Pursuing a career in psychology can allow you to explore a rewarding career that offers many employment opportunities. While a Master’s Degree in Psychology can prepare you for plenty of roles, furthering your education with a doctoral degree can position you for higher paying career opportunities. According to PayScale, the average annual salary for a professional holding a Doctorate in Psychology degree is $85,000. With a doctoral degree, you can hold positions as a psychologist, a clinical psychologist, a professor in secondary education, and more. If you’re ready to further your education and earn a terminal degree in your field, these Top 10 Online Doctorates in Psychology can help you get started.
FINDING AN ONLINE DOCTORATE IN PSYCHOLOGY
Online doctorates in psychology give you the flexibility you need to pursue your education while also meeting your work and life commitments. You’ll find that many of these programs follow a hybrid format where you’ll complete most of your coursework online, then attend on-campus residencies or intensives where you’ll have the chance to interact with students and faculty face-to-face. Most hybrid programs incorporate intensives just a few times a year, allowing you to continue to work full-time. Some programs also require practicums or internships, so be sure to review the exact specifics of each program when deciding which school is right for you.
When narrowing down your choices of schools, think about whether you have a desired specialization or concentration in mind. Almost all of these programs allow you to specialize in a particular field, but different schools offer different specialization options. Some of these programs do require a dissertation or other significant research project, which can be another opportunity to focus on a topic that interests you. Most of these programs can be completed in three to four years, though some offer the option for part-time study. While a part-time study extends the length of the program, it can help you to balance your education with your existing schedule better.
RANKING THE TOP 10 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 ourmethodology page.
#1. REGENT UNIVERSITY
Regent University’s Doctor of Education – Educational Psychology degree is offered almost entirely online with four-day on-campus residencies. Students progress through this 66-credit-hour program in eight-week-long courses. During the program, students will study topics including cognitive learning strategies, teacher education, brain research, and more, and attend an on-campus residency during the first, second, and third years of the EdD program. Students focus on coursework during the first two years of the program, and in the third and fourth year, they complete a dissertation. This program must be completed within seven years, and students must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA while enrolled in the program.
Located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Regent was founded in 1977 both to prepare leaders to succeed in their professional fields, and to prepare Christians to make an impact on the world. Today, Regent offers associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral and professional degrees through its seven schools and two colleges. The university features an 18:1 student-to-faculty ratio and employs over 900 faculty. Regent students average 36 years old. The U.S. News & World Report ranks Regent at No. 4 for its 2019 Best Online Graduate Education Programs in Virginia ranking.
#2. LOYOLA UNIVERSITY CHICAGO
Students who pursue the EdD in School Psychology program at Loyola University Chicago enjoy a blended program consisting of both online courses and summer residencies. Students take fall and spring semester courses online before studying online and residentially at the Water Town campus during the summer. Loyola’s EdD is intended for practicing school psychologists and applicants must either hold a Professional Educator License in Illinois or hold a license in another state and be eligible to obtain their Illinois school psychologist licensure. During this 72-credit-hour program, students may select a Data-Based Decision-Making Track or a Mental Health Track.
Founded as St. Ignatius College in 1870, Loyola University Chicago is a private Jesuit, Catholic university that features four campuses. Across those campuses, the university’s 13 schools, colleges, and institutes offer more than 80 undergraduate majors and over 170 programs at the graduate, professional, and certificate levels. The university has an enrollment of over 17,000 students and is home to more than 150,000 alumni, 85,000 of which reside in the Chicago area. The university’s 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio is one reflection of the quality education it provides, and the U.S. News & World Report consistently include the university in its national “top universities” rankings.
#3. UNIVERSITY OF THE CUMBERLANDS
At the University of the Cumberlands, students can pursue a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology. This program prepares students for careers as psychotherapists, researchers and consultants, faculty members, and more, and may work in private practice, social service, hospitals, and universities. During the 73-credit-hour program, students complete both online coursework and attend once monthly face-to-face weekend courses. This degree program provides students with clinical training that is based on both the theoretical and scientific psychology foundations, preparing students to provide health service psychology to diverse and underserved populations as they serve as health care leaders in their communities.
