Best Online Master’s in Clinical Psychology Degrees 2021

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Master’s in clinical psychology programs often prefer applicants who hold a bachelor’s in psychology. However, many programs accept learners with undergraduate degrees in other fields, as long as they have completed prerequisites such as statistics and research methodology. Applicants may also need a minimum GPA and sufficient GRE scores.

Most states require clinical psychologists to hold a doctoral degree and at least 2,000 hours of supervised clinical experience before practicing independently. After earning a master’s in clinical psychology degree, graduates can typically practice under the supervision of a licensed clinical psychologist. Depending on their specialization area, master’s-level clinical psychology graduates often work as career counselors, corporate trainers, human resources administrators, and learning disability specialists.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), psychologists earn a median salary of $80,370 per year, more than double the median salary for all occupations. Qualified clinical psychologists often enjoy ample professional opportunities and high earning potential.

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Recommended Online Programs

Top 10 Best Online Master’s in Clinical Psychology Degrees

Rank School Location
1 Palo Alto University Palo Alto, CA
2 Bellevue University Bellevue, NE
3 Wake Forest University Winston-Salem, NC
4 Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion Marion, IN
5 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
6 West Virginia University Morgantown, WV
7 Lamar University Beaumont, TX
8 University of West Alabama Livingston, AL
9 Adler Graduate School Richfield, MN
10 Regent University Virginia Beach, VA

FAQ


  • What do clinical psychologists do?

    Psychologists provide counseling or clinical services to people with mental, behavioral, or emotional disorders. These professionals treat complex behavior problems, promote emotional health, and prevent mental disorders.


  • What are the areas of clinical psychology?

    Clinical psychology is a specialization within the psychology field. However, clinical psychologists can focus in areas such as child and adult mental health, learning disabilities, substance abuse, and geriatrics.


  • What is the difference between a clinical psychologist and a psychologist?

    Psychologists typically work with generally healthy individuals who are experiencing temporary conflicts or life transitions. Clinical psychologists treat patients with serious, longstanding mental and behavioral problems.


  • What does a career in clinical psychology look like?

    Clinical psychologists work with patients in private and group settings. These psychologists create individual treatment plans and often coordinate with other health providers to provide comprehensive care. Some clinical psychologists conduct research or teach at the postsecondary level.


 
 

Best Online Master’s in Clinical Psychology Degrees 2021



  1. Palo Alto University
    Location

    Palo Alto, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Palo Alto University offers a online Master’s Degree in Counseling with emphasis on Clinical Mental Health. This program is CACREP accredited and ensures students are prepared to support their communities mental health needs. The University’s goal is to develop highly effective mental health counselors that can pave an innovative path in the profession. This is achieved by providing excellent education and clinical practice for students in a diverse and nurturing online learning community. Completion of this program will take students approximately 2 years and 9 months.

  2. Bellevue University
    Location

    Bellevue, NE

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Bellevue, Nebraska and founded in 1966, Bellevue University is a private school offering over 70 degrees to 10,000 students. Focused mostly on adult education, the University delivers education on their beautiful 46-acre main campus in Bellevue but also through a developed and respected online platform.

    Bellevue offers a Master of Science in Clinical Counseling (MSCC) degree. The 60-credit program (transfer credits are accepted) is intensive, moving from foundational classes such as Introduction to Counseling, Theories of Psychotherapy, and Ethical and Legal Issues, to the robust 100 hours of practicum and 600 hours of clinical internship. Through this excellent preparation, graduates will be ready on day one of their new career or position. Admission requirements include a bachelor’s, minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.5, letters of recommendation, and six hours in the behavioral sciences. BU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission through the U.S. Department of Education, something employers appreciate. Though the program is almost entirely online and very flexible, there are two residency requirements: one visit after admission and one before the clinical internship. All in all, Bellevue’s program features the convenience, flexibility, quality and affordability ($410 per credit) that a #4 school should have.

  3. Wake Forest University
    Location

    Winston-Salem, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    With a motto like “Pro Humanitate” (For Humanity) Wake Forest was destined to become a premier university. Founded in 1844 and located to their present site in 1956, the liberal arts school has a total enrollment of approximately 8,000 offering 40 majors and 57 interdisciplinary minors across various fields of study.

