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Master's programs in clinical psychology prepare learners for a variety of psychology careers. Graduates may work as marriage and family therapists, substance abuse counselors, or forensic psychologists. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for psychologists to grow 8% from 2020-2030.

Students pursuing a master's in clinical psychology learn how the brain influences emotions and behaviors. They practice using client information to identify patterns and develop treatment plans.

This page lists the top online master's programs in clinical psychology. Read on to learn about degree costs and common courses.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Clinical Psychology

What degree do I need to work as a clinical psychologist?

Licensed clinical psychologists need a master's and a doctorate. Master's degree-holders can practice at educational institutions. They may also work as assistants.

How many years does it take to become a clinical psychologist?

Clinical psychologists spend 8-12 years in higher education. Most state licensing boards require around 3,000 clinical hours. These hours take at least two years to obtain.

What can I do with a clinical psychology degree?

Graduates may work as psychologists, school counselors, therapists, or private-practice counselors. According to the BLS, 27% of clinical psychologists work as self-employed professionals.

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Why Get a Master's in Clinical Psychology?

A master's in clinical psychology prepares students for a lifetime of fulfilling work. Clinical psychologists can positively impact the lives of those with emotional and behavioral health conditions.

Earning a master's in clinical psychology can help prepare graduates for high-paying positions. According to Dec. 2021 Payscale data, professionals with a master's in clinical psychology earn an average annual salary of $58,000. Psychologists with a doctorate earn an average of $96,000 annually.

Online clinical psychology programs provide convenience. Learners save time and money by not commuting to campus. Asynchronous online programs allow students to complete coursework around other responsibilities.

How Much Does a Clinical Psychology Degree Cost?

Degree costs vary by program. Full-time students can complete most master's programs in two years. The average master's degree costs $66,340, according to EducationData.org. Learners who enroll in public, in-state schools usually pay the most affordable tuition.

However, many schools charge online learners the same tuition, regardless of residency. This benefit means students can enroll in the most affordable programs without relocating. Degree-seekers can apply for scholarships and grants to help pay for their degree.

Additional Online Student Fees

Online learners save money by not paying for campus housing or meal plans. However, they may need to buy a new computer or upgrade their internet. Schools may charge extra fees to access online classroom platforms. Some clinical psychology courses may require extra computer software.

Online students must also buy materials and books. Buying used books or renting books can save money. Some publishers offer digital versions, which often cost less.

How Much Do Clinical Psychology Majors Make?

Clinical psychologists' salaries vary by their experience, employer, and geographic location. Psychologists earn a median annual salary of $82,180, according to the BLS. Top-earning psychologists earn more than $137,590 annually.

Graduates who work as school and career counselors earn a median annual salary of $58,120. Degree-holders can potentially increase their salary by changing employers or relocating.

Courses in Clinical Psychology

Master's programs in clinical psychology teach learners how to observe clients and report findings. The curriculum emphasizes research. Students complete 30-40 credits over 2-3 years. Most classes include lectures, discussions, research projects, and exams. Advanced courses often include a clinical component.

Many programs offer concentrations such as child psychology and forensic psychology. See below for three common courses in clinical psychology master's programs. Please note that course offerings vary by school.

  • Human Biology and Behavior

    Enrollees study the correlation between brain function and behavior. Learners discover how cognitive development in adolescence influences adult behavior. Coursework also covers evolution theories. Students gain in-depth knowledge of health psychology.
  • Psychological Interventions

    Learners explore common treatment tools and proven patient therapies. Coursework covers how to work with other mental health professionals to complete treatment plans. Students learn how medication plays a role in patients' psychological recovery. However, the class does not teach students how to prescribe medications.
  • Ethics in Clinical Psychology

    Ethics classes cover best practices for therapeutic boundaries. Learners examine case studies to identify ethical dilemmas that could arise during sessions. Students learn the importance of protecting patient privacy. They also study the process for mandated reporting. The class trains students to make ethical decisions. Part of the class also focuses on laws that impact the profession.

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How to Become a Clinical Psychologist

Clinical psychologists need at least a master's degree in a related subject. Clinical psychologists who want to practice without supervision typically need a doctorate.

After completing education requirements, aspiring psychologists work toward licensure. One licensure requirement includes obtaining about 3,000 clinical hours. Depending on state regulations, students may start earning clinical hours during graduate studies. However, most professionals spend 1-2 years after graduation gaining clinical experience.

