You’ll explore mental health and counseling at an advanced level if you choose to earn a masters in clinical psychology.
This degree program will expand on your current understanding of psychology and equip you with tools for being a practitioner who makes a difference in people’s lives. Masters degrees in clinical psychology that lead to counseling licensure are available online in many states.
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You might start thinking about whether a clinical psychology master’s program would suit your interests and your career goals.
Masters in Clinical Psychology Programs Online
Is your goal to make a difference for others through counseling, therapy, or other psychological practices? If so, you might want to consider earning a master’s degree in clinical psychology.
As a graduate student in a clinical psychology program, you’ll study assessment and diagnostic techniques. You’ll also learn about interventions and treatments that you can use when working with patients. The curriculum may cover counseling techniques for individual appointments and group sessions.
This program will also teach you about research so that you can be a well-rounded psychology professional. Whether you want a research career or would prefer to be a practitioner, knowing how to properly read the latest studies in the field can help you do your job well.
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Some clinical psychology master programs include the option to specialize in a particular aspect of psychology. Available concentration tracks might include:
- Forensic psychology
- Marriage and family therapy
- Professional counseling
- Psychology research
Real-life experience is important for success in this field, so you’ll probably do some sort of internship. That could give you the opportunity to try out the things you’ve learned in the classroom.
Getting a master’s degree in psychology won’t qualify you to be a practicing clinical psychologist, but it could help prepare you for other counseling roles. The curriculum and internship might meet your state’s requirements for becoming licensed as a marriage and family therapist or a professional counselor.
Other jobs that graduates might consider with this degree include social services manager, correctional counselor, or school advisor. In addition, this master’s degree program could be valuable preparation for further study at the doctoral level.
A growing number of universities now offer on-campus and online clinical psychology PhD programs. After completing a doctorate in psychology, you might qualify for licensure as a clinical psychologist.
Clinical Psychology Careers and Salaries
Studying clinical psychology at the master’s degree level could help prepare you for a range of interesting jobs.
Licensure requirements vary from state to state, but a master’s degree is usually the recommended education for a job as a professional mental health counselor, a behavioral disorder counselor, or a marriage and family therapist. A clinical psychology masters degree could also be useful for counseling positions in substance abuse treatment centers and correctional facilities.
Another career path could be to work in an educational setting as a career counselor or an academic advisor. The curriculum for a master’s degree might include courses in leadership. That could be useful preparation for working as a director or a program manager in a community agency.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the median annual salaries for a range of positions related to the field of clinical psychology.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Social Scientists and Related Workers, All Other||$84,430|
|Clinical and Counseling Psychologists||$82,510|
|Postsecondary Psychology Teachers||$77,860|
|Social and Community Service Managers||$74,000|
|School and Career Counselors and Advisors||$60,510|
|Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists||$60,250|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||$49,880|
|Social Science Research Assistants||$49,720|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors||$48,520|
Some psychology graduates teach classes at the college level. Full-time tenured positions often require a doctorate, but a master’s degree might suffice for part-time or adjunct roles. Community colleges often hire faculty with masters degrees.
Psychology research is another line of work to consider. Depending on the setting, a master’s degree might qualify you to lead research, conduct surveys, or work as a research assistant. Some social scientist positions require a doctorate. A doctoral degree is also a must-have if you want to be a practicing clinical psychologist.
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Licensed clinical psychologists are qualified to conduct assessments and diagnose mental health conditions. They also provide treatment and, in some states, can prescribe medication as well.
Clinical Psychology MS Curriculum & Courses
Your masters degree program in clinical psychology can give you an in-depth look at mental health issues and effective counseling practices.
The curriculum might feature courses such as:
- Addiction and Treatment: Perhaps you’ll study the latest developments in addiction science and learn evidence-based strategies for working with people who have substance use disorders.
- Assessment Techniques: In this class, you’ll study cognitive tests and other tools you can use to learn about patients and diagnose their conditions.
- Career Counseling: There might be a class that teaches you how to work with people who would like help in finding a job path.
- Counseling Theories: Your time in this course will introduce you to major schools of thought in psychology and equip you with corresponding techniques you can use in your counseling practice.
