A Bachelor’s in Psychology degree program prepares students for careers in social work, social services, community relations, market research and more.
On its own, a bachelor in psychology degree opens up the doors of the workforce or leads a student back into the classroom for an advanced degree. Individuals can pair the versatile psychology major with another major such as business, biology, or the fine arts, to prepare students for a very specific post-graduate experience.
The need for employees with a background in psychology is projected to increase steadily in the next few years. Individuals with a bachelor in psychology degree typically have sharp skills in research, critical thinking, and analyzing and interpreting data, in addition to strong abilities in oral and written communication.
The specializations and directions for a career are endless, ranging from work as a substance abuse counselor to a guidance counselor, from a school psychologist or a marriage and family therapist to work in expressive arts therapy (below, right)—and these are just some of the job titles held by those with a psychology degree.
The following schools were chosen for the best online bachelor’s degree in psychology list based on academics, student satisfaction, and opportunities for professional experience or specialized study at the undergraduate level.
* * *
1. Liberty University Online (Lynchburg, VA)
Founded by evangelist Jerry Falwell and now the largest Christian university in the U.S., Liberty University has been training Champions for Christ since 1971.
Liberty University enrolls more than 90,000 students from around the world in its thriving online program, Liberty University Online, which is one of the largest online institutions of higher education in the world. With more than 160 fully accredited programs of study Liberty University Online—which has been pioneering distance education since 1985—offers degrees from the certificate to the postgraduate level.
With its strong focus on biblical principles, it is no surprise that Liberty University Online has a strong program in psychology, a field that exists to help others reach a point of understanding and healing.
Liberty University Online offers the B.S. in Psychology fully online. Majors must complete 45 credit hours in Psychology, in addition to core general education classes. Students have the choice to specialize in substance abuse counseling, Christian counseling, crisis counseling, life-coaching, and military resilience. In addition, all majors must complete an internship prior to graduation.
The current edition of the U.S. News & World Report (2013) ranks Liberty University #65 among the best regional universities in the South.
2. Drexel University Online (Philadelphia, PA)
Founded in 1891, Drexel is a private university with an emphasis on technology and research. Known for its blend of traditional learning and cooperative education, the Drexel experience is quite relevant in this day and time. U.S. News & World Report currently rates Drexel as #83 among national schools.
Drexel University Online is a 100%-online education program that uses the same high level of academic standards as those used for the on-campus programs.
Drexel University Online’s Bachelor of Science in Psychology consists of 182 quarter credits; 42 credits are required in the major, and over half of those must come from upper level courses.
Students receive instruction from the identical faculty that teaches on campus. Mandatory courses in addition to the general core include studies in statistics, data, and research methodology, which prepare students for both graduate work and working in the corporate world.
3. Washington State University (Pullman, WA)
Established in 1890 as the largest public land-grant university in the state, Washington State University (WSU) consistently ranks in the top tier of public schools both nationwide and across the globe.
WSU debuted its Global Campus in 2012. The Times Higher Ed report named the institution as one of the best in the world, and U.S. News & World Report currently rates Washington State as #125 of national universities in the United States.
The Department of Psychology has received accreditation from the American Psychology Association.
The university offers the B.S. in Psychology entirely online. Students must complete either the general education requirements or the university common requirements, depending on their status. Psychology majors can select from four minors for in-depth study: Women’s Studies, Aging, Sociology, and Human Development.
Each student is appointed an academic consultant for guidance through his or her time of undergraduate study. All students are eligible for in-state tuition.
Other highlights of this school include an online student government association (you can run for office) and face-to-face events to meet fellow students throughout the state of Washington.
4. Saint Leo University (Saint Leo, FL)
The town of Saint Leo, located in the greater Tampa, Florida, area, is home to the private, non-profit, Catholic-affiliated Saint Leo University.
The school has been offering online degrees since 1999, with the inception of its Center for Online Learning. In 2011, U.S. News & World Report named the university one of the Best Universities in the South, and G.I. Jobs named it a military-friendly school, which is fitting considering its history of offering at-a-distance courses to the troops as far back as 1973, during the Vietnam era.
Saint Leo offers the B.A. in Psychology entirely online. The general education requirements are standard, but made relevant and more interesting than the typical common core with classes like these: “The McDonaldization of Society,” “Curves Ahead: Women Artists and Female Form,” and “Spirituals to Rock and Roll: The Story of How American Popular Music Conquered The World.”
Thirty-nine credits of psychology are required for the major, and a total of 120 credits are necessary to complete the degree. Classes for psych majors are available in military psychology and in how to interview and counsel.
Majors are not required to complete any additional research, practicum, or internships, but participation in such pursuits is encouraged.
5. Post University (Waterbury, CT)
Founded in 1890 as a business school in Waterbury, Connecticut, the present-day Post University is a for-profit institution with a heavy emphasis on distance learning.
U.S. News & World Report ranks Post #12 in faculty training and credentials and #28 for student services and technology among online programs. The same report also named Post #19 for best online bachelor’s programs.
The school is accredited by the Department of Higher Education via the state, and is reviewed regularly for quality assurance.
