The Best Graduate Programs in Clinical Psychology

Updated January 20, 2023

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Clinical psychology programs teach students about the theory and practice of psychology. Here are the best clinical psychology graduate programs.

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Picking the right clinical psychology graduate degree is one of the biggest decisions of your professional life, whether you plan to finish your studies with a master's degree or go on to a doctorate.

This guide to the best graduate programs in clinical psychology can help you make the right decision for your background, finances, and career plans.

What to Look For in a Clinical Psychology Graduate Degree

The right master's in clinical psychology for you depends on your preferred specialty and goals, as well as finances, academic background, and whether you want a hybrid, on-campus, or online program. Consider these factors when weighing options for a clinical psychology graduate degree.

Primary Factors to Consider

Accreditation

Accreditation is so important to your goals that this website and guide only list accredited programs. Your clinical psychology graduate degree must be from an accredited program for licensed psychology careers, and most employers will not even consider graduates from an unaccredited program.

If you want to check a program's status, the Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation both offer searchable directories of accredited clinical psychology master's and doctoral programs.

The American Psychological Association (APA) accredits doctoral programs as long as they are not online-only.

Admission Requirements

Before applying to a clinical psychology graduate degree, review the admission requirements. These will not only tell you how likely you are to be admitted, but what the school values.

If you do not match all the criteria exactly, talk to an admissions counselor, since you may have other qualifications that might override a borderline GPA.

Cost and Financial Aid

Even with financial aid, a clinical psychology graduate degree is a major investment of time and money. In addition to tuition and fees, consider factors such as travel to clinicals, whether you can work while studying, and what kinds of loans, scholarships, and grants you may qualify for.

You may be eligible for loan forgiveness if you work in an underserved area after you graduate, through programs such as the National Health Services Corps.

Hybrid and Online Options

In addition to the traditional on-campus program, some clinical psychology master's programs are available in hybrid or online formats. These options give you more flexibility, but it may be more difficult to network and have discussions in these formats.

You must complete your clinical fieldwork in person, and some online graduate degrees in clinical psychology have certain on-campus requirements. Hybrid programs vary in the proportion of online to on-campus classes, but you may be able to finish between one-third to two-thirds of your classes online.

Practical Experience Requirements

Practicums and internships are vital components of graduate degrees in clinical psychology. Early in your clinical psychology master's program, you will participate in practicums, which are primarily shadowing with some direct client contact and supervision with a licensed counselor or psychologist. Internships are the next level and during these, you will work with real clients , though still under supervision.

In general, clinical psychology graduate degree programs either arrange for practicum and placement, or provide assistance to find a placement.

Featured Online Psychology Programs

How to Apply to a Graduate Degree in Clinical Psychology

Once you identify the clinical psychology graduate programs that interest you, get ready to apply. You will need your undergraduate transcript, at least two references, a resume or CV, and an application that includes an essay or personal statements. Some schools require GSE scores or from students below a certain GPA threshold.

If your undergraduate degree is in a field other than psychology, you need to satisfy prerequisites to demonstrate academic readiness for a clinical psychology master's program. The specifics vary by program.

Best Online Graduate Degree in Clinical Psychology

The Best Graduate Programs in Clinical Psychology

University of California-San Diego

  • La Jolla, CA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

The University of California - San Diego and San Diego State University offer a joint Ph.D. program in clinical psychology. Applicants must meet admission standards for both schools, including a minimum overall 3.0 GPA, a 3.25 GPA in their last 60 units, and GRE scores at the 55th percentile or higher. Students must have taken upper level courses in psychology, though they need not have majored in psychology as undergraduates. 

Enrollees complete a research project similar to a master's thesis and may specialize in either behavioral medicine, experimental psychopathology, or neuropsychology. The fourth or fifth years of the program are dedicated to a dissertation and internship. 

