Best Online Ph.D. in Psychology 2021

December 1, 2021 • 6 Min Read

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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. 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 8% between 2020-2030. Psychologists earn an annual median salary of $82,180, far exceeding the $41,950 annual wage for all workers.

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


Frequently Asked Questions About a Ph.D. in Psychology

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?

No. Ph.D. in psychology programs require at least a four-year commitment beyond the bachelor's degree.

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Best Online Ph.D. in Psychology 2021

Baylor University true View School Profile Waco, TX 75%

Baylor University was chartered in 1845 in Waco, Texas as a private Christian university. Students can pursue master’s and doctoral degrees in more than 115 major fields. The 78-hour Ph.D. psychology degree 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, they may substitute nine hours of elective courses. Applicants need a bachelor's degree and a minimum GRE total score of 300.

Boston University true View School Profile Boston, MA 84%

Boston University offers a doctoral degree in psychology. 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 can apply 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 true View School Profile Bronx, NY 81%

Fordham University was established as a Catholic, Jesuit institution in 1841. Only full-time students may enroll in Fordham’s graduate programs in psychology. The Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program (CPDP) is based on the Boulder Scientist-Practitioner training model. This model emphasizes theories and the 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 true View School Profile Jacksonville, AL 29%
Loma Linda University true View School Profile Loma Linda, CA

Loma Linda University is a Seventh-day Adventist educational institution focused on health sciences. Today’s university campus includes the school as well as the Loma Linda University Medical Center. The Ph.D. in clinical psychology degree takes six years to complete, including a required internship. Based on the scientist-practitioner model, the doctoral curriculum combines research and practice. The practicum provides supervised internships across various practice areas in multidisciplinary settings. Students can choose from optional concentration areas in clinical child psychology, health psychology, and neuropsychology.

Loyola University Chicago View School Profile Chicago, IL 70%

Since 1959, the Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Loyola University Chicago has been fully accredited by the American Psychological Association. The goal of the Ph.D. program is to provide students with a strong education in the practice and theory of clinical psychology, as well as in general psychology. The degree takes 4-5 years of studies with a minimum of 72-hours of coursework. Applicants must submit GRE scores. The school invites some applicants for an interview. Only 35 students are admitted to the program.

Michigan State University View School Profile East Lansing, MI 79%
Northern Arizona University View School Profile Flagstaff, AZ 49%
Nova Southeastern University View School Profile Fort Lauderdale, FL 42%
Oregon State University View School Profile Corvallis, OR 61%
Pacific University View School Profile Forest Grove, OR 63%
Pennsylvania State University View School Profile University Park, PA 86%

What sets Pennsylvania State University’s psychology department apart from other universities are its veritable choices of doctoral degrees in psychology. Prospective students have the option of pursuing graduate studies in social, developmental, cognitive, industrial-organizational, and clinical (adult and child) psychology. Students should note that having an undergraduate psychology degree, without an MS degree, can still qualify them for a place in the Ph.D. program. Students without a master’s degree can choose to earn while enrolled in the Ph.D. program.

Southern California Seminary View School Profile El Cajon, CA
Temple University View School Profile Philadelphia, PA 66%

In 1888, Temple College was founded in Philadelphia. Today, Temple University serves more than 40,000 students. Of those, more than 100 graduate students are enrolled in graduate psychology programs. The clinical psychology program prepares doctoral students for careers in research, education, and scientific clinical professions. Some Ph.D. program applicants participate in campus admissions interviews each year. Applicants are encouraged to take the GRE Advanced Test. The Ph.D. program is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (PCSAS).

Texas A&M University - College Station View School Profile College Station, TX 80%

Students attending the psychology program at Texas A&M University may choose between six areas of concentration, including behavioral and cellular neuroscience, clinical psychology, and cognition and cognitive neuroscience. Other options include developmental psychology, industrial/organizational psychology, and social and personality psychology. Texas A&M combines the science and practice of psychology to help students learn, research, apply knowledge, solve problems, and promote healthy human development. The program maintains a low student-teacher ratio so students can receive personalized attention and develop professional and research skills.

The University of Tennessee View School Profile Knoxville, TN 66%

Since 1949, the clinical psychology program at the University of Tennessee Knoxville has been accredited by the Committee on Accreditation of the American Psychological Association. The program is based on the Tennessee Model, which regards practice and research as similar enterprises. The curriculum trains students to become clinical psychologists and contribute to their field as teachers, clinicians, and researchers. Students receive a balanced education in research, psychological assessment, psychotherapy, and teaching. They are provided internship opportunities in addition to innovative curriculum. Admission is based on a rigorous selection process.

Union Institute and University View School Profile Cincinnati, OH 27%
University at Buffalo View School Profile Buffalo, NY 71%

The department of psychology at the University at Buffalo offers several Ph.D. programs. Doctoral students may choose to enroll in the behavioral neuroscience program, the cognitive psychology program, the clinical psychology program or the social-personality program. The psychology doctoral program is research-based. Admitted applicants typically score within the 81st percentile on the GRE verbal and the 68th percentile on the GRE quantitative. Students do not need an undergraduate degree or graduate degree in psychology for acceptance into the program. Ph.D. students may pursue the teaching assistantship opportunities offered at the University at Buffalo.

Virginia Commonwealth University View School Profile Richmond, VA 56%

What Are the Goals of a Psychology Degree?

Learners seeking a psychology doctoral 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, animal, and forensic psychology. All psychology doctoral students complete foundational coursework, such as developmental psychology, psychopathology, and advanced statistics.

Why Get a Ph.D. in Psychology?

Many students pursue a psychology doctoral degree to prepare for a career as a clinician. Others plan to pursue other psychology careers, such as research roles within organizations or universities. See below for five benefits of earning a doctorate in psychology.

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 $82,180. The BLS projects jobs for psychologists to grow 8% between 2020-2030.
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 academic readiness for graduate school. Performance in coursework such as psychology, statistics, and research methodology help establish learners' aptitude level.

All psychology doctoral programs require applicants to hold a bachelor's in psychology. 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. Learners complete an internship or clinical component that state licensing authorities require for licensure as a psychologist.

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