Free Online Psychology Courses

The human mind is complex and mysterious, functioning in ways we are only beginning to understand. At the forefront of this research are psychologists, professionals who examine and unravel the reasoning behind why people think, act, and feel the way they do. Some psychologists delve into the unconscious mind to explore the intricacies of interpersonal relationships; others develop and refine theories to explain the human brain and then use that knowledge to assess and treat a number of disorders. Students can preview this academic field through several online psychology courses, made available for free from some of the best universities.

While careers vary, psychologists generally study human thought and behavior by observing, recording, and analyzing how people relate to each other and their environments. Psychologists work in many settings, with some providing mental care, some researching human behavior, and others developing new programs and treatments for pathologies. They can be university professors, therapists, social workers or researchers. A small number of professionals work as industrial-organizational psychologists, helping companies improve employee efficiency and morale. Regardless of which specialization psychologists choose, they aim to better understand thoughts, emotions, feeling, and behavior by exploring patterns, identifying causes, and testing theories via research and treatment.

Sample Courses

Students pursuing a degree in psychology expect to take a number of foundational courses that will prepare them for more in-depth classes later. These include introductory courses in biology and chemistry as well as psychological theory, practice, and research methods. Additional coursework will focus on topics like neuroscience and cognitive, developmental, abnormal, and social psychology to give students a fuller perspective of the field. Students can also take more advanced courses in specific topics, such as psycholinguistics or a course on law and psychology.

Possible Specializations

Even at the bachelor’s level, students choose a concentration within their psychology major in order to further focus their studies. One of the most familiar specializations is clinical psychology, which assesses, diagnoses, and treats emotional, mental, and behavioral disorders. This path prepares students for careers as counselors and therapists in hospitals and care centers. There are many other specializations as well, which include counseling psychology, developmental psychology, forensic psychology, industrial organizational psychology, school psychology, and social psychology.

Degree Types

In addition to their specialization, students need to consider which degree level they wish to pursue. Here’s what students can expect to take away from the different degrees in psychology:


While there are associate programs in psychology, they do not prepare graduates for work in the majority of psych-related careers. However, an associate’s can provide training for assistant-level positions in health care facilities, or can provide aspiring careerists in psychology with the foundation needed to work towards higher levels of education.


One of the ways to start a career in psychology is through a bachelor’s in the field. While most hoping to work as researchers or advanced clinicians will need to go on to higher levels of education, those who graduate from a bachelor’s program will be poised to take on work in a wide range of other industries, such as social work or substance abuse counseling.


For many careers, like school, career, and rehabilitation counselling, a master’s is required to gain licensure and find work in the field. Others, however, will find that additional education beyond this level is necessary to remain competitive and find work. Students interested in master’s level programs should note that they do not need a bachelor’s in psychology to be accepted, but will need some in the core sciences.


Those hoping to work in clinical psychology will need to continue their education through the doctoral level, especially in order to gain licensure in the field. A Ph.D. requires students to complete a clinical internship as well as independent and innovative research, though some schools offer Psy.D. programs that do not require a dissertation.

In addition to these degrees, students can pursue certification through professional organizations like the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) and the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP). These kinds of certifications may be required by certain employers and lend additional weight to the resumes of those already working in the field.

Ideal Candidates for Psychology

Even before enrolling in a psychology program, students can begin developing skills that will serve them well in their chosen profession. Psychologists need to be excellent communicators, as their work requires them to listen closely and work with people from many backgrounds. They will need to build their patience, observational skills, and trustworthiness if they are to successfully interact with patients. They must also be extremely analytical and have strong problem solving skills, as they not only listen to patients but need to understand, diagnose, and suggest appropriate treatments.

Career Pathways

While nothing is certain, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, those in psychology can expect a bright job outlook for the next decade. The number of jobs is expected to grow overall by 22% through 2020, with the greatest demand seen for those specializing in industrial-organizational psychology, a field expected to expand by 35%. Most of these in-demand careers in psychology will require a doctoral degree, and even in those where a master’s will suffice, a Ph.D. will make it easier to find high-quality employment.

Psychologists need a lot of expertise to do their jobs well and often receive compensation that’s commensurate with their level of education. The average salary for psychologists is $68,640, but many specializations make a good deal more, with those in industrial-organizational psychology averaging $87,330 per year. Like other fields, earnings in psychology depend on a number of factors, including geographic location, education, experience, and area of expertise.

If you want to learn more about what it means to be a psychologist, there are a wide range of options to help guide you. Reach out to professional organizations, find students already enrolled in degree programs, talk to psychologists in your community, and get in touch with colleges and universities to find out more.

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Psychology in the News

Source: American Psychological Association

Our Favorite Psychology Blogs

  • Psychology in General

    • Clinically Psyched

      News portal and platform for the delivery and discussion of developments in the field of clinical psychology.

    • Evolutionary Psychology

      Official blog of the open-access journal, Evolutionary Psychology, examining human psychological traits as functional products of natural selection.

    • MindHacks

      The official blog from the authors of "Mind Hacks: neuroscience and psychology tricks to find out what's going on inside your brain."

    • PsyBlog

      Founded by psychologist, Jeremy Dean, this award-winning blog features the latest research into how the human mind works.

    • PsychologyToday

      Highlights from the expert blogs on

  • Addiction

    • Addiction Blog

      Comprised of writers who are are familiar with addiction, this blog explores new alternative therapies and treatments for the full spectrum of addictions.

