Hero Image Best Online Psychology Degree Programs 2021

Best Online Psychology Degree Programs 2021

Psychology is one of the most popular undergraduate majors in the United States. Psychology graduates find careers in many different spheres, including law, education, and social work.

Some go on to earn master’s and doctoral degrees in psychology, eventually becoming practicing licensed psychologists. With about 192,300 psychologists working as of 2019, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the industry could grow by 3% from 2019-29.

Psychology students at all levels can choose from on-campus and online program options. An increasing number of students are taking advantage of distance learning programs, which allow degree-seekers to listen to lectures and complete coursework at home, on their own time. This flexibility and convenience especially appeals to working professionals.

Are you looking for colleges with psychology majors? The following list includes the best colleges for psychology in the country.

Applying to a Psychology Program

Admission requirements for psychology programs vary by school and degree type.

Prospective undergraduate students applying to a BA or BS in psychology program typically need a high school diploma with at least a 2.0 GPA, along with competitive SAT or ACT scores. At this level, applicants do not need any research or work experience in the field. However, good recommendation letters, a well-written personal essay, and volunteer experience can help candidates stand out.

Master’s degree candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree. Some schools require candidates to have majored in psychology as undergraduates. Many master’s programs require incoming students to possess a minimum 2.5 GPA and provide GRE or MAT scores.

Doctoral programs do expect applicants to demonstrate an academic background in psychology. Candidates should possess a high GPA, research experience, and impressive master’s theses.

Featured Online Programs

View ranking methodology here.

Best Online Psychology Degree Programs

  1. University of California-San Diego

    La Jolla, CA



    Often ranked among the best colleges for psychology, UC San Diego offers 10 undergraduate psychology programs and a Ph.D. in experimental psychology.

    Undergraduate offerings include degrees in clinical psychology, cognitive and behavioral neuroscience, and business psychology. Students begin the program learning calculus, computer science, chemistry, and statistics.

    Degree-seekers participate in hands-on labs and independent studies. Experiential learning is integral to the program, with students gaining credit toward their major or minor through teaching apprenticeships, internships, or study abroad trips.

    Undergraduate and graduate students can assist faculty members with research projects in social psychology, sensation and perception, developmental psychology, and cognitive psychology.

    The psychology advising office helps graduates find jobs in counseling and healthcare. Alumni 101 also offers workshops in conjunction with the department and the school's alumni association to give students networking advice and career tips.

  2. University of California-Davis

    Davis, CA



    With a legacy that dates back more than a century, UC Davis ranks among the top psychology schools. The public institution offers 101 graduate programs, with more than half featuring interdisciplinary studies.

    The university's Ph.D. in psychology fosters an intimate learning environment, as candidates, guided by faculty members, work toward publishing their research. The program concentrates on five areas of study: developmental psychology, cognition and cognitive neuroscience, biological psychology, social personality, and quantitative research.

    The department of psychology creates an informal learning environment in which students benefit from the supportive faculty. The department's annual conference offers the chance for Ph.D. candidates to present their research.

    The program is open to bachelor's degree-holders and features a master's-to-Ph.D. pathway. Applicants do not need to take any prerequisite courses and may not need to submit GRE scores. Applications must include letters of recommendation, transcripts, a statement of purpose, personal history and diversity statement, and application fee.

  3. Northeastern University

    Boston, MA



    Founded in Massachusetts in 1898, Northeastern offers a 128-credit bachelor's in psychology degree that features a customizable curriculum.

    Degree-seekers complete 68 major credits on subjects like abnormal psychology, personality, cognition, and sensation and perception. Students then choose from specialized courses in 17 interdisciplinary clusters, including educational psychology, society and psychology, forensic psychology, and artificial intelligence and information science.

    Candidates can further customize their studies by double majoring in one of 11 optional areas, including American Sign Language, business administration, criminal justice, data science, or economics.

    The program offers five-year and four-year plans. Learning extends beyond classrooms at Northeastern, with students studying in 148 countries and 2,000 employers offering career experience through the school's Experiential Network.

