Should You Consider Earning an Associate in Psychology Online?
The best candidates for an online associate degree in psychology are self-motivated and organized individuals who want to pursue their education without sacrificing their current job or lifestyle. Online learning is a good option for working professionals or those with family obligations that prevent them from relocating or commuting to campus. Earning an associate degree in psychology online is a convenient way to gain foundational credits before committing to a higher degree in the field.
What Can I Expect from an Online Associate Degree Program in Psychology?
How Long Does it Take to Get an Associate Degree in Psychology?
Most online associate degree in psychology programs require 60-65 credits of coursework. Full-time students typically finish the program in two years. However, a program’s duration depends on factors such as format, the availability of summer terms, and course load. Some programs allow students to study asynchronously at their own pace, possibly leading to early graduation. Others follow a cohort learning format, in which students advance through their coursework at the same pace as their peers. This limits how quickly they can accumulate credits.
Most online associate degree in psychology programs require 60-65 credits of coursework.
Learners who work or have family obligations may choose to take fewer courses per term, or even one course at a time, which may increase the time it takes to earn their degree. Students without obligations often take more classes per term to graduate early.
What Classes Will I Take in an Online Associate Degree Program?
Although course offerings vary by school, certain classes appear in most online associate programs. Foundational psychology courses such as general psychology, statistics, and child psychology are standard throughout the discipline and introduce students to the history, terms, theories, and current practices in the field. While electives and topic course offerings differ between programs, most online associate programs feature the classes below.
Psychology of Childhood
This course provides a general overview of the development of cognition and behavior in infants, children, and adolescents. Students learn about language acquisition; the development of motor and social skills; and the role of cultural, socioeconomic, geographic, and environmental play in childhood development.
- A broad understanding of child psychology and development
- Students learn how early childhood events can affect adult psychology
Learners explore a range of psychological and behavioral disorders on a spectrum. Coursework examines the manifestations, causes, treatments, and controversies surrounding these disorders. By reviewing case studies and patient interviews, students learn to understand the experiences of those who suffer from mental illness.
- Familiarity with types of abnormal psychology
- A better understanding of those suffering from psychological illness
- Case history analysis
Psychology of Personality
Coursework examines the complexity of human personality and how personalities differ between individuals. Students investigate the causes and manifestations of personality disorders, such as narcissism, and explore common personality traits.
- An understanding of various personality disorders and their characteristics
- Awareness of a range of personality types
Access (libraries, on-campus activities, office hours)
Online: Online students can access a range of digital resources. Most schools offer digital libraries, career counseling, video-based office hours, and 24/7 IT assistance. Web-based learning platforms allow students to connect through video, audio, and interactive discussions.
Traditional: Learners can access on-campus libraries, meet with their peers in person, and visit their professors during office hours. Campus activities like sporting events, academic lectures, and cultural events help develop a deeper sense of community.
Online: Online learning requires discipline and self-motivation. Students must remain organized and driven in order to meet deadlines and learn material at their own pace. Asynchronous courses, which do not feature set class times, may prove particularly challenging. Students must hold themselves accountable.
Traditional: Classroom settings offer structure and external motivation. Students must sometimes meet more rigid deadlines. Regular in-class quizzes, exams, and discussions may encourage learners to stay on top of assignments.
What’s the Difference Between a Traditional and Online Psychology Degree Program?
While identical in coursework and academic quality, the experience of earning a psychology associate degree online is different from that of a traditional, on-campus program. Prospective students should examine what they want from a psychology degree and decide whether online learning fits their lifestyle, personality, learning preferences, and career goals. While an online degree provides flexibility, independence, and freedom, it also requires considerable self-motivation and discipline.
Online: Students can remain employed and can often keep their regular work schedule. They can choose when to complete their coursework. Without geographical limitations, distance learners can select the school that best fits their interests and career goals.
Traditional: Learners may need to quit their job or adjust their work schedule to accommodate on-campus classes. Students are restricted to local schools or institutions in areas where they want to live. Those who do not wish to relocate may settle for a nearby program that does not meet their preferred criteria.
Are Online Psychology Associate Programs Cheaper Than Traditional Programs?
While tuition costs for online programs remain similar to traditional programs, distance learners do not incur costs for transportation, course materials, childcare during class hours, or meal plans. They also do not incur fees for recreation centers and other campus amenities. Online students only pay for tuition, distance learning fees, and textbooks. Perhaps most importantly, the flexibility of online learning allows students to keep their current job to pay for their degree.
