To expand your knowledge of mental health disorders and treatments, you might consider pursuing a masters in clinical psychology.
This graduate degree could help prepare you for leadership roles in mental health, or it could be a stepping stone toward doctoral studies and psychology licensure. For a high-quality education in a flexible environment, you can earn a clinical psych degree online.
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In this program, you’ll learn about assessments, interventions, and research as you advance your expertise and qualifications in the field of mental health.
Online Masters in Clinical Psychology Programs
Becoming a clinical psychologist requires a high level of education, and a master’s degree could play an important role in your preparation.
Studying clinical psychology can give you new insights into human thought. It can also equip you with skills for supporting people’s mental health. In most situations, you will need a doctoral degree to become licensed for clinical psychology practice. Even still, a master’s degree could hold great value.
If you’re new to the field of psychology, master’s studies could provide an essential foundation. Even if you’ve studied psychology before, a master’s degree lets you ramp up in preparation for doctoral-level studies.
Here are some of the topics you may study in this program:
- Assessment techniques
- Behavioral science
- Counseling techniques
- Legal issues
- Lifespan development
- Mental health interventions
- Professional practices
- Research methods
Some colleges offer concentration options for this degree program. If you’re interested in being a forensic psychologist or a clinical counselor, for instance, you may be able to select a track that prepares you specifically for that line of work. Other concentration options may address social science research or youth mental health.
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Many reputable colleges offer this master’s degree as an online program. You might be able to do all of the work through the school’s virtual platform. With other online programs, such as both online master’s and online bachelor in clinical psychology programs, there are occasional on-campus sessions that provide opportunities to connect with professors and classmates in person. Coursework, whether online or in-person, may not be the only requirement for completing this program.
You may be required to gain real-world experience by doing practicums or an internship in a local mental health organization. There may also be comprehensive exams to pass or a thesis to write. Graduates might work in a community organization, a residential facility, a school, a mental health practice, or a prison. Depending on your state’s licensure requirements, you may qualify for a counseling or therapy title.
A graduate degree may also help you prepare for leadership roles. Some professionals go on to work as program directors or managers of a mental health or social service organization.
Clinical Psychology Careers & Salaries
If you’re enrolling in a clinical psych master’s program, it’s probably because you want to be a psychologist or a therapist of some sort. Those are the routes that most graduates take.
With just a masters degree, some professionals work as an industrial-organizational psychologists who provide workplace insights to different companies. School psychologists sometimes work with a masters degree as well, but you may need to complete some education-focused classes.
Other psychology career paths may require additional training. Examples include working as a licensed counseling or clinical psychologist. In most states, a doctorate is necessary. A masters degree may qualify you for other types of counseling licensure, though. For example, you may be able to pursue licensure as a marriage therapist, an addiction counselor, or a mental health counselor.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the median salaries for some of the career paths related to the study of psychology.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Psychologists (All Others)||$102,900|
|Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists||$79,510|
|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|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||$48,520|
For some of these jobs, licensure or certification may be required. Licensing regulations vary in different states. You could also consider working in the criminal justice system. Effective probation and parole officers are often experts in human thought and behavior. There are also correctional counselors who perform psychological assessments as they help criminal offenders get back on a good path.
Instead of counseling clients directly, some professionals oversee others who have that role. Social service organizations hire managers and directors to head up staffing, budgets, community outreach, and other aspects of running an agency.
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Some schools, especially community colleges, hire people with master’s degrees to teach psychology classes. In that role, you could help prepare college students to work with people and better understand themselves too.
Master of Clinical Psychology Curriculum & Courses
Most clinical psych masters programs require between 36 and 50 credit hours. The courses you take may include:
- Assessment for Youths: You’ll learn how to collect data and run psychological tests when working with kids and teens.
- Counseling Theories: As you learn about various approaches to counseling and therapy, the emphasis will be on using evidence-based practices.
- Ethics of Psychology Practice: You’ll gain a strong foundation for what’s involved in ethically treating patients and handling their private information.
- Human Development: You’ll take an in-depth look at human physical, cognitive, and social development over the course of a lifetime.
- Mental Health Interventions: In this class, you’ll learn techniques that psychology professionals use in therapy, and you’ll prepare to try them yourself.
- Neuropsychology: Studying neuropsychology can give you a better understanding of brain processes and how they relate to behavioral health.
- Psychological Measurement: You’ll learn about tests and assessments used with adult patients, and you’ll practice interpreting the results.
