Best Online Master’s in Child and Adolescent Psychology Programs

Earning a master's in child and adolescent psychology can lead to a rewarding career helping youth. Here, we list the best online programs available.

Best Online Master’s in Child and Adolescent Psychology Programs

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Child Psychology Masters Programs Online

A master's in child and adolescent psychology helps learners build knowledge in general and child psychology. Applicants need a bachelor's degree. Some programs require an undergraduate psychology background. Online child and adolescent psychology programs prepare learners for various counseling and social work careers.

Professionals need a doctorate to work as clinical child psychologists. These professionals study cognitive and behavioral processes in younger populations. They often work with children and families to address emotional and social issues. Child psychologists may also work in research to better understand the child and adolescent mind.

This guide lists the best child and adolescent psychology degrees. Read on to learn about costs, common classes, and how to become a child psychologist.

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Questions About Child and Adolescent Psychology

How many years does it take to become a child and adolescent psychologist?

Child psychologists need a doctorate. Learners can complete a bachelor's in four years, a master's in 1-3 years, and a doctorate in 4-6 years.

Is a child and adolescent psychologist a licensed psychologist?

Clinically practicing child psychologists need state licensure. This requires completing advanced education and supervised professional experience. They must also pass a state licensure exam.

What is the difference between a child and adolescent psychologist and a school psychologist?

Child psychologists and school psychologists both work with children and adolescents. Child psychologists always need a doctorate. School psychologists may only need a master's.

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Why Get a Degree in Child and Adolescent Psychology?

Earning a child and adolescent psychology degree prepares students for various psychology careers. A master's degree also serves as the next step toward a doctorate. Graduates can work in school counseling, family counseling, or social work.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects job growth for many psychology careers. For example, the BLS projects jobs for school and career counselors to grow 11% from 2020-2030.

How Much Does a Child and Adolescent Psychology Degree Cost?

A master's degree costs an average of $66,340, according to However, degree costs vary by school type, program length, and learners' residency status. Students attending in-state public schools usually pay the most affordable tuition. Learners pursuing a degree from a private or out-of-state school may spend more.

Many schools offer online psychology programs, which can help students continue working while earning their degree. An online format also lets degree-seekers attend top programs without relocating or commuting.

Additional Online Student Fees

Online learners should budget for extra expenses. Schools may charge fees for online enrollment to cover technology costs and other online resources. Online enrollees may also need to pay other administrative expenses, such as graduation fees.

Master's in child and adolescent psychology programs often include in-person clinical requirements. Students may need to budget for travel and lodging to fulfill these requirements.

How Much Do Child and Adolescent Psychology Graduates Make?

A master's in child and adolescent psychology prepares graduates for family therapist, social worker, and school counselor careers. While the degree builds advanced knowledge in psychology, practicing psychologists need a doctorate. This degree requires many extra years of education.

Salaries vary by field. Family therapists earn an annual median salary of $51,340, while social workers earn $51,760. Professionals who earn a doctorate, such as a Ph.D. or Psy.D., can work as psychologists. These professionals earn an annual median salary of $82,180.

Courses in a Master's in Child and Adolescent Psychology Program

Master's in child and adolescent psychology programs include general psychology classes. Degree-seekers also take specialized child psychology classes. Students develop skills in research, program evaluation, and professional ethics.

Master's degree-seekers usually complete a thesis or capstone. These experiences may involve original research or a project that addresses an issue in child psychology practice.

See below for three common classes in master's in child and adolescent psychology programs. Keep in mind that class titles vary by program.

  • Developmental Psychology

    This class introduces major concepts in childhood and adolescent development. Students gain a strong foundation for understanding child psychology. Learners explore various developmental psychology perspectives and their relevance to professional practice. Coursework covers biology, cognition, and emotional development.
  • Child Psychology Research

    Research plays a major role in child psychology. It informs both clinical practice and the field's overall direction. This class introduces students to research methods and tools for childhood psychology. Students gain the skills to design, conduct, and evaluate their own research.
  • Ethical Practice in Psychology

    Both clinical and research psychologists commonly encounter ethical issues in their work. This class highlights key topics such as confidentiality and experimentation. Students also learn about professional conduct standards. Coursework may also address ethical issues of working with children and families.

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How to Become a Child Psychologist

Practicing child psychologists need a doctorate, such as a Ph.D. or Psy.D. Doctoral applicants typically need a master's in child psychology or a related area. Some school psychologist positions may only require a master's degree.

Child psychologists work with children and families in various settings. In clinical practice, they work directly with children experiencing emotional or behavioral conditions. In schools, they counsel students experiencing similar challenges. In social work organizations, child psychologists assess children's wellness and connect them to other social services.

Licensure for Child and Adolescent Psychology

Licensure requirements vary by state. However, all states require practicing psychologists to hold a doctorate in psychology. They must also complete multiple years of supervised practice and pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology. The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards offers information on specific state licensure standards.

The American Board of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology also offers board certification in clinical and adolescent psychology. Certification candidates need a doctorate in psychology and internship training. They also need three years of supervised postdoctoral experience. Candidates must also pass the board certification exam, which costs $825.

Practicing child psychologists must complete regular continuing education to keep their knowledge of the field current. Psychologists can fulfill continuing education requirements through webinars, seminars, and classes. The American Board of Professional Psychology keeps a list of continuing education requirements for each state.

Best Online Master's in Child and Adolescent Psychology 2022

  1. Southern New Hampshire University

    Manchester, NH

    Located in Manchester, New Hampshire, SNHU offers an online master of science in psychology program with a concentration in child and adolescent psychology.

    Students of this MS program learn to analyze and support the psychological well-being of individuals and communities, integrate psychological theories in research, and develop assessment and treatment strategies in addressing psychological needs. Students must complete 36 credits of coursework to earn their degree. They must also meet the requirements to work as a specialist in child or adolescent development.

    This MS program allows students to transfer up to 12 graduate credits from other institutions toward their degree. The school requires individuals to have earned an undergraduate psychology degree online or on campus. Southern New Hampshire University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education.

  2. Palo Alto University

    Palo Alto, CA

    A private, nonprofit university based in Palo Alto, California, PAU offers an online master of arts in counseling program focused on marriage, family, and child therapy.

    PAU's master's in counseling degree paves the way for students to qualify for the California professional clinical counseling licensure. Students must complete at least 700 hours of counseling-related experience, including a minimum of 280 hours of direct counseling.

    Graduates of this MA program work as marriage and family therapists in private practice. They may also serve in schools and colleges, medical and mental health centers, and social service organizations.

    PAU allows students to transfer up to 15 units of prior graduate work. Applicants must submit official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, an updated resume, and a completed online application form. Palo Alto University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission.

  3. Adler University

    Chicago, IL

    Strategically located at the heart of Chicago, Illinois, Adler offers an online master of arts in psychology program with four distinct concentrations in child and adolescent development, gender and sexuality studies, crisis management, and health and wellness.

    The concentration in child and adolescent development provides students with intensive courses in the models of psychosocial development, and how social, emotional, and educational support impact youth development. This 36-credit MA degree prepares students to assume specialist roles as mental health professionals, family support advocates, sports psychologists, mental performance coaches, forensic identification specialists, curriculum designers, or research data analysts.

    The school requires prospective applicants to have a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university or an equivalent degree from an international college or university. Applicants must also submit official transcripts demonstrating a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA, along with three letters of recommendation. Adler University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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