Top 20 Affordable Online PhDs in Psychology

The field of psychology offers many career options and promising employment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment opportunities for psychologists are expected to grow by 14% between 2016 and 2026, which is a faster growth rate than other occupations.

By 2026, approximately 23,000 additional psychologist jobs should be added to the job market. Many psychology positions require applicants to have a doctoral degree, and taking the time to earn your doctorate can make you more competitive and qualify you for positions that offer higher salaries.

The Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology is one of the highest degrees that you can earn, and the 20 Top Affordable Online PhDs in Psychology programs allow you to further your education while enjoying scheduling and location flexibility.


Earning an online Ph.D. in Psychology may be the ideal solution to the challenge of balancing your education with your current work schedule. The programs in this ranking are all designed with the needs of working professionals in mind, and it’s understood that you’re probably pursuing your education while also meeting work, family, and other personal commitments. These programs allow students to complete the majority of their coursework online, offering flexibility in terms of both scheduling and physical location. Some of these programs can be completed entirely online with no on-campus requirements, while others incorporate on-campus intensives to allow for hands-on learning experiences.

To find the right program for you, consider a few different factors. These programs offer various specializations and concentrations, so be sure that any program you consider aligns with your professional and educational goals. The requirements of residencies or intensives will also affect your decision, especially if you’re exploring schools in other states. While many of these programs offer asynchronous online learning where you can log in at your convenience, some do require you to be online at pre-scheduled times for live sessions. The length of a program may also affect your decision. Most of these programs can be completed within three to five years, and they all culminate in a dissertation or doctoral project. With so many quality programs available, you’re sure to find an option that works for your needs.


While you’re on your way to earning your Ph.D. or Doctorate within your field, the editors at Online PhD Programs are already practicing doctors of their craft: ranking the best online Ph.D. programs. To be featured on our annual rankings online doctorates must satisfy four coinciding requirements: accreditation, research and scholarship doctorate certification, NSF recognition, and institutional association with peer-reviewed academia.

Each degree is then ranked using the information provided – primarily – through the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook. The data collected is scored through a series of weighted categories to represent seven crucial aspects of what makes an online doctorate valuable to future students. Online program quality and presence are joined by industry salaries, student reviews, degree exclusivity, costs, and completion rates to determine the best online doctorates available. For a comprehensive breakdown of how we categorize and source data, please visit our methodology page.


Amridge University’s Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Degree in Professional Counseling is a research-oriented program designed to provide students with an education that emphasizes both therapeutic exercise and scholarship. During the program, students will learn about human development, problems with abuse and addiction, the theories of counseling, and more. To graduate from the program, students must pass a comprehensive examination and successfully defend their thesis, among other requirements. This 60-hour program may be completed in four years, and students have the option to study on a full-time or part-time basis. The coursework is delivered partially online but also consists of traditional in-person classroom learning, too.

Since its foundation in 1967, Amridge University has primarily focused on providing quality distance learning opportunities to students. The university has offered online education since 1993 and the U.S. Department of Education chose Amridge as one of the first 15 institutions to pilot distance education on a broader level. Located in Montgomery, Alabama, Amridge is a private coeducational institution with a Christian heritage. Because over 90% of its students qualify for federal financial aid, Amridge works to keep education as affordable as possible by offering scholarships as well as incentive discounts for first-time freshmen, sister institution staff, military students, and more.

Format: Online


Northcentral University’s online Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (Ph.D.) degree prepares students to become independent psychology scholars. This online degree program consists of 60 credit hours and takes 48 months to complete. Students may choose from eight different specializations, including Gender Diversity Studies, Gerontology, and Industrial-Organizational Psychology. Classes start every Monday, and with 52 different start dates in each year, students don’t have to wait to begin their degree. During the program, students will focus on experiential learning that’s supplemented with case studies, vignettes, and more. Mentoring professors also offer support, guidance, and experience to help students progress through the degree and prepare for their careers.

