Best Online Doctorate in Psychology Programs

Updated January 24, 2023

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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.

Psychology.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

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 Doctorate in Psychology Programs

Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale

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

Students can earn a Ph.D. in psychology through online learning at Keiser University - Fort Lauderdale. The research-based, non-clinical online psychology Ph.D. program comprises 60 credits, which degree-seekers can complete in 36-60 months. 

Students enroll in 20 courses, which they complete through eight-week terms. Courses focus on foundational concepts, such as behavioral neuroscience, research, and a dissertation. Learners also complete two residencies, at the beginning and end of the program. 

Prospective students can apply with a bachelor's or a master's degree, although non-master's students must take extra classes and complete a thesis. Keiser does not require GRE scores for admission. Incoming students can bring apply up to 18 transfer credits. 

Average Tuition
In-state
$19,808
Out-of-state
$19,808
Retention Rate
60%
Admission Rate
97%
Students Enrolled
20,330
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
48% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Best Online Doctorate in Psychology Programs

Northcentral University

  • La Jolla, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online

At Northcentral University, degree-seekers can earn an online Ph.D. in psychology in 46 months. Students can choose from eight specializations: 

  • Substance related and addictive disorders
  • General psychology
  • Health psychology
  • Social policy and behavioral health administration 
  • Counseling psychology
  • Counseling psychology on the California licensure track
  • Psychology of gender and sexual fluidity
  • Gerontology
  • Industrial organizational psychology
  • Trauma and disaster relief

Most specializations focus on theory and research, although the counseling in psychology with the California licensure track trains students to clinically practice as psychologists. Each focus area requires 20 courses. 

Applicants must hold a master's degree. Those who don't already possess a psychology graduate degree must apply through the evaluation track, in which the university evaluates applicants' previous coursework. The university offers six full-tuition scholarships for graduate students. 

Average Tuition
In-state
$11,064
Out-of-state
$11,064
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
12,471
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

Best Online Doctorate in Psychology Programs

Saybrook University

  • Pasadena, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online

Based in Pasadena, California, Saybrook University offers a 66-credit online psychology Ph.D. degree. Students need 60-75 credits to graduate, finishing the program in 5-6 years. Although the program follows a web-based format, Ph.D. candidates participate in on-campus residential orientations and conferences as well.

The curriculum focuses on humanistic theory, with emphasis on conscious awareness and responsible living. The program offers four concentrations: 

  • Consciousness, spirituality, and integrative health
  • Creativity studies
  • Existential and humanistic psychology
  • Psychophysiology 

Learners in all specializations complete a dissertation to graduate. 

Saybrook only considers prospective students with a master's degree, but applicants do not need GRE scores for admission. Students can also apply to transfer up to 12 credits from previous studies. 

Average Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
785
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

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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