Most Affordable Online Master’s in Psychology Degrees 2021

Most Affordable Online Master’s in Psychology Degrees 2021

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Psychologists explore the behaviors and brain functions that define human psychology. They perform cognitive research, assess and diagnose mental and emotional disorders, and supervise counseling professionals.

Individuals need strong interpersonal skills since they work primarily with people in clinical and educational situations. Psychology professionals also need strong research design, assessment, and observational skills.

This guide covers the most affordable psychology master's online programs. It also covers important information for prospective students, including common courses and scholarship opportunities for students in online psychology master's programs.


What is the difference between psychology and counseling?

Counseling refers to a specific branch of psychology. Counselors may hold several types of degrees, like a master's in social work.

Do you need a bachelor's degree in psychology to get a master's in psychology?

Some on-campus and online master's in psychology programs do not require a bachelor's degree in psychology. These schools may instead require the completion of certain prerequisite psychology courses.

Can I earn a master's in psychology online?

Many schools offer online master's in psychology programs. Online learning allows students to balance their studies with professional and personal obligations.

Do I need a master's to become a licensed psychologist?

Licensure requirements differ by state. Some states require a master's degree, while others require a doctorate.

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Career Paths and Outlook for a Master's Degree in Psychology

Graduates with an online master's in psychology can work in several related areas. Some graduates conduct research along with psychologists and doctors, while others work in clinical facilities such as hospitals and private treatment centers. Organizational psychologists may work in the corporate sector, while school psychologists work with children and teens.

Clinical and counseling psychology are the most common psychology specializations. As a result, many individuals with master's degrees in psychology work in private clinics. They may run diagnostic tests, interview patients, and make assessments about emotional and behavioral disorders. Counseling psychologists also plan and supervise patient treatment.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for psychology professionals to grow 3% between 2019 and 2029. The BLS projects the greatest growth to occur in jobs focused on the elderly and rehabilitation psychology.

Career Lowest 10% Median Annual Salary Highest 10%
Psychologists Less than $45,380 $80,370 More than $132,070

Source: BLS

Most states require psychologists to hold a license to practice. The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) oversees the licensure process. Requirements differ by state, but most states require a master's or doctoral degree in psychology, supervised experience through an internship, and a passing score on an exam.

For example, Indiana requires a doctorate in psychology for licensure. The doctoral program must be accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). The state also requires candidates to pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology, along with a jurisprudence exam that tests their understanding of state law. Finally, Indiana requires internship hours and postdoctoral practice hours, both of which include hands-on training.

The ASPPB maintains reciprocity agreements with some states that allow licensed individuals to practice in a state other than the one that issued their license. Licensure candidates should check each state's guidelines to learn which states participate in this agreement.

Accreditation for Psychology Degrees

Accreditation ensures that a school or program meets academic standards and provides adequate professional preparation. Schools may hold regional or national accreditation, with regional accreditation generally considered the more prestigious of the two.

Accreditation benefits students in several ways. For instance, only students at accredited schools qualify for federal financial aid, and many schools only accept degrees and transfer credits from accredited institutions.

Programs within a school may also hold accreditation. Online master's in psychology programs may hold accreditation from the APA. Most states require candidates for licensure in psychology to attend an APA-accredited program.

Courses in a Master's Program in Psychology

Online master's in psychology programs cover foundational concepts of psychology, as well as specialized topics like experimental psychology, forensic psychology, and applied behavioral analysis. Additionally, most programs require students to take advanced courses in statistics and research methods. These classes prepare learners to conduct scientific studies.

Some programs require students to complete a master's thesis before graduating. Others offer a non-thesis option for those who do not plan to pursue careers in research. See below for five courses commonly found in online psychology master's programs.

This course covers core aspects of the research process in psychology. Learners examine topics like research design, data analysis, and other qualitative and quantitative approaches. This course provides an introduction to an important facet of psychology careers.

The study of statistics prepares students to perform quantitative research. Learners gain foundational and advanced knowledge of statistical analysis. Most programs require students to gain proficiency in statistics to graduate.

Many programs feature an introductory course on the profession of psychology. Enrollees study career options in psychology and the ethical standards of the field. The class may also cover topics like licensure and academic writing.

