The 10 Best Online Courses in Psychology of 2022

Whether you know little about the field or are a practicing psychologist, there are numerous reasons an online courses in psychology can be a great idea. For beginners, the chance to dive into an introductory course that is both entertaining and informational is a great way to start your study. For those with experience, it can be a chance to learn about new trends and expand your skillset.

  • Coursera — Introduction to Psychology — Top Pick
  • Coursera — The Arts and Science of Relationships: Understanding Human Needs — Best for Social Workers
  • Coursera — Positive Psychology — Best for Practicing Psychologists
  • Coursera — Foundations of Positive Psychology Certification — Best Free Trial
  • Udacity — Intro to Psychology — Most Affordable
  • FutureLearn — Introduction to Psychology: Developmental Psychology — Best Multi-Course Series
  • Udemy — Advanced Level Psychology Certificate — Best Professional Outcomes
  • Udemy — How to “Get” People: Practical Psychology — Shortest Course
  • edX — Developmental, Social, & Clinical Psychology — Most Comprehensive Course
  • edX — Trends in e-Psychology — Best for Working Professionals

Our Ranking Criteria

The best online courses in psychology offer a mix of theory and hands-on practice to help you excel and reach your academic goals. For our top ten list, we looked at all the courses attracting the most students and assessed them to find the ones that best deliver on their promises. We based our decisions on both basic and advanced criteria.

Basic Ranking Criteria

First, we looked at the basic factors each class should possess to provide a solid educational experience. We expected every course to meet these four requirements.

Time to complete. We looked for those that took the time they needed to properly convey the material, without wasting your time. Most of our classes can be completed in less than six months to a few weeks or less. .

Prerequisites required. None of our final chosen courses had prerequisites. This means they are accessible to anyone with little background knowledge of psychology.

Flexible schedule. All but one of our choices allow you to set the pace for your learning experience. That gives you the ability to shape your coursework around personal and professional commitments.

Certificate of completion. Most of our courses feature a certificate of completion you can add to your resume or LinkedIn profile, although some of them charge a fee for this service. A certificate can be a valuable asset, showing you are engaged in professional development.

Advanced Ranking Criteria

Then we took a closer look at each course based on more advanced ranking criteria. Although every course has a unique focus, we expected them to adhere to these standards.

  • Instructors who are credentialed in psychology and have teaching experience at the university level.
  • Instructors who are engaging speakers capable of providing lectures that bring the material alive.
  • Students have the chance to assess their learning through quizzes or practical assignments.
  • The material covered reflects the current psychological practice and up-to-date information.
  • Student reviews, when available, are generally positive and affirming.
  • The course does not require specialized software or any technology beyond what the average student has available.
  • Students can start the course either when it is convenient for them or at a start date that is repeated regularly.
  • Goals for the course are clear from the beginning and are stated on the website.

The 10 Best Online Courses in Psychology

Coursera
Introduction to Psychology

Introduction to Psychology on Coursera

Intelligent Award: Top Pick

Developed in conjunction with the University of Toronto, Coursera’s Introduction to Psychology offers a broad overview of topics including experimental psychology and how it impacts our understanding of human behavior, the brain and its cognitive abilities, and mental illness and its treatments. The class is taught by Professor Steve Joordens, who has won many teaching awards from the University of Toronto and is known for his innovative and engaging lecture style. The course is free if you are taking it for personal enrichment but only costs $49 if you want a certificate upon completion.

  • Price: free to audit; $49 with certificate
  • Time to complete: about 23 hours
  • Prerequisites required: none
  • Flexible schedule: yes
  • Includes verified certificate of participation: yes, for a fee

Who should take this course? This is a great course for the intellectually curious. If you consider yourself a life-long learner who is open to exploring new topics, the instructor is excellent at explaining his topics in an accessible and interesting manner.

What we likeWhat we don’t like
Financial aid is availableCertificate available at a cost
An engaging and entertaining lecturerNo personal interaction with the instructor
A broad range of psychological topics

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Coursera
The Arts and Science of Relationships: Understanding Human Needs

The Arts and Science of Relationships Understanding Human Needs on Coursera

Intelligent Award: Best for Social Workers

Developed and offered by the University of Toronto, this course focuses on the Strategies and Skills Learning and Development (SSLD) System, a model that helps learners master ways in which they can attain personal goals within a social environment. The instructor for the course is A. Ka Tat Tsang, a professor of social work who developed SSLD, and who teaches globally at the university level. You’ll learn the basic principles of SSLD and their relevance for everyday relationships, along with case studies that illustrate how these relationships work within the system. Students will participate in observation learning, simulations, real-life implementations, and review.

