Online Psychology Degree Programs in Illinois

One of the most densely populated states in the Midwest, Illinois boasts more than 70 colleges and universities, nearly 80% of which offer psychology programs. Public and private universities throughout the state award undergraduate and graduate psychology degrees. Big cities offer the most opportunities; Chicago is home to the University of Chicago and DePaul University. UChicago's psychology program is widely recognized for its breakthroughs in scientific research, and Depaul grants respected online bachelor's degrees in psychology.

For students pursuing an online psychology degree, Illinois provides options ideal for working professionals seeking to improve their counseling skills or enter careers in research or specialized practice. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 14% increase in the the number of psychologist positions from 2016 to 2026, making now the ideal time to earn a psychology degree.

Mental Health Initiatives in Illinois

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) provide programs and services to Illinois residents through community and government funded initiatives. In 2010, IDHP and IDHS collaborated to create the telepsychiatry hotline, which provides mental health services through phone and online to individuals in low-income communities. In 2016, IDHS launched a campaign to educate residents about mental health insurance coverage.

Mental Health America of Illinois (MHAI) is a nonprofit advocacy group that influences legislation. MHAI helped create an act to help insurance carriers receive more rights from providers. MHAI organizes mental health rallies in Springfield and Chicago and coordinates local outreach programs.

How do I Become a Psychologist in Illinois?

For students pursuing an online psychology degree, Illinois programs have different admissions and degree requirements. Most curricula include core courses in statistics and cognitive psychology, and students conduct clinical research and write a thesis paper. Psychologists and counselors must register for a state license to practice in Illinois.

Choose the Path That's Right for You: Licensed clinical psychologists hold an undergraduate degree and a doctoral degree in psychology, which requires 8 to 12 years of education. Most programs include supervised clinical experience, which is required to obtain state licensure. Graduates interested in teaching psychology need a psychology license and a teaching license. Only candidates with a Ph.D or a Psy.D are eligible for teaching licenses. Most psychology professionals with advanced degrees enter research positions.

Earn Your Degree: Online psychology programs are similar to their on-campus counterparts. Online programs typically have the same admissions requirements as traditional programs, and transfer students must ensure their credits will be approved. Prerequisites vary, but applicants to undergraduate programs must usually submit ACT or SAT scores, transcripts, and letters of recommendation. Psychology Ph.D programs in Illinois include a research component, such as a fellowship or internship at an institute or laboratory. Psychology degrees take four to seven years to complete.

Earn Your License: State examinations evaluate candidates' competency and understanding of state laws and ethics. The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Board regulates state board exams and provides practice tests. To become a licensed clinical psychologist in Illinois, candidates must pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP), eligibility for which requires a fee and supervised clinical experience. Psychology programs in Illinois prepare students for the exam, but most candidates dedicate further study time to exam-specific topics, such as local healthcare laws.

Psychology Licensing in Illinois

After earning a master's in psychology online, Illinois graduates enter careers in marriage and family therapy, social work, and mental health counseling. Graduates of psychology Ph.D programs in Illinois pursue careers in clinical psychology, including mental health research and private practice roles. Students choose a concentration during their studies and sharpen their skills through clinical training. Psychology programs in Illinois prepare students to pass regional and national licensure exams and to succeed in psychology-related professions. The table below highlights common career paths for psychology graduates.

Licensed Psychologist


  • Doctoral degree in psychology
  • 1,500 to 6,000 supervised hours of clinical experience
  • Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology

Careers Available With This License: Clinical psychologist

Total Fees: $147

Licensed Clinical Social Worker


  • Master's degree in social work
  • Two to three years of clinical experience (3,000 hours with master's degree and 2,000 with doctorate)

Careers Available With This License:

  • Caseworker
  • Community organizer
  • Research assistant

Total Fees: $100

Marriage & Family Therapist


  • Degree from a Department of Professional Regulation-approved program
  • 3,000 hours of work experience, including 1,000 hours working with patients

Careers Available With This License:

  • Family therapist
  • Licensed therapist
  • Associate therapist

Total Fees: $100

Licensed Mental Health Counselor


  • National Board for Certified Counselors' National Counselor Examination
  • Master's degree in counseling or psychology
  • Two years of supervised experience

Careers Available With This License:

  • Outpatient counselor
  • Behavioral health counselor

Total Fees: $294

National Certified Counselor


  • Master's degree in psychology or counseling
  • National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification
  • 1,920 hours of supervised experience completed over two years

Careers Available With This License:

  • Mental health counselor

Total Fees: $373

Psychology Internships and Fellowships in Illinois

Internships and fellowships provide opportunities for students and recent graduates to gain valuable experience. The key difference between internships and fellowships is financial compensation. Typically, internships are unpaid, semester-long positions that award college credit. Fellows receive a stipend, which may be equal to an annual salary, and work under the supervision of a licensed psychologist to conduct research and write a dissertation. The internships and fellowships below are available to students and graduates of psychology programs in Illinois.

