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What is the Timeline for Obtaining an Online Degree in Psychology?

how long does it take to get a bachelor's degree in psychology

Are you interested in mapping out the educational route that you will take to earn your Psychology degree? If you are planning on taking a reputable online degree program, you may be wondering how long does it take to get a bachelor’s degree in psychology and whether the timeline for earning your degree online will be the same as the traditional in-person timeline.

As you may learn, both traditional and online timelines can vary significantly depending on your enrollment status and your performance in each class. Additionally, the type of degree you’re seeking will also play a huge role in determining how long it will take you to complete an online degree program. If you are interested in learning about the factors that can affect the duration of the psychology degree program you enroll in, read on and find out what you need to know.

What are the Different Psychology Degree Types?

get a bachelor's degree in psychology
Answering the question, “how long does it take to earn a psychology degree” is near impossible if you don’t specify which degree type you’re talking about. As with most other majors, there are different degree options for psychology majors, and the degree type you select will significantly impact how long it will take to graduate as well as the different positions you’ll be qualified for upon graduation.

There are four main degree types one can consider if they’re looking to go into the field of psychology. They are: associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctoral degree. In the next few sections, we’ll outline the degree requirements and typical time frame for earning each degree type. We’ll also share a little more about the types of careers you could pursue with each degree type.

Earning an Associate’s Degree in Psychology

An associate’s degree typically requires two years of schooling, whether in-person or online. Keep in mind that this is two years of full-time schooling (totaling 60 credit hours), so if you are only able to attend on a part-time basis due to work or other commitments, it could take longer than two years to complete the degree.

Since an associate’s degree is only a two-year program, you won’t be qualified for as many positions in the field of psychology as you would with a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree. However, there are a still a number of possible career options to explore. These include being a family advocate, teacher’s aide, research assistant, youth counselor, social services assistant, correctional officer, psychiatric technician, and police officer.

Earning Your Bachelor’s Degree

How long does it take to get a bachelor’s degree in psychology? If you are interested in earning a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, you can complete the entire degree program online if you choose the right institution. While it will not qualify you to become a licensed psychologist, a bachelor’s degree can help you get your foot in the door in a number of different settings. Some of the positions you may be able to land with a Bachelor’s include: social work, rehabilitation counseling and career counseling.

To earn your Bachelor’s, you must complete two full years of general education studies and then two more years of psychology studies. While many assume that it takes four years to earn a Bachelor’s, the actual time frame depends on the program and your commitment to school. As with earning an associate’s degree, if you are employed, it may be difficult to attend school, either in-person or online, on a full-time basis.

However, if you are able to commit to attending full-time, it will lead to a quicker completion. The average online student will earn their Bachelor’s after four to five years of coursework. Some students take accelerated programs that only last about three-and-a-half years. In most cases, a bachelor’s degree in psychology requires 120 credit hours of coursework.

Psychology Graduate Program Lengths

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A Master’s degree will open up more opportunity for you, but it will require more time and a larger monetary commitment. Once you earn your Bachelor’s degree, the next step would be to locate an online Master’s degree program.

Master’s programs require 60 credit hours of coursework. So, assuming a full-time course schedule of 15 credits each semester, obtaining a master’s degree in psychology will take an additional two years after completing your bachelor’s degree. If you are unable to attend full-time due to work, family, or other commitments, the timeframe could increase to three to four years.

After you earn your master’s degree in psychology, some of the career fields you could pursue include forensic psychology, sports psychology, school psychology, criminal psychology, and industrial psychology.

Graduate and Doctoral Program Duration Timelines

Earning a doctorate in psychology will clearly take the longest amount of time, but it will also qualify you for the greatest number of positions. Additionally, earning your PhD in psychology will make earning the higher salaries that go with doctorate level positions possible.

You can go two different routes if you want to earn your doctorate in psychology. Some students, who are not threatened by the competition, will apply for a program right out of undergrad school before getting a master’s degree. If accepted into one of these programs, it will likely take between five and seven years to graduate with your doctorate.

Others, who cannot get immediately accepted or those who decide to wait, will need to complete their master’s degree first. After completing your master’s degree, you can apply to a doctorate program. Once your master’s is completed, it generally takes between 3 and 6 years to complete a doctorate program.

Clearly, earning a doctorate-level degree can take quite a long time and generally requires a residency. You have to consider your schedule and obligations to really determine how long it will take you to complete this type of intense program.

The timeline to complete an online psychology degree program depends on several factors. Make sure you consider your obligations, the layout of the program, and which type of degree you want to earn. By doing this, you can plan realistically.

Frequently Asked Questions

bachelor's degree in psychology

What classes will I take in an online program to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology?