  • Price: free to audit; $49 with certificate
  • Time to complete: approximately 32 hours
  • Prerequisites required: none
  • Flexible schedule: yes
  • Includes verified certificate of participation: yes, for a fee

Who should take this course? Students of online courses in psychology and social work who are interested in learning about the SSLD model for interpersonal and societal relationships, as well as professionals in social work and related fields who require an in-depth understanding of social interactions.

What we likeWhat we don’t like
Includes videos, readings, and multiple quizzesLearning is focused on one system (SSLD)
Financial aid availableVideo segments are short and choppy

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Coursera
Positive Psychology

Positive Psychology on Coursera

Intelligent Award: Best for Practicing Psychologists

This course addresses an interesting subset of psychological study. Positive psychology takes a close look at the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive. It is, as the name suggests, an uplifting area of study, based on the belief people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives and nurture all that is best within themselves. The course is offered by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and taught by Dr. Barbara L. Fredrickson, a distinguished professor of psychology at the school and president-elect of the International Positive Psychology Association. You’ll study positive emotions, the outcomes of positivity and positivity resonance, and look at how happiness radiates out to benefit relationships and the community.

  • Price: free to audit; $49 with certificate
  • Time to complete: approximately 11 hours
  • Prerequisites required: none
  • Flexible schedule: yes
  • Includes verified certificate of participation: yes, for a fee

Who should take this course? Anyone curious about the features of positive psychology, including psychologists and psychology students who want to expand their area of expertise.

What we likeWhat we don’t like
Focuses on a unique area of study in the fieldNot a general online courses in psychology
Financial aid is availableBest for those with some understanding of psychology
35% of students start new careers after this course

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Coursera
Foundations of Positive Psychology Certification

Foundations of Positive Psychology Certification on Coursera

Intelligent Award: Best Free Trial

This comprehensive online courses in psychology is offered by the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League institution with excellent faculty. All five professors teaching this course hold doctorates in psychology. The course offers strategies and tools to help individuals and organizations to thrive and allows students to explore the world of positive psychology. This five-course specialization leads to a certificate that is signed by Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, the Zellerbach Family Professor of Psychology and Director of Penn’s Positive Psychology Center. The five courses culminate in a project that brings all the coursework from the first four courses together as you develop and test a positive intervention for an audience of your choice.

  • Price: $79/month
  • Time to complete: approximately five months at four hours a week of work
  • Prerequisites required: none
  • Flexible schedule: yes
  • Includes verified certificate of participation: yes

Who should take this course? This course is a good introduction to the world of positive psychology for those who are interested in making a career change or learning a new topic in psychology.

What we likeWhat we don’t like
57% of learners start a new career after taking this specializationFocus is only on positive psychology
Instructors at the top of their fieldThe course takes a while to complete
Includes hands-on project

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Udacity
Intro to Psychology

Intro to Psychology on Udacity

Intelligent Award: Most Affordable

Udacity’s Intro to Psychology course is taught by professors at San Jose State University. They gear this free course toward the beginner, the only prerequisite, they say, is “curiosity about human nature.” Among other topics, the course helps students to analyze the social element of society, look at the dynamics of ethnic, cultural, and other identities, and evaluate social science information. Each of the nine lessons centers around a particular area of psychological studies, such as consciousness and perception. In addition to the video lessons, there are exercises you will complete and interactive quizzes that allow you to test your understanding.

  • Price: free
  • Time to complete: approximately four months
  • Prerequisites required: none
  • Flexible schedule: yes
  • Includes verified certificate of participation: no

Who should take this course? Anyone looking to learn more about the science of psychology without incurring a high cost would be well served by this free course.

What we likeWhat we don’t like
Course is freeNo certificate available
Instructors are university-level professors
Focus on thought and behavior

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FutureLearn
Introduction to Psychology: Developmental Psychology

online courses in psychology

Intelligent Award: Best Multi-Course Series

This course on developmental psychology was developed by Monash University, a leading research institution in Australia, and is taught by Associate Professor Matthew Mundy, who is director of education for the School of Psychological Sciences at Monash. He’s an expert in the cognitive neuroscience of memory and perception, so expect this topic to be covered in particular depth in the course. You’ll also look at topics including human development, lifespan theories, the stages of development, and the final stage of our lifespan. The course includes online assessments you can complete to test your knowledge. If you wish, you can continue with five other intro to online courses in psychology in what the company calls an ExpertTrack, and earn certificates for each course as well as the series as a whole.

  • Price: $39/month
  • Time to complete: two weeks, with six hours of study each week
  • Prerequisites required: none
  • Flexible schedule: yes
  • Includes verified certificate of participation: yes

Who should take this course? Best for those with a bachelor’s degree in psychology or another field who want to expand their scientific and research skill set.