Located in San Diego, California, NCU is a private, nonprofit online university with students located all over the world. The university was founded in 1996 to serve working professionals, and today offers a variety of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees with the flexibility that adult learners need. With no on-campus residency requirements, NCU programs are accessible to adults no matter where they live. This feature makes an NCU education particularly appealing to military members and international students since they don’t have to relocate or travel. NCU also offers a unique one-on-one learning model, where NCU professors with doctoral degrees teach courses one-on-one. This design allows for personalized, rigorous education.

Format: Online


Oregon State University offers a Ph.D. in Counseling degree that is delivered as a hybrid format. This program is intended for students who have a master’s degree and prepares them to hold positions as advanced practitioners, clinical supervisors, and counselor educators. The program takes between three and five years to complete, and students progress through the program in a cohort model which allows for peer support. Departmental professors and advisors also help guide students through the degree. The hybrid model of this program incorporates both online instruction and face-to-face learning. Students attend residential classes twice each quarter, meeting at OSU’s Portland classroom for weekend sessions.

Founded in 1868, OSU is an international public research university that offers 55 different degree programs online through the OSU Ecampus. The comprehensive OSU Ecampus offers over 30 graduate programs, more than 25 minor and certificate programs, and over 20 chemistry labs and courses. In total, over 1,200 online courses in more than 100 subjects are available through the Ecampus. Over 23,000 students are enrolled through the Ecampus, including students from all 50 states and over 50 different countries. The U.S. News & World Report ranks the University’s online bachelor’s programs as the third best in the country as of 2019 and includes OSU in its Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans ranking.

Format: Online


At Touro University Worldwide, the Doctor of Psychology in Human and Organizational Psychology is available entirely online with no residency requirement. This program helps students to translate psychology theory into practice through coursework and the development of a dissertation. Students work with a faculty dissertation chair and committee as they choose a dissertation topic and progress through the proposal and dissertation development and defense phases. Program applicants must have a master’s degree and a cumulative GPA in master’s coursework of at least 3.4. No GRE test scores are required for admission. Among other elements, two letters of recommendation and a doctoral entrance essay are also required.

TUW provides education and degrees to adult learners, professionals, and underserved populations. Through TUW, students may access a variety of associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees at TUW’s four schools: The School of Business and Management, the School of Psychology, the Edith Neumann School of Health and Human Services, and the School of General Studies. In addition to the comprehensive online degree offerings for learners all over the world, the Touro College Los Angeles Division offers campus-based undergraduate programs for local learners. TUW has six start terms each year, and each term lasts for eight weeks. Federal financial aid is available to students who qualify.

Format: Online


Michigan State University’s Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and Educational Technology develops educational leaders who have a solid foundation in both innovative research and practice. This five-year rigorous program focuses on how students can use their understanding of learning and development theories to help design learning environments. Program graduates are prepared to hold leadership positions in a variety of educational settings, including K-12 school systems, community colleges, higher education institutions, and more. The hybrid delivery of the program includes two integrated courses during summer semesters, and then students take online courses during the fall and spring semesters. The two-week face-to-face on-campus summer session is often preceded by online work and then followed with five weeks of online learning to complete the summer courses. This program begins in the summer of even years, and students must apply by December 1 of odd years.

Founded in 1855 as the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan, MSU was the first institution in the country to teach scientific agriculture. Today, the 5,200-acre East Lansing, Michigan campus houses 566 buildings. The U.S. News & World Report has ranked MSU as 85th among the top 100 universities in the world, and 35th among the country’s top public universities. The U.S. News & World Report also ranked MSU’s graduate programs in organizational psychology, African history, and higher education administration as top programs in the nation.

Format: Online


Fielding Graduate University offers a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology degree that is delivered in a unique way. Many of the program’s students have worked in the mental health field, and the program is designed to accommodate more traditional students as well as under-represented populations, such as military students, students living in rural areas, and adult students with families. The program delivery blends face-to-face learning opportunities with digital learning where students can learn from faculty located all over the country. Students attend monthly cluster meetings in their geographic area and participate in weeklong National Sessions consisting of seminars, forums, dissertation committee meetings, guest speakers, and more.

