Although philosophers have theorized about the human mind for millennia, the field of psychology is somewhat new. The study of psychology began in the late 1800s and is now one of the most popular majors for American undergraduate students.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are currently over 192,000 psychologists employed in the United States. The BLS projects that number could increase by 3%, adding about 5,700 jobs from 2019-29.
To obtain licensure, prospective psychologists must hold a doctorate in the field. While a traditional, on-campus doctorate could take 4-7 years to complete, many schools offer online doctoral programs in psychology. Online Ph.D. psychology programs allow students to earn an advanced degree without commuting to campus.
Check out some of the best online Ph.D. programs in psychology below.
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Top Online Psychology Doctorate Degree Programs
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The Best Online Psychology Doctorate Degree Programs of 2021
Fort Lauderdale, FL
From its campus in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Keiser University offers an online doctoral program in psychology. The 60-credit curriculum features a scholar-practitioner approach to teaching psychology with courses such as behavioral neuroscience, the sociocultural basis of behavior, and human development. While the coursework is entirely online, KU requires two residencies within the program's eight-year timeframe. Students use this residency time to bond with cohort members, get dissertation advice, and develop effective research strategies.
Keiser's online Ph.D. degree prepares graduates for career opportunities as professors, consultants, researchers, and political strategists. KU provides employment placement services, including an online career center, professional placement workshops, and career advice.
Candidates for this program must have a bachelor's or master's degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must submit an application, transcripts, a resume, and two letters of recommendation. Tuition is $1,099 per credit hour.
The online Ph.D. in psychology at Liberty University prepares students for careers in research and academia. Based in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty adds a Biblical worldview to a 60-credit curriculum that explores the intricacies of human behavior. The course schedule includes theories and research in industrial/organizational psychology, the teaching of psychology, and advanced research in qualitative research and analysis. This online doctorate in psychology has five specializations, including theology and industrial/organization psychology.
Liberty's online doctoral program, which is $595 per credit, caters to the ambitions of working students and the needs of employers. For employers who assist in their employees' education, Liberty's Corporate Advantage Affiliate Program offers tuition discounts, payment plans, and liaison support.
Admission requires applicants to have a master's degree from a nationally or regionally accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA or above. The official transcript must show proof of at least 12 credits of psychology at the undergraduate or graduate level.
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI
Michigan State University offers a hybrid doctoral program in educational psychology and educational technology (EPET). This 66-credit hybrid EPET program lasts five years for full-time students and includes courses such as the psychology of learning school subjects, cognitive development across the lifespan, and educational inquiry. For one semester, students have the option of attending face-to-face classes on the East Lansing, Michigan, campus. For this purpose, the university offers assistantships and fellowships to cover the $875.75-per-credit tuition.
Graduates from this online Ph.D. degree program can assume leadership positions in community colleges, virtual schools, K-12 school systems, and private practices. Graduates also gain the professional advantage of membership in the American Psychological Association.
MSU's EPET program doesn't have set academic requirements for admission acceptance. Instead, outstanding credentials, work history, and achievements play a significant role in acceptance. The GRE is required.
The goal of Norfolk State University's online doctor of philosophy in clinical psychology program is to produce graduates that are ethical clinical psychologists who can assess and conduct empirical research at a high level. Based in Norfolk, Virginia, NSU's clinical psychology Ph.D. program features a 123-credit curriculum with courses including empirically supported therapies, analysis of variances, intellectual assessment, and developmental psychology. Tuition for this program is $490 per credit.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, the median salary for a clinical psychologist is $78,200. They are in the highest demand in elementary/secondary schools, offices of other health practitioners, and family services. Norfolk State's doctoral program gives its students a head start in the field with its internship program and practicum requirements.
There is a six-to-10-student admission limit for the online Ph.D. program. To be considered, applicants must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution of higher learning, 20 to 30 credit hours of academic experience in psychology, and GRE scores.
Virginia Beach, VA
Located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Regent University offers a Ph.D. in counseling and psychological studies program that appeals to scholars seeking to work outside of the usual psychology fields. Its 41-credit curriculum stresses Christian leadership, psychometrics, statistics, and research. Highlighted courses include addictive behaviors, qualitative research methodology, and disaster trauma and psychological first aid. Students can choose a concentration that best suits their needs.
This online Ph.D. degree program provides graduates with higher salary potential and opportunities in a wide variety of industries. From 2019 to 2029, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 3% increase in employment opportunities for psychologists. The average growth rate of all occupations in that time period is 4%.
Regent's Ph.D. applicants must have a regionally accredited 30-hour master's degree in mental health-related fields, a minimum 3.5 GPA in graduate-level programs, and one year or more experience in the mental health field. The cost of tuition is $675 per credit hour.
