What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in Psychology Program?

Those considering an online master’s in psychology program have the option of pursuing a master of science (M.S.) or a master of arts (M.A.). There are others available, but these are the most common. In either case, students who enroll in an online program should expect to receive the same educational quality and course variety they would find if they chose to take courses on campus. Graduate students who need to work full-time get the benefit of flexible class time through online learning and those who choose an accelerated program have the opportunity to obtain their degree much faster than is typical. Online master’s in psychology programs vary greatly between schools, so make sure to look over your options carefully to choose the program that best fits your needs.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Master’s in Psychology

Forensic Psychology Apply psychological principles to legal and criminal proceedings. This work can include criminal evaluations, witness screening or providing expert testimony in court. Forensic Psychologist for law enforcement agencies or the judicial system, Licensed Professional Counselor
Clinical Psychology Covers the general psychology concepts needed to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients who are suffering from emotional, mental or behavioral issues. Learning and Developmental Specialist, Corrections Officer
Social Psychology Focus on how individual behaviors are affected by group interactions. Researcher in an academic setting, Market Research Analyst
Child Development Study the cognitive and physical development standards for children. This will prepare them to identify and address possible developmental delays. Child Life Specialist, Early Childhood Education Consultant, Family and Consumer Science, Researcher
Industrial / Organizational Psychology Prepares students for workplace issues that relate to psychological behaviors. This can include issues with behavior and productivity resulting from work environment stressors. Data Scientist, Organizational Consultant, Talent Developer, Senior Analyst, Research Consultant
Experimental Psychology Examine the study of human and animal understanding of, and reaction to, their environment. Researcher, Instructor

Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Psychology

The field of psychology is broad and covers over 50 different specialties. Due to this, the curriculum for an online MA or MS in psychology program can vary greatly between schools. When choosing your program, make sure the course offerings line up with your professional goals and the requirements are feasible for your situation. Some online programs are blended and will require some on campus attendance that may alter course options from programs that are offered exclusively online.

The type of program in which you enroll, along with the specialty you choose, will determine the curriculum you can expect. However, there are several courses that are found in most programs, though their titles may vary, regardless of specialty or institution.

Theories of Psychology Foundational theories and principles that make up the basic tenets of psychology.
Culture and Psychology Exploring the impact culture has on psychological principles with a focus on cultural interactions and social behavior, keying in on the cultural impact on mental health and illness.
Research Theory and Design The study of relevant research methods and practices with an emphasis on the ethical and social responsibilities in regard to the potential impact of conducting research.
Lifespan Development An overview of human psychological development within each life cycle, covering developmental milestones as they relate to developmental theories and processes.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s Degree in Psychology?

Most online master’s in psychology programs require between 30 and 36 credits to complete, though some will go as high as 45 credits. The more credits needed for graduation, the longer the program will take to complete. It’s important to note that most online programs for a master’s in psychology are designed to be completed within two years, although there are accelerated options that can be done in as little as a year.

Aside from credit requirements, class structure can also impact the time for completion. Cohort model structures group students together with the intention of moving them through the curriculum at the same pace. This limits the speed at which a student can obtain their MA or MS in psychology degree. Asynchronous models provide individuals with the autonomy to self-pace their courses, giving them the chance to move through the program more quickly.

Certifications and Licenses an Online Master’s in Psychology Prepares For

Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) Obtaining an MS or MA in psychology degree with a concentration in clinical psychology lays the foundation for completing the requirements for licensure as a professional counselor. Testing and licensure is regulated through the state, so requirements may vary in different areas.
Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) To qualify for this license, you must graduate from a master’s in psychology program offered by a school accredited through the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs and have the required clinical experience determined by your state.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Psychology

Accreditation is an important factor to consider when choosing your online master’s in psychology program. Without accreditation from a reputable agency, your degree could limit your licensing and certification prospects, hinder your hiring potential and prevent you from advancing your education. At the very least, any online program you choose to pursue your master’s in psychology should hold at least one accreditation from a respected agency.

For industry-specific accreditation, the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council focuses solely on master’s programs and monitors the quality of education offered. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation is a well-known organization that aids in setting educational standards for a variety of degree types. There are also several regional accrediting agencies that limit themselves to schools in a specific area.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Psychology Graduates

Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s

Psychology is a growing field with a large range of employment opportunities. The projected numbers offered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show a job outlook of 14 percent, double the national average. Completing your online master’s degree program gives you an edge over your bachelor’s degree-holding competition when applying for a position. In many areas, such as clinical and social work, a master’s degree is required for the most lucrative opportunities. The education also prepares you for licensing and certification, which open the door to titles that require these credentials.

Expected Salary

An online master’s degree in psychology will also have a positive impact on your salary potential. Those who hold undergraduate degrees are mostly limited to entry-level positions. A master’s degree prepares graduates for more specialized fields with higher earning power.

Geography can impact your earning potential as a market research analyst. The chart below illustrates the top paying metropolitan areas for this occupation.

Career Opportunities

Depending on the specialty you choose for your sports medicine graduate degree, there are a number of career options available to you. With you master’s in sports medicine, you have the freedom to choose a career that meets or exceeds your expectation for job satisfaction through hours worked, your professional setting and getting to choose the clients you want to work with.

Market Research Analysts Market Research Analysts conduct research, gather data, and monitor and forecast market conditions to help companies understand which product or services are in demand and how much people are willing to pay for them. $63,230 per year 23%
Human Resources Managers HR Managers are the link between a company’s leadership and management team and the employees. They oversee the personnel that recruit, interview, and hire new staff, maintaining a safe environment for employees, training and development, compliance with labor laws, and much more. $110,120 per year 9%

Professional Organizations

As part of the healthcare industry, psychologists benefit greatly from the professional organizations available to them. They offer the latest innovations and research in the field and give you the opportunity to network with your peers. Many also offer continuing education opportunities that satisfy the requirements of several state licensing boards. Here are a few organizations that can benefit those who hold a master’s degree in psychology.

American Psychological Association: This is one of the most prominent organizations in the United States for psychologist professionals. Offering psychology-related news, continuing education courses and job opportunities, the APA is an excellent resource for anyone working in the industry.

National Alliance of Professional Psychology Providers: Joining this organization gives you access to free continuing education opportunities, practice tools and discounts on malpractice insurance and electronic health records.

American Board of Professional Psychology: This group contributes to the licensing and certification standards that govern psychologist hopefuls. If you’d like certification in your chosen specialty, the ABPP will make the determination.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Psychology

Regardless of the savings you net by choosing an online master’s in psychology program over a traditional facility, there’s still a possibility you’ll need help paying your tuition. Your first step, to gain access to government-funded grants and loans, is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). In addition to this resource, there are several industry-based scholarships and fellowships available to help you with the cost of your graduate degree.



Scholarships Details
Master’s Degree Scholarship in Psychology and Counseling Award: $500

Deadline: April 1

Eligibility: Students pursuing a graduate degree in psychology or counseling.

APF Graduate Student Scholarships Award: $2,000-$5,000

Deadline: June 30

Eligibility: Graduate students enrolled in an interim master’s program or doctoral program are eligible to apply.

Interested in a degree instead?

Learn more about online degrees, their start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.