    In step with the motto, Wake Forest University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences is “committed to the preparation of qualified professionals for compassionate service to humanity.” The online Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is 60 credits that progresses through Core Courses such as human growth and development, social and cultural foundations, research and program evaluation, Clinical Courses, courses in a Program Specialty Area such as Mental and Emotional Disorders, internships, and culminates in a Professional Identity Capstone Project. At WFU, online classes are taught by experienced faculty and the program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Admission requirements include a bachelor’s, minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.5, three letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and interview. Reassuring to know, WFU has a 100 percent pass rate for graduates taking the National Counselor exam.

  4. Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion
    Location

    Marion, IN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Indiana Wesleyan University is a private, Christian university associated with the Wesleyan Church. IWU is the largest private college in Indiana with approximately 15,000 total students. It should be noted that of those, about 3000 reside at the beautiful 350-acre campus in Marion, Indiana, and about 10,000 are enrolled as adult learners.

    IWU offers four Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology: Clinical Addictions Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Community Counseling, and Marriage and Family Counseling/Therapy. All programs are taught through a Christian worldview by faculty members who have earned doctorates and licenses and are active in the counseling profession. The MA in Clinical Addictions is 48 credit-hours and is designed to lead to becoming a Master Clinical Addiction Counselor through the NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals. The MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and the MA in Marriage and Family Counseling/Therapy are 60 credits and can lead to licensure or to PhD programs. The programs that lead to licensure in Indiana may or may not apply in your state. Examination for suitability to each program is suggested. Lastly, there is the MA in Community Counseling a non-licensure 36-credit program preparing personal coaches, helpers in private practices, community agencies, and organizational settings. Cost per credit is one of the most inexpensive at $325.

  5. Liberty University
    Location

    Lynchburg, VA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Liberty University was founded in 1971 as Lynchburg Baptist College by Jerry Falwell. Since then, the School has seen incredible growth. Today it is the largest Christian University in the world with a total enrollment of 110,000, with 94,000 enrolling online.

    Liberty University offers many online options for a Master of Clinical Psychology: MA in Addiction Counseling, MA in Human Services Counseling with several concentrations, MA in Marriage & Family Therapy, and MA in Professional Counseling. All programs are taught through a Christian worldview with the intention of a providing holistic training. Just to examine a couple options: the MA in Professional Counseling is a 60-hour graduate level program designed to prepare you for licensure as a Professional Counselor (LPC). It is important to note the program cannot be completed entirely online, but requires three on-campus visits (reasonable accommodations are available). The MA in Addiction Counseling is online, with three “intensives”, is 48 credits, and prepares you for certification and/or licensure as a substance abuse or addiction counselor. Important to note, only the residential MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is accredited by CACREP. The cost per credit at LU is $615.

  6. West Virginia University
    Location

    Morgantown, WV

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    West Virginia University is a land-grant, space-grant institution located in Morgantown, West Virginia. The University has 14 colleges and schools offering 350 majors in just about every degree imaginable.

    As for online Masters in Clinical Psychology, WVU offers a MS in Clinical Rehabilitation & Mental Health Counseling through the College of Education and Human Services. The program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Admission requirements include a bachelor’s, minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.8, statement of purpose, a GRE or MAT score, and a final interview. It is recommended applicants have completed coursework in Human Relations. The curriculum and scope of the program includes 60 total credits and two on-campus visits (Group Counseling Theories and Techniques and Counseling Theory and Techniques) and classes from Theories of Human Appraisal to Ethical Issues in Counseling, as well as a robust internship and practicum. Classes are taught by seasoned faculty, many with the highest degree possible, and professional field experience to boot. With an MA in hand, graduates are prepared to gain licensure and step into mental health counseling roles with skill and confidence.

  7. Lamar University
    Location

    Beaumont, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Lamar University, located in Beaumont, Texas, is a part of the Texas State University System. The School has 15,000 students and offers more than 100 programs. All of Lamar’s online programs are led by the same faculty who teach on campus.

