Distance Learning Psychology Masters Degree Program Overviews

Apr 24, 2020

Essential Information

To earn a master's degree in psychology, students typically need to earn 30-36 graduate credits, all of which can often be completed online; a counseling focus may require more credit hours. On campus orientations or practical experience may be necessary. Students in online programs can work at their own pace but typically complete M.S. degrees in two years. Programs often end with a field project or research paper completed under faculty supervision. Majors include general psychology, mental health, and counseling. If you're interested in pursuing a program entirely online, there are anthropology master's degree programs available.

Topics of Study

A master's degree in general psychology usually covers theory and practice, pertinent ethical and legal issues, developmental psychology, diagnostics and research methods. Students also take courses in the following areas:

  • Human Development
  • Physiological Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology of Learning
  • Gerontology
  • Personality Theory
  • Methods of Personality Assessment
  • IQ Testing
  • Diagnosing and Treating Behavioral Pathology
  • Psychopharmacology


Some master's degree programs focus on general psychology, while others allow for study in specialty areas. Concentrations may include the following:

  • Individual psychology
  • Organizational psychology
  • Mental health
  • Pathology
  • Family counseling

Onsite and Field Requirements

Some schools may require students to visit the campus for orientation sessions or occasional meetings. Certain programs integrate a practical experience, which may be in a non-clinical setting. Students may be required to keep a journal documenting their externship experience.

Online Learning Details

Online studies for a master's degree program may incorporate asynchronous and synchronous components. Students may need to login to their virtual classes for real-time discussions and webinars, and some programs may use telephone conferencing as an additional method of communication and participation. A headset with microphone and webcam may be required. In addition, students may need access to presentation software to complete assignments, and proctors may be required for exams.

Admission Requirements

Entry requirements for a master's degree program typically includes a bachelor's degree from an accredited university. Students who do not have an undergraduate degree in psychology may need to complete additional courses before being admitted into a master's degree program. Additionally, an undergraduate GPA of 'B' or above is often required.

Career Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that employment of psychologists would grow at a much faster than average rate, from 2018-2028, when compared to all jobs ( The reported median salary in May 2019 was $80,370. In addition to working as a self-employed psychologist, graduates of a distance learning psychology master's degree program can work in areas including:

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Health Psychology
  • Industrial or Organizational Psychology
  • Counseling
  • School Counseling
  • High School, Community College or University Teaching

Master's degree programs in psychology can be completed completely online, although a field project or research paper is typically required to graduate. Graduates of a master's degree program may find work as psychologists in different areas, including counseling and clinical psychology.

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