Online degree programs are becoming more popular and gaining acceptance in the workplace. Finding an online psychology degree is not difficult. Finding an affordable psychology degree online is more challenging.
It is important to remember that affordable does not mean cheap. There are factors to consider other than cost. Career options, customizability, and graduate studies are important to consider when deciding if an online degree is affordable. “Cheap” tuition is just one piece of the puzzle.
Featured Psychology Programs
- BA in Psychology: The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
- MS in Psychology: General Psychology: Kaplan University
- MS in Forensic Psychology – General: Walden University
Below is a ranking of the Top 10 Most Affordable Online Psychology Degree Programs. Note that this ranking is not at all exhaustive and is not intended to be anything more than a guideline. If you are considering an online psychology degree, you should research the programs thoroughly and determine which best fits your need.
As a final note, a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology usually does not lead to a career in the field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that “most graduates with a bachelor’s degree in psychology find work in other fields such as business administration, sales, or education.” It is because of this that the availability of graduate degrees factors rather heavily in the ranking below.
10. Baker College Online
Physical Location: Baker College Online is completely online. Baker College has twelve locations throughout Michigan.
Online Degrees: Bachelor of Science in Psychology; Master of Science in Industrial/Organizational Psychology
Baker College is the largest private college in Michigan. Its online campus – Baker College Online – offers degrees in psychology, both a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science.
The programs at Baker comply with the American Psychological Association’s Board of Educational Affairs Task Force guidelines for educational groundwork and major competencies. The undergraduate program is based almost entirely on these guidelines. It covers a broad range of subjects, including statistics, Research Methods, Physiological Psychology, Bio-Chemical/Neural Psychology, and the History of Psychology. Students take a Seminar senior year that serves as a capstone. This Seminar attempts to coalesce all the information students have been exposed to. The end goal is to prepare students for either employment or graduate study in Psychology.
Baker College itself offers a graduate degree in Psychology. The Master of Science degree offered at Baker is in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. This is one of the applied disciplines of Psychology. It deals with the application of psychological principles to the workplace. Industrial/Organizational Psychologist is listed as the fastest growing occupation by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The discipline pays well; the 2012 median pay was $83,580 per year.
The base rate for undergraduate courses at Baker is $225.00 per credit hour. The base rate for the graduate program is $405.00 per credit hour. There are many different options for financial aid at Baker. This includes loans, grants, and scholarships. They also offer a work aid program. There are a handful of benefits offered to Veterans as well.
9. Waldorf College
Physical Location: Forest City, Iowa
Online Degrees: Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Bachelor of Applied Science in Psychology
Waldorf’s mission is “instilling values of service, community, critical inquiry, and lifelong learning.” The psychology programs fit well into this mission because Psychology is a service vocation. The goal of the Bachelor of Applied Science in Psychology is to provide a broad liberal arts-based foundational education. This includes a knowledge base, critical thinking skills, analytical reasoning, interpersonal skills and ethical values. The Bachelor of Arts degree has the same goals; the difference is in nomenclature.
There are six concentrations available for the Bachelor of Applied Science in Psychology: Communications, Criminal Justice, Fire Science, Health Care management, Occupational Safety and Health, and Sport Management. The same concentrations are available for the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.
Undergraduate tuition at Waldorf is $275 per credit hour. Active duty service members and reservists receive a special rate of $250 per credit hour. All service members receive an application fee waiver. Immediate family of Active Duty Service members receive that same waiver and a ten percent discount on tuition.
One of the unique benefits at Waldorf is the Waldorf Book Grant. If the student successfully completes a course, the textbooks are provided for free through this Grant. Waldorf students can also apply for Federal Student Aid. There are competitive scholarships available through Waldorf as well.
8. Brandman University
Physical Location: 26 locations throughout North America
Online Degrees: Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
Brandman University’s Bachelor of Arts in Psychology program is intended to provide knowledge of the essentials of psychological science and thoughts. It emphasizes critical thinking, research, and inquiry methods. This makes it unique because not all programs explicitly seek to teach students to think.
Brandman lists five specific learning outcomes: application of theory, human behavior, research methods and statistics, scientific writing, and life span development. Many of these overlap with the programs offered elsewhere; however, it is notable that the end result of this particular mix is a student who has learned how to organize thoughts and understand human behavior from a high-level lifespan perspective.
