Hero Image Best Online Psychology Master’s Degree Programs 2021

Best Online Psychology Master’s Degree Programs 2021

A master’s degree in psychology offers a versatile array of employment possibilities. Graduates find careers in social service agencies, government, business and industry, healthcare, and criminal justice. A master’s also provides the academic foundation for a Ph.D., which most states require for licensure as a clinical or counseling psychologist.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 3% increase in the job growth rate for all psychologists from 2019-29, with variations by specialty and level of education. Positions may expand more quickly for industrial/organizational psychologists and those who work with the elderly and in rehabilitation services, many of whom enter these fields after earning their master’s.

An online master’s in psychology, which takes approximately two years to complete, delivers the same curriculum as traditional campus-based programs. Depending on the program structure, students can access lectures and other course materials at their convenience, and may arrange internships and practicum experiences near their homes or through virtual meetings.

Applying to a Master’s Program in Psychology

Although each college and university establishes its own admissions criteria for graduate study, most institutions offering a master’s in psychology require applicants to hold a bachelor’s in psychology or a related social science field from an accredited institution. Some schools may offer provisional acceptance to candidates without social science undergraduate degrees but usually require them to complete prerequisite courses in areas, such as research methods or statistics before formally admitting them.

Most applications ask for official undergraduate transcripts, a minimum GPA, two to three letters of recommendation, and a personal statement that describes any volunteer or internship experiences related to psychology, along with intended career goals. Some schools require a minimum GRE score, especially if applicants have not earned their bachelor’s in psychology or a related major.

Featured Online Programs

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Best Online Psychology Master’s Degree Programs 2021

  1. Arizona State University

    Scottsdale, AZ



    ASU offers an online master's in psychology comprising 36 credits. Students may enroll part or full time, allowing them to graduate in as few as 18 months.

    Distance learners take 12 courses in total, each lasting 7.5 weeks. The curriculum covers subjects in abnormal psychology, affective science, and behavior analysis. Many courses focus on research methods and quantitative analysis, and the curriculum takes a heavy statistics and writing approach. Degree-seekers must pass a capstone in general psychology to graduate.

    Many graduates of the program go on to earn a doctoral degree in psychology. Others go into rehabilitation services, market research, behavioral health, and public relations.

    Admissions requirements for interested individuals include a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA in the last 60 credits of coursework, a statement of purpose, and two recommendation letters. ASU recommends, but does not require, that students submit GRE scores.

  2. Pepperdine University

    Malibu, CA



    Based in Malibu, California, Pepperdine facilitates a master's degree in psychology that students can pursue through distance learning.

    The degree comprises 36-48 credits, which students can complete in 18-24 months. The degree covers foundational psychological concepts and explores how clinical psychologists apply those concepts and theories in the workforce. Students learn about mental and emotional disorders, research methods, and counseling methods.

    The curriculum comprises five foundation courses, nine core courses, and two elective courses. Pepperdine may wave some foundational course requirements for learners who earned a "B" or above in similar undergraduate classes. Some courses within the curriculum are listed below:

    • Individual and family treatment of substance abuse
    • Trauma in diverse populations
    • Clinical interventions in children and adolescents
    • Introduction to positive psychology
    • Industrial organizational psychology

    To apply, prospective students submit their official undergraduate transcripts, two recommendation letters, and a statement of purpose.

  3. University of Louisiana at Monroe

    Monroe, LA



    ULM is a public university of about 9,000 students. Among the distance learning program offerings is an online MA in psychology.

    Distance learners can choose a concentration in forensic psychology, general psychology, or psychometrics and must spend one semester on campus.

    Potential courses include intelligence testing; psychological assessment; minorities, crime, and criminal justice; and advanced theories of crime and delinquency. Degree-seekers may also complete a thesis if they plan to go on to doctoral study.

    Applicants must possess an undergraduate degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. If they do not meet this threshold, they may still apply with GRE scores. Applicants should also have at least three psychology undergraduate credits.

  4. Regent University

    Virginia Beach, VA



    At Virginia Beach-based Regent University, distance learners may enroll in an online master's of psychology comprising a minimum of 39 credits. Full-time students may complete the program in 1.5 academic years.

    Students take 27 credits of required courses and 12 elective credits. Degree-seekers may also tailor their program by choosing one of the following concentrations:

    • Addictions
    • Cyberpsychology
    • Doctoral preparation
    • Industrial organizational psychology
    • Leadership coaching
    • Marriage and family

    Elective courses, such as concepts of family systems and health psychology, allow students to take a deep dive into their chosen specializations. Graduates of the program can go on to positions as researchers, industrial-organizational psychologists, leadership coaches, and cyberpsychologists, to name a few.

    Applicants require a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA. Although Regent suggests candidates come from an academic background in counseling, psychology, or a related field, the school considers applicants from other fields, as well.

  5. Eastern Washington University

    Cheney, WA



    EWU offers a school psychology master's degree with an education specialist concentration. The program includes weekly synchronous meetings and annual in-person training requirements. The three-day on-campus requirement occurs in the summer, wherein students meet their instructors and fellow learners and participate in certificate trainings. Students may choose the accelerated two-year program or three-year program.

    The curriculum requires 107 credits in all. Most courses comprise four credits and cover topics like multi-tiered systems of support, academic assessment for school psychology, and counseling theories and school-based mental health interventions. Degree-seekers take part in a school psychology practicum or supervised work experience in an education setting. They finish the degree with a 15-credit internship.

    Applicants should have a bachelor's degree in psychology, education, or a related field and a minimum 3.0 GPA in their last 60 undergraduate credits. Prospective students must also possess at least three years of full-time experience teaching in schools or at least five years of experience in a closely related field.