    The college accepts some 2,800 transfer and first-year students each fall. The admissions committee accepts applicants with strong transcripts, letters of recommendation, resumes, and essays.

  4. Harvard University

    Cambridge, MA



    Established in 1636, Harvard is the nation's oldest institution and one of the most prestigious. The Ivy League university's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences offers degrees in 58 fields and features one of the top psychology schools in the United States.

    Students can earn a Ph.D. in one of four research areas: clinical science; social psychology; developmental psychology; and cognition, brain, and behavior. The program also includes concentrations in clinical science or a common curriculum.

    The clinical science and experimental psychology concentration trains future clinical psychologists for licensure in Massachusetts. This research-based program takes five years to complete.

    Ph.D. candidates in the developmental psychology track study the human mind through the university's Laboratory for Developmental Studies. Students in the cognition, brain, and behavior concentration research track study mental imagery and sensation in humans and animals. Social psychology Ph.D. candidates research human behaviors in the business school, medical school, and Kennedy School of Government.

    All Ph.D. candidates receive five years of guaranteed funding.

  5. Yale University

    New Haven, CT



    Founded in 1701, Yale enjoys a reputation for providing a top-tier education from its campus in New Haven, Connecticut. The school is also known as one of the best colleges for psychology in the nation.

    Yale's Department of Psychology offers a bachelor's degree in psychology and a Ph.D. that features research opportunities in clinical psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, neuroscience, and social/personality psychology.

    While students work primarily in their chosen specialty area, they also participate in labs focused on other subject areas. Undergraduate psychology majors must complete a senior essay of more than 5,500 words.

    Graduate students enrolled in the clinical track complete their practicum over eight semesters at Yale partnerships sites, such as the Connecticut Mental Health Center, Yale-New Haven Psychiatry Hospital, and the Yale Neurology Department.

    Admissions requirements vary by program. Only 15 graduate students are admitted to the Ph.D. in psychology program each year. The graduate program requires three recommendation letters and research samples. Applicants can voluntarily submit GRE scores.

  6. Barnard College

    New York, NY



    Established in 1889 as an all-female branch of Columbia University, Barnard provides women psychology majors with a first-rate education that combines knowledge and experience.

    Undergraduates take core courses in statistics, perception, introduction to neuroscience, and clinical psychology. The program also includes four labs, including one experimental lab in any science field, and lectures from other departments such as astronomy, chemistry, or biology. Labs take place on campus or at outside healthcare sites. Mentorship opportunities offer students the chance to gain research experience and career contacts.

    The program culminates in a capstone project or independent study. Degree-seekers can also write and present a thesis to fulfill their senior requirements. Joining Psyched: The Barnard Psychological Society offers additional opportunities to meet like-minded peers at panels and movie screenings.

    Transfer and first-year students applying to Barnard must submit ACT or SAT scores and their official transcripts.

  7. Colorado College

    Colorado Springs, CO



    Colorado College is a private institution founded in 1874. The school's bachelor's degree in psychology prepares candidates for graduate studies or entry-level careers.

    The program comprises 12 sequential courses. Degree-seekers must complete prerequisite courses every year prior to taking major courses and complete an introduction to psychology course before enrolling in research design. Research design coursework provides the foundation for concepts in abnormal psychology.

    The four-year program culminates in a psychological investigation, literature review, or field study. Candidates perform independent research with faculty guidance and may publish their findings. Students must earn a "C-" or higher in all major courses to graduate.

    Admission requirements vary according to the applicant's status. Candidates may submit standardized test scores voluntarily. The admissions department considers applicants based on their academic and extracurricular accomplishments.

  8. Carleton College

    Northfield, MN



    Students at Minnesota-based Carleton benefit from an intimate learning environment, enjoying a student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1. Working under close faculty supervision, candidates pursuing a bachelor's degree in psychology explore pedagogy and develop their academic writing and research skills.

    The psychology program emphasizes three specializations: biological and behavioral processes; cognitive studies; and social behavior, development, personality, and clinical psychology. Experiential learning shapes the student experience at Carleton.

