Best Online Master's & Doctorate Programs in Psychology 2023

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Updated January 3, 2023

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Discover the best online master's and doctoral degrees available in psychology. Read tips on how to successfully complete your application.

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Are you considering applying to an online master's or doctoral program in psychology? Did you start your search and immediately feel overwhelmed by all the choices?

Online learning has exploded into seemingly endless options of institutions and program concentrations.

Explore our simplified guide on the highest-ranked online master's and doctoral programs, including other program factors you might want to weigh.

What to Look For in an Online Master's or Doctorate Program in Psychology

Finding the best online master's or doctoral program requires research and consideration of multiple factors. These elements can help pinpoint which program best meets your individual needs and goals as a student, a professional, and a family member.

Common factors you should consider when choosing an online master's in psychology or doctorate in psychology include completion time, specializations, and flexibility, in addition to curriculum and research-related details.

Primary Factors to Consider

  • Accreditation

    Accreditation is important when selecting a master's or doctoral program, as it provides verification of a program's quality and standards. You can find accreditation confirmation via the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or the U.S. Department of Education's websites.

    Look for an institution that has accreditation, since accreditation allows for state licensure. At the doctoral level, accreditation from the American Psychological Association (APA) is important if you plan to seek licensure in most states.

    The APA does not currently accredit online-only programs, but some hybrid programs may have their seal of approval.

  • Admission Requirements

    Reviewing admission requirements when selecting a master's or doctoral program allows you to understand what materials the program needs from you.

    Common admission requirements for online master's and doctoral programs in psychology include scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), research experience, personal essay, letters of recommendation, and undergraduate transcripts.

  • Cost and Financial Aid

    Cost and financial aid are vital factors in choosing an online master's or doctoral program. Tuition rates can vary from $60,000 to upwards of $100,000 for online programs.

    Textbooks, and other required materials and technology may unnecessarily drive up costs.

    Financial aid resources may be available to offset these expenses. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a popular way of determining eligibility for loans and grants.

Additional Factors

  • Teaching Style

    Teaching style may matter to you when deciding on an online master's or doctoral degree program. Instructors present course material in many ways: interactive lectures with activities, research or fieldwork outside of the online classroom, simulations of clinical situations.

    Select a program based on your level of comfort with particular teaching styles.

  • Staff-to-Student Ratio

    Student-to-staff ratios are also key, as this factor is essential to both student and instructor success. Strive to find a program that has as low a student-instructor ratio as possible, as this environment promotes a more personalized and quality educational experience.

  • Retention and Job Placement

    Retention and job placement can also be crucial in selecting an online master's or doctoral program. These considerations focus on a program's rate of graduates who secure a job in a field corresponding to their skills or areas of study.

    Many universities offer this data on their websites, as accredited institutions gauge job placement statistics. Check their sites for their internship placement rates, too.

How to Apply to an Online Master's or Doctorate Program in Psychology

Applying to either a master's or doctoral program takes a handful of steps. Both programs often require specific materials, including an educational history, exam scores, curriculum vitae (CV) or resume, a personal essay, and letters of recommendation.

First, applicants must earn an undergraduate degree prior to applying to a master's or doctoral program. Next, many students take the GRE, as this exam is a customary requirement across graduate admissions.

Obtaining undergraduate transcripts is standard within the graduate school application process. Institutions review this document to determine academic performance history and patterns, as well as the completion of required prerequisites.

A personal essay and resume are strong additions to a graduate application, particularly within the doctoral arena. These documents can set candidates apart from the competition by showcasing their aptitudes, research history and interests, and academic and professional goals.

Online Psychology Master's Programs

The Best Online Master's & Doctoral Programs

Best Online Master’s & Doctorate Programs in Psychology 2023

Divine Mercy University

  • Sterling, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Divine Mercy University's online master's in psychology is based in Catholic teaching and describes its model as, "Students learn to integrate a Catholic-Christian vision of the person with best practices in psychological theory, research, and intervention." Please be aware that this program does not lead to licensing. The program requires 33 credits for graduation and can be completed in 16 months, though the school lists two years as the typical completion time. Students must maintain a 3.0 GPA. 

The available specializations include marriage and family studies, leadership, human services counseling, a pre-Ph.D. program, and a self-designed option. Tuition is $826 per credit hour. Applicants should have at least a 2.5 undergraduate GPA, with 2.75 to be considered competitive. They should also have two letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and a resume that includes significant volunteer history. 

Average Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
392
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
82% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Best Online Master’s & Doctorate Programs in Psychology 2023

Pepperdine University

  • Malibu, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Pepperdine University, based in Malibu, California, offers an online psychology master's degree that takes 18-24 months to complete. The program is part of the graduate school of education and psychology. Depending on your chosen specialization, you can complete the program with 36-48 credit hours. 

