Are you looking for a flexible way to earn your doctorate in psychology? PsyD degrees online are still pretty rare, but they are becoming more common. This is a ranking of the top five online PsyD degree programs in the United States. This ranking includes both licensure and non-licensure degrees. Licensure-oriented programs are best for those who want to pursue clinical work. Those interested in working in research, corporate, or non-profit settings often don’t need to be licensed as a clinical psychologist. Licensure programs are never offered fully online. This is because sessions in residence are required by most states for licensure education requirements to be met. So most clinical programs do require students to spend some time on campus, though it varies from program to program (often based on the requirements of the program’s home state). Non-licensure programs have no such restrictions and tend to be offered fully online. This ranking features the best online PsyD degrees in both licensure and non-licensure categories.
The Best Doctorate in Psychology Online Degree Offerings
#1. Cal Southern
Costa Mesa, California
Cal Southern’s online PsyD fulfills all educational requirements for licensure in the state of California. 100% of coursework offered in the program is completed online. Cal Southern’s PsyD degree online provides practicum and internship opportunities in cooperation with organizations local to each student. The 66-credit program includes courses like advanced theories of personality, psychopharmacology, research methods in psychology, and cognition, emotion, and motivation.
Tuition: $32,670/full program
#2. Alaska Pacific University
While Alaska Pacific University offers most of this program online, the frequent weekend intensives make it difficult for anybody outside of Alaska to enroll in this online PsyD degree. The program is designed to meet the APA professional competencies to practice as a health service psychologist. Alaska Pacific University is planning to submit a self-study for accreditation by the APA in spring 2018.
Tuition: $43,200/full program
#3. Capella University
Capella University’s online PsyD program requires six weeks in residence throughout the four-year program. These six weeks in residence take place throughout the United States. The practicum and internship can be completed in cooperation with institutions local to each individual student. Students can enter the program with either a master’s or bachelor’s degree, but students with a bachelor’s degree have to take significantly more courses in order to catch them up.
Tuition: $525/credit; costs of the weeks in residence are different.
#4. William James College
The online PsyD degree in leadership psychology from William James is not a clinical degree. Thus it is not concerned with preparing students for licensure. Rather than working in a clinical practice, leadership psychologists fulfill a variety of roles across many industries, including senior talent manager, organizational development practitioner, learning and development manager, talent acquisition specialist, and human resources manager. The program does provide 600 hours of practicum and 300 hours of internship.
Tuition: $134,750/full program
#5. Touro University Worldwide
Los Alamitos, California
The human and organizational psychology PsyD degree online from Touro University does not have a clinical focus. Because the focus is on the practical applications of psychological science in business and organizations, this online PsyD degree does not prepare students for licensure as clinicians. The program is 100% online, with no residency or GRE required.
Paying for Your PsyD
The first step toward paying for your PsyD, and indeed any higher education, should be to apply for federal financial aid through FAFSA. These low-cost government-backed loans and grants can make up a large portion of your tuition, even in graduate school. After that, students should consider scholarships offered by their individual schools or professional organizations. Post-graduate students often take positions at the university where they are earning their degree in order to take advantage of tuition waiver benefits offered by the school. Another option is to ask your employer about tuition assistance programs, as many employers will invest in the professional development of valued employees. Private loans are a last-resort strategy after all better funding options have been exhausted.
Each state has its own required qualifications for licensure. This can make the prospect of earning a PsyD degree online daunting. A school may meet standards in its own state, but may or may not in the home state of out-of-state students. The responsibility for confirming that a program meets state licensure requirements falls squarely on the shoulders of the student. Some programs are non-licensure programs and are designed for students with career goals that don’t require them to be licensed. If it is your goal to become a licensed psychologist and operate in a clinical setting, then it is essential that you confirm that your program meets your state’s requirements. You also need to keep up to date on your state’s requirements as you pursue your PsyD because the requirements do change over time. More information on state licensure can be found on the website of the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards.
The Benefits of APA Accreditation
Accreditation by the American Psychological Association is the highest level of psychology accreditation in the United States. The APA only accredits doctoral programs and currently only accredits one (mostly) online program, however there are online PsyD degree programs applying for APA accreditation. Holding an APA-accredited PsyD degree means you have a lot of flexibility in the highest echelons of the psychology profession. Whether your ambition is clinical practice, academia, or research, holding an APA-accredited degree will only help your career. However, there are still many options for those without an APA-accredited degree. It’s just important for students to be aware of the difference before making such a significant time and financial commitment.
Career Opportunities for Licensed and Unlicensed Psychologists
Many careers in psychology require a license, but many don’t. Requirements can, again, vary from state to state. The practice of clinical psychology, in particular, requires a license. However, there are many careers in government, corporations, research laboratories, academia, and non-profit organizations, that do not require a license. So before you spend a lot of extra time and effort worrying about getting licensed in your state, make sure your career goals actually require you to be a licensed psychologist.
Job Outlook and Salary Potential
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for psychologists is $75,230 per year, or $36.17 per hour. There were 173,900 psychologist jobs in 2014, and projected job growth between 2014 and 2024 is 19%, a numerical of an estimated 32,500 jobs. This job growth is much faster than the average for all occupations.
We awarded a points out of 100 based on the attributes of each PsyD program in four different categories. The categories are as follows.
Is the program APA-accredited or currently pursuing APA accreditation?
We awarded 25 points to any school with an APA-accredited online doctorate in psychology program. We also awarded schools pursuing that accreditation (and stating so on their program page) 15 points.
Does the program meet state licensure requirements for at least one state?
Programs meeting state licensure requirements for at least one state were awarded 25 points. State licensure eligibility was also used to break ties. Between tied schools, the better ranking was awarded to the school that met the education requirements of the most states.
How much of the program is available online? How often must one travel to campus?
Each school started with 25 points. Most schools require at least a minimal number of visits to campus for short intensives. Schools with longer residency requirements or requiring more visits had points deducted.
Does the program require or provide opportunities for supervised practicum and internship experiences?
Schools requiring or providing opportunities for supervised practicum and internship experiences were awarded 25 points. Supervised practica and internships are an essential component of online PsyD degrees. Programs without these opportunities significantly limit the potential of their graduates.
Sources and Resources
American Psychological Association