What Should I Look for in a Bachelor’s Online Psychology Degree?

What Should I Look for in a Bachelor’s Online Psychology Degree?

Psychology degree blog header - smiling woman at laptop
Psychology degree blog header - smiling woman at laptop

Earning an online psychology degree is a convenient and flexible way to pursue or continue your education in a rapidly growing field with extensive career options and generous salaries. With this online degree, you can pursue many careers in psychology, counseling, education, business, and other areas where the knowledge you gain is applicable. 

A bachelor’s degree of psychology online also prepares you for admission into graduate programs if you wish to pursue your education even further and expand your career options to a grander scale. Additionally, earning an online psychology degree often eliminates geographic barriers for many students and is a perfect degree option for working adults with busy lives and multiple life responsibilities.

Man concentrating on laptop

Why Is an Online Bachelor's Degree in Psychology a Worthwhile Option?

Some students opt to enroll in an online psychology degree program because of the lack of proximity to on-campus programs. Others work full-time and do not have the capacity to commit to a more time-intensive traditional program. Additionally, some prefer the more individualized instructional nature of online learning.

By considering online psychology degree programs you can also have greater flexibility in the timing of classes, the duration of the program and specific degree track you wish to pursue. For example, you may wish to attend a faith-based school but have no nearby higher education options that offer such an educational experience. You may also wish to study child psychology but have a scheduling conflict with the in-person program offering that track. But by extensively researching online psychology degree programs you will find an option that best fits your unique needs. 

So, as you begin your research in finding the program that best suits you, consider the following questions when trying to determine whether an online program is a worthwhile option for you:

  • Do you need to work full- or part-time as a student? 
  • Will attending in-person courses be difficult with your work and/or family schedule?
  • Do you like the idea of taking a more independent approach to your education and learning?
  • Do you have family obligations that may require you to be at home? 
  • Would it be more convenient to watch lectures and/or join discussions from the comfort of your own residence?
  • Do you live in an area with few in-person programs?
  • Do your in-person options offer courses that align with your career goals?
  • How much commuting time would you save by taking online courses? And how would you best spend that time to help you reach your career goals?

Student studying in library with headphones on

What Does an Online Psychology Degree Program Entail?

To begin with, programs differ from school to school and each is unique in multiple ways. But as a standard, you’ll most likely need to earn 45 core credits in psychology to graduate from an online psychology degree program. Since students can transfer credit from a two- or four-year institution, the length of the program can vary. Usually, it takes two to four years to complete (some students complete programs in as few as 15 months).

You’ll participate in lectures, discussions, workshops, and submit assignments all online. But not all classes are conducted in the same way. In one course you may watch pre-recorded lectures that can be viewed at your convenience and conduct weekly discussions through a message board. In another course, you may log in at specific times for live interactions with students and professors.

Modern technology allows online psychology degree programs to be immersive, engaging, and rewarding. You can connect with fellow peers through a variety of digital platforms. For example, you can schedule one-on-one appointments with faculty through Zoom or phone. Most programs also allow you to collaborate with fellow students through Google Hangouts or Skype. Ultimately, you can still feel connected to a program despite not attending in person.

Adult student taking notes from a laptop

What Factors Should I Consider When Exploring Online Psychology Degree Programs?

Educational Opportunities

It’s important to consider the type of education you’ll receive in the online psychology degree program that you ultimately choose. Below are a few questions to ask yourself when exploring programs:

  • Do the courses explore a wide range of psychological theories, practices, and insights?
  • Are courses offered in the areas in which you want to specialize (clinical counseling, addictive behavioral therapies, etc.)?
  • Does the program teach the standards of the American Psychological Association (APA) and review the psychological conditions in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)?
  • How does the program instruct psychology in the context of diverse cultures and settings?
  • Are theories and practices viewed through a holistic perspective that takes into account the physical, mental, social, and spiritual aspects of the human person?
  • Does the program place an emphasis on ethics, morals, and principles?
  • Can you take business-related electives or courses in other disciplines to complement your core psychology curriculum?
  • Are there specific tracks or minors you can take? 
  • Is there a capstone project that relates to your career goals? 
  • Does the faculty have more experience in the research or clinical side of psychology?
  • Are they currently practicing as psychologists or therapists? 

You can find answers to these questions by looking at course and faculty information on the school’s website. You can also reach out to an admissions counselor or department administrator.

Lastly, make sure to find out how the program helps students prepare for life after graduation. Look for schools that provide online career services and access to career counselors. And ensure the faculty is readily available to help students who want to pursue graduate school.