  • The University of Chicago Clinical Psychology Doctoral Internship Program: UChicago offers a one-year psychology internship for doctoral students. Each intern focuses on the pediatric neuropsychology, adult neuropsychology, adult and health psychology, or child psychology track.
  • Community Health Internship Program: This internship with Adler University is approved by the APA and the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and internship Centers. Interns work at rehabilitation and clinical care centers under the supervision of Adler staff.
  • The Beckman Institute Graduate Fellowship: The Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology Research offers this fellowship for graduate students pursuing a master's or Ph.D. Applicants submit a research project proposal.

Psychology Careers in Illinois

Most psychology graduates work as social workers, counselors, or therapists. Many psychology professionals focus on a particular area, such as substance abuse or marriage and family. Fields such as industrial organizational psychology and forensic psychology are growing rapidly.

Psy.D programs emphasize clinical research and practical experience, whereas psychology Ph.D programs in Illinois focus on academic research and training. Ph.Ds are the more popular and accepted choice. According to the BLS, there are nearly 4,000 clinical, counseling, and school psychologists in Illinois.

How Much do Psychologists Make in Illinois?

Psychology positions require advanced education, experience, and licensure. Because of these requirements, psychologists command high annual salaries. The demand for psychologists in Illinois grows as the government funds more public health initiatives, such as telepsychiatry. Psychologists with a doctoral degree run their own practices or conduct research for universities or private institutes. The table below shows the mean annual salaries and employment statistics psychologists in Illinois and the U.S.

  Employment Hourly Mean Wage Annual Mean Wage
Illinois 4,730 $37.36 $77,700
United States 122,310 $38.77 $80,640

Source: BLS

Mental Health Service Providers in Illinois

Mental health service providers work in private practices, universities, and state hospitals. Local centers are often part of larger healthcare networks. Graduates searching for job opportunities are more likely to find employment with local mental health facilities, such as the Illinois mental health centers listed below.

  • Alexian Brothers Center for Mental Health: This center provides psychiatric services to children, adults, and adolescents. It also offers outreach services to local schools and provides individualized and group outpatient therapy.
  • McLean County Center for Human Services: McLean County Center established a 24-hour crisis team to help local residents dealing with urgent mental health issues. The center also provides counseling services to children suffering from behavioral issues.
  • Community Counseling Centers of Chicago: This group of five mental health centers located in Chicago and its surrounding areas provides mental health services such as counseling, therapy, and psychiatric evaluations.
  • Northwestern Memorial Hospital: The hospital's Behavioral Health Division caters to patients suffering from mental health, substance abuse, and trauma issues. The hospital provides inpatient and outpatient services to children and adults.
  • Kenneth Young Center: This nonprofit organization provides mental health services to Elk Grove residents. The center treats children and adolescents and offers in-home services for elderly patients.

Mental Health Research Centers in Illinois

Research centers provide psychology students with the clinical training and experience necessary to pass licensing exams and work in the healthcare industry. Some research centers are privately owned by schools and organizations, and others are publically funded by the government. To earn an online psychology degree, Illinois students often need to complete a research component.

  • Joliet Center for Clinical Research: This private mental health facility offers mental health services and conducts psychological research. An onsite clinical researcher studies mental health issues, such as adult depression.
  • Lakeshore Center for Behavioral Health: An extension of the Chicago-Lakeshore hospital system, this center conducts research on voluntary patients and provides mental health services. Current studies include research into bipolar depression and schizophrenia medication.
  • Institute for Health Research and Policy: Created by the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1997, this institute uses health research to influence public policy and policy reform. The interdisciplinary center unites researchers from different colleges and departments.

Professional Organizations for Mental Health Professionals

Students with a strong professional network are more likely to obtain internships, fellowships, and employment. Students can join school-sponsored organizations or national associations, which often hold networking events such as conferences and rallies. Some organizations require a membership fee or annual dues. Many professional organizations offer continuing education programs to keep members updated on recent developments and advancements in the field of psychology.

