Child Psychology Master's Program Guide


Updated April 17, 2024 · 5 Min Read

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Advance your career with a master's in child psychology. This guide covers admission requirements, course descriptions, professional resources, and more. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Child psychology master's programs can prepare you for doctoral study, licensure, and counseling careers. A 2021 national emergency declaration from the American Pediatric Association illustrates a worsening mental health crisis among children and adolescents. Find out how to become a child psychologist and make a positive impact in children's lives.

Degree Snapshot

  • Typical Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree in psychology or related field; minimum 3.0 GPA; prerequisite coursework in developmental psychology, research methods, and statistics; experience working with children; criminal background check
  • Time to Completion: 15-24 months
  • Common Courses/Subjects: Approaches to child and adolescent treatment; developmental psychopathology; ethics in developmental psychology; foundations of child and adolescent developmental psychology

Why Get a Master's Degree in Child Psychology?

  • Eligibility for a doctorate

    Child psychology master's programs qualify graduates for doctoral study, which state boards require for licensure of child psychologists.
  • Favorable job outlook

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that jobs for psychologists will grow by 6%, or higher than average, from 2022 to 2032.
  • Filling a crucial gap

    A national emergency in child mental health crisis and a shortage of mental health professionals means that child counselors and psychologists are in high demand.
  • Meaningful work

    Child psychologists can change the course of a young person's life and set their patients up for success as adults.
  • Pay increases

    Payscale data from November 2023 lists an average annual salary of $72,860, with pay ranging from $65,000-$96,000 depending on experience.
  • Professional prestige

    Psychologists are held in high regard due to their advanced education and training.

Online Psychology Master's Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

Example Child Psychology Courses

Child psychology master's programs offer specialized coursework in the development processes and psychological needs of children and adolescents, along with the influence of family and social contexts on children's mental and behavioral health.

Students learn how to effectively treat patients experiencing behavioral, emotional, cognitive, and psychological conditions; health-related problems; stress and difficulty coping; and trauma and loss.

Students learn about evidence-based treatments and their applications within culturally, economically, ethnically, and sexually diverse families. Learners gain an understanding of the most effective treatments for childhood disorders and how to make treatment decisions.

Current conceptual models provide the framework for this course's examination of childhood and adolescent emotional and behavioral disorders. Students develop an understanding of the problems and the principles of prevention, intervention, and treatment.

Enrollees in this course learn and apply ethical concepts and principles in the context of child and adolescent development. Course content includes state laws and regulations and how they may differ from national standards, along with an assessment of cultural and personal values and how they impact professional behavior.

This course introduces students to child and adolescent development through an exploration of current and historical theories, developmental principles, and research.

Frequently Asked Questions About a Master's Degree in Child Psychology

How long does it take to get a master's degree in child psychology?

Most child psychology master's programs take two years to finish. The length of time can vary, depending on full or part-time enrollment and whether the program offers accelerated or self-paced learning.

What is the highest degree in child psychology?

A doctorate is the highest degree in child psychology. Students select one of two types of child psychology doctoral degrees according to their interests and career goals. A Ph.D. in child psychology can lead to careers in teaching at the university level and conducting research. A doctor of psychology (Psy.D.) focuses on clinical practice.

What is the best major for a child psychologist?

Child psychologists often earn their bachelor's degrees in psychology, but graduate programs also accept applicants with undergraduate degrees in education, sociology, social sciences, health sciences, or other related fields.

What Can You Do With a Master's Degree in Child Psychology?

State boards do not credential child psychology master's program graduates and require a doctorate for licensure. However, master's degree holders can pursue positions in areas related to child psychology, including child counseling and school or guidance counseling.

Counselors can become licensed with a master's degree and postgraduate supervised experience. Specializations include grief and trauma, marriage and family, mental health, and substance use — all of which can provide opportunities to work with children and adolescents.

School psychologists only need a master's, and most earn an education specialist degree, which takes less time to complete than a doctorate.

Career Advancement

To advance your career, you'll need a state license to practice child psychology. To qualify for licensure as a child psychologist you'll need a doctoral degree.

Doctoral Programs

Licensed child psychologists earn either a Ph.D. in child psychology or a Psy.D. specializing in child psychology. Either degree can qualify you for a license. Both Ph.D. and Psy.D. programs include coursework, internships, and culminating research projects.


In addition to a doctoral degree in child psychology, licensure requires a post-doctoral internship and a passing score on the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology. Some states may also require additional exams. Be sure to check with your state psychology licensure board for specific requirements.

Professional Organizations

Professional organizations offer networking opportunities for child psychologists and child psychology students.

The Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, a division of the American Psychological Association, hosts conferences, events, and special interest groups for practitioners and students.

The Society of Pediatric Psychology supports its members with an annual conference, practitioner and student email lists, volunteer opportunities, and a mentorship program.

Next Steps

Hopefully, this guide has ignited your interest in child psychology and explained what a child psychology master's program can offer. If you're ready to learn more, follow these links to online psychology master's programs and online counseling programs.

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