Earning an online psychology degree is a valuable way to prepare yourself for many meaningful and rewarding careers. With a degree like this, you can pursue careers in counseling, education, research, business, and more.
An online psychology degree also gives you the foundation to pursue further education in a master’s or doctorate program in order to become a therapist or psychiatrist. These roles are in heavy demand. For example, the projected growth rate from 2018 through 2028 for psychologists is 14 percent.
But an online psychology degree can also prepare you for a number of other careers in education, business, marketing, and sales. This may explain why psychology is such a popular major. It’s more popular than the biological sciences, physics, computer science, mathematics, and other social sciences. Further, schools awarded over 117,000 bachelor's degrees in psychology during the 2014-15 academic year.
What Would an Online Psychology Degree Program Provide?
Earning an online psychology degree can provide you with the following:
- An overview of what constitutes normative and non-normative human behavior and conditions as well as their various treatments, theories, and responses
- An overview of how psychologists apply psychological principles to various patients with unique and diverse cultures and backgrounds
- Familiarity with various psychological theories and their application to human health and functioning
- Exposure to methods of creating psychology-based research experiments to expand knowledge in the field
- Familiarity with how descriptive and inferential statistics are used in studies to reach conclusions
- Methods of communicating findings and theories according to the American Psychological Association (APA) standards
A degree will also familiarize you with the five APA’s principles for conducting, presenting, and applying psychological research. These include:
- Beneficence and Nonmaleficence - A commitment to protecting all individuals involved and potentially affected
- Fidelity and Responsibility - Ethical and professional conduct
- Integrity - Truthfulness in methods of research and the representation of findings
- Justice - Providing fair and open access to psychological findings
- Respect for People’s Rights and Dignity - Protecting the privacy and rights of subjects and respecting their varied backgrounds and circumstances
Ultimately, the degree gives a general exposure to the discipline and equips individuals to pursue advanced study to become psychology researchers and/or practitioners.
How Can I Tell If I Would Enjoy an Online Psychology Degree Program?
There are many reasons why someone might want to earn an online psychology degree. A good indicator of whether you would like studying psychology is if you have certain interests, passions, or skills. If one or more of the below descriptions apply to you, then it’s definitely worth considering a program:
- You are interested in human behavior and various emotional, mental, and psychological conditions
- You have compassion for those struggling with mental and emotional conditions, addictions, relational challenges, traumatic experiences, or other similar difficulties
- You are a good listener and have strong interpersonal skills
- You have the ability to empathize and understand others and their problems
- You believe that emotional and mental health is a major concern for the country and you desire to contribute directly to addressing it
- You are excited by the prospect of studying and diagnosing patients
- You are interested in understanding what motivates and constitutes individuals according to social, environmental, and biological influences
- You want to understand others at a deeper level so you can better meet their complex and unique needs (be that in psychology, business, or another field)
What Types of Careers Can I Pursue with an Online Psychology Degree?
There are many careers you can pursue with an online psychology degree. Here is a list of some that the degree can prepare you for:
- Marriage and Family Therapist
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor
- School and Career Counselor
- Industrial-Organizational Psychologist
- Child Psychologist
- Forensic Psychologist
- Life Coach
- Social Worker
- University Teacher and/or Researcher
- Marketer and/or Advertising Professional
- Human Resources Manager
- Sales Manager and/or Consultant
Some individuals with an bachelor's in psychology online degree go on to earn doctorates and work in labs or at universities. They may conduct experiments, interview subjects, write scientific papers, and teach students.
Others go on to work directly with patients as therapists, psychiatrists, or counselors. They bring their knowledge of human behavior and psychology to the forefront daily to help patients live healthier lives.
Still others apply their psychological knowledge to careers in human resources, marketing, or business more generally. For instance, an understanding of how people behave can help marketers communicate with and persuade their audiences through advertising and sales. Their knowledge of human behavior can help them collaborate with colleagues, interact with customers, and facilitate healthy working environments.
What Is The Difference Between a Therapist, Psychiatrist, and Counselor?
There are a number of careers available to those with an online psychology degree. However, many earn the degree because they are interested in being a psychologist, therapist, or in a variety of fields, such as mental health or even career counseling.. They hope to apply their knowledge of psychology with patients in one-on-one, two-on-one, or group settings.
Individuals interested in these roles should have strong empathy and problem-solving skills and a strong desire to heal others. Still, these roles and terms do entail different approaches to helping and healing others.