Licensure for Clinical Psychology

Clinical psychologists must pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology. The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) oversees the exam. The test costs $688.

Test-takers complete 225 multiple-choice questions. They must finish the exam in four hours. A passing score of 500 requires answering 70% of the questions correctly. The questions cover eight topics. ASPPB offers practice exams and study materials.

Clinical psychologists must pursue continuing education (CE) to renew their licenses. Organizations like the American Psychological Association offer CE opportunities. Professionals who want to transfer their practice to a different state may need to meet more requirements.

Top Online Master's Programs in Clinical Psychology

  1. Regent University
    Location

    Virginia Beach, VA

    A private university founded in 1978 in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Regent offers an online master of arts in clinical mental health counseling based on the CACREP model, facilitating the process of getting licensed in a graduate's state of practice.

    Degree-seekers can complete the 60-credit program online except for the residency requirement. The residency consists of supervised work in an approved mental health facility along with weekly internship seminars led by Regent mental health faculty. Classes offered over the course of the program include crisis, trauma, and clinical mental health; multicultural counseling; and psychopathology and diagnosis. Those interested can enroll in the accelerated option.

    Applicants should already hold a bachelor of arts or science from a regionally accredited university. They should also demonstrate a minimum 3.0 GPA.The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges conferred Regent's regional accreditation.

  2. East Carolina University
    Location

    Greenville, NC

    Tuition

    $13746

    A public university chartered in 1907 as East Carolina Teachers Training School, ECU offers a CACREP-accredited online master's program in clinical counseling with an emphasis in addictions. The school calls Greenville, North Carolina home.

    The program provides graduates with the opportunity to reduce their experience requirements for licensed clinical addiction specialist licensure by a full year. At 62 credit hours, the degree covers courses such as family treatment in substance abuse rehabilitation, diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional disorders, and treatment in addictions and clinical counseling. Prior to graduation, students also complete a supervised internship under a licensed mental health professional.

    Applicants should demonstrate a minimum 3.0 GPA and provide two professional letters of recommendation. Admission requires that students hold a bachelor's degree and provide a written statement of intent. Eastern Carolina University holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  3. Union College
    Location

    Barbourville, KY

    A private Methodist college founded in Barbourville, Kentucky in 1879, Union confers an online master of science in substance abuse counseling that prepares students for licensure within the state.

    Students can complete the 60-credit program online except for the practicum to allow graduates to qualify for licensing. Courses covered during the degree include psychology of addiction, theories of career counseling and development, and statistics for mental health professionals. Students graduate with a Chemical Dependency Certification Program certificate in addition to their master's degree.

    Applicants need at least a 2.0 GPA from their previous school. Transfer students may only receive credit for courses that received a C or above. Union College holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  4. Fort Hays State University
    Location

    Hays, KS

    Tuition

    $12420

    A public university founded in 1902, the Fort Hays-located university offers an online master of science in counseling with a focus on clinical mental health counseling that prepares graduates for licensing in Kansas.

    Students of FHSU's 60-credit program curate a personalized study plan with an advisor to suit their individual needs. Courses covered include social and cultural foundations of counseling, lifespan human development, and childhood and adolescent counseling. A 600-hour internship rounds out the course before graduation.

    Candidates should know that FHSU and the counseling program require separate admission. The counseling program specifically needs a 3.0 GPA within the last 60 hours of undergraduate studies. Transfer students may transfer in a maximum of six credit hours. FHSU holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission

  5. West Virginia University
    Location

    Morgantown, WV

    Tuition

    $12181

    A public university established in 1867, the WVU campus dominates the city of Morgantown, West Virginia. The university offers a master of science in clinical rehabilitation and mental health counseling through the College of Education and Human Services.

    The 63-credit degree covers 18 required courses and degree-seekers can complete it online except for two required campus visits. The coursework, designed for accessibility, offers a dual specialization — one of only 23 programs in the country to do so. It covers physical and neurological trauma recovery as well as mental health treatment. Toward the end of the program, students participate in an internship at an approved facility. This internship must provide 300 experience hours in clinical rehabilitation counseling and 300 hours in clinical mental health counseling skills.

    Applicants need a minimum 2.8 GPA in their undergraduate work. The program requires GRE scores, as well as three letters of recommendation. The admissions department weighs GRE scores in balance with other qualifications. West Virginia University holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

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