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OHIO's online psychology degree ranks 30th in nation, best in state

The undergraduate online psychology degree offered by the College of Arts and Sciences is one of a number of Ohio University programs ranked among the best in the nation and the state in U.S. News & World Report rankings released Jan 25.

The online B.S. in psychology ranks best in the state of Ohio and is tied for 30th in the national rankings.

The rapidly growing program offers several features attractive to students—flexibility, favorite professors, and personalized career advising.

"Our online psychology program is the fastest growing online program at Ohio University, and we look forward to serving an expanding range of students unbound by location or circumstance," said Florenz Plassmann, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "Nationwide, psychology is among the top three undergraduate majors, and it is the second largest undergraduate major in Ohio University's College of Arts and Sciences. This popularity stems from the wide range of careers that are open to psychology graduates, including careers in human services, business, and government."


"Our online students love the flexibility of the program, from the ability to take as few or as many classes as they prefer, to the flexibility of taking online classes that they can complete around their busy life schedules," said Sandra Hoyt, Ph.D., director of online education in psychology and a professor of instruction.

The program allows students to start with no college experience or to bring in previously earned college credits, and success and academic advisors support them through graduation and beyond.

"I think about how often I hear students say that they could not have finished their degree without this online option. Many of our students need to be able to study once their kids are asleep, so driving to campus is not an option," said Monica Price, a College of Arts and Sciences success advisor.

Favorite Faculty and Classes

The online psychology program offers the same wide range of courses that are offered to Athens-based psychology students.

"These courses help students understand why humans behave as they do from childhood and adolescence through adulthood and old age. Some courses emphasize physiological aspects, whereas others emphasize the social or cognitive aspects. Some focus on psychopathology and others focus on the psychology of gender, justice, work, or sport," Plassmann said.

One popular course for OHIO students is PSY 3440 Psychology of Gender. "Students say they had never thought about some of the issues raised in the course. They say it has made them more aware of the many facets of gender and that is helpful whether the student is going to work in the therapy field or the corporate arena," Price said.

And some students love the classes because of the professors. "Students have told me that they love the enthusiasm of Dr. Joan Wigal, who teaches PSY 3250 Psychology of Health and Illness and PSY 2210 Physiological Psychology. They also enjoy Dr. Gary Sarver's decades of experience as a clinical psychologist when taking Psychopathology and PSY 3710 Clinical and Counseling Psychology," Hoyt said, adding "just to name a few."

"Indeed, much of what one learns in a discipline like psychology is how to investigate one’s world, how to glean the key information from those or others’ investigations, and how to interpret that information in the context of what is already known," said Jeffrey Vancouver, Ph.D., department chair and the Byham Chair in Industrial/Organizational Psychology.

Vancouver chairs a department with two nationally known Ph.D. programs—one in Clinical Psychology and one in Experimental Psychology, both replete with prominent researchers and grant funding.

“The Psychology Department is lucky enough to have a diverse and highly skilled set of faculty who support our education mission," he said. "Our instructional faculty have a track record of top-notch teaching, both online or in-person, and they help provide a harmonized educational experience as well as advice for developing the career the student wants. Meanwhile, our internationally recognized research faculty not only contribute new knowledge to the field through their research, but also share that knowledge in the classroom with their students.

"More and more we have been able to involve our undergraduate students, whether online or in person, in the research experience. Meanwhile, we learn more and more from our students as the range of their experiences expands. We believe this synergy is the key to our success,” Vancouver said.

Career Preparation

Price said there's one course that bridges students' passion for what they're learning in all those favorite classes with what they want to accomplish in their careers.

"PSY 1090 Optimizing your Psychology Degree is a huge hit with our students!" Price said. "They love having time to explore what they enjoy about the field of psychology and how they could translate their interests into a career. They love the personalized exercises and the chance to do group chats with their peers in the program and have one-on-one conversations with me. Because I work with online students all the time, I can share ideas that are relevant to their experience."

Price noted that "students are using their degree to change their immediate employment opportunities. They are getting promotions where they work, or even changing careers with their Bachelor of Science in Psychology."

Vancouver noted that an increasing number of online psychology students are continuing on to master's and doctoral programs to become licensed counselors and clinicians, research scholars, and behavioral consultants to private and public organizations.

January 26, 2022
Staff reports