Because psychology professionals work with people of various ages, many programs include a course on human development. Students typically use case studies to learn about the cognitive and behavioral changes that occur at each stage of the human lifespan.

Most programs offer courses on group and individual counseling. These courses cover theoretical and practical aspects of counseling. Topics may include treatment planning, evaluation, and ethical standards. Courses may also feature simulation exercises.

Online master's in psychology students may qualify for a variety of scholarships to help offset the degree cost. Some scholarships require learners to specialize in a specific subfield, while others are open to any graduate student pursuing a master's in psychology degree. See below for some scholarship opportunities for students pursuing online psychology master's programs.

Melanie Foundation Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Students attending an accredited graduate program in a mental health field may apply. Candidates must submit a CV, transcripts, two reference letters, and an essay.
Amount: $2,500

Beth Rom Rymer Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Applicants must attend an APA-accredited graduate program and specialize in psychopharmacology. They must also submit a personal statement, a CV, recommendation letters, and transcripts.
Amount: $5,000

NAJA Graduate Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Sponsored by the National Association of Junior Auxiliaries, Inc., this scholarship awards funds to graduate students pursuing fields that address the cognitive and behavioral needs of children. Applicants must be members of a regional junior auxiliary chapter.
Amount: Varies

Most Affordable Online Master's in Psychology Degrees 2021

  1. Arizona State University-Skysong

    Scottsdale, AZ



    ASU delivers a 36-credit MS in psychology program through SkySong. The customizable curriculum focuses on cognitive, developmental, social, and physiological psychology. Students take elective courses that align with their career goals.

    Core coursework explores professional psychology issues. Students learn quantitative research concepts and practice applying research methods. During a capstone course, learners develop research and policy recommendations.

    The accelerated online master's in psychology program features 7.5-week classes. All online students pay the same affordable tuition rate, regardless of residency. Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA in the last 60 hours of their bachelor's program. ASU recommends but does not require that applicants submit GRE scores.

  2. University of Louisiana at Monroe

    Monroe, LA



    ULM's MS in psychology program offers concentrations in psychometrics and forensic psychology. Students can earn the 36-credit degree entirely online. Core courses explore research methods and neuropsychology. Enrollees learn to apply quantitative methods in the behavioral sciences.

    The psychometrics concentration covers topics including intelligence testing and behavior modification. Students explore the ethical and legal implications of psychological tests. The forensic psychology concentration explores psychopathology and crime and delinquency theories. Forensic psychology students complete a culminating practicum, a thesis, or independent research.

    ULM delivers the online master's in psychology in accelerated eight-week sessions. All online students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency. Applicants need a minimum 2.75 GPA and prerequisite coursework. Some applicants must submit GRE scores.

  3. Regent University

    Virginia Beach, VA

    Based in Virginia, Regent offers an online MS in psychology program. Students learn how to apply psychology principles in various fields. Core coursework explores topics including social psychology and the biological bases of behavior. Enrollees learn about research methods used in contemporary psychology.

    Concentration options include addictions and marriage and family. A unique cyberpsychology concentration focuses on ways to improve human-technology interactions. Learners can specialize in industrial-organizational psychology to learn how to apply psychology principles in business contexts. The doctoral preparation option covers training and treatment techniques for diverse populations.

    Learners receive faculty mentorship. Students pay a flat per-credit tuition rate. Applicants do not need a bachelor's in psychology.

  4. Pepperdine University

    Malibu, CA

    Based in Malibu, Pepperdine delivers a cohort-based MA in psychology program. Most students complete the 36-48 required units in 18-24 months. Coursework examines theoretical approaches to counseling and psychotherapy. Students explore the diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders.

    Enrollees prepare to conduct counseling and group therapy for multicultural patients. In an industrial-organizational psychology course, students learn how to enhance leadership and employee performance in work settings. Participants gain hands-on experience during lab work. The curriculum includes two elective courses. Graduates often become group facilitators and market research analysts.

    Degree-seekers can earn the online master's in psychology full or part time. All online students pay the same per-unit tuition rate. Applicants need a bachelor's degree and do not need to submit GRE scores.

  5. Southern New Hampshire University

    Manchester, NH

    SNHU offers an online MS in psychology program. The 36-credit curriculum explores various subdisciplines of psychology. Learners choose from three specializations. The program does not lead to state certification or licensure.

