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Top Online Colleges for Psychology Degrees in 2014

While a psychology degree can help prepare you for a career in mental health services, this field of study also lends itself well to careers in other fields such as business intelligence, social work and marketing.

Today's psychology students have more educational options than ever before. In addition to traditional on-campus programs, many schools offer degrees in psychology and related fields entirely online. These programs may make higher education accessible to individuals who would otherwise be unable to earn a degree.

The following are a few of the benefits of an accredited online education.

  • Flexible scheduling and the opportunity to study around work and family obligations.
  • Lower costs with the elimination of room and board, commuting and child care.
  • Accredited degree programs offering a rigorous curriculum.
  • Degrees that carry the same weight and are indistinguishable from those earned on-campus.

Criteria for the Top Online Colleges for Psychology Degrees in 2014

To help you narrow your online degree choices and find the best value, we used data from the National Center for Education Statistics to locate institutions with in-state tuitions lower than $10,000 per year. These tuition rates represent the overall cost of undergraduate programs and are not specific to online degrees.

Then, we searched those schools for the ones with the highest graduation rates. According to the NCES, a school's graduation rate represents the number of first-time, full-time undergraduate students who earn their bachelor's degree in six years. Obviously, earning your degree on time saves money and further adds to the value of a college or university. In 2012, the average graduation rate nationwide was 59 percent.

Using this criteria, here is our list of ten online psychology colleges. This list is ordered by graduation rate (highest to lowest), and uses NCES data from the 2013 to 2014 school year. See our Methodology section for more details on the ranking methodology.


#1 - Westfield State University

  • Graduation Rate: 79%
  • In-State Tuition: $8,694

The NCES found 79 percent of students at this university graduate on time. For psychology students, there is an online bachelor's degree available. This program is intended for those who already have an associate degree from Massachusetts Community Colleges.


#2 - Winston-Salem State University

  • Graduation Rate: 75%
  • In-State Tuition: $5,468

At Winston-Salem State University, students have nine online education options. These include certificates, bachelor's degrees and master's degrees. For those interested in psychology, there is a master's degree in rehabilitation counseling which may lead to careers working with individuals who have physical, mental or emotional disabilities. Upon graduation, students may sit for the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor exam. At the undergraduate level, students may earn an online degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Winston-Salem State University, which can provide a foundation for graduate studies in psychology.


#3 - Baker College (Visit School Site)

  • Graduation Rate: 69%
  • In-State Tuition: $8,100

Baker College offers an online bachelor's degree in Psychology. The program was designed by professionals in the field and can be used as either a basis for graduate studies or entry into the workforce.


#4 - University of Arizona

  • Graduation Rate: 61%
  • In-State Tuition: $10,391

The University of Arizona slightly exceeds our $10,000 cap on in-state tuition, but we've included it since it remains an affordable option compared to other selective schools of its caliber. The university offers psychology students the opportunity to enroll in a unique Behavioral Support Specialist degree. This specialist program is intended for individuals currently working in schools or those with a bachelor's degree who work with individuals who have emotional, behavioral or developmental disabilities.


#5 - Brigham Young University - Idaho

  • Graduation Rate: 60%
  • In-State Tuition: $3,850

Although not called a psychology program, the bachelor's degree in Marriage and Family Services at Brigham Young University - Idaho provides much of the same educational foundation. Students may be able to use the degree to go on to careers in social work, counseling, child protective care and rehabilitation services.


#6 - Peru State College

  • Graduation Rate: 58%
  • In-State Tuition: $6,188

Established in 1867, Peru State College was Nebraska's first college. Today, it offers online degree in four undergraduate and two graduate programs. Students can earn a bachelor's degree in Psychology which provides them the opportunity to be qualified as a Provisional Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor or form the basis to explore other career and educational paths.


#7 - Columbia Southern University

  • Graduation Rate: 56%
  • In-State Tuition: $4,895

Columbia Southern University offers online certificates and degrees for both undergraduate and graduate students. Its bachelor's degree in Psychology provides a broad theoretical overview of psychological theories and principles. Columbia Southern University estimates students will complete the online degree program in five years.


#8 - American Public University

  • Graduation Rate: 42%
  • Tuition: $6,400

The bachelor's degree in Psychology at American Public University is offered entirely online. Classes start monthly which means students can at begin their studies at any time during the year. After graduation, students may go on to earn a master's degree in psychology, also offered by the university, or enter the workforce.


#9 - Columbia College

  • Graduation Rate: 41%
  • In-State Tuition: $7,115

Columbia College offers online degrees in ten areas including psychology and sociology. Its bachelor's degree in Psychology offers an applied program for those planning to seek work immediately after graduation, while an academic program is available for those who will be moving on to graduate studies. Specializations in clinical, school and counseling practice are available as well as in the experimental areas of neuroscience, developmental, social and cognitive studies.


#10 - Bellevue University

  • Graduation Rate: 39%
  • In-State Tuition: $3,754

Students graduating from Bellevue's bachelor's degree in Psychology may enter the workplace immediately or continue their education at the graduate level. Bellevue University notes many of its students present research at conferences sponsored by regional organizations such as the Nebraska Psychological Society and the Nebraska Psychological Association.

A Psychology degree can provide a versatile education that may be applied to a number of different fields. In addition, a bachelor's and master's degree in Psychology provides the foundation needed to go on to doctoral studies in the field, a level of education needed to be licensed as a clinical psychologist in most states. Our Top Online Colleges Guide provides details on schools ranked by affordability, quality and flexibility.


Sources:

  1. bachelor's Programs, American Public University, http://www.apu.apus.edu/academic/programs/bachelors
  2. Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Columbia Southern University, http://www.columbiasouthern.edu/Degree/Arts-Sciences/BS-Psychology
  3. Behavioral Support Specialist, University of Arizona, http://outreachcollege.arizona.edu/program/behavioral-support-specialist-bss
  4. College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator
  5. Degrees and Programs, Brigham Young University-Idaho, http://byui.edu/online/degrees-and-programs
  6. Distance Learning, Winston-Salem State University, https://wssu.edu/academics/distance-learning/default.aspx
  7. Fast Facts: Graduation Rates, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=40
  8. Online Programs/Majors, Peru State College, http://www.peru.edu/distanceeducation/onlineprograms.htm
  9. Psychology, Baker College, http://www.baker.edu/programs-degrees/psychology-bachelor/
  10. Psychology Major, Columbia College, http://web.ccis.edu/Departments/PsychologySociology/Psychology.aspx?location=DE
  11. Psychology Degree, Bellevue University, http://www.bellevue.edu/degrees/undergraduate/psychology-ba/
  12. Why Choose the Psychology Online Completion Program? Westfield State University, http://www.westfield.ma.edu/academics/degrees/psychology-degree-online-completion