Post presents the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology entirely online. This accelerated degree program includes mandatory general education classes, but students are allowed much freedom in course choices.
The major requires students to complete a senior seminar, as well as courses like “Learning Across The Lifespan” and the “Professional Success Seminar.”
Psychology majors select from two specialty tracks: Human Development, Education, and Health; or Organizational Studies. A minor in Forensic Psychology is also available.
6. City University of New York, School of Professional Studies (New York, NY)
City University of New York’s School of Professional Studies has been meeting the academic needs of professional adults since its inception in 2003.
The CUNY system is the biggest urban university system in the country and the first form of the university can be traced back to 1847. CUNY-SPS was the first CUNY school to present undergraduate degree completion fully online: six bachelor’s and six master’s degrees, respectively.
CUNY-SPS offers the B.A. in Psychology. Interested students are required to have at least 24 transferable credits and submit a personal essay with their application. Each major is appointed an academic advisor. Accepted students will complete 120 courses for the degree, including general education classes and 36 hours towards the major. Psychology majors must also choose from among the following tracks: Organizational Psychology, Psychological Development, or Psychopathology.
7. Southern New Hampshire University (Manchester, NH)
Founded in 1932, Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) is a private, non-profit, accredited university. While the university maintains a traditional New England liberal arts campus, its ventures into the world of online education have been very successful, with a huge increase in student enrollment coming from online degree programs. Fittingly, G.I. Jobs has named SNHU a military-friendly school.
The university offers the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Students must complete 120 credits for the degree that come from a combination of general education classes and the psych major (36 credits). Students can select from three specialty tracks: Child and Adolescent, Forensic Psychology, and Mental Health.
Online majors are still eligible for membership in Psi Chi (the international psychology honor society) and the Pysch Club.
8. California Southern University (Irvine, CA)
California Southern University (“Cal Southern”) is a private university which has its roots in distance learning: the school originally opened in 1978 as a correspondence learning program for professionals seeking additional education. More than thirty years later, Cal Southern offers degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level.
Over 120 credits are required for the Bachelor of Arts in psychology, which is offered completely online. Students can expect to complete their degree in four years.
Each student is appointed an adviser (known as the faculty mentor) who guides majors with course selection and academic development. The major in psychology requires 45 credits: students complete a core program (24 credits) and spend the remaining 21 credits on psychology electives.
One of the best things about Cal Southern’s bachelor’s in psychology program is that they present a wide array of elective classes—so many that an undergraduate can have a deeper understanding of a specialty area within the field than they would ordinarily have elsewhere.
9. Pennsylvania State University (State College, PA)
Pennsylvania State University (known as Penn State) consistently ranks in the top tier of higher education institutions worldwide, as evidenced by the Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report, and the London Times’s World Rankings.
Founded in 1855, Pennsylvania State University is a pioneer in distance learning: it began its distance learning courses as far back as 1898. Nowadays, students don’t have to mail pen-and-paper responses back to the university. Penn State has been offering online courses since 1998 through its division known as Penn State World Campus. The degree a student earns from Penn State World Campus will not read or look any differently; each degree carries the distinction of being from Pennsylvania State University.
Penn State offers both the B.A. and the B.S. in Psychology fully online. Students who wish to learn more about the relationship between business and social services will elect the B.S., which includes an option in Business. Those students who are thinking about attending graduate school in psychology, social work, or counseling will be better served by the B.A. degree.
For additional enrichment, there is an online psychology club, which includes more than 100 members from around the globe.
10. Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ)
Based near Phoenix, Arizona State University (ASU) is a national space-grant institution as well as a public research university. The school was originally founded as a teacher’s college, but now hosts a wealth of degree programs.
ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences presents the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology entirely online. The college offers a specified map for the program of studies, which includes 120 hours necessary for the degree (46 of which must be upper level classes).
ASU consistently ranks highly for academics: U.S. New & World Report currently named the university #139 among national universities and comes in fifth place for best prepared graduates according to the Wall Street Journal. Forbes calls ASU one of the Best College Buys.
11. University of Massachusetts Lowell (Lowell, MA)
Founded in 1863, the University of Massachusetts (UMass) system is one of the biggest public research university systems in the United States.
U.S. News & World Report ranks the university #170 of the nation’s top universities, and Business Insider magazine recently called UMass “the most underrated university in the U.S.” The Times of London named the university #19 in the world in 2011. UMass is also the recipient of the Sloan Consortium Award for the Most Outstanding Online Teaching and Learning Program.
The University of Massachusetts at Lowell offers the Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology through UMass Online. The entire degree, which consists of 120 credit hours, can be completed fully online or in a blended learning/online format. Students must complete at least 36 hours of credit in psychology for the major.
Whereas some schools specialize in research and theory in their programs, this institution chooses to focus their coursework on applied psychology.
12. Walden University (Minneapolis, MN)
Walden University is a for-profit university that began in 1970 as an initiative for adults in the workplace to continue and complete their post-graduate education. Nowadays, Walden is considered a leader in online education. The Higher Learning Commission has given Walden accreditation; the school is a member of the North Central Association.
