Best Online PsyD Programs
Explore the best online PsyD programs, including prerequisites, specializations areas, and in-person requirements. Also, learn about scholarship opportunities to help you afford your PsyD and find out how to become a licensed psychologist.
Best Online PsyD Degree Programs
To determine the top online PsyD degrees, we took into consideration program cost, flexibility, in-person requirements, and career preparation. Below, you can explore the best online PsyD programs.
1. Alaska Pacific University
|Location||Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)|
Alaska Pacific University's PsyD program features online evening synchronous classes and 3-day, on-campus weekend sessions throughout each semester. This 93-credit program includes coursework in the following areas:
- Lifespan development
- Counseling skills
- Clinical and child assessment
- Group counseling
Students must also complete practicums and an internship as well as a final dissertation. This program takes 5 years to complete, and after earning their degree, students will be able to become a licensed psychologist in the state of Alaska.
2. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Los Angeles
|Location||Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)|
|Los Angeles, CA||$22,601|
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Los Angeles offers a blended, online PsyD in Clinical Forensic Psychology degree program. This unique program has coursework that covers subjects like these:
- Violence/risk assessment
- Substance abuse treatment
- Metal health law
- Trauma and crisis
This 105-credit hour program also requires 1,200 hours of practicum hours and 2,000 internship hours. A dissertation is required as well. This program helps students meet the licensure requirements to become a psychologist in the state of California.
3. Touro University Worldwide
|Location||Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)|
|Los Alamitos, CA||$9,000|
Touro University Worldwide's online PsyD in Human & Organizational Psychology degree program can be completed 100% online with no on-campus residencies required. This flexible program allows students to keep up with their busy lives and complete their doctorate degree at their own pace through online assignments, group projects, and research. Students are required to complete coursework in evidence-based practices, applied industrial-organizational psychology and theories of organizational behavior. A final research-driven dissertation project is also required.
4. William James College
|Location||Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)|
William James College offers a PsyD in Clinical Psychology degree program that features a blended/traditional format that requires on-campus classes along with some online web-based classes. This program allows students to choose a concentration in the following areas:
- Clinical Health
- Forensic Psychology
- Children and Families of Adversity and Resilience
Students complete clinical training in the New England area at local hospitals or health centers. A final doctoral project is required as well. William James College's PsyD program has achieved accreditation from the American Psychological Association (APA).
All statistics provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition based on 2018-2019 school year
Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.
Overview of Online PsyD Degree Programs
Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degree programs prepare students for a career as a psychologist. Many programs, though not all, also help students meet state psychology licensure requirements. For example, an online PsyD program located in California may prepare students to obtain a California state license by including a curriculum that fulfills educational and fieldwork requirements.
It's important to note that not every online program prepares students for licensure in every state -- only the state in which the program is located. However, a limited number of programs are designed to meet the licensure requirements of most states and guide you through the licensure process for the state in which you will practice.
Online PsyD programs are usually designed to be attended full-time. The format of online classes depends on the program. Some programs require synchronous classes where you must be online for streaming or live classes at a specific time, while other programs feature asynchronous classes that allow you to work on your own time. Further, some programs require a mix of online and on-campus classes.
PsyD Specialization Areas
Some online PsyD programs allow students to specialize in one subfield of psychology. Below are some common specializations areas that are found in online PsyD programs.
Clinical psychology is a wide-ranging subfield that focuses on mental and behavioral psychological illnesses. Those working in clinical psychology are usually generalists who treat different cultural populations, individuals, families, and groups. They work in hospitals, in private practice, or for health centers. Clinical psychologists may choose to concentrate on a specific population, such as adults, or on a specific psychological disorder. PsyD programs in clinical psychology include broad coursework in psychology theory, assessment, and training.
Forensic psychology is a subfield that brings together psychology and the criminal justice system. Psychologists in this discipline help law enforcement agencies evaluate evidence, advise investigations, and serve as psychology experts in court proceedings and trials. Forensic psychology programs cover topics related to forensic assessments, violence, and trauma intervention.
Organizational psychology concentrates on the study of how humans behave in a work or similar group environment. This subfield uses psychological theories and techniques to increase the wellbeing of employees and improve an organization's output and overall environment. Organizational psychologists might also be involved with recruiting and hiring practices. Organizational psychology PsyD programs center on topics related to organizational leadership, team-building and HR management.
