2021 Best Online PsyD Programs [Doctor of Psychology]

Home » 2021 Best Online PsyD Programs [Doctor of Psychology]

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If a career as a professional psychologist is your goal, then online PsyD programs can help you receive the necessary education.

Best Online PsyD Programs

Through online classes, you can explore the latest developments in the field and earn an accredited doctoral degree in clinical psychology or another specialty.

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Your studies could help prepare you for advanced responsibilities, psychology licensure, independent practice, or research opportunities.

Online PsyD Programs

There could be a bright future in psychology waiting for you after earning a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD). The first step is deciding which of the many psychology specialties, such as forensic and educational psychology, you’d like to pursue.

Select the program that most interests you to jump to that section of the guide:

Regardless of the specialty you select, you will still receive a strong foundation in psychology and related courses.

Psychology (General)

Psychology General program

While a specialty area of study is useful for many psychology students, it might not be the best option for you. A general psychology degree can let you explore a variety of domains within the field.

The curriculum for this program can vary greatly from one school to another, but your classes might cover behavioral science and human development. You might study psychology practices for various age groups, such as kids, teens, or seniors.

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Some general programs lead to licensure. Ones that do also include an internship component. General psychology graduates may work as counselors, professors, nonprofit leaders, or business consultants.

Behavioral Psychology

Behavioral Psychology program

The field of behavioral psychology addresses the thoughts and motivations behind various actions. It also explores ways to guide people toward productive, socially appropriate behaviors.

During this program, you’ll learn about human development and the history of behavioral psychology. You can also spend time studying research about the best ways to motivate behavioral changes.

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Some programs advance you toward various credentials. For example, you might be ready for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) examination, or you may be able to receive state counseling licensure. Programs leading to licensure will require internships.

Behavioral psychologists may head community or mental health organizations or provide counseling services.

Child and Adolescent Psychology

Child and Adolescent Psychology program

Specialists in child and adolescent psychology focus their attention on the unique developmental and psychological needs of young people.

To earn this degree, you might take classes about family relationships, child development, trauma, and behavioral health. You can also learn about specific counseling and assessment techniques to use with young people.

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Internships are common for child and adolescent psychology programs. Tracks leading to licensure are sure to include an internship component. Child and adolescent psychologists may provide services in settings like hospitals, residential facilities, and youth correctional centers. Private practice is another option.

Educational Psychology

Educational Psychology program

Experts in educational psychology use their knowledge to improve student outcomes. Also known as school psychology, this branch is dedicated to helping learners—from babies to adults—achieve their full potential.

The courses for this track could cover topics like student services, counseling in diverse settings, and education law. Other topics you’ll study might include school leadership and child development. Educational psychology programs often include internships in school settings.

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Licensed educational psychologists may provide counseling and academic services in school systems. Other careers in this sector include professor, curriculum specialist, and public policy advocate.

Forensic Psychology

Forensic Psychology program

If you want to use your psychology knowledge in the areas of law and criminal justice, then a degree in forensic psychology could be the right fit for you.

To earn this degree, you’ll study mental health and psychopathology. Group counseling, family dynamics, and the legal system are other topics your program may cover. Some students dive into specialty areas, such as sex crimes or police culture.

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Forensic psychology programs that lead to licensure will include an internship as part of the curriculum. Professionals with specialized knowledge in forensic psychology may work as expert witnesses or jury consultants. They can also provide counseling services for people in correctional facilities, police departments, or mental health facilities.

Industrial Organizational Psychology

Industrial Organizational Psychology program

Applying psychological principles in business or organizational settings is often known as industrial organizational (IO) psychology. If you want to use your skills to improve workplace productivity or employee satisfaction, this might be the track for you.

Your coursework might include classes on leadership, change management, behavioral health, and program management. Your program could address employee onboarding, evaluation, and retention as well.

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While IO psychology programs may sometimes lead to licensure, it’s generally less common in this field. As a result, a long internship may not be necessary. IO psychologists are often business leaders or consultants in the areas of human resources and employee development.

Psychology Careers & Salaries

Psychology Careers & Salaries

Many graduates with a PsyD have a job with “psychologist” in the title. Licensure among these professionals is commonly required.

