Psychology is one of those disciplines that lends itself well to online studies and makes earning an advanced degree easier while you continue to work. That makes an online psychology master’s a natural fit.
Having a Master of Arts or Master of Science in psychology can position you for a variety of excellent careers according to the American Psychological Association’s Career Guide. It also provides an excellent foundation for PhD or MD studies. While the APA doesn’t accredit bachelor’s or master’s degrees in psychology, regional accreditation is important in choosing a graduate program.
Best Health Degrees has reviewed several school websites and has identified online psychology degree programs. The information provided is a synopsis of school programs to give you a general sense of the program courses, 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. Be aware that, with rare exceptions, not all programs lead to licensure.
These online programs are all accredited and are eligible for federal student assistance. Be certain to apply for aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®. Graduate students may qualify for loans and some schools might require the FAFSA on file for departmental scholarships or stipends.
Our Method: Ranking the 15 Best Online Psychology Master’s Programs
To rank the 15 Best Online Psychology Master’s Programs, Best Degrees editors researched 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.
1. Golden Gate University
If you’re interested in an advanced MA in Industrial-Organizational Psychology degree, you may want to review the program at this San Francisco school.
Offered online, or as a hybrid program, the online psychology master’s degree requires 39-credit hours for completion. Among the courses required are studies in Tests and Measurements, Consulting Skills, Diversity in Organizations, Personal Leadership, Applied Psychological Research, as well as Executive Coaching, and more. You’ll be able to choose three classes from electives offered in Adaptive Decision Making, Learning and Development, Strategic Analysis and Design, Ethics in Managing People at Work, and others. You may even choose an Internship in Applied Psychology (with permission from the department chair.)
You’ll apply for admission along with a $65 fee. Acceptance requires you to hold a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited school and provide academic transcripts. If your UG GPA is under 2.50, you’ll be asked for a resume and a statement of purpose.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $1,090/per credit hour
Fast Fact: Washington Monthly ranked Golden Gate University #1 in its best School for Adult Learners for the fourth consecutive year
2. George Mason University
Completely online, you can earn your Master of Professional Studies in Applied Industrial and Organizational Psychology (Master of Executive Studies) from a university considered a “Best Colleges for Psychology in America” by Niche based on its analysis of reviews and data from the U.S. Department of Education.
This online psychology master’s program is ideal for a career in Human Resources and Organizational Development and is only 30- credit hours in length. You’ll take courses in Employee Selection, Foundations of Organizational Psychology, Introduction to Science & Practice of I/O Psychology, Applied Data Analysis in Psychology, Psychological Research Methods, as well as a Practicum in Applied Psychology. Electives include options in Applied Leadership and Teamwork, Organizational Change and Development, Benefits and Compensation, and others.
In order to be considered for admission, you need an undergraduate degree (with a 3.0 GPA) from an accredited school, submission of a resume, and three letters of recommendation. Academic transcripts are necessary but the GRE is not required.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $815/per credit hour
Fast Fact: The graduate psychology program at George Mason University ranks #9 in U.S. News and World Report’s Graduate School Rankings
3. University of Southern California
The USCOnline division of the University of Southern California awards an online Master of Science in Applied Psychology designed especially for working professionals. Another advantage is it’s possible to complete this graduate program in 16 months.
This curriculum is a combination of research, theory, and organizational practice. There are five required classes in Consumer Psychology, Organizational Psychology, Proseminar in Human Behavior: Foundations, Proseminar in Human Behavior: Applications, and Research Methods in Applied Psychology. You’ll also be able to choose from electives such as Psychology of Employee Selection and Assessment, Cross-cultural Psychology in Applied Settings, and more. Additionally, you’ll be required to participate in a practicum experience in your community with the approval of the program director. Note: for students interested, the program sponsors a summer internship in Dublin, Ireland.
Admission requires an application, an accredited bachelor’s degree, a personal statement, three recommendation letters, academic transcripts, and a resume. GRE test scores are waived for admission during 2021, but 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
4. Arizona State University
Arizona State University is well known for its consistently ranked online programs and this online Master of Science in Psychology.
This online psychology master’s program is theory and research-based and requires 36-credit hours for completion. Prominent coursework includes Fundamentals of Quantitive Research, Professional Issues in Psychology, Research Methods, Advanced Social Psychology, and a Capstone in General Psychology. These courses are designed to study particular themes in social motivation, group processes, basic statistics, ethical standards, and conduct a literature review and ask for “actionable research and policy recommendations through written exams.”