The University of the Cumberlands has campuses in Williamsburg and Florence, Kentucky. The university’s total enrollment is nearly 12,000, and 26% of the students are first-generation college students. The university offers a variety of associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs. To accommodate adult students’ busy schedules, the University of the Cumberlands offers flexible online courses. Accelerated eight-week bi-terms mean that students can quickly complete their degrees, and many degree programs can be completed in just ten months. Graduate students also enjoy a variety of degree options at the University of the Cumberlands and can choose from more than 20 graduate degree programs with various emphasis areas.
#4. FELICIAN UNIVERSITY
Felician University’s Doctor of Counseling Psychology degree follows a Franciscan framework as it prepares students to provide psychological services while working with diverse communities. Students may take on-campus classes or opt for a hybrid or fully online format. Students must complete three years of practicum experiences, and previous students have found placements in a variety of settings, including hospitals, mental health centers, college counseling centers, and more. Additionally, students must complete a one-year full-time internship or a two-year half-time pre-doctoral internship placement. During this program, students can expect to take classes such as History and Systems of Psychology, Biological Basis of Behavior, and Psychometrics.
Felician University was founded in 1942 and is a Catholic, Franciscan, private university located in Rutherford and Lodi, New Jersey. Today, the university offers over 55 majors, minors, and concentrations within its four academic schools. Over 2,000 students attend Felician University each year, and 99% of freshmen receive institutional grants. The university’s 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio allows for plenty of individualized attention from the highly qualified faculty, 67% of which hold doctoral or terminal degrees in their field. Felician University holds the distinction of being just one of 24 Franciscan universities in the country, and it is the only Franciscan university located in New Jersey. In 2018, the U.S. News & World Report ranked the university’s Master of Science in Nursing degree as one of the best online graduate nursing programs in the country.
#5. TOURO UNIVERSITY WORLDWIDE
Touro University’s Doctor of Psychology in Human and Organizational Psychology is available completely online with no residency requirements, making it an ideal choice for students with busy work schedules or who are unable to spend time attending residencies during their education. This program focuses on understanding how psychology can be used in the workplace for results such as increasing productivity and reducing employee turnover. Students will take courses in theory, research, and how to put theory into practice, and then begin the pre-dissertation and dissertation phases of the program. Students choose a dissertation topic that allows them to conduct applied research, developing solutions to real-world problems. No GRE is required for admission, though students must have a master’s degree with a minimum 3.4 GPA.
Touro University Worldwide is a system of Jewish-sponsored institutions that offer students a network of both on-the-ground and online campuses providing a liberal arts education. TUW offers online degree programs that are tailored to the unique needs of adult learners, professionals, and underserved populations. TUW consists of four academic schools, including the School of Psychology and the Edith Neumann School of Health and Human Services. Because all of the course materials are available online, students do not have to purchase textbooks for any classes. In addition to eliminating the fees and hidden costs that are common in some universities, TUW also offers special reduced tuition rates for military students, alumni, and students with partnering institutions.
#6. CAPELLA UNIVERSITY
Capella University’s Doctor of Psychology Clinical Psychology Specialization prepares students for a variety of career opportunities, including careers as psychologists, clinical managers, full-time psychology faculty, and more. This program is offered both online and in-person, and students must complete a residency and a practicum or internship. Students receive a comprehensive in mental disorders, psychotherapy, and clinical training, and have access to Capella’s Career Center for strategic career planning support. Students are also matched with faculty mentors who will support them during their dissertation and during their progress toward attaining their degrees. Additionally, a licensure team offers students support and guidance during their licensure process.
Capella was established in 1993 to provide quality education to adult students who balance jobs, families, and busy schedules. Today, Capella’s 41,000 students are an average of 37 years old. Capella offers 47-degree programs and uses online learning to provide students with flexibility. Capella offers discounts to many active-duty military members, veterans, and their spouses, and also accepts transfer credits from many schools.