  6. Southern New Hampshire University

    Manchester, NH



    Students enrolled in SNHU's online master's in psychology can choose from one of these concentrations:

    • Child and adolescent development psychology
    • Forensic psychology
    • Industrial organizational psychology

    The program comprises 36 credits, and degree-seekers without an academic background in psychology also take three foundational courses in psychology, statistics, and research methods. More advanced elective courses include sport and society, critical issues in the criminal justice system, and managing difficult conversations at work. A capstone course involves a culminating experience to assess students' overall knowledge of the curriculum.

    SNHU runs five terms each year, allowing distance learners to graduate in 1-2 years. The degree prepares graduates to pursue doctoral study, although many graduates go into market research or corporate training and development careers, as well.

    Applicants require a bachelor's degree and submit their undergraduate transcripts along with their applications. SNHU does not set a minimum GPA requirement.

  7. University of Idaho

    Moscow, ID



    The University of Idaho offers an MS in psychology concentrating on the unique study of human factors. This online degree examines why people do the things they do and features a research-heavy curriculum, blending traditional psychology study with engineering.

    Required courses include the following:

    • Sensation and perception
    • Engineering psychology
    • Human factors in engineering design
    • Ergonomics and biomechanics
    • Human-computer interaction

    Degree-seekers may choose a thesis or non-thesis pathway. The thesis option allows students to carry out their own research and defend it before a faculty committee, whereas the non-thesis students take a comprehensive exam.

    Graduates of the program find jobs as human factor engineers and ergonomists, survey researchers, and social science research assistants. Many go on to doctoral study.

    To apply, prospective students need an undergraduate degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Those who do not meet this requirement can still apply by submitting GRE scores.

  8. McNeese State University

    Lake Charles, LA



    Students at McNeese State University can choose from three online graduate psychology programs:

    • MA in applied behavior science
    • MA in counseling psychology
    • MA in general/experimental psychology

    The applied behavior science degree prepares students for national certification as a board-certified behavior analyst. The degree comprises 58 credits, including five internship courses. Distance learners can complete this entire degree online with the exception of their fieldwork.

    Individuals pursuing the counseling psychology degree must complete 60 credits, and the program lasts three years. This program follows a hybrid format, which means students may need to complete on-campus requirements. Additionally, they must participate in off-campus practicum and internship experiences. Upon graduation, counseling psychology graduates may apply for the licensed professional counselor credential.

    The general/experimental psychology program requires 39 credits. Degree-seekers on this track must carry out a research-based thesis.

    Applicants need an undergraduate degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA and a GRE score of at least 285. Applicants also need three credits of undergraduate statistics courses and 18 credits of undergraduate psychology courses.

  9. Fayetteville State University

    Fayetteville, NC



    Located in North Carolina, FSU allows students to pursue an MA in psychology through online learning. The degree follows a general psychology curriculum, so graduates are not eligible for clinical licensure as counselors or psychologists. However, this degree can help students find jobs in advertising, business, research, education, and social and community services.

    The degree comprises 36 credits and covers topics like biological, behavioral, cognitive, emotional, and social development. Degree-seekers also enroll in classes dedicated to carrying out and consuming research, which can help them with jobs in corporate research settings. Distance learners take courses through the learning management system Canva, and each course lasts eight weeks. If students enroll year-round, they can complete their degree in 1.5 years.

    Applicants require undergraduate transcripts with a minimum 2.6 GPA along with GRE scores. However, the university has waived the GRE requirement during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  10. Lynn University

    Boca Raton, FL



    Based in Boca Raton, Florida, Lynn University offers an online master's in psychology with two different tracks: general psychology or industrial and organizational psychology. The school provides each student with an iPad to optimize their distance learning.

    The curriculum comprises 37 credits of coursework, including a one-credit graduate orientation seminar. Foundation courses cover psychological theories and research methods. Concentration courses may include psychobiology or managing human resources, depending on a student's concentration. Degree-seekers must also complete a practicum. Distance learners may take two classes per term and graduate in one year.

    Interested individuals may apply if they possess a bachelor's degree; the university does not require students to come from a psychology background. The admission guidelines also recommend that applicants possess a 3.0 undergraduate GPA, although this is not a requirement.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where do psychologists work?

    After completing a traditional or online master’s degree in psychology, graduates find positions in a variety of work environments in the public and private sector. Because of its versatility, a master’s in psychology can lead to rewarding positions in healthcare and substance abuse clinics, schools, child welfare agencies, and marriage and family counseling services. Many psychologists find research and consulting roles in human resources, advertising, sales, and marketing.

  • What is accreditation and why is it important?

    Accreditation from one of the regional accreditation agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation ensures that a school adheres to high standards of academic quality, facilitating the transfer of credits and financial aid eligibility. The American Psychological Association, Commission on Accreditation, the accrediting agency for doctoral programs in psychology, does not accredit undergraduate or master’s programs.

  • How much do you make with a master's degree in psychology?

    Salary ranges for psychologists vary considerably by specialty, degree, and years of experience. The BLS reports the median income for all psychologists as $80,370 with the top 10% of earners making over $132,000 annually. Psychologists receive the highest salaries working in government agencies, hospitals, outpatient healthcare services, and elementary and secondary schools.

  • What can I do with a master's degree in psychology?

    Professionals with a master’s in psychology may provide marriage and family therapy or victim advocacy services. Industrial-organizational psychologists apply their knowledge of group behavior to workplace settings. Those trained in forensic psychology work as counselors in prisons and juvenile centers. Psychologists also work as researchers and consultants in advertising and marketing firms.

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