25 Best Online PhDs in Psychology

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Are you ready to find your fit?

Are you interested in evaluating, diagnosing, and treating mental illnesses? A PhD in psychology will pave the way to a rewarding career as a licensed psychologist.

As our understanding and development of effective treatments for mental illnesses continues to grow, there is an increasing demand for highly educated psychologists who are able to implement them. If you want to learn more about how the brain works and have a desire to serve others in need, a degree in psychology might be the right choice for you.

Top 10 Best Online PhDs in Psychology

Rank School Location
1 Alaska Pacific University Anchorage, AK
2 Amridge University Montgomery, AL
3 Andrews University Berrien Springs, MI
4 Arizona State University-Tempe Tempe, AZ
5 Ashford University San Diego, CA
6 California Institute of Integral Studies San Francisco, CA
7 Capella University Minneapolis, MN
8 Endicott College Beverly, MA
9 Felician University Lodi, NJ
10 Fielding Graduate University Santa Barbara, CA
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What kind of psychology degree should you get?

All of the colleges we have included on our list are highly accredited – meaning they have the backing of the psychology community and have strong, impactful curricula. Although there are multiple sub-concentrations within the field of psychology (which many of these programs offer), each reviewed degree contained a strong core of research-based classes.

When you graduate with an online psychology degree, you have the choice of pursuing a career in the medical, academic, or scientific field. Not sure if one of these degree programs is the right choice for you? Be sure to check out our ranking of the Best Online Colleges and Universities for a more comprehensive overview.

How much money do people make with psychology degrees?

Psychologists are some of the highest paid professionals in the country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as a psychologist you can expect to earn an average salary of well over $77,000 per year. While graduates who went on to work for the government or within large hospital settings earned the highest salaries, wages are high across the board in this degree.

These jobs are in high demand, with an anticipated 23,000 new jobs expected to be created by 2026. This reflects a change of 14 percent – which is much higher than the national average. The highest demand for psychological services is in schools and hospitals, along with public and private mental health centers.

What can you do with a degree in psychology?

A degree in psychology will open you up to a wide variety of career paths. Psychologists study cognitive, social, and emotional functioning by analyzing behavior and scientific findings. They look closely at how people relate to each other and to their environments and use their research to develop targeted interventions for people with mental, behavioral, or emotional disorders.

There are several subcategories of psychology you can explore upon graduation. Many students go on to become clinical psychologists, who work to assess and treat a range of disorders. Counseling psychologists work directly with patients to help them understand their strengths and weaknesses, while developmental psychologists work mostly with children and adolescents. Other branches of psychology include forensic psychology, rehabilitation psychology, school psychology, and industrial-organizational psychology.

What are the requirements for a degree in psychology?

To become a licensed psychologist, you will need a minimum of a master’s degree in psychology. While a master’s degree typically suffices for positions in schools and other smaller settings, those in clinical practice must have a PhD.

A PhD is a degree that is research-heavy, requiring students to take comprehensive examinations and write dissertations based on their original research. You will take classes in statistics and research procedures and will likely need to complete a minimum of a one-year internship. Depending on whether you choose to pursue a specific concentration in your field, you may need to take additional coursework in things like student development or organizational behavior.

What are the best psychology degrees?

Best Psychology Degrees Badge

The best psychology degree will be one that allows you to work at your own pace, while also receiving access to the top curriculum and instructional techniques around the country. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice the academic quality of your program for the convenience of online delivery – these programs will help you check off all your boxes as you search for the best online PhD in psychology.

We’ve found that the best degrees are those that offer fair not only fair prices, but ample flexibility and convenience as well! To find the best degrees for you, we look at the best schools in the country based on reputation, student satisfaction, program quality, and return on investment. Then we review the bottom line – just how much is this going to cost? Check out our methodology page for a more in depth description of our data.

Once we determine all of the above, we curate a list of stellar schools for you! These not only represent the best degrees you can get, but also ones that will fit your budget. Check out our picks below!

2018 Ranking

See our rankings methodology page.

