Online Masters Degree in Psychology
Psychologists are social scientists who examine human behavior and mental processes. They attempt to understand the reasons why people act and think as they do by observing and interpreting the ways that people interact with others and respond to their environment.
All psychologists must complete extensive higher education, which means they have to earn graduate-level degrees. A masters degree in psychology will enhance your understanding of the key lines of inquiry in this field and broaden your job prospects. Although the majority of psychologists earn a doctoral degree, some psychology jobs require just a masters degree. You can earn masters degrees through traditional brick-and-mortar programs, online programs and hybrid programs, which offer a mix of on-campus and online instruction.
What to look for in your online psychology masters program
All online psychology masters degree programs were not created equally. As you look for a program, consider the following:
Some psychology schools offer a variety of degrees at the masters level, but many schools only offer masters degrees in specific concentrations, like forensic psychology or educational psychology. You need to carefully investigate the focus of the programs to which you are applying so that you get to study the area of psychology that most interests you.
Terminal vs. Non-terminal degrees
A terminal degree is the highest degree available in your field. That is, terminal degrees are designed to prepare you for professional practice in your area of specialization, as opposed to continuing in a doctoral program. In a non-terminal degree program, you will be expected to continue your graduate education after earning your masters degree in psychology.
Terminal masters degree programs are the best option if you do not plan to earn a doctorate. They can qualify you to work in fields like mental health, industrial-organizational psychology and forensic psychology. But if you want to earn your doctorate in psychology, you should not enroll in such a program since many doctoral programs will not accept credits from terminal degrees.
What jobs will I qualify for with a masters degree in psychology?
As you consider earning an online masters degree in psychology, keep in mind that most psychologists have doctoral degrees. Therefore, although a masters degree in psychology opens up more job opportunities than a bachelors degree, in many cases you will still work under the supervision of doctorate-level psychologists.
However, you can work independently in some areas with a masters degree in psychology. For instance, you can work as a forensic psychologist, a school psychologist, or an industrial-organizational psychologist, since none of these jobs require a doctorate-level education. You can also work in closely related fields as a social services manager, child protective services worker, addiction counselor, or behavioral counselor.
Pros and cons of online psychology masters degrees
Pursuing an online psychology masters degree may be the only choice for busy professionals. Popular reasons for going to graduate school online include an unwillingness to halt your career for school and dedication to other priorities like family. Earning your masters degree in psychology online may be a good idea if you are too busy to fit the rigid class schedule of a brick-and-mortar school into your life.
However, there are some significant drawbacks to earning your masters degree in psychology through a completely online program. For one thing, as of 2012, there were no accredited online programs at this level of education. The American Psychological Association (APA) grants accreditation to outstanding psychology programs, so if you attend an APA-accredited school for your masters degree, you can be confident that your education will hold value to potential employers.
However, there are some hybrid programs that offer both online classes and in-person instruction. Some of these programs are accredited by the APA, and it is strongly suggested that you attend these programs in lieu of a totally online program if you want to work in psychology after graduation. On addition, APA accreditation is essential if you decide to transfer to a doctoral psychology program.
Online psychology masters degree programs
- California Southern University: Master of Science in Psychology
- The Chicago School: Master of Science in Forensic Psychology
- Penn LPS: Master of Applied Positive Psychology
- Colorado State University: Master of Applied Industrial/Organizational Psychology
- University of Northern Colorado: Master of Arts in Educational Psychology