Considering a master’s degree in psychology but not sure a face-to-face program is for you? Whether you’re working full time or can’t make the commute to campus, an online master’s in psychology could be a viable path to your degree. However, you might wonder whether you should get your master’s degree in psychology online. Will the program offer sufficient support and opportunities to connect with your professors and classmates? What careers will it lead to?
We spoke with Dr. Kanessa Doss and Dr. Heidi Beattie, both associate professors of psychology at Troy University, to consider the pros and cons of studying for a master’s degree in psychology online.
Who Should Earn an Online Master’s in Psychology Degree?
According to Dr. Doss, there are no downsides to online learning. In fact, for many students in the master’s in psychology online program at TROY, it is the only way they can balance their studies around work and family commitments — or attend a quality program that isn’t close to home.
“The program was designed with working professionals in mind,” says Dr. Doss. “We want to meet students where they are and help them advance their career goals by keeping our program accessible.”
This ease of access also allows for a more diverse cohort of students than would typically attend class on campus.
“There’s a wide range of individuals being introduced to psychology thanks to our online program,” says Dr. Doss. “We don’t just have students with a bachelor’s in psychology, though we do have several that continue on to the master’s from the bachelor’s program. We also have people coming in from industry, for example, who want to learn how to apply some of the skills they learn in psychology to their business.”
Dr. Doss explains that the theories taught in psychology are beneficial in numerous business settings, including sales, customer service, human resources, professional development and management. Therefore, the program attracts a lot of attention from people seeking to advance in these roles.
Other online master’s in psychology students come from areas more traditionally associated with psychology, like healthcare, education and social services, where they might facilitate contact between clients and their counselors or psychologists and want to understand the process better.
“We have a student who works in case management who wanted to better understand the critical issues coming through in reports,” says Dr. Doss. “She wanted to be more proactive in her job. Now, she has the educational experience to facilitate that.”
Regardless of the student’s background or motivation, the online master’s in psychology provides an accessible, flexible opportunity to study in this field.
TROY’s Online Master’s in Psychology Balances Flexibility and Rigor
The benefits of TROY’s program go far beyond not having to travel to campus for classes.
“Allowing students to find balance and study at their own pace is very important to us at TROY,” says Dr. Doss. “Yes, our students want to get a post-secondary degree. But they also want a life as well. Studying for your master’s in psychology online means you can have both.”
Dr. Doss explains the program is asynchronous, meaning students have the freedom to complete work within a certain timeframe. This doesn’t mean they never get to meet face-to-face (via video) with their professors and fellow students. Recognizing that it is essential for students to have real-time contact with the faculty and their peers, each course also offers high-engagement activities such as three live meetings for those able to attend.
While the program’s online delivery makes it very flexible, it’s no less rigorous than a face-to-face program. In addition to challenging coursework, the program takes a high degree of self-motivation if you want to stay on track, especially if you want to finish within 17 months. However, you will have faculty support and flexibility as you pursue your degree.
“There’s no denying that the program takes hard work, particularly for those balancing their studies around family, work and other commitments,” says Dr. Doss. “But we will give them all the tools and support they need to succeed.”
Dr. Doss highlights the faculty’s accessibility and talent are critical differentiators between TROY and other psychology master’s programs online.
“Our faculty are all incredibly well-educated and are considered experts in their fields,” says Dr. Doss. “They are also highly skilled in online teaching and know how to create opportunities for meaningful interaction among students in formal and informal ways.”
The faculty all have office hours, which are shared via TROY’s online learning platform, letting students know when they are accessible via online meeting software. However, it’s not uncommon for the faculty to go the extra mile and make themselves available outside of normal office hours.
“Most of us even give out our telephone numbers to our students,” says Dr. Doss. “I’m very happy to support my students by text. It’s all about using the tools that they have access to and are comfortable using when they need to get in touch.”
To further cement the sense of community between students and the faculty, the Department of Psychology has committed to running virtual events.
“We just had our first mixer with faculty and students last term,” says Dr. Doss. “These events help us foster relationships in the group and really get to know each other.”
Despite the remote nature of online learning, Dr. Doss always gets to know her students and so do other TROY faculty.
“The opportunity to connect with new people is really exciting for me,” says Dr. Doss. “We get to meet people of all ages and walks of life and prepare them to meet their future. The fact that we can do this online is a testament to the quality of our learning platforms, the dedication of our faculty and the ambition of our students.”
Fine-Tune Your Degree to Match Your Aspirations
The online master’s in psychology program also allows you to fine-tune your degree to suit your intended career path.
“TROY offers students the flexibility to select between two distinct degree pathways: a thesis and non-thesis option” says Dr. Beattie.
TROY tailors its non-thesis route for individuals seeking to kickstart or enhance their careers in fields related to psychology and corporate or private sectors.
For those aspiring to pursue an education specialist degree (Ed.S.) or a doctorate (Psy.D., Ph.D.), TROY designed the thesis track that can ultimately lead to the student seeking their licensure and working as a counselor or psychologist.
According to Dr. Doss, students appreciate the ability to match their studies to their unique needs.
“There are very few required courses and many different electives,” says Dr. Doss. “So you can really choose courses that speak to you, align with your interests and match your future career goals.”
Careers with a Master’s in Psychology
If you’re planning to complete your master’s degree in psychology online, a broad range of career opportunities await after graduation. By studying at TROY, you’ll be equipped to succeed in a wide range of settings, including nonprofit and for-profit organizations, government agencies, business enterprises, social and community outreach groups and educational institutions. That’s because you’ll develop transferable and highly sought-after skills, such as an understanding of human behavior, detailed analysis, data entry, critical thinking and problem-solving.
After earning your online M.S. in psychology from TROY, you can find a career in sales, customer service, human resources and professional development as well as the more traditional psychology-related careers, such as healthcare, social services and education.
“I often tell my students that a master’s degree in psychology is one of the most versatile qualifications available,” says Dr. Doss. “Our alumni possess so many different skills and talents, and we see them finding success in a variety of industries and professions.”
Delivering a High-Quality Master’s Degree in Psychology Online
According to Dr. Beattie, the quality of TROY’s online program exceeds many students’ expectations.
She explains that while many other universities were forced online during the COVID-19 pandemic, TROY was an early adopter, perfecting online teaching over many years. That experience has been recognized nationally for its excellence in online learning.
“Some people may be unsure about applying to online degree programs,” says Dr. Beattie. “However, TROY’s faculty have delivered online courses for a long time and know how to foster learning in online contexts.”
For students who still need to decide whether an online M.S. in psychology is right for them, Dr. Doss urges them to do their homework.
“This isn’t self-directed learning or anything like that,” says Dr. Doss. “We’re a fully accredited program with a faculty dedicated to our student’s success.”
Dr. Doss encourages students to do their research before enrolling in programs.
“Take your time and see what best fits your life,” says Dr. Doss. “Check the university’s credentials and awards and read the reviews. You’ll soon see that not all online degrees are the same and TROY is a great choice.”
Dr. Beattie describes teaching the master’s degree in psychology online program as a wonderful opportunity.
“We are serving a lot of students in a way that’s flexible and that really works for them,” she says, “That continues their love of the field of psychology and helps open up many more doors for them. We’re excited to see the online program grow.”
Learn More About TROY’s Master’s Degree in Psychology Online
If you are still asking whether you should get your master’s degree in psychology online, explore TROY’s M.S. in psychology program for more information on careers and what you’ll learn. You’ll find TROY’s master’s degree in psychology online to be a versatile and flexible pathway to advance your education and career.