A degree in psychology can help to prepare you for many careers, from becoming a practicing psychologist to working in marketing, human resources and more. If you’re looking for a convenient and flexible way to earn your degree, then an online bachelor’s in psychology might be ideal. An online psychology degree programoffers many benefits, like allowing you to balance school with work, and might be the right first step for your career.
Overview of an online bachelor’s degree in psychology
A bachelor’s in psychology online provides a comprehensive education on psychology principles. This degree helps you to understand why and how humans behave, think and feel. As a psychology student, you will study concepts including human behavior, learning, motivation and development.
Who is this degree for?
An online bachelors in psychology can prepare you for post-graduate studies. It is a first step in becoming a practicing psychologist or other mental health professional.
Psychology skills are also transferable to other careers. You may find your psychology education useful in a wide range of careers, including public relations, education, marketing, human resources, business management and more.
Since you can use this degree in so many ways, an online bachelor’s in psychology is ideal for many types of prospective students. While it’s a natural choice for students planning to pursue a career in mental health and counseling, it’s also a valuable option for prospective students who want a degree that they can apply to different career fields.
Is an online bachelor’s in psych worth it?
When deciding whether you should pursue an online bachelor’s in psychology, it’s important to consider the education and career qualities that are most important to you. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of psychologists is predicted to grow by 6.1% through 2032, and that increased demand indicates growing career opportunities. Beyond psychologist job opportunities, a bachelor’s in psych can also be useful in many other fields.
Psychologists work in multiple settings, including in schools, government, hospital, and self-employed settings. These settings offer varying amounts of scheduling flexibility, with self-employed psychologists enjoying excellent scheduling flexibility.
Are online bachelor’s degrees respected/credible?
Even if you earn your diploma from an online degree program, your diploma won’t say “online.” Plus, as more highly respected colleges and universities offer online degrees, employer attitudes toward online degrees are shifting. According to U.S. News & World Report, employers may confirm that your degree is from an accredited program, which can help verify the program’s quality. It’s also likely that a potential employer will ask questions about the courses you took and the subjects you studied, but it’s becoming less common for employers to value online degrees less than in-person degrees.
Are online bachelor’s in psych cheaper than traditional programs?
Online bachelor’s degree programs typically have lower tuition costs than traditional programs. Keep in mind that you’ll save in other ways, too, since you won’t have to budget for housing, meal plans or transportation costs.
Just like traditional degree programs, you may be able to save extra money by attending an online degree program offered by a state school. In-state tuition for an online degree program tends to be lower than tuition for an out-of-state online degree. The U.S. News & World Report’s data indicates that in-state tuition for 2022 to 2023 averaged $330 per credit hour for online programs. Out-of-state tuition for online programs averaged $472 per credit hour.
Traditional vs. online bachelor’s programs in psych
It’s important to understand that there are a few key differences between a traditional and an online bachelor’s program in psychology.
When teaching online, professors are able to use fewer teaching formats. Lectures, both live and recorded, are more common. Students can still ask questions and engage during live lectures, but will need to reach out with any questions after a recorded teaching session.
In traditional classroom settings, professors may use a variety of formats to deliver education, including lectures, group discussions, guest speakers and psychologists, role playing, and hands-on demonstrations. Many of these formats allow students to ask questions and engage in real time.
Group collaboration tends to be slightly more limited for online degree programs. Projects may be structured differently due to students’ geographic locations and time zones, and group exercises may be completed virtually or pared down.
Group collaboration may be a larger, more frequent part of a degree program that’s delivered in-person. Students may have more group projects or assignments, which are made easier because they are all present on campus.
Access to Courses
Course availability is often less challenging when pursuing an online degree. Many online degree programs are self-paced, with courses starting every few weeks or every few months. This increased course availability can make it easier to choose or change a psychology specialization partway through a degree program while still enrolling in the courses needed.
In traditional degree programs, course availability is structured. Some specialty or elective courses are only offered every two years, so students must carefully plan out their course choices and schedules to ensure they are able to enroll in the courses they want or need.
Since online students may be located across the country, they may need to take a more active role in finding an internship program than they would if they were on-campus.