    • Addiction in Society

      Explore the extent of addiction and how it relates to societal and psychological problems with this blog of Psychology Today.

    • Craving

      Psychiatrist, Omar Manejwala, M.D., examines "why we can't seem to get enough."

    • Drinking Diaries

      Brought to you by the co-editors of "Drinking Straight: Women Serve Their Stories Straight Up," this blog covers the "pleasures and perils" of alcohol.

    • Memoirs of an Addicted Brain

      Marc Lewis created this blog to start a dialogue between those affected by addiction and those who treat it.

  • Children and Adolescents

    • Child in Mind

      With examples from her practice, Dr. Claudia Gold helps parents identify obstacles in the way of the healthy emotional development of their children.

    • ChildPsych

      Child psychologist, Catherine Busch, Ph.D., offers practical, research-based information regarding the psychology and mental health of children.

    • Family Dysfunction and Mental Health

      Dr. David Allen emphasizes the impact of family dysfunction on the mental health of children.

    • TeenMentalHealth

      This blog focuses on the latest research and discussion of mental health issues facing teenagers.

    • The Teenage Mind

      Jann Gumbiner, Ph.D., discusses research and news regarding the teenage mind and mental health.

  • Cognitive Neuroscience

    • Cognitive Neuroscience Weekly

      Targeted toward students and enthusiasts of cognitive neuroscience, this blog highlights recently published findings in the field.

    • NeuroLogica

      Written by Dr. Steven Novella, M.D., Neurologica is your "daily fix of neuroscience, skepticism, and critical thinking."

    • The Magnet is Always On

      Neuroscientist, Jason Zevin, explores his field of interest with a focus on neuroplasticity and language.

    • The Neurocritic

      The Neurocritic deconstructs "the most sensationalistic recent findings in Human Brain Imaging, Cognitive Neuroscience, and Psychopharmacology."

    • Thinking About Thinking

      Published by members of the Computation and Cognition Lab at NYU, this blog "explores the field of cognitive science and the study of thinking."

  • Mental Illness

    • Being Mentally Interesting

      Seaneen Molloy-Vaughan's personal take on navigating the "labrynth" of bi-polar and other such things. Frank, witty, insightful.

    • Panic!

      Explore and learn how others handle the different forms of panic, anxiety, depression and more with this blog.

    • Patient Anonymous

      This blog gives readers insight into one person’s life and what it is like for her living with several psychological and neurological disorders.

    • Psychiatry and History

      Facilitating the discussion of psychiatry and history.

    • Serious Mental Illness

      This official blog, from Long Island University's Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program, focuses on Serious Mental Illness.

  • Sex and Relationships

    • Dr. Petra Boynton

      Social Psychologist, Dr. Petra Boynton, Ph.D., reflects on sex, relationships, science, and the media.

    • Science of Relationships

      This blog responds to the "expert" relationship advice littering the web with a scientific take on how humans get along.

    • Sexual Intelligence

      Certified sex therapist, Marty Klein, Ph.D., muses on "sex - and culture, politics, psychology - and sex."

    • The Psychology of Attractiveness

      This blog-meets-podcast examines the "most interesting and cutting edge findings from the field of attractiveness psychology."

    • The Psychology of Human Sexuality

      A comprehensive source for information, news, and research on sex and relationships from the perspective of psychologist, Dr. Lehmiller.

Psychology Journals & Trade Magazines

  • Journals

    • BMC Psychology

      This is the most recent open-access journal published by BMC and provides peer-reviewed articles on a number of psychology topics.

    • Cardiovascular Psychology and Neurology

      This journal publishes original research and articles exploring the correlation between cardiovascular disorders and behavioral or emotional alterations.

    • Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health

      Open-access platform for "rapid and comprehensive scientific communication on child and adolescent mental health across different cultural backgrounds."

    • Child Development Research

      The articles in this open-access, peer-reviewed journal explore new and revisited research of all aspects of child development.

    • Europe's Journal of Psychology

      Written for and by psychologists, this free electronic journal, published quarterly, encourages discussion between professionals in this field.

    • Evolutionary Psychology

      Empirical, philosophical, historical, and socio-political perspectives on human psychological traits as functional products of natural selection.

    • Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy

      A broad-based, open-access journal dedicated to the most exciting research in the field of addiction.

    • Journal of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence

      Publishes recent developments in the psychological and sociological study of alcohol and drug dependence.

    • Journal of Child and Adolescent Behavior

      Exploring development during childhood and adolescence, this open-access journal how each change influences behavior in young people.

    • Mental Illness

      This open access, online-only journal publishes articles that explore the latest in the diagnosis, cause and treatment of mental illness.

    • Open Journal of Medical Psychology

      Aiming to promote discussion among professionals, this journal publishes the latest research and reports related to the fields of medical psychology.

    • Psychology

      Psychology is an international journal and platform for psychologists and academics to discuss the latest advancements in the field of psychology.

    • Psychology & Society

      Original work published by current undergraduate and graduate students in the field of social, cultural, or developmental psychology.

    • The Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality

      This electronic journal, updated regularly, explores human sexuality through peer-reviewed research articles, book reviews and scholarly posters.

    • The Open Addiction Journal

      With a focus on substance abuse research, this journal aims to provide the most current information regarding the aspects of and fields handling addiction.

Psychology Grants & Scholarships

Psychology Internships

Psychology Student & Professional Organizations