  • American Psychological Association: With more than 115,000 members, the APA is the most prominent psychological association in the U.S. The APA hosts annual conferences and awards grants, fellowships, and scholarships.
  • Illinois Psychological Association: The IPA advances psychology knowledge for residents and mental health workers. The association creates materials such as dissertations and reports to educate the public.
  • Illinois School Psychologists Association: ISPA was founded in 1979 to address the unique psychological needs of children and members of the educational community. Now, ISPA advocates for the rights of children and advances the influence of school psychology.

Scholarships for Online Psychology Programs in Illinois

Janet Tritsch Award

This scholarship is awarded to University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign students based on their psychology bachelor's thesis. Advisors submit a letter of nomination.

  • Amount Offered: $500
  • Scholarship Deadline: April 15
  • Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be a U of I student pursuing a bachelor's degree in psychology.

Julie Sutton Osgood Award

This award supports U of I seniors planning to attend medical school after earning their undergraduate degree.

  • Amount Offered: $500
  • Scholarship Deadline: April 15
  • Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must submit a résumé and a statement of purpose describing his or her plans to attend medical school.

Illinois School Psychologist Association

Conferred during the association's annual convention, this award supports school psychologists and practitioners who are members of minority groups or who plan to use their position to help minorities.

  • Amount Offered: $5,000
  • Scholarship Deadline: December 8
  • Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be enrolled in a graduate psychology program recognized by the Illinois Board of Education and must submit a résumé, an autobiographical statement, and an essay.

Joe and Karen Grush Endowed Scholarship in Psychology

This scholarship aids junior and senior Northern illinois University students who demonstrate a history of community service and a strong presence in their community.

  • Amount Offered: $1,300
  • Scholarship Deadline: January 31
  • Eligibility Requirements: This applicant must be a University of Illinois student enrolled in an undergraduate psychology or nursing program, must be in good academic standing, and must have at least a 3.25 GPA.

Bethesda Lutheran Communities Lutheran Student Scholarship

This scholarship is available to college students pursuing careers helping people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

  • Amount Offered: $3,000
  • Scholarship Deadline: May 19
  • Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be an active Lutheran congregation member.

The A. Bond and Margaret F. Woodruff Scholarship Fund

This scholarship supports students enrolled in the Northern Illinois University College of Psychology or the School of Music.

  • Amount Offered: $600
  • Scholarship Deadline: August 31
  • Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be a junior or senior undergraduate student with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Harry and Miriam Levinson Scholarship

This scholarship is awarded to graduate psychology students. Applicants submit a research proposal, which the APA reviews for clarity, importance, and appropriateness.

  • Amount Offered: $5,000
  • Scholarship Deadline: June 30
  • Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be enrolled in an interim master's or Ph.D psychology program and must submit letters of recommendation.

Lee Hakel Graduate Student Scholarship

The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology offers this scholarship to graduate students pursuing doctoral degrees in industrial and organizational psychology.

  • Amount Offered: $3,500
  • Scholarship Deadline: June 30
  • Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be enrolled in a graduate industrial organizational program, must be a member of Division 14, and must submit a dissertation.

The Irwin L. Goldstein Scholarship

This scholarship helps minority students enrolled in industrial organizational psychology programs fund dissertation research.

  • Amount Offered: $3,000
  • Scholarship Deadline: June 30
  • Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be a member of Division 14 and must be an ethnic minority and a full-time Ph.D student.

APF Walter Katkovsky Scholarships

These scholarships support graduate students interested in psychoanalysis. Students may apply to only one of the program's nine components.

  • Amount Offered: $1,000
  • Scholarship Deadline: October 15
  • Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be a graduate student in clinical psychology with less than 10 years of postdoctoral experience.

Accreditation for Online Psychology Programs in Illinois

Accreditation is crucial to any reputable psychology program. Candidates for licensure in Illinois must hold a degree from an APA-accredited program. Specialized accreditation from the APA indicates psychology programs meet set standards for the field and prepare students for careers in psychology. A list of all APA-accredited programs is available on their website.

Additionally, programs should be nationally or regionally accredited. Of the two types, regional accreditation is the most common and the most highly regarded. Regionally accredited schools receive federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education, and credits from these schools transfer easily. National accreditation is typically reserved for vocational and technical schools, and degrees earned from nationally accredited schools may not be recognized by other institutions or by employers.

Program Database of Online Psychology Programs in Illinois

The database below includes all accredited online psychology programs in Illinois. While researching potential psychology programs, consider each program's admissions and degree requirements to ensure the program fits your academic and professional goals. Distance learners should contact an enrollment counselor or admissions officer for more information about each potential program.

Program Database

School Degree Levels State