The Best Online Ph.D. Programs in Psychology

If you are planning to get a degree in psychology, you may want to consider online programs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the majority of psychologists have a doctoral degree. While it’s possible to practice psychology without a Ph.D., salaries and career opportunities are limited.

Remote education comes with many benefits that include flexibility and a wide range of learning options. That’s why many people choose to get a Ph.D. in psychology online.

Let’s take a closer look at the educational requirements for psychologists and top online Ph.D. programs.

Educational Requirements

To become a psychologist, you can meet different educational requirements depending on the area of your studies and future career options.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D. in Psychology)

This doctoral degree is designed specifically for people who are planning to do psychology research. To get the degree, you would need to:

  • Pass an exam on research techniques and psychology theory
  • Write a dissertation on original psychology research (that can be found useful to the field)

If you decide to get this degree, expect the program to focus on statistics and research. It may be possible to practice clinical psychology with this degree as well.

Doctor of Psychology

If you want to work with patients and focus on clinical practice, you may want to consider getting a PsyD. The academic program includes practical work and exams. To get a degree, you would need to:

  • Complete a 1-year internship (if you plan to work in healthcare, education, or clinic)
  • Pass certification and licensing exam

Once you get the degree, you can start practicing clinical psychology.

Education Specialist Doctorate

If you are planning to work in public schools, you would need to get an educational specialist doctoral degree. This is an additional degree that you have to get to work with children. After you get a Ph.D. in psychology, education specialist is the next step.

The requirement for this degree stems from the fact that a regular psychology Ph.D. program doesn’t provide courses about child development, mental health, and other related subjects.

In some online universities, it’s possible to get an education psychology degree as part of a PsyD or Ph.D. program. In the end, you get an all-encompassing degree that allows you to get certified as a school psychologist.

Master’s Degree

If you don’t get a doctoral degree, you can still work as a psychologist in an industrial-organizational setting. This requires a master’s degree with courses in statistics, research methods, and industrial-organizational psychology.

If you settle on a doctoral degree, you can supervise master-degree psychologists when they work as psychology assistants.

Why You Should Consider a Ph.D. in Psychology

A Ph.D. in psychology is an important requirement that offers a variety of possibilities and career options. It also affects the salary that you can earn as a psychologist. Today, the median salary of a psychologist with a Ph.D. in the United States is $110,000.

When you get your degree and relevant licenses and certification, you can work in:

  • Universities
  • Colleges
  • Public schools
  • Medical schools
  • Independent practice
  • Hospitals and clinics
  • Business and non-profits

The benefits of getting a Ph.D. in psychology include:

  • Teaching at the college level – with this degree, you have an opportunity to teach in college. College professors have sizable salaries and get a chance to share their knowledge with the next generation.
  • High expertise – if you love psychology, getting a Ph.D. can help you dive deeper into the subject. You can learn new information about human mental health and behavior. This can help you become a true specialist in the niche you love.
  • Careers in research – if you like research, a Ph.D. in psychology can help advance your carrier in research. During your studies, you will learn how to conduct academic research and widen your area of expertise.
  • Career in public health – if you are interested in improving the state of public health in your area, a Ph.D. in technology can help you do this. The need for a psychology expert in the public health field is high. You can find a job you love while helping the people in your community.
  • High demand – the demand for qualified psychologists is always high. Even when the country’s economy is suffering, this career path strives. A Ph.D. in psychology can help you achieve financial stability.

If you earn a Ph.D. in psychology, you don’t necessarily need to find work in a public school system, in hospitals, or in clinics. You can start your own practice. With a Ph.D., you have sufficient credentials to become an entrepreneur.

Admission Requirements

While you are researching top online programs for Ph.D. in psychology, you can come across different admission requirements. The most common are:

  • Master’s degree – many universities require students to have a master’s degree. However, some schools may accept applicants with a bachelor’s degree complemented by sufficient work experience.
  • Writing sample – some programs may have specific requirements for the writing samples. Make sure to check what the school of your choice needs. The sample is usually 20 – 30 pages long.
  • Transcripts – you would need to provide all relevant transcripts from your undergraduate and graduate studies. The majority of universities require the minimum GPA to be 3.0.
  • Standardized test – you would need to pass your GRE exam. The median score for Ph.D. programs is 633.

Additionally, you can provide a personal statement of intent and any research papers you’ve done in the past.

To increase your chances of getting into the program you prefer, you can:

  • Take part in the research. Any clinical trials and data analysis you participate in can score you a lot of points with the school
  • Complete internships. If you’ve completed relevant internships and practicums in the past, a university is more likely to accept you.

You can also cultivate relationships with professionals in the field, subscribe to relevant magazines, and be active on forums and networks.

Many online programs are currently available for students who wish to get a Ph.D. in psychology. If one school doesn’t accept you, you still have many options.