Licensed clinical psychologists often provide counseling services for mental health disorders and other concerns. Some specialize in certain types of counseling, such as marriage and family therapy.

Holding a doctoral degree may also lead to careers in research and academia. Some PsyD graduates become college professors, and they may teach or engage in research projects. There may be opportunities to move into higher education administration as well.

Some psychologists become researchers outside of academia. They could work for government institutions or research and development firms. Some administer surveys to gather data from the general public or specific groups of people.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, psychologists earn a median annual salary of $82,180. Actual pay rates can vary significantly based on employer, responsibilities, experience, and other factors.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Training and Development Managers $115,640
Psychologists, All Other $105,780
Postsecondary Education Administrators $97,500
Industrial Organizational Psychologists $96,270
Social Scientists and Related Workers $87,260
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists $79,820
Postsecondary Psychology Teachers $78,180
Survey Researchers $59,870
Marriage and Family Therapists $51,340
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors $47,660

Clinical psychologists may work in private practice offices. They can also be employed by hospitals, educational institutions, residential facilities, and community organizations. Not all psychologists are clinical therapists. Some specialize in other subsets of this field.

For example, educational or school psychologists may work in K-12 schools. They partner with teachers and administrators to find the best instructional approaches for struggling students.

Forensic psychologists are associated with the criminal justice field. They can consult with detectives, provide expert testimony, or offer mental health support to incarcerated people.

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Industrial organizational psychologists understand business structure and employee development. They may hold titles like human resources director or training and development manager. Some work as consultants.

PsyD Doctorate Curriculum & Courses

PsyD programs online include fascinating courses that can help you learn more about people, behavior, and the latest developments in psychology research.

  • Child and Adolescent Counseling: Those who want to work with young populations will take one or more courses on techniques for youth therapy services.
  • Diversity in Counseling: Your time in this class will equip you with a framework for providing equitable counseling services to clients of all demographics and backgrounds.
  • Family Relationships and Counseling: A class on family psychology will investigate the effects of family dynamics on personality and behavior, and it may also cover ways to improve family interactions.
  • Group Therapy: You can explore advanced ideas and techniques for providing psychotherapy services in group settings.
  • Human Lifespan Development: In this course, you’ll study advanced topics relating to physical, social, and cognitive development during different stages of life.
  • Leadership in Behavioral Health: This class will help you grow as an organizational leader in mental health or nonprofit settings.
  • Mental Health Law: You can study how current laws shape mental health treatment, consider areas that would benefit from reform, and discuss ways to shape new policies.
  • Neuropsychology: This class will address the relationship between the brain and behavior and discuss ways that brain issues can lead to problematic behavior.
  • Psychology Teaching: If you’re going to be a teaching assistant or have plans to enter academia, this course can help you become a skilled instructor.
  • Research Methods in Psychology: Especially if you have to write a dissertation, you’re likely to take one or more courses about designing psychology research projects.

Many PsyD online programs include multiple practicums. Tracks leading to licensure typically involve an internship of several months as well.

Admissions Requirements

Online PsyD Programs admissions

The standards for PsyD admissions vary from one school to another. Some programs require a master’s degree, and others allow admissions with a bachelor’s degree. It may be worth noting that some universities offer combined masters and PsyD programs for students wishing to earn both degrees at the same time.

The following list provides a general overview of other common admissions requirements for accredited PsyD programs:

  • College transcripts that reflect a minimum GPA
  • GRE or GMAT scores (only some schools require them)
  • Letters of reference from people working in your field
  • Resume or curriculum vitae

Some PsyD programs can be selective. It’s strategic to highlight your strengths in your application and to turn in your materials on time.

Accreditation

Online PsyD Programs accreditation

People trust psychologists to provide accurate information and evidence-based answers. Accredited degrees are one key sign that a psychology professional has received a proper education in this field.

Regional accreditation is granted to colleges that have demonstrated their ability to provide a good education. It’s the gold standard of institutional accreditation.

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Credits and degrees from accredited schools are more commonly respected. If you want to transfer elsewhere or secure a postdoctoral fellowship, attending an accredited college may be a requirement. Academic employers and those from other sectors prefer accredited degrees as well.