Behavioral Health Psychology
Behavioral health psychology is a multidisciplinary subfield of psychology that explores the connection between our minds and what we do in relation to our health. This subfield contains aspects of clinical psychology, sports psychology, health promotion, and disease prevention. Behavioral health psychologists might use therapy to help patients achieve health goals, such as losing weight, lowering cholesterol or getting in shape. They also can manage or oversee health organizations. Coursework in this subfield explores topics in women's health, children's health, and healthcare management.
Educational psychology is concerned with the psychological processes of human learning. Educational psychologists typically work in an academic setting where they develop strategies and methods for improving learning outcomes. Educational psychology focuses on topics related to teaching and learning, such as curriculum design, learning assessments, and higher education. This subfield is closely related to school psychology, which has a larger focus on working with students and children.
Core Course Requirements
PsyD programs require students to complete core classes that center on different psychology topics, such as:
- Psychological assessment
- Biological bases of behavior
- Cognitive bases of behavior
- Lifespan development
- History of psychology
- Social psychology
Students also take classes on research methods, data analysis, research design, and statistical methods.
Other Degree Requirements
Though not all programs require it, many PsyD students must complete a comprehensive exam after they finish their coursework. This exam centers on all the psychological concepts, skills, and training the student has learned in the program.
Online PsyD programs also require a final dissertation, doctoral project, or clinical case study. Dissertations and doctoral projects are research-intensive final projects that require students to conduct their own research into a specific field of psychology and present a lengthy written work. Clinical case studies require students to analyze and respond in writing to psychology case studies.
In-Person Requirements for Online PsyD Programs
Most online PsyD programs have extensive in-person requirements, including an internship and practicums as well as possible on-campus residencies. However, a limited number of programs do not have any in-person requirements. If a program does not require internships or practical experiences, then it will usually not prepare you for licensure.
Practicums are supervised in-person psychology experiences that could take place within hospitals, community centers, or in a private practice. These practicums give students the real-world psychology training and experience they'll need in their professional careers. Students also receive feedback and guidance from their field and faculty supervisors. Practicums take place over a number of semesters, with some programs requiring around 1,000-1,200 hours.
PsyD programs generally require a 1-year-long supervised pre-doctoral internship that adds up to 1,500-2,000 internship hours. This internship takes place after students have completed their coursework, final project, and practicums. Students can be placed in a non-profit, a private practice, a school setting, a treatment facility, or a health center. Students receive feedback from their supervisor that helps them refine their clinical skills. The pre-doctoral internship may sometimes be optional within the program but mandatory for meeting the requirements for licensure.
Some PsyD programs require on-campus residencies that take place during the weekend or last 2 weeks or so. Some programs may require 3-4 weekend residencies each semester, while others require about 6 week-long residencies that happen throughout the program. Residencies include a range of activities, such as lectures, classes, seminars, skill labs, and discussion groups.
Length of Online PsyD Programs
Typically, online PsyD programs take 4-5 years and around 70 credits to complete. The first 2-3 years are spent completing coursework, dissertation, and practicum requirements. The final 1-2 years are spent completing the pre-doctoral internship. Some online PsyD programs may have a shorter length, depending on coursework, internship, and in-person requirements.
Prerequisites for Online PsyD Programs
There are several prerequisite and admissions requirements you must meet in order to apply to an online PsyD program.
Generally, PsyD programs require you to hold a master's degree in psychology or a related field. However, a very limited number of programs may only require a bachelor's degree.
Some, but not all, PsyD programs require prerequisite coursework for those without a psychology degree or generally for all incoming students. Common prerequisite coursework includes classes on:
- General, social, or abnormal psychology
- Child or human development
- Counseling theories
Typically, you must also submit the following application materials:
- College transcripts
- Resume or CV
- Letters of recommendation
- Personal statement or essay
- Application fee
Some programs may also require an interview after the application process is complete.
Cost of Online PsyD Programs
Along with tuition, there are several other costs associated with online PsyD programs, including fees and additional costs associated with residencies. To help you afford your PsyD degree, you can look into financial aid in the form of loans and scholarships.
The tuition for PsyD programs is usually calculated on a per-credit basis. The tuition rate for these programs can range from $550 to $1,550 per credit, which means the tuition cost for the entire program can be anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000.
