Best Online Ph.D. in Psychology Programs

Updated October 28, 2022

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Our list of online Ph.D. programs in psychology offer options for working professionals pursuing non-clinical careers in a variety of specializations.

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Psychologist smiling to patient on medical appointment Credit: FG Trade | E+ | Getty Images

The best online doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) in psychology program for you will vary based on your academic background, preferred specialty, interest in studying with a particular professor, learning style, and logistics such as clinical hours.

This guide outlines some of the factors for you to consider as you narrow your list of Ph.D. in psychology programs and schools. Use the information on this page to help you decide.

What to Look For in an Online Psychology Ph.D.

Every Ph.D. in psychology has strengths and weaknesses, so the secret to finding the right program is making sure it aligns with the factors that matter most to you. Understanding your goals and needs will help you weigh these factors.

Primary Factors to Consider

Accreditation

Accreditation of psychology programs is the most important factor of all, so much so that this guide and website only list accredited programs. The American Psychological Association (APA) accredits psychology Ph.D. programs, but does not accredit online programs.

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs (DAPIP) both track accreditation status, which you can check on the DAPIP or CHEA websites.

Admission Requirements

You will generally need a master's degree from an accredited program to apply for a Ph.D. in psychology program, though some schools accept other degrees.

Most psychology Ph.D. programs require at least a 3.25 GPA, two or more references, and an application with an essay or personal statement. Requirements can tell you what the school values and what your classmates will be like.

Cost and Financial Aid

Cost and financial aid for psychology students should also be considered, since it takes years to finish a psychology Ph.D. However, if your dream Ph.D. in psychology seems out of reach financially, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness or a scholarship if you commit to work in an underserved area once you graduate. Many Ph.D. programs also offer paid assistantships or TA positions that can help offset costs.

Hybrid and Online Options

Because of the importance of personal interaction in supervising clinical hours, there are no 100% online fully accredited psychology Ph.D. programs to date. However, hybrid programs let you finish some of your work online — typically the classes that cover theory, methodology, and research techniques. You may be able to complete up to two-thirds of your classes online.

Practical Experience Requirements

Psychology Ph.D. programs require practicum and internship hours in psychology. During the practicum, you will spend most of your time observing. In your internship, you will work directly with patients at an increasing level of independence.

Schools typically help you find a placement or arrange practicums, but you must find and apply for your internship. Be aware that there are often more applicants than approved internship openings, so start your planning early during your Ph.D. in psychology.

How to Apply to an Online Psychology Ph.D.

To apply for a Ph.D. in psychology, you must have a master's degree, references, essay or personal statement, and resume. You may need to complete a criminal background check.

Give yourself plenty of time to apply and have a trusted mentor review your application to make sure that it represents you and your strengths. You will need to send your references and transcript securely; different schools have different methods for this.

If you do not have a master's in psychology, you will need to document that your program included the requisite topics.

Best Online Ph.D. Programs

Best Online Ph.D. in Psychology Programs

Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale

  • Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Fort Lauderdale's Keiser awards a Ph.D. in psychology to distance learners who complete 60-78 credits, a dissertation, and two on-campus residencies. Students are admitted through two different paths: applicants with a master's degree and those with a bachelor's degree. Bachelor's degree-holders complete 18 credits of prerequisites upon admission, including a master's thesis.

All enrollees take 27 credits of foundation courses, 18 credits of research courses, and 12 credits of dissertation courses, plus a three-credit elective. The first residency serves as an orientation and the second focuses on research. Remote learners can also access Keiser's Graduate Online Research Support Center for research consultations.

Admission requires transcripts, two recommendation letters, and a resume. GRE or MAT score submission is optional but encouraged for master's degree-holders and required for those entering with a bachelor's degree.

Keiser is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Average Tuition
In-state
$19,808
Out-of-state
$19,808
Retention Rate
75%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
19,567
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
47% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Best Online Ph.D. in Psychology Programs

Liberty University

  • Lynchburg, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The Ph.D. in psychology program at Lynchburg, Virginia-based LU Online requires 60 credits and an average of three years to complete. Fully online, eight-week courses focus on understanding the human experience from a biblical worldview, along with clinical techniques, behavioral theory, and research and writing. 

Remote learners can participate in optional on-campus intensives and choose to specialize in developmental psychology, industrial/organizational psychology, social psychology, or theology. All students complete a dissertation.

Applicants must have a master's degree from an accredited program with a 3.0 GPA and provide two references, a statement of purpose, and college transcripts. Full-time enrollees can expect to pay $565 per credit hour, and part-time students pay $615. Admitted students may be able to transfer up to 50% of the degree total to accelerate their progress.

