Is an Online Psychology Program for You?
Are you considering an online bachelor's program in psychology? Online programs are now more convenient than ever, with numerous schools and specializations available for distance learners.
Find out more about an online bachelor's in psychology, including courses, specializations, and the differences between online vs. on-campus programs.
What Should I Expect From an Online Bachelor's Program in Psychology?
How Long Does it Take to Get a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology?
Full-time students in an online bachelor's in psychology program can take about 3-4 years to earn their degrees, with most schools requiring 120 credits to graduate. Some institutions offer accelerated or intensive undergraduate programs, which may shorten the completion time to about 3.5 years.
Dual-degree options, including accelerated master's programs, allow students to begin graduate-level coursework while earning their bachelor's degrees. Eligible transfer students can also benefit by selecting a program with a generous transfer credit policy.
Other factors include field learning requirements, the amount of coursework, and cohort vs. individually paced structure. In a cohort, students proceed through the program together to graduate as a group.
What Classes Will I Take in an Online Bachelor's Degree in Psychology Program?
Psychology students study human behavior, development, motivation, cognition, learning, and perception across the lifespan. While classes and concentrations differ from school to school, every student in an online psychology program must complete a series of foundational courses.
Core coursework includes statistics and research methods for behavioral sciences, child and adult development, personality theory, social psychology, history and systems of psychology, learning and cognition.
Featured Online Programs
Concentrations Available for an Online Bachelor's Degree in Psychology
Bachelor's psychology concentrations include various specialties, such as forensic psychology and sports psychology, that vary based on focus, settings, and client or patient population:
- Forensic psychology studies the psychological processes associated with legal, courtroom, and crime-related issues.
- Educational psychology focuses on instruction methods and factors within the classroom, and how these elements impact students.
- Sports psychology examines psychological points that are relevant to an athlete's career, including managing stress, team dynamics, and performance optimization.
- School psychology concentrates on supporting students' emotional well being and success, with the aim of improving students' educational and individual experiences in the classroom.
- Clinical psychology involves the evaluation and treatment of mental conditions in settings such as inpatient units, medical centers, and therapeutic offices.
What's the Difference Between a Traditional and Online Psychology Degree?
Traditional and online psychology programs provide learners with distinct measures of flexibility, accessibility, and motivation. These three factors are crucial considerations for students, as various programs provide differing opportunities in these areas.
- Online: Distance learning provides greater amounts of flexibility, as online platforms allow students to access course materials at any time. Individuals who juggle going to school with jobs, children, and domestic life can view lectures and complete coursework at their convenience.
- Traditional: On-campus or traditional, learning has less flexibility than online programs. In order to attend a traditional program, a student must either live locally or commute to campus. Traditional programs have specific class times and opportunities for face-to-face peer communication.
- Flexibility: Students with work or family commitments may prefer flexible online programs. Asynchronous online programs allow learners to view lectures and complete coursework when convenient while still meeting deadlines.
- Accessibility: Considers the availability of a program's resources for its students. An online program gives students access to faculty and course materials through online learning portals, discussion boards, and email, allowing students to view course materials at any time.
- Motivation: In online learning, students need high levels of motivation or self-discipline to stay on task, as students are responsible for their learning. However, on-campus programs feature in-person learning and communication that some students find necessary to stay motivated.
Are Online Psychology Bachelor's Programs Cheaper Than Traditional Programs?
While online programs often share similar tuition rates as on-campus programs, distance learners can save money in other ways. Some schools offer online students in-state tuition rates in online programs, regardless of their location. You may also be able to save in other areas such as childcare, transportation, and room and board. Other factors to consider in cost comparisons include:
- Choosing a public school rather than a private school
- Free or discounted laptops and internet access
- Travel costs for any required internships or field learning
- Exam proctoring fees
- Lab and activity fees
- Resource fees for campus technology use
- Fees for campus amenities such as recreation, athletics, and student organizations
- Fees for student health and legal services
How Are Online Psychology Courses Different From Campus-Based Programs?
Online programs offer remote learning, which gives students more flexibility than a traditional campus-based degree.
Online psychology programs differ from campus-based programs in several ways. Campus-based or traditional programs feature in-person lectures at a physical location at a specific time, known as synchronous learning.
Online programs offer several benefits, including flexibility and convenience. Students engage in asynchronous learning, which includes viewing lectures and completing discussion boards and coursework when convenient during the week.
Asynchronous formats give students with family and career commitments the flexibility to attend lectures and complete classroom tasks when convenient.
Do Online Psychology Bachelor's Programs Require Students to Be On-Campus?
While some online bachelor's programs require no campus visits, others follow a hybrid format with some in-person requirements. Typically, students seeking a psychology degree online pursue clinical internships at the graduate level, as most undergraduate programs do not require internships.
Some bachelor's programs have an optional internship or an applied practicum component. Other programs include a few courses with on-site service learning or research requirements. Many students opt for summer internships in counseling centers, research labs, and mental health facilities.
Online bachelor's programs with internship requirements generally encourage distance learners to find internships independently. Resources available to online students include the Handshake and LinkedIn platforms and online career center services.
Do Online Students Still Qualify for Financial Aid?
Online students in psychology receive the same access to financial aid as on-campus students. Eligible students can access grants, loans, and scholarship opportunities through an identical application process, and some online programs also offer federal work-study options.
Like on-campus learners, online students fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Distance learners should start the application process early and make sure to verify the accreditation status of schools and programs of interest, since only students attending accredited schools are eligible for federal financial aid.
What License Do I Need to Practice Psychology?
Students must meet rigorous licensing requirements to pursue licensure as a professional psychologist in the U.S. First, students need to learn their state's specific licensing requirements and select a program to fulfill these requirements.
Next, they complete undergraduate coursework, earn either a master's or a doctoral degree, and complete a supervised internship. Finally, they must apply for licensure in their state and pass the examination for professional practice in psychology (EPPP).
The associated fees typically include $600 for the EPPP and $400 for an initial license, plus application costs. Many states offer helpful fee schedules. Some states require additional state-specific exams, so each candidate should check with their state's licensing agency. The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards maintains a handbook of licensing requirements.
Some states license graduates of master's programs, with most states requiring 1-2 years of postmaster's supervised clinical work to establish eligibility for licensure. Graduates of programs with accreditation by the American Psychological Association (APA) maximize their opportunities for licensing in other states.
An online bachelor's degree in psychology is insufficient for licensure as a professional psychologist, but undergraduates can pursue employment in marketing, social services, and career counseling.
Careers for Graduates of Online Psychology Programs
Graduates can explore various careers in psychology or related fields, including working with different groups of people, including clients, patients, or employees.
Social and Community Service Manager
These professionals arrange and administer public interest programs that provide services for the good of the community. Median annual pay is $74,000 in 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Human Resource Specialists
This role recruits candidates, onboards new employees, and addresses employee issues. The BLS reports that the median annual pay is $62,290 for human resource specialists.
These experts assist individuals with various disabilities, including behavioral and physical conditions, in building skills to live independently. Rehabilitation counselors have a median pay of $38,560 per year, which is less than the national average of $45,760.
Occupational Therapy Assistants
These professionals work under the direction of an occupational therapist to aid individuals in improving or recovering skills related to everyday life. The median annual pay is $61,520, according to the BLS.
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors
These counselors address various issues, including mental conditions, alcohol and chemical dependencies, and co-occurring disorders. These professionals earn a median annual salary of $48,520, which is slightly above the national average.
Page last reviewed on November 21, 2022