The term “psychologist” typically describes a licensed psychologist with a doctoral degree.
Psychology fosters the understanding and treatment of various mental, emotional, and behavioral issues affecting individuals and relationships. Earning a master’s degree in this versatile discipline can support various career paths in public and private sectors. Graduates with a master’s degree in psychology apply psychological principles effectively in healthcare, criminal justice, human services, and education.
Some psychology master’s graduates choose to pursue doctoral degrees and careers as licensed psychologists. Psychologists earn a median annual salary of $80,370, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Jobs for psychologists are projected to grow as fast as average for all occupations between 2019 and 2029, based on BLS projections. However, the BLS projects jobs in high-demand fields such as school psychology to grow faster than average.
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Master’s programs usually require two years to complete. However, students can finish sooner by enrolling in accelerated programs or transferring credits. Most programs only consider applicants with 2.5-3.0 minimum GPAs and bachelor’s degrees from accredited schools. Read further for more information on online psychology master’s programs, requirements, careers, and resources.
|1||Arizona State University Online||Scottsdale, AZ|
|2||Saint Leo University||Saint Leo, FL|
|3||University of Louisiana at Monroe||Monroe, LA|
|4||Lynn University||Boca Raton, FL|
|5||Liberty University||Lynchburg, VA|
|6||Indiana Institute of Technology||Fort Wayne, IN|
|7||Southern New Hampshire University||Manchester, NH|
|8||Fort Hays State University||Hays, KS|
|9||Pepperdine University||Malibu, CA|
|10||Nova Southeastern University||Fort Lauderdale, FL|
The term “psychologist” typically describes a licensed psychologist with a doctoral degree.
An MS in psychology usually focuses more heavily on research and science, while an MA includes more liberal arts coursework. Students seeking research careers typically opt for an MS. However, both degree paths can prepare students for doctoral study in psychology.
A master’s degree in psychology typically takes full-time enrollees two years to complete. However, students with transferable graduate coursework or enrollment in accelerated master’s programs may finish sooner.
Earning a master’s degree in psychology online can help professionals qualify for higher salaries, promotions, career transitions, or doctoral programs. To obtain counseling or psychologist licensure, candidates typically need a master’s or doctoral degree that includes clinical hours. However, nonclinical online master’s in psychology programs often serve as precursors to clinical psychology or counseling master’s or doctoral programs.
Psychology programs cultivate strong skills in communication, research, analysis, and interpersonal dynamics. These core skills prove useful in various career paths, including teacher, consultant, marketing professional, and manager. Psychology graduates work in diverse contexts such as nonprofit organizations, mental health facilities, schools, and corporations.
Some master’s degree in psychology programs offer corresponding curriculum specializations in areas such as school psychology or industrial-organizational psychology. These specializations can make candidates more competitive for related doctoral programs or jobs.
To enter psychology master’s programs at regionally accredited institutions, applicants need a bachelor’s degree, a 3.0 minimum GPA from an accredited school, and psychology-related prerequisite courses. Required application materials usually include official transcripts, recommendation letters, personal statements, and sometimes curriculum vitae and GRE/GMAT scores.
Master’s degree in psychology online programs typically entail 30-36 credits. The curriculum usually includes several core courses in general psychology plus electives or concentration-related courses. Most programs include a capstone thesis or project that requires 3-6 credits.
Master’s in psychology program curricula vary considerably based on the school, program, and concentration focus. However, many programs feature core coursework in lifespan/human development, social psychology, and physiological psychology. Some programs offer concentrations such as industrial/organizational psychology, school psychology, and forensic psychology.
Nearly all master’s in psychology programs feature research methods courses and capstone projects. These components build advanced research, analysis, and writing skills. See below for descriptions of these and other courses often found in a psychology master’s degree online.
This core course surveys psychology’s history and major systems of thought, which include psychoanalysis, physiological psychology, cognitive psychology, and behaviorism. Enrollees learn about foundational studies that significantly influenced the course of psychological theory and practice. This course provides a general overview and introduction to the discipline, providing context for more specialized coursework.
Often surveying the human lifespan chronologically from birth to death, this course emphasizes child development and various influencing factors. Students learn human developmental theories, approaches, and practices for increasing wellbeing at multiple lifespan stages. The course usually examines assessment, intervention, research, and program evaluation related to lifespan development.
Required in most psychology master’s programs, social psychology provides an overview of the field’s theory and practice. Enrollees learn about social dynamics and factors that influence individual, group, and cultural psychology. Social psychology courses discuss psychological processes involved in culture, interpersonal relationships, and group and intergroup dynamics. This course explores phenomena such as power, aggression, stereotyping, and conformity. Enrollees also study behaviors such as empathy, cooperation, and kindness.
Virtually all master’s in psychology programs require one or more research methods courses. Many programs require a research methods prerequisite and a research course associated with the capstone project. These courses survey social research-related statistical principles and methods, statistical thinking and inference methods, and research design methods and tools. These topics include descriptive statistics, regression, correlation, and significance testing. Enrollees also may learn about covariance and multivariate analysis, multiple regression, two-sample comparisons, and nominal and ordinal data methods.
Most master’s in psychology programs require a capstone thesis, project, or examination. Capstone projects allow students to apply and showcase their master’s-level skills and knowledge of psychology. Often a two-part sequence, the capstone may begin by focusing on creating project proposals. Some capstone projects include an internship component or research at a real-world site. The master’s thesis may also involve onsite research. The accompanying capstone courses help students design their research, conduct their analyses, and write their theses.
Professional organizations assist with career advancement and usually support students and practitioners in their designated disciplines. Online master’s in psychology students can use these professional organizations to connect with current trends and opportunities. Professional organizations often provide networking opportunities, continuing education, new research, and discounted memberships and scholarships for students.
Many college students qualify for scholarships. Professional organizations, private donors, and schools often grant qualifying students scholarships based on financial need, academic merit, field of study, and identity. Some psychology master’s students qualify for scholarships like those described below.
Who Can Apply: The APF grants scholarships to graduate students currently studying general psychology at the master’s level, seeking funding for master’s thesis expenses, and planning to pursue doctoral study. Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited psychology program and receive nomination from a Council of Graduate Departments of Psychology-affiliated psychology department.
Who Can Apply: The Pride Foundation offers this scholarship to LGBTQ+ and ally community members residing in Washington state. Applicants must study mental health at the graduate level and demonstrate financial need. Other requirements include a history of leadership in LGBTQ+ or mental health communities or fields.
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