Online Master's Degree Programs in Psychology

Learn about online master's programs in psychology, including common specializations and coursework. Also, explore various psychology-realted careers that you could pursue with an advanced degree. Schools offering Psychology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Best Online Master's Degree Programs in Psychology

To guide you in your search for the perfect psychology program for your career goals, we've compiled a list of the best online master's degree programs available. Our list of best schools takes into consideration affordability, flexibility, and the psychology specializations that the master's degree program offers.

1. Texas A & M University-College Station

Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
College Station, TX $9,812

Texas A & M University-College Station offers a Master's in Educational Psychology degree that features two unique areas of emphasis: school counseling or creativity & cognition. The school counseling master's program prepares you to become a K-12 school counselor and features online coursework and a real-world internship in a school setting. The 36-hour creativity & cognition master's program explores the realm of creative thinking in learning and teaching. In this online program, you take courses in theories of learning, creative genius, and lateral thinking.

2. Colorado State University-Fort Collins

Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Fort Collins, CO $12,495

At Colorado State University-Fort Collins, you can earn an online 38-hour Master of Applied Industrial/Organizational Psychology degree. This online program can be completed in 2 years, 4 years, or longer depending on the schedule you choose and course availability. You take courses in industrial psychology, measurement theory, and organizational development among other business and psychology topics. This program is self-paced and flexible, but you get opportunities to work with your peers through virtual consulting team projects that you complete every semester.

3. Missouri University of Science and Technology

Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Rolla, MO $11,372

Missouri University of Science and Technology offers an online Master of Science in Industrial-Organizational Psychology degree program that requires 40 credit hours. This online program requires coursework in group dynamics, social psychology, ethics, and employee behavior. You must complete a thesis, which prepares you for a research-driven career. Missouri University of Science and Technology also offers online graduate certificate programs in applied workplace psychology and statistical methods in psychology, which can act as a GRE-free pathway towards applying to the full master's program.

4. Michigan State University

Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
East Lansing, MI $18,132

Michigan State offers two online graduate certificates within the psychology field including certificates in Applied Behavior Analysis and Educational Psychology. The Applied Behavior Analysis certificate is a 24 credit program with courses focused on Autism Spectrum Disorders, verbal behaviors, and a case study. The Educational Psychology certificate is a nine credit program focused on the psychology behind individual learning, motivation, and development.

5. University of Cincinnati

Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Cincinnati, OH $14,468

The University of Cincinnati offers an online Masters in Education in Foundations in Behavioral Analysis. The curriculum in this program is recommended by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board from a school that is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Students in this program are supported every step of the way with enrollment advisors and program managers who help students register for the right courses.

Rank School Name Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
6 The University of Tennessee-Knoxville Knoxville, TN $13,120
7 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL $18,126
8 Missouri State University-Springfield Springfield, MO $6,038
9 University of Wisconsin-Madison Madison, WI $12,010
10 Southeast Missouri State University Cape Girardeau, MO $5,680
11 Fort Hays State University Hays, KS $4,266
12 University of Georgia Athens, GA $10,982
13 University of Northern Colorado Greeley, CO $12,444
14 Oklahoma State University-Main Campus Stillwater, OK $8,460
15 Angelo State University San Angelo, TX $10,530
16 Florida State University Tallahassee, FL $11,553
17 Rutgers University-New Brunswick New Brunswick, NJ $19,416
18 University of Minnesota-Duluth Duluth, MN $18,436

All statistics provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition based on 2018-2019 school year'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 Master's Degree Programs in Psychology

Online master's programs in psychology offer primarily online coursework but might also have some real-world requirements, such as fieldwork placements or internships that could take place in community centers, schools, clinics or mental health offices. In addition, some programs may allow you to take classes both online and on-campus. The total number of credits needed to earn a psychology master's degree varies but most range between 30-38.

Some programs require a final capstone course, which could consist of a research project and presentation or a virtual consulting project. Other programs may require a comprehensive examination that tests you on the material you have learned during your program.

Many online master's degree programs in psychology offer specific specialization areas. Below, you can explore some specializations that are available as online programs and get a sense of what subjects you may study within that specialization.