Psychology Licensure and Certifications

Psychology Licensure and Certifications

If you’re interested in a role that requires a license in psychology, here’s a general overview of the steps to licensure:

  1. Doctoral degree. Enroll for a doctoral degree in psychology, preferably at a school that’s been accredited by the American Psychology Association.
  2. Internship. Gain professional experience through an internship during your doctoral program.
  3. EPPP exam. After graduation, take the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP).
  4. Supervised work experience. Earn additional work experience in a supervised setting.
  5. Obtain state license. Submit proof that you’ve met all requirements to your state licensure board.

The regulations surrounding licensure are set by individual states, so if you want to be licensed, you can check your state’s specific requirements.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Online PsyD Programs financial aid

If you are determined to earn a doctoral degree, you don’t need to let monetary worries hold you back. Instead, you can take a look at your options for financial aid.

As a doctoral student, you qualify to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Grants aren’t especially common for graduate students, but you may be able to receive loans through your state or the federal government.

Grad students may be eligible to receive scholarships and fellowships as well. These may cover the full cost of tuition or a portion of it. The funds could also go toward other costs, such as conference registration or research expenses.

Your employer may be willing to fund part of your studies if your education will benefit your workplace. Also, some schools cover the cost of doctoral studies for students who work as teaching assistants.

What Is a PsyD Degree?

professional doctorate for psychology practitioners

A Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree is a professional doctorate for psychology practitioners.

In general, professional doctorates are intended for people who want to receive a doctoral education but don’t plan to enter academia. Instead, they want to become more proficient in their roles as practitioners.

A PsyD can lead to psychology licensure. For example, clinical psychologists who provide counseling services may hold this degree. Having a PsyD doesn’t rule out a future in academia, as some graduates do become professors or researchers.

Is a PsyD a Doctor?

Doctor of Psychology degree

A PsyD is someone who holds a Doctor of Psychology degree. In other words, if you earn a PsyD, you can use the title “doctor” before your name.

That doesn’t mean that a PsyD is a medical doctor, though. Psychologists don’t treat physical health concerns or prescribe medication. That requires going to medical school and becoming an MD.

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If you’re interested in being a medical doctor who treats mental health issues, you can look into becoming a psychiatrist instead of a psychologist.

What Can You Do with a PsyD Degree?

Many graduates from PsyD programs pursue careers as licensed psychologists. They may provide counseling to groups or individuals, serve as educational consultants, weigh in on policy matters, or head community organizations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most psychologists earn between $46,270 and $137,590 annually.

PsyD programs careers

Psychologists with a background in business or education may focus on employee development and coordinate training programs. Some psychology professionals even go into human resources roles. A psychology doctorate can also be a qualification to teach at the university level.

Do You Need a Masters to Get a PsyD?

For the most part, you can expect to need a master’s degree before beginning a doctoral program. That’s how many PsyD courses of study are set up. There are exceptions, though. Select programs offer admission to applicants who only hold a bachelors degree. Admission criteria will vary by university.

If you enroll in a program that allows you to bypass master’s studies, you may have the opportunity to save time and money. On the other hand, the curriculum for such a program may have extra requirements to make up for the lack of previous graduate studies.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Doctorate in Psychology Online?

Doctorate in Psychology Online

It generally takes 3 to 5 years to complete a doctoral program. The first several years of study may be dedicated to coursework.

After that, you may need to complete an internship and write a dissertation. That will vary based on your program, though. If you don’t need to complete an internship, you may be able to shave a year off of your total program length.

The dissertation process can be the most time-consuming aspect of getting a doctorate. If your program doesn’t require a dissertation, you might be able to wrap up your studies in just 3 years with full-time study.

Some universities offer part time PsyD programs, which would take longer to complete but may be a good option for students with other commitments.

Are There Any Online APA Accredited PsyD Programs?

APA Accredited PsyD Programs

The American Psychological Association (APA) doesn’t grant accreditation to 100% online doctoral programs.

Online study can still be a part of accredited doctoral degrees, though, and you may still be able to take some online classes. For example, you could enroll in a blended program that includes a mix of online and on-campus material.

Certain parts of your program will likely be done in person. For example, the APA specifies that practicum classes should always be conducted in face-to-face settings.

What’s the Difference Between a PsyD vs. PhD in Psychology?

A PhD in Psychology and a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) are two different options for a terminal degree in this field.