Founded in 1974 in Santa Barbara, California, Fielding Graduate University was created to help mid-career adults attain advanced degrees, and to understand and accommodate how adults learn best. To accommodate those learning styles specific of adults, Fielding developed a learning model that is flexible and self-directed, as well as competency-based. With 190 faculty, Fielding offers an impressive 5:1 student-to-faculty ratio that allows for a personalized education where faculty are able to provide students with individualized attention and support. Fielding consists of a variety of schools and colleges, including the School of Psychology, the School of Leadership Studies, and the Institute for Social Innovation.

Format: Online


At Grand Canyon University, graduate students can take a variety of Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology degrees entirely online. GCU offers a Ph.D. in Performance Psychology, a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology, a Ph.D. in Counselor Education, a Ph.D. in I/O Psychology, and a Ph.D. in Psych Tech online. Through these programs, students gain access to GCU’s innovative digital classroom where they’ll learn from GCU’s full-time faculty. The dissertation process is embedded in the program, giving students support and structure as they progress toward completing their dissertation. Students will conduct research and create their own theories, which they can then apply to careers in business, government, or higher education.

GCU is located in Phoenix, Arizona, and is a nonprofit Christian university that undergraduate and graduate programs both on-campus and online. The university was chartered in 1949 and featured an enrollment of 100 students at the time. Since then, GCU has undergone substantial growth, and its fall 2017 on-campus enrollment was over 19,000. As of 2016, over 75% of the traditional students enrolled at GCU studied STEM and business programs. In addition to its traditional on-campus students, GCU is also home to over 60,000 students currently studying online. More than 47% of those online students are studying at the graduate level.

Format: Online


Regent University’s Doctor of Philosophy in Counseling & Psychological Studies – Research degree is offered completely online. The degree prepares students to hold careers in mental health counseling, research, education, and psychological science, and students progress through the degree in 16-week course sessions. In addition to completing the program coursework, students must also perform 150 hours of on-site experience and human services work. All of the program’s coursework is offered online, making this program ideal for students who don’t live close to campus or who need the flexibility of online education. Award-winning Regent University faculty teach the courses, and no GRE is required for admission to the program.

Regent University offers associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees to over 11,000 students. With over 130 program areas, students may explore a variety of educational paths, including in divinity, leadership, law, healthcare, cybersecurity, and the arts. Thanks to its 14% growth over the past two years, Regent University is recognized as one of the fastest growing schools in the country. At Regent University, approximately 86% of graduate students receive financial aid. In 2019, the U.S. News & World Report included Regent University in its Top National Universities ranking.

Format: Online


The Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) from UAGC is a 62-credit-hour online degree program taught by faculty who hold doctoral degrees. Students may choose from specializations in Criminology and Justice Studies, Industrial-Organizational Psychology, and Sport and Performance Psychology. Students also complete an Applied Doctoral Project. During the program, students develop their knowledge of theory, research, and evidence-based practice, preparing them for practitioner roles. Courses last between six and nine weeks, and online students are able to access technical support 24/7, ensuring they have the help they need to access their online courses.

UAGC offers online learning to students through its online platform. Courses are offered in an asynchronous format, allowing students to log in anytime. Students usually take one class at a time and are able to communicate with their peers and with instructors through the online learning platform. Thanks to the flexibility of UAGC’s online courses, many students work full-time jobs while pursuing their education. Students also have access to librarians, writing assistants, and career service specialists who can offer specialized support while helping students progress toward earning their degrees. The university offers associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in many different fields, including education, healthcare, business, communications, and information technology.

Format: Online


Keiser University’s Doctor of Philosophy in Industrial and Organizational Psychology is a distance learning program delivered mostly online. Students progress through the program in cohorts and attend two residencies. The first residency occurs during orientation, and the second residency allows students to discuss their research interests with faculty mentors. Students begin working on their dissertations early on in the program, and the program culminates in a dissertation defense. This program features two potential entry tracks. Students may have a master’s degree, or they may enter with a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field. Students who take the bachelor’s degree track to entry must complete an additional 18 graduate semester coursework hours, including a thesis, during this program.

