Online Masters Degree in Psychology

Accredited online master’s degree programs in psychology prepare students to work in a variety of professional occupations, including school psychology and industrial-organizational psychology. Some students pursue an online master in psychology in order to prepare for a traditional or online PhD in psychology program, which is typically required for those who want to work as clinical, research or counseling psychologists. Most online psychology masters degree programs offer both thesis and non-thesis degree options. The best online master’s degrees in psychology often provide students with supervised internship opportunities, which may be required for licensure and certification. Students with an online bachelor’s degree in psychology have limited opportunities within psychology fields and often work in business administration or education.

How long does it take to earn a psychology master’s degree online?

The best online masters degree programs in psychology typically take between 2 to 3 years to complete. Thus, approximately 65 quarter-credit hours of coursework are required.

What are the admission requirements for an online master’s in psychology?

Many of the top online masters degree programs in psychology require applicants to submit the following for admissions purposes:

  • Application form
  • Undergraduate transcripts
  • Revised Graduate Records Exam scores (Revised GRE)
  • Personal statement or Essay
  • Letters of recommendation

Online masters psychology programs generally desire that candidates have either a bachelor’s degree in psychology from an accredited school, or a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as:

  1. Sociology
  2. Human Resources
  3. Anthropology
  4. Criminology
  5. Public Administration

What types of online master’s degrees in psychology can students pursue?

Accredited online masters in psychology schools offer a variety of online masters degrees in psychology. The types of masters degrees that students can pursue in the field of psychology include:

  • Educational Psychology: Students enrolled in a psychology masters degree online program in educational psychology learn how cognitive, emotional and social processes are involved in student learning. They discuss current issues in student outcomes, instructional processes and learning disabilities.
  • Clinical Psychology: Students in this field of psychology learn to assess and treat a variety of mental illnesses and abnormal behaviors. Most online master’s degree psychology schools require students in this specialization to complete rigorous residency and field training requirements that help develop practical clinical skills.
  • Industrial-Organizational Psychology: Graduate students in this specialization learn to conduct employee assessments in order to identify the best people for particular jobs within an organization. They focus on strategies to improve employee performance in order to promote business productivity.
  • Developmental Psychology: A developmental psychology concentration explores how individuals develop over the course of a lifetime. Students will gain an understanding of the developmental processes that occur during the different stages of human life, from infancy to old age.
  • Social Psychology: Students in this area of psychology study how an individual acts within the context of a group. Topics covered in this type of concentration include social learning theory, social ecology, criminal behavior and attribution theory.

What can students expect to learn in an online psychology master’s degree program?

Graduate students enrolled in an online masters degree psychology program learn many valuable skills, including patient assessment, data collection and experimental design. Students also study key knowledge areas in psychology, from behavioral and cognitive psychology to the principles of psychoanalysis.

Common classes taken by students enrolled in top online master programs in psychology include:

  1. Psychopathology- This course is required in most psychology master’s degree programs as it provides an overview of common mental illnesses and abnormal behaviors. Students focus on anxiety, depression and gender identity disorders, as well as anorexia and schizophrenia.
  2. Neuropsychology- In this class, students study brain behavior and brain function. They will learn about developmental disabilities, behavior control disorders and the effects of aging on the brain.
  3. Forensic Psychology- This online master degree in psychology course applies principles of psychology to the legal system. Students use case studies to examine issues in civil commitment and legal competency, and learn about producing psychological evaluations for courts.

What careers can students pursue after graduating from psychology masters programs online?

Psychology master’s programs online graduates can consider a wide spectrum of different career options, including:

  1. Industrial-Organizational Psychologist- Industrial-organizational psychologists provide business managers with strategies to improve hiring protocols, training programs and employee productivity and morale. Industrial-organizational psychologists earn about $87,330. This field is expected to grow 35% over the next decade.
  2. School Counselor- School counselors typically work in elementary, middle and high school settings. Their primary responsibilities include helping students with social and behavioral problems, teaching students life skills and working with parents and teachers to identify student academic needs.  The median salary for school counselors is $53,380. Job growth is expected to be 19%.
  3. Mental Health Counselor- Mental health counselors usually work in hospitals, family service centers and alcohol and substance abuse centers, helping patients develop strategies to overcome mental and emotional disorders. Mental health counselors make less than other occupations in this field, with an average salary of $38,150. Jobs in this occupation are expected to grow 37%.