    Programs in Prague and Denmark present opportunities to study abroad. Labs feature a collaborative environment in which students study human and animal subjects. Prior to declaring a psychology major, freshman and sophomores can apply to work in the health psychology lab, language and cognition lab, Meerts Hormones and Behavior Lab, perception lab, or primate cognition lab.

    Regardless of their status, all students start classes in the fall. Carleton does not charge an application fee. Degree-seekers must complete introductory psychology courses as prerequisites or earn a passing score on the assessment exam.

  9. Bates College

    Lewiston, ME



    Ranking among the top psychology schools, Bates College honors diversity, equity, and accessibility. In keeping with these values, the psychology department requires students pursuing a bachelor's degree in psychology to study related topics.

    The psychology curriculum consists of "breadth" and "depth" intermediate and upper-level classes. Students can pursue concentrations like philosophy and psychology, Asian modernity, the human body, and sound.

    Learners examine how people think and behave during labs and study abroad opportunities. In their final year, candidates demonstrate their cumulative knowledge through a community-based research project, empirical thesis, or theoretical review and integration paper. The community-based research project lets students engage with outside groups, while the other options require students to examine psychological literature.

    Candidates leave the program with strong critical thinking skills, research methods, and sociocultural and international awareness. Graduates work as undergraduate school fundraisers, art therapists, guidance counselors, and scientific writers.

  10. Claremont McKenna College

    Claremont, CA



    CMC is a small private institution that enjoys access to resources from Claremont College's seven other schools. The college offers a bachelor's in psychology degree that focuses on public affairs.

    Learners pursuing a psychological science degree study leadership, legal studies, and cognitive neuroscience in sequential order. Students can also take psychology courses at CMC's sister schools: Scripps, Pomona, Harvey Mudd, and Pitzer College.

    Degree-seekers explore applied psychological methods relevant to business, education, health, and medicine in campus research laboratories.

    At the end of their junior year, students complete a practicum with courses in statistics and research methods. Graduates find jobs in education, marketing, consulting, and human resources.

    To graduate, learners must complete either a one- or two-semester thesis. The one-semester thesis option does not require data collection and analysis. The program offers the option to complete a year-long thesis for potential publication.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where do psychologists work?

    Psychologists work in many different settings. While some maintain private offices in their homes or rented-out office space, others find jobs in healthcare settings like hospitals and clinics. Schools and colleges, criminal justice agencies, and corporate businesses all employ psychologists for specialized roles.

  • What is accreditation and why is it important?

    Nobody wants to invest their time and money into a degree that doesn’t prepare them for their careers. This is where accreditation comes into play. Accreditation agencies evaluate schools and academic programs, ensuring students receive a valuable education. In addition, aspiring psychologists need accredited degrees to qualify for licensure. Psychology students should look for programs accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA).

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

    A psychology degree can prepare students for many professions and industries, and the potential salaries for graduates vary enormously. According to PayScale data, psychology BS graduates make an average income of about $59,000, while BA graduates bring home average earnings of over $61,300. The APA reports that the median annual income for psychologists is about $85,000, but professionals usually need a doctoral degree in psychology to become psychologists.

  • What can I do with a degree in psychology?

    Many people go into psychology because they want to become practicing psychologists, assisting people facing mental, emotional, and behavioral issues. However, individuals need a doctoral degree to become licensed psychologists. Bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the field can also open doors to a variety of different careers, including positions in research, social work, law, criminal justice, and education.

Latest Posts

Choosing a Psychology Specialization

Choosing a Psychology Specialization

October 14, 2021   |   Nina Chamlou

Choosing a psychology specialization can be tricky. We break down the most important factors to consider, including salary, work setting, and the most in-demand areas.

Dealing With Stress: A Guide for Self-Care

Dealing With Stress: A Guide for Self-Care

October 12, 2021   |   Nina Chamlou

Feeling stressed? You're not alone. We talked to a stress expert to learn the science of stress, its long-term health consequences, and how to know when to seek help.