    Students earning the master's in psychology online explore cognitive processes, theories of personality, and research methods in psychology. Enrollees examine ways to help people with mental health conditions. Students can earn a 12-credit concentration in forensic psychology, industrial and organizational psychology, or child and development psychology. Instead of a concentration, learners can pursue a 150-hour internship.

    Learners without a background in psychology may need to take three foundational courses. SNHU accepts up to 12 transfer credits. Online students pay a flat tuition rate and choose from five enrollment terms. Applicants do not need to submit GRE or GMAT scores.

  6. University of Idaho

    Moscow, ID



    U of I offers a master's in psychology with an emphasis in human factors. The online program focuses on research. The curriculum covers traditional psychology and engineering principles. Enrollees explore the various factors that impact consumers' interactions with products and technology. Graduates can become researchers and user-experience engineers.

    Coursework explores sense and perception, engineering psychology, and cognitive psychology. Participants gain specialized training in engineering design, human-computer interaction, and ergonomics and biomechanics. Students can conduct research in the on-campus human factors lab. Degree-seekers can complete an internship with a partner company. The program culminates with an exam or thesis.

    Full-time online students pay in-state tuition rates. Applicants to the online master's in psychology program need a degree in psychology, engineering, or a related field. Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA.

  7. McNeese State University

    Lake Charles, LA



    Located in Louisiana, McNeese delivers an online MA in applied behavior analysis. The 58-credit program holds approval from the Behavior Analysis Certification Board. The program meets the requirements for the board certified behavior analyst certification.

    Degree-seekers explore principles of learning and behavior. Students learn advanced concepts such as verbal behavior, single-subject methodology, and applied behavior analysis interventions. A course focuses on professional standards for behavior analysts. An internship provides the supervised experience required to sit for the certification exam. Enrollees often complete required practicum and internship hours through the McNeese autism program.

    Students gain experience with single-subject procedures at McNeese's human and animal operant lab facilities. The online master's in psychology program culminates with a thesis. Applicants need prerequisite psychology coursework and must submit GRE scores.

  8. Lynn University

    Boca Raton, FL

    A private college in South Florida, Lynn offers an online MS in psychology program that is ideal for working professionals. The online master's in psychology program helps learners qualify for career advancement and doctoral studies.

    The 37-credit curriculum features core courses in social psychology, personality theories, and scientific and writing analysis. Learners can pursue a 15-credit industrial-organizational psychology specialization. Degree-seekers complete fieldwork aligning with their career interests. Students who take two courses per term can graduate in one year.

    Small class sizes promote personalized learning. Online students receive an iPad with preloaded applications. Learners can study full or part time. All online students pay the same affordable tuition rate, regardless of residency. Applicants do not need to submit GRE scores.

  9. Nova Southeastern University

    Fort Lauderdale, FL

    NSU enrolls learners on several Florida campuses and online. The university's online MS in psychology program trains students for nonclinical careers and doctoral programs. The online master's in psychology program does not lead to licensure or certification.

    Core courses cover cognitive psychology, social psychology, and behavioral neuroscience. Degree-seekers learn how to apply statistical methods to psychological research. Students can earn a nine-credit concentration in applied health science. The concentration explores the business of psychology and psychological aspects of disease treatment. Students learn how to conduct a clinical assessment interview. The program culminates with a thesis.

    Online students pay a per-credit tuition rate. Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA. They do not need to hold a psychology degree or submit GRE scores.

  10. Fayetteville State University

    Fayetteville, NC



    Part of the University of North Carolina system, FSU delivers an online MA in psychology program. The master's in psychology online program requires 36 semester credits.

    Students develop quantitative reasoning skills during a statistics course. Enrollees examine psychological concepts such as the biological aspects of behavior. Coursework explores factors that impact the cognitive, emotional, and social development of children. Participants also learn about professional responsibilities and ethical decision-making. Students learn to design and conduct psychological research.

    The curriculum includes nine elective credits. Degree-seekers can earn a 12-credit behavioral research certificate. Students showcase their academic work in a culminating portfolio. North Carolina residents pay a discounted tuition rate. Applicants need a minimum 2.6 GPA and may submit GRE scores.

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