  • Alaska Pacific University
    Location

    Anchorage, AK

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview:

    Alaska Pacific University is another small college that was founded in 1957. This school emphasizes the importance of liberal arts and pre-professional education, giving students valuable leadership experience as they actively pursue their degrees. The Doctor of Psychology in Counseling Psychology at Alaska Pacific is designed to meet the needs of working professionals as they receive the credentials necessary to work as licensed psychologists in the state of Alaska.

    Program Features:

    The curriculum of this program is strengths-based, allowing students to gain a broad developmental perspective as they explore the entire range of psychological functioning. Coursework is delivered through synchronous evening classes, with students required to attend campus once every six weeks during the semester. Required classes include:

    • Ethics of Professional Practice
    • Diagnosis and Treatment Planning
    • Interventions I: Prevention, Wellness, and Resiliency
    • Counseling Theories and Skills

    Notables:

    Alaska Pacific prides itself on offering education that is innovative and collaborative. Students are encouraged to engage with their communities as they receive a powerful educational experience. Graduates go on to join a proud alumni network, working in fields such as clinical psychology and counseling. The school has a profound commitment to its heritage of Alaska Native education and is also a Methodist-affiliated institution. This diverse blend allows the university to emphasize rigorous academics alongside extensive fieldwork in the liberal arts and sciences.

  • Amridge University
    Location

    Montgomery, AL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview:

    Amridge University specializes in online education – it was an early adopter school for distance education programs. The school is affiliated with the Church of Christ and makes service a core part of its mission.

    Program Features:

    Amridge has a PhD in Professional Counseling. The program requires 60 credit hours and focuses heavily on research. The program focuses on several aspects of counseling:

    • Abuse and Addiction
    • Cultural Diversity
    • Human Development

    Notables:

    By the end of the program students will have completed 48 credit hours of core program courses, 12 hours of dissertation research, and a qualifying examination.

  • Andrews University
    Location

    Berrien Springs, MI

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview:

    Andrews University is a rural university that was founded in 1874. This private school may be small, but it is making a profound impact when it comes to undergraduate and graduate-level education. The school has well over 100 different degrees in areas like business, education, technology, arts and sciences, and, of course, psychology. The Doctor of Philosophy Counseling Psychology program has an internationally diverse population of faculty and students, and prepares graduates for licensure in the United States as well as many locations worldwide.

    Program Features:

    Most students will complete this degree with just 106 credit hours of study, although individualized course plans allow each student to meet their specific career goals. The program integrates both science and practice, and students begin their research right in their first years of study. Clinical skills are integrated into most first-year cohort classes, allowing students to learn the importance of diagnosis, assessment, and intervention. Required courses include:

    • Theories of Personality
    • Multicultural Issues for Counselors and Psychologists
    • Psychology of Learning
    • Applied Statistical Methods

    Notables:

    Despite its small size, Andrews prides itself on its diversity. Students, faculty, and staff come from over 90 different countries and are distinguished representatives of the global community. The school is ranked as one of the best National Universities by U.S. News & World Report. Alumni boast high average starting salaries of $47,500 (across all disciplines). With a student-to-faculty ratio of just 10:1, the faculty attention to student success cannot be surpassed within Andrews University.

  • Arizona State University-Tempe
    Location

    Tempe, AZ

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview:

    Arizona State University has one of the largest student populations in the nation. With over 500 different clubs and organizations, this university is a great place for students to get involved at a hands-on level with their learning. Founded in 1973, the doctoral program in Social Psychology at Arizona State prepares researchers to explore and utilize cutting-edge scientific methods to address social behavior.

    Program Features:

    This 84 credit-hour program has greatly expanded since its inception and is now viewed as one of the best programs in the country. Faculty conduct research at the national and international level while teaching full-time, allowing for exceptional collaboration between mentors and graduate students. Coursework overcomes cultural bias and geographical hurdles, giving students proficiency in topics such as:

    • Advanced Social Psychology
    • Intermediate Statistics
    • Multiple Regression in Psychology Research
    • Designs of Experiments in Social Psychology

    Notables:

    While this program can be completed online, students receive unlimited access to all of Arizona State’s seven research laboratories. These laboratories support the schools’ highly-ranked doctoral programs and contribute to Arizona State’s repeated ranking as the top school in the country for innovation by U.S. News & World Report. Students can pursue a wide range of research in these first-rate laboratories while completing their studies in either 7.5 or 15-week semesters.