The job outlook for psychologists is growing at 22%. This is because a large number of psychologists are retiring and therefore many new positions are opening up both publically and privately around the country. The median pay for a psychologist is $68,640/year, but with a Master in Psychology, this salary can be greatly increased. By achieving a MA in Psychology, professionals can choose to pursue a doctorate, get into research, or pursue a specified field of psychology aimed at helping individuals and communities become healthier. Here are some things professionals should look for when deciding where to apply or enroll in a Master in Psychology program.


There is a wide range of Master in Psychology specializations available and the niche chosen will greatly impact the career of a professional. Some examples of master’s options include Experimental Psychology, Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Forensic Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Social Psychology, and Child Development. Each of these ,aster’s are offered as an MA (Masters of Arts) or a MS (Masters of Science). Masters of Science are typically much more research based. Professionals who know they want to go onto earn their PhD may be better off applying directly from undergraduate into a PhD program, however a master’s program can work as an in-between step for those unsure whether or not they want to pursue a doctorate.

Research and Publication

Research and faculty publication greatly impacts the notoriety of a university’s psychology program. Many esteemed psychologists choose to move into teaching at the university level and are fought over by the best programs. Students and professionals interested in graduate work should take time to read up in some of the most respected psychology publications and look for which universities are yielding research results in studies and fields that are of interest to them.


Depending on if a person opts for a MA or MS in Psychology, curriculum and coursework will vary greatly. In general, all perspective students should look for a graduate program which combines academic training in general psychology with research h in the student’s preferred specialization. This balance of theory and hands-on training will help graduates be prepared for the work force whether they choose to work as a resident psychologist in a corporate setting, in a private practice, or in the field of research. Professionals with a MA or MS in Psychology can move into many exciting career fields such as Behavioral Therapist, Psychology Associate, Neuropsychometrist, Health Project Coordinator, and more. Also, MA graduates can enjoy higher salaries than those offered to peers with BAs. For example, a school psychologist can make up to $96,000/year or an Executive Director position in some cases offers up to $144,000 – both positions which require a master’s.

The following rankings of the top Master in Psychology programs were determined through an assortment of methods for the most un-bias results including student surveys, assessment of graduate experiences and job placing, and more. Program reputation based on the opinion of experts and peers was also considered.

University of Connecticut

University of Connecticut has a wide array of available graduate programs for those seeking a doctorate in psychology. The specializations they offer range from behavioral neuroscience to clinical psychology to developmental psychology, as well as a large assortment of others. Interested students will be comforted to know that not only does the University of Connecticut have an easy to use graduate application on their website, but that the same form can also be used for financial aid. Accessibility and education go hand-in-hand at the University of Connecticut.

Binghamton University

Binghamton University offers graduate programs for psychology in three distinct flavors: clinical psychology, cognitive psychology, and behavioral neuroscience. Graduate students seeking a PhD in any of the aforementioned fields would do well to begin their search here. While entry into their graduate program is slightly rigorous, it is well worth the wealth of research experience a prospective student would be exposed to here.

North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University prides itself on not only delivering a fantastic education, but also in being as inclusive as possible to aspiring psychologists. To that end, North Carolina State University offers graduate programs in psychology for both those seeking a doctorate as well as those seeking their master's. While it's not a requirement, students interested in North Carolina State University would be wise to take the GRE Subject Test to maximize their chance of being accepted.

California State University San Marcos

California State University San Marcos has a graduate program for students seeking a master's in psychology. While they do not offer a doctorate, they are committed to providing a comprehensive master's program that will more than prepare students that wish to continue their education elsewhere for their PhD.

State University of New York at New Paltz

State University of New York at New Paltz contains one of the largest graduate school programs in the Hudson Valley. Their comprehensive coursework more than prepares students to acquire their master's in psychology and set them on the course for their PhD, should they decide to pursue that at a different institution.

California State University, Fullerton

California State University, Fullerton offers graduate programs to student seeking a Master of Arts Degree in Psychology as well as a Master of Science Degree in Clinical Psychology. Both programs come highly recommended, and they take great pride in the work their faculty is capable of. In fact, one of their professors was recently awarded an outstanding teacher award from the WPA.

California State University, Northridge

California State University, Northridge is a proud supporter of diversity in its graduate program, including an initiative to help graduate students from poor economic backgrounds to achieve their dreams and earn their master's in psychology. While California State University, Northridge may have graduate programs in clinical psychology, general experimental psychology, human factors and applied psychology, and behavioral clinical psychology, it's important to remember that the school requires prospective students to perform satisfactorily on the GRE in order to be granted admittance.

