20 Best Online Masters in Child Psychology [2021 Guide]

If you want to work with children in the mental health and wellness space, you may consider earning an online masters in child psychology.

Online Masters in Child Psychology

Getting your masters degree can open doors for more career paths and higher salaries.

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While traditional on-campus learning is an option, obtaining an online psychology degree allows you to study according to your own schedule in your own space.

Online Masters in Child Psychology Programs

School Psychologist with a student

Obtaining your masters in child psychology can be advantageous in advancing your career. This degree may open doors to careers in counseling, research, school psychology, and mental wellness with children.

A masters in child psychology can help you become a therapist, as most state licensing exams require a masters degree in a related field. It can also be a stepping stone to becoming a psychologist, which often requires a doctoral degree, such as a PhD in Child Psychology, depending on your state.

If you are wanting to be a child psychologist, obtaining this masters degree can help you work in many different places: private organizations, schools, state and local government, healthcare, and social assistance programs and organizations.

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If you choose to pursue any child psychology graduate programs, your education will often build on various skill sets through your coursework. Skills such as communication, observation, analysis, assessment, and problem-solving are strengthened.

Not every program is alike, but there are some common courses that you will likely encounter in child psychology masters programs. Common courses include measurement and assessment, developmental psychology, ethics and law in psychology, and multicultural issues in psychology.

If you have a more specific career path, you may take specialized courses, such as school psychology.

Child Psychology Careers & Salaries

Child Psychology Careers & Salaries

There are a few different industries you may work in after obtaining a masters in child psychology. As a psychologist, you have the ability to work independently or with patients. Those who work independently may conduct research.

You may also work with patients in many settings. In a private setting, you may set up your own practice or do consulting. In a public setting, you may work in a school with kids. When it comes to healthcare, you may work with physicians or social workers.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a graduate degree in child psychology may qualify you for these careers:

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Sociologist $86,110
Psychologist $82,180
Child Development Professor $78,180
Market Research Analyst $65,810
Training and Development Specialist $62,700
Survey Researcher $59,870
School and Career Counselor $58,120
Social Worker $51,760
Marriage and Family Therapist $51,340
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor $47,660

Some of these professions require a doctorate while others only require a masters.

Psychologists study different processes and behaviors, such as cognitive, emotional, and social. They do this by observing, interpreting, and recording how individuals relate to their environments as well as each other. These skills are transferable to multiple career paths.

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for psychologists is increasing at a rate of 3% for the next ten years, which is the national average for a profession’s job growth.

Child Psychology Master’s Curriculum & Courses

Child Psychologist talking to parent and child

A child psychology masters program will consist of many different courses. Some courses that you’ll take may include:

  • Adolescent and Young Adult Development: This course focuses on the cognitive, social, and emotional development that occurs in adolescents and young adults.
  • Child Development: In this course you will learn about the cognitive, social, and emotional development that occurs in children and how to navigate that in the world.
  • Design and Analysis for Developmental Research: This course will teach you the technical aspects of developmental research.
  • Multicultural and Diversity Issues in Psychology: Psychologists encounter many different backgrounds, so this course covers how to respect and help those with different backgrounds.
  • Professional Issues in Clinical Child Psychology: This course focuses on professional issues that arise in clinical child psychology, such as treatments, interventions, assessments, and diagnoses.
  • Psychology and the Legal System: Psychologists are held to certain standards and may have to deal with the law in their line of work, which this course navigates.
  • Psychopathology in Children: This course focuses on the scientific study of mental disorders in children.
  • Psychotherapy with Families: You’ll learn how to conduct psychotherapy with families, addressing specific issues affecting the health and functionality of the family.
  • Social and Emotional Assessment: You’ll learn the tools needed to do social and emotional assessments for your patients.
  • Ethics: You’ll learn the ethical standards that psychologists are held to and how to conduct yourself in an ethical manner during your career.

This list is not exhaustive, but it gives an idea of some of the coursework you may encounter during your masters program.