Liberty holds regional accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Average Tuition
In-state
$15,417
Out-of-state
$15,417
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
51%
Students Enrolled
85,586
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Best Online Ph.D. in Psychology Programs

Northcentral University

  • La Jolla, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online

NCU, located in La Jolla, California, is an online university that holds accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). 

The 60-credit Ph.D. in psychology program takes 46 months to complete and offers specializations in addictions, counseling psychology, gerontology, health psychology, and industrial organizational psychology, along with psychology of sexual and gender fluidity, social policy and behavioral health administration, and trauma and disaster relief.

Online learning emphasizes transitioning from students to independent scholars through case studies and scenarios with support from mentoring professors. NCU's Virtual Education Support Center offers additional resources.

Direct-entry admission requires a master's degree in psychology, counseling, marriage and family therapy, or social work. Applicants with a master's degree in another area must submit their transcripts for evaluation-track admittance. Transfer students receive a transcript evaluation of applicable credits. The base per-credit rate for psychology doctoral study is $1,148.

Average Tuition
In-state
$11,064
Out-of-state
$11,064
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
11,223
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

Best Online Ph.D. in Psychology Programs

Regent University

  • Virginia Beach, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Doctoral students at Regent in Virginia Beach, Virginia, can earn a Ph.D. in counseling and psychological studies online. The 51-credit advanced degree includes core coursework in Christian leadership, psychometrics, research, and statistics, plus electives. 

Remote learners can choose from concentrations that include addictions, biblical, grief, human services, pastoral, and trauma and crisis counseling, along with marriage and family ministry, life coaching, human services for student affairs, and research focuses. Graduates complete a dissertation and a capstone in psychological sciences and Christian thought.

Ph.D. applicants need a regionally accredited, 30-hour master's degree in a mental health field with a 3.5 GPA and at least a year of professional experience. Other requirements include an online interview, academic writing sample, resume, and academic background questionnaire. The program tuition rate is $675 per credit.

Regent is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Average Tuition
In-state
$17,220
Out-of-state
$17,220
Retention Rate
78%
Admission Rate
86%
Students Enrolled
10,365
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Best Online Ph.D. in Psychology Programs

Saybrook University

  • Pasadena, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online

Based in Pasadena, California, Saybrook offers graduate degrees for distance learners, including a hybrid Ph.D. psychology online program with online coursework and periodic residencies. Students can opt for specialization in one of four areas: consciousness, spirituality, and integrative health; creativity studies; existential, humanistic, and transpersonal psychology; and psychophysiology.

Residencies consist of a one-time, two-day orientation and two five-day residential conferences per year at the beginning of the fall and spring semesters. Ph.D. students should expect to spend 5-6 years earning their degree, including a research course sequence, core psychology courses, and a dissertation. Learners work with a faculty mentor individually and in groups.

Admission requirements include a master's degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a 3.0 GPA. The program bills $1,470 per credit and may accept up to 12 transfer credits. Saybrook holds accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

Average Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
688
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
100% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

Best Online Ph.D. in Psychology Programs

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Los Angeles

  • Los Angeles, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The Chicago School's Los Angeles campus is Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)-accredited and emphasizes innovation, service, and community. Its online Ph.D. in international psychology offers concentrations in organizations and systems or trauma services. The degree's timeframe is 3-4 years of full-time study at a tuition rate of $1,560 per credit. 

Organizations and systems includes courses in acculturation psychology, global perspectives in organizations and systems, and field experiences. Applicants submit transcripts showing a master's degree and three college psychology courses with a "C" or better, a resume, and a personal statement.

Trauma services courses cover topics like self-care strategies in humanitarian efforts, assessment of psychosocial and mental health reactions to traumatic stress, and mental health interventions. Candidates need a master's in psychology or a related field with graduate coursework in abnormal psychology/psychopathology and one course in trauma/crisis intervention with a "C" or higher.

Average Tuition
In-state
$10,992
Out-of-state
$10,992
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
13%
Students Enrolled
2,999
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
82% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

Frequently Asked Questions

Are online psychology degrees respected?

An online psychology degree earns the same diploma as the on-campus program. However, there are no fully accredited doctoral psychology programs that are entirely online.

Is it possible to get a Ph.D. in psychology online?

You cannot earn a Ph.D. or a doctor of psychology (Psy.D.) entirely online, though some psychology Ph.D. programs include classes with an online option.

How long is a Ph.D. in psychology?

A psychology Ph.D. typically takes 5-7 years. This psychology degree prepares you either to teach or work as a practicing psychologist.


Page last reviewed October 20, 2022. This page's information — not including school descriptions — was reviewed by an independent third party compensated for their time by Psychology.org.

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