You’ll submit an application (and $70 fee) as the first step toward admission. Other requirements include a personal statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, and academic transcripts. It appears the GRE is recommended, but not required.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $4,887/per academic year
Fast Fact: ASU is rated #1 in U.S. News and World Report’s Most Innovative Schools as well as in the top 50 of Top Public Schools
5. Palo Alto University
If you’re looking for an online MS in Psychology degree that doesn’t require clinical studies, you may want to look at this one from Palo Alto University.
The online psychology master’s Generalist Track curriculum for this degree requires 37.5 hours (or 6 quarters) in a variety of topics. Some of the didactic courses you’ll take involve Child and Adolescent Behavior, Research Methods and Statistics, Psychopathology & Psychodiagnosis, Social & Personality Psychology, Ethics in Clinical Psychology, Biological Bases of Behavior: Biological Psychology, etc. Many of the online classes are taught by the same faculty as Palo Alto’s on-campus PhD program. This program will not qualify you for licensure, but will be a solid foundation for a doctoral degree program and/or enhance your career options.
You’ll need to verify that your home state is one in which Palo Alto University is recognized for its online programs. Once you determine eligibility, you’ll complete a The Centralized Application Service for Graduate Psychology (PSYCAS), You’ll also be asked for academic transcripts, resume/CV, statement of purpose, and three recommendation letters. You won’t need to provide GRE scores.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $872/per credit hour
Fast Fact: PAU was established in 1975 and is a private, non-profit university in the Silicone Valley area of California
6. LeTourneau University
This Christian university offers an online MS in General Psychology you can complete in 39-credit hours.
In a flexible online psychology master’s program, you’ll complete required studies in research methods, psychological testing, ethics, multicultural issues, personality theories, lifespan development, as well as learning and understanding the Christian vocation. Other classes include 12 hours of elective studies in Decision Analysis, Organizational Behavior and Design, Contemporary Psychology, Advanced Abnormal Psychology, and more. It doesn’t appear a thesis or capstone project is needed.
You can be considered for admission to this program, regardless of your state of residence, by completing an application. Among the admission requirements, in addition to the application, are a bachelor’s degree with a GPA of 2.75, any and all academic transcripts and you may be asked for your employment history. Finally, you must support the school’s Christian mission.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $625/ per credit hour
Fast Fact: U.S. News and World Report ranks LeTourneau University #15 in its Best Value Schools
7. Purdue University Global
Here’s a Master’s in Psychology offered online and requiring 60-75-credit hours. Purdue University Global is part of the renowned Purdue University and globally recognized for its online programs.
You have your choice from five concentrations in General Psychology, Addictions (accredited by the National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission NASAC), Applied Behavioral Analysis, Forensic Psychology, or Industrial/Organizational Psychology. You’ll also be able to choose between a thesis and a comprehensive exam option. The curriculum for this degree is dependent on your concentration and may have specific core courses which are discussed in the Purdue University Global catalog. You can review the classes for each concentration in the catalog or the online program brochure.
For admission, you’ll begin by completing a free, online application which will include proof of a conferred undergraduate degree, official academic transcripts, and other documents. A criminal background check may be required.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $420/per credit hour
Fast Fact: The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education rates Purdue University Global in its top 10 best public universities in the U.S.
8. Saybrook University
This MA in Psychology is excellent for non-clinical, working professionals and offers three specialty areas in The Consciousness, Spirituality, and Integrative Health; Creativity Studies; and Existential, Humanistic, and Transpersonal Psychology. The program is offered as a hybrid experience with a minimum of on-campus attendance at the university’s Pasadena, California location.
The 32-35-credit hour online psychology master’s degree has core coursework requirements in research, ethics, history of psychology, as well as a master’s thesis. Depending on your specialization, a sampling of courses offered may include Holistic Organizational Analysis, Advanced Personality Assessment, Innovative Leadership: Principles and Practice, Group Dynamics and Leadership, The Use of Poetry, Death, Loss, and Life Transition, Integrative Health Psychology, etc. A Capstone Project may be required as part of the program.
You’ll begin the admission process with an application and a $50 fee. Documents you’ll be asked to provide are academic transcripts, resume/CV, personal statement, and letters of recommendation.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $20,856/per academic year
Fast Fact: Saybrook University celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2021
9. University of Louisiana at Monroe
This school is part of the University of Louisiana system and has an online MS in Psychology that offers studies in General Psychology or Forensic Psychology.
Program requirements for this 36-credit hour MS in Psychology includes coursework in Research Methods, Neuropsychology, Quantitive Methods in Behavioral Sciences. The Forensic Psychology track will cover such topics as Psychopathology, Sociology of Law, Individual Tests, Counseling in Criminal Justice, Minorities, Crime, and Criminal Justice, as well as elective courses. You’ll be able to choose electives from topics in Advanced Adolescent Psychology, Behavior Modification, Psycho-Educational Diagnosis and Intervention, etc. You can also opt to complete a thesis, practicum, and independent research as electives. While the thesis isn’t required, it’s recommended if you plan to pursue a PhD degree.
