Clinical psychology is a specialized area of psychology focused on providing comprehensive mental and behavioral health services for individuals and families across the lifespan. It is where mental health professionals can put all of their knowledge and skills into diagnosing and treating psychological disorders or mental disorders to help people lead happier and healthier lives.
While it takes a doctoral degree to become a licensed clinical psychologist who can prescribe medications, and perform psychological tests in a professional practice, there are plenty of job opportunities available to clinical psychologists at the master’s level. Earning a master’s in clinical psychology can provide a solid foundation for students planning to pursue doctoral study. It’s also good for those planning a career in marriage and family therapy, addictions, or counseling. Clinical psychology is a broad field involving the assessment and treatment of a variety of psychological dysfunction while promoting positive mental health. Clinical psychologists are needed in schools, hospitals, government organizations, private practice, and service agencies.
Working mental health professionals seeking graduate level training in clinical psychology for career advancement or to freshen up their skills can benefit from an online clinical psychology master’s program. Clinical psychology programs online are an affordable and flexible alternative to traditional programs. They can often be completed while working full time or attending to family responsibilities.
We created this list of affordable online clinical psychology programs because we recognize the importance of an affordable education. Programs selected for this list offer most of their courses in a flexible online format. Students may need to come to campus to complete all their degree requirements. To be included in our list, schools must hold regional accreditation and offer an online program in the area of clinical psychology. We narrowed our focus to include schools with a program taught by faculty with significant industry experience and offer students the opportunity to engage in hands-on training. We then obtained their average graduate tuition rate from College Navigator and found the five that were the least expensive.
Clinical Psychology Online Master’s Degree Program Rankings
5. Capella University – Minneapolis, Minnesota
Average Graduate Tuition: $14,767/year
Capella University features an affordable online clinical psychology master’s through their School of Social and Behavioral Sciences. The program supports students as they learn how assessments work and understand the theories and practical applications of psychotherapy. Specializations include:
- Applied Research
- Clinical Counseling
- Forensic Psychology
Courses are taught by scholar-practitioner faculty who are actively engaged in their professions. The curriculum is professionally aligned with content that reflects nationally recognized standards. Graduates are prepared for doctoral study or for professional roles in areas like research and clinical practice.
4. William Paterson University – Wayne, New Jersey
Average Graduate Tuition: $13,428/year in-state and $20,898/year out-of-state
The Department of Psychology at William Paterson University features a high-value clinical psychology master’s program online accredited by the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council. Courses are offered in a synchronous online format that accommodates students who work during the day. The program explores the scientific, methodological and theoretical foundations of clinical practice. Students will gain clinical skills and cultural competency while preparing to work in various human services settings. Graduates planning to pursue doctoral study opportunities will find this program provides a unique foundation for advanced clinical psychology study.
3. The Southwestern Assemblies of God University – Waxahachie, Texas
Average Graduate Tuition: $10,710/year
One of the cheapest online clinical psychology master’s is offered by Southwestern Assemblies of God University. SAGU prepares their clinical psychology degree online students to become successful Christian mental health professionals. This 63-credit hour program explores the behavioral sciences while providing students with an understanding of the theories of counseling and psychotherapy. Course offerings include:
- Clinical Psychopathology
- Human Growth and Life Span Development
- Methods and Techniques in Consulting
Graduates of SAGU leave with 20% less debt than graduates of other private universities. Financial aid opportunities are available to help students reduce their college costs.
2. University of West Alabama – Livingston, Alabama
Average Graduate Tuition: $6,678/year in-state and $13,356/year out-of-state
The University of West Alabama offers a low-cost clinical psychology master’s online that takes just one to two years to complete. Students will develop their critical thinking and research skills from a clinical perspective. Clinical course offerings include:
- Health Psychology
- Marriage and Family Therapy
- Systems of Psychotherapy
Students gain professional experience by completing a psychology practicum and internship. Students can choose to complete either a thesis or comprehensive exam as their capstone experience.
1. Fort Hays State University – Hays, Kansas
Average Graduate Tuition: $3,726/year in-state and $10,602/year out-of-state
Our cheapest clinical psychology master’s online is offered by Fort Hays State University. This program is a great option for students passionate about the mental health field but unable to attend a traditional brick and mortar program. Students complete courses online during the school year and come to campus for five-day workshops during the summer semesters. Course offerings include:
- Cultural Diversity in Psychology
- Developmental Psychology
- Appraisal of Children
Students gain extensive supervised experience while completing both a practicum and internship in a mental health setting. The program takes three years to complete and graduates are eligible for licensure in Kansas.
This concludes our ranking of programs for an online master’s in clinical psychology.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a clinical psychology master’s a good degree?
Clinical psychology is a great degree choice with numerous career paths and real-world applications. Clinical psychologists use the primary principles of psychology to help individuals overcome mental health challenges such as mental and emotional disorders. They may work with individuals with mental illness or behavioral challenges by providing a psychological assessment and then therapy sessions and a medication plan to improve their overall well-being.
Clinical psychologists work in a variety of settings from hospitals to private practice. Some may specialize in areas like marriage and family therapy or substance abuse treatment.
Clinical psychology master’s programs are also a strong foundation for doctoral study. Students planning to pursue their doctoral degree in clinical psychology can gain research experience and advanced knowledge through a master’s program, strengthening their application and providing evidence for continued success.
Clinical psychology programs can also be a great option for students preparing to sit for the Licensed Professional Counselor or Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor exam. Some programs embed the requirements for these certifications within their curriculum.
How much money can you make after earning a clinical psychology online master’s degree?