Average Tuition
In-state
$11,442
Out-of-state
$41,196
Retention Rate
94%
Admission Rate
37%
Students Enrolled
39,576
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
93% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

The Best Graduate Programs in Clinical Psychology

University of Central Florida

  • Orlando, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The University of Central Florida's clinical psychology graduate program offers an applied, pre-licensure track and a research/thesis track. The pre-licensure track prepares students to practice as licensed mental health counselors in Florida, after completing the required supervised practice and other licensing requirements. 

The research/thesis track prepares students for a career in research or a doctoral graduate program in clinical psychology. 

The research/thesis program admits only five or six students each year, while the pre-licensure program typically enrolls 15-16 students. 

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,478
Out-of-state
$19,810
Retention Rate
92%
Admission Rate
45%
Students Enrolled
71,881
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
96% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

The Best Graduate Programs in Clinical Psychology

Northwestern University

  • Evanston, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Northwestern University's graduate programs in clinical psychology include a Ph.D. program and a joint Ph.D./J.D. (law degree) option. The program prepares students to practice successfully and ethically in both the science and practice of psychology, and the program emphasizes diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice. 

Admission requirements do not include a specific minimum GPA, but successful applicants typically have a strong academic record; existing involvement in academic research and publishing; clinical exposure through work, volunteering, or previous studies; and alignment with the school's mission and a faculty member's interests. 

Enrollees receive full financial support (tuition, health insurance, and a stipend) but must, as a condition of accepting support, apply for external funding. 

Average Tuition
In-state
$58,227
Out-of-state
$58,227
Retention Rate
97%
Admission Rate
9%
Students Enrolled
22,603
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
1% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

The Best Graduate Programs in Clinical Psychology

Brigham Young University

  • Provo, UT
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Brigham Young University's Ph.D. in clinical psychology program has been accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) since 1971. The program offers optional concentrations in clinical child, adolescent, and family psychology; clinical neuropsychology; or clinical health psychology. 

The Ph.D. in clinical psychology program embeds a master's degree into the curriculum, awarded during the second year of study. During the third and fourth year, students complete and defend their doctoral dissertation, and the fifth year is dedicated to an internship. 

The program prepares graduates for professional licensing, and approximately 80% of alumni work in clinical settings. The school notes that it is the largest private, religiously-affiliated university in the country, but students do not need to be members of the affiliated religion to attend.

Average Tuition
In-state
$5,970
Out-of-state
$5,970
Retention Rate
92%
Admission Rate
69%
Students Enrolled
36,461
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

The Best Graduate Programs in Clinical Psychology

Harvard University

  • Cambridge, MA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Harvard University's clinical psychology graduate program emphasizes research, particularly the study of severe psychopathology. Learners prepare for licensing through the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (PCSAS)- and the American Psychological Association-accredited curriculum. 

Each year of the typically five-year program encompasses a specific goal. During the first and second years, learners complete a research project. The third year begins with a general exam on the literature of clinical psychology and a written thesis prospectus, which is typically completed during the fourth year. The fifth year includes a clinical internship. Students receive financial aid throughout the program, including tuition and a stipend or teaching fellowship award. 

Average Tuition
In-state
$49,653
Out-of-state
$49,653
Retention Rate
76%
Admission Rate
5%
Students Enrolled
30,391
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
97% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

The Best Graduate Programs in Clinical Psychology

Columbia University in the City of New York

  • New York, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Columbia University in the City of New York's Ph.D. in clinical psychology was one of the first clinical psychology graduate programs to receive accreditation from the American Psychological Association and has maintained accreditation since 1948.

Columbia describes the program as a "scientist-practitioner model" — one that trains graduates to practice based on current research, as well as continued study and research. Most research training takes place in Columbia's laboratories, under the guidance of faculty. 

The admission application includes a list of faculty who are currently reviewing applications and their research interests. There are two research centers, the Dean Hope Center for Educational and Psychological Services and the Resilience Center for Veterans & Families.

