Best Online Ph.D. in Psychology 2021

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The psychology field offers a breadth of specialties and applications. Some professionals with a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) in psychology work as researchers, while others work as practitioners in a clinical setting. The American Psychological Association (APA) recognizes various psychology subfields, including clinical, education, developmental, and industrial/organizational psychology.

An online psychology degree allows learners to pursue their doctorate flexibly and affordably. Students typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field to enter a Ph.D. in psychology program. While some doctoral programs require a master’s, many offer a curriculum that includes a master’s degree.

When it comes to job outlook, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for psychologists to grow 3% between 2019-2029. Psychologists earn an annual median salary of $80,370, according to the BLS, far exceeding the $39,810 annual wage for all workers.

This guide ranks Ph.D. in psychology programs and provides information on coursework, professional organizations, and scholarship opportunities.

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  • How many years does it take to get a Ph.D. in psychology?

    Students usually take 4-7 years to earn a Ph.D. in psychology. This includes an internship that provides hands-on experience.

  • Does getting a Ph.D. in psychology make you a psychologist?

    Earning a Ph.D. in psychology gives students the education and training needed for practice. Graduates must also pass a state or national exam and meet other states’ licensure requirements to practice as a psychologist.

  • Can you skip a master's degree and earn a Ph.D. in psychology?

    You do not need a master’s degree to pursue a Ph.D. in psychology. Many programs include a master’s degree curriculum that determines enrollees’ readiness for doctoral studies.

  • Can you get a Ph.D. in two years?

    Ph.D. in psychology programs require at least a four-year commitment beyond the bachelor’s degree.

Best Online Ph.D. in Psychology 2021

  • Baylor University

    Waco, TX

    Baylor University was chartered in 1845 in Waco, Texas as a private Christian university. Today’s 2,611 graduate/professional students pursue master’s and doctoral degrees in more than 115 major fields. The 78-hour PhD psychology degree program requires completion of 37 core courses, and specialty concentrations in behavioral neuroscience, social psychology, and general experimental psychology. Students must declare and pursue a minor, or may substitute nine hours of elective courses. Program applicants are required to hold a bachelor degree and a minimum GRE total score of 300. Applications are due the second week of January.

  • Boston University

    Boston, MA

    The doctoral program for psychology offered at Boston University may be worth considering for any graduate student who wishes to further their education. Students from over 130 countries have travelled to study in one of the 250 fields offered at Boston University. The students at BU run more than 450 clubs and organizations, allowing for a rich educational community. Students who wish to expand their cultural understanding may be interested in applying for one of BU’s numerous study abroad programs, which are spread throughout 26 different countries. On average, qualifying students are awarded almost $30,000 in financial aid.

  • Fordham University

    Bronx, NY

    Fordham University was established as a Catholic, Jesuit institution in 1841. Currently, it serves 6,431 graduate students. Fordham’s graduate programs in psychology are only open to full-time students. The Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program (CPDP) is based on the Boulder Scientist-Practitioner training model emphasizing theories and practice of assessment and diagnosis with a strong laboratory component. During the first two years, doctoral students must complete courses in cognitive assessment, personality assessment, psychopathology, and clinical diagnosis. Supervised practicum experiences are taken in the second, third and fourth years. Specializations include: Child and Family, Forensic, Neuropsychology, and Health.

  • Jacksonville State University

    Jacksonville, AL

  • Loma Linda University

    Loma Linda, CA

    Loma Linda University, a Seventh-day Adventist educational institution focused on health sciences, admitted its first nursing students in 1905 in California. Today’s university campus includes the school as well as the Loma Linda University Medical Center. The PhD in Clinical Psychology degree program takes six years to complete, including a required internship. Based on the scientist-practitioner model, the doctoral curriculum combines research and practice. The practicum is designed to provide supervised internships across a range of practice areas in multidisciplinary settings. Students can choose from optional concentration areas in clinical child psychology, health psychology, and neuropsychology.

  • Loyola University Chicago

    Chicago, IL

    Since 1959, the PhD in clinical psychology from the Loyola University Chicago has been fully accredited by the American Psychological Association—the leading professional organization in the United States that represents the field of psychology. The goal of the PhD program is to provide its student with a strong education in the practice and theory of clinical psychology as well as in general psychology. The course takes four to five years of studies with a minimum of 72-hours of coursework. GRE test scores are required with application. Applicants are narrowed down and invited to interview, and only 35 students are admitted to the program.

