Perhaps you have finished an undergraduate degree in psychology or a closely related field and are working full time. Why would you want to put your life on hold to get a Master’s degree in Psychology? First of all, you don’t need to put your life on hold. Online degrees, which are increasing in popularity by the year, make it possible to finish a graduate degree without quitting your job, granted that you can put in some extra time and effort. In addition to their flexibility, they are also more affordable. A study by the Thomas Fordham Institute found that getting a degree online as opposed to on-campus is as much as ⅓ less expensive.
Also, consider this: according to a 2009 study by the Center for Workforce Studies, the average salary for those with a BA or BS in Psychology is only $30,000 a year. However, those with an MA average $40,000 a year. Imagine what you could do with an extra $10,000 a year. And for those who will use their MA to go on for a PhD, they can expect to make an average of $70,000 a year, more than twice they would make with a Bachelor’s degree!1 I hope I have your attention.
More education pays big dividends, but lower costs in getting that education mean that more of that money flows into your bank account and not the pockets of student loan providers. We at College Choice have crunched the numbers to bring you the degree programs that give you the most bang for your buck. So lay back on our therapy couch and tell us about your problems finding affordable education. We’ll be here—notebook in hand—putting your mind at easy by jotting down the ten most affordable online Master’s programs in Psychology.
Source: Salaries, Student Debt, and Employment Opportunities in Psychology. Compiled by the APA Center for Workforce Studies, May 2011.
Fort Hays State University
Total Tuition: $7,592
Coming in as the most affordable option for a Master’s in Psychology is Fort Hays State University, a school that shows up in many of College Choice’s guides for affordable degrees. Fort Hays State, located in in the city of Fort Hays, is one of six state universities in Kansas. It has expanded its online offerings more than is typical for a state university and now about half of its student body are online learners. One of its online graduate degrees is its 33 credit Master’s of Science in School Psychology.
As the name suggests, this degree is designed for those hoping to become school psychologists and fulfills the educational requirements for licensure in that field in the state of Kansas and a few other regions. It does require some on-campus workshops, but these are of a few day’s duration and are offered in the Summer semester. Students who complete the degree are also eligible for FHSU’s complementary Education Specialist in School Psychology degree. FHSU has been regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.
California Southern University (Tie)
Total Tuition: $10,500
California Southern University is an online-only, private, and for-profit university based in Irvine, California. It offers a 42 credit Master’s of Science in Psychology that covers a broad range of specializations, including sports psychology, pastoral counseling, chemical dependency, and industrial psychology. The curriculum for each specialization is designed by experts in their respective fields.
Those getting their MS with CSU will also be eligible for its online doctorate in psychology, which, in turn, fulfills the educational requirements for licensure in the state of California as a clinical psychologist. California Southern University has been regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission.
American Public University (Tie)
Total Tuition: $10,500
American Public University is an online university which, along with American Military University, is owned by a publicly traded for-profit corporation located in Charles Town, West Virginia. They specialize in online and distance learning and count American military personnel and their families as making up a significant amount of their roughly 50,000 students. Besides being founded by a retired military Major, the school has cultivated links with military organizations and offers substantial discounts on tuition to servicemembers. Among their 190 degree and certificate programs is their 39-credit Master’s of Arts in Psychology.
The degree, like many of APU’s degrees, is designed in consultation with a team of industry professionals with backgrounds in psychology to ensure that the course content covers issues most relevant to potential employers. The degree is not meant to be a terminal degree, but rather as a bridge to further graduate work or professional certification programs. APU has been regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Total Tuition: $12,000
Union College is a small liberal arts college affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Its campus is in Barbourville, Kentucky, and their degree programs have been regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. They offer a 37 credit hour Master’s of Arts in Psychology that can be taken either entirely online or through a hybrid of online and on-campus courses.
One of the most important outcomes of the program is to impart in students the ability to adequately investigate and evaluate the academic literature in the field, giving them not only a grasp of the best research but also allowing for continual professional development. Classes relevant to this learning outcome include Statistics for Mental Health Professionals and Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methods. For students interested in the field of addiction, Union also offers a Certificate in Chemical Dependency that can augment and be taken currently with their MA in Psychology.
Total Tuition: $13,050
Baker College is private, not-for-profit, and career-oriented university whose flagship school is in Flint, Michigan, but which has additional campuses throughout the state of Michigan. By their focus on industry and the technical arts, Baker College’s online Master’s of Science in Industrial and Organizational Psychology specializes in the application of psychological theories to the workplace. Professionals with a Master’s in I/O Psychology can expect growth in their field that is 6% faster than other psychology practitioners. Moreover, they will have access to job opportunities in areas as diverse as organizational development, talent acquisition, and workforce analytics.
With classes such as Psychology of Leadership, Assessment in the Workplace, and the Psychology of Motivation, graduates of the program will learn to apply psychological theories and concepts in order to improve workflow, create better work environments, and improve management strategies. Baker College has been regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Angelo State University
Total Tuition: $13,740
Angelo State is a four-year public university in the West Texas town of Saint Angelo. Angelo State University offers a 36 credit-hour MS in Applied Psychology that can be taken either fully online or a hybrid of online and on-campus courses. The program was designed for those hoping to advance within their current careers, work within the field of human services, teach at the community college level, or go on for a Ph.D. in psychology.
As the ‘applied’ in the degree title implies, Angelo state’s Master’s program focuses less on the psychological theory itself and more on the application of that theory to the resolution of real-world problems. Each course in the program requires students to apply what they have learned to solve a practical problem and also to find innovative ways in promoting greater psychological literacy in the surrounding culture. They offer both a thesis and non-thesis option. Angelo State University has been regionally accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
Total Tuition: $14,100
Edinboro University is a medium sized public university and one of 15 member schools of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. Edinboro’s online Master’s of Education in Educational Psychology is a niche degree aimed at forming psychologically literate educators, school psychologists, and vocational counselors. Their program is accredited by the National Association of School Psychologists, the only recognized accrediting body for educational psychology programs.
Edinboro’s 30 credit-hour program allows students to complete their degree as part-time students within a two-year window, making it an attractive option for those working full or part time. For high school teachers hoping to move into a career as a school psychologist, the national average for school psychologist’s salaries is about $20,000 a year more than the national average for high school teachers. That means a two-year and $28,000 investment in EUP’s Master’s of Education in Psychology could pay for itself quickly and easily. Edinboro has been regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
University of Louisiana, Monroe
Total Tuition: $14,250
The University of Louisiana at Monroe is a member school of the University of Louisiana system and is located in the North-Central part of the state. Their MS in Psychology can be earned entirely online which- in addition to its general track- offers two different specializations. For those interested in using their psychology degree to pursue a career in criminal justice, ULM- through their specialization in forensic psychology- offers classes in such topics as psychopathology, psychological assessment, and theories of delinquency.
Are you fascinated by things like personality and intelligence testing? If so, you might enjoy their specialization in psychometric psychology which focuses on measuring psychological differences, a useful field of inquiry for those hoping to work as consultants, career counselors, or in the field of industrial psychology. We suggest that those hoping to use their MS to pursue a doctorate in psychology complete a thesis, but for those requiring no more than an MS, ULM’s program offers a non-thesis option for completion of the degree. The University of Louisiana at Monroe has been accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Indiana Institute of Technology
Total Tuition: $14,850
Indiana Institute of Technology is a private nonprofit university in Fort Wayne that specializes in business, management, and STEM disciplines. Their 33 credit, fully online MS in Psychology is aligned with the American Psychological Association’s educational guidelines for doctoral education, making IIT’s degree a good option for those hoping to use their MS to pursue a doctorate.
Learning outcomes for the program include the ability to compare major psychological theories, distinguish various research methodologies, understand professional ethics in the field of psychology, and respect individual diversity. Completion of the degree requires a final capstone course which tests proficiency in these learning outcomes and an understanding of the material taught in the required courses. IIT’s degree programs have been regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Total Tuition: $15,000
Tiffin University is a private nonprofit university in Tiffin, Ohio. It has been regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. They offer a 37 credit online Master’s of Science in Psychology. The program is intended for those pursuing a career in higher education- as a terminal degree for those hoping to teach at the community college level or as stepping stone to a Ph.D. in Psychology.
The degree could also be used for those hoping to enter such fields as child protective services, human resources management, and market research. Classes in the core curriculum include History and Systems of Psychology, Advanced Theories of Personality, and Neuropsychology. Hourly credit units are offered at a discounted rate to members of the Fraternal Order of Police, Military members and their spouses, and certain public and private sector employees in the Tiffin area.