Psychology Student Milestones, Principles and Resources
Earning an online bachelor’s degree in psychology can help students better understand the human mind, human interactions and behaviors. An online degree program can assist students in enriching the lives of others while formally preparing them to enter the workforce. Prospective students looking for more information on online bachelor’s in psychology programs can find answers here, with breakdowns of the best degree programs in the country, major educational milestones and potential career opportunities following graduation.
Best Online Psychology Bachelor's Degrees
Students searching for the best online bachelor’s programs in psychology don’t have to start their program research from scratch. This list ranks online programs that offer a bachelor’s degree in psychology by factors most important to students, like graduation rates, the student-to-teacher ratio and the cost of tuition. Find out which online psychology bachelor's programs rate the highest for 2017.
To be considered for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria:
- Accredited at the institutional level
- Private nonprofit or public school
- Minimum of 1 bachelor’s or master’s degree in subject area for 4-year schools
- Minimum of 1 associate degree or certificate program in subject area for 2-year schools
Schools were then scored on factors such as:
- Cost & Financial Aid
- Number and variety of program offerings
- Student-teacher ratios
- Graduation rates (4-year schools only)
- Placement and support services offered
- Academic/Career counseling services
- Employment services
- Loan default rates
These factors were assembled for each school and rated using a peer-based-value (PBV) calculation. PBV compares the cost of a program to the cost of other programs with the same (or similar) qualitative score and cost. PBV denotes the overall value or "bang for your buck" of a college or degree program.
AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
Top Online Programs
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Psychology Student Timeline: Online Bachelor’s Degree
From researching programs to filling out applications, going to class and walking at graduation, earning a bachelor’s degree is no small task. This timeline helps students get organized and successfully navigate through a bachelor’s level psychology degree program from start to finish. Check out some of the common milestones students should aim to meet as they earn their undergraduate psychology degree.
Although most universities do not require a separate formal application process into their online bachelor’s degree programs for psychology, prospective students should still prepare to fill out their general college and university applications efficiently. Here are some tips to keep the application process running smoothly.
Even after shaving done their research and chosen their top schools, the process of getting into the right online psychology program has just begun. Track each school's online application deadline date, and keep each application organized separately, as many schools have different requirements. Most ask for basic information such as the student's demographics and extracurricular activities they participated in during their high school career.
All official, sealed transcripts from completed high school or former higher education programs must be sent to prospective schools. Psychology students should be sure to include any national test scores such as the ACT and SAT and grades from advanced placement courses, especially those related to psychology. These components may be used to determine placement certain courses and may affect overall acceptance in competitive online programs.
Write and revise required student essays on academic and career objectives. This is a great opportunity for the student to include their interest within each individual online psychology program, or pinpoint a school's specializations. Most schools will provide a writing prompt and content requirements that must be included in your essay.
Open an account and complete a financial aid application at the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) website. Explore other financial aid opportunities available specifically for students seeking a bachelor's degree in psychology, or an online degree program. Observe and meet application deadlines and be sure to include the school code that is providing your future online psychology program, listed on the site.
Assemble a packet containing each formal application to the schools of choice. When applying to multiple psychology programs, it's easy to lose track of or confuse requirements and deadlines. Some admissions into online bachelor's programs are very competitive, and missing a deadline will likely result in rejection.
Prospective students will begin receiving offer letters from colleges and universities that have accepted their application up to two semesters prior to enrollment. Making a choice with multiple offers can be difficult, and psychology students should evaluate each school's online program standards, curriculum and post-graduation opportunities before accepting an offer and enrolling.
Year 1 and 2 Milestones
Depending on the school degree requirements and the amount of time a student can commit to completing their online degree, the average bachelor’s degree in psychology takes around four to five years to complete. Accelerated and self-paced courses are often a component offered through online psychology programs, and can provide the fastest tracks to entry-level psychology professions. After determining which path to pursue, take a look at the major milestones for the first half of a bachelor’s level psychology education pinpointed below.
Academic advisors are typically available in every department, but online students may need to make extra efforts to meet and work with their psychology advisor. Advisors can recommend courses, professors and help students map out and stick to a graduation plan. Often times meetings can be done remotely with online students.
Psychologists are required to convey their advice in a proactive and professional way, to both their clients and their peers. This required high-level communication skills. Bachelor's level psychology students are encouraged to enroll in basic communication courses in the first two years of study to improve this skill set.
All career paths in psychology require an understanding of writing and research. These skills can be used when psychologists are conducting their own experiments or interpreting data from other professionals in the field. First and second year students enroll in their school's basic professional writing and research classes.