Admissions Requirements

Masters in Child Psychology student studying online

Admissions requirements vary from one program to another. You may be required to:

  • Take standardized entrance exam, such as GRE, if required
  • Obtain letters of recommendation
  • Have a bachelor’s degree with specific undergraduate coursework completed

If you are interested in enrolling at a specific college or university, you can contact their admissions office or check their website to find out what their specific admissions requirements are.

Accreditation

Masters in Child Psychology Accreditation

Choosing which program you want to enroll in may seem like a big decision. Out of the various factors to consider, you may also want to consider a school’s accreditation status. Accreditation is the official recognition of a school or program. Accreditation is important not only for employers to recognize your program but also for licensing purposes.

Every state licensing requirement is different, but many do require the applicant to meet educational requirements. In some states, that requirement is the completion of your program from a regionally accredited college or university.

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A college’s website will contain information on whether or not it is an accredited school, and you can also reference the directory of accredited organizations that are recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

Licensure for Child Psychologists

School Psychologist with a child

If you’re thinking of getting licensed as a psychologist, looking ahead to your state requirements can help you prepare.

Every state has their own licensing board and different licensing requirements, but some are similar or the same across the country. Many states have the following criteria that must be met before you can become licensed:

  • Educational criteria: Most states require a doctoral degree from a regionally accredited college or university.
  • Testing criteria: Every state requires the completion and passing of the Examination for the Professional Practice in Psychology, or EPPP test. This exam is meant to test your core knowledge and competency in psychology. The minimum passing score varies by state.
  • Clinical criteria: Any candidate going to obtain their license must complete a certain number of supervised clinical hours. The number of hours needed before you can obtain your license is determined by each state.

Some states also require a jurisprudence exam as well. If you want to get your psychology license, you can check with your state board to find out the specific requirements needed and if that path is right for you.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Masters in Child Psychology Financial Aid

The cost for an online masters degree in child psychology can vary. Financial aid and scholarships are options that you may want to look into to help you save on the cost. There are a few different options for financial assistance:

  • Federal aid: The federal government has federal aid options available for students who qualify. In order to apply and find out if you qualify, you can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • State aid: Most states have a grant or scholarship available to residents as well as student aid programs.
  • Employer programs: Some companies have tuition reimbursement programs, where they will pay for your education while you work for them.
  • Scholarships: Many programs have scholarships available to eligible students. Some of them are need-based while others are merit-based. The school’s website or someone in the admissions office can help guide you to the available scholarships.

One or more of these options may help make obtaining your masters more affordable.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Masters in Child Psychology Online?

Masters in Child Psychology student studying online

How long it takes to get a masters degree depends on the type of program you choose as well as whether you are able to enroll full-time or part-time. Most masters programs take 1 to 2 years for full-time students to complete.

If you follow a traditional, 16 week semester and attend full-time, it will often take 1 to 2 years for you to complete your masters degree. If you follow an 8 week semester and stay continuously enrolled year-round, you may finish in less time.

What Is a Child Psychologist?

Child psychologists observe and take note of how a child interacts with their parents, themselves, and the world. Child psychology is the study of subconscious and conscious childhood development, and child psychologists use this to understand a child’s mental development.

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Child psychologists assess and treat children. They can work with children who have learning disabilities or mental health issues. They can help them cope with changes that can cause stress in their life, such as moving, death, trauma, and divorce.

What Does a Child Psychologist Do?

Child Psychologist playing with a child

A child psychologist works with children to help them cope with life events. They do this by assessing the child when presented with their set of symptoms and arriving at a diagnosis.

Because child psychologists have patients that are in their formative years, they focus on long-term mental health therapy. In this way, they not only help their patients with their current issue but also give them the tools they’ll need throughout their developing years.

Your child psychologist salary will differ depending on your chosen field and workplace. The average annual salary for all types of psychologists, though, is $82,180 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

What Can I Do with a Masters in Child Development?

