Psychologists work with clients to treat trauma, mental health disorders, and substance abuse challenges. Others work as "field psychologists," conducting research studies with participants to better understand the brain, mind, and behavior. The need for psychologists continues to expand, with the projected growth rate for this occupation far outpacing the average for other jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts a 14% growth rate for psychologists between 2018-28, compared to the 5% average for all occupations.
Massachusetts is one of the top states for education, including psychological science. On a U.S. News & World Report ranking of the 200 best psychology schools in the nation, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) rank in the top 10, while Boston University (BU), Boston College (BC), and the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass Amherst) rank in the top 60.
This guide focuses on common coursework for psychology majors, state licensure requirements, and salary and job outlook in the state to help you choose the best online psychology degrees in Massachusetts.
How Do Online Psychology Degree Programs in Massachusetts Work?
Some psychology colleges in Massachusetts offer programs in an online or hybrid format. Harvard Extension School features a customizable bachelor of liberal arts with a focused field of study, such as psychology. An enrollee can transfer a maximum of 64 credits into the hybrid program, which offers many courses online but requires a Harvard campus experience. Harvard's master of liberal arts in extension studies employs the same format and offers 20 fields of study.
Among other schools that offer online psychology degrees in Massachusetts, UMass Amherst's University Without Walls features a fully online degree-completion bachelor's with a focus in applied psychology, and Lesley University offers a fully online BA in psychology. Distance degrees typically take the same time to complete as their on-campus counterparts. At Harvard, UMass Amherst, and other colleges, students can accelerate degree completion by transferring general education credits. The faculty who teach on-campus courses typically teach their online versions, as well.
Institutions do not generally distinguish between online and on-campus learning when they issue diplomas. Due to the prevalence of online learning, employers value online degrees as long as regionally accredited institutions issue them.
Online Psychology Degree Programs
Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.
What Courses Are Part of an Online Psychology Degree Program in Massachusetts?
Courses vary depending on specialization and the level of coursework. The following list includes five common undergraduate psychology courses.
Students can learn about the brain's inner workings, functions, and processes that affect day-to-day functioning, such as learning, memory, and language acquisition. Faculty members also introduce enrollees to the malfunctioning brain through Parkinson's and schizophrenia.
The research of psychologists like Jean Piaget and Sigmund Freud gave us an understanding of how early childhood experiences and biological factors help develop the personality, intellect, and behavior. Faculty introduce degree-seekers to these luminaries, their work, and examine the latest theories and research in developmental psychology.
Students can explore personality theories like trait-based, psychodynamic, and humanistic, along with their application in clinical and other contexts. Faculty members introduce learners to famous psychologists, including Sigmund Freud, Erik Erikson, and Isabel Briggs Myers, who helped develop some of psychology's classical theories in this domain.
An increasing number of Americans embrace positive psychology to improve their lives, and this course is increasingly popular on many campuses. Students can learn through empirical evidence that positive psychology improves physical and mental health, helps individuals better self-regulate, and establish and maintain healthy relationships. They can learn about pioneering psychologists in this field, such as Carol Dweck and Martin Seligman.
Forensic psychology, which has become increasingly popular with its prevalence in media, has real applications in the legal system. Students can learn how experts apply forensic psychology in legal contexts to interview witnesses, manage expert testimony, and clinically assess witness competency. Faculty members present the works of original innovators in the field, such as Wilhelm Wundt, and newer luminaries like Elizabeth Loftus, who focuses on eyewitness testimony.
Becoming a Psychologist in Massachusetts
This section outlines the various steps students must take to develop careers as psychologists in Massachusetts. They can learn about the importance of choosing a specialization, how to earn online psychology degrees in Massachusetts, and obtain the credentials necessary to practice in the state.
SpecializePsychology offers various subdisciplines that allow for specialization. As students begin to plan their education in psychological science, they should think about which specialization they want to pursue. This will affect which degree program they enroll in and the schools they attend in Massachusetts.
The American Psychological Association (APA), the leading organization representing psychologists in the U.S., is an invaluable resource as learners navigate this aspect of their education. APA manages 54 divisions, which include clinical, developmental, rehabilitation, and experimental psychology. The organization also offers discounted student membership.
Earn Your DegreesStudents can begin their education with a bachelor's degree in psychology or another major in the behavioral sciences. The bachelor's degree usually takes four years to complete, but some schools, such as Harvard and UMass Amherst, offer online degree completion options that help students finish degrees faster.
