Hero Image Best Graduate Degree Programs in Clinical Psychology 2021

Best Graduate Degree Programs in Clinical Psychology 2021

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Clinical psychologists play an important role in treating mental, emotional, or behavioral difficulties, from temporary struggles to serious disorders. Psychologists assess, diagnose, and treat patients with psychotherapy and other counseling techniques. In Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, and New Mexico, they can prescribe medication.

The educational path to becoming a clinical psychologist typically includes earning a master’s in clinical psychology. Graduates then complete a doctoral degree. In total, clinical psychology graduate programs last for anywhere from 5-10 years, depending on the school and the individual student.

A clinical psychology degree provides the practical skills candidates need to offer therapeutic services. At both the master’s and doctoral levels, students explore psychological theories and analysis as they conduct their own research projects. After earning a doctorate, aspiring clinical psychologists can apply for licensure.

If you’re interested in becoming a clinical psychologist, check out a list of the best clinical psychology graduate programs below.

View ranking methodology here.

Top 10 Graduate Degree Programs in Clinical Psychology 2021

Rank School Location
1 Pepperdine University Malibu, CA
2 LeTourneau University Longview, TX
3 Regent University Virginia Beach, VA
4 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH
5 Union College Barbourville, KY
6 Fort Hays State University Hays, KS
7 Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale Fort Lauderdale, FL
8 Medaille College Buffalo, NY
9 Palo Alto University Palo Alto, CA
10 Saybrook University Pasadena, CA
Advertisement Psychology.org 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.

Featured Online Programs

Best Graduate Degree Programs in Clinical Psychology 2021

  1. Pepperdine University
    Location

    Malibu, CA

    Pepperdine, located in Malibu, California, offers an online clinical psychology master's program that students can finish in as little as 27 months. The program boasts an 83% graduation rate and prepares students for state licensure as a professional counselor or a marriage and family therapist.

    The 62-credit curriculum includes coursework in multicultural counseling, the social and psychological implications of socioeconomics, and substance abuse treatment. Placement specialists assist students in finding clinical training opportunities in their own communities.

    The clinical psychology program accepts applications on a rolling basis. Criteria include a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited school and U.S. residency.

    Applicants must submit transcripts, two recommendation letters, and a 2- to 5-page personal statement of purpose. The admissions office offers online information sessions throughout the year, along with personal virtual classroom tours.

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

    LINK TO SCHOOL: www.pepperdine.edu/

  2. LeTourneau University
    Location

    Longview, TX

    Located in Longview, Texas, Christian-based LETU includes an MA in clinical mental health counseling among its distance learning degree options. The entirely online clinical psychology master's program boasts a 94% pass rate on the National Counseling Exam, along with a 93% job placement rate.

    The 66 credits required to graduate include coursework in counseling skills and techniques, lifespan human development, and specialization classes in family, addiction, and couples counseling. Clinical training constitutes 100 practicum hours and 600 internship hours, performed at sites chosen by the student.

    Admission requires a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university, a 2.75 GPA, and an interview. Applicants without undergraduate coursework in psychology, abnormal psychology, and elementary statistics may need to take prerequisite classes in introduction to counseling, advanced abnormal psychology, and statistics and research methods.

    LETU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    LINK TO SCHOOL: www.letu.edu

  3. Regent University
    Location

    Virginia Beach, VA

    The online MA in clinical mental health counseling program at Regent trains graduates to become licensed counselors with a Christian perspective. Students choose among three progressions that best suit their schedules.

    Core courses include orientation to the counseling profession, psychopathology and diagnosis, and treatment planning. The program requires in-person attendance for supervised internships and, in non-COVID times, two one-week residencies.

    Candidates for admission must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution and a 3.0 GPA. Applicants submit a completed academic background questionnaire licensure survey, a resume, official transcripts, and GRE or MAT scores. Admission also requires an online interview.