Average Tuition
In-state
$57,864
Out-of-state
$57,864
Retention Rate
95%
Admission Rate
7%
Students Enrolled
30,135
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
94% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

The Best Graduate Programs in Clinical Psychology

New York University

  • New York, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

New York University informally offers a graduate program in clinical psychology as a specialty track within its master of arts in psychology program. The specialization does not appear on transcripts, and students must indicate on their application that they wish to specialize in clinical psychology.

The program does not lead to licensing, and most graduates go on to a doctoral program. Because the focus on clinical psychology is informal, students can take courses other than those recommended for the track. Students are encouraged to take relevant courses in other university departments, but must first receive departmental permission to enroll.

Average Tuition
In-state
$52,204
Out-of-state
$52,204
Retention Rate
90%
Admission Rate
21%
Students Enrolled
52,775
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
89% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

The Best Graduate Programs in Clinical Psychology

Albizu University-Miami

  • Miami, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Albizu University-Miami's doctoral program in clinical psychology prepares health services psychologists to apply culturally competent practices in a multicultural society. During the program, students learn about individual and societal aspects of diversity. The school specifically seeks students who are under-represented in current practice. 

In this generalist program, students can specialize in clinical neuropsychology, health psychology, forensic psychology, addictions psychology, or the psychology of religion and spirituality.

Students begin practicums toward the end of their first year and start their doctoral project during their third year. The fourth and fifth years comprise completing a dissertation and an internship.

Average Tuition
In-state
$11,628
Out-of-state
$11,628
Retention Rate
100%
Admission Rate
79%
Students Enrolled
802
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
46% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

The Best Graduate Programs in Clinical Psychology

Texas A & M University-College Station

  • College Station, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Texas A & M University-College Station's Ph.D. in clinical psychology program builds both the "clinical-scientist model and the scientist-practitioner model" for graduate programs in clinical psychology. Students begin research during the first year and must publish academic articles and present at professional conferences during their studies. 

Learners begin providing therapy services during their second year, and advanced students may develop a specialty in specific treatment modalities or a particular type of condition. All doctoral students must pass a final examination, have a 3.0 GPA in all courses in their degree plan, and complete at least one academic year and one semester in residence at the university. Students who already have a master's degree can meet the residence requirement in one year. 

Average Tuition
In-state
$8,395
Out-of-state
$36,849
Retention Rate
94%
Admission Rate
63%
Students Enrolled
70,418
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
33% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

The Best Graduate Programs in Clinical Psychology

Boston University

  • Boston, MA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Boston University's 32-credit master of arts in psychology offers students the opportunity to clarify their professional interests or take a step toward doctoral study. Learners can enroll in nearly any of the department's graduate-level courses, including cognition, neuroscience, developmental science, and clinical psychology coursework. All students participate in a directed study, working with a faculty member on a research project.

Applicants with a bachelor's degree in other subjects are welcome to apply, although the program does require prior coursework in psychology. The department recommends an introductory course, courses in research methods and statistics, and at least two content courses.

Average Tuition
In-state
$56,854
Out-of-state
$56,854
Retention Rate
92%
Admission Rate
20%
Students Enrolled
32,718
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
12% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you need a master's or Ph.D. to be a clinical psychologist?

You must have a Ph.D. or Psy.D. to become a licensed clinical psychologist. Most colleges and universities also require a doctorate to teach.

What can you do with a master's in clinical psychology?

A clinical psychology master's degree gives you several options. Most graduates become clinical psychologists. However, depending on your state's requirements, you may be eligible for other licenses, such as a counselor or therapist. You can also work in fields such as education, management, law and corrections, youth and family programs, or public health.

Is a master's in clinical psychology worth it?

A graduate degree in clinical psychology is a major investment of time and money. Whether it is worth it to you depends on your career, personal, and financial goals. Clinical psychologist earnings vary by location, workplace type, and experience.


Page last reviewed October 27, 2022. This page's information — not including school descriptions — was reviewed by an independent third party compensated for their time by Psychology.org.

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