Online Psychology Degrees by Specialty
This list of online psychology degrees is categorized by the subfields available to aspiring psychologists. A careful choice is crucial when selecting a specialty, as it determines the field or type of psychologist the student can later become upon completion of studies and licensing. Available concentrations include clinical, cognitive, forensic, and social psychology. While many fields require a doctorate degree, some allow for the completion of only a master's program. Requirements to practice psychology vary by position and state of residency, so students should check their state’s licensure laws.
Western International University, Aspen University, and Bellevue University all offer affordable online psychology degree options with tuition under $7,000. Those interested can browse our comprehensive, alphabetical list of online psychology degrees.
Clinical psychologists diagnose and treat those with mental, emotional and behavioral conditions. Treating patients with short-term to chronic issues, clinical psychologists often take on specific cases like those with brain injuries or populations like the elderly. Many have private practices, while others work in hospitals or mental health centers. Upon completion of an online master’s program students can work as assistants in the field of clinical psychology, however a doctorate degree is recommended for employment as a clinical psychologist. Those studying clinical psychology will typically take both clinical and counseling psychology courses as well as courses on ethics and social psychology. Most states require a one-year internship as well as one or two years of supervised experience. Students must also pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) and may obtain an optional specialty license from the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP).
Those studying cognitive psychology examine how the brain retains and produces information, including aspects of learning, perception, reasoning, decision-making and even memory. Cognitive psychologists often work alongside other types of psychologists, including behavioral neuroscientists, looking at the biology of cognition. They can also work with other researchers, studying the thought patterns of depression. While the doctorate is the only degree that will give you a cognitive psychologist designation, there are plenty of jobs open to those with master’s degrees as well. Both degrees levels are available online. Aspiring cognitive psychologists will take courses in perception, human memory, reasoning, language, and brain damage. Most doctorate degree holders in the cognitive specialty are researchers or professors, and therefore do not require licensure. Those planning to use their cognitive psychology degrees for counseling, therapy, or consulting are required to pass the Examination for Professional Practice (EPPP) in Psychology before entering the job field.
With a specialty in counseling psychology, students will help their patients deal with the problems and adversity they face in everyday life, both at work and in the community. Counseling psychologists have a knack for revealing their clients’ strengths and helping find ways for them to confront and solve their problems. Online counseling psychology degrees are available at the certificate, associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degree level. Although some subfields of psychology do not require a doctorate, it is imperative for this field. Required coursework typically includes classes on ethics, cognition, racial identity, and research, as well as a variety of counseling-related courses. In addition to completing an internship, aspiring counseling psychologists must pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) and complete a certain number of supervised work hours (hours vary by state).
As the name suggests, developmental psychologists study the psychological growth and development of their patients. Sometimes referred to as child psychologists, developmental psychologists are often present in school and university settings as teachers or researchers. They can also examine the processes and stages of aging in elderly living homes, mental health clinics, and hospitals. As with most psychology programs, there are jobs available to candidates with only a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree. However, to become a licensed developmental psychologist students must obtain a doctorate degree in developmental psychology, which can be obtained online, as well as complete an internship and supervised job training. Students must also pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). Required classes may include courses on language, cognition, and development.
Forensic psychologists play an important role in the criminal justice system, where they work to evaluate the mental states of those accused of crimes as well as their competency to stand trial. They work in several different environments including prisons, courthouses, police departments, and rehabilitation centers. They also work with children who are dealing with abuse cases or custody battles. A doctorate degree, which can be obtained online, is typically required in addition to the completion of an internship and supervised work hours. Because many forensic psychologists work in close proximity with the criminal justice system, they are also required to take courses in criminology. Forensic psychologists must also pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) and, although optional in the eyes of the law, many employers also require a forensic psychology certification from the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP).
The subfield of health psychology allows psychologists to study both the causes and treatments of health issues as well as the biological, social and psychological factors that affect those issues. This often means working in hospitals or other medical settings, helping patients cope with their diagnosis, or implementing programs to help deal with things like smoking or teen pregnancy. To help advise policymakers, health psychologists also research these issues, often within specific populations such as the elderly, or within specific conditions like obesity. To become a health psychologist, it is required to complete a doctorate degree, which can be obtained online. Students must also complete an internship and obtain a passing score on the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). The American Board of Clinical Health Psychology (ABCHP) offers an optional certification that is occasionally required by employers. Some typical courses for a degree in health psychology include classes in abnormal psychology, anatomy, nutrition, and public policy.
A rapidly growing branch of psychology, industrial-organizational psychology explores the intersection of business and psychology, or in other words, how to make the workplace enjoyable and safe for all those involved. These types of psychologists aim to improve the productivity of the company and the satisfaction of the employees by using psychology to solve problems in all aspects of the business. Required classes typically include organizational psychology, planning, leadership development, and ethics courses. Only a master’s degree, which can be obtained online, is necessary to become an industrial-organizational psychologist. However, for those looking to pursue work in a clinical or research setting, a doctorate degree is required. It is also recommended that psychologists in this field obtain a specialty certification in Organizational & Business Consulting Psychology from the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP).
School psychologists partner not only with school staff but also with parents to address issues with students. They also work alongside the school to implement educational and service-based programs for health and crisis issues, assess student performance and behavior, and counsel families whose students attend the school. It is not uncommon for this type of psychologist to work at various schools as needed. In order to become a school psychologist, it is important to achieve an advanced degree, which can be obtained online. Because this subfield deals with children and adolescents, it is required to pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). Additional certification is recommended, either through the American Board of School Psychology (ABSP) or the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). While in college, students will typically take courses in child development, cognition and learning, cultural diversity and social psychology.
Social psychologists study social interactions and the impressions they have on the human mind. These types of psychologists work in a variety of environments including schools, businesses, and government agencies, studying both individual and group interactions. They examine social factors such as bullying, bias, crime, and perception to learn more about how being part of a group can shape individual actions and interactions. Like most psychology specialties, a doctorate degree is required, as is a passing score on the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). Most degree programs also require a yearlong internship in a school setting. Curriculum typically includes experimental psychology, personality psychology, social psychology, and statistics. An online degree in social psychology is available at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degree level.
Sports psychologists ensure that athletes are both mentally and emotionally healthy. They serve as mental coaches by helping athletes tolerate pain after suffering from injuries, enacting treatment plans, performing cognitive tests, and conducting research. With a high level of knowledge and treatment required in this field, students typically complete a doctorate degree in sports psychology (or clinical psychology with a sports emphasis), which can be obtained online. Additional courses are likely to include those in sports medicine, kinesiology and physiology. Some programs require a yearlong supervised internship while others require an additional year of supervised training once the doctorate program has been completed.