- Psychology and the Legal System: If you’re interested in using your clinical skills in a criminal justice setting, you might want to take a course on law, incarceration, forensic psychology, and testifying as an expert witness.
- Psychopathology: This introductory class will survey mental disorders and provide an overview of how psychologists diagnose and treat these conditions.
- Research and Experimentation: In a research course, you may explore both quantitative and qualitative research methods that scientists use for their studies in this field.
In addition to these classes, graduate programs in clinical psychology may also include practicums, comprehensive exams, or an internship.
How to Choose an Online Clinical Psychology Masters Degree Program
Understanding your needs and preferences can help you pick the online psychology program that’s best for you. Here are some common factors to consider:
- Accreditation. It’s beneficial to choose a school that’s been approved by a regional accrediting agency.
- Admissions requirements. Grad programs sometimes have undergraduate prerequisites, such as statistics classes or a bachelors degree in psychology.
- Concentrations. At some colleges, you might be able to specialize in counseling or forensic psychology.
- Internships. You may be required to complete an in-person internship with a local mental health organization before graduation.
- Licensure. Most clinical psychology master’s programs don’t lead to licensure. If yours does include some sort of licensure preparation, it’s strategic to ensure the curriculum aligns with your state’s requirements.
Don’t hesitate to ask questions! Admissions counselors can provide valuable insight into a school.
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If you’re interested in pursuing a graduate program in clinical psychology, it may be time to start thinking about the application process. Here’s what you might be asked to send in:
- Bachelor’s degree transcripts with a minimum GPA
- GRE or GMAT scores (only required at some colleges)
- Personal statement or writing sample
- Reference letters from work supervisors or past professors
Some programs will want you to have taken some relevant classes at the undergraduate level. That may include not only psychology studies but also a class in statistics.
Clinical Psychology Masters Programs Accreditation
When deciding where to get your master’s degree in clinical psychology, regional accreditation is an essential factor to verify. Accredited schools are reputable because they’ve proven their ability to educate students well.
Attending a credible school will be beneficial throughout your studies—and beyond. If you need to switch schools, accreditation can increase your chances of receiving transfer credit. Also, a regionally accredited degree is often required to get into a psychology doctoral program or sit for licensing exams.
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Even if licensure or more schooling isn’t on your radar, employers often consider the accreditation status of your studies during the hiring process.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
Students often look for help to pay for their masters degrees in clinical psychology. Both government and private financial aid programs provide assistance to qualifying students.
To apply for government help, you can submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Your financial situation may qualify you for low-interest loans. These can come from both federal programs and state ones. In some situations, grants could be a possibility too.
The college you choose may also offer scholarship money. You can apply for scholarships from outside organizations that support students as well. It’s also beneficial to ask whether your employer offers any tuition assistance.
Is Clinical Psychology a Good Career?
Yes, clinical psychology is a good career for many professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, psychologists typically make between $47,850 and $133,890 annually. The highest wages are usually associated with hospitals and government agencies.
Professionals with a graduate degree might become leaders in the mental health field. Social and community service managers may earn between $46,550 and $118,650. While salary may be one factor that draws you to this career, the opportunity to help others may be another.
As a psychologist, counselor, or therapist, you might be able to make a difference for people in hospitals, schools, prisons, treatment centers, community agencies, or other settings.
What Degree Do You Need to Be a Clinical Psychologist?
In addition to bachelors and masters degrees in this field, a doctorate in psychology is usually required before you can qualify for licensure as a practicing clinical psychologist.
After graduating with your PhD or professional doctorate in clinical psychology, you can go on to complete the remaining licensing steps. License requirements vary by state, but they typically involve gaining supervised work experience and passing the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP).
What Can You Do with a Master’s in Clinical Psychology Degree?
While a doctorate is typically required to become a licensed clinical psychologist, there are still plenty of jobs that you can pursue with a master’s degree in this field.
Your psychology training could help prepare you to work as a counselor of some sort. Examples include being a correctional treatment specialist, a family therapist, or an addiction counselor. Licensure requirements for those jobs vary from state to state.
You might also qualify to work as a manager in a social service agency or a community organization. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for that role in local governments is $93,420.
Is a Clinical Psychology Master’s Degree Hard?
In a psychology graduate program, you can expect to take classes that cover all aspects of mental health. That includes psychopathology, assessment, and treatment.
