Clinical psychology online master’s programs teach students to assess and treat behavioral health conditions, psychological distress, and mental health conditions. Master’s in clinical psychology courses cover topics such as group therapy, psychopathology, and cognitive and behavioral therapy.
Graduates can find employment in school psychology, mental health counseling, and marriage and family therapy. Many careers in these fields offer robust employment prospects. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 16% job growth for marriage and family therapists from 2020-2030, significantly faster than the 8% national average.
We ranked the top clinical psychology online master’s programs for 2021. We also cover what to expect from a master’s in clinical psychology program, how to choose the right school, and the benefits of earning this degree.
What Is a Master’s in Clinical Psychology Degree?
The clinical psychology field attracts people interested in working directly with people to address mental health and behavioral conditions. To succeed in this profession, individuals need compassion, patience, and interpersonal communication skills.
Earning a master of clinical psychology online qualifies graduates for occupations in diverse settings. They may work in schools, workplaces, prisons, hospitals, and private practices. Graduates with a master’s in clinical psychology often begin working under the supervision of a licensed clinical psychologist. Specializations for these professionals may include child psychology, attachment theory, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Learn More About Psychology Programs
Why Get a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology?
Pursuing a master’s in clinical psychology offers several benefits, including higher wages, sought-after skills, and the opportunity to help people. People with a bachelor’s in psychology or social work can also experience these benefits. However, professionals need a master’s degree to work in clinical psychology.
Below, we discuss these three key benefits of earning a clinical psychology online master’s degree.
Pursuing a master’s in clinical psychology can substantially impact earning potential. In 2019, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reported 26% higher annual median earnings for full-time employees aged 25-34 with at least a master’s degree compared to those with only a bachelor’s degree.
Clinical psychology online master’s programs help students refine their problem-solving abilities and interpersonal skills as they prepare for roles in counseling, therapy, and psychology.
Graduates from a master’s in clinical psychology program work primarily with people to help address behavioral, stress-related, or mental health conditions.
Best PhDs in Clinical Psychology
What to Expect From a Clinical Psychology Online Master’s
Clinical psychology online master’s programs teach students about personality assessment, clinical best practices, and therapeutic approaches. Enrollees learn to apply these skills to assess and treat mental health conditions, relationship problems, and emotional difficulties.
Master’s in clinical psychology online degrees usually require 36-54 credits and take 1-2 years to complete. Typical classes include psychological assessment, psychopathology, and developmental psychology. While tuition costs vary by program, in-state public schools usually offer the lowest rates.
Some psychology degree master’s programs provide concentrations in psychodynamic therapy, school psychology, and marriage and relationship counseling.
Top clinical psychology online master’s programs often require applicants to hold a bachelor’s in psychology, social work, or related field from an accredited school. However, some programs may accept candidates with a bachelor’s in other disciplines if they hold relevant professional experience.
Applicants typically submit a resume, a statement of purpose, 2-3 recommendation letters, GRE scores, and an application fee. Some schools waive testing requirements for distance learners.
While schools do not usually maintain minimum GRE requirements, most universities require a 3.0 GPA or higher. GRE scores in the 90th percentile and a 3.5 GPA or higher can improve admission chances.
Some clinical psychology online master’s programs offer concentrations in a particular subfield. Examples include child psychology, family counseling, and behavior therapy. Other programs allow students to specialize through a mix of electives. Common clinical psychology focus areas include:
Child PsychologyThis focus area trains learners to assess and treat behavioral problems and mental health conditions in children. Topics include early childhood development, behavioral regulation, and childhood abandonment.
School PsychologyThis specialization prepares enrollees for counseling roles in K-12 schools. Coursework includes motivational psychology and behavioral psychology. Students also learn counseling theory and practice.
Family TherapyA concentration in family therapy covers family and relationship dynamics. Classes in this specialization include attachment theory, couples’ therapy, and grief counseling.
Cognitive-Behavioral TherapyA cognitive-behavioral therapy track delves into therapeutic approaches for altering people’s thinking or behavioral patterns. Students learn about exposure therapy, token economy, and emotional regulation.
Psychodynamic TherapyThis concentration prepares students for entry-level jobs in hospitals. It also prepares learners for clinical practice under a licensed clinical psychologist’s supervision. Coursework focuses on developmental psychology and avoidance behavior.
Read About the Branches of Psychology
Popular Clinical Psychology Courses
Clinical psychology online master’s curricula feature courses in social psychology, personality psychology, and advanced clinical counseling. Popular electives include behavioral psychology, early childhood development, and grief counseling.
Most psychology master’s programs also require a practicum or clinical fieldwork component. Below, we cover four common courses in a clinical psychology degree program.
Proseminar in Clinical PsychologyThis survey course typically occurs in the first semester of study. Students develop core proficiencies in clinical assessment and therapeutic approaches.
