Best PsyD Online Programs for 2024

Written by: Psych Degree Starter Editorial Team   •  Dec 20, 2023

Psyd Online Programs

A Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) is ideal for those interested in applied psychology. This professional doctoral program aims to prepare students for careers in various settings, including clinics, hospitals, private practice, and educational institutions. As the demand for mental health services rises, PsyD programs offer promising pathways for those aspiring to make a meaningful impact in the field.

What Is a PsyD Degree?

A PsyD, or Doctor of Psychology, is a doctoral-level degree in psychology focused more on the practical application of psychological principles rather than research.

Unlike a PhD in psychology, which often concentrates on academic research and teaching, PsyD programs emphasize clinical practice. This degree provides the training needed to become a licensed psychologist capable of diagnosing and treating mental health issues.

For those who want to offer psychological services directly to individuals, families, or groups, a PsyD is an optimal choice.

PsyD vs. PhD in Psychology

When considering advanced study in psychology, two degrees often come to mind: the Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) and the Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD). While both are doctoral-level degrees, they serve different purposes and offer varied career opportunities. Knowing the distinctions can help you make an informed decision that aligns with your career aspirations.


Both PsyD and PhD programs in psychology require a commitment to rigorous study, research, and practical experience. Both degrees enable graduates to work as licensed psychologists, conduct research, and teach at the college level. Furthermore, either degree can serve as a pathway to similar career settings, including hospitals, schools, private practices, and research institutions.


  • Orientation: The most noticeable difference is the orientation of the programs. PsyD programs are generally more practice-focused, preparing students for clinical roles. On the other hand, PhD programs have a stronger emphasis on research and are geared towards careers in academia or research settings.

  • Curriculum: PsyD programs typically have a curriculum that centers on practical skills and fieldwork. PhD programs often require a dissertation based on original research, while PsyD programs might require a practice-based dissertation or capstone project.

  • Duration: PhD programs can often take longer to complete, sometimes requiring up to seven years, largely due to the intensive research component. PsyD programs are generally designed to be completed in fewer years, often between four and six.

  • Admission Requirements: Some PhD programs may require a master’s degree for admission, while many PsyD programs accept students who hold a bachelor’s degree.

  • Funding: PhD programs often offer more funding opportunities, such as research or teaching assistantships. PsyD programs are less likely to provide these options, making them potentially more expensive.

Choosing Between PsyD and PhD

When choosing between PsyD and PhD programs, consider the following:

  • Career Goals: If you are more interested in clinical practice and direct patient care, a PsyD may be more aligned with your goals. If research, academia, or high-level consulting interests you, then a PhD is typically the better choice.

  • Time Commitment: If you are looking to complete your degree more quickly and with more focus on practical skills, online PsyD programs or traditional PsyD programs might be more suitable for you.

  • Financial Factors: Take into account the funding options, as PhD programs often provide more financial aid in the form of assistantships and grants.

  • Interest in Research: A love for deep research and the academic world generally points towards a PhD program, whereas a focus on clinical practice leans towards a PsyD.

By examining your career aspirations, your academic interests, and other personal criteria, you can choose the program that best suits you.

Benefits of Earning a PsyD

There are several advantages to earning a PsyD degree, especially when compared to other academic routes in psychology.

A PsyD program usually requires less time to complete than a PhD, allowing graduates to enter the workforce more quickly. Furthermore, PsyD programs often offer a more hands-on approach to learning, with greater emphasis on clinical training and patient interaction.

For those looking to make an immediate impact in applied psychology settings, a PsyD degree can be an excellent option.

Reasons to Study Online

While traditional on-campus PsyD programs have their merits, online PsyD programs are increasingly gaining traction for a variety of reasons.

First, online programs offer flexibility, allowing students to balance their studies with other life commitments like work or family responsibilities. Online PsyD programs also often come with the benefit of a lower total cost, given the absence of expenses related to relocation, commuting, and housing.

Additionally, online platforms may provide access to a more diverse range of faculty and resources than a local institution.

Cost and Financial Considerations

Pursuing a PsyD degree is a significant investment, both in terms of time and finances. Therefore, it’s crucial to consider all the associated costs and funding options before committing to a program.

How Much Does a PsyD Degree Cost?

The cost of PsyD programs can vary widely depending on the institution, the length of the program, and the format (online or on-campus). Tuition fees can range from $20,000 to $50,000 per year, or even more at some private institutions.

It’s essential to also account for additional expenses like books, licensing fees, and internship or practicum costs.

