Online PhD in psychology degree programs have become more common due to the increasing numbers of professionals wanting to return to school without disrupting their life and career obligations. Finding a quality, accredited program can be tricky, especially if you want to pursue licensure that leads to becoming a licensed counselor. We recognize the importance of finding a reputable doctoral degree and created this list of the 20 best online PhD in psychology programs in the United States.
Ranking the Best Online Psychology Doctoral Degree Programs
For the purpose of this list, we looked at 50 accredited colleges and universities that offered online PhD in psychology or closely related degree programs. We looked at doctoral programs that were regionally or nationally accredited and/or upheld and aligned with the standards of curriculum by the American Psychological Association (APA). The APA does not accredit fully online doctoral programs, and therefore many of the schools listed below offer hybrid options. Although, a few schools on our list are APA-accredited, which is highly important if you want to pursue state licensure. We then classed these accredited programs by affordability.
Below is our list of the top 20 best online PhD in psychology degree programs listed in order of affordability.
#20 – California Southern University
Online PhD in Psychology
Costa Mesa, California
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $32,670
The School of Behavioral Sciences at California Southern University offers a 66-credit online PhD in psychology that is designed to lead to licensure as a clinical psychologist. The online program meets the educational requirements for licensure in California, although state-by-state requirements may differ. Coursework can be taken online and includes classes like advanced theories of personality, ethical and professional issues, history and systems of psychology, research methods in psychology, and statistical methods and analysis. Practicum and internship opportunities are also available.
#19 – The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
Online PhD in International Psychology
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $26,179
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology offers an online PhD in psychology program that takes approximately three to four years to complete. The program offers a trauma services concentration that is designed to equip students with the skills necessary to lead organizations in developing prevention and preparedness training. Coursework is delivered online and includes classes like assessment of psychosocial and mental health reactions to traumatic stress, mental health interventions, and self care strategies in humanitarian efforts. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology offers doctoral programs that are accredited by the American Psychological Association.
#18 – Saybrook University
Online PhD in Psychology
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $25,789
One of the top online psychology doctoral programs on our list is offered by Saybrook University. In addition to the study of psychology at the doctoral level, students have the option of tailoring their degree by choosing one of four concentrations: consciousness, spirituality, and integrative health; creativity studies; existential, humanistic, and transpersonal psychology; and psychophysiology. While courses are delivered online, a couple of residential conferences in San Francisco are required. Saybrook is accredited by the Senior Commission of Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)–a regional accrediting agency–and the curriculum for the doctoral psychology program adheres to counselor licensing requirements.
#17 – Sofia University
Online Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology
Palo Alto, California
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $21,760
Sofia University’s online psychology doctoral degree offers three and five year tracks for students with either a master’s in psychology or bachelor’s in psychology degree. Both tracks require a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 from an accredited college or university. The program offers three psychology concentrations for students to tailor their degree toward personal interests or career goals. These concentrations include consciousness and creativity studies, philosophy and cognitive neuroscience, and research methods in psychology. If your goal is to pursue licensure in California or elsewhere, please be aware that this program is not a clinical degree; however, the school is accredited by WASC–a premiere accrediting body.
#16 – California Institute of Integral Studies
Online PhD in Integral and Transpersonal Psychology
San Francisco, California
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $20,084
The online psychology doctoral programs from California Institute of Integral Studies are three-year programs that can be completed almost entirely online. While classes are delivered online, residential intensives in the Bay Area are required twice a year. The institution has been accredited with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges since 1981, and its online PhD psychology programs are among the few to offer transpersonal psychology specializations. While the program does not prepare students for licensure as psychological counselors or clinical psychologists, the degree is designed to serve master’s in counseling or psychotherapy students and those who wish to pursue further doctoral studies researching topics related to counseling psychology.
#15 – California Coast University
Online EdD in Educational Psychology
Santa Ana, California
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $19,430
For those looking to pursue a doctoral degree in educational psychology, California Coast University offers a self-paced, online doctor of education in educational psychology (Ed.D). The program is unique in that it is not structured in semesters, quarters, or terms, but designed to allow students to study at any time of the year. Prerequisites for admission include an earned master’s degree in education, or closely related discipline, and the completion of five prerequisite courses in education. Some of the courses required for the EdD program include advanced educational psychology, analysis of current issues in education, organizational behavior and adaptive leadership, philosophical foundations of education, and quantitative methods in educational research. The institution holds accreditation through the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, founded in 1926.