Admission requirements involve submission of an application, a conferred bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, GRE or GMAT test scores, and have official academic transcripts sent directly to the UL-M Graduate Admissions Office. Additional documents might be requested.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $500/per credit hour
Fast Fact: Niche ranks the University of Louisiana at Monroe as #53 in its Best Online Colleges in America
10. Nova Southeastern University Florida
If you’re wanting a foundational degree in psychology, the NSU-Florida provides an online, general Master’s in Psychology degree which may fit the bill.
There are core courses needed for this 30-credit hour degree in classes in Behavioral Neuroscience, Cognitive Psychology, Social Psychology, Research Design, Psychological Quantitative Methods, and Individual Evaluation and Assessment. The General Psychology track also provides courses in Adult Psychopathology, History and Systems of Psychology, and Human Sexuality. A thesis completes the degree. The NSU-Florida College of Psychology also offers an Applied Health Science in psychology track.
Admission to the program calls for an application with a $50 fee, submission of official academic transcripts demonstrating an awarded baccalaureate degree, a 3.0 GPA, an undergraduate or graduate degree in psychology, behavioral science, social work or related field is preferred. You’ll also need to provide two academic or professional letters of recommendation and you may be asked to have an interview. No GRE test scores are needed.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $840/per credit hour
Fast Fact: Nova Southeastern University-Florida is considered one of the Best Colleges for Psychology in America by Niche
11. McNeese State University
Established in 1939, Louisiana’s McNeese State University awards a MA in Psychology and has three concentrations: General/Experimental Psychology, Applied Behavior Analysis, or Counseling Psychology. The only online psychology degree is the Applied Behavior Analysis concentration and is 100% distance learning. The degree is approved by the Behavior Analysis Certification Board.
This 58-credit hour program is broken into 18 core credit hours and 40 hours in the specialization. You’ll study Principles of Learning and Behavior, Single-Subject Methodology, Introduction to Applied Behavior Analysis, Applied Research Methods in Applied Behavior Analysis, Conceptual Foundations of Behavior Analysis, Human Growth and Development, Ethics for Behavior Analysts, Verbal Behavior, as well as an internship and thesis.
You need to have a conferred bachelor’s degree with a 2.5 GPA, submission of an application (with a $20 fee) and official academic transcripts are necessary for admission.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $5,703-$13,740/per academic year
Fast Fact: McNeese State University ranks #44 in U.S. News and World Report’s Top Public Schools category
12. Angelo State University
The MS in Applied Psychology at Angelo State University will train you in using psychology to address a wide range of issues and the best way to simplify serious concerns for the majority of people.
Offered 100% online, you can choose a thesis or non-thesis option for this 36-credit hour degree. A prerequisite course in Core Concepts in Psychological Science is part of required in your first semester of study. Examples of other coursework include studies in Research Methods, Applications of Psychopathology, Developmental Psychology, Neuroscience, Teaching of Psychology, Applications of Psychological Research, Forensic Psychology, Applications of Industrial/Organizational Psychology, and more. It’s possible, attending full-time, for you to complete this program in two years.
You don’t need to have an undergraduate psychology degree to apply for this program; however, a 3.0 or higher GPA is necessary. Application for the graduate school at ASU is done through ApplyTexs along with specific program admission requirements. Be prepared to submit all academic transcripts and a 500-word essay on why you’re applying to ASU and how this program will help meet your career objectives.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $232-$640/per credit hour
Fast Fact: ASU is ranked #47 of U.S. News and World Report’s Top Public Schools
13. Saint Leo University
Located in Florida, Saint Leo University awards an online Masters in Psychology. This is a general, psychology degree you can complete in 36-credit hours.
You’ll study topics in Diversity and Ethics, Lifespan Development, Physiological Psychology, Tests and Measures, Research Methods, Psychology of Teaching and Practice, History and Systems of Psychology, and others. A Capstone Thesis is part of the completely online curriculum. The capstone will be of a topic of your choice for which you’ll conduct research design and analysis, with a focus on ethical decision-making. Usually, students take one course each 8-week term and the program encourages students to join the American Psychological Association (APA). This will allow you to attend regional or topical conferences which will benefit you in education and networking.
You’ll complete the graduate admission application and provide information on your undergraduate degree via academic transcripts from all schools attended. You may also be able to earn credit for any professional training you may have received.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $670/per credit hour
Fast Fact: Saint Leo University holds a #4 in Best Value Schools ranking by U.S. News and World Report
14. Indiana Tech
This MS in Psychology from Indiana Tech is perfect for students looking to advance in their career or as a foundation for future enrollment in a doctoral program.
