As the importance of mental health awareness increases, the job market for trained psychologists and therapists also grows. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 14 percent employment growth for those working as counseling professionals, therapists, and psychologists through the year 2026.
Top 25 Online PhD in Psychology Programs Methodology
We looked at 69 colleges and universities listed by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) College Navigator and across the web that offered at least one online PhD in psychology degree. We reviewed online doctoral programs that featured various psychology disciplines like educational psychology, international psychology, and organizational psychology. We narrowed our pool of schools by applying the following criteria: national or regional accreditation, online or hybrid degree completion pathways, and school or program ranking with one major publication like U.S. News and World Report. We then listed the schools in order of affordability.
Below is our list of the top 25 online PhD in psychology programs of 2019.
#25 – The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
Online PhD in International Psychology
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $28,927
One of the top online PhD in psychology programs on our list is offered at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. The program offers an international psychology PhD with a concentration in trauma services. Courses are delivered online and with full-time enrollment, the degree can be earned in three to four years. A sampling of the courses taken includes assessment of psychological and mental health reactions to traumatic stress, mental health interventions, and self-care strategies in humanitarian efforts. Admission to the program requires a completed application, official transcripts, a personal statement, and preparatory coursework. The GRE is also required. U.S. News and World Report recognizes the institution among other top psychology graduate schools.
#24 – Saybrook University
Online PhD in Psychology
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $27,439
Saybrook University offers a PhD in psychology online degree program that is guided by experienced psychology professionals. Students enrolled in the online program may select one of four specialization areas, including consciousness, spirituality, and integrative health; creativity studies; existential, humanistic, and transpersonal psychology; and psychophysiology. These specializations allow students to tailor their degree to meet personal interests or career goals in psychology. The program is non-clinical and considered a preparation for individuals to expand on their existing licenses. Saybrook is an accredited institution with recognition from major publications like U.S. News and World Report.
#23 – Pacifica Graduate Institute
Online PhD in Jungian Psychology and Archetypal Studies
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $26,450
The PhD in psychology online degree program at Pacifica Graduate Institution is a fully online doctoral degree designed for psychology professionals. Following Jungian and archetypal traditions, the program is designed to prepare psychologists through advanced depth psychological theories and practices. Courses are delivered online and include C.J. Jung in context, depth psychology and the mythic tradition, and post-Jungian critiques and perspectives. Successful admission to the PhD program includes letters of recommendation, official transcripts from all attending colleges or universities, a completed resume or curriculum vitae (CV), and minimum five to ten-page academic writing sample. U.S. News and World Report recognizes Pacifica as among the top graduate programs for psychology.
#22 – Keiser University
Online PhD in Psychology
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $26,164
Keiser University offers a hybrid format for earning an online psychology PhD. Classes are delivered both online and on-campus and are taught by Keiser’s esteemed faculty. Two residency requirements must be completed at the time of orientation and toward the end of the program. Most courses are delivered online and include topics like behavioral neuroscience, cognitive and affective basis of behavior, human development, research design and qualitative methods, and theories of learning and motivation. While the GRE is required for admission, scores may be waived if the applicant holds an undergraduate degree with at least a 3.0 GPA. U.S. News and World Report ranks Keiser #56 in best regional universities in the South.
#21 – California Southern University
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $22,185
An online psychology PhD differs from the online PsyD offered at California Southern University in that the latter program is more clinically focused. While students still conduct research, less emphasis is placed on scholarly publication but rather how it applies clinically to patients. Courses are delivered online and include a series of core requirements and electives. These courses include advanced theories of personality, cultural diversity, ethical and professional issues, research methods in psychology, psychological assessment, and statistical methods and analysis. Toward the end of the program, students take a comprehensive examination and complete a doctoral project. Cal Southern offers accredited and affordable doctoral degrees designed for working students.
#20 – Sofia University
Online PhD in Psychology
Palo Alto, California
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $20,944
Sofia University’s online PhD in psychology program provides a flexible, hybrid and online educational experience designed for working professionals. Through a combination of online courses and residential seminars, and a dissertation process, students earn a global doctor of philosophy (PhD) in psychology. Five concentrations allow students to tailor their degree toward areas of interest. These concentrations include applied transpersonal psychology, cognitive psychology and neuroscience, consciousness and creativity studies, transpersonal education and research, and whole systems approach to health and well-being. Admission requires a statement of purpose, curriculum vitae, and two letters of recommendation. Also, students must hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0.
