Should You Earn an Online Master's In Psychology?

Working on an online master's in psychology
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If you have recently graduated with your undergraduate degree in psychology and are thinking about going to graduate school, then you have probably noticed the recent abundance of online master's programs in psychology that are now available. Could one of these online programs be right for you? There are a number of things to consider before you decide and there are several things that you should look for in particular when in comes to an online master's in psychology program.

Let's take a closer look at the reasons why you might choose, or sometimes not choose, to enroll in one of these online programs.

Online Master's In Psychology: Things to Consider

The convenience of online education makes it a very attractive option for many students, especially those who work full-time. Today, you can find many online master's degrees in psychology from wide range of academic institutions including fully-online schools and more traditional universities. If you are thinking of earning an online master's in psychology, there are a number of factors to consider before you make this important decision.

  • What type of degree do you need?
  • Will it help you achieve your career goals?
  • Will the degree help you advance in your profession?

Learn more about some of the most frequently asked questions about online master's degrees in psychology.

How to Find Legitimate Online Master's Programs in Psychology

There are a few important things to look for in a quality online master's program.

First, don't be deceived by diploma mills. Writer Jamie Littlefield suggests that a diploma mill is "a company that awards unaccredited degrees and provides either an inferior education or no education at all." Check out her article on what you need to know about diploma mills to learn more about some of the warning signs to watch for as well as what you can do if you have been tricked by a diploma mill.

One way to ensure that a program is legitimate is to check for accreditation. By going through the accrediting process, a school must prove that its program meets specific requirements and standards of quality. Start by checking to see if a prospective program is accredited by one of the six regional accrediting organizations in the United States. A program can also be considered legitimate if it is recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDE) or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

What Can You Do With an Online Master's In Psychology?

Before you invest the time, money, and effort into earning an online master's degree, ask yourself one question: "How will this degree help me achieve my goals?"

For many people, earning an online master's degree in psychology might be a means to qualify for a better job, earn more money, or prepare for further graduate study. In other cases, students simply have a passion for the subject and a desire to learn. No matter what your motivation, start by outlining your goals and then analyze each prospective program to assess how it will help you achieve those stated goals.

What you ultimately do with your online master's degree in psychology will depend upon a number of different factors. Geographic location, the type of degree you earn, and job demand in your field will all play a role.

Graduates from online psychology master's programs often find work in fields such as government, mental health services, and business. The most important thing you can do before you enroll in any program is to check that the degree provides the training and any potential licensure or certification that you may need to work in your chosen field. Some programs provide the necessary coursework to earn the degree, yet do not offer any sort of path to certification or licensing that might be required to work in your state. Check carefully with each program to ensure that you will actually be able to put your degree to use once you graduate.

Learn more about some potential job options with a master's degree in psychology.

Reasons NOT to Earn an Online Master's In Psychology

While distance education is a great option for some people, it is not the best choice for everyone. Before you enroll in any online program, it is important to make a realistic assessment of your goals, skills, and interests.

Are you comfortable with technology? Programs may vary in terms of specific technical requirements, but you should be capable of using sending emails, mailing attachments, participating in online discussions, and searching for information online. In some cases, you might also be required to download podcasts, view online videos, contribute to a class wiki or blog, or utilize an instant messaging service.

A few more reasons why an online degree might not be right for you include:

  • Struggling with time management. Online education requires a great deal of self-discipline. If you cannot manage your time and prioritize projects effectively, you will probably struggle in an online format.
  • Thinking an online education will be easier. In many ways, online classes can actually be more difficult than traditional courses. In addition to scheduling your time wisely, online classes also require students to be very active learners. Definitely not the right choice for students who think they can kick back and passively listen to lectures.
  • Avoiding class participation. Some students think that online courses are all about writing papers and taking tests. While these are obviously important components of any class, online courses also include lectures, discussions, and other activities that require participation from students.

Finally, make sure that you are earning an online degree for the right reasons. If you decide to enroll in a master's program just because you feel like you should be "doing something" or you want to avoid seeking full-time employment, you might find yourself disappointed with your degree later on. Instead, take some time to really think about your future and decide whether an online master's in psychology can make your vision a reality.

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