Online master’s in clinical psychology programs cultivate advanced, specialized knowledge and clinical skills. Master of science in clinical psychology degrees emphasize research and science courses, while master of arts in clinical psychology programs emphasize more liberal arts coursework.
Common careers for master’s graduates include clinical psychologist, psychology professor, consultant, and manager. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, clinical, counseling, and school psychologists make a median annual salary of $78,200. Professionals often need doctoral degrees to qualify for jobs as researchers, professors, and clinical psychologists.
This guide ranks the best online master’s degree in clinical psychology programs. It also covers other important information for prospective students, such as common courses and scholarship opportunities.
|1||Touro University Worldwide|
|2||Golden Gate University-San Francisco|
|3||Arizona State University-Online|
|4||Saint Leo University|
|5||National Louis University|
|8||University of West Alabama|
Featured Online Schools
What can you do with a master's in clinical psychology?
Master’s in clinical psychology degrees support various career paths in mental health and social services. Graduates may also work in fields such as marketing, management, or human resources.
Is a MA or MS in clinical psychology better?
MS programs often provide better preparation for research-oriented careers, while MA programs better suit learners seeking practice-oriented careers.
How long is a master's in clinical psychology?
Master’s degrees typically take two years of full-time study to complete. However, some schools offer accelerated programs that expedite degree completion.
Is a master's in clinical psychology hard?
Graduate programs are challenging for many students. However, learners with strong research, analysis, and writing skills often thrive in clinical psychology master’s programs.
Best Online Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology 2021
1. Touro University Worldwide
Ranked among the country’s most affordable online colleges, TUW offers a master of arts in psychology with four concentration options: media psychology, educational psychology, health psychology, and forensic psychology. While the program does not lead to licensure, it prepares graduates for doctoral study or a variety of careers.
The curriculum requires 12 courses: nine core courses and three concentration courses. TUW allows students to complete their degree online without ever visiting campus. TUW offers six annual start dates to maximize flexibility for working students, and full-time students can complete the degree in one year.
TUW prioritizes accessibility for all students, and the college does not require an application fee or GRE scores from graduate applicants. All applicants must have a minimum GPA of 2.5, while transfer applicants from other graduate programs must have a minimum GPA of 2.75.
2. Golden Gate University
A private college based in San Francisco, GGU offers a master of arts in industrial organizational psychology available in both fully online and hybrid formats. The program applies psychological principles to workplace dynamics, giving students the skills to improve employee training and productivity, evaluate organizational problems, and conduct market research.
GGU’s online master’s in psychology curriculum requires 42 credits: 33 credits of core courses and nine courses of electives. Core courses explore the fundamental principles of industrial organizational psychology, including group dynamics in organizations, tests and measurements, and organizational change. Electives focus on specialized topics such as work and workforce trends, coaching, and the ethics of conflict resolution.
GGU offers comprehensive career resources for students, including consulting and advising, events and networking, and jobs and internships. Psychology students can take advantage of the school’s network of employers both in the Bay Area and throughout the nation.
3. Arizona State University
One of the country’s largest public colleges, ASU is also a major provider of online education, ranking highly for its innovation and academic excellence. ASU’s online master of science in psychology explores human behavior, emotions, cognition, and attitudes, emphasizing both empirical research and psychological theory.
The 36-credit curriculum includes required courses in professional issues in psychology, quantitative analysis, and research methods. Electives explore specialized subfields such as developmental psychology, affective science, behavioral analysis, and social psychology. All students complete a culminating capstone in general psychology during the program’s final semester.
ASU offers several annual start dates and condensed 7.5-week courses. Full-time students can complete the degree in about 18 months, while part-time students have up to six years to complete their studies. Around 80% of graduates report that ASU has inspired them to consider new career opportunities.
4. Saint Leo University
A private college located near Tampa, Florida, Saint Leo offers one of the most affordable online psychology degrees in the state. The university’s master’s in psychology offers comprehensive perspectives on human behavior, highlighting the role of research, data analysis, and teaching. The program uses a fully online, fully asynchronous format, enabling students to complete coursework at any time.
