Psychology is one of the most popular degree programs in the United States, and for good reason. It is natural to wonder about human behavior, the human brain, and the "how?" and "why?" of the ways we interact with one another.
Psychology is a particularly popular option at the doctoral level, as many students have an interest in teaching the subject to others at universities. Working in academia also lets you run your own research studies and contribute to the constantly growing body of knowledge about cognition, memory, decision making, and neuroscience. Many Ph.Ds in psychology also contribute to academic journals outside of a college environment by working in clinics or other research settings. Lastly, a Psy.D. is also popular for those who are more interested in the clinical route; that is, getting licensed and working as a therapist or counselor.
Whatever your motivation for earning a Ph.D. in psychology, you can move one step closer to your dream by opting for an online education. Online doctoral psychology programs offer all the same benefits as traditional universities but with some added advantages – namely flexibility in scheduling, accessibility, lenient time restrictions, and lower costs.
Affordability tends to be an especially important consideration for many would-be students, which is why we gathered together a selection of the 10 most affordable online doctoral programs in psychology. After identifying all the universities in the country that offer psychology Ph.Ds and Psy.Ds online, we used graduate-level tuition data* from College Navigator to rank them according to cost. The 10 cheapest schools are listed below.
*Note that while College Navigator is a reliable, government-run website, tuition costs at universities are subject to change at any time and are variable according to the individual features of the degree program. Although the tuition rates listed below can give you a good idea of your expected financial commitment, we invite you to contact any university you are considering attending to verify what you should plan to pay.
10. Keiser University
Online Psychology PhD
The online doctorate in psychology at Keiser University has been carefully designed to help you achieve success, both during your education and after graduation. Keiser offers two tracks – one for students with a master's degree and another for those with only a bachelor's degree – and organizes all classes into manageable units. Each course is eight weeks long and students generally take two classes at a time, which helps them manage their course load and adequately absorb new material while still attending full-time. Examples of potential classes include Evolutionary Psychology, Psychopathology, Behavioral Neuroscience, and Sociocultural Basis of Behavior.
9. Argosy University
Online Doctor of Education (EdD) in Counseling Psychology
For students who hope to find a job in the school system, Argosy University offers an online doctorate in psychology program with an emphasis on education counseling. The degree is ideal for students who already have a master's degree in counseling and is designed to graduate doctors of philosophy who will look for work in research, counseling, education, consulting, and/or administration. Admission to Argosy is not guaranteed; you must have a minimum 3.0 GPA in undergraduate and graduate-level coursework and complete a successful interview with the admissions committee. Once accepted, you can choose to pursue a "general" track or an emphasis in Counseling Education and Supervision.
8. Loyola University Chicago
Online EdD in School Psychology
Loyola University offers an online doctorate in psychology to students particularly interested in education. The program includes two areas of specialization: the mental health track and the data-based, decision-making track. To qualify, prospective students need a valid professional educator license in IL or a school psychology license from a different state. Coursework includes evidence-based interventions, action research to improve teaching and learning, and advanced system consultation and school psychology and supervision. Each track requires students to complete different coursework. Admission requires official transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a GPA of at least a 3.0.
7. University of the Rockies
Online Doctor of Psychology
This online Psy.D. program in psychology stands apart from the rest simply for the sheer number of specialization options available to graduate level learners. Forget the typical two or three choices between various aspects of counseling; the University of the Rockies provides a whopping nine concentrations in such topics as Mental Health Administration, Health and Wellness Psychology, Organizational Leadership, Business Psychology, Nonprofit Management, Sport and Performance Psychology, Educational Leadership, Mediation and Conflict Resolution, and Criminology and Justice Studies. What's more, U of R provides a completely different PhD for students interested in clinical psychology (although that degree is not available online).
6. Northcentral University
Online Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology
Northcentral University recognized the need for advanced education in psychology – and the number of students who were demanding it – and responded by forming this online doctorate in psychology program. Traditional concentrations are available in General Psychology and Industrial/Organizational Psychology, but you might also consider exploring a unique focus like Gender Diversity, Mental Health Policy and Practice, or Health Psychology. But regardless of which concentration you choose, you'll enjoy a core curriculum that will push you to think critically, evaluate organizations and social norms, and hone your research skills as you transform into a reputable scholar.
5. Capella University
Online PhD in General Psychology
The hard work starts on day one at Capella University, and you'll dive right into your dissertation research a soon as you start class. Between specialized to help you develop a topic, seminars to increase your knowledge, and challenging general coursework, there will be no escaping a rigorous academic experience. Capella is distinct for its commitment to monitoring its performance and the satisfaction of its graduates, and so far the surveys provide a glowing report of this distance learning Ph.D. program in psychology. Nearly 90% of alumni say they are satisfied with their experience at the university and nearly 70% assumed leadership positions in their careers as a result of their graduation from Capella.
4. Walden University
Online PhD in Psychology
Walden's online psychology program will help you combine theoretical research with practical knowledge to become a successful psychologist in a multitude of settings. You can also earn an MS degree along the way and choose between specialties in General (Research or Teaching), Social, Clinical, Health, or Educational Psychology. Walden employs only Ph.D. graduates as professors and ensures that all students have access to the most experienced faculty available. The program also excels in accessibility, combining both virtual and in-person residencies as a way to help learners from all locales acquire as much hands-on, real-life training as possible. This combination of flexibility and practicality is part of what makes Walden University one of the best online Ph.D. programs in psychology.
3. Grand Canyon University
Online Doctor of Philosophy in General Psychology with an Emphasis in Cognition and Instruction
If you're looking for a university that can offer you an endless list of choices and specializations, GCU might not be the way to go. But if you are focused on industrial and organizational psychology and passionate about cognition/cognitive science, Grand Canyon has the targeted program that can push you straight to the top. Like most Ph.D. degrees, graduates can easily secure work as teachers or researchers. But GCU's online doctorate in psychology is also ideal for students who want to work in business, governmental, or applied industrial positions. The majority of the curriculum focuses on social cognition, theories of instruction, and research-based approaches to mental processes such as reasoning and motivation.
2. Touro University Worldwide
Online Human and Organizational Psychology Graduate Degree Program
Touro University is another option for would-be psychology students who already know exactly what they want to do. Students whose interest is limited to human and organizational psychology (particularly workforce interactions) can earn superior training from Touro. You'll learn how to increase profitability and productivity within companies, lower turnover, and motivate employees to sculpt a more harmonious working environment. Students with a doctorate in psychology online who specialize in organizational/industrial areas can smoothly transition to the real world and easily find positions in business and the government; of course, teaching and/or research is always an option as well.
1. California Southern University
Online Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)
Not only is California Southern University the most affordable selection on this list, but it is also one of the few online Psy.D. programs in psychology. CSU's doctoral degree emphasizes clinical practice over theoretical research and helps students meet their requirements for licensure (in California only). Students invest significant time in a final doctoral project that serves as a culmination of their educational training, but you also have the freedom to pick a research topic about which you are passionate. The 66-credit program generally takes about four years to complete and offers the advanced training in therapy and counseling that many other distance education options lack. If you're looking to practice as a licensed clinician, this is certainly one of the best online doctoral programs in psychology.