Though much study during the first half of a bachelor's psychology program is restricted to core credits rather than electives, students will begin taking introductory courses in their field towards the end of their first and second years. These classes will give students a basic overview of the concepts, principles and history of psychology as a profession, and are often prerequisites for upper-division psychology courses.
Year 3 and 4 Milestones
In the final two years of a bachelor’s level psychology program, students will combine general psychology theories and research methodology in preparation for graduation. From conducting hands-on independent research and completing required clinical experience, third and fourth year psychology students will learn to demonstrate professional, ethical aptitude and choose a specialization.
By this point, students enrolled in a bachelor's level online psychology program have applied their lower division theory, research and experience to more advanced courses. It's time to consider which psychology-specific courses interest them the most and choose an area of the field to focus and specialize in.
Professional psychologists are expected to conduct inquiries to advance scholarship in the field. This is a great opportunity for bachelor's level students to jump in and gain real-world experience. As higher level psychology students or professors conduct research, inquire about becoming a research assistant or apply for an internship with a professional research company or private clinical psychologist. This experience will come in handy as students begin work on their own research upcoming capstone coursework prior to graduation.
As graduation gets closer, bachelor’s level students will want to start considering building a professional profile. For online students who may not get much face time with professors, it is especially important to make personal connections elsewhere. Professional psychology associations often offer student memberships and provide networking opportunities that can eventually help grads get a foot in the door for their first job.
Nearing graduation time, bachelor's level psychology students will have to put their knowledge to the test, calling upon values of informed consent, confidentiality and ethical responsibility to piece together a creative, insightful capstone project. This may include a private research project, or a component of a larger piece of professional research done during internships or job shadow opportunities. A realistic capstone project is key to smoothly transitioning into the workforce after graduation.
From the day a student registers for their first semester courses until the last day of their online bachelor’s of psychology degree program, it’s vital to track the sequence of progress toward satisfying graduation requirements. These may vary by institution or degree specialization, and the prudent way to ensure completion is to work with an academic advisor or mentor in the undergraduate psychology department from the outset. Here are some benchmarks to watch for.
All schools establish their own standards for academic standing. Most bachelor's level psychology students are required to maintain a 3.0 grade point average or higher throughout their program to be eligible for graduation. Students who do not maintain at least a B grade in any major psychology coursework may be expected to repeat it for credit. Failure to complete the course in timely fashion may result in suspension.
In order to meet their GPA and degree requirements, psychology students are advised to replace all failed or incomplete grades from their transcript. This can meet done by retaking courses and completing all necessary grade replacement forms.
Once psychology students have met the requirements set by their online bachelor's program, they should begin the graduation application process. Students should also meet with their academic advisor for completion confirmation.
After Graduation: What to do with a Bachelor’s in Psychology
A bachelor’s degree in psychology represents the minimum academic attainment required for entry into most clinical and research professions. Following completion of their online degree, bachelor’s graduates can choose to continue on to a master’s degree, enter the workplace, or do both at the same time. Many positions require graduates to obtain state licenses to practice in clinical settings, but these entry level jobs are worth considering after earning a bachelor’s in psychology.
Browse Bachelor's in Psychology Careers
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Skills Learned in an Online Bachelor’s Level Psychology Program
Bachelor's level psychology students learn to master the techniques of verbal and written communication, from using client-sensitive methodology and field-specific terminology in record reporting to more informal interpersonal communications. Psychologists must learn to juggle focused written communication styles across a wide spectrum of audiences for reports, statistical studies, publications and presentations.
Bachelor's level students learn to design research projects, gather data and accurately report their findings and conclusions. Students gain experience using qualitative and quantitative data employed in case studies, field experiments, surveys, cross-sectional studies and content analysis. Proper advanced research methodology is vital in conducting testing and experiments in psychology clinical settings and laboratories.
Through electives or specialty study, bachelor's level psychology students learn and practice skills used in a clinical setting. For example, aspiring school counselors will have completed instructional hours and clinical research including studies and student testing, assessment and intervention, while industrial and organizational specialized students would build skills in organizational training, workplace assessment, change management, cultural dynamics and the psychology of leadership.
To learn more about the field of psychology, resources like professional organizations can help give prospective students background on the field. They can also aid in research, provide opportunities for funding support, scholarships, awards and assist grads with their job search. Student memberships are discounted and can include participation in campus or state chapters. Here are some examples of the kinds of associations available to assist in research and career development: