No matter which ambitions one has for the field of Psychology–whether it be working in schools with children, conducting original research, or joining university faculty members– there's a doctoral program that fits. The Top 10 Affordable Online Doctorates in Psychology can help you find a reasonably priced option with the flexibility of an online degree.
Earning a doctoral-level degree in Psychology is an impressive step one can take to guarantee a competitive footing in the field. Doctoral programs in Psychology equip students with a broad and in-depth understanding of all aspects of the field, including the skills, methodologies, and tools necessary to conduct original research and analysis. There are a few different types of doctoral degrees one can earn in Psychology, and some go so far as to offer specialized degrees for different types of Psychology. Whatever ambitions one has for the field of Psychology, whether it be working in schools with children, conducting original research, or joining university faculty members, there's a program that fits.
FINDING A PSYCHOLOGY DOCTORATE
There are a few different degrees one can earn in the pursuit of a doctoral-level education in Psychology. The Top 10 Affordable Online Doctorates in Psychology consists of Doctor of Philosophy programs, Doctor of Education programs, and what was most often ranked, the Doctor of Psychology degree. While all degrees in this ranking emphasizes the importance of building up from foundational knowledge into an understanding of how to apply and conduct research, some are tailored for more specific career outcomes, such as school counselors or psychologists. Psy. D. degrees tend to focus more on the sciences of Psychology whereas the Ph.D. take on philosophical duties of the field. As with all doctoral programs, each degree ranked also required some type of final research project or dissertation.
Regardless of the degree title, all ranked programs have the most crucial goal in common: they are dedicated to the development of psychology students into leaders of the field, through means of extensive knowledge, skills in evidence-based practice, application of research, and creative problem-solving. Doctoral programs in Psychology typically begin with generalized coursework that covers topics like clinical assessments, interventions, and professional ethics and behaviors. From there, students may decide to pursue a specialization area within the degree or continue following highly-structured courses of study. The most important thing one could do to prepare themselves for the doctoral research of Psychology is to solidify their dedication to the field, and it's real-world development and success.
RANKING THE TOP 10 AFFORDABLE ONLINE DOCTORATES IN PSYCHOLOGY
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 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.
#1. ASHFORD UNIVERSITY
The online Doctor of Psychology offered by Ashford University is dedicated to cultivating a knowledge base in the history and systems of psychology in preparation for research and career specialization. The 62-credit program is made up of six to nine-week courses providing the training necessary to improve the mental health of others and contribute to meaningful support and change in society. The program is specifically designed for those who are or desire to be, practitioners in a particular set of disciplines. This includes the offered specialization areas of Criminal Justice, Mediation and Conflict Resolution, Sport and Performance Psychology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, and others dedicated to serving communities and improving emotional and mental health.
Coursework prepares students in theoretical studies, research, and evidence-based practice. They'll also be familiarized with the best practices of the field in terms of values, ethics, and professional attitudes and behaviors. The degree is made up of 10 core courses, seven specialization courses, and a capstone seminar, all culminating in an Applied Doctoral Project. Core topics include Adult Psychopathology and Biological Bases of Behavior, whereas the specialization courses are more refined in the theoretical basis of each subfield. Research courses prepare students in Scholarly Argument, Action Research, Evidence-Based Practice, and thorough sessions to plan their dissertation.
#2. CAPELLA UNIVERSITY
The Doctor of Psychology from Capella University is offered with a Clinical Psychology specialization. The curriculum focuses on mental disorders, psychotherapy, and clinical training, taking place in hybrid-format with a required on-campus residency. The program is designed to be flexible and prepare students with real-world experience while simultaneously pursuing their degree; the degree is a mix of coursework, residencies, clinical practicum, internships, and research. Students from the program have gone onto work as both psychologists but also researchers in the field, as well as clinical therapists and psychology faculty at universities.
The curriculum equips students with not only knowledge of the breadth of the field, but the skills needed to succeed professionally. Students will learn how to cultivate and implement their professional ethics, values, and behaviors. They will also be fluent with the direct application of scientific methods into professional practice. Research is also completed through the required dissertation, where students will be matched with an experienced mentor who will support them through conducting their original projects. The degree requires a minimum of 1,000 practicum hours and 2,000 internship hours, meaning upon graduation, students will already have a competitive amount of experience in the field.