  • Ashford University
    Location

    San Diego, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview:

    Ashford University offers a range of high-quality doctoral programs. These programs are offered in an online format, granting students access to flexible class schedules and a wide range of students who don’t fit the profile of a traditional college student. Nearly ninety percent of all students are over the age of 25, with a quarter of those students receiving some kind of military benefit. All programs, including the Doctor of Psychology, are offered entirely online.

    Program Features:

    The Doctor of Psychology requires 62 credit hours of study. Courses last between six and nine weeks each, during which time students have access to 24/7 technical support. The degree trains students to become practitioner-scholars through hands-on study of the research, evidence-based practices, and theories in their chosen specialization. Six specializations are available, including those in:

    • Criminology and Justice Studies
    • Educational Leadership
    • Health and Wellness Psychology
    • Meditation and Conflict Resolution
    • Sport and Performance Psychology

    Notables:

    The Doctor of Psychology at Ashford University prepares students for a wide range of careers in exploring the human mind. Each candidate may choose between completing a dissertation or a doctoral capstone seminar, allowing them to demonstrate their newly acquired skills in the format that is most flexible for them. The school is highly affordable, offering doctoral students a range of financial aid options. With tuition starting at just $1,082 per credit hour, the program is a smart choice for candidates seeking an affordable, high-quality option.

  • California Institute of Integral Studies
    Location

    San Francisco, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview:

    The California Institute of Integral Studies is located in San Francisco, California and is a relatively young university founded in 1968. The school offers dozens of interdisciplinary programs in topics such as the arts, counseling, women’s spirituality, integrative health, and, of course, psychology. The degrees offered at this university all respond to the growing need to blend contemporary thought and culture with intellectual, experiential, and applied learnings. In most programs, students work together in cohorts over the course of their studies, allowing them to learn with and from one another in an experiential, hands-on setting. The PhD program in Integral and Transpersonal Psychology is offered entirely online and can be completed in as little as three years of part-time study.

    Program Features:

    This degree requires 36 units of study to complete. Most candidates will complete their degrees online with residential intensive seminars in the Bay Area twice a year. The curriculum of this program focuses on the spiritual and mystical components of healing and transformation, giving students a whole-person approach to psychology. All classes are taught by senior scholars who help to guide student research as they engage in classes such as:

    • Transpersonal Psychologies
    • Quantitative Research Methods with Neuroscience of Consciousness
    • Integral Research Methods with Creative Expression
    • Somatic Psychology with Exceptional Human Experiences

    Notables:

    California Institute of Integral Studies prepares students to deepen their professional skills as they enhance their credentials. All candidates gain skills in critical thinking, scholarly research and writing, and creative problem solving. Throughout the duration of their studies, students will work with a planned research laboratory and a peer-reviewed journal produced by students. In the final year of study, students may elect to add a second focus area to their studies giving them greater independence in designing a degree path that meets their individual career goals and personalities.

  • Capella University
    Location

    Minneapolis, MN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview:

    The degree in Clinical Psychology at Capella University prepares students to pursue professional licensure. Each candidate is uniquely supported by a professional licensure team to help give them expert advice while they complete the complicated process. The curriculum is designed around APA guidelines to give each student’s degree credibility in most states. This degree is unique in that it blends in-person and online experiences. Students engage in internships, original research, a clinical practicum, and face-to-face residencies as they are prepared for real-world clinical settings.

    Program Features:

    The Clinical Psychology degree at Capella is offered both online and in-person. It requires a brief residency as well the completion of a comprehensive examination. Students engage in nine core courses, seven specialization courses, and four elective courses along with a practicum to help them explore topics in clinical psychology in greater depth. Core courses include classes such as:

    • Advanced Psychopathology
    • Theories of Psychotherapy
    • Evidence-Based Practice in Psychology
    • Strategies of Clinical Supervision and Consultation
    • Advanced Psychological Testing

    Notables:

    Throughout every step of the process, students are supported by a team of professionals, such as dedicated doctoral advisors, enrollment counselors, career counselors, and more. The university also offers GuidedPath, an original learning format in which students can pursue one to three courses per ten-week quarter. Instead of paying by the term, students only pay for the classes they want to take. Multiple financing options are available, including financial aid, military discounts, transfer credit eligibility, and employer and association discounts.

  • Endicott College
    Location

    Beverly, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview:

    Located in Beverly, Massachusetts, Endicott College is a private college that was founded in 1939. A small school, Endicott holds its own against larger research institutions in that it emphasizes the importance of hands-on learning and internship experiences. As one of the first schools in the country to require all students to complete a yearly internship, Endicott offers three different doctoral programs: one in Education Leadership, one in Nursing, and, of course, an exceptional program in Applied Behavioral Analysis.

    Program Features:

    The PhD in Applied Behavior Analysis at Endicott is a research-based program that allows graduates to teach at the university level or to work as scientist-practitioners in various fields like public policy or developmental disabilities. The degree is offered both online and on-campus, giving students maximum flexibility in designing their degrees. The degree requires 60 total credit hours, with core courses in topics like:

    • Experimental Design and Analysis
    • Analysis and Intervention in Developmental Disabilities
    • Technology of Teaching Seminar
    • Bridging the Gap: The Scientist-Practitioner Model

    Notables:

    Endicott is ranked as one of the Best Colleges for Veterans as well as one of the Most Innovative Schools by U.S. News & World Report, accolades that are no doubt due in part to the university’s commitment to hands-on learning. The school boasts a student-to-faculty ratio of just 14:1, with over 60 percent of all classes enrolling fewer than 20 students. The retention rate is a whopping 85 percent, indicating high student satisfaction with Endicott’s exceptional degree programs.

  • Felician University
    Location

    Lodi, NJ

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview:

    A private university founded in 1942, Felician University is a small college with an enrollment of fewer than 2,000 students. This school is ranked as one of the Best Regional Universities by U.S. News & World Report. With a commitment to educating a diverse population of students within a strong liberal arts framework, Felician offers an exceptional Doctor of Counseling Psychology Program. This degree is offered within a Roman Catholic context and emphasizes scholarship along with hands-on experiences.

    Program Features:

    This degree consists of 88 total credit hours, with coursework spanning topics related to professional practice, research design, and psychopathology. Each student is required to compete 1750 supervised hours of clinical experience, and to take and pass the Examination for the Professional Practice in Psychology. Other required classes include:

    • Health Psychology
    • Health Care Systems
    • Learning and Cognition
    • Behavioral Neuroscience
    • History and Systems of Counseling Psychology

    Notables:

    This program prepares students to become psychologists within the healthcare system. Students are trained to provide collaborative care that connects both physical and behavioral health, improving the overall efficacy of treatments. This kind of unique, hands-on curriculum prepares students to develop cost-effective treatments that can be implemented in all areas, promoting access to healthcare in underserved populations.

  • Fielding Graduate University
    Location

    Santa Barbara, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview:

    Fielding Graduate University is an accredited nonprofit university that is dedicated solely to graduate education. This school combines face-to-face and online learning to provide students with the skills they need to be successful in any career. With a small student enrollment of fewer than 957 students, this school is unique in that it offers a student-to-faculty ratio of just 5:1. The school has 190 dedicated faculty and nearly 80 committed support staff members.

    Program Features:

    The Clinical Psychology PhD program helps students learn how they can contribute to a more humane and sustainable world. The curriculum is designed to support students from under-represented populations as they pursue their doctoral studies, allowing them to interact with a dynamic group of colleagues. Students interact with and learn from expert faculty all over the country as they take coursework in topics like:

    • Cognitive and Affective Bases of Behavior
    • Psychopathology
    • Biological Bases of Behavior
    • History and Systems of Psychology

    Notables:

    This program enables students to interact with other professionals from all over the world. The school sponsors monthly cluster meetings in their geographic areas, allowing them to engage with alumni, faculty, and other students. Multiple program concentrations are also available to allow students greater customization in designing their degrees. Candidates may choose from topics like Forensic Psychology, Health Psychology, Neuropsychology, and Social Justice and Diversity to help them create degree programs that will fit into their busy lifestyles and meet their specific career goals.

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