Therapists, or psychotherapists, apply psychological theories and practices to help patients develop emotional or cognitive skills and reduce negative psychological symptoms. They must be certified and have a relevant graduate degree in order to practice. Since they work with many types of patients, there are several kinds of therapists, each with varied expertise.
For example, marriage and family therapists may help a couple establish a more communicative relationship. Child therapists may help a young person with a learning disability develop tools for succeeding in school. And substance abuse therapists might work with a recovering alcoholic to keep them free from addictive and destructive behaviors.
Psychiatrists also work closely with patients to help diminish negative psychological symptoms and find greater emotional and mental health. Since they are medical doctors, though, a doctorate is required along with proper certification.
Psychiatrists diagnose serious mental or emotional conditions/illnesses, prescribe appropriate medications, and monitor the effects of medications and therapies. They can administer psychotherapy and brain stimulation therapies in addition to prescribing medications. They can also admit patients to a hospital, refer them to other healthcare professionals, and address severe psychological issues that occur unexpectedly.
The term counselor is often used as a catch-all phrase for therapists, career counselors, life coaches, and even psychiatrists. In this sense, it’s true that therapists and psychiatrists are also counselors. They do indeed counsel patients to achieve greater health.
However, there is a difference between a mental health counselor and a career counselor, for example. The former, though with the term counselor in the title, is essentially a therapist. They would need to have a master’s degree and be certified to practice.
A career counselor, on the other hand, is not a mental health therapist. They focus on helping an individual identify, pursue, or change careers. They would not address serious emotional and mental issues the way a therapist/psychiatrist does. A psychology degree is a versatile field of study that prepares you to help in a variety of counseling professions.
What Are the Requirements to Enroll in an Online Psychology Degree Program?
A high school diploma or GED is required to enroll in an online psychology degree program. In the case of transferring into a program, additional credits from a two-year or four-year institution would be required.
How Can I Know If an Online Psychology Degree Program Is a Good Fit for Me?
It’s important to consider what aspects of a program are important to help you find a good fit. Below are some questions to ask yourself when researching online psychology degree programs:
- Can you afford the program?
- What kind of financial aid is available?
- Do you have the time to be in a program? What other life responsibilities (work, family, etc.) may you also need to account for?
- Does an online psychology degree program provide the best structure for you?
- What is the cultural fit of the school? Does it align with your values and background?
- What are the faculty, current students, and alumni like? Can you speak with them to learn more about the program?
- Do you need to continue working full-time or part-time while attending a program?
- Is the program flexible enough to meet your weekly responsibilities and commitments?
One online psychology degree program may offer a focus on child psychology, for example, which appeals to you. Another may offer a class schedule that fits your busy life better. And another may be a better cultural fit based on your values or beliefs (e.g. a faith-based worldview).
For example, Central Christian College of Kansas offers an online psychology program that provides a Christian-centered teaching model. It unites deep psychological knowledge with moral and religious principles in a form of Christian psychology.
A Christian psychology program like this holds that a holistic approach, one that takes into account mind, body, and soul, is the best way to help others flourish. This means that psychological practices and theories are viewed through the lens of a Christian understanding of the person. In other words, honoring the innate dignity of each person requires applying a holistic view of mental, emotional, and spiritual healing in order to acquire true flourishing.
Lastly, consider reaching out to an enrollment advisor to have a conversation about the program. This can help you to determine if a given program will fit your current needs and expectations.
What Is the Program Format of an Online Psychology Degree?
Earning a psychology degree online is a great option for students that need greater flexibility or cannot attend in person due to family, work, or geography. It’s the program format for students that can meet them where they are in life.
Forty-five core credits in psychology are required to graduate. The length of the program will depend on how many credits a student transfers from a previous two-year or four-year institution. Depending on whether a student is full-time or part-time. The program can take anywhere from two to four years to complete. For transferring students, some programs can be completed in as few as 15 months.
Class discussions, lectures, and the submission of assignments are done all online. In some cases, students will need to log in at specific times for a class discussion or lecture. However, there will also be instances where students can watch a recorded lecture at their own convenience. This allows for flexibility not commonly found at in-person programs.
Students can certainly still find camaraderie with fellow peers, mentorship from faculty, and a sense of community. Through technologies like Zoom, Google Hangouts, social media, and email, students can feel connected to their cohort with a little bit of effort.
An online psychology degree also usually looks different when it comes to course schedules. For example, Central Christian College of Kansas has an online psychology degree program that lets students take a single course over six weeks. Additionally, students are able to begin the program on several dates throughout the year.