Brandman University’s base tuition rate is $500 per credit hour. Active military members and their spouses get a full 50% discount: they pay only $250 per credit hour. Students may apply for federal financial aid. There is also an additional grant available to qualifying students who are residents of California. There are a number of scholarships available as well, including a scholarship specifically designed for LGBT students.
7. Troy University
Physical Location: Four campuses in Alabama
Online Degrees: Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Master of Science Counseling and Psychology (certain specialties only)
The Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Troy University has similar goals to the other schools on this list. One peculiarity is the stated goal that students will come out with “a sound preparation for describing, understanding, predicting, and controlling the events in their own lives.” Troy makes no illusions that the prospects are better for Psychology graduates who go on to get advanced degrees and the University attempts to prepare students for that as much as possible.
The Bachelor degree is highly customizable. There are two types of degrees. The Psychology major offers courses from three areas of psychology to tailor the program to the student’s personal needs. These are Natural Science, Social Science, and Applied Psychology. To round the program out, students must complete an 18 hour minor. The Psychology Comprehensive Program is more directed and focuses more exclusively on Psychology and scientific study.
Troy University’s Master of Science in Counseling and Psychology keeps up the customization of the undergraduate degree. The program has three specialties that are available online through the Global Campus: Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Social Services Counseling, and Addictions Counseling Certificate. The program is relatively selective. It requires an internship and a written comprehensive exam.
Tuition for the global campus is not listed on the website explicitly. This tuition is “established in relation to the local higher education market and through negotiations with military, corporate, and civilian contractors.” The in-state tuition for the Alabama campuses is $264 per credit hour. The in-state graduate tuition is $338 per credit hour. Out-of-state students pay twice these tuition amounts.
Perhaps a more useful comparison is offered by the tuition at eTROY, which is online learning offered through Troy University rather than the global campus. Undergraduate tuition is $308 per credit hour for undergraduate courses at eTROY. Graduate tuition is $460 per credit hour. Global campus tuition probably falls somewhere in between these rates and the on-campus tuition rates.
Financial aid options include federal aid as well as tuition assistance. Troy Uniersity also participates in GoArmy and the Navy Tuition Assistance program. They also participate in the programs available to Reservists, Air Force, Coast Guard, Veterans, and more. Troy University also participates in corporate or educational institutions’ tuition reimbursement programs.
6. Granite State College
Physical Location: Nine locations throughout New Hampshire
Online Degrees: Bachelor of Science in Psychology
Granite State College offers an interdisciplinary approach in its Bachelor of Science in Psychology program. They are one of the schools that appears fully aware that a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology is frequently not enough to get a job in the field. The program focuses on preparing students for career options in “any position in which they interact with, analyze, or manage people.” That includes jobs in sales, management, research, advertising, public relations and administration. Students will also be prepared for graduate study because of how broad the curriculum is.
Granite State College also emphasizes a global world view and comparison of theoretical assumptions of psychology with other disciplines. This is unique among the programs on this list. There is also an emphasis on technology and behavioral science research.
Tuition at Granite State College is based on whether the student is In State or Out Of State. If the student lives in New Hampshire, Undergraduate tuition is $285 per credit hour. If not, tuition is $305 per credit hour.
Students are able to apply for educational loans. There are Federal and State grants available to help with the cost of tuition. This includes grants given in other states. There is also aid available through the Department of Veteran Affairs, the United States Army, Vocational Rehabilitation, AmeriCorps, the Department of Health and Human Services, and some employer tuition reimbursement programs. Granite also participates in the Federal Work Study program. There are some specific tuition waivers available. This includes a waiver for senior citizens. Granite also offers about half a dozen scholarships.
5. Fort Hays State University
Physical Location: Hays, Kansas
Online Degrees: Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Master of Science in Counseling, Master of Science and Education Specialist in School Psychology
Fort Hays State University’s Psychology department is unique in that it offers both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. The Bachelor of Science program is intended for students who wish to continue their studies in graduate school. It focuses the 20 hours of out-of-department classes on natural science and mathematics. The Bachelor of Arts program allows students to pursue those hours in a field of their choice. This is typically related to the individual student’s career aspirations. The Bachelor of Arts program also requires 10 credit hours of foreign language study.