PsyD PhD in Psychology
  • Focuses on practical applications
  • May require a capstone project or a dissertation
  • Can often be completed in less time than a PhD
  • May lead to practitioner roles
  • Focuses on theory and research
  • Usually requires a dissertation
  • Often takes more time to complete than a PsyD
  • May lead to research or academic roles

If you’re interested in licensure, either a PsyD or a PhD can help you achieve it.

Is a PsyD Worth It?

Yes, a PsyD is worth it for many students. It’s an essential step toward most types of psychology licensure.

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, psychologists are expected to experience 3% job growth over the next 10 years. Certain branches of psychology are predicted to have faster rates of increase than others. For example, greater employment opportunities are projected for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists.

Universities Offering Online Doctor of Psychology Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Alaska Pacific University

Alaska Pacific University

Alaska Pacific University offers an online Doctor of Psychology program that is intended for working professionals. It features synchronous lessons and weekend on-campus intensives.

The program requires both a dissertation and an internship to graduate and can usually be completed in five years. This is a full-time program intended to lead to licensure in the state of Alaska.

Alaska Pacific University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Alliant International University

Alliant International University

Alliant International University offers an online Doctor of Psychology in School Psychology. It is fifty credit hours long and typically takes a minimum of two years to complete. It is fully online, with no on-campus requirements. The program features both a School Psychology track and a School Counseling track.

Alliant is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

California Southern University

California Southern University

California Southern University’s Doctor of Psychology program is a 66 credit hour program that can typically be completed in four to five years. It includes a variety of electives and opportunities for supervised clinical experience. It is designed to prepare students for obtaining licensure in the state of California.

CalSouthern is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Capella University

Capella University

Capella University’s Doctor of Psychology program incorporates a blend of online and in-person learning experiences.

Students are required to take nine core courses, seven specialization courses, and four electives. The program also includes a residency, a practicum/internship, and a clinical dissertation. Applicants do not need to submit GRE or GMAT scores to apply.

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Meridian University

Meridian University

Meridian University’s PsyD in Clinical Psychology program is a hybrid program that uses both online courses and on-site residential intensives.

It requires 108 coursework credits, 25 fieldwork credits, and 6 intensives. The program usually takes 33 to 46 months to complete and is accredited by the WASC. Students who have a master’s in psychology may apply for Advanced Standing status.

Meridian University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Touro University Worldwide

Touro University Worldwide

Touro University Worldwide offers a PsyD that can potentially be earned in as little as three years. The program offers 100% online courses in terms that are 8 weeks long. It requires 66 credit hours to graduate, and students can transfer up to 6 qualifying credit hours. The program is accredited by WSCUC. GRE scores are not required to apply.

Touro University Worldwide is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

University of Arizona

University of Arizona

The University of Arizona’s online PsyD program includes ten core courses, seven specialization courses, a capstone seminar, and an applied doctoral project. Courses are 6 to 9 weeks long. Students can choose a specialization in Criminology and Justice Studies, Health and Wellness Psychology, or Sport and Performance Psychology.

The University of Arizona is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Walden University

Walden University

Walden University offers a Doctor of Behavioral Health Leadership. The program requires two residencies and a capstone course.

Students can choose either the general program or a specialization. Specialization options are Healthcare Management, Health Psychology, Industrial and Organizational Psychology, International Practice, Public Health, or Teaching.

Walden is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Getting Your PsyD Degree Online

PsyD Degree Online

Psychology is a fascinating field. Not only can you develop your expertise in a doctoral program, but you can also work to advance your career.

With a doctorate, psychology professionals tend to work as practitioners, professors, or researchers. Their efforts could improve mental health, prepare the next generation of psychologists, or influence policy matters.

When earning a Doctor of Psychology, you may be able to take some or all of your classes online. There are also some universities that offer accelerated psychology degrees online, which may help you earn your degree faster. Also, a number of universities offer PhD in Psychology programs online in addition to the PsyD.

You can start researching accredited universities today to find the PsyD program that best fits your personal schedule and professional goals.

Ready to start your journey?
Jordan Meeks
WRITTEN BY
Jordan Meeks
Jordan is pursuing a Ph.D. in Public Policy and earned her Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management and her Bachelor's in Business Administration. Jordan's research focuses on adults returning to college and online degree programs.