Exploring the theories and psychological principles, this is a 33-credit hour curriculum degree. As part of the didactic courses, you’ll complete studies in Multicultural Psychology, Advanced Counseling Theory, Psychopathology, Research Methods in Psychology, Legal and Ethical Issues in Psychology, Statistics for Behavioral Sciences, Advanced Biopsychology, and others. A Capstone Course: Master of Science in Psychology, used to measure what you learn in the program, and “…will consist of a comprehensive exam that will be composed of various components directly related to the program.”
You’ll need to create a graduate school application. Among the documents you’ll provide are transcripts, a conferred bachelor’s degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA, with two years of meaningful work experience being preferred. Other information may be requested as needed.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $515/per credit hour
Fast Fact: Indiana Tech was established in 1930 and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
15. Tiffin University
The online MS in Psychology from Tiffin University is taught by professors with real-life experience. This is a non-clinical degree and won’t qualify you for licensure.
This 37-credit hour program is based on theoretical and scientific studies and will prepare you to teach psychology in a community college or application in nearly any career. If a doctoral program is part of your long-range plans, this is a great foundation. Interdisciplinary in design, you’ll study statistics, the history of psychology, as well as psychological topics in developmental, cognitive, and social psychology. Additionally, the program covers the research design and analytical methods, and more. A Capstone Research project will complete the degree.
An application is required and the minimum admission specifications call for a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited school. If your undergraduate GPA was less than 3.0, you’ll be asked to submit a 300-word personal statement essay and a resume/CV. No GRE test scores are needed.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $550/per credit hour
Fast Fact: Tiffin University holds Higher Learning Commission (HLC) accreditation and was founded in 1888 in Tiffin, Ohio
What are the Benefits of Choosing an Online Master’s in Psychology?
Perhaps the best example of the benefits of online degree programs came during the COVID pandemic, when colleges and universities began to close campuses, but wanted to help students continue their education. Fortunately, most of those schools had already established online programs and were able to transition to total distance learning with relative ease.
Online programs offer a way for you to earn your psychology master’s while continuing to work, which benefits both you, your family, and your employer. Online studies tend to be more intensive and classes frequently are shorter in duration. With classes offered in relatively short 5-8 weeks segments, you can often earn your degree in less time and less money.
Frequently, colleges and universities will award credits for employment, training, volunteer work, military service, etc., thus reducing the number of hours you need to earn a degree. Beyond that, many schools charge in-state tuition for their online degrees, regardless of where you live in the US. This allows you to enroll in a particular program offered from a university outside of your state and still stay within your educational budget.
You should check with your employer to see if it’s possible to receive tuition assistance as you work and advance your degree, especially if the field of study will enhance your work abilities.
Will Employers Trust an Online Master’s in Psychology?
Distance education in America dates to the 19th century when correspondence education was a method for people living in rural areas to gain an education. It was a slow process, reliant on delivery of educational materials and tests via the Post Office or, in some cases, the Pony Express.
Fast forward to the 20th century and colleges and universities began experimenting with computer-based, online education. It took time for the U.S. Department of Education, colleges and universities, and accrediting organizations to catch up with the expanding educational possibilities. Until everyone was on the same page, it was typical for distance education diplomas to indicate the degree was earned over the internet.
Today, educational institutions offer online degrees that are accredited and approved for interstate educational agreements. Courses are taught by the same faculty, using the same curriculum, as on-campus studies; and, as a result, diplomas no longer indicate what method was used to earn the degree. Graduates are able to attend commencement ceremonies, even though they didn’t attend school in person.
What Jobs Can I Get with a Master’s in Psychology?
Because psychology is the study of human behavior, Master of Science or Master of Arts in Psychology employment opportunities are numerous. For our purposes, we’ll look at some of the careers as suggested by the American Psychological Association (APA) for those with a MA or MS in Psychology.
Depending on where you live, you may or not need licensure for your career objective (typically, only doctoral prepared students qualify for licensure). A master’s degree can qualify you to be employed as a psychological associate, working with a licensed clinical psychologist or psychiatrist. With a concentration is school psychology, a MA or MS degree may qualify you to work in secondary schools.
Employers frequently look for employees with advanced degrees to work in Industrial and Organizational environments. Some of the areas you may work in include nonprofit settings, Human Resources, training, organizational development, data analysis and research. Community colleges and universities frequently hire psychology masters graduates to teach as adjunct professors.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 60% of masters prepared students in psychology work in areas such as management occupations, community and social services, education/training/library, and/or healthcare.