The Psychology Department at Fort Hays State University also offers several graduate degrees. If the four Master of Science degrees are considered as a whole, they cover nearly every type of career that students end up pursuing after graduate study in Psychology. Students who are interested in pursuing counseling-type work can get a Master of Science in Clinical Psychology. The program prepares them for licensure as a master’s level psychologist and opens the door to doctoral study.
The Master of Science in Experimental Psychology is intended to be a stepping stone on the way to a more specialized PhD program. It is a very flexible program in terms of the breadth and depth of the classes offered. Graduates with this degree can also teach at the community college level. Students who are interested in teaching instead of further doctoral study may pursue a Master of Science in General Psychology with an Emphasis in Teaching of Psychology. This program trains students to be able to teach more specialized classes. There is also a Master of Science and Education Specialist in School Psychology program. It is a dual degree program with the goal of preparing students to become licensed school psychologists.
One of the unique features the Fort Hays State University Psychology Department has that has no real analog at any of the other schools on this list is the Psych Investigators Learning Community. This is a program designed for freshmen planning to major or minor in psychology. It “hopes to equip students with the tools needed to conduct thorough investigations about how humans think, feel, and act, whether their behavior is interestingly usual or disturbingly unusual.” These are taught in classes that the Psych Investigator learning community participants take together. It also offers a chance to meet all the faculty in the department.
The virtual college programs are extraordinarily affordable at Fort Hays State University. Undergraduate tuition is $182.00 per credit hour at the Virtual College and Graduate Virtual College tuition is $246.90 per credit hour. The Student Fiscal Services department administers three types of student loan programs: Federal Perkins loans, University Foundation Loans, and Short-Term loans. They also process community scholarships and offer tuition assistance programs. That includes employer pay and military tuition assistance.
The program is one of the most affordable online degrees without any tuition assistance at all. They were ranked a national Best Buy among 71 competing universities by GetEducated.com.
4. Columbia Southern University
Physical Location: Completely online based out of Orange Beach, Alabama
Online Degrees: Bachelor of Science in Psychology
The Bachelor of Science in Psychology at Columbia Southern University is another program that seeks to provide an interdisciplinary course of study in the theory and science of psychology. That includes applied science, research methods, and technical writing. This program sets itself apart because it also seeks to develop “critical skills necessary to function proficiently in applied service provision settings.” That leads to an extra level of education in health care management and human relations. The goal of this program is not to qualify graduates to become licensed counselors. Note that Columbia Southern University itself estimates the time of completion of this program as five years compared to the normal four.
Undergraduate tuition at Columbia Southern University is $200 per credit hour. There is no discounted undergraduate tuition rate for military members. That by no means indicates that the school is not military-friendly. Columbia Southern University does participate in the United States Army’s GoArmyEd program. The University is a member of the United States Air Force’s Air University Associate to Baccalaureate Cooperative program and the Servicemembers Opportunity College Consortium of Schools. They are one of Military Advanced Education’s Top Military-Friendly Colleges and Universities and one of the Military Friendly Schools listed by G.I. Jobs magazine. They also have a Student Veterans Association that provides veterans assistance with everything from benefits to academics. Columbia Southern University also offers a “Hero Behind the Hero” scholarship to the spouse or child of a National Guard or active military member and to the spouse or child of public safety personnel.
All programs provide their textbooks at no cost through the Columbia University Book Grant or Loan-a-Book. The Book Grant does not require the student to return the book unless the course is not completed successfully. The Loan-a-Book program requires the return of textbooks upon course completion. This can be a bigger help than it may seem; the cost of books is oftentimes one of the largest expenses in a college education.
Financial aid may be available through grants, scholarships, loans (federal and private) and institutional financing plans. The median amount of debt for program graduates is $0 in federal loans, private education loans, and institutional financing plans. Approximately 49% of graduates use loans to help finance their cost. There is also a $5,000 alumni scholarship awarded annually to a Columbia Southern University graduate.
3. University of South Dakota
Physical Location: Vermillon, South Dakota
Online Degrees: Bachelor of Science in Addiction Studies, Master of Arts in Addiction Studies, Master of Arts in Counseling and Psychology in Education
The University of South Dakota’s online degree programs are more specialized than the others on this list. That specialization can be invaluable for the right student. The University of South Dakota’s online degree programs at both the undergraduate and graduate level offer programs in one of the applied psychology fields: Addiction. One of the interesting benefits of this particular area of study is that a Bachelor of Science in Addiction Studies can qualify graduates to meet the standards for state, national and international certification for professional prevention specialists and treatment counselors. Students interested in this field can find work as substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors with just a Bachelor’s degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists this as a career growing “much faster than average.”