#14 – University of the Rockies
Online PhD in Psychology
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $19,069
One of the top online psychology doctoral degree programs on our list is the online PhD in psychology from University of the Rockies. While the program is not intended to meet the requirements for professional licensure in the state of Colorado, the program is accredited and provides opportunities for research and advanced study. Classes are delivered online, and a series of specializations are offered. While the program is recognized as entirely online, certain facets of the doctoral coursework require one-on-one or group interaction. Also, for some of the specializations, three in-residence weekends in Denver are also required.
#13 – Felician University
Doctorate of Counseling Psychology
Lodi, New Jersey
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $18,910
While not considered to be a 100% online PhD in psychology program, the 88-credit doctorate of counseling psychology from Felician University offers classes both on campus and online. The objectives of the program are developed within the principles of the American Psychological Association (APA), which is important for those interested in pursuing licensure. The curriculum is aligned with both the APA accreditation standards and the New Jersey Board of Psychological Examiners requirements. Some of the courses offered include clinical theories, evidenced based theories, health care systems, health psychology, and learning and cognition. A doctoral practicum and APA internship are also part of the program requirements.
#12 – Northcentral University
Online PhD in Psychology
San Diego, California
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,781
Northcentral University’s online PhD in psychology is a non-licensure program that offers eight professionally relevant specializations and is designed to be completed within 48 months. The program is adaptable to busy schedules and offers flexible online courses with multiple start dates. Some of the specializations offered include addictions, gender diversity, general psychology, gerontology, health psychology, and mental health policy and practice. Admission to the doctoral program requires a master’s degree in any area of psychology or mental health counseling. Northcentral is a regionally accredited online university but is not APA-accredited. The doctoral programs are not intended to lead to licensure.
#11 – Lesley University
Online PhD in Expressive Therapies
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,690
While not the traditional online psychology doctoral degree, the PhD in expressive therapies from Lesley University is a 45-credit program that incorporates a work from home format with a research focus. This low-residency model requires students to come to campus for a residency each July over the course of the three-year program. During the residencies, students meet with faculty advisers, attend small seminars and classes, connect with their peers, and design research projects. Admission requirements include an earned master’s from a regionally accredited institution, satisfactory performance on the GRE or MAT exam, and a minimum of three to five years of professional experience as an expressive therapist.
#10 – Michigan State University
Online PhD in Educational Psychology
East Lansing, Michigan
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $16,764
One of the top online psychology doctoral programs on our list is the hybrid educational psychology PhD from Michigan State University. This nationally ranked program is offered substantially online and designed for working professionals who want to earn advanced skills in educational psychology. Admission to the program requires an earned master’s degree from an accredited college or university and satisfactory GRE scores from examinations taken within the last five years. Like most doctoral programs, the completion and defense of doctoral dissertation research are required. Michigan State is a top-ranked public institution and all doctoral programs are accredited.
#9 – Fielding Graduate University
Online PhD in Clinical Psychology
Santa Barbara, California
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,224
Fielding’s School of Psychology offers the only accredited clinical psychology doctoral program utilizing distributed delivery for many of the learning and assessment requirements. The program is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA)–APA Commission on Accreditation, 750 First St. NE, Washington, DC 20002, 202.336.5979. The clinical psychology program received initial accreditation by the APA in 1991.
#8 – Capella University
Online Doctor of Psychology
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $15,003
One of the most affordable online psychology doctoral programs on our list is offered by Capella University – the online doctor of psychology in clinical psychology. This program is designed to enroll with an earned master’s or bachelor’s degree. The program features online coursework with face-to-face residencies, practicum, internship, and dissertation. Each course runs ten weeks in length. The program is accredited, but does not lead to licensing. However, Capella’s rigorous curriculum is designed to set up success for those with goals of becoming licensed clinical practitioners.