Child Psychologist comforting a teenage child

There are many options out there for those who complete their masters in child development.

A masters in child development and a masters in child psychology could actually lead to similar career paths. Child development or developmental psychology graduate programs could open career paths that lead to the role of psychologist, social worker, and counselor.

What Is the Difference Between a Masters in Child Psychology vs. Developmental Psychology?

Child Psychologist with a sad child

A masters in child psychology studies the psychological elements that affect individual persons throughout their childhood and growing phases.

A masters in developmental psychology focuses on the physical and mental changes that take place from infancy through adulthood. Child psychology focuses on the younger age bracket while developmental psychology is all-encompassing in regards to age.

When it comes to masters programs, the core work between the two specialties may be the same, but the specialized courses will differ to focus on child psychology or developmental psychology respectively.

Is a Masters in Child Psychology Worth It?

Child Psychologist with a happy child

Yes, a masters in child psychology is worth it for many students. Jobs in the life, physical, and social science field are projected to grow at a rate of 5% in the next 10 years (Bureau of Labor Statistics), faster than the average overall growth. Common child psychology careers in this field include counselors, psychologists, therapists, and social workers.

A masters can help you further your career in psychology as well as build upon what you may have learned during your undergraduate education. Obtaining your masters degree may qualify you for more job positions as well as lead to a higher salary.

Universities Offering Online Master’s in Child 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.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University campus

The Master of Science in Family and Human Development program at Arizona State University is a 30 credit program that provides students with an applied practitioner-oriented approach to cultivating advanced understanding of the needs of children, youth, and families.

Course topics include research and social justice, parenting, social statistics, and diversity.

Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.

Bay Path University

Bay Path University campus

Bay Path University’s Master of Science in Developmental Psychology program can be completed online or in blended format, and it doesn’t require specific GMAT or GRE scores for admission.

The program requires 12 courses and 160 hours of community-based fieldwork. Students learn about child development, drugs, medicine, and society and counseling.

Bay Path University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Boston University

Boston University campus

Students in Boston University’s Master of Education in Counseling program can choose one of three specializations: school counseling, sports psychology, or child and adolescent mental health. The last is intended for students interested in child psychology. It’s a 60 credit program that takes about 2 years to complete.

Boston University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Capella University

Capella University campus

At Capella University, students interested in child psychology can enroll in the Master of Science in Psychology with a concentration in Child and Adolescent Development.

It includes four core courses, six concentration-specific courses, and a final integrative project. Students will study child psychology, lifespan development, and human prenatal development.

Capella also offers an online masters in educational psychology program.

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

CUNY School of Professional Studies

CUNY School of Professional Studies campus

CUNY City College’s psychology masters program includes a concentration in developmental psychology.

Students will gain in-depth knowledge about all aspects of developmental psychology. They’ll also learn about core theories, concepts, and applications related to social behavior, theories of personality, learning and cognition, psychopathology, and biological bases of behavior.

The CUNY School of Professional Studies is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University campus

Students at Grand Canyon University who are interested in child psychology can earn a Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a concentration in Childhood and Adolescent Disorders. The program requires 74 credits for completion, and courses run for 8 weeks. The school doesn’t accept transfer credit for this program.

Grand Canyon University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Liberty University

Liberty University campus

Liberty University’s developmental psychology masters program can potentially be completed in only 1 and a half years.

It helps prepare students to work with children in various counseling-related settings. Along with classes in developmental and adolescent psychology, students will also learn about developmental neuropsychology and interventions and behavioral support.

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Middle Tennessee State University

Middle Tennessee State University campus

Middle Tennessee State University offers two clinical masters programs in psychology. The Master of Arts in Psychology program has several concentrations, including one in school psychology. There’s also the Specialist in Education program with a concentration in school psychology. Classes will vary depending on which program students choose.

Middle Tennessee State University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of College and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Montclair State University

Montclair State University campus

Montclair State University’s Master of Arts in Child Advocacy and Policy is a good option for students interested in child psychology. It covers core courses in child psychology, social work, and law. Child abuse, advocacy policy, child welfare, families in crisis, and family empowerment are also central to the curriculum.