While some psychology degree programs don’t require internships, internships can offer valuable opportunities to gain hands-on experience and explore different specialization options. Traditional degree programs often have established connections with local professionals, making it easier for students to explore a variety of internship opportunities.
Earning your bachelor’s in psychology remotely
To successfully earn your bachelor’s degree in psychology virtually, you’ll need to be prepared with some essentials.
Certain skills and talents, like critical thinking, teamwork, analytical reasoning, and basic technology skills will be helpful in earning this degree.
You will need a computer that meets certain minimum requirements. Specific requirements vary by school, but you should have a newer operating system, speakers, a microphone, webcam and a high speed broadband internet connection.
Number of required credits:
Most online bachelor’s in psychology programs require you to complete 120 hours of coursework.
How long does it take?
Many full-time students earn their degrees in about four years. Some schools offer accelerated or intensive programs, allowing you to earn your degree in approximately 3.5 years. Online degrees often feature multiple start times each year, and depending on the school’s policy, you may be able to complete the program at your own pace.
Real-world or virtual internships / practicums:
Consider whether the program requires you to complete an internship or practicum, as well as the type of support that is offered. Will you have to identify your own local internship opportunities? Will you need to travel to campus for your practicum?
What you can expect to get from the school as a virtual student
As a virtual student, you will have access to a student dashboard for your online learning. Other software may be available, like video conferencing platforms and an online learning resource center. Your school may supply you with eBooks for your courses, as well as discounted or free access to psychology publications. You may also have access to the school’s online community of staff, students and alumni, as well as the school’s career resources center.
What you’ll study
While pursuing an online bachelor’s in psychology, you will study the science of human behavior. You’ll explore how the body and mind work and will explore abnormal psychology and mental disorders, too. Most programs will focus on the methodology, theory and scientific study of human memory and social processes.
Are bachelor’s-level psych courses suited/adaptable for online learning?
Absolutely. Bachelor-level psychology courses are well-suited for online learning, and their quality isn’t diminished by an online format.
✍ Developmental Psychology
Developmental psychology examines the way that humans change during their lifespan. You will explore physical, social, intellectual, personality, and cognitive growth, helping you to better understand psychology as it relates to different life phases.
✍ Social Psychology
A social psychology course focuses on how social influences impact human behavior. You may explore elements like social attraction, leadership styles, power and status, and influence and persuasion, helping you to better understand how groups of people relate and influence each other.
✍ Physiological Psychology
While studying physiological psychology, you will explore the physical basis of human behavior. The course may focus on elements like the operation of the brain and nervous system and concepts like intelligence, addiction, and consciousness, giving you a broader understanding of human systems.
✍ History and Systems of Psychology
By studying the development and use of psychology through history, you will learn about essential theories. This course promotes critical thinking and helps you to learn how to apply different theories to your practice.
Some schools offer challenge examinations that may allow you to test out of certain courses, saving you time and money on your degree. You may be able to earn credit for relevant professional experience. If you have previously taken similar courses from another school, you may be able to transfer those credits toward your program.
Popular concentrations you can choose from
By choosing a concentration, you can tailor your education to focus on the topics that most interest you and are most relevant to your desired career.
A concentration in addictions and substance abuse focuses on the biological, psychological, and sociological analysis of addiction. It examines addiction causes and treatments, as well as methods to educate society.
An applied psychology concentration is ideal for students who want to work in fields like counseling, clinical psychology, and human services. It focuses on how to use psychological methods to solve issues in different settings, like education and government.
Child & adolescent development:
Concentrating in child and adolescent development will help you to develop the skills and techniques needed to work with young people of different ages. It includes a focus on developmental stages through adolescence, as well as relevant communication skills and research methods.
Forensic psychology focuses on how psychology intersects with the criminal justice system. It covers elements like mental illness, psychological experiences of victims, and psychological science as it relates to criminal behavior.
A mental health concentration focuses on understanding mental health and illness through the lens of cognitive, behavioral, personality and social factors. This concentration helps you to develop an understanding of psychological and behavioral processes, and to develop the ability to interpret and conduct psychological research and evaluations.