The Master of Arts in Addiction Studies program can be completed online in either 33 or 45 credit hours depending on which track the student takes. Students who pursue the advanced track are usually already licensed.
Addiction counseling is a satellite discipline of psychology. The University of South Dakota also offers an online Master of Arts in Counseling and Psychology in Education: Human Development and Educational Psychology Specialization as a more traditional form of Psychology. This program includes many courses in psychology with the courses in education and human relations. The students receive close mentorship from the Ph.D. faculty. The program is flexible: self-directed students can develop expertise in human development, cognition and motivation, or research and statistics. The program is also flexible enough to allow interdisciplinary courses of study.
The tuition rates at the University of South Dakota are $312.90 per credit hour for undergraduate programs and $414.85 per credit hour for graduate programs. This is the same regardless of whether the classes are taken online or on campus. This rate is a bargain given that the programs are quite specialized and lend themselves to almost immediate career opportunities upon graduation.
Grants, scholarships, loans, and work study are all available at the University of South Dakota. There are, in fact, about ten scholarships available through the University itself. The University of South Dakota is, like many other schools on this list, very military-friendly. They are a member of the Servicemembers Opportunities College. They rank among G.I. Jobs magazine’s top Military Friendly Schools, Military Times Edge’s Best for Vets colleges, and Military Advanced Education’s Top Military-Friendly Colleges and Universities. The University of South Dakota has signed the Department of Defense’s Memorandum of Understanding and the VA’s Letter of Intent to Comply to President Obama’s Executive order 13607 that aims to improve Veterans services nationwide.
South Dakota University’s military-friendliness goes deeper than those memberships. Certain veterans are eligible to take undergraduate courses without the payment of tuition if they meet a certain list of criteria. They offer free tuition to the children of veterans who are killed while on active duty. Children and spouses of prisoners of war or persons listed as missing in action can also qualify for free tuition if they are not eligible for equal or greater federal benefits. Finally, National Guard members are eligible for a 50% reduction in tuition.
2. American Public University
Physical Location: Charles Town, West Virginia
Online Degrees: Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Master of Arts in Psychology
The online Bachelor of Arts in Psychology program at American Public University is a four year program. It teaches students fundamental schools of thought in psychology, historical and contemporary psychology, developmental, organizational, and abnormal psychology. The goal is not necessarily to move students forward into a career in psychology. It is a well-rounded degree program that can serve as a foundation for professional interests. Students end up in fields ranging from business to education to public management. Some even join the military. The program also lays the foundation for many next-level degree programs.
One of those next-level degree programs is offered at American Public University itself. The Master of Arts in Psychology program offers an in-depth exploration of psychology. It emphasizes the “generalist model.” This model encompasses courses in all aspects of psychology. The program is explicitly not intended to be a terminal degree in the field; the goal is to prepare graduates for doctoral or other graduate studies.
American Public University is ranked #34 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the Best Online Bachelor’s Degree programs. There are other survey results that testify to the strength of the school: 93% of employers would hire one of their graduates again, 95% of seniors say they would choose the school again, 94% of seniors would recommend the school to a friend, and 85% of graduates report that they are currently employed.
American Public University’s tuition is very affordable. The combined costs for tuition, fees, and books is roughly 20% less for undergraduates and 33% for graduate students than the average in-state rates at a public university. Among ten leading providers of online education, American Public University is on average 42% less expensive for undergraduates and 33% less for graduate students.
Undergraduate tuition is $250 per credit hour. Graduate education is $325 per credit hour. American Public University estimates that the total cost of the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology is $30,250 and $14,845 for the Master of Arts in Psychology. The median average debt for graduates of the Bachelor of Arts program is $6,890 in federal loans. The median average debt for graduates of the Master of Arts program is $21,201 in federal student loans. Federal Student Aid and Armed Forces Tuition Assistance is accepted. Note that American Public University lists a $0 cost for books and supplies for the Bachelor of Arts program.
1. Walden University
Physical Location: Completely online, based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota
Online Degrees: Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Bachelor of Science in Forensic Psychology, Master of Science in Psychology, Master of Science in Forensic Psychology, Master of Science in Clinical Psychology, Ph.D. in Psychology
Walden University takes the top ranking on this list because it goes beyond just getting a psychology degree online. An online psychology degree is one thing; Walden University offers a complete education in Psychology.