Because of the flexibility of online psychology degrees, they are popular with students who have full-time jobs and significant family obligations. As a result, many online degree students tend to be non-traditional adult students (older than 23).
What Is the Job Outlook for Those with an Online Psychology Degree?
There are a number of careers available to those with the degree, making the job outlook strong. Below are some of the many careers available to those with an online psychology degree. Each career includes projected job growth rates from 2018 through 2028:
- Psychologist: 14 percent - much faster than average
- Marriage and Family Therapist: 22 percent - much faster than average
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor: 22 percent - much faster than average
- School and Career Counselor: 8 percent - faster than average
- Social Worker: 11 percent - much faster than average
- Postsecondary Teacher: 11 percent - much faster than average
- Market Research Analyst: 20 percent - much faster than average
- Sales Manager: 5 percent - as fast as average
- Human Resources Manager: 7 percent - faster than average
While the growth rate varies by career, there are many jobs available to those with an online psychology degree that have fantastic outlooks.
It’s important to clarify that some of the jobs above require graduate school degrees. For example, therapy-related careers require a master’s or doctorate degree. Further, some roles, such as sales and human resources managers, usually require work experience in addition to a bachelor’s degree. Still, a bachelor’s in psychology online prepares individuals for both graduate school or the start of a successful business-related career.
What Kind of Salary Can Someone with an Online Psychology Degree Expect?
The salary depends on the specific career. For example, the median pay for psychologists is $80,370 per year. Further education beyond the bachelor’s is required to become a psychologist, though.
Below are the median salaries of additional careers that an online psychology degree can lead to:
- Marriage and Family Therapist: $49,610 per year
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor: $46,240 per year
- School and Career Counselor: $57,040 per year
- Social Worker: $50,470 per year
- Postsecondary Teacher: $79,540 per year
- Market Research Analyst: $63,790 per year
- Sales Manager: $126,640 per year
- Human Resources Manager: $116,720 per year
While the list above is a good place to start, it’s certainly not comprehensive. There are many other careers available that offer great salaries for those with an online psychology degree.
What Can I Do Next If I Want to Pursue an Online Psychology Degree?
Are you ready to earn an online psychology degree and gain the skills for a number of meaningful careers? If so, be sure to check out the Central Christian College of Kansas online psychology degree program. Or schedule a call with a counselor to see if an online degree like in psychology is right for you.
- What are 10 interesting psychological facts about the human psyche?
- How will psychology make me a better marketer?
- What are 5 non-traditional jobs I can get with a psychology degree?
- What are christian ethics in psychology?
- What can I do with a bachelors in psychology? Infographic
- Should I major in psychology or social work?
- What I do with a bachelors in christian psychology?
- How can a bachelors in psychology help me become a pastoral counselor?
- Why earn a bachelors in psychology?
(n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/monitor/2017/11/trends-popular.
Benov, E. B. E., Benov, E., Benov, E., Sofia University, & St. Kliment Ohridski. (2013, December 26). APA's Five General Principles of Ethics: How Do They Matter to an Aspiring Scientist. Retrieved from https://blog.efpsa.org/2013/08/15/apas-five-general-principles-of-ethics/.
Human Resources Managers: Occupational Outlook Handbook. (2019, September 4). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/human-resources-managers.htm.
Market Research Analysts: Occupational Outlook Handbook. (2019, September 4). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/market-research-analysts.htm.
Marriage and Family Therapists: Occupational Outlook Handbook. (2019, September 4). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/marriage-and-family-therapists.htm.
Postsecondary Teachers: Occupational Outlook Handbook. (2019, September 13). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/postsecondary-teachers.htm.
Psychologists: Occupational Outlook Handbook. (2019, September 4). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm.
Rauch, J., Rauch, J., Campese, L., & Wiebe, J. (2020, January 22). What Is a Therapist [Psychotherapist]? - The Complete Definition. Retrieved from https://www.talkspace.com/blog/therapist-psychotherapist-complete-definition/.
Sales Managers: Occupational Outlook Handbook. (2019, September 4). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/sales-managers.htm
School and Career Counselors: Occupational Outlook Handbook. (2019, September 4). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/school-and-career-counselors.htm.
Social Workers: Occupational Outlook Handbook. (2019, September 4). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm.
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors: Occupational Outlook Handbook. (2019, September 4). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/substance-abuse-behavioral-disorder-and-mental-health-counselors.htm.
What's a psychiatrist? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.yourhealthinmind.org/psychiatry-explained/whats-a-psychiatrist.