The psychology master's program includes five foundational courses, and students with recent equivalent class credits and a "B" grade or higher may be eligible to waive these courses. Tuition costs $1,700 per credit hour. Pepperdine is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.

Applicants must have a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited school and live within the U.S. throughout the duration of the program. To apply, you must submit at least two letters of recommendation and a 2-5-page personal essay. 

Average Tuition
In-state
$57,750
Out-of-state
$57,750
Retention Rate
85%
Admission Rate
42%
Students Enrolled
9,554
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 Master’s & Doctorate Programs in Psychology 2023

Adler University

  • Chicago, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Adler University has campuses in Chicago and Vancouver, Canada, as well as online programs, including its master's in clinical health counseling, which is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. 

The program emphasizes social justice and health equity and teaches learners to act as "agents of change for individuals, families, groups, communities, and society." Graduates are eligible to apply for the licensed professional counselor (LPC) credential in Illinois. 

Most programs are delivered asynchronously (not requiring attendance at a specific time), but others require synchronous group discussion or other interactions. Four courses require on-campus residencies of five weekdays each at the Chicago campus.

The master's in clinical health counseling program offers dual-master's options, including the master's in clinical health counseling, plus a master's in sport and human performance or in forensic mental health leadership.

Average Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
1,726
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
31% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

Best Online Master’s & Doctorate Programs in Psychology 2023

Liberty University

  • Lynchburg, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Liberty University offers an entirely online master of arts in applied psychology. The program requires 36 hours and takes approximately 1.5 years to complete. Students pay $565 per credit hour, with special discounts for military, military spouses, and veterans. The program is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Liberty allows students to transfer up to 50% of the 36 required credits. 

Students can specialize in general psychology, developmental psychology, industrial/organizational psychology, and public mental health. 

Admissions requirements include a bachelor's degree from an accredited school with at least a 2.5 GPA and an application with an unofficial transcript and a request form for an official transcript. 

Average Tuition
In-state
$14,791
Out-of-state
$14,791
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
50%
Students Enrolled
93,349
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
93% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Best Online Master’s & Doctorate Programs in Psychology 2023

McNeese State University

  • Lake Charles, LA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

McNeese State University's master's in psychology online program offers three possible specializations: applied behavior analysis, clinical mental health counseling, and general/experimental psychology. The school is based in Lake Charles, Louisiana. 

The applied behavior analysis specialization is accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International, and the school itself is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Depending on the specialty, the program requires 39-60 credit hours for completion. Students also complete an internship or a thesis as part of the graduation requirements, depending on the program specialization. Tuition is $1,300 per credit. 

Applicants must have at least a 2.5 GPA from an accredited bachelor's program. Students with a GPA of 2.0 or higher may apply for conditional admission. Individual programs may have additional admission requirements. 

Average Tuition
In-state
$5,147
Out-of-state
$13,185
Retention Rate
72%
Admission Rate
63%
Students Enrolled
7,284
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
87% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Best Online Master’s & Doctorate Programs in Psychology 2023

Northcentral University

  • La Jolla, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online

Northcentral University's online Ph.D. is one of the relatively few online graduate degrees in psychology at the doctoral level. However, please note that the program is not a licensure-directed program and does not prepare graduates to become clinical or counseling psychologists. This Ph.D. offers eight different specializations in applied topics, such as health psychology, gerontology, trauma and disaster relief, and industrial organizational psychology. 

The program, personalized to each student, requires 60 hours spread over 20 courses. The school recommends completing the program in 46 months. 

Some specializations require fieldwork in practicums and an internship. All applicants must have a master's in psychology, counseling, therapy, or social work for direct admission. Alternatively, learners could have substantial coursework in these areas and take additional courses where needed. Tuition costs $1,114 per credit hour. 

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 Master’s & Doctorate Programs in Psychology 2023

Palo Alto University

  • Palo Alto, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Palo Alto University offers an online master of arts in counseling, based on a cohort model. The graduate degree in psychology online program requires nine quarters, or 11 quarters for students who prefer a slower pace and enter in the fall session. Students complete the program with their cohort. 

The program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

The master of arts in counseling degree also requires at least 700 hours of fieldwork, including a minimum of 280 face-to-face client hours. Students in the online psychology master's program must complete two on-campus residencies that last for one week each. Tuition costs $566 per credit hour.

Applicants should have at least a 3.0 GPA from a regionally accredited school, a statement of purpose, and three letters of reference. 