#7. ALASKA PACIFIC UNIVERSITY
Alaska Pacific University’s Doctor of Psychology in Counseling Psychology is a blended program that allows students to pursue their education while also balancing their existing life commitments. Students participate in coursework delivered in synchronous online evening classes with residential intensives every six weeks during the summer. This program prepares students for careers in independent practice, government agencies, behavioral or mental health clinics, and in education. Program applicants should be master’s level professionals already working in the field of psychology, and applicants must submit a Previous Clinical Experience Form highlighting employment, clinical volunteering, and internship experience.
APU was founded in 1960 and is located in Anchorage, Alaska. The university offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, as well as three graduate certificate programs. Degree areas include environmental science, information technology, business administration, strategic leadership, outdoor & environmental education, and more. In addition to its standard degree programs, APU also offers an Early Honors Program for high school seniors who wish to engage in college-level coursework and graduate from high school as college sophomores. APU offers several non-degree seeking options for students who want to take courses without fully enrolling in a degree program.
#8. UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA GLOBAL CAMPUS
The Doctor of Psychology degree from UAGC is a 62-credit-hour online degree program. Students may choose from six specializations such as Educational Leadership, Health and Wellness Psychology, and Mediation and Conflict Resolution. Courses are between six and nine weeks long, and students complete either a dissertation or an Applied Doctoral Project to earn their degree. The program prepares students for careers as psychologists, human resource specialists, and postsecondary business teachers. Program applicants should have either a master’s or a doctoral degree from a nationally accredited institution and must have a graduate-level cumulative GPA of at least 3.0. UAGC offers conditional, provisional, and full admission levels, and students can achieve the provisional and full admission while enrolled in the degree program.
UAGC offers a variety of online associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in fields such as information management, business administration, and education. In many cases, students can specialize in areas that allow them to focus on topics that they are interested in. UAGC offers college credit for work experience, saving students both time and money in completing their degrees. Thanks to UAGC’s online learning courses, students can access their work at any time, allowing them to pursue an education–– even with busy work or life schedules. Students complete one course at a time and can complete coursework on their computer, phone, or tablet.
#9. SOFIA UNIVERSITY
Sofia University offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Transpersonal Psychology degree that is offered in both online and on-campus formats. The 75-credit degree takes three years to complete and is intended for adults who already hold master’s degrees. Students participate in courses year-round offered in four quarters and must attend three in-person seminars before beginning the dissertation phase of the program. Some electives are offered only online or in person. Five concentrations are available, including Applied Transpersonal Psychology, and Cognitive Psychology and Neuroscience. In addition to developing scholarship and research experience, students enrolled in this program will learn how to apply transpersonal skills in various settings.
Located in Palo Alto, California, Sofia University was founded in 1975. The university offers a transformative education centered around core values of service, cultural humility, emotional awareness, commitment, stewardship, innovation, and more. Sofia University began as the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology and has since evolved to encompass education in computer science and business. Today, the university offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, and its Online Doctoral Psychology program has been recognized by Great Value Colleges. Students at Sofia enjoy the chance to engage with a variety of like-minded students, and the campus’ Palo Alto location allows students to access many different cultural, educational, and recreational resources.
#10. WILLIAM JAMES COLLEGE
At Williams James College, students can pursue a Leadership Psychology Doctorate offered as a hybrid program specifically for working professionals. Students at WJC complete online coursework at their own pace, accessing lectures, readings, and discussion boards at times that work for their schedules. Students also attend on-campus spring, summer, and fall four-day residencies each year. During these residencies, students can meet face-to-face with their faculty and peers, build valuable networking connections, and engage in experiential learning. During this 98-credit-hour program, students complete a 600-hour practicum and a 400-hour internship. With an average of just five to ten students in each entering class, this program allows for individualized education and can be completed in four years full-time or six years part-time.
William James College is located in Newton, Massachusetts and was founded as the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology in 1974. This independent, not-for-profit institution offers a quality education centered around core values of experiential education, social responsibility, and personal growth. The college provides a variety of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs in Clinical Psychology, Leadership Psychology, School Psychology, Applied Behavior Analysis, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and more. Fieldwork and faculty mentorship help students apply their classroom learning in the field, combining theory and practice in preparation for their professional careers. William James College has over 350 established sites across its training programs for students to gain this valuable hands-on experience.