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Psychologists study human behavior, focusing on how people interact with others and their surroundings. A PhD in psychology can help an ambitious professional build an excellent career. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, psychologists earn an average $82,180 per year.
Read on to learn about the best online PhD psychology programs, career prospects, salaries, and the difference between online and on-campus programs.
The Best Online PhD Psychology Programs in 2022
Arizona State University Online
Online Doctor of Behavioral Health – Clinical
ASU Online aims to make quality education accessible to anyone who seeks it. The school’s online programs provide the same level of education (including the same faculty) as on-campus programs. Its online doctorate in psychology (Behavioral Health, Clinical) is designed to deliver advanced education in behavioral interventions, entrepreneurship, and medical literacy to clinicians with a master’s qualification. Students who obtain a doctorate in clinical psychology online are well equipped to start their own psychology practice.
- Courses include: Population-based health management, quality and performance measurement, and behavioral health entrepreneurship.
- Credit hours: 84
- Classes: 18
- Weeks per class: 7.5
- Tuition: $9,991 per academic year
- Acceptance rate: 88.4%
Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology
Northcentral University launched a range of fully online educational programs to provide quality education for working professionals around the globe. Its PhD in Psychology aims to meet the modern times’ increasing academic demands. It helps students deepen their psychology knowledge and supports them in applying their research to solve individual, social, and global problems.
- Specializations include: Psychology of gender and sexual fluidity, general psychology, and substance-related and addictive disorders.
- Credit hours: 60
- Duration: 46 months
- Acceptance rate: 90%
- Tuition: $1,148 per credit
PhD in Psychology
Liberty is a non-profit university ranked one of the top five online schools in the USA. It’s known for its affordability, quality, and accessibility. Its PhD in Psychology program helps students develop a deep understanding of the field and use these insights to understand human behavior better. The program allows you to transfer up to 50% of credits from your previous degree.
- Courses include: Research methods and statistics in psychology, industrial/organizational psychology, and psychology teaching.
- Specializations include: General track, industrial/organizational psychology, developmental psychology, and social psychology.
- Credits: 60
- Average duration: 3 years
- Tuition: $595 per credit hour
- Acceptance rate: 50.1%
Saybrook University, Humanistic and Clinical Psychology Department
Online PhD in Psychology
Saybrook University aims to teach critical thinking skills that challenge conventional norms around social structures as well as mental and physical well-being. The university’s online PhD in Psychology builds a solid foundation in the tradition of humanistic, existential, and transpersonal psychology.
You can choose between four different specializations:
- Consciousness, spirituality, and integrative health
- Existential, humanistic, and transpersonal psychology
- Creativity studies
- Credits: 60-75
- Duration: 5 to 6 years
- Tuition: $1,470 per credit
- Acceptance rate: 80%
Oregon State University
PhD in Counseling
Oregon State University is an international public research university that caters to students from all over the world. It is one of only three land, sea, space, and sun grant universities in the USA. Its online PhD program in psychology equips students with advanced knowledge to build successful careers in the academic and clinical spheres as counselor educators, clinical supervisors, and advanced practitioners. This is a research-oriented program with an emphasis on societal changes.
- Courses: Advanced counseling theory and practice, diversity and social justice, and counselor education.
- Credits: 150
- Cost per credit: $590
- Acceptance rate: 82.2%
Touro University Worldwide
Doctor of Psychology in Human and Organizational Psychology
Passionate philanthropists founded Touro University Worldwide as a non-profit institution that motivates students to achieve their biggest goals in higher learning. Its PsyD program helps students come up with evidence-based solutions to psychological problems. The program focuses on organizational psychology, industrial psychology, and leadership psychology and allows you to transfer up to six credits.
- Courses: Scholar-practitioner model, applied cognitive psychology, and applied social psychology.
- Credit hours: 66
- Duration: 3 years
- Tuition: $700 per semester credit unit
- Acceptance rate: 100%
Doctor of Philosophy in Transpersonal Psychology
Sofia University was founded in 1975 as the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology and specializes in this field. Its doctorate program online in transpersonal psychology helps students explore traditional and modern theories while strengthening their critical and analytical skills.
- Concentrations: Applied transpersonal psychology in business and organizations, whole systems approach to health and well-being, consciousness and creativity studies, and cognitive psychology and neuroscience.
- Duration: 3 years
- Total units: 75
- Cost per unit: $950
Grand Canyon University
PhD in Psychology – Cognition and Instruction – Qualitative
Grand Canyon University is a private, accredited Christian University. Its specialized PhD program focuses on cognition and instruction, designed to prepare students to work with adult educational communities from diverse economic and cultural backgrounds.
- Courses: Psychoanalysis and psychodynamic theory; cognition and instruction; history and systems of psychology; humanistic, transpersonal, and existential psychology.
