Psychology is one of those rare disciplines that lends itself well to online studies and makes earning an advanced degree easier while you continue to work. While a Master of Arts or Master of Science in the field won’t qualify you for licensure, accelerated psychology master’s programs can certainly put you in a great position to work in a variety of fields.
Our Top 10 Accelerated Online Psychology Master’s Programs are:
- University of Southern California
- Pepperdine University
- Ball State University
- Grand Canyon University
- California Baptist University
- Liberty University
- Regent University
- Southern New Hampshire University
- Divine Mercy University
- Northcentral University
Our Method: Ranking the 10 Fastest Online Psychology Master’s Degree Programs
To rank the 10 Fastest Psychology Master’s Programs, Best Degrees analysts researched accurate data on accredited, trusted programs of all kinds. From our initial pool, we ranked programs according to price, accreditation, reputation, and salary potential, using data from IPEDS and Niche, U.S. News and World Report, and other higher education rating publications.
Each program on this ranking has regional accreditation so students can receive federal student assistance. Be sure to apply for aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid FAFSA®. Graduate degree students might qualify for loans and some schools require the FAFSA on file for departmental scholarships or stipends.
Our editors first ranked accredited accelerated online psychology master’s programs in October 2022. This ranking was updated November 2023.
1. University of Southern California
Offered through the USCOnline division of the University of Southern California this online Master of Science in Applied Psychology is for working professionals. It’s possible to complete this graduate program in a rapid 16 months.
This master’s degree curriculum covers topics from research, theory, and organizational practice. Required classes include Consumer Psychology, Organizational Psychology, Proseminar in Human Behavior: Applications, and Research Methods in Applied Psychology, and Proseminar in Human Behavior: Foundations. You’ll have elective options in Psychology of Employee Selection and Assessment, Cross-cultural Psychology in Applied Settings, and more. Additionally, a practicum experience in your community is possible with the approval of the program director. Note: USUOnline sponsors a summer internship in Dublin, Ireland.
Admission requires an application, academic transcripts showing the completion of an accredited bachelor’s degree, a personal statement, three recommendation letters, and a resume. GRE test scores will be required in 2022 and beyond.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $47,880/per academic year
Fast Fact: The Princeton Review named USC as one of its Best 386 Schools
2. Pepperdine University
Within 18 months of full-time enrollment, you can earn a MA in Psychology from California’s prestigious Pepperdine University.
During the 36-48 credit hours of study, you’ll take five foundational courses, nine core classes, and two electives. Some courses in the curriculum are Interpersonal Skills and Group Therapy, Social Psychology, Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy, Research and Evaluation Methods for Mental Health Professionals, Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Trauma in Diverse Populations, Introduction to Positive Psychology, and more. Classes are taught by faculty who work as clinicians or as other experts.
To start your online degree, you’ll complete an application and provide official academic transcripts demonstrating an awarded bachelor’s degree from an accredited school. You’ll also submit two letters of recommendation and a 2-5 page Statement of Purpose which describes your reasons for applying, prior experience and training, as well as your professional goals. The admission requirements for the online program are the same as for campus-based students. No GRE scores are required.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $1,700/per credit hour
Fast Fact: Pepperdine University opened in 1937 and ranks in the top 50 universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category
3. Ball State University
Located in Indiana, Ball State University awards a MA in Educational Psychology as well as an MS in Quantitive Psychology, offered online and can be completed in 18 months.
Let’s look at the 30-credit hour MA in Educational Psychology first. This psychology degree offers specialties in Human Development, Gifted and Talented, Applied Behavior Analysis, Neuropsychology, and a Customizable specialty. Core courses include Advanced Educational Psychology, Psychology of Human Development, Tests and Measurements, and more. The Master’s Degree in Quantitative Psychology requires 33-credit hours which includes a thesis. Cores studies are required in Analysis of Variance, Applied Regression Analysis, Research Design, as well as Theory of Measurement and more. You’ll choose one of two concentrations either in Quantitative or Mixed Methods.
Admission requires you hold a conferred bachelor’s degree, a 3.0 GPA, letter of intent and professional goals, a resume/CV, and three letters of recommendation. You’ll also need to provide academic transcripts and GRE test scores. The application has a $60 processing fee.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $431-$646/per credit hour
Fast Fact: Niche includes Ball State University in its Best Online Colleges in America in its 2021 rankings
4. Grand Canyon University
If you’re looking for an online Master’s in General Psychology which doesn’t require a thesis, this program at Grand Canyon University may be for you. The psychology degree requires 36 credit hours but the school has a generous transfer policy that allows you to transfer up to 12 credit hours.
Psychology students enroll in core courses in Contemporary and Ethical Issues in Psychology, Psychopathology, Human Development, Social and Cultural Psychology, Learning, Cognition, and Motivation, Health Psychology, Research Methods, as well as a Capstone Project. The Capstone Project allows you the opportunity to use the studies you’ve completed to identify and present research topics, as well as develop a roadmap for your goals. While not APA accredited, this program was designed using the psychology organization’s standards.