    Based in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Regent is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and holds programmatic accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

    LINK TO SCHOOL: regent.edu

  4. Southern New Hampshire University
    Location

    Manchester, NH

    The online MA in clinical mental health counseling program at Regent trains graduates to become licensed counselors with a Christian perspective. Students choose among three progressions that best suit their schedules.

    Core courses include orientation to the counseling profession, psychopathology and diagnosis, and treatment planning. The program requires in-person attendance for supervised internships and, in non-COVID times, two one-week residencies.

    Candidates for admission must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution and a 3.0 GPA. Applicants submit a completed academic background questionnaire licensure survey, a resume, official transcripts, and GRE or MAT scores. Admission also requires an online interview.

    Based in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Regent is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and holds programmatic accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

    LINK TO SCHOOL: regent.edu

  5. Union College
    Location

    Barbourville, KY

    Students can pursue their master's in clinical psychology at Union in Barbourville, Kentucky. Union's hybrid clinical psychology degree program comprises 49 credits and offers courses like advanced developmental psychology, clinical assessment of intellectual functioning, and techniques of counseling and psychotherapy.

    Classes take place online and in person during the evenings to accommodate work schedules. Students complete in-person clinical practicums, which provide experience in counseling, psychotherapy, and assessment in community health, school-based, government agency, and hospital settings. The program prepares graduates for state licensure and for work opportunities in a variety of spaces, including mental health centers, private practice, prisons, or psychiatric hospitals.

    Admission requires official transcripts showing undergraduate or graduate coursework at regionally accredited schools, a 3.0 undergraduate GPA, and a major or minor degree in psychology or a related field. Applicants also submit GRE scores.

    Union holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    LINK TO SCHOOL: www.unionky.edu

  6. Fort Hays State University
    Location

    Hays, KS

    The master of science in clinical mental health counseling at FHSU follows a hybrid delivery format. Students complete 50% of classes online and the remainder on the Hays, Kansas, campus on Fridays and Saturdays. Students graduate upon completion of 60 credits with a 3.0 GPA and qualify to apply for professional counselor or clinical professional counselor licensure in Kansas.

    The curriculum emphasizes couples and family counseling and includes 700 practicum and internship hours at approved sites. Advanced course topics cover addiction counseling, advanced group counseling, child and adolescent counseling, and marriage and family counseling. Sequences of study vary according to each student's needs.

    Program admission requires an undergraduate degree with a 3.0 GPA for the last 60 credits, two professional reference letters, a professional goals statement, official transcripts, and a background check. Admitted students may transfer up to six credits.

    FHSU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

    LINK TO SCHOOL: www.fhsu.edu

  7. Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale
    Location

    Fort Lauderdale, FL

    Students at Keiser, based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, can earn a master of science in clinical mental health counseling in 3-4 years. The program's distance learning format consists primarily of asynchronous coursework with several in-person components.

    The 60-credit program prepares graduates for professional practice with core courses in counseling advocacy with diverse populations, counseling across the lifespan, and group theories and practice. Specialization courses include counseling in community settings, couples and family counseling, and foundations of addiction and addictive behavior.

    Students select a supervised site where they complete 100 hours of practicum and 600 hours of internship experiences. Other in-person requirements include three weekend residencies on campus.

    Applicants submit official transcripts as proof of a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution, GRE scores, a 2- to 3-page personal goals statement, three recommendation letters, and a resume. Candidates also complete criminal background checks and may be selected for an interview.

    Keiser is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    LINK TO SCHOOL: www.keiseruniversity.edu

  8. Medaille College
    Location

    Buffalo, NY

    Medaille, based in Buffalo, New York, offers a two-year, cohort-based MA in clinical mental health counseling. The counseling and clinical psychology program faculty teach courses that focus on the tools of counseling. Most learning takes place online with the exception of clinical practicums and internships at student-selected sites.

    Courses in the 60-credit program include assessment and evaluation, child abuse mandated reporter training, family counseling and therapy, helping relationships, and psychopharmacology/microskills counseling. Graduates qualify to apply for New York licensure as mental health counselors and find employment at hospitals, community agencies, managed care organizations, and substance abuse treatment centers.