  • Michigan State University

    East Lansing, MI

  • Northern Arizona University

    Flagstaff, AZ

  • Nova Southeastern University

    Fort Lauderdale, FL

  • Oregon State University

    Corvallis, OR

What Are the Goals of a Psychology Degree?

Learners seeking a doctoral psychology degree can pursue a Ph.D. in psychology or a doctor of psychology (Psy.D.). The Ph.D. focuses heavily on research while the Psy.D. prepares learners to apply research in a clinical setting.

Psychology offers various specialization areas, including human factors, forensic, and animal psychology. All psychology doctoral students complete foundational coursework such as developmental psychology, psychopathology, and advanced statistics.

Why Get a Psychology Degree?

Many students pursue a psychology degree to prepare for a career as a clinician. Some plan to pursue research roles within organizations or universities. See below for five benefits of earning a psychology degree.

Many Specializations
Learners can choose one of many APA-recognized specialties and subspecialties, including newer categories such as sleep psychology, rehabilitation psychology, and clinical psychopharmacology.
Good Pay and Job Prospects
Psychologists earn an annual median salary of $80,370. The BLS projects jobs for psychologists to grow 3% between 2019-2029.
Transferable Skills
Psychologists possess fine-tuned research and analytical skills they can apply in non-academic fields such as consulting, product development, and market research.
Teaching the Next Generation
A Ph.D. in psychology equips professionals to work in higher education. Some may choose to engage in clinical practice and also teach students.
A Helping Profession
Those who plan to work as clinicians play an integral role in helping others overcome emotional and mental challenges.

What Are the Requirements for a Psychology Degree?

While specific requirements vary by program, many share common expectations. For example, graduate schools typically require a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA and GRE scores. Prospective students must also demonstrate an academic readiness for graduate school. Performance in coursework such as psychology, statistics, and research methodology help establish learners’ aptitude level.

All Ph.D. in psychology programs require applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree. Some Ph.D. programs include a master’s-level curriculum. The master’s coursework counts toward the Ph.D. but could also serve as a terminal degree depending on the student’s performance. Enrollees complete an internship/clinical component that state licensing authorities require for licensure as a psychologist.

How Does College Accreditation Work?

Professional Organizations for Psychology Students

Professional organizations provide students pursuing a Ph.D. in psychology with a wealth of resources, including access to research and publications, networking activities, and funding opportunities. See below for three professional organizations for students and practitioners in psychology.

  • American Psychological Association APA serves 122,000 members that include clinicians, researchers, and students. Doctoral students can join at a reduced cost. Member benefits include access to a graduate student network, career support, and discounts on books, journals, and databases.
  • Association for Psychological Science APS works to advance scientific psychology across various disciplines. The association publishes some of the field's leading journals and offers member benefits such as access to the latest research, mentorship, awards and grant opportunities, and discounted subscriptions. APS offers graduate student affiliate membership for those pursuing a master's or doctorate.
  • PSI CHI An international psychology honor society, PSI CHI requires a one-time fee for lifetime membership. Membership confers international recognition for academic performance. Benefits include access to awards and scholarships, a career center, mentorship, and networking opportunities.

Scholarships for Psychology Students

Scholarships, grants, and fellowships help students fund their education and do not require repayment. Common eligibility criteria include financial need and academic performance. Fellowships typically provide financial aid for those pursuing research. See below for scholarships, grants, and a fellowship for psychology students.

  • APA Scholarships

    Who Can Apply: APA offers various scholarships, grants, and awards. These opportunities include a graduate student ethics writing competition, psychological research grant, and student diversity initiative award. Applicants need APA membership and must meet specific eligibility requirements.

    Amount: $1,000+

    See Scholarship

  • NAVY Medicine Health Professions Scholarship Program

    Who Can Apply: The U.S. Navy will pay the tuition and fees for recipients pursuing a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. Graduates join the Navy as commissioned officers, serving a year for each year of scholarship. Eligibility requirements include U.S. citizenship, physical fitness, and enrollment in an accredited program.

    Amount: Tuition, monthly stipend, and reimbursement for supplies

    See Scholarship

  • International Dissertation Research Fellowship

    Who Can Apply: Ph.D. students receive 6-12 months of support to conduct dissertation research in the humanities. Students must engage in dissertation research about indigenous populations such as Native Americans or Alaska Natives. Eligibility requirements include enrollment at a U.S. institution and a thorough research proposal that outlines research design and evidence of training.

    Amount: Up to $23,000

    See Scholarship

Popular Resources

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