What we likeWhat we don’t like
Free seven-day trialNo downloadable course materials
One class in a six-course ExpertTrackNo faculty interaction
Includes discussions with other students

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Udemy
Advanced Level Psychology Certificate

Advanced Level Psychology Certificate on Udemy

Intelligent Award: Best Professional Outcomes

As the title suggests, this course goes beyond the beginner-level classes that make up most of our list. It’s taught by motivational psychologist Elmira Strange,  who has been a senior researcher and psychology lecturer at colleges in the U.K. and is now an online entrepreneur of psychology-based materials. In this class, you’ll learn about psychological theory, applied social and cognitive psychology, research methods and why they are important, child development, and current debates in the field. The course assumes some basic understanding of online courses in psychology, but much of the material is accessible to anyone with basic education. There is a certificate available, and the course is fully accredited by the International Association of Therapists (IAOTH).

  • Price: $99
  • Time to complete: four hours
  • Prerequisites required: none
  • Flexible schedule: yes
  • Includes verified certificate of participation: yes

Who should take this course? Best for people who are considering a career in psychology or who are brushing up on skills they have from previous studies.

What we likeWhat we don’t like
Lifetime access to courseNot the best choice for beginners
Accredited by IAOTHReviews suggest more examples during lectures would be helpful
Engaging and knowledgeable Instructor

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Udemy
How to “Get” People: Practical Psychology

How to Get People Practical Psychology on Udemy

Intelligent Award: Shortest Course

Taught by organizational psychologist and author Bill McAneny, this course delves into how we interact with others and influence people and situations to get better outcomes for our ideas. McAneny helps you to understand your personality type and appreciate the difference between personality and behavior. You’ll learn about four elements of personality: extraversion vs. introversion, sensing vs. intuitive, thinking vs. feeling, and judging vs. perceiving, and see why each of these elements is important in understanding how to work effectively with people. This practical online courses in psychology is a great primer for those who want to know how to handle conflict and motivate others to get the best out of them.

  • Price: $44.99
  • Time to complete: 1.5 hours
  • Prerequisites required: none
  • Flexible schedule: yes
  • Includes verified certificate of participation: yes

Who should take this course? Those looking for practical information that will help them understand what makes people tick and how to work and mediate more effectively, no matter what their personality is like.

What we likeWhat we don’t like
Lifetime access to courseThe course is only 1.5 hours
Certificate available on completionJust one downloadable resource
Good for those in managerial positions

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edX
Developmental, Social, & Clinical Psychology

Developmental, Social, & Clinical Psychology on Edx

Intelligent Award: Most Comprehensive Course

Developed by the University of Queensland, Australia, the eight professors who teach this course have crafted an excellent introduction to psychology that will help you understand why we think and behave the way we do. This self-paced series includes four online courses in psychology, introduction to social psychology, introduction to developmental psychology, introduction to clinical psychology, and introduction to psychological research methods. Each course includes 7 to 8 sections, and it’s recommended that you complete 1 to 2 sections each week. Throughout the series, you’ll gain an understanding of psychological disorders and how to treat them, why we act as we do in a variety of settings, how our bodies and minds develop throughout our lives, and what methods are used to interpret and report research.

  • Price: $356.40 for four courses
  • Time to complete: seven months at one to two hours per week
  • Prerequisites required: none
  • Flexible schedule: yes
  • Includes verified certificate of participation: yes

Who should take this course? Best for those who are interested in pursuing advanced study in psychology.

What we likeWhat we don’t like
Covers more material than most coursesSomewhat pricey
Instructors all teach at the university level
Comprehensive material covered

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Trends in e-Psychology on Edx Homepage

Intelligent Award: Best for Working Professionals

This course, led by instructors from the University of Leuven and the University of Maastricht, delves into an interesting subfield of psychology that is on the cutting edge of current research. It deals with electronic and digital applications used to promote healthy behavior, including the e-cigarette trend, e-mental health applications, and e-mediation, which uses electronic communication to prevent escalation and promote conflict resolution. You’ll learn from videos, demonstration movies, exercises, discussion, and reading assignments for three weeks, with a final week given over to catch-up work so assignments and evaluations can be completed.

  • Price: free; certificate available for $49
  • Time to complete: four weeks
  • Prerequisites required: none
  • Flexible schedule: instructor-paced
  • Includes verified certificate of participation: yes, for a fee

Who should take this course? Best for those already knowledgeable in psychology who want to expand their understanding of current trends in electronic and digital health.

