According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) more than 43 million American adults deal with mental illness issues each year.
When they need help, they go to community agencies, behavioral health care facilities, hospitals, employee assistance programs, substance abuse treatment centers, and private practitioners.
What they find at these locations are caring counselors and professionals trained to recognize, treat, and heal a variety of issues such as learning disabilities, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.
This is the exciting and growing field of clinical psychology.
The American Psychological Association defines clinical psychology as
“the psychological specialty that provides continuing and comprehensive mental and behavioral health care for individuals and families; consultation to agencies and communities; training, education and supervision; and research-based practice. It is a specialty in breadth–one that is broadly inclusive of severe psychopathology–and marked by comprehensiveness and integration of knowledge and skill from a broad array of disciplines within and outside of psychology proper. The scope of clinical psychology encompasses all ages, multiple diversities and varied systems.”
If you have a fascination with the human mind combined with a compassion for healing, clinical psychology may be the perfect career. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, growth in this career area is estimated at 19 percent through the year 2024, so it’s reasonable to expect earning a degree now will be relevant in the near future.
Top 10 Best Online Master’s in Clinical Psychology Degrees
||Palo Alto University
||Palo Alto, CA
||Wake Forest University
||Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion
||West Virginia University
||University of West Alabama
||Adler Graduate School
||Virginia Beach, VA
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Career roles may include a professional counselor, clinical counselor, clinical mental health counselor, behavioral analysts, marriage and family therapist, or correctional counselor. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the average salary of a clinical psychologist is $75,000.
What Are the Best Master’s in Clinical Psychology Degrees?
Since every state requires licensure to practice clinical psychology, you need an advanced degree. If you are currently seeking career advancement, certification, or a career change in the growing field of clinical psychology, our universities offer outstanding online options that are flexible, convenient, and affordable. Speaking of affordability, we researched the most affordable accredited online colleges that you can check out as well.
Here at College Choice, we’ve ranked the 25 Best Online Master’s in Clinical Psychology Degrees. Our ranking is based on data that students have indicated is most important to them: reputation, cost, and graduate salary. Our ranking data is drawn from a number of public sources, including U.S. News & World Report, the National Center for Education Statistics, and PayScale. You can also check out our rankings for the best online schools.
See our rankings methodology page.
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.
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.
Wake Forest University
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.
Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion
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.
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.
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.
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.
University of West Alabama
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.
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.
Virginia Beach, VA
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.
Located in Longview, Texas, LeTourneau University was originally established in an old Army base to serve GI’s. It is now an interdenominational Christian university that serves 2700 students by offering outstanding engineering, liberal arts, aeronautics, education, business, science, and psychology degrees.
LeTourneau offers a hybrid Master of Arts in Counseling, Marriage and Family Therapy Specialization (LMFT) or Professional Counselor Specialization (LPC) and an entirely online MA in Psychology. The LPC specialization is 66 credit hours and designed to lead to licensure in Texas. This requires passing the National Counselor Examination (NCE) and completing a post-graduate internship of 3000 hours (not part of the program). As for the LMFT, the program is also 66 credits and requires post-graduate work to attain licensure (two tests and an intense internship). In addition, for the motivated student, LeTourneau offers a dual-degree LPC and LMFT. Online students are required to attend a three-day intensive session on campus to fulfill the program requirements. Since LeTourneau takes faith seriously, all the degree tracks include a specifically Christian perspective of psychology such as Theological & Spiritual Dynamics in Counseling and Trauma and Theodicy. Admission requirements include some psychology prerequisites as well as a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.5, resume, and a GRE score.
This psychology program offers Masters recognition to students who want to pursue a career in clinical psychology. Angelo State University prepares students to become licensed professional counselors or licensed psychological associates in the state of Texas. After completing the program, students may opt for Texas state licensing exams. The 60-credit-hour program is designed to prepare students for positions such as private practice, hospitals, and vocational counseling. By focusing on a small student-to-faculty ratio educators are able to facilitate diverse opportunities and practicum experiences. Courses offered are designed with online students in mind.
City University of Seattle
Established in Seattle, Washington in 1972, City University is a non-profit global institution of higher learning offering affordable and flexible programs from bachelor’s to doctoral. There are now 6200 student at 27 campuses around the world. CityU has nationally recognized online programs that are accessible, innovative, and affordable.
CityU offers a Master of Arts in Counseling with two areas of concentration: Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) and Marriage and Couple and Family Counseling (MCFC). The 90-credit programs are CACREP accredited and move through a core of classes focused on basic theory, research, and practice. Students then move into their chosen specialization and actively participate in two practicums, each 100 hours and three 600-hour internships. CityU offers this degree in a mixed-mode utilizing online technology from webinars, lectures, and discussion with on-campus visits. Students move through their cohort in either a two-year full-time intensive, or part-time three-year pace for working professionals. Admission requirements include a bachelor’s, minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75, three letters of reference, a writing sample, and an interview. In step with CityU’s overall mission, this flexibility, innovative delivery, and accredited program is affordable; the cost per credit is $577.
Southwestern Assemblies of God University
The story of how Southwestern Assemblies of God University became what it is today is interesting. Three Bible schools all started in the early 20th century and then merged to form Southwestern Bible School. After tremendous growth in the 90’s, SAGU came to be what it is today – a comprehensive liberal-arts Christian university with over 2000 students.
Harrison Graduate School at SAGU offers a Master in Clinical Psychology. The program is offered mostly online, though five of the 16 courses must be taken on-campus. The 48-credit degree features a core of classes such as Ethical and Legal Issues, Methods and Techniques in Counseling, Psychopharmacology, and Human Growth and Lifespan Development, followed by a research component and two practicums. Admission is selective requiring a bachelor’s in psychology or a related field, a three-page essay, three letters of recommendation, and a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0. Applicants with a GPA lower than 3.0 or without a bachelor’s in psychology can be admitted with acceptable GRE scores and admitted in a non-degree status until prerequisites are fulfilled. Graduates of the program will be prepared and qualified to work and with a cost per credit of $575, not saddled with unnecessary and burdensome debt.
Located on the West Branch of the Susquehanna River in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania is Lock Haven University. “The Haven,” as it is commonly referred to, enrolls 4220 total students and offers 49 undergraduate majors with graduate programs in actuarial science, counseling, education, health science, and sport studies.
The Department of Social Work and Clinical Mental Health Counseling at LHU offers the MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) with three electives: Child and Adolescent Counseling, Military/Veteran Counseling, and Generalized Clinical Mental Health Counseling. The program is completely online, fully CACREP accredited, and designed to lead to licensure in Pennsylvania (many other states accept licensure as well). Curriculum is a total of 60 credits moving from core coursework in the theory, practice, research, and ethics of clinical psychology to the 100-hour practicum and 600-hour internship, both onsite in student’s local area with a LHU approved supervisor. Upon completion of the program, which is three years for full-time students and four years for part-time, graduates take the National Counselor Examination. If a passing score is earned, students become a National Certified Counselor (NCC). Cost per credit is reasonable at $932.