Keiser University has campuses throughout Florida, and its graduate campus is located in Fort Lauderdale. The university was founded in 1977 with the goal of serving adult learners who sought a career-focused education. Today, Keiser University is the third-largest not-for-profit university in Florida, with an enrollment of approximately 20,000 students. Students can pursue over 100 bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs at Keiser University. In the past two years, students at the university also received almost $76 million in academic and need-based scholarships. The U.S. News & World Report ranked Keiser University as #56 in its 2019 Regional Universities South category, as well as #48 in its Best College for Veterans ranking.

Format: Online


The California Institute of Integral Studies offers an Integral and Transpersonal Psychology Ph.D. program online. This 36-unit program takes three years to complete part-time, and students also complete a dissertation. The program is delivered almost entirely online, with the exception of residential intensives in the San Francisco Bay area twice each year. Uniquely structured to meet the needs of working professionals, the program is affiliated with a planned research laboratory, and senior scholars in the field are available to help guide student research. Additionally, some students have the chance to help produce a peer-reviewed journal, the International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, gaining valuable experience in academic publication. The program is designed for professionals who wish to develop their skills and further shape their areas of specialization, and the critical thinking skills and scholarly writing experience the program offers to translate to many different work areas.

Located in San Francisco, California, CIIS has provided transformative education opportunities for the past 50 years. CIIS offers rigorous degree programs and small classes taught by faculty who are dedicated to students’ success. CIIS offers seven online degree programs, including bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Each semester, online students attend a three- to seven-day residential intensive, during which time they attend workshops and classes and also have the opportunity for community building with their peers and faculty. In between these residencies, students complete online coursework. This online format allows students from all over the world to interact with faculty as they earn their degree.

Format: Online


At Liberty University, the Doctorate (Ph.D.) in Counselor Education and Supervision program is offered online and can be completed in three to four years. This 60-credit-hour program is intensives-based, and students will supplement their online coursework with one-week intensives on the Liberty University Lynchburg, Virginia campus. The intensives facilitate face-to-face learning and also allow students to interact with each other. Students also complete an internship and a dissertation. Program graduates will be prepared to hold leadership positions in a variety of settings, including within clinical settings, higher education, and counseling associations. Program applicants must have a master’s degree in counseling or a related field, and a minimum 3.25 graduate coursework GPA.

In 1971, Liberty University was founded as an evangelical liberal arts institution. Since then, the university has grown to encompass 16 colleges and schools, offering over 550 programs of study to its more than 100,000 students. Liberty University has also pioneered the area of distance education, launching the Liberty University School of Lifelong Learning in 1985. The university offers over 250 programs to students online, and with no set log in times, these options are ideal for students balancing work schedules with their education. Despite offering a valuable education, Liberty University hasn’t increased tuition for any of its undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral programs in the past four years.

Format: Online


Sofia University’s Doctor of Philosophy in Transpersonal Psychology is a 75-unity degree that is offered in online and on-campus formats. The program takes about three years to complete and is founded in the work of the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology. While the majority of the program’s coursework is offered online, some electives are only offered as in-person courses. Students must also attend three in-person seminars at Sofia University’s Northern California campus before beginning the dissertation phase of the program. Concentrations involve Applied Transpersonal Psychology, and Consciousness and Creativity Studies. Program applicants should have a master’s degree and a desire to advance their careers or focus on their personal growth or enhanced relationships.

Located in Palo Alto, California, Sofia University was founded in 1975. The university offers a transformative education with core values including cultural humility, inspiration, commitment, stewardship, emotional awareness, and more. Sofia University was founded as the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology but has since broadened its educational focus to include not only psychology but also computer science and business. Today, Sofia University offers a variety of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in fields including Chinese Language, Clinical Psychology, and Counseling Psychology. The university offers tuition that is significantly lower than the rates at comparable institutions, and the Sr. Education Group included Sofia University in its 2019 rankings of affordable Master in Computer Science programs.