Program Format

It’s important to get a sense of what your experience will look like to ensure it aligns with your personal responsibilities. For example, how many nights a week will you need to log in for classes and when and how does that fit in with your life? What is the average time spent on homework each week (you can ask a counselor for this information)? How many classes do students take on average per semester or session?

If you work nights or take care of kids during certain times, make sure you’re available to attend classes as scheduled. Some programs may be more flexible, allowing you to watch a lecture whenever you want. Others may require you to be in a discussion at a specific time. While online psychology degree programs offer flexibility, it’s important to consider whether you have the capacity to attend classes when it is necessary.

Also, be sure to consider the curriculum formats as well. For instance, one program may have you take one or two courses in a six-week sprint. Another may have you take three or four classes over the course of a normal academic semester. These are important considerations especially for those with structured life responsibilities. 

Additionally, one program may allow you to take classes year-round to finish more quickly. Another may only offer courses in the fall and spring. Students in the online psychology degree program at Central Christian College of Kansas, for example, take one new course every six weeks. This allows students to focus on one area of psychology at a time while moving through the program quickly.

You also need to consider when programs begin. You may want to consider programs with multiple start dates throughout the year as opposed to only one or two. This can enable you to start — and earn — your online psychology degree as soon as possible.

Lastly, since many working adults enter online psychology degree programs, schools are usually willing to work with a student’s schedule. That’s why it’s worth reaching out and speaking with a counselor to inform them of your unique circumstances. In other words, one program may be more willing to accommodate you than another.

Woman in a virtual laptop meeting

Student Experience

Some students simply want to work through an online program as quickly as possible. Others want to form deep bonds with faculty and fellow students. Regardless, it’s important to find out what the experience of an online psychology degree program is like before enrolling. 

Additional questions to ask include: How available are faculty for online conversations and calls? Are students encouraged to connect out of class through certain communication platforms? Do students feel connected and known in their cohort?

You might be able to find answers to questions like these by looking online. However, the best way to find out is to ask an admissions counselor if you can speak with current or former students. You can even ask to speak to students with a similar background (a parent, a full-time worker, etc.). This can give you a sense of what the experience is like for students similar to you. 

Confident smiling psychology student

Is an Online Psychology Degree Program Worth It?

An online psychology degree program can prepare you for many careers in psychology, education, business, marketing, and sales. It’s a very popular major among students. In fact, it’s more popular than disciplines like mathematics, physics, biology, and many other areas of study.

The job market is also strong for those in the psychology field. For example, the projected growth rate from 2018 through 2028 for psychologists is much higher than the average, at 14 percent. And the annual median salary for psychologists is strong as well ($80,370 per year). However, becoming a psychologist requires additional graduate education and credentialing.  Enrolling in an online psychology degree program is a great first step toward this career path. 

But an online psychology degree program can also lead to many careers beyond that of a psychologist. There are a great number of careers you can pursue with good salaries and strong job outlooks.

Smiling Psychology Students in Office

Will an Online Psychology Degree Program Actually Prepare Me for Careers Related to Psychology?

It’s important to define your goals and determine exactly what it is you want to pursue in the field related to psychology. Do you want to apply your degree to the marketing, sales, or human resources industries? Do you want to be an academic researcher and acquire a doctorate in psychology? Do you want to counsel patients in a practice setting?

Depending on your goals, you may need to pursue graduate study after earning your degree. Still, an online psychology degree program can prepare you for the above careers and many other meaningful job opportunities. Ultimately, like a bachelor’s degree in general, it’s extremely valuable and necessary for many career options. 

Will I Gain a Quality Education in an Online Psychology Degree Program?

There can be a tendency for people to think that they won’t gain a quality education from an online program. While not all programs are created equal, online programs still offer an extremely valuable education that mirrors an on-the-ground experience as long as you do your research and pick the right program and school.

It’s true that online psychology degree programs usually require a bit more independence and self-learning. Yet, modern technology emulates many of the benefits of in-person programs. You can still participate in discussions, view insightful lectures, meet one-on-one with professors, and form strong relationships with peers.

This all applies to psychology as a health-related discipline as well. In fact, many professional psychologists today meet with and serve patients virtually. In other words, modern technology can certainly allow for a quality experience — even in a health-related discipline like psychology.

Smiling student with file folder

What Can I Do Next If I Want to Enroll in an Online Psychology Degree Program?

Are you ready to start an online psychology degree program and prepare yourself 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 a degree in psychology online is right for you.

 

About Central Christian Online

With a remarkable history that dates back to 1884, Central Christian College of Kansas offers Christ-centered education for the whole person – heart, mind, body and soul. Through our global online learning environment, Central Christian College of Kansas is dedicated to providing a Christ-centered education that equips and encourages you to serve with distinction. Now, students from around the country can benefit from our faith-filled education 100% online.