Personality PsychologyThe first part of this required class examines major theories in personality psychology. It also analyzes how hereditary factors, experience, emotions, and aging shape personality. The second part focuses on the methodology for designing personality assessment tools.
Behavioral PsychologyAn elective in behavioral psychology explores how life experiences and coping strategies shape human behavior. Learners analyze the psychological processes behind behavioral therapeutic techniques. Examples include exposure and response prevention, token economy, systematic desensitization, and modeling.
Attachment TheoryAn elective in behavioral psychology explores how life experiences and coping strategies shape human behavior. Learners analyze the psychological processes behind behavioral therapeutic techniques. Examples include exposure and response prevention, token economy, systematic desensitization, and modeling.
How Much Will a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology Online Cost?
Several factors can influence tuition costs, including school type, state residency, and program format. According to NCES data, public universities charged an average of $12,410 in graduate tuition and fees in 2019-2020, compared to $26,600 per year for private institutions.
However, many schools offer distance learning courses at a discounted rate. For example, some public institutions offer in-state tuition for all learners, regardless of state residency. Remote students can also save on commuting and relocation costs.
Some schools offer a tuition waiver and a graduate stipend to learners qualified for a teaching or research assistantship. However, these institutions may require on-campus attendance for stipend recipients. Other financial aid options include scholarships, fellowships, grants, and loans.
Most Affordable Online Master's in Psychology Degrees
Jobs for Clinical Psychologist Degree Graduates
A master’s in clinical psychology can lead to high-paying, in-demand careers in mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, school counseling, and industrial-organizational psychology. According to the BLS, marriage and family therapists earn a median annual salary of $51,340 and industrial-organizational psychologists earn a median $82,180 salary per year.
Clinical psychologists generally need a doctoral degree. However, a master’s degree in clinical psychology suffices for some psychology careers in coaching, therapy, and counseling. Unsupervised psychologists, counselors, and therapists will also need a license.
Below, we describe potential careers for graduates with a clinical psychology degree.
Mental Health Counselor
Mental health counselors advise people with mental and behavioral conditions. These professionals assess clients’ mental health and develop treatment goals. They also help clients develop strategies for coping with problems. All states require licensure for mental health counselors.
Required Education: Master’s degree
Job Outlook (2020-30): 23%
Median Annual Salary: $47,660
School counselors help students cultivate skills for academic success and address behavioral problems. They assist students in developing academic and career goals. In addition, they address academic or behavioral problems and collaborate with teachers to maximize student success. Some states require licensure for school counselors.
Required Education: Master’s degree
Job Outlook (2020-30): 11%
Median Annual Salary: $58,120
Marriage and Family Therapist
Marriage and family therapists help people overcome family and relationship challenges. These therapists typically counsel groups of clients who are experiencing difficulties in their romantic and familial relationships. All states require licensure for marriage and family therapists.
Required Education: Master’s degree
Job Outlook (2020-30): 16%
Median Annual Salary: $51,340
Industrial-organizational psychologists help improve the quality of worklife. Their responsibilities include addressing workplace conflicts, improving employee morale, and working with managers to adjust leadership tactics.
Required Education: Master’s degree
Job Outlook (2020-30): 8%
Median Annual Salary: $82,180
What Are the Requirements for a Career in Psychology?
Choosing the Right Master’s in Clinical Psychology Program
Our rankings are a great place to begin the search for a clinical psychology master’s degree. However, students should consider several other factors, including accreditation, cost, and career services.
Schools obtain regional accreditation through a third-party evaluation that assesses academics, faculty credentials, student services, and campus facilities. Attending a regionally accredited university increases job and financial aid opportunities. Some fields, including psychology, also have programmatic accreditation bodies that certify whether a program meets certain educational standards. Most licenses in clinical psychology require a degree from a program with industry accreditation from the American Psychological Association Commission on Accreditation.
In-state public schools tend to be more affordable than out-of-state public schools or private institutions. Online programs at public schools may offer in-state tuition to all enrollees. Prospective students should also seek financial aid, such as scholarships, grants, and loans, which can also reduce program costs.
The best clinical psychology online master’s programs offer various career services, such as networking events, resume and letter-writing services, and career workshops.
What Is Accreditation and Why Does It Matter?
Why You Should Get Your Degree Online
Most clinical psychology online master’s programs require some on-campus presence for practicums or clinical fieldwork. However, many schools offer distance learning options where students complete coursework remotely. These online programs provide convenience and flexibility, allowing learners to attend top schools without relocating.
With the recent rise in telehealth appointments, clinical psychologists may need computer skills to succeed in their careers. Developing these skills while earning a master’s degree can make online students more employable.
Course delivery varies by school. Synchronous courses provide an immersive online environment with real-time lectures and peer discussion. By contrast, students in asynchronous classes listen to lectures and contribute to virtual discussion boards with more scheduling flexibility.