Format: Online


The Ph.D. in Psychology program at Saybrook University is offered online, making it ideal for students who are working full-time yet who want to advance their career. Program graduates have gone on to work in many different locations and environments, including community health centers, education, prisons, corporate officers, nonprofits, and in the juvenile justice system. This degree is designed for graduates who plan to pursue non-clinical careers, or who already have a license but wish to expand their knowledge. The program does not prepare students for clinical licensure. While most of the coursework is offered online, this program follows a hybrid model in which students attend periodic on-campus residencies, including two five-day residential conferences each year.

Saybrook University is located in Oakland, California. The university offers degree programs in many different fields, including Counseling, Transformative Social Change, Mind-Body Medicine, and Integrative Wellness Coaching. Saybrook’s online programs are supplemented by residential conferences, allowing for in-person interaction between faculty and students. Most Saybrook degree programs require students to attend conferences at the beginning of each semester, immersing themselves in a supportive educational community. These conferences feature over 150 courses and events and are attended by over 300 students and faculty. Held in Monterey, California, each conference serves to offer both in-person training and to introduce the course that students are beginning.

Format: Online


Hampton University’s Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision degree is designed for licensed counselors and is delivered entirely online. The program helps students to develop their clinical and supervisory skills, allowing them to better serve their patients and the counseling community on the whole. The program is suitable for professionals who are in clinical, academic, or research environments, and concentrations are offered in school counseling and community mental health counseling. The 64-credit-hour program takes about 3.5 years to complete. Program applicants must provide proof of their licensure and credentials, as well as GRE test scores from within the last five years.

This program is offered through Hampton U Online, which offers undergraduate, graduate, certificate, and professional development programs to accommodate learners who wouldn’t otherwise be able to access a Hampton University education. Hampton U Online students enjoy a great variety of support services, including career services, library services, writing center support, and more. Eligible Hampton U Online students may qualify for federal, state, and university financial aid. Hampton U Online also offers a deferred payment schedule that allows students to pay for part of their tuition costs throughout the progression of each semester. Hampton U Online also offers a number of benefits for military students.

Format: Online


Pacifica Graduate Institute offers an MA/Ph.D. Program in Depth Psychology with Specialization in Jungian Psychology in Archetypal Studies in a hybrid format. The program takes about three years to complete and culminates with the development and defense of a dissertation. Students are able to take most of the coursework online, working in the comfort of their own home. Students then travel to the Ladera Lane or Lambert Road, California campus for a four-day residential session once each quarter. These residential sessions allow students to meet with their peers and with faculty face-to-face for a combination of lecture, discussion, and experiential learning. Students also attend social events, guest lectures, and circle councils during these on-campus experiences. During the program, students will explore theories, skills, and practices that they can then apply to their careers, as well as to their personal lives.

Pacifica Graduate Institute offers nine depth psychology-based master’s and doctoral degree programs. Founded in 1976 as a paraprofessional certificate program, the school has evolved to encompass two campuses and is home to over 3,500 alumni. Pacifica students have access to numerous support resources, including writing resources and tutors who can help students with grammar, formatting, and more. The Graduate Research Library features research databases, an ebooks directory, and an interlibrary loan service. Pacifica’s learning management system, Desire2Learn, is available 24/7, removing the physical and scheduling barriers to education. The university also offers guidance, resources, and personalized support to students as needed.

Format: Online


Lesley University’s Doctor of Philosophy in Expressive Therapies is a low-residency program that accommodates students’ work and personal schedules. Students can access most coursework online, but complete a three-week on-campus residency for three summers. The residency gives students time to meet with their advisor, attend classes, and collaborate with their peers. Online class sessions keep students connected with their faculty and with other graduate students throughout the rest of the year. During the fourth year of the program, students perform independent work on their dissertation. This 45-credit program is ideal for students who wish to advance a higher education career or who are driven to become leaders in art therapy.