- Credits: 60
- Tuition: $702 per credit
- Acceptance rate: 80.7%
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
Ph.D. in International Psychology (Trauma Services Concentration)
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology offers a range of programs that blend theory with hands-on experience and strive to integrate mental and physical well-being. This international PhD program focuses on trauma-related mental health issues on a global scale. The online program is conducted in a cohort group format.
- Courses: Assessment of psychosocial and mental health reactions to traumatic stress; self-care strategies in humanitarian efforts; and mental health interventions.
- Duration: 3 to 4 years
- Tuition per credit hour: $1,560
- Acceptance rate: 24.4%
California Institute of Integral Studies
PhD in Integral and Transpersonal Psychology (ITP)
This PhD program emphasizes transpersonal psychology with a whole-person focus. It aims to help working professionals gain advanced knowledge in transformative and holistic psychology concerning the body and the mind.
- Courses: Critical thinking with integral/transpersonal psychologies; somatic psychology with exceptional human experiences; and scholarly writing with integral and transpersonal studies.
- Units: 36
- Duration: 3 years
- Tuition per unit: $1,393
- Acceptance rate: 65%
Are Online PhD Programs in Psychology Cheaper Than On-Campus Programs?
Both online and on-campus programs vary in cost, depending on various factors. In some cases, basic tuition for online programs is lower than for on-campus ones. However, many universities charge the same tuition for both modes of learning.
For instance, here are the tuition costs for Arizona State University’s online and on-campus psychology PhD. Keep in mind ASU claims it delivers the same program with the same faculty both online and on-campus:
- Online tuition is $9,991 per year, across five years = $49,955
- On-campus tuition is $651 per credit, x 84 credits = $54,684
However, tuition isn’t the only cost you need to consider when applying for a PhD program. Other postgraduate study expenses include books, other study resources, transportation, and accommodation, which tend to be more for on-campus students.
At the same time, PhD psychology programs online may involve program-specific expenses such as technology fees for online delivery of the courses. Additionally, although on-campus students typically need to pay more expenses as part of their face-to-face study, they also have the opportunity to offset some of these costs through teaching assistantships.
Therefore, while online study saves you expenses on some fronts, you may face other costs. Bottom line? Studying a particular online PhD in psychology may be cheaper than an on-campus program; however, some universities might have comparable costs. Furthermore, tuition and expenses vary widely depending on the program and institution. Therefore, it’s important to research and look at exact costs and expenses for each program you’re considering.
Online PhD Programs in Psychology FAQs
What Can I Do With an Online PhD Psychology?
A PhD in psychology online can help you build a career in various fields, including the clinical, academic, and industrial sectors.
Here are some of the common roles filled by PhD holders in psychology, with the annual median salaries for each:
These are just a few of the roles you can secure with this advanced qualification. Other roles include research, social, developmental, and child psychologists.
What is the Difference Between a PsyD and a PhD in Psychology?
The main difference is that a PsyD (Doctor of Psychology) is designed to directly apply scientific principles to practical issues. In contrast, a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) in psychology focuses more on theory and research.
Is a PsyD Easier than a PhD?
Both PsyDs and PhDs are advanced degrees requiring both prior knowledge and dedication. However, you can complete many PsyD programs in less time than a PhD. Additionally, PhD programs are generally more research-oriented, while PsyD programs are more work-focused.
Is it Smart to Get a PhD in Psychology?
A PhD in Psychology is a valuable, advanced qualification that can help you progress your career to become highly respected in your field, not to mention well-paid. This will likely set you on a highly satisfying career path, both personally and professionally.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Doctorate in Psychology?
A PhD in psychology generally takes between five and seven years to complete. However, you may be able to complete certain programs quicker. Notably, some online PhD in psychology programs designed for working professionals can be finished in as little as three years.
Should I Get a Ph.D. or a Psy.D.?
Whether you should choose a PhD or a PsyD depends on your interests, ambitions, and career plans. If you’re drawn to a career in academics, namely as a professor or a researcher, a PhD is probably your best bet. On the other hand, a PsyD focuses more on practical aspects of the field and so is ideal for professionals looking for a clinical career.
The best online PhD programs in psychology open up a range of career opportunities in many different spheres, such as private companies, healthcare facilities, academic institutions, research organizations, and government agencies.
While an online clinical psychology PhD can help you work in a clinical setting, a PhD in industrial/organizational psychology will help you to secure a job in the business sector. If you’re interested in studying human behavior and have a master’s qualification, a quality online PhD psychology degree will allow you to build a profitable, prestigious, and rewarding career.
Ready to apply for a PhD program in psychology? Prepare a strong application with the help of our tips and guides.
Lisa is a full-time writer specializing in career advice, further education, and personal development. She works from all over the world, and when not writing you'll find her hiking, practicing yoga, or enjoying a glass of Malbec.