Social psychology examines how individuals respond to different social environments, including group dynamics, bullying, and intolerance. This concentration helps you to develop an understanding of social psychology that will be useful in careers in business, research and academia.
How to choose an online bachelor’s in psychology program that’s right for you
As you explore online bachelor’s programs, it’s important to choose the program that’s right for you and your career goals. To start, look for a school that is accredited. Accreditation helps to confirm the quality of the education you’ll receive, and it’s more likely that your credits from an accredited school will transfer to another accredited university.
Consider a program’s graduation rate and retention rate, too. Low graduation and retention rates may indicate potential issues with a program. High graduation and retention rates may indicate a quality program that offers the support and resources students need to succeed.
According to the American Psychological Association, you will need to become licensed through your state’s psychology licensing board if you want to practice psychology. Some states offer licensing exemptions for psychologists working in certain settings, like colleges, research laboratories or corporations. Licensing requirements vary by state, but usually require at least a doctoral degree in psychology, at least 2,000 hours of internship hours and 2,000 hours of postdoctoral supervised hours. Familiarizing yourself with these requirements early on in your education can help you to plan ahead and ensure that you’re able to meet those requirements.
How to pay for an online bachelor’s in psych
When paying for an online bachelor’s degree in psychology, you may use financial aid, loans and grants, or a combination of all three.
Depending on your financial need, your federal loans might cover most or all of your education costs. If you don’t qualify for enough federal loans to fully fund your online bachelor’s in psychology, you might choose to take out private loans to cover the remaining costs.
You may be eligible for federal grants or grants offered by the school, too. Unlike loans, grants don’t have to be repaid.
Scholarships can also help you to pay for your online bachelor’s in psychology. Some colleges offer distance learning scholarships specifically for online learners. You may also qualify for merit-based scholarships, or scholarships offered by community organizations, employers and more. Getting as many scholarships as possible can help to minimize what you have to pay for your bachelor’s degree, and that can be particularly helpful if you plan on pursuing post-graduate education.
What can you do with an online bachelor’s in psych?
An online bachelor’s in psychology can be your first step in a career as a psychologist. You can use your bachelor’s degree and learnings to apply for post-graduate studies with the goal of ultimately becoming a licensed psychologist. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics, the median annual wage for psychologists in was $85,330.
As a psychologist, you may work in several environments. Clinical and counseling psychologists earned a median wage of $90,130, while the median wage for school psychologists was $81,500. Psychologists in federal government roles earned a $104,870 median wage, while those practicing in hospitals earned $95,810.
Your degree can prepare you for many other types of careers, too. A bachelor’s in psychology equips you with skills and knowledge valuable for a career as a social worker, mental health counselor, human resources specialist, market research analyst, public relations specialist, survey researcher and more.
Psychology resources can be helpful in many careers. You can also pursue additional online degrees to continue your psychology education.
Beyond the 4-year degree in psych
Once you’ve completed your bachelor’s in psychology, you can use that degree to apply for an online master’s degree program in psychology or a related field. Some schools even offer combined bachelor’s and master’s degree programs that allow you to earn both degree programs in just five years.
Online Graduate Certificates
An online graduate certificate can provide you with additional training in a specific area of psychology, like mental health and rehabilitation or addiction and substance counseling. It’s a way to further explore an area that interests you without the time and expense of pursuing a full master’s degree.
You may even decide to pursue your doctorate online, and you’ll need your doctorate if you plan to practice as a psychologist. Most online doctorate programs take four to six years to complete, but an accelerated program may take as little as three years.
If you’re ready to pursue a career in psychology, or plan on a career that would benefit from an understanding of psychology concepts, earning your online bachelor’s in psychology is a great place to start. We have a collection schools that offer online degrees, and you can filter your search results to show online bachelor’s in psychology offerings. Take the next step in your education and start your search for your online degree program today.
Checklist: Things you’ll need when applying
Application requirements will vary depending on the school and program, but in most cases you will need to:
Submit an application essay and fee
Send official transcripts from your high school or any secondary schools
Check to see if your school requires letters of recommendation
Submit standardized test scores like SAT or SAT scores
Be sure to carefully review the application requirements for the specific program that you’re interested in.