Average Tuition
In-state
$17,627
Out-of-state
$17,627
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
1,163
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
48% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

Best Online Master’s & Doctorate Programs in Psychology 2023

Arizona State University Digital Immersion

  • Scottsdale, AZ
  • 4 years
  • Online

The Arizona State University Digital Immersion online graduate degree in psychology is not intended to prepare a student for a career as a clinical or counseling psychologist, but to prepare students for careers in applied psychology. The on-campus and online programs offer the same diploma. However, the school notes that the online psychology master's program emphasizes coursework, while the in-person program offers more extensive research training and independent study. 

Applicants must have a bachelor's or a master's degree from an accredited school, a relevant major or minor, and at least one course in statistics or research methods for admission. Prospective learners also need a 3.0 GPA in the last 60 hours of their degree, or a 3.0 in six credit hours of a graduate program. 

Both Arizona residents and non-residents pay approximately $12,172 per year.

Average Tuition
In-state
$10,710
Out-of-state
$10,820
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
73%
Students Enrolled
53,993
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

Best Online Master’s & Doctorate Programs in Psychology 2023

University of Louisiana at Monroe

  • Monroe, LA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The University of Louisiana at Monroe's online master of psychology program offers a specialization in forensic psychology or in psychometrics, or students can choose the general degree. The psychometrics program requires students to take one semester on campus. Learners are not required to complete a thesis, but those planning to earn a Ph.D. later are encouraged to take this route.

Applicants must have at least nine undergraduate credits in psychology, including at least three in statistics. They must also have a GPA of 3.0, or a combination of a GPA of 2.75 and a minimum combined 290 on the GRE. 

This online graduate degree in psychology charges $500 per credit hour. Unlike many other schools, this is a flat fee that includes other program fees. 

Average Tuition
In-state
$5,788
Out-of-state
$17,888
Retention Rate
74%
Admission Rate
78%
Students Enrolled
8,888
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
70% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Best Online Master’s & Doctorate Programs in Psychology 2023

Los Angeles Pacific University

  • Los Angeles, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online

The online psychology master's at Los Angeles Pacific University lets students choose from specializations in general, industrial-organizational, and developmental psychology. The program has a specifically Christian emphasis, listing "Integrate God's Word within the profession of psychology" first in the list of program highlights. The program requires 36 credits, and each credit costs $630. The credits are evenly divided between a core curriculum and specialty courses. 

Applicants must have a GPA of 3.0, including a 3.0 in the most recent 30 graded assignments, and a bachelor's degree from an accredited school. Please note that students from certain states are not eligible for admission

Average Tuition
In-state
$10,800
Out-of-state
$10,800
Retention Rate
100%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
2,036
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

What Can You Do With a Graduate Degree in Psychology?

A master's degree in psychology opens the door to numerous career tracks that can provide both mental and monetary fulfillment beyond what undergraduate degrees can offer. The following master's-level careers showcase several options:

Human Resource Manager

Average Annual Salary: $113,320

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Guidance/Career Counselor

Average Annual Salary: $63,090

Source: BLS

Mental Health Counselor

Average Annual Salary: $53,490

Source: BLS

A doctorate in psychology provides top-tier career options that allow individuals to display their expertise in creative and enriching ways. The following doctorate-level career options exhibit the means by which these degree-holders can share their knowledge. Reminder that state licensure relies on attending an accredited program, and fully online programs do not have APA accreditation.

Clinical Psychologist

Average Annual Salary: $99,640

Source: BLS

College Professor

Average Annual Salary: $87,530

Source: BLS

Medical/Health Service Manager

Average Annual Salary: $119,840

Source: BLS

Frequently Asked Questions

What degree is needed to become a psychologist?

To become a psychologist, you need a doctoral degree from an accredited program. In order to practice as a licensed psychologist, you need a doctorate in psychology and licensure in the state in which you wish to practice.

What is accreditation and why is it important?

Accreditation involves the official confirmation of a program's quality, per accrediting bodies such as the American Psychological Association Commission on Accreditation. Accreditation provides a path to sitting for licensure. For example, attending an APA accredited doctoral program is important for licensure in most states.The CHEA's website is also a helpful tool in verifying accreditation.

How long is a master's or doctoral program in psychology?

A master's or doctoral program in psychology may take varying amounts of time to complete, depending on programs' individual specifications, as well as students' chosen tracks and credit hours per semester. A master's degree often takes two or three years of study beyond undergraduate work, while a doctorate takes an average of five additional years of study.

Can you earn a graduate degree in psychology online?

You can earn a graduate degree in psychology online. However, prospective online students must consider that most master's and doctoral programs will require specific amounts of supervised practicum or internship hours that accompany online studies.


Page last reviewed October 13, 2022. The ranking list and school descriptions on this page were created and reviewed independently by our Rankings Team.

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