There are two undergraduate online degree options at Walden. They offer a Bachelor of Science in Psychology that is highly customizable. The program teaches theory, empirical findings, critical and creative thinking, and research methods. It is unique in several of its specific learning outcomes. The Bachelor of Science in Psychology program at Walden seeks to teach students how to apply the principles they learn to personal, social, and organizational issues. Many programs merely teach the theories but not their applications. This program also teaches students to tolerate ambiguity. This is a necessary skill when dealing with social sciences in general. It is especially necessary when dealing with human behavior. In the same vein, the program explicitly seeks to teach students cross-cultural tolerance and sensitivity to people with diverse backgrounds.
There are ten different concentrations available for this degree. These range from preschool child development to a specific concentration intended to prepare the student for graduate studies. The Bachelor of Science in Forensic Psychology takes that specialization one step further as a completely separate degree program. The Forensic Psychology program has four concentrations of its own. There is quite a bit of overlap between the Forensic Psychology and the Psychology degrees; they are, however, two different degrees with two different goals. The Forensic Psychology program puts more emphasis on ethical and professional guidelines and standards. It also specifically seeks to teach students how to develop a strategy for their personal career development in the field.
Walden University also offers a Master of Science in Psychology and a Master of Science in Forensic Psychology. These programs are intended to be seamless transitions from their undergraduate counterparts. The Master of Science in Forensic Psychology at Walden is one of the only ones of its type. It differs quite a bit from the Master of Science in Psychology. There is still overlap between the two, though.
The Master of Science in Psychology has a list of twelve specializations. Six of those allow the student to accelerate the path to a Ph.D. by allowing the application of credits earned in the master’s program to the doctoral program. The program is open to students with any undergraduate background because it does teach some fundamentals along the way. The program was recently redesigned and can now be completed in as little as 15 months. That is an amazing stepping stone to a doctoral program.
There is also a Master of Science in Clinical Psychology. There is no Bachelor degree option for Clinical Psychology. The program is intended to provide a foundation for pursuing clinical psychology as a licensed professional. It also differs from the other Master’s programs in that it includes hands-on, supervised field experience.
The Ph.D. in Psychology, like the other programs, is highly customizable and offers nine different specializations. Any student with a bachelor’s degree can apply for Walden University’s Ph.D. in Psychology program. There is even an option to earn a Master of Science in Psychology along the way if the chosen specialization allows for it. Credits can be applied to the Ph.D. program if the student earned a Master of Science in Psychology at Walden or as transfer credits if the student earned a master’s degree from another accredited university. Incidentally, one of the specializations in the Ph.D. program is Forensic Psychology. This means a student can earn a Bachelor’s, Master’s and Ph.D. in Forensic Psychology completely online from one institution.
The costs the programs are difficult to put in perspective on this list because Walden University charges by the quarter hour. The Bachelor’s programs are $310 per quarter credit hour. Both Bachelor’s programs are 181 quarter credit hours total. Most other Universities charge by the credit hour, and most other Bachelor’s programs are 120 credit hours. That may help when making a comparison.
The Master’s programs are $475 per quarter credit hour. This includes the cost of all required textbooks for the Master of Science in Clinical Psychology and the Master of Science in Psychology programs, but not the Master of Science in Forensic Psychology. The Ph.D. program costs depend on the chosen specialization. Clinical Psychology or Counseling Psychology specializations are $495 per quarter credit hour. All others are $555 per quarter credit hour. There are other costs associated with the Ph.D. program. It is advisable to examine those in detail if you are considering a Ph.D. program at Walden University.
Two-thirds of Walden University students receive some form of financial aid. Many of them defray up to 100% of their tuition and fees through Federal Direct Loans. Federal Financial Aid, State Grants, Private Loans, Scholarships, and Fellowships are the main types of financial aid accepted at Walden. There is more than $1,000,000 available in scholarships at Walden University. There are three fellowships offered to encourage research of current students and faculty. Note that this is the only school on this list to offer fellowships.
International students have special financial assistance available to them. Faculty and staff members at colleges or universities get a 10% tuition reduction through the higher Education Professional Development Program. Walden University also offers a 10% tuition reduction to military members.