How to Choose the Best Online Ph.D. Program in Psychology

To select the best program for your needs, you need to consider a variety of factors, including:

  • Budget – each program comes with its own price tag, and it’s rarely small. You need to identify your budget and look for suitable options. If you are pressed for funds, you can consider applying for scholarships.
  • Professional goals – a program you choose should coincide with your professional goals. Are you a fan of research? Do you want to work in a public school system? Or maybe you plan to open a private practice. Choose a program that gives you the most in terms of knowledge and experience in the chosen niche.
  • Reputation of the school – the reputation of the university you choose for an online Ph.D. program affects your ability to get a job after you finish. Meanwhile, you need to read reviews and speak to alumni to figure out whether the university’s professors and mentors can have a positive influence on your work.
  • The duration – how long does the program take? The duration of Ph.D. programs can vary. Find out if the available options suit your plans. Are you ready to put off your current work to get a Ph.D. or do you need an option that allows you to do both? Choose the university according to the available program format.
  • Requirements – different universities can have different Ph.D. program requirements. Some could ask for a higher GRE score while others pay more attention to your GPA. If your scores aren’t high enough for certain universities, you can still get into the program based on your written sample and experience.
  • Alumni – what kind of jobs are graduates of the program getting? To find this information, you can browse social media channels. Alumni usually sign up for their alma mater’s Facebook news.
  • Flexibility – when you join the program, you may decide to change the direction your research is taking. Find out if the school you want offers such flexibility.

Online Ph.D. programs in psychology are just as effective as offline studies. However, you need to be prepared for higher levels of concentration that accompany remote learning.

Before you choose an online program, ask yourself about motivation and dedication. Without them, getting an online Ph.D. degree can be extremely complicated.

Top Online Ph.D. Programs

Here are the best online Ph.D. programs in psychology that you can take advantage of:

Liberty University

Liberty University is based in Virginia. To enroll, you need:

  • Master’s degree from an accredited program
  • GPA – 3.0
  • Two references
  • Statement of purpose
  • College transcripts

The program takes around 3 -4 years to complete. Remote students have the same opportunities as on-campus students to study industrial-organizational psychology, social psychology, and theology.

Regent University

Another Virginia-based college offers an opportunity to get a Ph.D. in counseling and psychological studies. The advanced degree keeps the focus on Christian leadership, research, and statistics. To enroll, you will need:

  • Master’s degree in the mental health field
  • 3.5 GPA
  • Year of professional experience
  • Online interview
  • Writing sample
  • Resume

The program has the accreditation of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Keiser University

Keiser University has a hybrid program for psychology students. If you want to get a PhD, you need to attend some offline and some online classes. Located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, this university offers such programs as Research Design and Qualitative Methods, Human Development, Behavioral Neuroscience, and many more.

To enroll in the Ph.D. program, you will need a high GRE score. However, the university may waive the score if your GPA is 3.0 or higher.

Meridian University

If you are after a PsyD, Meridian University is an excellent choice. To enroll in the program, you will need a bachelor’s or master’s degree

The program lasts four years (if completed online) or three years for advanced standing students. It’s designed for both clinical and research specialists.

After completing the program, students can meet the requirements of the state of California Psychologist license.

Michigan State University

If you are looking to get a Ph.D. in educational psychology, Michigan State University’s online program is one of the best. The five-year program offers hybrid learning (both online and offline).

This university is one of the best schools according to the U.S. News & World Report. Its online graduate programs are in the top 20.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Ph.D. necessary to practice psychology?

Generally, you need to get a Ph.D. or PsyD, or Education Specialist degree to practice psychology. However, in some states, you may be able to practice with a master’s degree. A Ph.D. in psychology gives you a variety of career opportunities with salaries higher than for candidates without a Ph.D.

Can I join an online Ph.D. program without a master’s degree?

In many cases, you don’t need a master’s degree to get into a Ph.D. program. Many schools readily accept students with bachelor’s degrees. However, you would also need to demonstrate inventorship or other relevant work experience. Read the requirements of your program carefully.

Is it possible to get a Ph.D. in psychology online?

Yes, you can choose from a wide variety of online programs. Many respectable universities provide students an opportunity to get a doctoral degree remotely. This widens your choice of schools and adds flexibility to your plans.

What is the difference between Ph.D. and PsyD in Psychology

A Ph.D. program prepares you for research. If you prefer doing relevant research and studying the available statistics and materials, a Ph.D. is the right choice for you. If you want to do clinical work, you have to get a PsyD.

Which career opportunities will I have with a Ph.D. in psychology?

Common positions you can seek with a Ph.D. in psychology include forensic psychologist, industrial-organizational psychologist, clinical psychologist, educational psychologist, and research psychologist.

The Takeaway

If you are thinking of getting a Ph.D. in psychology online, you can take advantage of the above options. Different programs have different requirements and offer numerous benefits for online Ph.D. candidates.

Before making the final decision, consider your budget, professional goals, reviews, and possible career opportunities.