Pros and Cons of Getting an Online Degree in Psychology

With a degree in psychology, you can apply your knowledge of human behavior and motivation to real-world situations. Companies in every industry hire psychologists for their expertise in human interactions. For example, law enforcement agencies hire forensic psychologists to analyze criminal behavior. Many psychologists work in marketing to study how consumers are drawn to products, services, and advertisements. And of course, many who hold advanced degrees in psychology work in the healthcare industry.

Online schools give students the flexibility to complete a degree while they work and earn money. Those who hold two-year Associate's degrees can take extra classes to earn an online Bachelor's degree in psychology. Those who have already earned a Bachelor's degree can enroll in a distance learning graduate program to earn a Master's degree in psychology online.

Though they have many benefits, online psychology schools may not be the best option for everyone. Students should carefully research different programs to see whether enrolling in a brick-and-mortar university or an online university is the best course.

Online Psychology Classes: Standard Curriculum

Accredited online psychology degree programs give students a solid understanding of

  • human behavior
  • human development
  • cognition
  • brain function
  • research methods
  • applications
Whether they specialize in clinical psychology or industrial applications, all Bachelor's degree students take courses in
  • introductory psychology
  • intermediate psychology
  • sociology
  • statistics
  • technical writing
  • anthropology
  • cognition and development
  • social psychology
  • abnormal psychology
Students pursuing a degree in clinical psychology or forensics take specialized graduate courses, including field research projects and internships. Online psychology schools help students arrange these off-campus learning opportunities.

        Online Psychology Programs: Pros
  • An online Bachelor's in psychology costs less than a degree from a brick-and-mortar school.

  • Students can attend classes from home.

  • Working professionals can keep their jobs while advancing their education.

  • Online, students can choose an accelerated path or take their time to graduate.

  • Online psychology schools offer more tracks than other programs, such as criminal justice, joint psychology/sociology, or forensics.

  • Many required textbooks are available as e-books.
        Online Psychology Programs: Cons
  • Interaction with instructors or other students is more difficult online.

  • At many traditional universities, graduate students in psychology can be supported by teaching positions and academic grants. But for an online Master's degree in psychology, all students must pay full tuition.

  • Researching online psychology degrees is time-consuming since there are different types of accreditation.

  • Research projects must be arranged off-campus.

Career Outlook

Analysts at the US Bureau of Labor Statistics project that employment in psychology will grow by 12% between 2008 and 2018. The fastest growing subfields are industrial psychology and social services. Whether a professional holds an online degree in psychology or a diploma from a traditional university, the median annual salary of a psychologist is quite high.

Industrial psychologists earn about $76,000 per year on average. This includes people who work at consulting firms or in the legal system. Clinical psychologists earn about $68,000 per year on average. However, with a Ph.D. or Psy.D. degree, the median salary for clinical psychologists is much higher.

© Had2Know 2010