Scholarships and Financial Aid Information

Prospective students should also explore various financing options available to them. Scholarships and grants can provide substantial relief from tuition costs. These can be need-based, merit-based, or tailored to specific fields within psychology.

Additionally, federal loans offer lower interest rates and more flexible repayment options compared to private loans. Financial aid offices at the respective institutions can provide further guidance on scholarships, grants, and loan opportunities.

This comprehensive overview should serve as a primer for anyone considering a PsyD degree, shedding light on what to expect from PsyD programs and online PsyD programs, as well as cost considerations. The following sections will delve deeper into these and other relevant topics.

PsyD Program Curriculum

When it comes to the academic and practical elements you’ll encounter, PsyD programs offer a rich and diverse curriculum aimed at preparing you for clinical work. Both traditional and online PsyD programs generally include foundational courses in psychology, specialized courses based on your area of interest, and hands-on training through internships or practicums.

Core Courses in PsyD Programs

In most PsyD programs, you can expect to take core courses that cover a range of topics, including but not limited to:

  • Clinical Psychology: This course focuses on the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental health disorders.

  • Ethical and Professional Issues: Learn the ethical guidelines and professional standards that psychologists must adhere to.

  • Research Methods and Statistics: Though not as research-focused as PhD programs, PsyD programs still require a fundamental understanding of research methodologies.

  • Human Development: Study the psychological growth and development that occur throughout the lifespan.

Specialized Courses

In addition to the core courses, you’ll also have the opportunity to take more specialized courses based on your interests and career goals. These can include:

  • Child and Adolescent Psychology: For those interested in working with younger populations.

  • Neuropsychology: For those who want to specialize in the relationship between the brain and behavior.

  • Health Psychology: Ideal for those looking to work in healthcare settings to improve patient outcomes.

Practical Training and Internships

One of the distinguishing features of PsyD programs is their emphasis on practical training. You’ll be required to complete a set number of supervised hours through internships or practicums. This experience is invaluable for preparing you to work with patients in a real-world clinical setting.

Admission Requirements for PsyD Programs

Getting into PsyD programs, including online PsyD programs, is a competitive process. You’ll need to meet a variety of academic and personal criteria to be considered for admission.

Academic Qualifications

The first requirement is typically attending a traditional or online psychology bachelor’s degree program or a closely related field. Some programs also require a master’s degree or some form of postgraduate study. You’ll also need to provide academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, and possibly GRE or other standardized test scores.

Personal Statement

A personal statement or essay is usually required as part of the application process. This is your opportunity to highlight your interest in psychology, your career goals, and why you’re interested in the particular PsyD program to which you’re applying.


Many programs also include an interview process, either in-person or via video conferencing for online PsyD programs. This is another opportunity to demonstrate your passion for the field and your suitability for the program.

Clinical Experience

Given that PsyD programs are professionally oriented, some programs may require applicants to have some form of clinical or research experience in the field of psychology.

Understanding the curriculum and admission requirements can significantly aid your preparation for PsyD programs, whether you’re considering on-campus or online PsyD programs. Subsequent sections will provide more detailed information on accreditation, career options, and financial considerations.

Accreditation for PsyD Programs

Accreditation is a critical factor to consider when choosing among PsyD programs. Accredited programs ensure that you’re receiving an education that meets or exceeds established standards of quality. This is especially vital for those looking into online PsyD programs, where quality can vary significantly.

Who Accredits PsyD Programs?

The primary accrediting body for PsyD programs in psychology is the American Psychological Association (APA). If a program has received APA accreditation, you can be confident that it meets the highest standards for education in psychology. For online PsyD programs, it’s essential to note that the APA does not currently accredit any fully online PsyD programs.

Does the APA Accredit Online-Only PsyD Programs?

No, as of now, the APA does not accredit online-only PsyD programs. Therefore, if you are considering an online program, it’s crucial to do your research and ensure that the program has a strong reputation and that it will meet your career and licensure needs. Some state licensing boards require licensure candidates to either have a degree from an APA-accredited doctoral program or prove that their program is equivalent to an APA-accredited program. Furthermore, not all PsyD programs are designed to prepare students to become a licensed psychology professional.

Online PsyD Programs

PsyD Program Program URL
Alliant International University PsyD in Marital and Family Therapy
California Southern University Doctor of Psychology
Capella University PsyD in Clinical Psychology
Capella University PsyD in School Psychology (hybrid)
Walden Online Doctor of Psychology in Behavioral Health Leadership

Career Options for People With PsyD Degrees

Upon completing PsyD programs, graduates find themselves well-equipped for a variety of roles in the field of psychology. Your career path may depend on your area of specialization, interests, and the specific opportunities that come your way. It’s worth noting that career options can also vary depending on whether you’ve attended traditional or online PsyD programs.