Enrollees should begin to specialize at the master's level, though some psychology colleges in Massachusetts may allow them to begin to do so as undergraduates. The master's degree usually takes two years to complete if students enroll on a full-time basis. William James College offers a fully online MA in psychology and a fully online or hybrid MA in organizational psychology. Learners should expect to engage in advanced practicum/internship opportunities at the graduate level.
The time it takes to complete a doctoral degree depends on whether a student pursues a Ph.D., Psy.D., or Ed.D. Those interested in online doctoral programs can find a select number of options in Massachusetts. For instance, William James offers a hybrid Psy.D. in leadership psychology.
Obtain LicensureMost states require each psychologist to obtain a license to practice. The Massachusetts Board of Registration of Psychologists licenses these mental health professionals, requiring each candidate to hold an APA-approved doctorate and at least 3,200 hours of supervised experience to qualify.
Each candidate must submit licensure application and materials to the board to determine their eligibility to sit for the examination for professional practice in psychology (EPPP) exam and a jurisprudence exam. The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards developed the EPPP, and Pearson VUE administers the multiple-choice test for $600. Each candidate must also pay a $150 application fee to the Board of Registration of Psychologists.
Other Licenses and Certifications
Not everyone interested in a career as a mental health professional pursues employment as psychologists. Roles as licensed clinical social workers and marriage and family therapists only require a master's degree and still provide fulfilling career options in the mental health arena.
The Board of Registration of Social Work licenses these professionals in the state. Eligibility requires a CSWE-accredited master's degree in social work. Each candidate must sit for the master's-level Association of Social Work Boards exam, which consists of 170 questions. In Massachusetts, an LCSW may advance to a licensed independent clinical social worker role, which requires 3,500 hours of supervised clinical social work experience.
MFTs can receive licensure from the Board of Registration of Allied Mental Health and Human Service Professions in Massachusetts. Each candidate must hold a master's degree in MFT with a practicum that includes at least 300 hours of face-to-face contact. They should also possess 200 hours of post-master's supervised clinical experience. The candidate must subsequently sit for the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Board's national examination.
The Board of Registration of Allied Mental Health and Human Services Professions also licenses LMHCs, the equivalent of LPCs. To qualify, each candidate must possess a 60-credit master's degree in counseling that includes at least 600 hours of clinical field experience. After the master's, candidates must also obtain at least 3,360 hours of experience in mental health counseling. Each student must then sit for the national clinical mental health counseling examination administered by the National Board of Certified Counselors.
Salaries and Job Outlook for Psychologists in Massachusetts
Federal data shows that the need for psychologists continues to grow. In fact, the BLS forecasts a 14% job growth rate for psychologists between 2018-28, almost triple the 5% average growth rate for all occupations. At the state level, Massachusetts takes third place for states with the highest employment level in this occupation. BLS data shows that 980 psychologists work in the state, making a mean wage of $83,550.
The Boston-Cambridge-Nashua Massachusetts/New Hampshire area takes the top spot in the nation for metropolitan areas, with the highest employment level in this occupation. Overall, Massachusetts comes in at eighth on U.S. News & World Report's 2019 ranking of the best states. The state ranks first in education, second in healthcare, and seventh in economy. Together, these indicators offer great potential for those seeking psychology careers in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts at a Glance
Population Growth (2010-2018): 5.41%
Population Growth Rank: 23
Source: United States Census Bureau
|Mean Annual Salary||Projected Job Growth (2016-26)|
Source: BLS, Projections Central
|Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologist Salary||General Unemployment Rate||Education and Health Services 12-Month Employment Growth|
|Leominster - Gardner||$94,670||3.3%||0.0%|
|Providence - Warwick||$87,560||3.8%||3.7%|
|Boston - Cambridge - Nashua||$86,520||2.6%||3.1%|
Psychology Degrees and Careers in Massachusetts -- Frequently Asked Questions
Readers interested in careers as psychologists may have many unanswered questions about earning a psychology degree. The following section lists a few common concerns about choosing online psychology degrees in Massachusetts.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Psychologist in Massachusetts?
Each aspiring professional needs a bachelor's, master's, and Ph.D., Psy.D., or Ed.D. to pursue a career as a psychologist in Massachusetts. A bachelor's degree takes four years to complete, and a master's takes two years. Some schools allow learners to transfer credits to accelerate degree completion. The Psy.D. takes 4-6 years; a Ph.D., 5-7 years; and the Ed.D., 3-5 years to finish. Candidates must complete at least 3,200 hours of supervised experience to qualify for licensure in Massachusetts.
Are Online Psychology Classes Hard?