Online learners frequently pay in-state tuition for programs based outside of their home state. This factor alone can dramatically reduce tuition costs, especially when compared to out-of-state tuition rates for traditional, on-campus programs. Sometimes, students must live in-state for at least a year to establish residency before qualifying for cheaper in-state tuition. Distance learners can typically take advantage of in-state tuition rates immediately, regardless of where they reside.
How Are Online Psychology Courses Different from Campus-Based Programs?
Online psychology classes present the same course material as their on-campus counterparts, but use different delivery methods. Online students rely heavily on technology to access course materials, participate in class discussions, and take quizzes and exams. Distance learners connect with their instructors and peers through video conferences, email, instant messaging, blogs, wikis, and threaded discussion boards.
Most programs use a digital learning platform such as Blackboard or Canvas to consolidate online coursework and make courses more accessible.
The technological demands of online learning require that distance learners have a computer and access to reliable, fast internet. They may also need a microphone and video chat capabilities in order to participate in video or audio discussions. Some schools offer online students exclusive discounts on software and other technologies.
Most programs use a digital learning platform such as Blackboard or Canvas to consolidate online coursework and make courses more accessible. Course structure typically depends upon the individual instructor and whether the program runs synchronously or asynchronously. Some instructors record their lectures and make the videos available for distance learners to watch at their own convenience. Others may require students to access lectures, participate in conversations, or take quizzes during real-time sessions.
Online learning requires students to possess a computer with reliable, fast internet. They may also need a microphone and video chat capabilities. Some schools offer online students exclusive discounts on software and other technologies.
Do Online Psychology Associate Programs Have On-Campus Requirements or Clinicals?
On-campus requirements vary by school. Online associate programs that run fully online do not require campus visits. Hybrid programs may include mandatory campus visits to complete classes or labs that students cannot complete online. Other schools may require that learners visit campus for orientation.
Individuals pursuing a psychology associate degree are not required to complete clinical hours. Typically, students do not engage in clinical psychology coursework or field experiences prior to entering a master’s program. Many schools provide support for distance learners, allowing them to complete clinical work and internship experiences at nearby locations under the supervision of a professional psychologist. If a program requires internship hours or fieldwork, students can usually fulfill these requirements locally.
Do Online Students Still Qualify for Financial Aid?
Online students can pursue the same financial aid opportunities as their on-campus peers. Degree-seekers can begin by completing the FAFSA to determine their eligibility for federal financial assistance, including federal loans, grants, and scholarships. Learners can also explore work-study opportunities, provided that they are enrolled at least part time and remain in good academic standing. Federal grants are need-based, while scholarships are merit-based. Online learners can apply for both. Military members and veterans may be eligible for additional aid opportunities, such as scholarships and tuition assistance programs.
For more information on psychology scholarships, click here.
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What License Do I Need to Practice Psychology?
Professionals must be licensed to practice psychology independently. Licensing regulations and requirements vary by state. In general, licensed psychologists must possess a doctoral degree and complete a year or more of supervised clinical experience. Students often accumulate these hours through their doctoral internship or practicum requirements.
Professionals must be licensed to practice psychology independently. Licensing regulations and requirements vary by state.
To receive licensure, psychologists must pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology, an eight-part test that covers a range of concepts and skills. Some states may require additional tests, background checks, and professional references. The cost of getting a license also varies between states. The combined cost of study materials, prep courses, application fees, and the licensing fee itself may add up to $1,000 or more.
In some states, graduates of master’s programs can earn a mental health counseling license, which allows them to pursue school counseling positions. Individuals who hold an associate or bachelor’s degree cannot receive a counseling license. However, they are prepared to enter advanced programs that may lead to licensure.
What Can I Do With a Psychology Associate Degree?
Earning a psychology associate degree online provides students with a variety of marketable skills and prepares them to pursue a bachelor’s in the field. Although clinical careers and most entry-level positions in psychology require further education, an associate degree offers students a flexible, accessible way to launch their education and career.
Graduates of online associate programs in psychology can pursue careers in corrections, home care, and human services. They may also work as psychiatric nurse aides. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, corrections officers earn a mean annual salary of $49,300, home care aides earn $25,330, human services assistants earn $35,830, and psychiatric aides take home $31,090.
While students can complete an associate degree in a short amount of time, they take mostly general education courses. Pursuing further education, such as a bachelor’s in psychology, provides students with more knowledge and skills in the field and prepares them for more advanced careers. Learners who wish to pursue a career in social work, counseling, or other related areas would benefit from earning a four-year degree.
To learn more about psychology careers, read this page.
Explore Psychology Careers
Find an Associate Degree in Psychology Near Me
Learners seeking an online associate degree in psychology can use the database below to search available programs. Prospective psychology students can filter programs by location, campus type, degree level, and other factors to find the program that fits their unique needs.