Online college degree programs in psychology generally provide instruction on the behavior of individuals and groups. They are designed to prepare students for employment in health settings, academia or the business realm. Undergraduate psychology programs have a curriculum that could give students the foundation they need to pursue graduate programs in counseling or psychology, which is required to obtain state licensure as a practitioner in these fields.
Students may need previous college credits before enrolling in some online undergraduate programs. Once admitted, students can often complete all courses through distance learning. They log on to a virtual classroom managed by their school to view lectures, interact with peers or instructors and complete assignments. Some schools may require distance learners to take their exams at an approved proctored location rather than online. In addition, for some programs an internship or apprenticeship related to the field of psychology may be required.
The following two universities offer online bachelor's degree programs in psychology, which could prepare students to enter the workforce or pursue graduate study.
Penn State University
Penn State University's World Campus offers over 100 distance learning degree and certificate programs, including two bachelor's degree programs in psychology. These programs can be completed totally online. Prospective students must have a high school diploma or GED to be eligible for admission to the school, and must complete foundational coursework in psychology, statistics and social sciences in order to be admitted to the psychology major.
Bachelor of Arts
The online Bachelor of Arts at Penn State is intended for undergraduate students planning to attend graduate school to study psychology or for those seeking careers as social services practitioners. Graduates typically work for human services organizations, pursue graduate-level work in psychology or apply to law school or medical school.
In addition to general education classes, online coursework includes the following:
- History of psychology
- Research methods
- Ethical concerns in the field
- Professional practices in psychology
Students can choose from various psychology electives to round out their program and they must also complete a senior seminar. An optional internship is available as well.
Bachelor of Science
This online psychology degree program is intended for students who want careers as business professionals, like human resources managers or marketing managers. The curriculum includes general psychology classes like those in the Bachelor of Arts program, but students must also take business-related classes in areas such as economics, finance and accounting. Graduates of the program are prepared to begin their business careers right away or pursue advanced education.
Utah State University
Intended to serve needs of students who, because of work or family obligations, cannot travel to campus or commit to class meetings, Utah State University's distance learning psycholoogy program offers students the same coursework as they'd find attending classes on campus with the flexibility to learn when and where it fits the students' schedule. The school's online Bachelor of Science program is designed to give students the prerequisite education needed to be successful in studying psychology at the graduate level.
Bachelor of Science
Though classes are offered online, distance learners in Utah State's program are required to complete an apprenticeship on campus or in another approved professional setting.
The online Bachelor of Science program in psychology requires a core set of courses, specialization coursework and a complementary minor. Examples of subjects covered in this program include:
- Developmental psychology
- Behavior analysis
- Psychological testing
- Personality theories
- Abnormal psychology
Distance learning degrees in psychology are available at the bachelor's level, with on-site training experience available in some cases. Institutions like Penn State University offer Bachelor of Arts degrees with courses that prepare students for graduate studies, while Utah State University and other schools have Bachelor of Science programs with coursework designed for students interested in business-oriented careers.