The curriculum requires 36 credits, encompassing topics such as learning and cognition, lifespan development, advanced social psychology, and diversity and ethics. Students complete the curriculum in a set sequence, taking one course at a time in a cohort of 15 students. Each course lasts eight weeks.
The program concludes with a six-credit capstone thesis, which requires students to propose and execute a significant research project. The capstone emphasizes research design and ethical decision-making.
5. National Louis University
Chicago-based NLU offers a master of science in industrial organizational psychology that prepares graduates to work in one of the fastest-growing psychology career fields in the country. The program uses psychology tools to address workplace issues and maximize organizational productivity.
This interdisciplinary program combines courses from NLU’s School of Business and Management and School of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Learners complete a minimum of 36 credits, including a 27-credit core that introduces key topics in performance analysis and measurement, research design, work motivation and job abilities, and organizational effectiveness and development.
While NLU does not require applicants to hold a background in psychology, admitted students may need to complete up to six credits of foundational courses. Foundation courses include research methodology and writing, advanced social psychology, and advanced theories of personality.
6. National University
A professionally focused private college based in San Diego, NU offers a master of arts in counseling psychology with tracks in marriage and family therapy and professional clinical counseling. Both pathways lead to licensure in the state of California.
Both tracks require a minimum of 90 quarter credits. Each track includes three core course sequences covering topics such as clinical assessment, case management, treatment of addictions, and psychology of trauma. Each track also includes 13.5 credits of concentration-specific coursework.
Learners can also pursue a combined marriage and family therapy/licensed professional clinical counselor track, which adds courses in assessment techniques, research, and career counseling. This pathway includes additional practicum hours to meet state requirements. NU’s curriculum meets licensure requirements for California, but residents of other states should consult their local licensing boards to determine eligibility.
7. Tiffin University
Ohio-based TU offers a master of science in psychology that explores human behavior and thought using research and analytical tools applicable to several professions. The program emphasizes scientific/experimental psychology rather than counseling/clinical practice, preparing graduates for doctoral study or employment.
Students complete a minimum of 37 credits, including courses in statistical procedures, research design and analysis, history and systems of psychology, and advanced theories of personality. TU offers two academic terms per semester, with program start dates available in January, March, May, July, August and October.
The program concludes with a two-part capstone research project that synthesizes overall program knowledge and skills. Students design and execute an extensive research project in an approved area of psychology, which includes a significant literature review and ethical data gathering. The capstone integrates students’ overall learning, focusing on an area of professional and/or academic interest.
8. University of West Alabama
A public college based in Livingston, UWA offers one of Alabama’s most affordable online master’s degree programs in psychology: an online master of science in experimental psychology with optional concentrations in clinical psychology and health and sports psychology. The program prepares graduates for doctoral study and research-based careers in behavioral science and health psychology.
Both the general and health and sports psychology tracks require a minimum of 36 credits, including 18 credits of core courses and 18 credits of applied courses. Both tracks share the same core curriculum, which focuses on theory, statistics, and research methods. The clinical psychology track requires 39-57 credits, including 12-24 credits of clinical courses.
While the curriculum may meet requirements for licensed professional counselor certification, students seeking licensure should consult their state licensing board to determine eligibility.
9. Mercy College
Integrating research, coursework, professional colloquia, and clinical internships, Mercy’s master of science in psychology builds broad knowledge in the theory, methodology, ethics, and practice of psychology. Offering both clinical and research opportunities, the program prepares students for both professional employment and doctoral study.
Mercy’s online master’s in psychology requires 36 credits divided between a 24-credit core and 12 elective credits. The core builds knowledge in key areas like contemporary theories of psychology, psychopathology, and professional issues and ethics. Elective options vary, and many students complete a six-credit graduate thesis to fulfill half of the required elective credits.
Program applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree in psychology, behavioral science, sociology, or another related field. All students must have completed at least 12 undergraduate credits in psychology and at least one course in statistics — all with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Applicants must also submit an application essay and complete an interview with the program director.