Grand Canyon University has made the graduate admission process quick and easy. You’ll complete an application and submit academic transcripts. Once the information is received, you’ll be contacted by a GCU admission advisor to continue the process.
Estimated Tuition: $557/per credit hour
Fast Fact: A Christian-based university, Grand Canyon University was established in 1949
5. California Baptist University
CBUOnline offers a hybrid/online Master’s in Clinical Psychology that can be completed in 24 months. If your goal is to be a marriage and family therapist or clinical counselor CBU is a great opportunity! Psychology students will require an additional six credit hours to meet Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) academic standards required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) in the state of California.
This psychology degree curriculum requires prerequisite studies in General Psychology or Lifespan Development. Core classes include topics in Diversity Issues in Counseling Psychology Seminar, Marriage and Family Therapy Theory, Human Sexuality, Advanced Research Methodology, Advanced Psychopathology, Family Therapy, Professional Ethics and Law, and more. You’ll also do two virtual practica and a comprehensive exam which will be based on a case you encounter during your practicum. The comprehensive exam portion will call for you to write a formal case report.
For admission, you need a conferred bachelor’s degree, a 2.75 GPA is required for admission or a 2.5 GPA for conditional admission. You’ll also provide a 500-word personal statement and official academic transcripts from any college or university attended. An application is needed and submission of the Free Application Financial Student Assistance (FAFSA). CBU is qualified to provide distance education in 37 states so be sure to check that your state qualifies.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $745/per credit hour
Fast Fact: CBU ranks #25 in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Value Schools category
6. Liberty University
This Virginia, Christian university has an online MA in Psychology with an Applied Psychology concentration you can finish in 18 months on average. If you have graduate hours to transfer, Liberty University can accept up to 50% of the 36-credit hour degree total.
You’ll take courses in Organizational Psychology, Foundations in I/O Psychology, Industrial Psychology , Special Topics in I/O Psychology, Psychology of Performance, Personnel Psychology, Candidacy Exam, as well as an Applied Organizational Practicum. You’ll need a prerequisite in statistics and research methods for the majority of the course offerings. All study is 100% online and is offered in 8-week course schedules. This graduate psychology program emphasizes theory and application.
The LU graduate application is required for admission, along with a Transcript Request Form (if applicable). The admission process can begin with unofficial transcripts. You may also be asked to provide professional recommendations, a Statement of Purpose, and other documents. There is no GRE requirement.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $565-$615/per credit hour
Fast Fact: Niche ranks Liberty University #5 in its Best Online Colleges in America ratings
7. Regent University
Regent University gives you a choice of six concentrations in this online, 39-credit hour MS in Psychology degree.
You can pick a specialty area in Addictions, Cyberpsychology, Organizational Psych, Marriage and Family, Leadership Coaching, or Doctoral Preparation. Regardless of your concentration, you’re expected to take core courses in Social Psychology, Life Span Psychology, Affect, Cognition, and Motivation, Statistics, Contemporary Psychology, Research Methods in Psychology, Biological Bases of Behavior, and Integrative Psychology. Classes in your concentration and electives are also part of your study.
You’ll complete an application and provide a copy of your government-issued ID (driver’s license, military ID, etc.), complete an admissions questionnaire, and a copy of your unofficial academic transcript. Other documents may be requested as needed. Regent University has a generous transfer policy.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $675/per credit hour
Fast Fact: Regent University sits at #50 in Niche’s Best Online College in America ranking
8. Southern New Hampshire University
This school has long been known for its online programs and their MS in Psychology is one of its catalog and provides three concentrations. You can choose from Child and Adolescent Development Psychology, Forensic Psychology, or Industrial Organizational Psych. Be aware that this psychology degree program will not lead to licensure.
You’ll complete foundation or core courses regardless of your concentration. Among those classes are Foundations of Psychology, Foundations in Statistics, and Foundations in Research Methods. As well, you’ll study 24-credit hours in Social Psychology, Measurement and Assessment, Ethical Practice in Psychology, Cognitive Processes, Theories of Personality, and Capstone in Psychology. If you prefer not to choose a concentration, you’ll be required to 12-credit hours in electives from classes in Global Terrorism, Critical Issues in the Criminal Justice System, Women in Leadership, Leadership and Ethics, Introduction to Organizational Conflict Management, Managing Difficult Conversations at Work, etc. Each concentration requires 12-credit hours as described in the academic catalog.