Montclair State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

National University

National University campus

Students in National University’s Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology program can actually obtain their licenses to become marriage and family therapists (MFT). They can also obtain their licenses to be MFT and professional clinical counselors, depending on which concentration they choose. The degree is designed for California only.

National University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Northcentral University

Northcentral University campus

Northcentral University offers a Master of Science in Child and Adolescent Developmental Psychology program that requires only ten courses for completion and can usually be completed in about 16 months.

Students can also undertake an optional 100 hour internship to gain real-world experience. The degree doesn’t lead to professional licensure.

Northcentral University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Pepperdine University

Pepperdine University campus

The Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis program at Pepperdine University prepares students to sit for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst exam. It requires five to seven sessions (between 31-37 units) and six units of supervised field placement for completion. It usually takes students about 18 months to finish.

Pepperdine is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.

Southeastern University

Southeastern University campus

Southeastern University’s Master of Arts in Human Services program requires 36 credits for completion and features a concentration in children and family.

There are credits dedicated solely to the concentration, and they include classes like parent and child relationship, child development ages 0-18, children, youth, and family services, and at-risk children.

Southeastern University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University campus

Southern New Hampshire University’s child development masters program teaches students how to advocate for the importance of psychology, advance their knowledge and skills in psychology, integrate psychological theories, methods, and research, and support the psychological well-being of others.

Students will learn about ethical practices in psychology and theories of personality.

Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology campus

The Master of Arts in Psychology program at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology is an online program open to both full-time and part-time students. Full-time students can usually finish in about 1 year. Students will study addiction, trauma, and crisis intervention and evaluation as well as the treatment of juvenile offenders.

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.

University of La Verne

University of La Verne campus

Students enrolled in the Master of Science in Child and Adolescent Development program at University of La Verne can choose the research track or the practitioner track. Many of the courses are the same, but the research track requires more credits. Students can focus on either early childhood or adolescent concentrations.

The University of La Verne is accredited by the Senior College Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

University of Minnesota

University of Minnesota campus

The Master of Arts in Applied Child and Adolescent Development program at University of Minnesota is a fully online program that includes three areas of concentration: child life, individualized studies, and infant and early childhood mental health. Graduates usually find jobs in social work, counseling, nursing, law, or education.

The University of Minnesota is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of South Florida

University of South Florida campus

University of South Florida’s applied behavior analysis masters program will provide students with both the coursework and the practicum experiences they need in order to sit for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst exam. All classes are delivered entirely online in 8 week sessions, and students earn 1,500 hours of supervised experience.

The University of South Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Walden University

Walden University campus

The developmental psychology masters program at Walden University is an online, career-oriented program that teaches students to conduct, interpret, and apply research to address the needs of diverse populations.

There are five concentrations in addition to the general studies program, and students also have the option to self-design their curriculum.

Walden is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Western Kentucky University

Western Kentucky University campus

Western Kentucky University has a child and family masters program that is designed for students hoping to work with children and their families outside the public school system. The program requires 30 credits for completion and includes such courses as stress and coping in children, educational statistics, and family diversity.

Western Kentucky University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Getting Your Masters in Child Psychology Online

Getting Your Masters in Child Psychology Online

Do you want to further your education and career in psychology? Is online learning better for you as a student and for your busy schedule? If the answer to these questions is yes, then you may consider pursuing a masters degree in child psychology online.

A masters degree can help you become a therapist, or it may get you one step closer to becoming a psychologist, depending on your interests. You can start the next step of your educational journey today by exploring accredited universities to find the child psychology program that best fits your personal schedule and career goals.

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Joanna Smykowski
WRITTEN BY
Joanna Smykowski
Joanna has a Juris Doctor from the CUNY School of Law and a Bachelor's in Communications from St. John's University. Joanna is a licensed New York State attorney and her writing and research focus on the field of higher education.