Choosing a Psychology Program

For students interested in attending psychology school, choosing a program can be a daunting challenge. Many factors go into matching a prospective student with the right academic institution and program, including the student’s goals for studying psychology; his current schedule, availability, and lifestyle; what careers he hopes to pursue after earning his degree; and what level of study he wants to pursue.

Tuition, location of the school, the course of study, class size, and university ranking frequently influence many students’ choices in psychology programs. For students interested in traditional learning models, there are thousands of colleges and universities from which to choose. Traditional schools offer students a well-rounded education with the benefit of being around peers, hearing differing ideas, meeting colleagues, and networking.

  • Before applying to any school, it’s important to see if it’s an accredited institution. This means the school has met the educational standard for providing a quality education with good career potential for its graduates.
  • It also means the degrees the school confers hold weight in the professional fields in which they’re given, which can be a major factor for employers evaluating potential employees. Traditional institutions are often ranked by outside agencies or institutions, such as U.S. News and World Report, which many consider an objective marker of which schools are the “best” or most prestigious in any given year.
  • For students interested in pursuing research, academia, or continued schooling, rankings can be very influential and are a valuable factor to consider in choosing a psychology program.

Choosing a Psychology Program

Some students for whom traditional programs may not be viable may consider online distance learning programs. Online programs offer unprecedented flexibility for students to fit their studies around other responsibilities such as full-time careers and families. Although this makes them a helpful option for many, there are some disadvantages to online learning. Many employers frown on degrees from online-only learning institutions. Because these students miss out on valuable class discussions and student interaction, online schools are often considered to be less rigorous and less prestigious than their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Because many are for-profit and not always accredited, they’re often more expensive and produce students with less-valuable diplomas, which makes them not always as convenient as they first appear to be.

Online Psychology Programs

For students unable to pursue a traditional degree in a classroom setting, online learning programs can be a great psychology-school option. Online learning programs frequently offer unprecedented flexibility for students to make their own learning schedules around the demands of their other responsibilities and daily duties. This can provide an incredibly beneficial opportunity for people trying to go back to school while juggling their roles as full-time employees, parents, and caretakers, or for students unable to attain admission through more traditional means.

  • Although online learning is a great option for many students in non-traditional learning situations, there are some drawbacks. Many online learning institutions are run for a profit, making them significantly more expensive than their brick-and-mortar counterparts.
  • In addition, because they’re run for a profit, they rarely have endowments and often provide little or no financial aid, grants, or scholarships to students. In some cases, these schools are not actually accredited, meaning their degrees hold little weight or value in their respective fields, and are not particularly useful to the degree holder when it comes time to seek employment.

Lastly, online psychology school students will have to face the stigma attached to distance learning when entering the workforce. Because online schools are less selective in their admissions, run for profit, frequently accept non-academic work experience in lieu of classroom education (for a higher price), and don’t offer their students some in-class learning opportunities like class discussion, the exchange of differing ideas and networking, they’re frequently viewed by employers as less rigorous and less prestigious institutions. In and of itself, this isn’t always a problem, but it is something students should consider and look into before buying into the convenience of an online program. Despite these drawbacks, an online psychology degree does offer many non-traditional students an unprecedented option to pursue higher learning on their own schedule, but it’s not ideal for everyone. Make sure to do your research thoroughly before enrolling in any psychology program.

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