#3. TOURO UNIVERSITY WORLDWIDE
The Doctor of Psychology in Human and Organizational Psychology from Touro University Worldwide prepares students for leadership and deeper engagement with the field. The program is 100% online with no residency required. The degree takes on organizational psychology recognizing that it is a growing field and that employers are continually seeking out the skills that those trained in this field have. While the degree does not lead to any form of licensure, it prepares students with the skills and tools to design evidence-based solutions, conduct original research, and to cultivate theory and breadth of knowledge in the field into practice.
Applicants of the Psy. D. program at Touro must have earned a master's degree with at least a 3.4 GPA. They must then prove their dedication to the field by submitting a formal essay that includes a description of a career outlook and desires from the program. Applicants should exemplify motivation, creativity, intellectual drive, and evidence of ambition in the field. Once admitted, students begin core coursework in Social, Cognitive, and Media Psychology. From there, students progress into topics of applied Psy. D. research, including methods and survey design. The second and third phase of the program combines this newfound knowledge into an extensive doctoral research and dissertation project, including a literature review and the development of an original conceptual framework.
#4. SOFIA UNIVERSITY
Sofia University offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Transpersonal Psychology. The 75-credit program is provided almost entirely online, with low residency requirements and estimated completion time of three years. The unique program is dedicated to the theories and practices of transpersonal psychology, designed for adult learners who have earned a master's degree and are looking for more specialized growth in the field. Transpersonal psychology emphasizes the importance of the positive individual, professional, and social transformation and enhancement. Students will be trained in the diverse professional applications of transpersonal principles, in preparation to conduct original research that will further the field.
The field has specific goals of increasing one's capacity to think critically and create innovative and integrative solutions to pressing issues of the field. Students will also be encouraged to develop themselves professionally, understanding the field from the perspective of a future educator or researcher. Different concentration areas are offered within the Ph.D. in Transpersonal Psychology, such as Transpersonal Education and Research, or Cognitive Psychology and Neuroscience.
#5. REGENT UNIVERSITY
Regent University offers a Doctor of Education in Educational Psychology, designed to prepare students for advanced academic inquiry with topics like psychology underpinnings of learning, cognitive strategies, learning environment cultivation, brain research, and much more. The degree is earned predominantly through online coursework alongside four-day residencies. Required residencies take place on campus during the summer term, allowing students to engage face-to-face with faculty, mentors, and their cohort. Courses take place in a structured sequence where students work amongst a group of peers, taking on foundational and extensive knowledge in preparation for their research projects.
Course topics get progressively more specialized and advanced as the program goes on. Students begin with courses like Data-Driven Decision Making, Information Research and Resources, and Christian Worldview for Educators, as Regent is a proud Christian university that examines all disciplines through Biblical worldviews and lenses. From there, students go onto more advanced topics such as Culture, Communities, & Education, and Advanced Human LEarning & Motivational Development. Upon graduation, students will have completed their dissertation research combining their extensive knowledge with an understanding of issues, theories, and practice in the day-to-day of the field.
#6. ALASKA PACIFIC UNIVERSITY
The Doctor of Psychology in Counseling Psychology from Alaska Pacific University seeks to further the qualifications of professionals already working in the field, equipping them with advanced practical and skills-based abilities relevant to both their current workplace and potential ambitions. The degree is specially designed for those seeking degree requirements to work as a licensed psychologist in the state of Alaska. The program is strengths-based, emphasizing training in practical skills and knowledge necessary to work within a developmental perspective across the entirety of psychological functioning. Coursework is completed through synchronous online sessions as well as evening classes and on-campus intensives that take place every six weeks.
The on-campus intensives prepare students for internship placements, allowing them to practice skills in person and alongside a cohort of peers and faculty members. Coursework begins with technical aspects of working in the field, such as Ethics, Professional Values and Attitudes, and varying Counseling Theories and Skills. From there, students go onto more in-depth studies centered around the different ways to provide treatment. This includes Interventions in Anxiety-related Disorders, Assessment in Substance Abuse, Individual and Cultural Diversity, and more.