Students find that their courses increase in difficulty as they advance in their studies. They can expect to explore an engaging mix of theoretical and clinical coursework. Coursework in subjects like statistics and research methodologies may pose a challenge for some students.
What Skills Are Needed to Be a Psychologist?
Psychologists rely on excellent communication skills to establish and maintain rapport between themselves and clients. They must possess optimized listening skills to accurately assess and address the client's challenges. Other key skills needed include problem solving, critical thinking, and a strong sense of ethics.
What Schools Are Best for Psychology in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts stands as the top state in the nation for education, according to a U.S. News & World Report ranking of best states to live. Schools like Harvard, MIT, BU, BC, and UMass Amherst rank in the top 60 of U.S. News & World Report's 200 best psychology schools in the nation. Students should look to Harvard, UMass Amherst, Lesley University, and William James College for online options.
Is a BA or a BS in Psychology Better?
Students who enroll in a BS in psychology receive a strong science background that a BA does not provide. By design, the BA can give learners a well-rounded liberal arts education. Aspiring psychologists would do well to pursue a BS, which gives more access to laboratory work, experiments, and research in preparation for graduate school. Each degree-seeker should consult with their college advisor to devise an academic and career plan.
Accreditation for Online Psychology Programs in Massachusetts
Attending an accredited psychology program in Massachusetts ensures that each student can receive a quality education and that their academic credentials meet state licensing requirements. Schools offering undergraduate degrees in psychology or counseling can receive regional accreditation through the New England Commission of Higher Education. Prospective students should also check the U.S. Department of Education's database of regional, national, and specialized accrediting agencies.
Graduate programs often seek specialized accreditation for psychology or counseling. When exploring online psychology programs in Massachusetts, you should make sure that a program holds accreditation from the APA or the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
The APA only grants accreditation for doctoral-level psychology degrees, internships, and fellowships, while CACREP grants accreditation for master's and doctoral programs in counseling. The U.S. Department of Education recognizes both agencies as reliable authorities for judging the quality of a program. These agencies evaluate curriculum standards to ensure students receive a robust education in the areas needed to pass licensing exams.
Psychology Internships and Fellowships in Massachusetts
Fellowships and internships can provide opportunities for students to gain valuable knowledge in their field. While an internship often includes working a set amount of hours and may provide students with an hourly wage, the experience is often unpaid. Alternatively, fellowships almost always include financial incentives (e.g., a stipend, tuition waiver, or funding for a specific activity like travel money or support for a research project). Most fellowships are awarded based on merit, as opposed to financial need.
Internships and fellowships both provide hands-on experience needed for educational advancement and state licensure. The following list includes organizations that may offer these opportunities.
Catholic Charities operates more than 90 social services programs through 27 locations in Eastern Massachusetts, including counseling services. Its counseling center in Danvers provides diagnosis and treatment in the areas of substance abuse, depression and anxiety disorders, anger management, child and adolescent counseling, and family or marriage conflicts.
Revere Mental Health Department
As a department of Massachusetts General Hospital, the Revere Mental Health Department provides treatment for several mental health concerns, including depression, substance abuse, and schizophrenia. Services are provided through out-patient clinics or a 24-bed, in-patient unit. The staff includes more than 600 psychiatrists and psychologists who train 100 residents, interns, and clinical fellows each year. Its division of public and community psychiatry partners with community organizations to help reach people in need of assistance.
Arbour Counseling Services
Arbour Health System offers the largest network of behavioral health services in Massachusetts. Six in-patient treatment facilities provide 24-hour care designed to help diagnose and stabilize patients with mental health or addiction disorders. Out-patient counseling includes services for individuals, families, and groups.
Massachusetts General Hospital
The Massachusetts General Hospital psychiatry department supports numerous research programs and clinical trials focused on mental healthcare, including centers for addiction medicine and women's mental health. The department focuses on integrating research findings into clinical practice.
Rudd Adoption Research Program
Housed within UMass Amherst's department of psychological and brain sciences, the Rudd Adoption Research Program studies the psychological effects of adoption. Programs include the Re-Envisioning Foster Care in America Initiative and the Minnesota/Texas Adoption Research Project. The program's research projects help inform public policy decisions and adoption outreach services.
Professional Organizations for Psychologists and Mental Health Professionals
Professional organizations provide support and services to psychologists and students in psychological science or related programs. Members receive access to the latest research, publications, professional development, and opportunities to network with peers. The following list includes some of these organizations.
- Massachusetts Psychological Association MPA represents the interests of psychologists in the state and offers a robust portfolio of benefits. Membership benefits include a mentorship program; practice tools and resources; discounted continuing education; member directory and referral service; and health, dental, and liability insurance.