- Criminal Justice Psychology: Studying the role of psychology in legal settings and the techniques used could prepare you for a career in forensic psychology.
- Ethical Psychology Practice: This course will address professional behavior and the standards by which psychologists must operate.
- Group Therapy: You’ll learn how to lead group sessions and provide effective treatment when working with multiple people at one time.
- Human Development: As you learn about growth and development across the lifespan, you’ll particularly focus on psychological needs and changes at each stage.
- Intervention Strategies: During this course, you may learn techniques for helping patients and try those strategies out in practice sessions.
- Psychology Research: You can study quantitative and qualitative methods for conducting research in this field and engage in some of your own social science research.
In addition, there will probably be a practicum or internship experience as part of your masters in clinical psych studies.
How to Choose an Online Master of Clinical Psychology Program
Once you’ve decided to pursue a clinical psychology degree online or on campus, your next step is to identify graduate programs that would be a good fit for you. Evaluating the features of several schools might help you decide. Here are some factors to consider:
- Accreditation. For a quality education that’s widely respected, it’s beneficial to select a regionally accredited college.
- Bachelor’s degree. Most psychology grad programs require an accredited bachelor’s degree, but it can be from any field. There are exceptions, though, so verify your school’s criteria if you didn’t study psychology for your undergrad.
- Concentrations. If you want to use your master’s degree for a particular career path, you might prefer a school that offers a relevant concentration, such as forensic psychology, marriage therapy, or applied research.
- Doctoral options. Are you planning to earn a doctorate, too? If so, you can see whether any of the masters classes might count toward that degree, or you can look for a joint masters-doctorate program.
- Internship. It’s common for these programs to include internships, so you might consider whether that’s something you want to do. If so, you can find out whether an online program will help you find a local placement.
- Licensure opportunities. Each state sets different requirements for counselor licensure, so it’s strategic to check whether a particular program meets your state’s standards.
- Online format. You may be able to complete courses on your own schedule, or there might be live classes held at set times. Also, some schools require short on-campus sessions.
Each college has its own unique characteristics, so you might compare several options before making your final decisions about where to apply and enroll.
Once you decide that this is the degree for you, it’s time to start applying to clinical psych masters programs. It’s usually advisable to apply to several schools.
Common application requirements include:
- Accredited bachelor’s degree—not necessarily in a psychology-related field
- Curriculum vitae or resume
- Reference letters from professional or academic supervisors
- GRE or GMAT test scores (not required by all colleges)
- Transcripts from all colleges you’ve been to
In addition, there’s usually an application form to fill out and a fee to submit.
Clinical Psychology Graduate Programs Accreditation
For your master’s degree program, it’s strategic to pick a regionally accredited school so that you’ll receive a respected education.
Regionally accredited institutions have the approval of independent accrediting agencies that are recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Courses from accredited schools may transfer to other programs. An accredited master’s degree might also be an admission requirement for doctoral programs.
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Accreditation often factors into determining whether you’re qualified for industry licensure. Plus, hiring committees usually look more favorably upon accredited degrees.
Clinical Psychology Licensure and Certifications
If you’re interested in a counseling or therapy career, you may be wondering if your master’s degree will prepare you for licensure.
To become licensed as a clinical psychologist, it’s necessary to hold a doctorate. This degree might qualify you for another type of license, though, such as:
- Licensed Professional Counselor
- Licensed Psychological Associate
- Marriage and Family Therapist
- Psychologist Associate – Supervised
Each state sets its own guidelines about counseling titles and the qualifications they require. Before enrolling in a program, it’s beneficial to check how it aligns with your state’s requirements.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
A master’s degree is an investment, but financial aid programs can often make it a bit more affordable. You can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to begin the process of requesting tuition assistance.
Both state governments and the federal government run student aid programs. Low-interest loans are a common source of government funding for grad students. There may be a limited number of grants available as well. Scholarships are similar to grants, but they aren’t administered by the government.
Colleges, industry associations, membership groups, and community programs offer scholarship programs to help students succeed in school. There may also be fellowships that help cover the cost of research or conferences. In addition, some employers encourage higher education by contributing to their team members’ college costs.