#19 – Meridian University
Online PsyD in Clinical Psychology
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $20,280
One of the top PhD in psychology online programs on our list is the PsyD in clinical psychology from Meridian University. The program requires four years of coursework, or three years for advanced standing students, which cover clinical and research topics. Concentrations are offered for students wanting to further tailor their degree toward an area of interest or to meet career aspirations. Some of the concentrations include integral psychology, somatic psychology, and yoga and psychology. Degree candidates may enter the program with either a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Students who enter with a bachelor’s degree must complete four years or 166 credits. Students with a master’s receive advanced standing and must complete three years or 135 credits. The program is accredited.
#18 – Loyola University
Online EdD in School Psychology
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $19,458
One alternative to an online psychology PhD is an EdD in psychology from Loyola University. This blended doctoral program is designed for practicing school psychologists who want to advance their careers by earning a doctoral degree. Applicants must hold a valid professional educator license or psychology license from another state. Coursework consists of 72 semester hours covering topics like action research to improve teaching and learning, assessment of culturally and linguistically diverse populations, ethics and the law for school psychologists, and introduction to statistics and research in applied settings. U.S. News and World Report ranks Loyola #89 in best national universities and #60 in best value schools.
#17 – Felician University
Online PsyD in Counseling Psychology
Lodi, New Jersey
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $19,290
One of the top and most affordable online PhD in psychology programs on our list is offered by Felician University. Successful degree candidates earn a PsyD in counseling psychology that takes approximately 4-5 years to complete. Classes are primarily offered on campus with one online course per semester. The program is considered a hybrid degree, though minimal online coursework is required. Courses include behavioral neuroscience, clinical theories and evidence based theories, health care systems, health psychology, and learning and cognition. Requirements for admission include a personal statement, three letters of recommendation, research and clinical interest statement, and official undergraduate and graduate transcripts. The school is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as a top regional university in the North.
#16 – California Coast University
Online EdD in Educational Psychology
Santa Ana, California
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $19,140
California Coast University’s online psychology PhD programs include the EdD in educational psychology. The program is designed for working educational professionals who wish to earn a doctoral degree through a self-paced learning format. An applicant must have earned a master’s degree in education, though another field may be accepted if approved by the admissions committee. Online courses include advanced educational psychology, analysis of current issues in education, organizational behavior and adaptive leadership, and philosophical foundations of education. A comprehensive examination and dissertation and oral defense are also part of the program requirements. California Coast is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC).
#15 – Lesley University
Online PhD in Expressive Therapies
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,700
Lesley University offers an online psychology PhD low-residency program. This 45-credit degree was established 40 years ago and was the first graduate program in the U.S. to train professionals in the emerging field of expressive therapies. The program is structured by year with a blend of online courses and residency hours. On-campus seminars also take place each year. Admission to the program requires an earned master’s degree from an accredited college or university, certification or registration in one of the expressive therapy modalities (art therapy, dance, drama therapy, music therapy, or psychodrama), and satisfactory scores on the GRE or MAT. U.S. News and World Report ranks Lesley #183 in best national universities.
#14 – Northcentral University
Online PhD in Psychology
San Diego, California
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,526
The online PhD in psychology program at Northcentral University was designed to prepare individuals with an advanced knowledge of psychology through research. The 60-credit hour program offers twenty online courses that start every Monday. For students wanting to further tailor their degree, eight professional relevant specializations are available. Specializations include addiction, gender diversity studies, general psychology, gerontology, health psychology, industrial organizational psychology, mental health policy and practice, and trauma and disaster relief. While the PhD program requires research and applied experiential learning components, it does not lead to licensure. U.S. News and World Report recognizes Northcentral among the top national universities.
#13 – Michigan State University
Online PhD in Educational Psychology
East Lansing, Michigan
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,436
Michigan State University’s PhD in psychology online programs include the PhD in educational psychology. This hybrid program is designed to develop educational leaders who grasp the need to create new technologically sound pedagogies in research and practice. The rigorous, five-year plan is comprised of online and on-campus courses, seminars, and doctoral dissertation research and defense. Expected courses include current issues in motivation and learning, design of media for learning, intellectual history of educational technology, and psychology of learning school subjects. U.S. News and World Report ranks Michigan State #85 in best national universities, and several of the online graduate programs have received top 20 recognition.