10. Regent University
Regent offers an online master of science in psychology with several concentration options, including addictions, cyber psychology, industrial organizational psychology, leadership coaching, and marriage and family psychology. The program also offers a pre-doctoral track that prepares students to earn their Ph.D. after graduation.
Regardless of concentration, all students complete a 27-credit core sequence that covers contemporary psychology, biological bases of behavior, integrative psychology, and lifespan psychology. Each concentration includes unique courses that build specialized skills. The cyber psychology concentration, for example, examines the effect of online interactions on human behavior.
Regent offers rolling admissions and several annual start dates throughout the year. Most applicants hold undergraduate degrees in fields like psychology or counseling, though Regent also considers applicants from other backgrounds. Applicants must hold a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75, though the school recommends a 3.0 for competitive applicants.
11. University of Southern California
One of California’s most respected private colleges, USC offers a master of science in applied psychology that explores the intersection of psychological research, theory, and practice in business environments. The program offers concentrations in consumer psychology and organizational psychology. Both tracks emphasize psychological tools in the context of workplace management and marketing services.
Learners complete a minimum of 34 credits, including a program core, concentration electives, and a practicum. The core curriculum explores topics including human behavior, research methods, and organizational psychology. Electives cover specialized topics such as marketing and organizational analytics, psychology of interactive media, group dynamics, and leadership.
While students typically complete eight credits of concentration courses, USC also offers the option to divide credits evenly between both tracks, enabling students to customize their degree based on professional interests. All learners also complete a professional internship and a two-credit psychology treatise.
12. Angelo State University
Ranked among the most affordable online colleges in Texas, ASU offers a master of science in applied psychology that takes a broad approach to the field. While the program takes place entirely online, students also have the option to complete some elective courses on ASU’s campus in San Angelo.
The curriculum requires 36 credits and offers both thesis and non-thesis tracks. All students complete core courses in social psychology, theories of personality, applied economic psychology, and social perception. Students in the thesis track complete a significant research project into an approved psychology topic, while non-thesis students complete six additional credits of electives.
ASU does not require applicants to hold an undergraduate degree in psychology. However, applicants with fewer than 18 psychology credits must take a graduate-level course that introduces major concepts.
13. Indiana Institute of Technology
Specializing in technical and professional programs, Indiana Tech operates campuses throughout Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky, along with a distance education program. The school’s master of science in psychology aligns with American Psychological Association curriculum standards, emphasizing modern research, theories, principles, and practices.
Students complete a 36-credit curriculum that includes coursework in lifespan development, multicultural psychology, advanced counseling theory, and legal and ethical issues in psychology. While the program does not lead directly to licensure for private practice, it may meet academic requirements for licensure in several U.S. states.
Indiana Tech’s online master’s in psychology degree concludes with a capstone course that assesses overall knowledge and competencies gained throughout the program. Learners must successfully complete a comprehensive exam that encompasses major course content and program principles. The program prepares graduates to enter non-licensed professional roles or move on to doctoral study.
14. Harvard University
One of the country’s most prestigious colleges, Harvard offers a master of liberal arts in psychology degree through its Division of Continuing Education. While the program uses a primarily online format, students must complete at least three courses on Harvard’s campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Harvard’s online master’s in psychology uses a unique admissions format in which students complete several courses before actually applying to the program. Prospective students demonstrate commitment and competency by completing an initial three-course sequence, after which they officially enroll in the program. Learners then complete an additional nine courses along with either a thesis or capstone.
The thesis emphasizes academic research, requiring students to produce an in-depth, publishable study on a psychology topic under the close supervision of a thesis advisor. The capstone takes an experiential approach, requiring students to provide a solution to a real world psychology issue.
15. Southwestern Assemblies of God University
A Christian college based in Waxahachie, Texas, SAGU offers a faith-based approach to psychology. The school’s master’s in clinical psychology explores clinical assessment and counseling techniques for adults, adolescents, and children. Students gain specialized knowledge in the diagnosis, assessment, and treatment of mental health issues and disorders.
Learners complete a comprehensive 63-credit curriculum that includes a research component, a professional component, a practicum component, and related electives. The research component covers statistical methods and research design, while the professional component includes courses in social and cultural diversity, cognitive assessment, and advanced psychopathology and treatment planning.
