Psychology is primarily concerned with the study of the human mind and behavior. Psychologists use scientific methods to study the relationship between brain function and behavior, as well as the relationship between environment and behavior, according to the American Psychological Association. A psychologist’s work depends greatly on his or her subfield of psychology, which include the following, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

  • Clinical Psychology

    Clinical psychologists are practitioners who diagnose and treat people with mental health problems and disorders, and may specialize in serious disorders, such as schizophrenia or depression. Some, however, may help individuals work through traumatic personal problems. They may specialize in certain age groups (geropsychology or child psychology) or specialize in treating various problems (health psychology or neuropsychology).

  • Counseling Psychology

    Counseling psychology is focused on helping people deal with their everyday problems. This may involve helping people develop healthy strategies for managing stress; helping people resolve problems at work, home, or on a college campus; or helping people process or cope through a personal crisis.

  • School Psychology

    School psychology is limited to working with children and teens in school, from elementary school up to high school. The role of the school psychologist is to promote a safe and healthy school environment by assessing students particularly troubled students or students with behavioral problems and developing intervention strategies for them with the support of teachers and parents.

  • Industrial-Organizational Psychology

    This branch of psychology is concerned with applying principles of psychology to the workplace. Practitioners may act as consultants to recommend ways to maximize productivity or work with an organization’s management team to screen, train, and advise job applicants.

  • Developmental Psychology

    This branch of psychology is concerned with studying a person’s development over their lifespan. Research applications include learning more about developmental disabilities that begin at birth or early childhood, or helping aging people maintain their independence for as long as possible.

  • Social Psychology

    Psychologists in this field research how people behave in given social contexts. They explore ideas such as why people fall in love and what causes aggression, with applications existing in health, law, and business, according to a UC Berkeley description.

  • Experimental or Research Psychology

    This branch of psychology often takes place in labs, where studies are conducted on humans and animals. Areas of study include learning and memory, motivation, and the effects of substance abuse.

  • Forensic Psychology

    Forensic psychology is the application of psychology to criminal justice. Professionals in this field may be called upon to determine if a person accused of a crime is competent enough to stand trial, to assess criminal offenders, or to provide psychotherapy to victims of violent crimes.

What Can I Do With An Online Degree In Psychology?

An online degree in psychology can be a first step toward a viable career in the field. Psychology degrees at the master’s or doctoral level, as well as state licensure, are required for most positions in psychology. Those who only hold bachelor’s degrees may be qualified to help licensed psychologists at community mental health centers, vocational centers, and correctional programs, or even enter a field unrelated to psychology, such as business or sales, the BLS notes. The median yearly salary for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists was $64,140 as of May 2008, with salaries varying significantly depending on the industry the psychologist chose, the BLS noted. The median yearly salary for industrial-organization psychologists was higher, at $77,010, the BLS asserts.

Some of the best places to work as a clinical psychologist include Boston, New York City, and Los Angeles, where the salaries tend to be higher. Salaries in Boston average $71,185; salaries in New York City average $71,010, and salaries in Los Angeles average $69,531, according to online compensation site Among states with the highest employment level of clinical psychologists, California, New York, and Illinois had the highest average pay, at $82,770, $82,300, and $71,730, respectively, according to the BLS. Remember that even with a psychology graduate degree, there is no guarantee that you will be able to find a job in the field, as career availability depends on the current job climate and other factors, such as your willingness to relocate. Psychology salaries vary greatly by employer, the region you live in, and your level of experience.

What Is It Like To Get An Online Degree In Psychology?

Online psychology programs deliver their courses through an online portal, and students access their courses by entering a username and password. Once the student clicks on a particular course, they can see their syllabus, assignments, lecture notes, videos, and slides, and assigned reading. Psychology courses at the undergraduate level might include introductory psychology and sociology, research methods in psychology, child and adolescent psychology, and screening and assessment. These courses would be complemented by general education courses such as mathematics, humanities, and communication, as well as elective courses. Students must possess a bachelor’s degree and meet all other requirements to be accepted into a graduate program in psychology. At the graduate level, courses might include applied statistics for psychology, advanced research methods, ethics in psychology, and life span development. Master’s candidates generally must complete a thesis, a comprehensive exam, or both, in order to graduate. Those pursuing doctoral degrees in psychology must complete a dissertation.