Each format comes with unique advantages. While the synchronous layout mirrors the on-campus experience, the asynchronous format allows attendees to balance school with other commitments. Students should note that meeting course deadlines in asynchronous programs requires self-discipline and time management.
Frequently Asked Questions About Clinical Psychology Degrees
Q. What do clinical psychologists do?
Clinical psychologists apply psychological principles and best practices to assess and treat behavioral problems, work-related stress, and mental health conditions in schools, workplaces, prisons, hospitals, and private practices.
Q. Is getting a clinical psychology degree worth it?
Yes. Earning a master’s in clinical psychology online prepares students for high-paying, in-demand careers in mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, and school psychology.
Q. Can you get a master’s in clinical psychology online?
Yes. Many top schools offer a master’s in clinical psychology online. In-state public institutions offer more affordable tuition rates than private universities. However, schools increasingly offer distance education at a reduced rate.
Q. How long are clinical psychology online master’s programs?
Clinical psychology online master’s programs usually require 36-54 credits and take 1-2 years of full-time study to complete. Schools may offer accelerated options that allow students to complete their degrees in less than a year.
Q. What can I do with a master’s degree in clinical psychology?
Graduates can apply to a doctoral program in clinical psychology or find work in fields like mental health counseling, school psychology, and marriage and family therapy.
Best Online Master’s in Clinical Psychology Degrees
Pepperdine offers an online master's in clinical psychology program. Graduates often pursue licensure to practice clinical counseling or marriage and family therapy. Most students complete the program in about 27 months. The 62-unit curriculum includes coursework in substance misuse and diversity in counseling.
Students earning the degree online explore applied psychotherapy methods. Learners receive clinical training at approved local sites. Participants develop advanced psychological assessment and diagnosis skills. They prepare to treat mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Course topics include personality disorders, addictions, and family conflict.
Pepperdine accepts students to the online master's in clinical psychology program on a rolling basis. The program offers four start dates per year. Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited school. They do not need to submit GRE scores. Pepperdine holds regional accreditation from the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
Virginia Beach, VA
Based in Virginia Beach, Regent offers an online MA in clinical mental health counseling. The program features a Christian perspective. Graduates often become licensed counselors. Most students take 6-9 credits per term and graduate in three years.
Core coursework covers family systems, counseling theory, and group counseling. Enrollees study counseling skills and techniques and multicultural counseling. Participants take a course on counseling and Christian thought. Online learners attend two, one-week residencies on campus. Students complete a practicum and two supervised internships. Learners must pass an exit exam to graduate.
Applicants need a bachelor's degree and must participate in a webcam interview. The online master's in clinical psychology program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.
LETU delivers an online MA program in clinical mental health counseling. The program meets coursework requirements for Texas state licensure. About 94% of graduates pass the National Counseling Exam.
LETU's online program requires 66 credits. Learners complete 45 core credits in areas including counseling skills, ethics, and research methods. Coursework also covers family therapies and group counseling. Enrollees learn about psychopathology.
Degree-seekers complete a practicum and two internships. The curriculum features six credits of clinical theology coursework. Learners examine integrative technology for counselors. Learners complete 15 elective credits in fields such as addictions counseling and family therapy. LETU holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Southern New Hampshire University
SNHU delivers an online master's in clinical mental health counseling. The program features online coursework and on-campus residencies. Students also complete an in-person clinical experience. The 60-credit program prepares students to earn counseling licensure. Enrollees can complete 90% of program coursework online.
Core classes explore human development and counseling theory. Learners take courses in counseling diversity and treatment planning. The MA program provides basic knowledge in counseling ethics and mental health counseling law. Students complete a 100-hour practicum and a 600-hour internship. During two, five-day residencies on campus, students hone individual and group helping techniques.
SNHU offers rolling admissions. Applicants submit a personal statement and two recommendation letters. They also submit official transcripts. The program does not require GRE or GMAT scores. The online master's in clinical psychology program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.
Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Keiser offers a 60-credit online MS in clinical mental health counseling. The program meets education standards for Florida clinical counseling licensure. The core curriculum introduces counseling approaches and theories. Learners explore prevention strategies and crisis counseling. Coursework covers group theories and practice. Students learn to evaluate research and programs.
Elective options include psychopathology and family counseling. Learners can study topics including addictive behavior and sexuality counseling. Students complete supervised internships at clinical sites. The program includes three on-campus weekend residencies. Participants gain assessment, diagnosis, and treatment skills. The residencies facilitate direct networking and feedback with faculty and peers.
Applicants to the master's in clinical psychology online program submit a resume. They also submit recommendation letters and a personal goal statement. Admission requires GRE scores and a criminal background check. Transfer applicants can apply up to six graduate credits toward the degree.Keiser is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.