#7 – Oregon State University
Online PhD in Counseling
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,801
Oregon State University offers one of the few online psychology doctoral programs that is CACREP-accredited and aimed at preparing graduates for leadership and advocate roles in the field. The program operates as a hybrid program, which involves both face-to-face and online instruction for all courses. However, most face-to-face instruction occurs only twice each quarter during a Friday and Saturday block. The program is in compliance with an agreement with Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission for participation in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement and provides information regarding professional licensure, but courses are not formally approved for professional licensure outside of the state of Oregon. Admission to the PhD program requires a master’s degree in counseling or related field, a strong academic background, professional experience, a minimum GPA of 3.0 on undergraduate coursework, and three letters of recommendation.
#6 – Walden University
Online PhD in Psychology
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,555
Walden University’s online psychology doctoral programs offer seven specializations designed to provide specific areas of focus that meet career goals and areas of personal interest. Some of the specializations lead to professional licensure, while others do not. There is also a fast-track option for completing the degree, which allows students to earn their degree at a faster rate by taking additional courses every term. Courses are delivered 100% online and are taught by faculty members who hold a doctoral degree. Residencies are required and generally include short face-to-face meetings. Admission to the program requires a bachelor’s or master’s degree with an earned GPA of 3.0 or better and GRE or GMAT scores. A phone or video interview may also be required.
#5 – Regent University
Online PhD in Counseling and Psychological Studies
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,226
Regent University’s online psychology doctoral degree is designed to prepare Christian scholars and leaders in mental health counseling, research, and psychological science. The delivery is completely online and requires a total of 51 credits. Courses may include concepts of the family systems, ethics and legal issues, indigenous mental health care, and political structures and policy analysis. PhD applicants must hold a regionally accredited 30-hour master’s degree in a mental health field, have a minimum GPA of 3.5 in graduate level coursework, and have at least one year of experience working in the mental health field. Recommendation letters and writing samples are also required.
#4 – Alaska Pacific University
Online PhD in Counseling Psychology
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,110
Alaska Pacific University’s online psychology doctoral degree is designed in a way that allows students to earn a doctorate without giving up their life obligations. Weekend intensives and blended class formats make it convenient for working students and those living outside of Anchorage to attend. Courses include biological bases of behavior, evidence-based treatment for children and families, professional ethics, and substance abuse assessment and non-diagnostic assessment. A practicum, dissertation, and internship must also be completed to satisfy degree requirements. While the hybrid program is not presently accredited by the APA, curriculum does align with standards.
#3 – Arizona State University
Online PhD in Behavioral Health
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,506
One of the most affordable online psychology doctoral programs on our list is offered by Arizona State University. This 84-credit doctoral degree is designed for working students and prepares them for professional careers in behavioral health. Curriculum emphasizes integrated behavioral health and improving clinical outcomes. Online synchronous courses (with live chat) are provided, such as financial management in healthcare, models of integrated primary care, and population-based health management. Students are also required to complete an internship and capstone research project that includes a plan specific to the student’s professional career interests. Admission to the program can be competitive depending on the year and cohort.
#2 – Touro University
Online PhD in Human and Organizational Psychology
Los Alamitos, California
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,000
Touro University’s online PhD in psychology is a 100% online degree program that requires no residency and no GRE scores for admission. The degree does not lead to licensure, but does offer courses that align with the preparation needed for licensing exams. To apply, students must have an earned master’s from an accredited college or university with a cumulative GPA of 3.4 or better. Additional application requirements include official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and a doctoral entrance essay. Students take courses in theory, research, and practice. Once the required courses are taken, students begin the pre-dissertation (proposal) phase, followed by the dissertation.
#1 – University of the Cumberlands
Online PhD in Clinical Psychology
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $5,970
University of the Cumberlands offers the most affordable online psychology doctoral degree program on our list. The program is considered to be a hybrid degree and offers a mix of online classes with on-campus clinical instruction. During the first year, all courses are 100% online. A clinical practicum and doctoral dissertation are also required. The program is designed to meet the standard guidelines of the American Psychological Association (APA). Admission is competitive and requires a complete essay and application, along with GRE scores, an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better, and three completed recommendation forms. University of the Cumberlands is a top-ranked national university by major publications like U.S. News and World Report.
This concludes our list of the top 20 best online PhD in psychology degree programs for 2017.
All schools shown here have been contacted and informed of their inclusion on this list. Schools that do not wish to be featured are immediately removed. School names are the registered trademarks of their original owners. The use of any trade name or trademark does not imply any association with the school.