According to payscale.com, the average base salary for clinical psychologist with their master’s degree is $58,000/year. As with most professional roles, clinical psychologists with advanced education or certifications will be paid better than those just starting out with limited experience. Some of the best paying jobs in clinical psychology according to payscale.com include:
- Clinical Director: $77,508/year (average salary)
- Clinical Supervisor: $63,397/year (average salary)
- Mental Health Counselor: $51,875/year (average salary)
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the demand for psychologists (including clinical psychologists) is expected to grow by 8% through 2030.
How much does it cost to get a master’s in clinical psychology?
The average cost of a master’s degree according to information published through the Education Data Initiative is $66,340.
As a general guideline, public schools are more affordable ($54,500) than private school ($81,100/year) and in-state tuition rates are lower than those charged to out-of-state students. Students may be able to save money by choosing an online clinical psychology program.
Clinical psychology programs online can save students a considerable amount of money. The flexible schedule of most online programs allows students to work while earning their degree. Online students save on typical college expenses like on-campus housing and pricey meal plans by completing their degree from home. The most affordable online clinical psychology master’s offer online textbooks to keep costs low for their students.
Students should make sure to complete the FAFSA to be considered for financial aid awards that can include low interest loans or grants. The cheapest clinical psychology master’s programs also offer scholarships and employer tuition reimbursement programs to further reduce the cost of education.
How long does it take to complete a master’s in clinical psychology?
A master’s degree typically takes full-time students two years to complete. Students spend those two years:
- taking classes
- conducting research
- building their professional portfolio
Part-time students can usually complete their degree in three to four years of study. Part-time students may take one course at a time or take a semester off to work around other obligations and responsibilities.
Universities offering masters in clinical psychology programs may provide students with an accelerated option. Accelerated programs are a popular choice for students who want to complete their degree quickly and can handle a full-time program. Accelerated programs allow students to complete their degree in 12 to 18 months. These programs can save students money by shortening the amount of time spent on their degree.
What are the requirements for a master’s in clinical psychology program?
Clinical psychology master’s degree programs are competitive. A limited number of students are accepted each year. Applicants should have earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a closely related field. If their degree is in an unrelated field, they should have completed coursework in psychology and statistics. An undergraduate cumulative GPA of at least a 3.0 is standard criteria. Applicants should be prepared to submit GRE scores. Programs may also require applicants to submit:
- a professional resume
- a summary of related work or volunteer experience
Once accepted to a clinical psychology master’s program, students will take advanced courses and work with their faculty or advisor on research.
Will I need to complete an internship to get a clinical psychology master’s degree?
Coursework is only part of the process to earn a master’s in clinical psychology. Most students who choose clinical psychology want to work with people. They need to gain professional experience working with a variety of types of people to be successful. An internship provides students with supervised training that can prepare them for more independent roles as master’s level clinicians. Students with a focus on research rather than clinical practice usually work alongside a faculty member on a research or applied project to gain hands-on experience.
An internship or practicum experience enables students to put into action the skills they gained from their coursework. It can help a student apply theoretical concepts they learned in the classroom to a clinical setting.
What are some examples of courses needed for an master’s in clinical psychology?
While each program requires a unique set of core courses, popular course offerings for clinical psychology programs include:
- Research Methods
- Human Development
- Human Sexuality
Programs that lead to a master’s level certification in areas like Marriage and Family or Clinical Counseling will have a curriculum that meets the educational requirements for those specific certifications.
Will I need any licenses or certificates to get a job in clinical psychology?
Licensed clinical psychologists must:
- have a doctorate degree from an APA accredited psychology program
- have significant supervised experience
- pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology
There is no general license for a master’s level clinical psychologist. Clinical psychology professionals with their master’s degree have a variety of job opportunities available to them in mental health and social service. Some clinical psychology master’s programs prepare students for specialized certifications in Marriage and Family Therapy, Addictions, and Clinical Counseling. It’s important to understand the licensure requirements these specialized areas require and make sure your clinical psychology program can meet their criteria if that’s where your career path is focused.
Are there any professional organizations for people with a career in clinical psychology?
Clinical psychology professionals are supported by several different professional organizations.
- American Psychological Association:
The American Psychological Association is the premier scientific and professional organization for psychologists in the United States. They represent over 133,000 psychology professionals working in areas like:
- clinical practice
The APA is dedicated to the advancement, communication and application of psychological science. Over 500 staff support the APA’s mission by:
- tracking trends in the field
- creating content to educate the public about mental health
- publishing peer reviewed journals
- identifying and advocating for key federal policies and legislation
- The Association for Psychological Science:
The Association for Psychological Science is a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of psychological study and research. They have over 25,000 members from around the world and advocate for the advancement of scientific psychology across disciplinary and geographic boarders.
- The National Alliance of Professional Psychology Providers:
The National Alliance of Professional Psychology Providers is a professional organization focused on promoting and advocating for the clinical practice of doctoral level psychology. Membership benefits include:
- free continuing education courses
- low-cost liability insurance tools
- discounted electronic health records
National Louis University – Tampa, Florida
MA in Clinical Psychology
The clinical psychology master’s degree from National Louis University at the Florida School of Professional Psychology is a flexible program for students seeking a terminal master’s degree as well as those planning to pursue doctoral study. Courses are taught by expert faculty who are active researchers in the field. Courses cover areas that include:
- Professional Issues and Ethics
- Disorders and Assessment
- Diverse Client Populations
Students will focus on clinical assessment techniques and issues during a supervised clinical experience practicum and seminar.
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