California University of Pennsylvania

California University of Pennsylvania may not offer a graduate program in general psychology, but it does offer one specifically tailored to school psychology. After completing sixty seven credit hours in the course of the program, students will be eligible to apply for their certification in order to begin a career as a school psychologist.

DePaul University

DePaul University has graduate programs for quite a large number of related psychology fields. For those seeking their PhD, DePaul University offers programs in the following: clinical, community, experimental, and industrial psychology. Unfortunately, general psychology is only available to graduate students in the form of a Master of Science degree.

Duke University

Duke University is a proud supporter of graduate students, made evident by their commitment to not only their separate programs, but joint programs with other schools within their institution as well. Their large supply of research opportunities should be them at the top of any aspiring psychology graduate's list. Unlike some other schools though, they are primarily focused in the field of psychology and neuroscience.

Fuller Theological Seminary

Fuller Theological Seminary has been one of the leading researchers in the connection between theological Christian views and psychology since the institution's founding in 1965. Since then, its offerings have evolved to cater to the needs of graduate students. With its PhD program in psychology, and the assurance that all of its faculty members are as highly trained in their field as they are committed to their faith, religious students interested in furthering their studies should think about applying to Fuller Theological Seminary as soon as possible.

Haverford College

Haverford College provides students with a limited, but effective graduate program for students seeking to earn a doctorate in clinical development psychology for both men and women. Haverford College specializes in delivering students the education they need to succeed in the graduate program through small classes that are designed to give the type of education one would receive in a larger school, but with a focus on smaller classroom settings that allow for more personalized interactions between student and faculty.

Northwestern University

Northwestern University has one of the most highly sought after psychology graduate programs in the United States. Their expertise has allowed them to offer several different fields of specific focus for prospective graduate students: clinical, personality, cognitive, and social psychology. Additionally, Northwestern University provides graduate students the option of studying in the area of brain, behavior, and cognition (BBC).

Lipscomb University

Lipscomb University is a private, Christian-based educational institution that offers a master's program in psychology. While Lipscomb University does not actually offer a program for graduates seeking their doctorate, their master's program is more than enough preparation to pursue a PhD at another educational institution. After thirty nine credit hours of coursework, graduate students are set to further specialize in counseling or psychology when pursuing their doctorate.

Lock Haven University

Lock Haven University may not have a graduate program for general psychology, but it makes up for this with a master's program in the similar field of clinical mental health counseling, with a specific focus on rural areas and veterans of military conflicts. What it lacks in options it makes up for in accessibility, the entire master's program can be completed online and requires only sixty credit hours of coursework.

Manchester University

Manchester University boasts a combined research and teaching staff of over one hundred members, as well as a large assortment of research programs and available options for interested graduates seeking to further their specialization in psychology. Among the options for graduates are: clinical psychology, counseling psychology, and general psychology. Prospective students will be interested to know that psychology research is primarily concerned with five fields at Manchester University: audiology, clinical and health psychology, language disorders and neuroscience, cognition, and communication.

Missouri State University

Missouri State University is slowly gaining the recognition it deserves as one of the premiere institutions for psychology graduate programs. With graduate programs in several specific fields, including clinical, experimental, and industrial psychology, students in the Missouri area should strongly consider Missouri State University for their graduate needs. One thing to be aware of though, is that Missouri State University only prepares students for doctorate programs at other institutions. Their master's programs are high quality and effective offerings that should not be easily discounted though.

Monmouth University

Monmouth University is primarily focused with aiding graduates in specializing specifically in a counseling role. Their graduate programs are devoted to providing students with the experience necessary to their success as counselors, whether it be for marriage, children, or substance abuse. While their programs do not support those pursuing doctorates, they do provide enough preparation and information to equip students with the tools they'll need to succeed on the LPC and LCDAC.

Oklahoma City University

Oklahoma City University does not offer a graduate program for psychology specifically, but it does offer one in the related field of applied behavioral studies. Although it's just a master's program, it more than prepares students for careers in industries that deal with mental health and human behavior. Oklahoma City University also supplies students with the ability to complete their master's program at a quicker pace than usual. This fast track system uses a rigorous scheduling method though, so it is only recommended for students that are able to put other obligations on hold while they devote their time to their graduate studies.

Northern Kentucky University

Northern Kentucky University does not have a graduate program in general psychology, but it makes up for this with master's programs in both clinical mental health counseling and industrial-organizational psychology. These programs are each designed with the specific intent of guiding students through the experiences of their respective fields and preparing them for certification so that they may become fully licensed professionals.