    The Department of Counseling and Special Populations offers a Master of Education in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. The MEd is guided by CACREP common-core objectives and designed to prepare professionals to provide clinical counseling services in clinics, hospitals, school-based mental health programs, and private practice. The degree is 60 hours and requires two residency experiences, one at the beginning and the other before the internship. The internship experience is 15 weeks and 11 weeks (summer) and requires mandatory synchronous group supervision (real-time class meetings). The residency requirements are very intentional and necessary as they involve face-to-face individual and group counseling theory and practice sessions. Admission does not require a GRE if the undergraduate GPA is 3.0 or above or the applicant has earned a master’s degree from an accredited institution. Due to varying licensure requirements depending on the state, it is the responsibility of the applicant to determine the suitability of LU’s program to fulfill their career goals.

  8. University of West Alabama
    Location

    Livingston, AL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Founded in 1835 as Livingston Female Academy and making it through the Civil War and Reconstruction, the private teacher training school has now become the University of West Alabama, a public university in Livingston, Alabama. UWV serves 2300 residential students and 2800 online students and offers more than 60 undergraduate programs and 10 graduate programs.

    The School offers multiple online Master in Clinical Psychology degrees: MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (60 credits), MS in Family Counseling (33 credits), and MS in Experimental Psychology, Clinical Psychology Option (39-54 credits). All degrees are offered both residentially and online. The online format is flexible and convenient and does not require on-campus visits. As for program specifics, the MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling gives the theoretical, practical, and legal foundations to excel in the field. This is aided by a robust 100-hour practicum and 600-hour internship experience overseen jointly by a site supervisor and a UWA counselor educator program faculty member who meet CACREP criteria. Since the programs are all through the College of Education, the NCATE accreditation adds credentials to your degree for future employers. Important to note these programs are not licensure tracks. It is the applicant’s responsibility to determine how the program fits with each state’s licensure requirements.

  9. Adler Graduate School
    Location

    Richfield, MN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Richfield, Minnesota, Adler Graduate School educates those seeking to enter the mental health field in six areas: Marriage and Family Therapy, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, School Counseling, Co-Occurring Disorders, and Art Therapy. The School is guided by the philosophy of Alfred Adler, who believed in encouragement, open-mindedness, and mutual support to advance the public interest.

    The Adler Graduate School offers a MA Degree in Adlerian Counseling and Psychotherapy with an emphasis in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC).

    The 60-credit program prepares students for their licensure as a Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC). The LPCC is a general license and designed for those who wish to work with individuals, couples, and families. Curriculum includes coursework in Adlerian psychology, field experiences, and the completion of a Master’s Project all working to fulfill the Minnesota Board of Behavioral Health and Therapy (BBHT) for licensure. There are some residency requirements with this degree. After students complete the MA, they move to the supervision of the BBHT to complete the necessary hours. Adler Graduate School also offers a MA in Marriage and Family Therapy leading to licensure as a Marriage & Family Therapist (LMFT). Cost per credit at AGS is $550.

  10. Regent University
    Location

    Virginia Beach, VA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Regent University’s mission is “to prepare men and women to excel both in mind and spirit.” Regent is a private, Christian research university located in Virginia Beach, Virginia serving 9000 students by offering over 100 graduate and undergraduate programs residential and online.

    The School of Psychology & Counseling at Regent offers an online MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and an MA in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling. . In line with the vision of the school, the programs are explicitly taught from a Christian worldview. This is accomplished by integrating biblical principles with the best of what modern psychology offers. Curriculum for both programs includes core coursework, a practicum, and an internship for a total of 60 credits. Two campus visits are required due to the nature of the degree and practical skills necessary for success and licensure. The residency requirements consists of two week-long visits where face-to-face instruction and group practice apply theoretical knowledge to real-world situations. Notably, the programs are accredited by both the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP) ensuring high quality instruction and highly-qualified faculty. Both programs prepare graduates for licensure.

What Are the Goals of a Clinical Psychology Degree?

