United States Online Masters in Psychology Programs | MA MS Psychology Degrees
Online Masters in Psychology Programs may suit the needs of busy working students, those who live too far from a graduate school, or those students who need to study at their own pace. The field of Psychology is vast. Essentially, it is both an academic discipline and an applied science that studies behavior and mind, and encompasses all aspects of the human experience. Psychologists use their knowledge and expertise to research and understand the role of mental functions in individual and social behavior, while also exploring the physiological and biological actions that underlie cognitive functions and behaviors.
In order to become equipped to handle different situations, these professionals must undergo rigorous training. Online Masters in Psychology degree programs provide the education and methodologies that are required to treat patients with both skill and empathy. While Online Master's degrees in psychology are typically earned within a doctoral program or to prepare a student to apply for a doctoral program, there are some distance-learning Psychology Masters Programs that prepare students to enter the workforce after graduation.
Online Masters in Psychology Program: Essential Information
You may be wondering if a graduate degree in Psychology is worthwhile. You have a Bachelor’s degree, have a background in introductory psychology, experimental psychology, and statistics. Should you apply to a Masters in Psychology Program?
If you are looking for an entry-level job, such as assisting a Psychologist or other professionals in community mental health centers, vocational rehabilitation offices, and correctional programs then undergraduate education may be enough. HOWEVER, A doctoral degree such as the PsyD or PhD in Psychology is usually is required for independent practice as a psychologist, (most clinical, counseling, and research psychologists
need a doctoral degree). A master’s or specialist degree is required to work as a school psychologist, mental health counselor or as an industrial-organizational psychologist.
This being said, many Ph.D. and Psy.D. programs do not require a master's degree, and students are able to begin these doctoral programs immediately after completing their bachelor's degrees. If you are unsure, earning your masters degree in Psychology may be a wise stepping-stone.
In terms of duration, online masters in psychology programs may take two to three years of study beyond the undergraduate degree. If you plan to apply, admission requirements may include a bachelor's degree in psychology, GRE scores, and solid GPA average from an accredited university. Some programs include a 1-year internship, and you might expect a thesis, although there are non-thesis Psychology Masters Programs as well. As well, some programs lead to licensure while others do not. It is advisable to know what your career goals are and find the academic path to it.
Potential Benefits to Earning an Online Masters in Psychology Degree
Distance-learning is becoming more popular as students look for a convenient way to advance their education while working, or are restricted by geography and cannot relocate or commute. Online Masters in Psychology Programs are offered by a variety of colleges and universities who format their regular campus programs into online options. These may be either asynchronous or synchronous. If asynchronous, classes are pre-recorded using audio and video, making them available 24/7, so when you have time, you log in. Synchronous study means live streaming. Students stay in touch with their classmates via email and online group discussion forums, as well as use digital technology to access faculty or tech support.
FUN FACT: Most clinical and counseling psychologists need a doctorate in psychology, an internship, at least 1 to 2 years of supervised professional experience, and to pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology[i].
Note that in terms of ‘program accreditation’, the American Psychological Association (APA) does not accredit master’s degree programs in psychology. They do accredit “doctoral programs in clinical, counseling, school psychology and combination programs; internships, a required component of doctoral training; and postdoctoral residency programs in traditional and specialty practice areas of psychology”.[ii]
If you are ready to initiate a search, GradSchools.com makes it really easy to find Online Masters in Psychology Programs by specialization and distance-learning formats. Some of the listings you might encounter may include: Online Master of Applied industrial/Organizational Psychology (M.A.I.O.P), Master or Arts in Psychology, General Psychology MS, Master of Science in Applied Psychology, MS in Psychology, MS in Professional Counseling with an Emphasis in Trauma. Don’t see a listing on this page? Use the directory to find Online Masters Programs in Areas such as:
- Online Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
- Online Masters in Clinical Psychology
- Online Masters in Forensic Psychology
- Online Masters in Sports Psychology
- Online Masters in Industrial Organizational Psychology
Once you click on a link, you can then request information from the school, so keep a list of questions that you want answered near by.
Types of Online Masters in Psychology Degrees: MA vs MS in Psychology
Online Psychology Masters Programs may be designated as Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MS) degrees.
Master of Arts in Psychology programs may indicate a stronger focus of study on the liberal arts. An MA degree offers training for potential careers in schools, mental health, and the private sector. It is likely suitable for individuals who have a strong idea of what they would like to do in their professional career. If you aspire to work as a mental health counselor, a master of arts in counseling or clinical psychology program may be ideal for you.
The Master of Science in Psychology, on the other hand, may emphasize research methods, and the science behind the brain, behavior, and psychological processes. In some cases, an MS could be a prerequisite for those seeking to enter a PhD program later in their academic career. However, an MS degree in a practitioner field of study might also provide some training for entry-level jobs within mental health and forensic psychology careers.
In terms of course requirements, these tend to vary considerably; it is advisable to analyze the course outline of any program you are considering. You may also have to choose between a thesis and non-thesis option. For students interested in further graduate study, completing a thesis is a good choice. The non-thesis alternative might be ultimate if you are more interested entering the workforce immediately after graduation. In this case, you might look for an Online Masters in Psychology that is offered as a ‘terminal degree’.
Job Outlook For Psychology Graduates
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job competition for psychologists will vary by specialty and level of education obtained. Furthermore, they state that,” Overall, candidates with a doctoral or education specialist degree and post-doctoral work experience will have the best job opportunities in clinical, counseling, or school psychology positions. Candidates with a master’s degree will face competition for most positions, and many of them will find jobs with alternative titles, as nearly all states restrict the use of the title “psychologist” to Ph.D. or Psy.D. degree-holders”[iii]
Weighing your options, a Masters Degree may be sufficient if you are interested in working as an:
- Industrial-Organizational Psychologist
- A psychological assistant in clinical, counseling, or research settings
- Mental health counselors
- Marriage and family therapists
Ready to Pursue an Online Masters in Psychology?
There is definitely an educational path to your unique goals. If you need to study on your own timetable, look into the options for Online masters Degrees in Psychology on GradSchools.com today!
[i] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm | [ii] apa.org/ | [iii] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm | other sources: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychology
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