Clinical Psychology Professional Organizations
Signing up for membership in a professional psychology organization could help you build valuable connections in this industry. You’ll likely have opportunities to learn and grow from others in your network.
Here are some clinical psychology professional organizations to consider:
- American Academy of Clinical Psychology (AACPSY)
- American Psychological Association (APA)
- Society of Clinical Psychology (SCP)
In addition to networking, membership organizations offer an array of other benefits. Your membership may include journal subscriptions, newsletters, online resources, professional discounts, and educational opportunities. Plus, these organizations often conduct industry advocacy.
What Is a Clinical Psychology Masters Degree?
A clinical psychology masters degree is a graduate program in which students study advanced topics related to counseling and treatment. People in clinical psychology programs learn to work with patients who need help with depression, anxiety, and other life issues.
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Primarily, students in this program focus on practical strategies for working with patients. They may also acquire some research skills. Master’s degree programs do not directly prepare students to work as clinical psychologists, but this degree can be a step toward that goal. Rather, studying clinical psychology at the master’s level can qualify graduates for counseling or therapy roles.
What Can You Do with a Masters in Clinical Psychology?
If a clinical psych masters program meets your state’s licensure guidelines, you might be able to work as a professional mental health or behavioral disorder counselor. Marriage and family therapy is another field that you might qualify for.
Some graduates work in school and career counseling and advising. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that these professionals may be employed by K-12 schools, colleges, and social assistance organizations. There may also be opportunities in correctional counseling. That job involves using psychological assessments and techniques to help people in the criminal justice system prepare for life after prison.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Clinical Psychology Master’s Degree Online?
It generally takes 1 to 2 years to complete your master in clinical psychology. Online programs may be shorter than on-campus ones since online programs are more likely to feature year-round course schedules and have terms that last just 8 weeks each.
The number of credits required for graduation may factor into how long a program is. The length of the internship will play a role as well. To graduate as quickly as possible, it’s necessary to enroll full-time. Part-time studies may be an option for those whose schedules require greater flexibility.
What’s the Difference Between a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology vs. Counseling Psychology?
Clinical psychology and counseling psychology sounds like very similar disciplines, but each has a slightly different focus area.
|Master’s in Clinical Psychology||Master’s in Counseling Psychology|
Some colleges offer a master’s degree that covers both clinical and counseling psychology.
What’s the Difference Between a Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology vs. Psychology?
Will a master’s degree in general psychology suit your needs, or would you be better suited for a program that’s specific to clinical psychology?
|Masters in Clinical Psychology||Masters in Psychology|
Within either a general psychology program or a clinical psychology one, you may be able to select a concentration to narrow your field of study.
What’s the Difference Between a Clinical Psychology MA vs. MS Program?
Colleges offer the clinical psychology degree as either a Master of Arts (MA) or a Master of Science (MS). Knowing the differences may help you choose which is right for you.
|MA in Clinical Psychology||MS in Clinical Psychology|
At schools that offer both degree types, there may be a decent amount of overlap between the two programs.
Is a Clinical Psychology Master Degree Worth It?
Yes, a clinical psychology master degree is worth it for many professionals. Psychology professionals play an important role in helping people deal with the stress of life or serious mental health conditions. Getting this degree might prepare you for counselor licensure, or it could be a stepping stone toward a psychology doctorate.
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Counseling professionals are in demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over the next decade, there will be a 22% job growth rate for mental health, behavioral disorder, and substance abuse counselors. For marriage and family therapists, the projected growth rate is 14%, which is also much faster than average.
Universities Offering Online Masters in clinical Psychology Degree Programs
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Brescia University offers a Master of Science in Clinical Psychology. Courses are available online and on campus, and there are part-time and full-time enrollment options. The program requires the completion of 45 academic credit hours, including 600 hours of fieldwork in the form of two practicums and an internship.
Brescia University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Capella University’s Master of Science in Clinical Psychology program is available online. Specialization options include Applied Research, Clinical Counseling, and Forensic Psychology. Coursework is designed to meet prerequisite requirements for PhD in Psychology and Doctor of Psychology programs.
Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Divine Mercy University offers an MS in Psychology that can be earned online. Concentrations are available in Pre-PhD, Human Services Counseling, and Leadership, Marriage and Family Studies. The program also offers a self-designed concentration. The program typically takes 16 to 30 months to complete, depending on whether it is being attended full-time or part-time.
Divine Mercy University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Fort Hays State University offers a Master of Science in Clinical Psychology. The program is primarily online but does require 5 day workshops on campus during the summer semesters. It also requires participation in practicums and internships. Potential courses in the program include Cultural Diversity in Psychology, Developmental Psychology, and Professional Ethics in Psychology.
FHSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Grand Canyon University offers a Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling that can be earned online. The program requires the completion of 62 credits and can typically be finished in 4 years. Each course is 8 weeks long. Potential courses include Theories and Models of Counseling, Substance Use Disorders and Addictions, and Counseling Skills.
Grand Canyon University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Medaille University offers an online Psychology MA program that is student-centered, emphasizes experiential learning, and can potentially be completed in just 1 year. Classes meet two evenings per week and four Saturdays per semester. Each semester is 15 weeks long. The program offers an optional concentration in Sport Psychology.
Medaille University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Mercy College offers a Master of Science in Psychology that can be earned on campus or online. Online classes are offered in synchronous and asynchronous formats. The program requires the completion of 36 credits. To gain hands-on experience, students must also participate in a practicum and complete a year-long research project.
Mercy College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Pepperdine University’s Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology program aims to prepare students for LPC and LMFT licensure. The program requires the completion of 62 to 68 units of coursework, including four field placement sessions. The degree can be earned online or on campus. On-campus classes meet in the evenings.
Pepperdine University is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Texas A&M University—Commerce offers an MS in Psychology with a Clinical Psychology track. The program requires the completion of 63 credit hours. The completion of a thesis is optional. Some classes may be taken online. The program provides hands-on training at Texas A&M’s Community Psychology Clinic.
Texas A&M University-Commerce is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology offers an online program for an MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling that can typically be completed in 3 years of full-time study.
Potential courses in the program include Diagnosis of Mental Health Issues, Group Theories and Processes of Counseling, and Assessment of Individuals. The program also requires participation in supervised clinical training experiences.
The Chicago School is accredited by the Western Association of Schools & Colleges Senior College and University Commission.
Union College offers a Master of Arts in Psychology with a specialization in Clinical Psychology. The program uses a hybrid of online and face-to-face learning. Potential courses include Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy, Statistics for Mental Health Professionals, and Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methods.
Union College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Union Institute & University offers an MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. The program provides opportunities to participate in supervised practicums and internships while having the flexibility to complete coursework online. On-campus residencies are held twice each year. The program requires the completion of 60 credits. Potential courses include Treatment Modalities, Clinical Consultation, and Helping Relationships.
Union Institute & University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Massachusetts—Dartmouth offers an MA in Psychology: Applied Behavior Analysis. This hybrid program requires the completion of 36 credits and is designed to be finished in 3 years of part-time study. The curriculum aims to prepare students for the BCBA exam.
The University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
The University of West Alabama offers an online program for an MS in Experimental Psychology with an optional concentration in Clinical Psychology. The program requires the completion of 39 to 57 credit hours, a practicum, and an internship. It can potentially be finished in 1 to 2 years.
The University of West Alabama is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Vanguard University offers an online program for a Master of Science in Clinical Psychology. It aims to help students prepare for Professional Clinical Counselor or Marriage and Family Therapist licensure. The program offers a strong support system through its cohort format, which requires participation in weekly live class meetings. The curriculum emphasizes a hands-on approach to learning.
Vanguard is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
Getting Your Master Degree in Clinical Psychology Online
For those who are driven to help people, a psychology masters degree could be a strategic fit. In a clinical psychology program, you can learn how to support people’s mental health needs.
By the time you complete your graduate studies, you may qualify for counselor or therapist licensure in your state. You might also be ready to begin a doctoral program if you’re interested in a career as a licensed clinical psychologist.
You can take a look at the top options for an accredited online masters degree in clinical psychology to find the best online psychology degrees and concentrations that are right for you.