All students must complete a two-part practicum in psychology, which requires a minimum of 450 hours in an approved psychology setting. The practicum builds professional experience, giving students the opportunity to demonstrate practical skills in a supervised environment.
16. McNeese State University
McNeese’s master of arts in psychology with a concentration in applied behavior analysis emphasizes both assessment and intervention practices, preparing graduates to obtain national board certification in behavior analysis. The program is accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International and approved by the Behavior Analysis Certification Board.
The curriculum consists of 58 credits divided between 18 core credits and 40 concentration credits. Courses include principles of learning and behavior, conceptual foundations of behavior analysis, human growth and development, and verbal behavior. All learners complete both a graduate thesis and an extensive applied behavioral analysis internship.
While the program does not require applicants to hold an undergraduate degree in psychology, prospective students must have at least three credits in statistics and 18 credits in psychology, including courses in abnormal, social, and experimental psychology.
Program applicants must hold a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.5 and a cumulative GRE score of at least 285.
17. University of Louisiana at Monroe
Ranked among the most affordable online colleges in Louisiana, ULM offers a master of science in psychology available fully online. The program features a general track along with optional concentrations in psychometric psychology or forensic psychology. Regardless of concentration, students complete a minimum of 36 credits divided between nine credits of core courses and 27 elective credits.
The program’s core includes three required courses: research methods, neuropsychology, and quantitative methods in the behavioral sciences. Students in the general track complete one additional course in personality and social psychology along with 24 psychology elective credits. The psychometric and forensic psychology tracks include unique courses that build specialized skills, such as counseling in criminal justice and sociology of law.
Applicants must have either a minimum 3.0 GPA or a 2.75 GPA and a score of at least 290 on the GRE. Prospective students must also meet undergraduate prerequisites, including nine credits in psychology with at least three credits dedicated to statistics.
18. Albizu University
A private college specializing in graduate psychology studies, CAU offers a master of science in industrial organizational psychology that prepares students to apply psychological knowledge and techniques to the workplace. The degree emphasizes selection and placement, performance management, training and development, and organizational development.
Students complete a total of 48 credits, including a 42-credit academic core and a six-credit capstone. The program core includes both foundational psychology courses and specialized industrial organizational courses, such as personnel psychology, organizational psychology, work motivation, and performance appraisal and feedback.
All students can complete an industrial organizational practicum in an approved professional setting, which builds practical experience and draws connections between coursework and professional practice. CAU does not permit students to complete the practicum at their current place of employment. However, students typically complete the practicum at sites in their own community.
19. Lynn University
Based in Boca Raton, Florida, Lynn University offers a master of science in psychology that features both a general track and a specialization in industrial organizational psychology. The program’s curriculum emphasizes research and program evaluation, leadership and management of organizations, and advanced social psychology.
Regardless of concentration, students complete a 37-credit academic program that covers testing and assessment, social psychology, human growth and development, psychobiology, and leadership and management. The program culminates in a practicum that combines professional fieldwork and one-on-one mentoring from a faculty member.
Lynn does not require applicants to hold an undergraduate degree in psychology, and the program does not include prerequisites. Lynn recommends a GPA of at least 3.0, but the psychology program evaluates applicants holistically, giving equal weight to each part of the application. Applicants do not need to take the GRE.
20. Southern New Hampshire University
One of the country’s largest and most affordable online colleges, SNHU offers a master of science in psychology with three concentrations: forensic psychology, industrial organizational psychology, and child and adolescent development psychology. This fully online program emphasizes research, ethics, measurement, and experiential learning.
Each concentration requires learners to complete a minimum of 36 credits. Along with a general program core, students complete concentration courses that build specialized knowledge. For example, the forensic psychology track includes courses in psychology of the courtroom and intersection of law and psychology.
SNHU offers rolling admissions with five start dates each year. Applicants need not hold an undergraduate psychology degree, but prospective students who lack psychology credits may be required to complete courses in foundations of psychology, statistics, and research methods. While the program does not lead to state licensure, it prepares graduates to pursue several career paths and doctoral study.