#12 – Fielding Graduate University
Online PhD in Clinical Psychology
Santa Barbara, California
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $16,280
Fielding Graduate University offers an accredited online psychology PhD program that aims to graduate entry-level scholar practitioner psychologists. The clinical psychology degree takes five to six years to complete and consists of online coursework, practicum, research, and dissertation. Classes include biological bases of behavior, cognitive and affective bases of behavior, clinical interviewing, cognitive assessment, developmental bases of behavior, and foundations of doctoral study. The PhD offers a master’s degree along the way, as well as training in a specialized area of psychology. Specializations include forensic psychology, health psychology, neuropsychology, parent-infant mental health, and social justice and diversity. U.S. News and World Report recognizes Fielding Graduate University as a top school for psychology and clinical psychology.
#11 – Regent University
Online PhD in Counseling and Psychological Studies
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,326
Regent University offers an online PhD in psychology that can be completed as a distance learning program. With 16-week course sessions offered in an online format and a wide array of concentration options, students receive a flexible and customizable education. Concentrations include addictions counseling, biblical counseling, grief counseling, human services counseling, human services for student affairs, life coaching, marriage and family ministry, and trauma and crisis counseling. To be eligible for admission, applicants must hold a regionally accredited 30-hour master’s in a mental health field, have a minimum of 3.5 GPA in graduate level coursework, and have at least one year of experience in a mental health field. U.S. News and World Report ranks Regent #201 in best national universities.
#10 – Alaska Pacific University
Online PsyD in Psychology
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,110
Alaska Pacific University offers a PhD in psychology online degree program designed to prepare doctoral-level psychologists. Developed in 2011, the program offers accessible curriculum and comprehensive training model for professionals living in the geographically challenging state of Alaska. Most classes are delivered online and taught by Alaska Pacific University faculty, who are experts in the field of psychology. Courses include counseling theories and skills, diagnosis and treatment planning, ethics of professional practice, and research methods in counseling psychology. U.S. News and World Report ranks Alaska Pacific #64 in best regional universities in the West.
#9 – Arizona State University
Online Doctor of Behavioral Health
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,938
Arizona State University’s DBH (Doctor of Behavioral Health) appeals to those researching online PhD in psychology programs. The DBH with a clinical concentration is designed to train master’s level clinicians to explore medical literacy and integrated behavioral interventions. A total of 13 classes and 84 credits make up the doctoral program. Courses include applied project research, models of integrated primary care, and population-based health management. Successful admission to the program requires an official graduate transcript, copy of the applicant’s license or license eligibility, and one professional letter of recommendation. ASU is a top-ranked institution. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks the school #115 in best national universities.
#8 – Ashford University
Online Doctor of Psychology
San Diego, California
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,514
One alternative to a PhD in psychology online program is a PsyD or Doctor of Psychology from Ashford University. The school offers a 62-credit program with courses that run six to nine weeks in length. These courses include adult psychopathology and treatment, biological bases of behavior, group process and group leadership in organizations, psychology of leadership, and scholarly argument. There are also several specializations to choose from that will help tailor the doctoral degree. These specializations include criminology and justice studies, educational leadership, health and wellness psychology, industrial organizational psychology, meditation and conflict resolution, and sport and performance psychology. U.S. News and World Report lists Ashford among the unranked regional universities in the West.
#7 – University of Georgia
Online Ed.S. in Educational Psychology
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,970
One of the top PhD in psychology online degree programs on our list is the affordable online Ed.S. in educational psychology at University of Georgia. The program requires a minimum of 31 semester hours of coursework and a final written comprehensive examination. Admission requires applicants hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, provide valid GRE or MAT scores, and present three letters of recommendation from people who know the applicant professionally and as a scholar. Courses are delivered online and include assessment of gifted children and youth, methods and materials for the gifted, and programming and curriculum for the gifted. U.S. News and World Report ranks University of Georgia #46 in best national universities.
#6 – Grand Canyon University
Online PhD in General Psychology
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,555
One of the most affordable online PhD in psychology programs on our list is offered by Grand Canyon University. GCU’s general psychology PhD offers an emphasis in cognition and instruction. Courses are delivered online, and the program consists of 60 credits. These courses include behaviorism, cognitive science, ethical issues in psychology, human learning and cognition, qualitative research methods, social cognition, and theories of inquiry. Each course runs approximately eight weeks in length. Admission is based on the unweighted GPA and/or GRE or GMAT scores. GCU is an accredited institution and U.S. News and World Report ranks the university #230-#301 in best national universities.
