Benefits and Challenges of a Psychology Degree Program

Online psychology degrees prepare students to address psychological, social, and behavioral problems among diverse populations. During their education, students can expect to develop their scientific observation, academic writing, and social interaction skills, as well as apply course material to practical experiences in the field. As with any online degree, psychology students should expect to take initiative, be self-motivated to complete assignments, and responsibly maintain their own study schedule during their program.

Levels of Psychology Education

The depth and range of subject matter covered varies based on the level of the psychology degree. Here’s what you typically can expect at each stage:

  • Associate Degree: An associate degree in psychology would provide a generalized introduction to the field, as well as a foundation for continued study at the bachelor’s degree level.
  • Bachelor’s Degree: Bachelor’s psychology degrees have the broadest range of courses, with such general education requirements as mathematics, natural sciences, humanities, and college writing classes, as well as psychology major courses in courses like human development, abnormal psychology, research methods, and cognitive psychology.
  • Master’s and Doctoral Degrees: At the graduate level, courses focus on the student’s professional specialization. Treatment methods, practice issues, and nuances in particular specializations may be covered through courses like legal issues and professional ethics; therapy with individuals, familiar and groups; psychodynamic theory; clinical supervision models; and diagnosis and treatment planning.

Picking a Program

Degree levels and specializations offered vary from school to school. Once you’ve figured out your degree track and career goals, you should also ask yourself these questions to help pick the right program based on what learning method you prefer:

  • Is the entire degree track completed online or is time on campus required?
  • Are courses pre-recorded or live-streaming video? Are there Web-based discussion groups? Individual readings?
  • Is there an advising system that helps online students stay connected to program requirements, registration, and provides troubleshooting?
  • Is the school accredited?
  • Does the school offer career counseling or job networking opportunities for its graduates?

Additionally, bachelor’s degree students should consider programs that allow for the exploration of different specializations, such as clinical, forensic, or industrial organizational psychology. Whether you’re preparing for graduate school or entry into the job field upon graduation may also influence your choice. Graduate-level students should review the online curriculum to ensure that it covers a full range of courses in their specialization area. They should also find out the dissertation requirements and process, such as how online students conduct research and connect with faculty advisors.