Northcentral University Online Psychology Degree Review

northcentral University was founded in 1996, and is a regionally accredited, online private university that offers master’s and doctoral degrees in many subjects, including psychology and related fields, such as marriage and family therapy. All courses are taught one to one by the 100% doctoral degree in psychology faculty. One of the most significant aspects of this doctoral program is you can choose from eight diverse concentrations for your Ph.D. in psychology program, which is a rarity in online Ph.D. programs.

Favorite Features

The Ph.D. in psychology program has eight different concentration options

Depending upon your career interests and progression to date, you may want to micro focus your degree program on a certain speciality. At Northcentral University, you will have the opportunity to do so. The specialities currently available are:

  • Addictions
  • General Psychology
  • Health Psychology
  • Mental Health Policy and Practice
  • Gender Diversity Studies
  • Gerontology
  • Industrial Organizational Psychology
  • Trauma and Disaster Relief

Students enjoy one on one interaction with professors

One of the most unusual features of this Ph.D. program is each professor works on an individual basis with the student. This one to one philosophy obviously will provide the doctoral student with more interaction and personal attention.

Students who receive individual attention in this manner will usually have the opportunity to learn more and to have the program more tailored to their career and educational needs. ( The one to one learning model has been shown to improve opportunities for mentoring, ensuring the most rigorous education that is personally and professionally relevant.

NCU offers doctoral students high level of online learning flexibility

NCU does not require on campus residencies, there are weekly program start dates, and every class is taught to you alone by a doctoral degree holding professor in psychology. It is important to know that being taught alone, one on one, leaves the student with a high level of accountability. You must be prepared to work on your own and complete all the work without other students working with and supporting you.

The program also features many experiential learning opportunities: case studies, scenarios, vignettes and even real life situations. These opportunities allow you to gain tremendous experience from your mentoring professor.

NCU holds continuing regional accreditation

The university holds an accreditation from the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). This indicates the entire university offerings have met high levels of quality by the Department of Education.

Least Favorite Features

The Ph.D. in psychology program holds no program accreditation

While the university itself is regionally accredited, the psychology program is not accredited. It is generally more difficult for online graduate programs in psychology to be accredited, as the major accrediting body, APA, does not perform accreditation for online programs. So it is possible your future employer could question the value of an online Ph.D. that is unaccredited.

It is reported there are thousands of former doctoral students who never graduated

A recent news release ( was critical of the university due to the high numbers of students who started the doctoral program and never finished. This situation could lead some of them to have high levels of student debt with no degree. This is not to say that many students do not graduate with their Ph.D. in psychology and enjoy productive careers. Many do. But students should go into this online program with their eyes open and be certain they have the time and resources to finish the program.

Program is relatively expensive for an online Ph.D from an unaccredited university

Their website pegs the total tuition for the program at $70,000. This seems to be a high tuition for a program that holds no accreditation. How much many employers will value this degree is an open question. It may be worth checking with employers you are considering to see how they view an online degree from NCU.

The Details

  • Year founded: 1996
  • For profit, based in San Diego, CA
  • Students are from 58 countries on six continents
  • All NCU faculty hold a doctoral degree

Degrees Available

  • D. in psychology in addictions; general psychology; health psychology; mental health policy and practice; gender diversity studies; gerontology; I/O psychology; and trauma and disaster relief


  • D in psychology: In state and out of state: $70,000 total

Student Facts

  • Percentage of students defaulting on federal loans: 5.6%
  • Percentage of students (2016) who took out federal loans: 65%
  • 39% of all students at NCU graduate on time
  • 72% female
  • Total enrollment: 10,787 (com)



Ann Steele, Ph.D.

Ann Steele, Ph.D.


Ann Steele, Ph.D., is Editor-In-Chief of Ann has training as a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst who has worked with adults, couples, adolescents, and preteens throughout San Diego county.