Students can pursue a clinical psychology degree at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Most states require clinical psychologists to obtain a doctorate and pass a licensure exam before practicing independently. Doctoral students in the field can earn a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) or a doctor of psychology (Psy.D.). Each program type requires research and practice-oriented components. However, Ph.D. curricula emphasize research, while Psy.D. programs focus on practice.

Common specialization options for a clinical psychology degree include geropsychology, neuropsychology, and health psychology. Clinical psychology programs typically require foundational coursework in research, statistics, and communication.

Why Get a Clinical Psychology Degree?



A master’s in clinical psychology degree prepares learners for careers and doctoral programs in the field. The list below highlights a few common benefits of earning a clinical psychology degree.

Increase Credibility
A master’s in clinical psychology degree demonstrates knowledge and training in the field. The degree also indicates a commitment to helping clients address and manage mental and behavioral issues.
Expand Knowledge and Enhance Skills
Accredited clinical psychology programs include coursework that apply the latest developments and research findings in the field. These programs prepare students to diagnose and treat patients.
Improve Professional Options
Graduates of accredited master’s in clinical psychology programs often qualify for leadership and management positions. Employers often prefer graduate degree-holders for advanced positions.
Higher Salary
Psychologists earn an above-average median salary, according to the BLS. A master’s degree often qualifies individuals for leadership roles within the field, which can further increase earning potential.
Deliver Better Patient Care
Accredited clinical psychology programs help learners gain tools and techniques for delivering effective and timely patient care. This can lead to better overall patient outcomes.

What Are the Requirements for a Clinical Psychology Degree?

Applicants to master’s-level clinical psychology programs often need a bachelor’s in the field. However, some programs accept applicants with a bachelor’s degree in unrelated fields. Most master’s programs require applicants to submit GRE or GMAT scores.

Most doctoral programs require applicants to hold a master’s degree, but some doctoral programs accept bachelor’s degree-holders who demonstrate outstanding academic performance. These programs may or may not award a separate master’s degree.

A master’s in clinical psychology degree usually culminates with a thesis. Undergraduate programs in the field may require a capstone project or a comprehensive exam. Ph.D. programs typically require a dissertation, but Psy.D. candidates may have the option to complete a research program instead.

What is Accreditation and Why Does it Matter?

Professional Organizations for Clinical Psychology Students



Professional organizations in the psychology field support members by keeping them informed of the latest research and developments. Members often receive access to collaboration, mentorship, and professional networking opportunities. The organizations below accept psychology professionals and students earning a clinical psychology degree.


  • American Academy of Clinical Psychology Academy membership includes benefits such as access to continuing education options, discounts on professional liability insurance premiums, and inclusion in the organization's member directory. Members receive information about research and collaboration opportunities through private communication channels.

  • American Counseling Association ACA publishes journals, books, and newsletters on current and emerging trends in the counseling field. Members gain exclusive access to professional development and continuing education courses, which can help counselors fulfill license renewal requirements. The organization maintains a database of information related to licensure requirements, mental health resources, and regulatory changes.

Scholarships for Clinical Psychology Students

Many colleges and universities offering a master’s in clinical psychology degree administer financial aid programs. Learners can also apply for funding from professional associations, nonprofits, and government agencies. The opportunities below represent a sampling of the scholarships and fellowships available to students pursuing a master’s in psychology.

David H. and Beverly A, Barlow Grant

Who Can Apply: The American Psychological Association offers the award to support master’s-level clinical research related to anxiety disorders. Applicants must attend an accredited school and demonstrate a history of research or practice related to anxiety disorders.
Amount: $7,500

APAGS/Psi Chi Junior Scientist Fellowship

Who Can Apply: The American Psychological Association of Graduate Students and Psi Chi offer this grant to support the research needs of students in their first or second year of a graduate psychology program. Applicants must be members of both the APA and Psi Chi. Other application requirements include submitting a CV, recommendation letter, and graduate research plan statement.
Amount: $1,000

NBCC Foundation Rural Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The National Board for Certified Counselors awards the scholarship to students pursuing a master’s degree in counseling or a related field. Applicants must be enrolled in a Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs-accredited program. Recipients must serve in a rural community for at least two years after graduation.
Amount: $8,000

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