Developmental Psychology

Developmental psychology focuses on the way that humans grow and change throughout their lives, beginning in infancy and moving into adulthood. In this specialization, you study the emotional, mental, and physical ways that children develop as well as how adults age and evolve. You might also explore how family structures, culture, and society affect human development. Major theories and thinkers within the field of developmental psychology are also often covered.

Industrial/Organizational Psychology

Industrial/Organizational (I/O) psychology primarily explores the way that individuals behave within the workplace and other organizations. I/O psychologists sometimes work within human resources departments or as consultants where they train, evaluate, and hire employees and solve other workplace issues, such as discrimination or lack of effectiveness. A range of foundational psychology topics are covered, but you may also study a variety of business subjects, such as organizational behavior and workforce training.

Educational Psychology

Educational psychology focuses on how people learn, how to improve learning outcomes for students, and how to help teachers document student progress. This specialty includes the study of child development concepts, psychology in conjunction with special education, and psychoeducational counseling concepts.

Sports Psychology

Sports psychology teaches you how to apply psychological techniques to athletes to help them improve their performance and mental health. This specialization covers concepts related to

  • Coaching
  • Mental conditioning
  • Human behavior in a sporting context
  • Motivation
  • Group dynamics

You might also study ways to improve performance through meditation, hypnosis and visualization techniques. Last, you might learn to help athletes cope with stress and anxiety related to competition and performance.

Forensic Psychology

Forensic psychology sits at the intersection of the criminal justice system and psychology. In this specialization, you mainly study aspects of the law, including family law, mental health law, and the courts. You explore how to use psychological theories and methods in a legal context, such as participating in court cases or helping others understand the behavior of people who have committed crimes.

Length of an Online Master's Degree Program in Psychology

The length of online psychology master's programs varies by school and program. Some programs are designed to be completed in as little as 1 year while others can take up to 4 years studying part-time. Typically, 2 years is the average program length, if you are attending full-time.

As some programs may require prerequisite coursework in psychology, statistics or other subjects, you may have to complete some 'bridge' classes before properly beginning your master's program, which would increase the amount of time it takes to complete your degree.

What You'll Learn in an Online Master's Degree Program in Psychology

The coursework in any psychology master's program depends on your program and your area of specialization. Usually, you take core courses in psychology and research methods and then courses within your specialty, if you have chosen one. Below are some courses that are common to most psychology programs.


Psychopathology is the study of mental disorders. In this course, you study the various causes, symptoms, and treatments of a wide variety of disorders. Some classes offer instruction in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV-TR, which is the classification manual for mental disorders, and you usually learn how to use this resource to diagnose patients.

Lifespan Development

Lifespan development explores the social, mental, and cognitive development of humans from infancy and well into adulthood. You learn about developmental milestones, theories related to psychosocial development and the consequences of neglect during developmental stages. You may also explore the way outside factors, such as culture and environment, affect human development.

History of Psychology

Psychology programs often dive into the origins of the study of human behavior. In a course like this, you might look at some of the important movements in psychological thought as well as the figures who influenced it including Freud, Erik Erikson and Carl Jung.

Cognitive Psychology

Cognitive psychology centers on the study of the hows and whys of human thought, memory, decision making, and learning and how these things affect behavior. In a general sense, you learn how humans process information and then how that process plays into the ways we interact and communicate with others.

Research Methods

You are typically required to take a course that teaches you about the methods, techniques, and concepts of conducting scientific research in the social science field. Usually, you learn about quantitative, data-driven, and qualitative, description-driven, research methods. This course gives you the foundation you need to conduct and present your own research in the psychology field and may teach you how to form research questions, collect data, and analyze that data.

Career Options with a Psychology Degree

With a master's degree in psychology, you can pursue a range of careers in the field. Some common career paths might include therapist, counselor, or industrial/organizational psychologist.

Marriage and Family Therapist

Marriage and family therapists typically work with couples and families to help them change their behavior or damaging thoughts, work through life changes or stressful situations, and express their emotions. Although marriage and family therapists sometimes work one-on-one with individuals, they typically do so in a family-centered context. Other job duties include referring clients to support services or resources and maintaining records and files.

Marriage and family therapists need a master's in psychology, family and marriage counseling, or a related field. They must also complete clinical training hours.

Marriage and family therapists earned a median salary of $50,090, and the number of jobs is expected to increase by 22% from 2018-2028.

