a 3.3 GPA or higher to qualify. The NIH scholarship pays up to $20,000 towards tuition and educational expenses. In exchange, learners must commit to a summer of employment at NIH and then one year of full-time employment after graduation.

Psi Chi Undergraduate Scholarship

The International Honor Society in Psychology, called Psi Chi for short, awards eight scholarships of $3,000 each year to undergraduate members enrolled in psychology programs. Psi Chi chooses recipients based on their involvement with the organization, financial need, and academic excellence. For consideration, applicants must submit their transcripts, a resume, a description of their financial need, a personal essay detailing their interest in science, and recommendation letters.

After Graduation: Options for Psychology Graduates

After earning your bachelor's in psychology, you can enter the workforce or explore postgraduate psychology programs. APA reports that 14% of psychology majors continue on to earn a master's or doctoral degree. You must complete a doctoral program to become a clinical psychologist in private practice. However, you can still expand your career options with a master's in psychology. Continue reading to explore the different ways you can build on your bachelor's degree in psychology.

Advancing Your Psychology Degree

Master's programs in psychology typically require 30-60 credits. Full-time students usually graduate within two years while part-time enrollees take longer. Most schools require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree in psychology or a related field. Some colleges offer accelerated programs that allow students to earn both a bachelor's and a master's in psychology in five years instead of the usual six.

Applicants must also exhibit high academic performance. Many programs require a minimum 3.0 GPA. Some schools require master's applicants to submit the results of a standardized graduate admission exam, such as the GRE or the GMAT. Test results cannot be more than five years old at the time of application.

Master's coursework allows students to increase their knowledge base and hone their skills. Core subjects often cover topics such as cognitive and intellectual assessment, biological basis of behavior, and counseling and psychotherapy techniques. Be sure to inquire about a school's transfer credit policy. Most institutions accept a certain number of credits earned at another accredited college or university that have not yet been applied towards another degree.

Master's students can also specialize in an area that supports their career goals. Common specializations include clinical, forensic, rehabilitation, and school psychology. Most master's programs in psychology require the completion of a culminating experience, which can be a thesis, a capstone project, or an internship. Some programs also require learners to pass a comprehensive exam prior to beginning work on their culminating experience.

Approximately 3% of psychology graduates who continue on to a postsecondary program earn both a master's and a doctorate. Most students who follow this academic route often do so with a specific career objective in mind, such as becoming a licensed private practice psychologist. BLS data reveals that both degrees can lead to higher salaries and help guard against unemployment.

Certifications and Licensure

All states require psychologists to be licensed. Clinical psychologists need at least a doctorate. States also expect future psychologists to complete a certain number of supervised clinical hours, which can range from 1,600-6,000 hours. Finally, psychologists must pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology prior to applying for a state license.

Each state likely maintains additional specific requirements, so ask about licensure requirements in the state (or states) where you plan to establish your career. Doing so can prevent delays in getting your license after graduation.

Many states require school psychologists to get a special certificate or license to work in public schools. The state's department of education typically issues this certification after applicants complete a master's or specialist degree and pass the teacher certification test.

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