- American Psychological Association APA is the leading professional organization for psychologists in the nation. The organization manages 54 divisions and boasts a membership of 118,000 clinicians, researchers, educators, and students. Member benefits include access to publications, professional development, professional liability insurance, and continuing education.
- Massachusetts Counseling Association MaMHCA advocates for the interests of the mental health counseling profession and works to ensure its members provide high-quality services in the state. The organization consists of mental health counselors, counselor educators, and mental health counseling students. Member benefits include an online newsletter, annual conference, continuing education, and licensure support services.
- American Mental Health Counselors Association AMHCA is a national organization dedicated to maintaining standards of practice, ethics, research, and collaboration for clinical mental health counseling. Member benefits include access to training, continuing education, professional liability insurance, and job postings.
- Massachusetts Association of School Psychologists MSPA advances school psychology as a science and profession in the state. Through MSPA, licensed school psychologists can network to exchange ideas and gain access to online and in-person professional development, regional meetings, and job postings.
Scholarships for Online Psychology Degree Programs in Massachusetts
The Massachusetts School Psychologists Association named this scholarship after the founder of the doctoral programs at UMass Amherst and Northeastern University. This scholarship supports minority graduate students seeking master's or education specialist degrees in school counseling from accredited schools in Massachusetts.
- Amount Offered: $3,000
- Scholarship Deadline: April 5
- Eligibility Requirements: An applicant must be in good academic standing with a minimum 3.0 GPA. The selection committee considers financial need, along with the candidate's interests and expertise, as reflected in a resume and a written personal statement.
Offered by the UMass Amherst's College of Education, this merit-based award supports applicants in graduate programs in either school counselor education or school psychology.
- Amount Offered: Varies
- Scholarship Deadline: Spring
- Eligibility Requirements: This scholarship program gives preference to students with teaching, counseling, or military experience.
The International Honor Society in Psychology offers eight graduate scholarships to help pay for tuition, fees, and book costs. The scholarship considers financial need, activity with the honor society, and future career plans.
- Amount Offered: $3,000 renewable each semester (for a total of $24,000)
- Scholarship Deadline: July 15
- Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be a member of Psi Chi seeking a degree in psychology or a related field and submit a personal essay, along with a letter of recommendation from a Psi Chi faculty sponsor.
Open to master's degree students who work at community health agencies, this scholarship represents a partnership between William James College and the sponsoring agency. The award may be renewed for up to three years.
- Amount Offered: Determined by financial need
- Scholarship Deadline: January 3
- Eligibility Requirements: Each candidate must be an employee at a Community Mental Health agency and plan to enroll in a master's program in clinical mental health counseling at WJC. The applicant must also commit to completing their program within three years.
The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts administers this scholarship, which supports students seeking degrees in social services (or a related field) who commit to community service.
- Amount Offered: Varies
- Scholarship Deadline: March 31
- Eligibility Requirements: This need-based scholarship program accepts applications from residents of Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties. Both undergraduate and graduate students may apply. The application also requires a personal essay.
Presented by the American Psychological Foundation, this scholarship supports a graduate student's research project. Each applicant must be nominated by a psychology department that is a member of the Council of Graduate Departments of Psychology.
- Amount Offered: $2,000
- Scholarship Deadline: June 30
- Eligibility Requirements: Applications are judged based on a research proposal. Each student must include a proposed budget for the scholarship funds, along with a recommendation from their research advisor.
Find Online Psychology Degree Programs in Massachusetts
Before choosing an online psychology program in Massachusetts, students should carefully consider their career goals and look for schools that provide hands-on training in line with those aspirations. Massachusetts requires each clinical psychologist to obtain a license, so be sure that your school prepares its graduates for the licensing process by providing the appropriate coursework and supervised practice opportunities.
Explore Psychology Careers
Mental Health Initiatives in Massachusetts
With a healthcare system that ranks second in the nation, Massachusetts has a lot to offer citizens with mental health challenges and the healthcare professionals who care for them. The Massachusetts Department of Mental Health provides access to services through MassHealth, the Massachusetts Health Connector, or employer-based insurance.
Adults ages 19 and older can receive help through community clinical services, recovery learning communities, peer support, homelessness services, and crisis stabilization units. The Department of Mental Health's Division of Child, Youth, and Family Services provides services tailored to those under the age of 19. The state also manages an Executive Office of Elder Affairs to help the aged deal with disabilities, such as dementia.
The state has a treatment rate of 3.85 per 1,000 population, compared to the 23.69 U.S. rate, according to the national Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.