Masters in Psychology Online Degree Programs

If you are continually fascinated by human behavior, Masters in Psychology Online might take your understanding of the mind a step further. Pursuing your master’s degree in psychology online offers you the opportunity to deepen your understanding of research methods, cognitive psychology, social psychology, personality, learning theory and ethical practice while focusing on the real-world application of psychological research. 

Plus, while an undergraduate Psychology program may be more general, a graduate program allows you to grow academically and professionally. Many students are ready, at this point to choose a concentration, whether in Clinical, Counseling, Cognitive, Developmental, Industrial-Organizational, Social, or even Forensic Psychology. There really are a lot of options, so read on to help you figure out how you might go about choosing an Online Masters in Psychology Program.

Masters in Psychology Online: Professional Insight 

“I have thrived professionally and personally from my master's in psychology. What I learned has not only applied directly to my own career but also personally as well. I became a better partner, conscious human, and kinder person. I was able to truly understand what others felt and I learned how to truly listen so that others feel fully heard. A skill truly needed not only as a psychologist but also as a well-rounded individual.” 

masters in psychology online-Psychotherapist Melissa Divaris Thompson in New York City, Click To Tweet!click to tweet

Masters in Psychology Online Program Essentials

First of all, the master’s in psychology is a graduate-level degree program that typically takes two to three years to complete. Before you start working on your master's program, you need to have a bachelor's degree from an accredited university. While your undergrad degree does not have to be in psychology, it might help you get into some of the more competitive programs. Merely having a degree isn't always enough. You need a track record of earning high grades as well as a high score on your GRE. You may add to your chances of getting accepted by volunteering in roles relevant to your planned area of concentration and by getting some practical work experience. Oh, and expect to do a considerable amount of writing as you pursue your degree!

FUN FACT: 47% of Industrial Organizational Psychologists have a Masters Degree, 48% have a doctoral degree and 5% have post-doctoral training [i]

Online Masters in Psychology: Terminal degree?

Note that Online Master's degrees in psychology are typically earned within a doctoral program or to prepare a student to apply for a doctoral program. Unlike either the associate or bachelor’s degree in psychology, the master’s in psychology may be considered a terminal degree depending on a few things. No – it doesn’t mean death. In degree language, ‘terminal’ usually means “Congratulations! You have reached the highest level of education in this field”.

In terms of psychology, the highest degrees are doctoral degrees. As you know, if you want to work as a licensed Psychologist in areas such as clinical, counseling or school psychology, you need to keep calm and study on. You also need to find a Masters program that supports your doctorate degree. Now, some Psychology schools do not have doctoral programs, so in your school, if you earn your Masters degree, that is considered the terminal degree in that school.

Furthermore, in some cases, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “graduates with a master’s degree in psychology can work as industrial-organizational psychologists. When working under the supervision of a doctoral psychologist, master’s graduates can also work as psychological assistants in clinical, counseling, or research settings.”[ii] If this is what you aspire to, you might choose an Online Masters in Psychology that is considered terminal as it prepares you hypothetically to work in that field. If you don’t quite follow, we totally suggest you ask many questions about the online programs you are considering for your master’s degree. Do this right from the site with the ‘request info’ tabs.

How it works online

Distance-learning may be a great option if you are a busy working professional. Some Masters in Psychology online programs offer quite a bit of flexibility. Students may be able to choose when and where to complete their weekly assignments. In this case, classes are pre-recorded which usually means you have access to them 24/7, and are thus able to pace yourself.

In terms of resources, you want to make sure there is great tech support, and that you are able to interact with faculty members via chat and webcam. This personalizes the program a bit.

TIP: Note the language used to describe the online program. Some online Psychology Masters programs are “predominantly online”. You may have to make some visits to campus, participate in field or laboratory work, or take part in an Internship.

How to Choose an Masters in Psychology Online Program

Prospective psychology students are encouraged to attend a degree program that is accredited to ensure that the program meets high academic standards. The American Psychological Association (APA) provides accreditation specifically for doctoral psychology programs, and other regional and national agencies provide accreditation for schools that offer both undergraduate and graduate psychology programs. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation offers a current list of all accredited psychology programs and schools. 

Different types of Online Masters in Psychology Degrees: MA or MS ?

Most Psychology Graduate Schools that offer the Online master’s of psychology program offer the option of choosing between a Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MS) degree.

Online Master of Arts in Psychology Degree

The Master of Arts degree focuses on the study of psychology within the humanities and liberal arts disciplines. The MA in psychology addresses the human condition from a more analytic and applied perspective. Generally, an Online Master of Arts in Psychology offers an educational path for careers in schools, mental health, and the private industry. It might be suitable for individuals who have a strong idea of what they would like to do in their professional career. If you are interested in mental health, a master of arts in counseling or clinical psychology may be ideal for you.

Online Master of Science in Psychology Degree

In contract, the MS in psychology focuses on the human condition from a more empirical and science driven point of view. There are some practitioner fields, such as mental health and forensic psychology. And, in some cases an MS could be a prerequisite for those seeking to enter a PhD program later in their academic career.

The difference between and MA and MS in psychology will vary depending on the school, but as a rule of thumb an MA degree traditionally focuses on theoretical and applied topics while the MS focuses on in-depth empirical research.

If you're not sure whether you're more interested in the science of psychology or the practical applications, there are some Psychology schools online that offer general degrees. These might expose you to both practical and theoretical aspects. Although a general degree won't qualify a student for independent practice, they may help to clarify their career options for them, or act as the first step in the path to a doctoral degree.

Online Masters in Psychology: Potential Course Sampler

Psychology courses are divided into basic psychology, personality, social psychology and biological psychology. Some courses may include the following:

  • Child psychology
  • Personality disorders
  • Neuropsychology and memory
  • Behavior therapy
  • Social psychology
  • Pathology

Potential Career Track For Masters in Psychology Grads

As stated above, graduates holding a Masters degree in Psychology may be ready to enter the workforce. A master’s degree in psychology is typically sufficient for entry-level career positions in organizational-industrial psychology as well as other business fields where psychology is utilized. Bottom line, it is going to depend. If you aspire to work as a mental health counselor or marriage and family therapist, for instance, you are generally required to be licensed and hold a master’s degree. [iii] It is in your best interest to speak with a career or guidance counselor to figure out the best academic route for you.

Take the Next Step

Online Masters in Psychology degree programs offer a convenient alternative to on-campus study. You now know that graduates of a master's degree program in psychology are ready to move on to a doctorate program. You also know that a doctorate degree in psychology is still the degree of choice among employers, and is absolutely necessary for those seeking a career as a clinical, counseling or educational psychologist practitioner. In fact, every state in the nation now requires that licensure applicants have a doctorate degree in psychology or a closely related field before sitting for state licensing exams. You are at the point where you might consider whether you choose an online master's degree programs in psychology as part of doctorate program or whether you choose one that aligns with other goals. Take the next step and browse our listings!

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