What we likeWhat we don’t like
The verified track includes instructor supportNo feedback in the free version
Feedback and graded assignmentsThe instructor sets the pace

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Online Course Comparison Chart

CoursePriceFeatures
Coursera — Introduction to Psychology — Top PickFree or $49 with a certificate✓ No prerequisites required✓ Flexible schedule✓ Includes verified certificate of participation
Coursera — The Arts and Science of Relationships: Understanding Human Needs — Best for Social WorkersFree or $49 with a certificate✓ No prerequisites required✓ Flexible schedule✓ Includes verified certificate of participation
Coursera — Positive Psychology — Best for Practicing PsychologistsFree or $49 with a certificate✓ No prerequisites required✓ Flexible schedule✓ Includes verified certificate of participation
Coursera — Foundations of Positive Psychology Certification — Best Free Trial$79/month✓ No prerequisites required✓ Flexible schedule✓ Includes verified certificate of participation
Udacity — Intro to Psychology — Most AffordableFree✓ No prerequisites required✓ Flexible scheduleX Includes verified certificate of participation
FutureLearn — Introduction to Psychology: Developmental Psychology — Best Multi-Course Series$39/month✓ No prerequisites required✓ Flexible schedule✓ Includes verified certificate of participation
Udemy — Advanced Level Psychology Certificate — Best Professional Outcomes$99✓ No prerequisites required✓ Flexible schedule✓ Includes verified certificate of participation
Udemy — How to “Get” People: Practical Psychology — Shortest Course$44.99✓ No prerequisites required✓ Flexible schedule✓ Includes verified certificate of participation
Edx — Developmental, Social, & Clinical Psychology — Most Comprehensive Course$356.40✓ No prerequisites required✓ Flexible schedule✓ Includes verified certificate of participation
Edx — Trends in e-Psychology — Best for Working ProfessionalsFree or $49 with a certificate✓ No prerequisites requiredX Flexible schedule✓ Includes verified certificate of participation

Tips for Succeeding in an Online Psychology Course

1. Consider the cost

How much do online psychology classes cost?

There are many reasonably priced online courses in psychology available. If you are taking the course for personal enrichment and not interested in earning a certificate of completion, you will find quite a few, such as the classes offered by Coursera, that are free. The most expensive option among our chosen online courses in psychology is Edx’s Developmental, Social & Clinical Psychology class, which covers a great deal of information for $356.40.

Will my employer pay for me to take the course?

If your psychology class allows you to perform your job at a higher level or meets the professional requirements of your employer, they may be willing to pay all or part of the class fees. It is worth a conversation with your supervisor or your company’s HR department head to see if they are open to supporting you in this way.

2. Get your tech squared away

You shouldn’t need any special tech to take these online courses in psychology. A few companies, such as Udacity, allow you to test your system for compatibility. In general, you will need a fairly up-to-date operating system, such as Windows 7 or higher for PCs and Mac OS X 10 or higher for Apple products. You’ll also need a solid internet connection, with a download speed of at least 1Mbps and upload speed of 0.5 Mbps. Most of our chosen online courses in psychology are compatible with smartphones and other devices. One suggestion if you are using Chrome, consider downloading the Video Speed Controller app, which allows you to speed up or slow down video lectures as well as rewind or fast forward.

3. Use the right study resources

Depending on what area of psychology you are interested in, child psychology, forensic psychology, marriage, and family therapy, or something else, there is probably an organization with an information-packed website that includes resources for students of psychology. An example of this would be the National Association of School Psychologists, which features resources, publications, standards, and more for those interested in working as a psychologist in a primary or secondary school.

There are numerous books available that are geared toward those learning about psychology. Two that we like are The Psychology Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained by DK Publishing and online courses in psychology: Everything You Need to Know to Master the Subject, by Alan Porter.

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Courses in Psychology

What jobs can you get after completing online psychology course?

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, working as a psychologist usually requires a doctoral degree and residency, and leads to the median pay of $82,180 a year. But there are many other career options open for those with an understanding of psychology. These include management and other business and industry positions, educational instruction and library work, and administrative and office support occupations.

Are there free online writing courses?

Yes, half of our chosen online courses in psychology have free options. Usually, free courses do not include a certificate or the ability to interact with the instructor. You will, however, be able to access all course videos and any downloadable materials that the instructor recommends. Free courses can be a great way to dip your toes in the water without any financial commitment.

How long is the average online course for psychology?

Online courses in psychology range from a few hours to several months in length. Our shortest course is 1.5 hours, which means you can increase your skill set without a huge commitment of time. Our longest class is seven months, but that is based on only one to two hours of study a week.

Can you become a psychologist with an online degree?

This would depend on the nature of your online degree, and the institution that was delivering it. In the U.S., you would need to be working toward your online degree from an accredited college or university. It would take several years and might require an in-person residency period. None of our recommended courses lead directly to an academic degree and are best taken for enjoyment or professional development purposes.