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors help people who have issues with drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, or general mental health issues. Counselors of this kind usually evaluate patients, create treatment plans, and help clients develop coping skills.

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors typically need a bachelor's degree; however, counselors with a master's degree can provide more types of services, including one-on-one counseling.

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors earned a median salary of $44,630, and the number of jobs is projected to increase by 22% from 2018-2028.


Psychologists typically to earn a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree or a Ph.D. in Psychology to practice but a master's degree can suffice for some organizational or school psychology positions.

Typically, psychologists:

  • Assess patients
  • Diagnose mental disorders
  • Create treatment plans
  • Conduct research

The duties of psychologists also depend on the kind of psychologists they are. For example, a forensic psychologist works within the criminal justice systems where they consult lawyers and judges about psychological factors involved in legal cases. Industrial/organizational psychologists work with businesses or corporations where they use their psychological training to improve work-life quality, productivity, and morale.

Psychologists earned a median salary of $79,010, and the number of jobs is expected to rise by 14% from 2018-2028.

Salary information provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018)

Licensure & Certification Information for Therapists, Counselors, and Psychologists

Most therapist, counseling, and psychology careers require some sort of license or certification. Below, you can learn about licensing regarding the careers discussed above.

Marriage and Family Therapists

To become a licensed marriage and family therapist, you must hold a master's degree, complete around 2,000 to 4,000 hours of a clinical internship or residency and pass an exam. To keep your license, continuing education hours are required.

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

If you are in private practice as a substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors, you must obtain a state license. For most states, licensing requirements include holding a master's degree, completing about 2,000 to 4,000 hours of clinical hours, and passing a state exam, plus completing continuing education hours to keep your license current.


While the process of becoming a licensed psychologist varies by state, usually you must hold a doctorate degree, complete an internship, have several years of supervised field experience, and pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology.

Associations & Organizations for Therapists, Counselors, and Psychologists

There are several organizations within the fields of psychology, counseling, and therapy that advocate for these professions, regulate licensing requirements, and offer optional credentials.

The Association of Marriage and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB)

The AMFTRB is responsible for the licensing process for marriage and family therapists. This organization administers the Marriage and Family Therapy National exam, which is used for licensing, manages licensing renewal, and handles any disciplinary actions. Along with the licensing exam, the AMFTRB offers practice exams and resources to help you understand your state's licensing requirements.

National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC)

The NBCC is a professional organization that advocates for the counseling profession. The NBSS offers the National Certified Counselor (NCC) credential, which demonstrates you have met national standards. To earn the NCC credential, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Hold a master's degree in counseling
  • Completed specific coursework
  • Compete supervised counseling hours
  • Obtained a professional endorsement
  • Completed 3,000 hours of counseling experience
  • Passed an exam

American Psychological Association (APA)

The APA is a professional organization for psychologists. It advocates for the field, promotes the profession, and aims to educate the public. Becoming an APA member allows you access to networking opportunities, educational materials, and discounts on liability insurance and industry journals.

How to Choose an Online Master's Degree Program in Psychology

When deciding which online master's degree program is the right choice for you, there are several factors you should consider, including accreditation, your career goals, and the format of the online program.


When a program is accredited, it has proved it has met high, independent standards in terms of the content of the curriculum, clinical training offered, and how it develops your skills and knowledge for career success. The American Psychological Association (APA) only accredits psychology doctoral programs, but some organizations accredit master's degree programs:

  • Masters in Psychology Accreditation Council (MPAC) - offers accreditation for psychology and counseling master's programs.
  • The Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP) - provides accreditation for counseling master's programs.
  • The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) - accredits graduate programs in school psychology.

Career Goals

If you have decided which subfield of psychology you want to study, then you'll want to choose an online program that offers the right specialization. For example, if you want to become a sports psychologist, you need to attend a program that offers that specific concentration so that you can complete the right coursework for eventual licensure.

Real-World Requirements for Online Programs

You should make sure you can complete any real-world requirements that are a part of your online program. For example, some programs may be hybrid programs that require a mix of online and in-person classes. Also, a limited number of programs require field placements or internships that must be completed in-person. If you aren't able to complete these requirements, then be sure to choose a program that is 100% online.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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