Why Get a Clinical Psychology Degree?
Master’s in clinical psychology degrees offer many personal and professional advantages, including the benefits described below.
- Career Transition
- Clinical psychology master’s degrees can help working professionals qualify for new jobs in industry, social services, mental health clinics, and nonprofit organizations.
- Widely Applicable Skills
- Studying clinical psychology cultivates advanced skills in active listening, observation, analysis, and communication. These skills prove useful in most work contexts involving people.
- Qualification for Doctoral Programs
- Clinical psychologists in many states need doctoral degrees to qualify for licensure. To enter clinical psychology doctoral programs, applicants typically need a master’s degree in psychology or a related field.
- Career Advancement
- Professionals in entry-level social services, business, and nonprofit jobs can pursue a master’s in psychology to qualify for higher-level positions.
How Much Does a Clinical Psychology Major Make?
Master’s in clinical psychology graduates sometimes pursue management careers that demand sophisticated interpersonal skills. Graduates with relevant professional experience may qualify for high-paying jobs such as human resources manager or marketing manager. These positions pay median annual salaries of $116,720 and $137,000, respectively.
Many clinical psychology master’s program graduates pursue doctoral degrees and licensure as clinical psychologists, who make a median salary of $78,200.
Master’s in Clinical Psychology Program Requirements
Master’s degree applicants typically need a bachelor’s degree. Some master’s in clinical psychology programs seek applicants with relevant undergraduate coursework and/or professional experience. Applicants may need to submit recommendation letters, resumes, official transcripts, and essays. Many programs also require GRE scores.
Most master’s in clinical psychology programs require around 30-36 credits. Enrollees complete core psychology courses and specialized coursework in areas such as multicultural psychology, clinical health psychology, forensic psychology, and long-term mental illness. Most master’s programs require a capstone thesis, project, or examination to culminate the degree.
Students also participate in various clinical courses and practicum experiences. Enrollees seeking licensure as psychologists must meet the American Board of Professional Psychology’s (ABPP) requirements, including earning a passing score on the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology.
The best clinical psychology master’s programs also prepare graduates to meet experience requirements for certification by the American Board of Clinical Psychology, a specialty board of the ABPP. This certification grants specialty-level standing, indicating a higher competence level than jurisdictional licensure alone.
Courses in a Clinical Psychology Master’s Program
The best master’s in clinical psychology programs build core skills in observation, active listening, analysis, and supportive communication. Participants also hone advanced research and writing skills while completing their master’s theses or capstone projects.
Some programs offer concentrations in areas such as forensic psychology, neuropsychology, or child and family psychology. Courses vary by program, but the following three courses appear in many master’s in clinical psychology programs.
Ethics and multicultural issues courses cultivate skills for serving clients from diverse cultural backgrounds. Learners also study how to support clients of differing ages, abilities, sexual preferences, and religious beliefs.
A core course in many psychology programs, psychopharmacology examines the uses, effects, and abuses of various illegal and legal drugs. Students learn how drugs influence the human body’s major systems, functions, and organs.
This course surveys major counseling and psychotherapy theories and systems. Enrollees learn various clinical applications, studying how and when these theories might apply in various situations and cultural contexts. Course participants usually get to practice their clinical skills in this course.
Scholarships for Clinical Psychology
Many clinical psychology master’s enrollees qualify for scholarships. Unlike loans, scholarships do not require repayment, making them ideal forms of financial aid. The following list outlines several scholarship opportunities for students pursuing an online master’s degree in clinical psychology.
Who Can Apply: This American Psychology Foundation (APF) scholarship goes to graduate students pursuing accredited master’s degrees in psychology. Applicants must receive a nomination from a psychology department that belongs to the Council of Graduate Departments of Psychology (COGDOP).
Who Can Apply: This APF scholarship supports master’s students seeking thesis funding and attending interim accredited psychology programs. Candidates must be nominated by a COGDOP-member psychology department.
Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports undergraduate and graduate psychology students. Applicants must hold a minimum 3.5 GPA and submit an essay on the psychology of online dating.