4 Online Psychology Degrees and Career Options

If you like studying mental processes and behavior, and are planning on enrolling, then a psychology degree is just for you. Apart from being interesting, the field is very lucrative, with the highest-paying practitioners earning an average of $167,000 annually.

According to the American Psychological Association, in 2013, there were 2.5 million people in the labor force with psychology as their highest degree.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics has also forecast a 14 percent growth for the industry through 2026, which means the chances of getting hired after completing a degree are now even higher.


To help, here is a list of some online psychology degrees you may choose from, and possible career options:

1.Forensic Psychology

This branch of psychology applies psychological research and principles to the justice system. If you are fascinated by the way some protagonists in crime series such as CSI or NCIS solve crimes, then this is the branch of psychology for you. The following are some possible career tracks if you complete this degree:

Forensic Psychologist: Typically works closely with law enforcers to solve crimes and catch them. Sometimes, forensic psychologists work in jail to counsel inmates who might be undergoing trauma.

Court Liaison: Acts as a bridge between the courts and the police. Court liaisons typically do administrative tasks that includes registering sex offenders, for example.

Probation Officer: Helps offenders get their lives back on track. Probation officers typically check up on offenders who have just been released from jail to ensure they are living how they should. This is so they will no longer commit any criminal offense.

2. Industrial-Organizational Psychology

This branch of psychology studies human behavior in the workplace and applies psychological principles to organizations. Industrial-organizational psychology, also called I/O psychology, aims to increase efficiency in a company setting. The following are some possible career tracks if you complete this degree:

HR organizational development specialist

Applies principles of behavioral science to make recommendations for the development of employees and the organization in general. HR organizational development specialists may work in HR departments of business firms or may work independently and be consulted by firms on a case-to-case basis.

Senior research consultant

Conducts market researches related to organizational development. Senior research consultants typically work independently and are consulted by companies to collate data for use in achieving corporate goals.

3. Developmental Psychology

This branch of psychology studies the lifespan of an individual with the aim of optimizing development. Developmental psychologists both look at the general and specific change patterns to make recommendations to people in need of help.

The following are some possible career tracks if you complete this degree:

Early childhood specialist

Focuses on prepubescent children. Early childhood specialists work directly with young children so they can reach milestones in development. They can, for instance, stop a child from hurting other children by helping them empathize.

Adolescent developmental specialist

Centers on teenagers and adolescents. Adolescent developmental specialists deal directly with children in the pubescent stage. They may work with them to help them deal with, for instance, their biological changes as they go through puberty.

Substance abuse social worker

Deals in particular with people who suffer from drug or alcohol addiction. Substance abuse social workers are typically employed in healthcare facilities, social agencies and correctional institutions. They help people suffering from addiction to recuperate by, for instance, addressing the root causes of the addiction in the first place.

4. School Psychology

This branch of psychology aims to address the problems typically encountered by children in a school setting. School psychologists assess and develop interventions and programs for struggling children to cope in the classroom, not only academically but also behaviorally, emotionally and socially. The following are some possible career tracks if you complete this degree:

School counselor

Provides advice to troubled children in the classroom. School counselors provide counseling to students with behavioral, academic and social problems on a needed basis. They may work with parents to create interventions and programs to achieve the intended goals for a student.

Career counselor

Centers on giving advice to students on the best career options for them. They can explain, for instance, why a student should choose a career in information technology, or pursue a career in teaching, instead. Career counselors base their recommendations on an assessment of the student’s academic capabilities, inclinations and behavioral tendencies. They can also help students learn the necessary job skills so they can reach their professional goals.


People who sign up for a degree in psychology have as much a bright future as those who take up medicine, law or any known lucrative career. The field is so vast it can always accommodate graduates in the labor force. Money is therefore not an issue, with high returns on investment assured.

But more than the financial security is the fulfillment a psychology degree brings to those who practice it. After all, the degree gives holders the opportunity to make a difference, as they improve the lives of their typically troubled subjects. Psychology is crucial to the world as the world benefits from the discipline. Psychologists make the world a better place.

Watch this space for updates in the Psychology category on Running Wolf’s Rant.


Staff Writer

Running Wolf's Rant's correspondent who chooses to remain anonymous...

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