Located in Oakland, California, Saybrook University offers an online Ph.D. in psychology program. The doctoral degree program uses a hybrid model to combine online classes with occasional face-to-face residential conferences. Some of the online courses in this 68-to-83-credit curriculum include the psychology of consciousness, organizational creativity, and introduction of psychophysiology. Tuition for this program is $1,470 per credit.
Saybrook's online Ph.D. in psychology program features four specializations, and has helped graduates advance their careers in corporations, nonprofit organizations, prisons, and educational institutions.
Admission to this Ph.D. degree program requires a master's degree from a regionally accredited college and a 3.0 GPA from the last degree-granting school.
Touro University Worldwide
Los Alamitos, CA
With its online doctor of psychology in human and organizational psychology program, Touro University Worldwide provides its students an opportunity to enter or advance in the growing field of organizational psychology. Located in Los Alamitos, California, TUW offers this program in a 100% online format with no residency requirements. Several featured courses in this 66 credit curriculum are applied i/o psychology, evidence-based practices, and refining the research topic. Most students complete this online Ph.D. degree in three years.
Organizational psychologists increase efficiency and satisfaction in workplaces in many organizational settings. For this reason, human and organizational psychology Ph.D. graduates have the qualifications to work as research consultants, personnel analysts, instructional designers, and talent developers.
Admission to TUW doesn't require a GRE. Applicants must have a master's degree from an accredited institution with a cumulative GPA of 3.4 or higher. Also, they must submit official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and a doctoral entrance essay. Tuition is $700 per credit.
Operating in Tucson, UofA's online doctor of psychology (Psy.D.) program helps students realize their academic and career goals in psychology. This 62-credit online Psy.D. program caters to students intending to become practitioners in specialized fields. It features courses such as assessment tools for organizational leadership, the psychology of leadership, and the biological basis of behavior. The program costs $1,082 per credit.
The six specializations in UArizona's online doctoral program set doctoral students up to practice in growing fields such as sports and performance, industrial organizations, criminal justice, and education. UofA's Student Support department provides career guidance through mentorship and resource advice.
Applicants must have a cumulative 3.0 GPA in a master's degree program from a regionally or nationally accredited institution or a doctoral degree from a nationally or regionally accredited university.
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology offers 10 different online doctoral degrees in synchronous and hybrid formats. The variety of degree options include doctorates in applied behavioral analysis, educational psychology and technology, organizational leadership, and business psychology. Regardless of the degree field, the tuition for all of the online doctoral degrees is $1,537 per credit.
Each of these online doctoral degrees can open the door to a variety of career opportunities. The Career Services department at The Chicago School helps students and alumni with their careers as professional practitioners.
Admission to The Chicago School's doctoral program requires a minimum 3.2 GPA and a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Otherwise, the admissions board evaluates each application on a holistic basis.
Applying to a Doctorate in Psychology
No matter the field, doctoral programs are challenging. Ph.D. candidates study advanced, complex topics and carry out original research. Because of these factors, schools maintain high and competitive admission standards for online doctoral programs in psychology.
Applicants should already possess a master’s degree in psychology. Schools set high GPA requirements for prospective Ph.D. students, and candidates typically need a master’s-level GPA of 3.0 or higher. Doctoral programs also may look for applicants who have performed original research and published an ambitious master’s thesis.
Prospective students may also boost their admission chances by completing supervised work experience. Applicants may also need to submit additional materials, such as letters of recommendation, academic writing samples, and a dissertation proposal.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where do psychologists work?
Psychologists work in many different settings. While some psychologists maintain their own practices, others work at hospitals and healthcare clinics. Still others are employed at schools, colleges, and universities. Those focused on research might work in higher education or at research institutes.
What is accreditation and why is it important?
Students like to know that they are investing their time and money into a quality education. Accreditation ensures that higher education institutions and academic programs maintain the highest academic and ethical standards. Psychology students need degrees accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) to apply for licensure.
How much do you make with a doctorate degree in psychology?
According to PayScale, individuals with a doctorate degree in psychology earn an average salary of more than $87,500. Many psychology doctorate graduates go on to become practicing psychologists. According to the BLS, these professionals enjoy a median annual wage of $80,370.
What can I do with a doctorate degree in psychology?
Individuals with a doctorate degree in psychology frequently go on to become licensed psychologists, guiding people with mental, emotional, and behavior disorders or issues. Other psychologists carry out research at colleges, universities, and research institutes. Some graduates might work as forensic psychologists in the criminal justice system or as industrial-organizational psychologists in corporate settings.