There are no GRE/GMAT test scores required for application and the admission requirements are straightforward and there’s no application fee. Admission requires academic transcripts releases from previous schools attended and a Graduate Attestation Form which will ask for your GPA and degree conferral date.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $627/per credit hour
Fast Fact: Southern New Hampshire University is rated #1 in U.S. News and World Report’s Most Innovative Schools and #71 in its Best Value Schools rankings
9. Divine Mercy University
This Virginia school was established in 1999 by psychologists and educators who wanted to combine the study of psychology with Catholic-Christian teachings of “…the human person” and values and morals. Divine Mercy University offers a fully, online MS in Psychology, requiring 33-credit hours for completion. This program won’t qualify you for licensure.
Specialty studies are available in Marriage and Family Studies, Leadership Psychology, or Pre-PhD concentrations. Core classes are required in Human Growth and Development Across the Lifespan, Cognition and Affect Across the Lifespan, Human Growth and Development Across the Lifespan, The Catholic-Christian Vision of Flourishing: Vocations & Virtues, Cognition and Affect Across the Lifespan, Social Psychology, Groups, and Diversity, and others. You’ll take an additional three courses for your particular concentration.
An application and you’ll be contacted by an Admissions Advisor who will work with you on completing the admission process. You’re required to have a baccalaureate degree with at least a 2.5 GPA, letters of recommendation, a written statement, and a resume to be admitted.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $796/per credit hour
Fast Fact: Divine Mercy University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCC)
10. Northcentral University
Here’s a MA in Psychology degree you can complete in 30 credit hours and choose from two concentrations in Gender and Sexual Fluidity or General Psych. It’s estimated that you can earn this degree in as few as 18 months.
Classes start every Monday at Northcentral University and the school has a robust catalog of classes related to your major/concentration. Among the classes offered are Statistics, Test and Measurements, Key Theories and Concepts in Sexuality and Gender Studies, Theories of Personality, Program Evaluation and Monitoring in Psychology, Psychology of Aging, etc. Organizational Development, Evidence-Based Treatments, Consultation and Interventions in Health Care Settings, anymore. Please note this program doesn’t lead to licensure.
To be considered for admission, you’ll begin with an application and submit academic transcripts. Once these are reviewed by an Enrollment Advisor who will determine your eligibility for admission and calculate transfer hours.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $856/per credit hour
Fast Fact: NCU was founded in 1996 and holds accreditation from WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
What are the Advantages of an Accelerated Psychology Master’s degree?
A Master of Arts or Master of Science in Psychology can put you on the road to many excellent careers in psychology, according to the American Psychological Association’s Career Guide. It also provides an excellent base if you’re plans include PhD or MD studies. While the APA doesn’t accredit bachelor’s or masters degrees in psychology, a regional accreditation is important in choosing a graduate program. Be aware that, with rare exceptions, not all programs lead to licensure.
Best Health Degrees has searched several school websites and chosen some of the fastest online psychology graduate degree programs. Although the information provided isn’t detailed information of programs to give you a general idea of the curriculum, admission requirements, cost, etc. Transfer and international students are accepted by the majority of these schools, but the descriptions in this ranking review the major requirements for U.S. citizens.
As the old saying goes, “…time is money…” and the sooner you complete your master’s education, the quicker you can begin to advance your career and the more money you may earn. Some things to consider when researching accelerated psychology programs:
Time Spent– Master’s degrees can average 2-3 years to completion. An accelerated, online program will allow you to spend less time earning your degree and more time securing a job or working in your chosen field. Online studies are more intensive and classes are shorter in length. Classes within online programs are usually offered in relatively short 5-8 weeks segments allowing you to earn your degree in less time and with less money.
Work-Life Balance– Accelerated bachelor online programs are frequently designed for the working adult who has more responsibilities and you’re better able to manage your time between family, work, and school.
Cost- A major benefit of online degrees is that most colleges and universities don’t charge their online degree students out-of-state tuition. This can make schools in another state than your residence more affordable for you. Always research how residency plays in when looking at online programs.
How Long Does a Master’s in Psychology Online Programs Usually Take?
Sources vary on the average length of time for a master’s in the psychology field can take from 1-3 years to 1-4 years. Accelerated master’s degree online programs are usually 1-2 years, depending on admission policies and graduate coursework curriculum.
You’ll find that some schools will award online degree students credit for employment experience, professional training, military service, and such which reduces the total number of hours required. Online programs frequently have generous transfer policies and will accept transfer credits from prior graduate work. Students with an undergraduate degree in psychology may be able to get some advanced standing.
How Much Can I Make with a Master’s in Psychology Degree?
Depending on where you live and where you may work, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports psychology careers can pay from $79,820-$96,270 annually, with a median salary of $82,180 a year. Online employment services that survey employers, follow fairly close to the BLS labor statistics. Salary.com reports median salaries at $80,260 and $104,321 with the median sitting at $92,247 yearly.
When considering compensation, be sure to factor in benefits, such as health insurance, 401-k retirement plan, paid time off for vacation or sickness, tuition assistance, or other compensation.
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