Psychology is the study of the functions and behaviors of the mind, and how those affect more general human behavior. Psychologists can occupy three different categories, depending on the focus of their course of study. Psychologists can study cognitive science (the science of how people think), behavioral science (the science of how people act), and social science (the study of how people interact with one another). All of these elements, however, look into the functions of mental processes such as chemical interactions as well as the impact of those processes on how humans go about their lives.
Psychology covers a broad range of concepts, and psychology students can specialize in certain topics as well. Some of these topics include emotion (how mental events affect feelings), attention (how people direct their focus), cognition (how people think), and brain functioning (the biological structures that make the brain work).
Psychology has a centralized accrediting body for offline or online courses, the American Psychology Association (APA). Checking for this accreditation is essential at any level, as courses with this accreditation are the best path to jobs in the field. Online courses in psychology are a good choice at the introductory levels, as they can teach theories and definitions very well, but online courses cannot provide laboratory experience or familiarity with research methods or the hands-on clinical experience required to practice psychology. As a result, a good path if you are interested in becoming a psychologist is to take online psychology courses for early topics and then transfer to a traditional university to finish the degree.
An online psychology course can cover topics such as introductory psychology, psychopathology, theories of learning, and human development. By taking online courses in college psychology programs, you can learn the answers to questions like:
If you are considering an online psychology class, you should be sure to research the course and the university before enrolling. It is, for example, important to make sure that the faculty member teaching the course has a Ph.D. in psychology or a related field like cognitive science. You should also check the school for APA accreditation, and look into the school’s reputation for social and cognitive sciences. By doing your research before enrolling, you can save money and time in the long run, as schools are more likely to accept credits in transfer from accredited universities.
The following is a compilation of open courseware on psychology topics from around the world. Many universities have chosen to make class notes, lecture videos, quizzes, and other learning materials available for free online. While these do not give you the opportunity to talk to professors about psychology topics, you can use these resources to improve your grasp of the psychology field and determine whether the field is right for you.