    Medaille offers admission on a rolling basis. Applicants submit official transcripts, resumes, letters of intent and personal reflection, and three letters of recommendation. Prospective students who pass the initial screening participate in a virtual or phone interview.

    Medaille is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

    LINK TO SCHOOL: medaille.edu

  9. Palo Alto University
    Location

    Palo Alto, CA

    PAU offers an online master's in clinical psychology with a clinical mental health counseling emphasis. The program prepares graduates for licensure as professional clinical counselors.

    Students accepted into the cohort-based program can choose a nine- or 11-quarter course sequence for completing the requisite 93 credits. Distance learners log their clinical practicum and internship hours in their home communities at approved sites and attend two residencies on the Palo Alto, California, campus.

    Courses include appraisal and assessment in counseling, counseling immigrants, counseling women, crisis and trauma counseling, and human sexuality.

    Applicants submit official transcripts, a resume, three letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose. Admitted students may request transfer of up to 15 graduate credits.

    PAU is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission. The clinical psychology program holds accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

    LINK TO SCHOOL: www.paloaltou.edu

  10. Saybrook University
    Location

    Pasadena, CA

    Saybrook's clinical psychology graduate program leads to a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. Students at the Pasadena, California, school prepare for licensure in a number of states through Saybrook's online courses, hands-on residential orientations and conferences, and faculty mentoring. The five-year Ph.D. program also requires completion of 600 hours of practicum and 1500 hours of internship experience in a clinical setting.

    The curriculum focuses on professional knowledge and skills in data analyses and meta-analyses, psychotherapy, and developmental, child and adolescent, multicultural, and humanistic-integrative psychology. Students can specialize in consciousness, spirituality, integrative health; creativity studies; existential and humanistic psychology; and psychopathology.

    Admission requires a bachelor's or master's degree from a regionally accredited school with a 3.0 GPA, along with a resume, personal statement, faculty interview, official transcripts, and a letter of recommendation.

    Saybrook is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission.

    LINK TO SCHOOL: www.saybrook.edu

Applying to a Graduate Program in Clinical Psychology

Individuals who wish to earn a master’s degree in psychology should possess a bachelor’s degree. Master’s programs generally expect incoming students to hold an undergraduate degree in psychology or a related field, although some schools consider any bachelor’s degree-holder.

Applicants usually must demonstrate a minimum GPA from 2.5-3.0 and meet minimum GRE or MAT score requirements. Generally, candidates should also submit letters of recommendation and personal essays.

Doctoral programs, on the other hand, expect applicants to hold a master’s degree with a 3.0 GPA or higher. Most programs prefer incoming students to demonstrate some research experience, and candidates can improve their applications by including information about their master’s thesis. At the doctoral level, applicants must often submit a dissertation proposal and participate in an admissions interview.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Should I get a master's or doctorate in psychology?

    That depends on your career goals. You need both a master’s and doctorate to become a licensed clinical psychologist. Doctoral candidates who develop an interest in theory or research might work at research institutions or universities as faculty members. On the other hand, some master’s degree-holders become counselors instead of psychologists.

  • What is accreditation and why is it important?

    Accreditation indicates that a school or academic program adheres to quality standards. In fact, aspiring psychologists cannot earn licensure without a degree from an accredited program, and many employers prefer job candidates with an accredited degree. Psychology students should look for degrees accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA).

  • How long does it take to get a doctorate in psychology?

    A doctorate in psychology can last anywhere from 4-7 years, and sometimes even longer for students who need extra time to work on their doctoral dissertations. The length of time depends on many factors, including program structure, whether students pursue a doctor of psychology or doctor of philosophy, and the student’s own schedule.

  • What can I do with a master's degree in clinical psychology?

    Many people who graduate with a master’s in clinical psychology go on to earn doctorates and professional licensure, eventually working as clinical psychologists. Others might stick with a master’s degree instead of pursuing a doctorate and specialize in a certain area like school or career counseling, marriage and family therapy, substance abuse counseling, or forensic psychology.

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