Lesley University was the first institution in the country to train students in the expressive therapies field. The school’s expressive therapies program is the largest of its kind and program graduates go on to hold many different positions, including music therapist, art therapist, mental health therapist, creative therapist, and more. Lesley is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Mental Health America recognizes Massachusetts as being the best state in the country for mental health care. Lesley was founded in 1909 as a school to train teachers, and today the university offers undergraduate and graduate programs in a variety of fields, including education, the humanities, science and mathematics, art & design, and business management.

Format: Online


The Chicago School of Professional Psychology offers an online Ph.D. in International Psychology with a concentration in Trauma Services. This degree program takes between three and four years to complete at a full-time study rate, and it provides students with the skills that they’ll need to establish programs that address mental health issues related to traumatic experiences. Most of the coursework is available online, but students also must attend two international Field Experiences. These Field Experiences are a minimum of nine days long and take place in years one and three of the program. The program selects the location of these Field Experiences, and at least one faculty member accompanies the students on these trips. Students must also complete a dissertation during this program.

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology offers more than 20 different degree programs in fields such as nursing, public health, and counseling psychology. The school has campuses in Irvine, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., San Diego, Chicago, New Orleans, and Dallas. Founded in 1979, this nonprofit school has educated over 7,000 graduates, and each year Chicago School students spend 1.2 million hours serving the world through fieldwork and practicum opportunities. Thanks to the school’s 20 global academic partners, students may explore international and study abroad opportunities, gaining a global perspective through hands-on training. All Chicago School faculty are leaders in their fields and active researchers, allowing them to provide an exceptional education to students.

Format: Online


Endicott College’s Ph.D. in Applied Behavior Analysis program is offered simultaneously as on-campus classes as well as in an asynchronous online format that allows students outside of the area to earn their degree without having to relocate. During this 60-credit program, students take courses such as Conditioning and Learning, Research in Social Skills Training, Experimental Design & Analysis, and Research Methods and Applied Behavior Analysis. Program applicants must have a master’s degree in applied behavior analysis or a comparable field. It is also recommended that program applicants be licensed behavior analysts or have an active Behavior Analysis Certification Board certificate.

Endicott College is located in Beverly, Massachusetts and its 235-acre campus is located just 20 miles from Boston. Additionally, the college has academic sites throughout Boston, 19 instructional sites in New England, and five international sites in locations including Bermuda, Spain, and Thailand. Endicott offers a 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio and has earned numerous national awards for the quality of its education. In 2019, the U.S. News & World Report ranked Endicott as one of the top 25 Regional Universities North, as eleventh in the Most Innovative Schools ranking, as forty-sixth in the Best Value Schools Ranking, and as tenth in the Best Colleges for Veterans ranking.

Format: Online


California Southern University’s Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) program is an applied degree with a clinical focus. This degree meets the California clinical psychologist licensure requirements and is intended for students who wish to further their careers or attain licensure as a clinical psychologist. This online program combines together foundational courses with electives, and it culminates in a rigorous doctoral project. Students may select a doctoral project on a topic that interests them and may incorporate a community-based action-research project, a critical literature analysis, or a clinical application and analysis into the project. The 66-credit-hour program is offered online and takes four years to complete on a full-time basis. Students perform their practicum at approved local sites, making this program ideal for students who may not be located near CalSouthern’s campus.

Founded in 1978, CalSouthern is an online university offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in a variety of fields including psychology, business law, and nursing. CalSouthern’s online degrees allow students to complete their coursework on their schedule, allowing them to balance education with their personal lives. There are no entrance exams and courses start monthly, so students can promptly begin their degree. Faculty mentors work with students one-on-one, offering personalized guidance to students through their entire academic careers. In order to help students afford their education, CalSouthern will not increase its tuition as long as students are continuously enrolled. Students can also choose from a number of different interest-free payment plans offered by the school.

Format: Online