#5 – Touro University Worldwide
Online PsyD in Human & Organizational Psychology
Los Alamitos, California
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,000
One of the PhD in psychology online degree programs on our list that requires no residency or GRE scores is Touro University’s online PsyD. This program offers an accelerated admissions process and affordable tuition. Students seeking to enroll must have earned a master’s degree from an accredited institution with a graduate GPA of 3.4. Courses are delivered online and taught by Touro’s experienced faculty. Faculty are also available to guide research, assist with technology, and provide learning opportunities for graduate students. This degree does not lead to any form of licensure. While Touro is not ranked with U.S. News and World Report, the school is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WASCUC).
#4 – Liberty University
Online PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,723
Liberty University’s PhD in psychology online degree is a 60-credit program that takes approximately four years to complete. The online PhD in counselor education and supervision includes online classes (intensives-based), three-credit hour practicum, nine-credit hour internship, and nine-credit hour dissertation. Classes include advanced group counseling, advanced theory and application, counseling leadership and advocacy, issues in integration, qualitative research, and supervision and consultation. Admission eligibility includes official college transcripts for all conferred bachelor’s and master’s coursework, two recommendations, and letter of intent. The GRE or MAT is also required. U.S. News and World Report ranks Liberty #230-#301 in best national universities.
#3 – Texas Tech University
Online PhD in Educational Psychology
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,849
Texas Tech University offers a PhD in psychology online degree program that focuses on the field of educational psychology. While the program is considered to be a face-to-face program, some of the coursework is offered exclusively online, on weekends, and in intensive, one-week summer sessions. The program requires official GRE scores for admission. Scores must be no more than five years old at the time of application. The estimated hours to completion for the PhD in educational psychology is 91 credit hours. Thirty hours of coursework completed within the last seven years with a B grade or better may be considered transferrable. U.S. News and World Report ranks Texas Tech #187 in best national universities and #100 in top public schools.
#2 – University of West Georgia
Online Ed.D. in Professional Counseling
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,048
University of West Georgia offers an alternative path to a PhD in psychology online degree. The online Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in professional counseling and supervision is designed to prepare counseling professionals to positively impact clients and communities of service through effective practices. Courses are delivered online and taught by doctoral faculty. These courses include seminars like advocacy for marginalized and underserved populations, program evaluation, professional issues, and quantitative and qualitative research methods. Eligibility for admission requires an accredited master’s in counseling or related field, official GRE scores not older than five years (verbal: 151 and quantitative: 142), and licensing or attainable licensing in counseling or a related field. U.S. News and World Report ranks University of West Georgia #230-#301 in best national universities.
#1 – University of the Cumberlands
Online Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $5,970
The online PhD in psychology program at University of the Cumberlands offers a doctoral degree in clinical psychology. The program consists of a blended format with 73 credit hours of coursework being offered face-to-face and 16 credits hours of coursework being offered online. Admission eligibility requires official transcripts, an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or above, and a graduate GPA of 3.5 or above, if applicable. GRE scores are strongly preferred. Courses include an advanced practicum, cognitive and behavioral approaches to treatment, history and systems of psychology, and supervision and consultation. U.S. News and World Report ranks University of the Cumberlands among the top 300 national institutions.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I do with an online PhD in psychology?
Psychologists conduct a variety of duties depending on the field in which they work. Overall, psychologists study behavior, cognition, emotion, and social processes in individuals and groups. They utilize their findings to help improve individuals or organizations.
The following are examples of different types of psychologists:
Clinical psychologist – A clinical psychologist assesses, diagnoses, and evaluates behavioral and mental disorders. They provide mental health care that may range from short-term personal issues to chronic conditions. Clinical psychologists may specialize in treatment or age groups, working only with children or the elderly population.
Counselor or counseling psychologist – Working directly with clients, counseling psychologists address problems with individuals at home, work, or in other areas of their lives.
Forensic psychologist – Forensic psychologists work closely with law enforcement, courts, and the criminal justice system to analyze the psychological aspects of a case.