In addition to your tuition, you usually also have to pay university fees that could range from as low as $10 to as high as $500. Typical fees include technology, online program, book, and instructional materials fees. PsyD programs could also require fees for the dissertation or final project process.
You should also factor in any other costs that are associated with on-campus residencies. Some PsyD programs charge additional fees associated with residencies, seminars, and workshops. You may also need to cover the costs of travel, lodgings, and food during this time as well.
Online classes typically require a fairly new computer and high-speed, reliable internet access, which should be factored into the total cost.
Paying for a PsyD Program
The first step you should take to discover the types of financial aid that are available to you is filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). After submitting your FAFSA, you will learn which federal grants and loans you qualify for. Graduate students are eligible for Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Graduate PLUS Loans and, in some cases, the Federal TEACH Grant Program, among others.
Another way to help pay for your PsyD degree is by applying to scholarships. Usually, universities offer their own scholarships that you can apply to. The American Psychological Association (APA) also has a database of psychology-focused scholarships and grants that are based on a number of different factors, including specific areas of study, heritage, or need.
Below are some examples of the different kinds of scholarship opportunities that are available to graduate-level psychology students.
- Zeta Phi Beta Sorority General Graduate Fellowships - This is a $2,500 scholarship for African-American women who are pursuing graduate-level studies in psychology.
- APF Graduate Student Scholarships - These are scholarships offered by the American Psychological Foundation that range from $2,000 to $5,000 and are for graduate students.
- APF Queen-Nellie Evans Scholarship - A $4,000 scholarship for a minority graduate student who has a focus on marginalized communities.
- Bisexual Foundation Scholarship Award - This is a $1,000 scholarship for graduate students pursuing the study of the psychology of bisexuality.
- APA Dissertation Research Award - A scholarship of $1,000 up to $5,000 from the American Psychological Association designed for those working on their dissertation.
Accreditation of Online PsyD Programs
PsyD programs can apply for accreditation by the American Psychological Association (APA). To achieve accreditation, a program must meet a number of standards related to curricula, faculty, student outcomes, support services, and financial aid. The APA also accredits internship and post-doctoral residency programs. By attending an APA-accredited program, you are assured you are getting the right educational and clinical training experiences you need to be a successful professional psychologist. Some licensure and certification requirements are also dependent on graduating from an accredited program.
The Psychologist Profession
With a PsyD, you will be able to pursue a career as a licensed psychologist. Psychologists help their patients with mental, social, and behavioral issues and also conduct research in the field. There are several types of psychologists, including:
- Clinical psychologists
- Forensic psychologists
- School psychologists
- Developmental psychologists
Some general job responsibilities of psychologists include:
- Working with clients to identify emotional, mental health, or social disorders
- Creating treatment plans for clients
- Designing studies and experiments
- Conducting research and writing papers or reports
Psychologists can also have unique job duties that depend on their work environment and specialty. For example, school psychologists focus on educational, learning, and developmental issues and work with children, while rehabilitation psychologists work with disabled clients to help them cope after a major life event.
The requirements for earning licensure vary by state. However, below are the most common requirements for state licensure:
- Hold a PhD or PsyD in psychology
- Complete an internship
- Complete 1-2 years of supervised clinical training
- Earn a passing score on the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology
- Complete continuing education
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that, in 2018, psychologists earned a median salary of $79,010. The number of psychologist jobs is expected to increase 14% from 2018-2028.
Differences Between Online PsyD and Ph.D. Programs
If you have been looking into PsyD degree programs, you may have also considered a Ph.D. in Psychology degree. While both of these doctorate degrees have the same focus on psychology, there are some key differences, which you can learn about below.
Clinical Training vs Research
The largest difference between PsyD and PhD programs is that PsyD programs involve more clinical training than PhD programs. Typically, PhD programs have a larger focus on academic research and usually require both a dissertation and a master's research project. PsyD programs generally require more clinical training in the form of practicums and internships.
Although both degree types prepare one for a career in psychology, the PsyD generally prepares students for a clinical-focused career where they work directly with patients every day. On the other hand, the PhD prepares students for a more research-focused psychology career in an academic or hospital setting. Additionally, while one can pursue a higher education teaching career with a PsyD, normally professors at universities hold PhDs.