Oregon State University

Oregon State University does not offer a fully dedicated graduate program for psychology, though it does offer one as a minor to accompany another program. Students interested in minoring in psychology may choose to pursue a master's degree in counseling if they're looking for synergy. Alternatively, they may choose something else that meshes with their career plans for the future. Either way, the options are there at Oregon State University.

Pennsylvania State University

Pennsylvania State University is not only one of the top schools in the country, but in the world as well. Sitting comfortable in the top one percent, Pennsylvania State University has established itself as having one of the best research and graduate programs since its inception in the nineteenth century. Students interested in psychology will be happy to know that not only does Pennsylvania State University offer master's and doctorate programs in this fascinating field, but that the institution also offers a dual-degree program that ties psychology with language sciences.

Rutgers University

Rutgers University follows three key principles to a successful education: mentoring, collaboration, and a drive for innovation. To that end, Rutgers University offers graduate students an exciting doctorate program in psychology at their New Brunswick campus. In order to apply, prospective students must choose a specific field to specialize in from among four options: behavioral neuroscience, clinical psychology, cognitive psychology, and social psychology.

St. Norbert College

St. Norbert College may not offer a specific graduate program in psychology, but it makes up for this with its Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program. The MLAS takes components of a more specific psychology program and includes that with a collection of other facets of liberal studies to give graduate students a more well-rounded experience and prepare them for more careers than just those specifically tailored to psychology.

Saint Louis University

Saint Louis University is a religious educational institution based around Jesuit and Catholic ideology. For interested graduate students, Saint Louis University has a diverse graduate program for psychology that provides options for both doctorates and master's degrees in clinical, experimental, and industrial-organizational psychology. Having existed for over two hundred years, it's no surprise that the faculty at Saint Louis University is highly trained and comes with a wealth of experience that is sure to benefit any graduate students that choose to attend.

Stephen F. Austin State University

Stephen F. Austin State University boasts an extensive catalogue of programs and courses for its graduate students, so it's no surprise that they would be more than equipped to deal with the needs of those seeking to further their studies in psychology. What is most interesting about Stephen F. Austin State University though is its study abroad options for graduate students, which include fascinating parts of the world like Italy and China.

SUNY Plattsburgh

SUNY Plattsburgh does not offer a general program for graduate students in psychology, though it makes up for this by offering more specialized programs in both school psychology and mental health counseling. Each program guides students towards their master's, as well as preparing them for the necessary certification and licensing tests they'll need to become fully practicing counselors.

University of South Alabama

University of South Alabama provides graduate students with the option of pursuing a Master of Science in Psychology through either the applied or experimental fields. Ultimately, it comes down to whether students wish to learn how to deal with patients on a personal level (applied) or whether they'd be more comfortable in a laboratory conducting new research (experimental).

University of Denver

University of Denver has a number of concentrations for students interested in continuing their psychology education post-graduation. Through the University of Denver, students may choose to specialize in affective-social psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, as well as a host of others. Supported by external grants, the University of Denver is able to treat its graduate students like junior colleagues and guide them through the process of research and development in the exciting field of psychology.

University of Illinois

University of Illinois has supported the needs of graduate students interested in psychology since the program was first instituted as far back as 1904. Since then, the University of Illinois has continued to develop its offerings into the rigorous educational regimen it has become today. Students that wish to not only perfect their skills, but to attain one of the greatest educations available as well, would benefit tremendously from attending the University of Illinois and acquiring their PhD there.

University of Louisville

University of Louisville has two doctorate programs for graduate students wishing to continue their education. The two programs offered are in clinical psychology and experimental psychology. Students that choose to go the clinical psychology route are then offered several more specializations to choose from within that field: cognitive and developmental sciences or vision and hearing science. If a wide array of options is of interest to a prospective student, then the University of Louisville should be a strong contender for their top spot of possible schools.

University of Scranton

University of Scranton does not have a graduate program in psychology, though it does have one in the related field of counseling. Graduate students seeking to pursue a Master of Science Degree in Counseling will be happy to know that the University of Scranton is well-equipped to provide them with every tool they'll need to succeed in their career choice.

Wayne State University

Wayne State University has multiple offerings for graduate students seeking to continue their education in psychology. Whether a student is interested in earning their master's or a doctorate, Wayne State University is available for both general psychology and school psychology.