#7. FELICIAN UNIVERSITY
The Doctor of Counseling Psychology from Felician University is designed for those who are looking to enter the field of health service psychology post-graduation. Open to both those with a master's and those with only a bachelor's degree, the program is flexible and offers both hybrid or fully online courses of study. The degree prepares students for licensure in the state of New Jersey using a scholar/practitioner training model that equips students with the skills needed as a psychologist and an independent practitioner. They'll be familiarized with the most current research in counseling psychology and, upon graduation, prepared to offer scholarly contributions to the field.
Applicants to the program must submit essays and transcripts and complete a subsequent interview; no minimum GPA is required. Once admitted, students join a small, 10-12 person cohort class and begin courses in the fall. Coursework will vary depending on whether the student is entering with a bachelor's or a master's degree; those with only an undergraduate degree will take a year's worth of coursework covering the groundworks of the field. Those entering traditionally with a master's degree will have four years in the program, taking a breadth of courses such as Personality Assessment, Health Psychology, Cognitive Basis of Behavior, and Psychopathology, before completing a pre-doctoral internship their final year.
#8. DUQUESNE UNIVERSITY
Duquesne University offers a Doctor of Psychology in School Psychology for those committed to enhancing the well-being of youth, their families, and the educational systems that they navigate. The degree is a total of 91 credits and is designed to be consistent with the local-clinical scientist model of training; the curriculum utilized evidence-based practice founded in literature and theory and then give students the tools to implement these practices. Students learn how to efficiently use empirically-validated research programs and interventions, tailored to their own varied practice settings. This model of training has cultivated the program to consist of intensive studies and a consequent year-long field experience where students familiarize themselves with issues in the field, learning how best to provide and implement solutions.
Applicants to the Psy. D. at Duquesne should have a master's degree, but there is no minimum GPA requirement. Once admitted, students begin coursework in a sequential plan of study, covering the breadth of the field with topics like Behavior and Academic Interventions, Child and Adolescent Counseling, Personality Assessment, Psychotherapy, and more. This coursework culminates in both a final doctoral practicum and applied project, as well as a year-long internship. Graduate assistantships are granted to competitive applicants and offer a sufficient amount of funding.
#9. WILLIAM JAMES COLLEGE
The Doctorate in Leadership Psychology offered by William James College combines extensive knowledge with refined leadership skills to prepare students for greater career growth and opportunity. Graduates of the program are equipped with the skills and tools necessary to support and lead those around them in their personalized growth and development. The program is completed between four to six years and takes a unique approach to understand how individuals function as leaders and followers. Coursework examines leaders, followers, and advisors alike, to prepare students and provide them with the capacity to influence within their future careers. One residential summer session is required.
Educational Leadership concentrations include Leading Nonprofits and NGOs; Neuroscience of Leadership Psychology; African & Caribbean Mental Health; and Global Mental Health. The bulk of coursework is finished within core subjects such as Ethics and Standards, Organization Development and Change, and Adaptive Leadership. From there, students go onto research courses to prepare them for practicum and fieldwork sequences during their second year. All students complete a doctoral project and have room for a handful of electives within their chosen concentration area. Electives cover more refined topics such as Building Resilience in Communities after Trauma, Shaping School Culture, and Addiction in Business.
#10. YESHIVA UNIVERSITY
The Doctor of Psychology in School-Clinical Child Psychology from Yeshiva University provides training that integrates school and clinical psychology, while primarily focusing on children, adolescents, and families. Students develop the skills and are familiarized with tools necessary in settings such as schools, medical centers, early childhood centers, and more. They'll be ready to apply knowledge of developmental psychology, psychotherapy, education, assessment, developmental disabilities, family and systems theory, psychopathology, and many more to many types of practice in the field. Upon graduation, students will also already have attained hands-on experience through a required practicum in settings such as psychodynamic psychotherapy treatment or CBT treatment. They may also conduct real-life psychological, psychoeducational, and neuropsychological evaluations.
Applicants to the program should have completed coursework in typical and atypical childhood development, and admission is preferred of those who have especially demonstrated graduate-level competence in previous studies. The course of study is divided into overarching topics: Theory and Interventions, Assessment, Typical and Atypical Development, and Research. Core coursework covers the breadth of the field in preparation for both the practicum experience and research lab sessions, as well as an internship completed in conjunction with an original research project.