What Are the Prerequisites for an Online Psychology Degree?

Online classes can save time and money, but they aren’t for everyone. If you want to study for a psychology degree online, you’ll need to have the right mindset and pre-requisite classes. The exact requirements will vary with each program; however, most schools will want to see similar preparations before you can sign up for an online psychology program.

English Classes

As a psychology student, you’ll have to read and write extensively. You will be expected to understand ground-breaking research and classic discoveries. Another key component of online programs is analyzing and synthesizing what you read – and that means you’ll need strong English skills. Most programs will want to see one or two introductory English classes that teach analytical and argumentative writing. Your psychology professors want to concentrate on teaching you how to understand the human mind, not how to formulate a paper. Luckily, almost every beginning English class teaches the same material, so it’s okay if you’ve already taken this particular class at a different university.

Computer Skills

You can’t succeed in an online psychology program if you don’t have basic computer knowledge. Can you type quickly and accurately, navigate Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, work a webcam and use online forums and instant messengers? You’ll need all of these skills to succeed in a computer-based degree program. Plus, with increasing computer usage and counseling services going online, you’ll need computer literacy to function as a professional psychologist. Online programs might require an introductory computer science course or they may demand you show proof of technological competence.


As a psychologist, you’ll be surrounded by statistical data. Researchers always incorporate statistics into published articles; without a basic knowledge of the field, you’ll be unable to fully understand new research. Online psychology degrees might offer a statistics course as part of your education or they may want you to enter the program with the course completed. Check with your specific school to find out.

Cultural Sensitivity

Your patients will come from many different backgrounds. You might work with blue-collar parents, high-income teenagers or international refugees. As a professional, you’ll need to know how to offer culturally appropriate psychological care and avoid offending your patients. Plus, you’ll find a melting pot of students in your online classes; your peers may possess very different views of the world than you do. For these reasons, many online programs want to see cultural awareness somewhere on your transcript. You may need to complete a class in Anthropology, Sociology or Ethnic Studies.

Concluding Thoughts

You can use your online education to get your degree while working or caring for family, but you’ll have to work hard. Find out what classes you need for your program, and build up the right skills while taking the courses. With the right preparation, anyone can be a successful online psychology student.

Related Resources: