Clinical psychologists positively impact individuals dealing with mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. Many of their patients suffer from severe conditions. Clinical psychologists can diagnose and treat disorders with psychotherapy services.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 192,300 individuals work as psychologists in the United States. BLS projections indicate that number could increase by about 5,700 jobs — or about 3% — from 2019-29.
In order to become a licensed clinical psychologist, candidates need a master’s degree in psychology and a doctorate. A master’s in clinical psychology equips learners with the theoretical knowledge and practical skills needed to become a psychologist. These degrees typically last about two years, although different programs offer various timelines.
If a career in clinical psychology appeals to you, check out a list of the best clinical psychology master’s programs below.
View ranking methodology here.
Top 10 Master's in Clinical Psychology Programs 2021
||Virginia Beach, VA
||Southern New Hampshire University
||Fort Hays State University
||Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale
||Fort Lauderdale, FL
||Palo Alto University
||Palo Alto, CA
Best Master’s Degree Programs in Clinical Psychology 2021
At Pepperdine, the online clinical psychology master's program prepares graduates to work as licensed clinical counselors (LPCs) or licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFTs).
Students can complete the 62-credit master's in clinical psychology in 27 months. Core courses cover topics like substance abuse treatment, multicultural counseling, and psychology through a socioeconomic lens.
The LPC path equips degree-seekers with the skills they need to diagnose and treat a broad scope of mental health disorders. In contrast, the LMFT focus area prepares students to address issues deriving from family dynamics, including marriage and parent-child relationships.
The curriculum follows a distance learning format with interactive, synchronous course components. Students join live classes so they can listen to lectures and participate in class discussions in real time.
Prospective students should possess an accredited bachelor's degree. Pepperdine does not require applicants to submit GRE scores or to have previously majored in psychology.
The master of arts in clinical mental health counseling at LETU comprises 66 credits of online coursework.
The curriculum requires a mix of core courses, specialization courses, a practicum, and two internships. Degree-seekers participate in 100 practicum hours and 300 internship hours overall.
Specialization courses may include human sexuality and sex therapy, family assessment, or cognitive-behavioral therapy. A required lab course trains students to conduct intake interviews and treatment plans.
The Christian-affiliated university also requires four clinical theology courses as a part of this program, including integrative theology for counselors and trauma and theology in the developmental context.
LETU reports that graduates hold a 95% pass rate on the National Counseling Exam and a job placement rate within the counseling industry of 93%.
Interested individuals may apply to this clinical psychology master's program if they possess a bachelor's degree and at least 12 hours of undergraduate coursework in psychology. They should also have a minimum 2.5 undergraduate GPA.
Virginia Beach, VA
Located in Virginia Beach, Regent offers an online MA in clinical mental health counseling that includes two week-long residencies.
The 60-credit curriculum includes core coursework, one practicum, and one internship. Required courses include:
- Addiction therapies for individuals and families
- Psychopathy and diagnosis
- Counseling and Christian thought
The two on-campus residencies allow students to matriculate in courses, participate in networking and mentoring opportunities and meet their classmates and professors. MA candidates may enroll either part or full time. Many learners choose a three-year progression, which gives them time to work while pursuing their degree.
Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA, a resume, and official MAT or GRE scores. Regent prefers applicants with psychology, counseling, or related degrees, but considers those with other degrees as well. Candidates must also participate in an admission interview.
Southern New Hampshire University
Students wanting to become clinical mental health counselors can enroll in an online MA in counseling at SNHU. The degree prepares graduates for licensure in most states, except for Kansas, Missouri, and Wisconsin.
The curriculum includes 60 academic credits, including a practicum, internship, and two five-day residences. The on-campus residencies allow distance learners to practice their counseling skills in a face-to-face intensive learning environment.
Core courses cover human development, theories in counseling, and assessing people in individual and group counseling. Degree-seekers can choose from several specializations, including:
- Families and psychopathology
- Families and psychopharmacology
- Families and sexuality
- Human sexuality
MA candidates may also complete an additional internship, with the number of participatory hours based on their state’s licensure requirements.
Prospective students may apply for this clinical psychology master's program with their undergraduate transcripts, a personal statement, and two recommendation letters. SNHU does not set a minimum GPA nor require standardized test scores.
Located in Barbourville, Kentucky, Union offers three different psychology graduate programs: an online MA in general psychology, an online MS in substance abuse counseling, and a hybrid MA in clinical psychology.
The substance abuse counseling and clinical psychology programs train students to work as counseling practitioners. Learners enrolled in the hybrid degree take courses in the 49-credit program, both through distance learning and on campus. Degree-seekers complete the 60-credit substance abuse counseling curriculum online, except for the practicum and internship.
In addition to core coursework, learners take advanced courses specific to their degree. Clinical psychology students enroll in courses like techniques of counseling and psychotherapy; emotion, motivation, and cognition; and clinical assessment of intellectual functioning. Substance abuse counseling students take courses like psychology of addiction and recovery and relapse.
Applicants to the clinical and general psychology programs should possess a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit GRE scores. Candidates for the substance abuse counseling program need an undergraduate degree with at least a 2.5 GPA.
Fort Hays State University
With a master's degree in clinical psychology from FHSU, candidates can apply for licensure in Kansas as a licensed professional counselor or licensed clinical professional counselor.
The degree follows a hybrid format, so students complete half of their classes digitally. The other half takes place on the FHSU campus in Hays, Kansas; classwork occurs in-person on Fridays and Saturdays.
Degree-seekers follow a specific sequence of courses. After completing core courses like foundations of counseling and lifespan human development, learners participate in a practicum. Students must also pass a comprehensive exam before beginning a 600-hour on-site counseling internship. Master's candidates must maintain a 3.0 GPA throughout the program to graduate.
People applying to this master's program should submit their undergraduate transcripts with proof they earned a 3.0 GPA during their last 60 hours of study, two reference letters, and a professional goals statement. The admissions process also involves a video group interview.
Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale
Fort Lauderdale, FL
The MS in clinical mental health counseling at Keiser equips graduates for professional counseling licensure in all 50 states. Students can pursue the degree online anywhere in the U.S., as long as they can attend several residencies on Keiser's Fort Lauderdale campus.
The clinical psychology master's program comprises 60 credits, 54 of which should be completed at Keiser. After completing 36 credits of core courses, students may choose from electives, such as:
- Counseling in community
- Foundations of addiction and addictive behavior
- Counseling and sexuality
Additionally, degree-seekers should complete a practicum and internship toward the end of the program. Students can choose the sites of the 100-hour practicum and 600-hour internship in their local communities.
Distance learners travel to the university's campus for three weekend residencies. These opportunities focus on hands-on skills development, and students can apply what they've learned in their general coursework.
Admission requirements include an undergraduate transcript, GRE scores, a personal goals statement and three recommendation letters. Keiser may waive test scores for applicants with an undergraduate transcript of 3.0 or higher.
Medaille operates as a private, four-year college with campuses in Buffalo and Rochester, New York. The college offers many online programs, including a distance learning clinical mental health counseling degree.
The 60-credit master's in clinical psychology typically takes two years to complete. After a sequence of 16 courses, students complete a 100-hour practicum with 40 face-to-face hours and a 600-hour clinical internship with 240 direct hours in individual and group counseling. Students also participate in two five-day residencies on the college's Buffalo campus.
The curriculum also requires a comprehensive exam, offered in the same format as the licensure exam in order to prepare students for the license application process.
Medaille reports a 74% program completion rate and a comprehensive exam pass rate of 100%. The school boasts an employment rate of 88% for graduates working in the counseling field during the 2018/2019 school year.
Interested individuals should submit their undergraduate transcripts, resume, letter of intent, and three recommendation letters. Candidates also participate in an admission interview.
Students at Palo Alto University can pursue an MA in counseling with a clinical mental health counseling emphasis to prepare for professional clinical counselor licensure in California.
The program’s online format allows students to participate in distance learning courses in addition to two residential training experiences at the university's California campus. The residencies promote clinical skills development, socializing and networking opportunities.
Degree-seekers can finish the full 93-unit degree in about 2.5 years. Potential elective courses include counseling immigrants and family play therapy.
Over the course of the degree, students must participate in at least 700 hours of supervised counseling experience through a practicum and internship, giving graduates the opportunity to obtain at least 280 hours of direct counseling experience.
This degree may also fulfill licensure requirements in other states; students should check with their state to determine if this degree makes them eligible for licensure in their desired state before enrolling.
Prospective students may apply if they possess a bachelor's degree; the university considers applicants with non-psychology degrees. Applicants should also submit recommendation letters and a statement of purpose.
This Chicago-based university facilitates a clinical mental health counseling master's program for students who wish to complete their degree online.
The curriculum consists of three parts: core courses, electives/thesis, and field training and seminars. Degree-seekers may choose between enrolling in elective courses like counseling and human sexuality or writing a thesis. To supplement field work, students take a social justice practicum, during which they spend 200 hours working for a community outreach site.
Four courses require in-person learning and evaluation components during two five-day residencies. Students complete these components as part of their counseling skills, counseling multicultural communities, group counseling, and treatment planning and intervention courses.
According to Adler data, about 88% of the students who enroll in the program successfully complete it. Approximately 92% of graduates find jobs in the field within one year.
Interested individuals can apply if they possess a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. They should also submit a statement of intent and two recommendation letters.
Applying to a Master’s Programs in Clinical Psychology
Admission requirements vary between clinical psychology graduate programs. However, graduate programs all share one requirement: prospective students must hold a bachelor’s degree. Many schools prefer candidates with an educational background in psychology, although some accept applicants with bachelor’s degrees in unrelated fields.
Applicants typically need an undergraduate GPA of at least 2.5, but some schools prefer a minimum GPA of up to 3.0. Prospective students should also submit GRE or MAT scores. Most institutions usually set a minimum standardized test score.
Along with completed applications, transcripts, resumes, and test scores, prospective students may need to submit personal essays and letters of recommendation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where do clinical psychologists work?
Clinical psychologists are employed in a variety of settings. Many work in private practice, while others find jobs at schools, colleges, prisons, and businesses. They may also work at hospitals or research institutions.
What is accreditation and why is it important?
Accreditation agencies evaluate colleges, universities, and academic programs to ensure that students receive a high quality education. Accredited degrees hold more value than unaccredited degrees. Clinical psychologists need accredited master’s degrees in clinical psychology to obtain licensure, and employers prefer to hire job candidates with an accredited degree. Students should look for programs accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA).
How much do you make with a master's degree in psychology?
PayScale data shows that individuals with a master’s degree in psychology earn average salaries ranging from about $59,000–$61,000. However, psychologists typically make more than the average master’s degree-holder. As a profession, psychologists earn a median salary of about $80,370 annually, according to the BLS. Similarly, clinical psychologists bring home an annual average salary of about $80,600, according to PayScale data.
What can I do with a master's degree in clinical psychology?
Many graduates go on to become clinical psychologists, while others find jobs as school or career counselors, substance abuse counselors, counseling psychologists, forensic psychologists, and marriage and family therapists. Many go on to earn a doctoral degree in psychology, which can lead to careers as psychology professors or researchers at colleges and universities.