Clinical Psychologist

Clinical Psychologists diagnose and treat individuals with mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. They may work in private practice, hospitals, or community health centers. 

School Psychologist

School Psychologists work in educational settings, helping children and adolescents with academic, social, and emotional issues. 

Forensic Psychologist

Forensic Psychologists apply psychological principles to legal matters. They often work for governmental agencies or as consultants. 

Health Psychologist

Health Psychologists focus on how psychological factors affect health and illness. They work in various settings, including hospitals, chronic pain clinics, and public health agencies. 

These are just a few examples of the wide array of career opportunities available to graduates of PsyD programs, including those who opt for online PsyD programs.

PsyD Salary and Job Outlook

Whether you’re considering traditional PsyD programs or exploring online PsyD programs, understanding the salary and job outlook for your chosen field is vital for making informed decisions.

How Much Can You Earn With a PsyD?

The earning potential for those with a PsyD degree varies based on specialization, geographical location, and years of experience. 


The average salary for clinical psychologists is around $82,000 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) . In specific fields of psychology, the average salaries can range higher. For example, industrial-organizational psychologists earn a median annual salary of about $105,000, and psychologists working for government organizations average more than $100,000 per year, according to the BLS.

Job Outlook

The overall employment for psychologists is projected to grow 6% from 2021 to 2031, according to the BLS , which is on par with the average for all occupations. Some specializations may experience faster growth rates.

Scholarships and Financial Aid Information for PsyD Programs

Pursuing a PsyD can be a significant financial investment, but there are ways to alleviate some of the costs.

Types of Scholarships and Grants

Various scholarships and grants are available for students enrolled in PsyD programs, including specialized opportunities for online PsyD programs. Some are merit-based, while others are need-based or aimed at underrepresented groups in the field of psychology.

Federal and Private Loans

Federal loans often offer lower interest rates and more flexible repayment options than private loans. Before taking out any loans, make sure to explore all available scholarships and grants.

Work-Study Programs

Many schools offer work-study programs that provide you the opportunity to work in your field while studying, helping offset the costs of tuition and gaining experience simultaneously.

PsyD Programs FAQ

As you explore your options for PsyD programs, you’ll likely have several questions, whether you’re looking at traditional or online PsyD programs.

How Long Does it Take to Earn a PsyD?

On average, it takes about 4 to 7 years to complete a PsyD program, depending on whether you are attending full-time or part-time.

Is Getting a PsyD Worth it?

The “worth” of a PsyD depends on your career goals and financial situation. For those aiming to practice psychology, a PsyD is often necessary for licensure and is therefore well worth the investment.

Can I Earn a PsyD Entirely Online?

While some programs offer online PsyD programs, it’s crucial to note that the APA does not currently accredit any fully online PsyD programs. Research the program thoroughly to make sure it will meet your needs.

What Careers Can an Individual With a PsyD Get?

As covered earlier, careers range from clinical psychology to school psychology and many other specialized fields within psychology.

What’s the Difference Between a PsyD and a PhD in Psychology?

The primary difference is the focus: a PsyD is geared toward clinical practice and application, while a PhD is more focused on research. Both are considered terminal degrees in the field of psychology.


Whether you’re considering traditional or online PsyD programs, it’s essential to weigh all factors, including accreditation, curriculum, career opportunities, and financial considerations. Doing your research and asking the right questions can set you on a path to a fulfilling and impactful career in psychology.

Related Articles

Jun 13, 2024

APA Accredited Counseling Psychology PhD and PsyD Programs

Choosing the right path for advanced studies in psychology can be a pivotal decision for your career. If you’re interested in combining the principles of psychology with counseling to make a significant impact on individuals’ mental health, APA accredited counseling psychology PhD and PsyD programs represent viable options.Read More »

Jun 10, 2024

APA Accredited Clinical Psychology Programs

Pursuing a career in clinical psychology is a significant decision that can lead to a rewarding and impactful profession. Clinical psychologists play a crucial role in diagnosing and treating mental health disorders, providing therapy, and conducting research.Read More »

Jun 10, 2024

Online Master's in Forensic Psychology Degree Programs

The field of forensic psychology is gaining significant interest as it blends the principles of psychology with the legal and criminal justice systems.Read More »