The specific class you’ll take in your online psychology degree program may vary slightly from what is offered through other programs. However, there will certainly be some common overlapping elements. The core of psychology rests in learning about human behavior. Course topics will also address areas such as child development, adult development, cognitive development, personality theory, health psychology, social psychology, industrial organization psychology, abnormal psychology, human motivation, human learning, and psychological assessment.

You’ll also likely take some research methodology and statistics courses during the first few years of your degree when you complete your core classes. These topics are necessary for understanding, analyzing, and even running various psychology experiments.

How much can you earn with a psychology degree?

The amount you can earn with a psychology degree can vary widely based on the degree you receive. Even within degree types, there can be a lot of variability depending on the specific career you choose and your location.

Is it important to find an accredited online school?

Yes, as you’re considering online psychology degree programs, finding an online college or university that is accredited is essential. Programs that aren’t accredited by the American Psychological Association’s Commission may not meet the commission’s requirements. These requirements state that in order for an online psychology program to be accredited, there must be at least some in-person interaction between the school and students. This is due to the very personal nature of psychology.

So, if you find a program that claims to be 100% online, you’ll definitely want to verify its accreditation status before applying.

What should I look for when choosing an online psychology degree program?

An online psychology degree program is appealing to individuals for a variety of reasons. Online programs typically offer more flexibility than traditional in-person programs. This makes it easier for individuals with a full-time job, a family, or other obligations to fit taking classes into their busy schedules. Some online classes may be self-paced, which can offer additional flexibility and allow you to work around other commitments you may have.

Online learning is also more convenient. You can complete the vast majority of your coursework from your own home and don’t have to worry about making it to campus. This can be especially helpful if you don’t live near a college or university and don’t want to deal with a long commute to and from school every day.

However, all psychology degree programs are not created equal simply because they are offered online. There are still a number of factors you should consider when looking for the right online psychology degree program.

First, you want to find a reputable program that is highly reviewed by past students. While you shouldn’t see one overly positive or overly negative review as the be-all, end-all, you can read through reviews looking for patterns.

Look to see if most students were satisfied with the education they received. Did they mention feeling supported by their professors? Did they share they were able to get help when they needed it? Did they feel the studying and coursework they completed helped to sufficiently prepare them for the position they accepted? Looking for the answers to all of these questions can help you get a good feel for the school and the type of education you’ll receive.

Next, read up on the faculty in the psychology department. Consult their bios to get a feel of their backgrounds and experience. You want to find a school where you’ll be able to learn from well-educated and accomplished individuals, as they’ll be able to help you gain more knowledge from their real-life experiences in the field.

Another important thing to look for is general information about the program and resources they offer students. Will you have access to any online libraries to help you with the research you need to complete? Do the professors hold office hours that match your schedules? Are there any chat forums for students to share ideas and questions with one another?

Some online psychology degree programs offer post-degree assistance to their students. This can be an invaluable asset and one that you may want to prioritize during your search for the right program. Post-degree assistance can include helping you find an internship, connecting you with some potential employers, or giving you hands-on experience in a psychology-related field.

Finally, consider the cost of each program. While you don’t want to pick a program solely based on its low cost, you also have to be realistic with your budget and ability to pay the tuition of each program you’re considering.

Generally, online programs cost less than an in-person program, but there will still be a range of price points you’ll see. Keep your budget in mind when you compare programs, but be sure the program you select will still provide you with the quality education you desire and will help you look more appealing to a future potential employer.

Is an online psychology degree respected?

Yes, an online psychology degree can be respected by others in the profession. However, you’ll need to find the right degree program. First, the school you are applying to should be accredited by the United States Department of Education. Additionally, each subject area (psychology in your cases) should also be accredited.

Choosing an online degree program offered by a school with an in-person campus may give your online degree more respect. These schools may be more well-known than online only programs, and some people may feel that your degree is more valid because of this. However, even an online-only program can be completely valid as long as the school is accredited.

On the other hand, if you choose a non-accredited program, it can definitely make you a less appealing candidate for a future career. The level of rigor required for some programs definitely doesn’t match what is required for other programs. This is why it is essential to choose a school that has received accreditation. These schools have to prove that they meet educational standards to maintain consistency in receiving a degree from different accredited colleges or universities.

Are online psychology bachelor’s programs cheaper than traditional programs?

The cost of an online program is often cheaper than a traditional education, but this can vary depending on which program you choose. If you enroll in an online program for a college or university that also offers in-person classes, the cost to get the degree may be about the same as enrolling in on-campus classes.

However, keep in mind that there are other ways you’ll save money with an online program. First, you won’t need to worry about the cost of gas or the wear-and-tear commuting can cause on your car. You also won’t need to pay any fees associated with living on campus/spending a lot of time on campus, such as room-board, using campus technology, recreations, food, student health services, or lab fees.

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