Online Degree Programs for Psychology

Psychology is the study of human behavior. No surprise, it is one of the most popular areas of study in academia, too. Through online degree programs psychology students can learn about how the mind works, how to administer psychological tests, and how to diagnose and treat mental illnesses. Study in psychology is available at the undergraduate and graduate level, although professional training doesn’t begin until graduate school. Individuals interested in scientific observation, academic writing, conducting research, and interacting with different types of people may be drawn to the field. Given the strict requirements for licensure and certification, what you can do will greatly depend on your level of education. We recommend that you pursue accredited online degree programs, as most certification and licensure exams require that you’ve graduated from an accredited program to be eligible to take the exam.

Online Associate Degree Programs for Psychology

An associate degree is often considered a stepping stone to a bachelor’s degree ó a chance to earn your general education requirements before delving into your major at a four-year university ó and in psychology, that’s no exception. While there are online degree programs for psychology at the associate level that offer introductory classes in subjects such as abnormal psychology, developmental psychology, the main objective of an associate degree program is to develop critical thinking, writing, and research skills. There are few opportunities for psychology-related work with just the two-year degree. Instead, students could view an associate degree as an introduction to the field before they commit fully ó and by the end, you can be halfway toward earning a bachelor’s degree through any number of online college degree programs. For those interested in immediate work upon graduation, there may be entry-level employment as a psychiatric aide, mental health assistant, medical receptionist, case technician, or related area available.

Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs for Psychology

Online bachelor degree programs in psychology offer students the opportunity to gain a broad understanding of the fundamentals of the subject thanks to courses in topics such as human development, abnormal psychology, and cognitive psychology. They may also develop an understanding of scientific research methods and ethics, and may be able to conduct their own research under the supervision of a professor. Similar to an associate degree, a bachelor’s would only be a stepping stone toward an advanced degree for any professional work, such as in clinical counseling or psychiatry. Though those looking for work upon completing a bachelor’s in psychology may be suited for positions in case management, career counseling, or rehabilitation, as well as jobs outside the psychology realm that still require an understanding of human behavior, such as sales or marketing.

Online Master’s Degree Programs for Psychology

Online masters degree programs in psychology allow for professional specialization. At the master’s degree level, students can begin their training in areas such as clinical, counseling, research, forensic, developmental, or social psychology. Courses may cover diagnosis, treatment methods, theories, and topics relating to the specific specialty, as well as professional ethics and legal issues. Master’s programs often require a certain number of internship or clinical hours as part of the training. For many psychology professions, including most clinical, counseling, and research psychology positions, a doctorate is required to practice, so a master’s would still serve as a stepping stone toward the terminal degree. Though there are some career paths, such as school psychologists, mental health counselors, and marriage and family therapists, that you may be able to practice with a master’s degree. The exact education requirements for practicing psychologists vary by specialty and state so make sure you are familiar with what the state you wish to practice in requires as you apply to programs.

Online Doctoral Degree Programs for Psychology

A Ph.D. in psychology or a Doctor of Psychology degree is the terminal degree for many professional psychology fields. Most clinical, counseling, and research psychologists, for instance, need a doctoral degree to practice as mandated by state and licensing requirements. There are also professional doctorates in non-practicing areas like business psychology and organizational development that professionals in non-clinical psychology fields can pursue. Courses would be specific to the area of specialty; for example, clinical psychology doctorate programs may teach students how to diagnose and treat mental disorders, complete psychological evaluations, and provide psychotherapy. Depending on the program, students may also be required to complete a clinical internship or a dissertation based on original research.

Online Degree Programs in Psychology in the Work Place

Since you can spend upwards of five, six, seven or more years in school working towards that master’s or doctorate in psychology, it’s only natural to wonder what the job climate will be like when you get out. Among psychology professions, mental health counseling and marriage and family therapy are expected to have some of the strongest job growth. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of marriage and family therapists is expected to grow 41% from 2010 to 2020, while employment of mental health counselors is expected to grow 37%. This impressive growth is anticipated as insurance companies are increasingly providing reimbursement for counselors and therapists as a less costly alternative to psychiatrists and psychologists. However, that doesn’t isn’t bad news for psychologists as employment of these professionals is expected to grow 22% from 2010 to 2020 2020, according to the BLS due to increasing demand for clinical and counseling psychologists to help with such issues as depression, job stress, and addiction. Employment of school and career counselors is also expected to grow, with a 19% increase through 2020 due to rising school enrollments.

There is a wide pay range among psychology professions, including among those careers that demand similar education levels. Psychologists can expect to make more money than other psychology-related professions. According to the BLS, the median wage of psychologists was $68,640 in May 2010. This compares to $53,380 for school and career counselors and $38,150 for mental health counselors and marriage family therapists. Among psychologists, industrial-organizational psychologists had the highest median annual wage ($87,330) in 2010, followed by clinical, counseling, and school psychologists ($66,810). It’s important to note that specific salaries will depend on employer, your previous work experience, and location.