Organizational psychologist – An organizational psychologist, also known as an industrial psychologist, applies psychology principles to the workplace. They often study workplace productivity, address employee morale, and assist management in the development of leadership styles.
School psychologist – School psychologists apply psychological methods and techniques while working in an educational setting. Common aspects of the job include assessment of student learning and addressing behavioral issues. They may also communicate learning strategies with teachers and administration.
What are the admission requirements for online PhD in psychology programs?
As with all PhD programs, online PhD in psychology programs look for qualified students with academic promise. According to the PhD in psychology online programs on our list, a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university is generally the first step in admission eligibility. Some programs that do not offer a terminal master’s degree while enrolled in the PhD program require a master’s degree in psychology prior to admission. If the required degree is pending, most programs accept a letter from the registrar listing the applicant’s anticipated date of graduation.
GRE or GMAT test scores are required by top ranked programs. If an applicant does not wish to take the GRE or hasn’t taken the GRE within the last five years, application may be limited to those schools that do not require the evaluation of test scores. Some programs waive the GRE requirement if the applicant shows promise. Promise is typically proven by offering an undergraduate GPA of 3.5 or above. Some programs waive the GRE for applicants with a lower undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0.
Additional requirements vary with programs. However, most of the online PhD in psychology programs on our list ask for letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose or goals. Some institutions may also ask for valid work experience or research in the psychology field.
What is the job outlook for someone with an online PhD in psychology?
The overall career outlook for psychologists, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is favorable. In fact, BLS reports a projected growth of 14 percent from 2016 to 2026. Of course, employment growth will vary among industries, but psychologists should see job prospects increase over the next several years.
The favorable job outlook is anticipated due to the increasing demand for psychological services in clinics, hospitals, mental health centers, and social services agencies. BLS reports the greatest demand for psychological services will be seen in clinics and schools.
As demand increases, competition for jobs will also likely increase. Education, such as earning a PhD in psychology online or through a traditional platform helps. Also, industry will make a difference. Jobs in organizational psychology will face competition due to the large number of qualified candidates. To receive a competitive edge, consider training in quantitative research methods. Most online PhD in psychology programs that offer thesis pathways utilize quantitative research methods.
Another factor to consider is specialty. BLS reports better job opportunities for psychologists specializing in working with the elderly population and in rehabilitation psychology. As the overall population of baby boomers ages, a need for highly specialized psychologists will increase.
What is the earnings potential for someone with an online PhD in psychology?
The United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median annual wage for psychologists was $77,030 in May of 2017. PayScale, a global research compensation analysis organization, also reports the average psychologist salary in excess of $74,000 per year.
PayScale also reports that the lowest 10 percent earned an annual salary of $46,000 while the top 10 percent earned $112,000. Bonuses, profit sharing, and commission added to these numbers.
The pay by experience trend for psychologists is favorable. In fact, the more experience or training a psychologist has, the more they will likely make. PayScale reports that an entry-level psychologist with less than five years of experience earns a total compensation of $65,000. The average total compensation for psychologists with five to ten years of experience is $80,000 per year. Psychologists with ten to twenty years of experience can expect to earn $89,000 on average. Late-career psychologists with more than 20 years of work experience earn a total compensation of $98,000 on average.
Location also impacts earnings potential. Larger cities pay more while smaller communities pay less. The national average for a psychologist is $76,605. Cost of living may impact these numbers and is something to consider when moving for a new psychologist job.
How long does it take to earn an online PhD in psychology?
Individuals pursuing an online PhD in psychology should expect to spend at least three to four years in the program. A traditional PhD program lasts between four and six years, though time may be cut off with an online PhD.
The biggest impact on completion time is enrollment. Full-time enrollment means that a full load of classes will be taken during the early years of the program. As expected, this pathway is shorter than a part-time PhD program. Part-time enrollment completion pathways take approximately 12 to 24 months longer than full-time programs. The average time to complete an online PhD in psychology when enrolled full-time is 36 months. For part-time programs, the average completion time is 48 months. The time to completion will vary with programs and schools.
Another factor in completion time is research. Some online PhD in psychology programs offer thesis options. If research is not something you wish to pursue, you might consider a non-thesis program. These programs typically take less time to complete and rely less on scholarly research and publication.
Accelerated online PhD in psychology programs exist, though are not the norm. Check with the program of interest to evaluate the average completion time of former students to assist in your decision making.
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