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You can learn how to counsel patients, coordinate with other professionals, and conduct yourself as a leader in psychology. There will likely be research classes, too. You may need to design experiments or analyze statistics. Many programs include internships in which you’ll learn from professionals in real-world psychology settings. That experience can often last up to a year.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology Online?
A 36 credit program that doesn’t require an internship or a thesis may take about 1 year to finish with full-time, year-round enrollment.
Degrees that require internships usually take longer, often 2 to 3 years. You may spend 1 to 2 years on the coursework and then a full year doing your internship. If you’ve taken graduate classes before, transferrable credits may reduce the number of classes you will need to take.
Some universities offer accelerated online psychology degree programs, which may allow you to finish your studies faster.
What’s the Difference Between a Counseling vs. Clinical Psychology Master Degree?
Clinical and counseling psychologists are often grouped together. You might even think they’re the same profession, but there are differences. The following chart can help you decide which track to pursue.
|Clinical Psychologist||Counseling Psychologist|
Despite these distinctions, clinical and counseling psychologists often do similar jobs.
What’s the Difference Between an MA vs. MS in Clinical Psychology?
Your school may offer clinical psychology as a Master of Arts (MA) or a Master of Science (MS). Here are some of the main differences between clinical psychology MA programs and MS programs.
|MA in Clinical Psychology||MS in Clinical Psychology|
In general, there’s usually a good deal of overlapping curriculum between an MA clinical psych program and an MS one.
Is a Masters in Clinical Psychology Worth It?
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Yes, a masters in clinical psychology is worth it for many students. As a psychology professional, you can develop valuable insights into the ways that people think and behave.
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Whether you want to be a counselor, a program director, or an educator, you’ll draw on that knowledge time and again. Also, psychologists aim to help people through difficult situations or mental health issues. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the number of jobs for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists will grow by 10% over the next ten years.
Universities Offering Online Masters in Clinical Psychology Degree Program
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.
The Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology program at Antioch University offers a concentration in Somatic Psychotherapy. This concentration emphasizes a holistic approach that integrates body, mind, and spiritual connection to the self and others. Courses cover topics like somatic theories and techniques, movement, mindfulness, and expressive arts, and somatic approaches to trauma.
Antioch University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Brescia University offers a Master of Science in Clinical Psychology. The program features a wide array of theoretical, skill-based, and experiential classes to help prepare graduates for careers in health care and the mental health field. Students can tailor their studies to their needs by choosing between full-time and part-time course loads and from online or in-person learning formats.
Brescia University isaccredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Capella University offers a Master of Science in Clinical Psychology program. It can help prepare students for careers in research, clinical practice, consulting, and governmental or private organizations. The program boasts expert faculty, accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission, and concentrations in Applied Research, Clinical Counseling, and Forensic Psychology.
Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Colorado Christian University
Colorado Christian University offers a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. The program blends a rigorous curriculum, hands-on clinical experience in the field, and a unique Christian perspective. Students can complete their courses online or use a hybrid online and in-person format. All students must attend three on-campus residencies prior to graduating.
Colorado Christian University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Divine Mercy University
Divine Mercy University offers a Master of Science in Psychology with several concentrations to help students align their education to their professional goals. Students may choose concentrations in Marriage and Family Studies, Leadership, Pre-PhD, Human Services Counseling, and Self-Designed Emphasis. The program can be attended 100% online and can potentially be completed in just 16 months of full-time study.
Divine Mercy Universityisaccreditedby the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Eastern University’s Master of Arts in Clinical Counseling program is designed to teach students how to support others and help them pursue their professional counseling licensure. The program offers both online and in-person learning formats, accelerated full-time and part-time schedules, and concentrations in Trauma, Applied Behavior Analysis, and General Studies. There are two start dates each year.
Eastern University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Fort Hays State University
Fort Hays State University offers a Master of Science in Clinical Psychology. The program is designed for individuals who are passionate about providing services to others in the mental health field but need the flexibility of online learning. Core courses include inferential statistics, professional ethics, experimental methods, and cultural diversity in psychology.
FHSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
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Liberty University offers an online program for a Master’s in Applied Psychology. Graduates of the program often pursue careers as caseworkers, professors, research assistants, social services managers, or similar roles. This 36 credit program offers courses in 8 week terms. It can typically be completed in just 1.5 years. Students with qualifying credits may transfer in up to half the required credits from outside institutions.