Walden offers the Bachelor of Science in Psychology, with a multitude of concentrations available in the following areas: Addictions, Applied Psychology, Child and Adolescent Development, Criminal Justice, Human Services, Infant and Toddler Development, Preparation for Graduate Studies, Preschool Child Development, and Human Workplace Psychology. Depending on a student’s chosen track, he or she will be as equally prepared for the workplace as graduate school.
A special feature of the Walden program is that students have access to numerous virtual tools that were developed to enhance distance learning. Services in academic advisement, tutoring, a career services center, a digital library, and a writing center are just some of the resources that students have access to.
13. Bellevue University (Bellevue, NE)
Founded in 1965, Bellevue University originally set out to provide outstanding education to adult learners who sought to gain additional knowledge and skills to further their education and grow professionally. The university has remained true to its intention, since the majority of its students are adults age 25 and over.
Bellevue offers the Bachelor of Science in Psychology entirely online. The university maintains that the degree can be completed in as little as sixteen months. Thirty-four credit hours are necessary to complete the major, in addition to general education requirements.
Three additional classes are mandatory: human genetics, nutrition through the lifespan, and either elementary Spanish I or another class in culture. Some of these classes may count towards the general education requirements.
The Higher Learning Commission accredits the university.
14. Rivier University (Nashua, NH)
Founded by nuns in Nashua, New Hampshire, Rivier University is a school that maintains it roots in the Catholic Church. The school renewed its mission in 1995 and made a formal commitment to the mission of teaching, rectifying social injustices, and service to others. This ideal lends itself well to the psychology student. Rivier changed its surname from college to university in July 2012.
U.S. News & World Report currently ranks Rivier as #133 among regional colleges in the North.
Rivier offers the B.A. in Psychology online. This program is intended for adult students who may already be working in the human services field.
Thirty-one credits are required in major classes, in addition to 42 credit hours in general education classes, two of which are courses in religion.
Over 120 credits are required for the degree.
15. Robert Morris University (Pittsburgh, PA)
Robert Morris University, founded in 1921 and named after the American patriot, is a private school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (not to be confused with the school of the identical name in Illinois). Until 2002, the school operated as Robert Morris College.
The School of Education and Social Sciences offers the B.A. in Psychology. In addition to the core education classes, 36 credits in the psych major are required, including a practicum and a thesis. Classes amounting to 15 credits must be from a concentration area, and must be approved by the academic adviser.
As an additional requirement, all students must take 12 credits of communication classes—which proves beneficial in a field that deals directly in communicating with the general public.
All students are eligible for active membership in the Psychology Club.
16. Waldorf College (Forest City, IA)
Founded in 1903 by Norwegian immigrants in northern Iowa, Waldorf College is a private, coeducational liberal arts school. The school began as a Lutheran academy and a professional business school. Currently, Waldorf operates as a for-profit institution.
Waldorf offers the B.A. in Psychology online. Students may elect to participate in optional three-day residencies: a biology lab, a graduate school planning session, and a career planning session. Otherwise, the degree is available fully online.
Students must complete a core curriculum, including two religion classes, in addition to 36 credits in Psychology, for a total of 120 credit hours for the bachelor’s degree.
Interested students are not subject to the ACT or the SAT, and all textbooks are provided to students free of charge through the Waldorf Book Grant.
17. University of the Southwest (Hobbs, NM)
Founded in 1962 and known for years as the College of the Southwest, University of the Southwest (USW) is a Christian university located in southeastern New Mexico, near the Texas border. The school is non-denominational, with roots in the Baptist church.
USW offers the Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology fully online. Three emphasis areas are available for students to specialize their study: Applied Psychology, Forensic Psychology, and Religion.
All students receive resident tuition prices, and there are no additional fees for distance education or technology.
Classes are delivered in formats that allow students to access their coursework at any time from any location, providing the ultimate in convenience.
The Higher Learning Commission accredits USW.
18. University of Maryland University College (Adelphi, MD)
The University of Maryland University College (UMUC) employs the old-fashioned English phrase “university college” to demonstrate a not-so-old-fashioned idea: Since the 1990s, UMUC has taken traditional classes and offered them online. In fact, this was the first public university in the U.S. to offer an online degree program.
Today, the school—which has a 100% acceptance rate—enrolls over 92,000 students in over 150 places around the globe.
The B.S. in Psychology requires 120 course credits, including 36 from the major, half of which must be upper-level classes.
Students must also complete the senior seminar in psychology for graduation.
19. Entry 19 has proven problematic and has been temporarily removed while this article is reassessed and updated. We apologize for the inconvenience.
20. Ottawa University (Ottawa, KS)
Ottawa University is a private, liberal arts college with affiliations with the American Baptist church, located in eastern Kansas. The Higher Learning Commission has granted accreditation to the university.
The university offers the B.A. in Psychology, with an available concentration in Communication. Students must complete 128 credit hours for the degree. Specified coursework focuses on theory and research, which is perfect preparation for students who plan to continue towards an advanced degree in the field.