Liberty University isaccredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Medaille University offers a Master of Arts in Psychology. The curriculum features advanced studies in each of the core psychological sub-fields, including behavioral neuroscience, clinical psychology, cognitive psychology, and social psychology. The program consists of 36 credits that can be completed entirely online or in an online and on-campus hybrid format.
Medaille University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
At Pepperdine University, the Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology is designed for students pursuing licensure as professional counselors or marriage and family therapists. The program provides students with opportunities to learn how to assess, diagnose, and treat others in their classes and by working directly with clients in the clinical setting. To graduate, students must complete 62 credit hours.
Pepperdine isaccredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.
Sacred Heart University
The Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at Sacred Heart University utilizes online learning and flexible scheduling to allow students to progress at their own pace. The program can potentially be completed in 2 years of full-time attendance. In addition to virtual coursework, all students are required to attend two on-campus residencies and complete clinical hours in the field.
Sacred Heart University isaccredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Southern New Hampshire University
Southern New Hampshire University offers a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. This 60 credit program is designed to provide flexibility and networking opportunities.
It consists of primarily online classes but does require two in-person residencies. It aims to help students develop professional identities and learn how to facilitate group and individual work, utilize evidence-based theories, and practice culturally sensitive-techniques.
Southern New Hampshire University isaccredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Texas A&M University – Commerce
Texas A&M University—Commerce offers a Master of Science in Psychology. It is designed for students who are fascinated by the function of the human brain and its impact on behavior. Courses are offered both online and in-person, and students can choose between tracks in General Psychology, Clinical Psychology, and Educational Diagnostician Psychology.
Texas A&M University-Commerce isaccredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Texas Tech University
Texas Tech University offers a Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. In addition to core psychology theories and techniques, the curriculum places special emphasis on the increasingly popular care models of telehealth and virtual care. The program consists of 60 required credits that can be earned fully online. It offers two start dates each year.
Texas Tech University isaccredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
The Master of Science in Clinical Psychopharmacology at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is a two-year, online program. The curriculum covers how to assess, diagnose, and treat medical conditions that impact mental health care and psychological disorders. Sample courses include Advanced Pathophysiology and Clinical Anatomy and Integrated Science.
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology isaccredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.
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At Union College, the Master’s in Psychology program offers several specialty options, including tracks in General Psychology, Clinical Psychology, and Substance Abuse. It also offers a Counselor Certificate in Chemical Dependency. All programs can be attended online or with a hybrid learning model, and students have access to institutional support all day, every day, regardless of their learning format.
Union College isaccredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
University of the Cumberlands
The University of the Cumberlands offers an online program for a Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. It aims to equips students with the skills needed to support their future clients as they cope with challenges and pursue personal growth. The program offers concentrations in Private Practice and Clinical Supervision, Marriage and Family Counseling, Child Counseling, and Advanced Counseling Theories and Techniques.
The University of the Cumberlands isaccredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
University of West Alabama
The University of West Alabama offers a Master’s in Experimental Psychology program. At the core of its curriculum are studies in evidence-based statistics and research methodology. It aims to prepare students for future practice and further doctoral education in the field. In addition to the core curriculum, students can choose to emphasize in Traditional Psychology, Clinical Psychology, or Health and Sports Psychology.
The University of West Alabama isaccredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at Walden University is designed for students who want to pursue careers where they can empower others. To graduate, students must complete 90 credits. The curriculum covers fundamental concepts like ethics and legal issues in counseling, lifespan development, diagnosis, assessment, addictive disorders, trauma response, and more.
Walden is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
William & Mary
William & Mary offers a Master’s in Clinical Health Counseling. It is designed for students working toward counselor licensure in order to assist others in a variety of environments. The program requires the completion of at least 60 credits. Students can typically complete the program in just 3 years.
The College of William & Mary is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Getting Your Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology Online
Clinical psychology is a career that requires a lot of education and training, and a master’s degree in psychology could be an essential step in the process.
A masters in psychology can also help you qualify for alternative roles in the field that are devoted to helping others. Although schooling requires commitment, you won’t necessarily need to uproot your life for it. Online graduate programs, such as clinical psychology master’s or clinical psychology PhD programs online, programs provide the opportunity to study clinical psychology from home.
If you enroll at an accredited university for clinical psych, you have the opportunity to earn a reputable graduate degree that could move you closer toward your goals.
Ready to start your journey?
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Jordan is pursuing a Ph.D. in Public Policy and earned her Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management and her Bachelor’s in Business Administration. Jordan’s research focuses on adults returning to college and online degree programs.