Compare Popular Online Clinical Psychology Programs

Those who choose to pursue higher education in clinical psychology typically have a desire to become a therapist or mental health counselor in areas such as family therapy or substance abuse. Getting a master’s in clinical psychology degree can be accomplished, though an increasing number of schools are combining the master’s program with a doctoral program. However, there are still schools that offer a master’s in clinical psychology degree as an individual degree. Another option is to get a master’s degree in general psychology with a clinical specialization. Most that pursue a graduate degree in clinical psychology or clinical mental health counseling have a bachelor's degree from a psychology program, behavioral sciences, social work, and other programs that have a heavy psychology focus. In a master's program, you can choose to pursue a focused degree that prepares students for a counseling career such as clinical psychology, mental health counseling, research, advanced clinical counseling for mental disorders, family therapy or family counseling, health psychology, forensic psychology, child psychology, and more.

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  • It’s an accepted fact for most people who have attained an undergraduate degree in psychology that pursuing a master’s is required. Many agencies have specific education requirements and won’t hire people with just a bachelor’s degree for positions other than assistants or aides. If someone wants to work as a licensed professional counselor or therapist, a graduate degree is required to attain the licenses needed to practice in clinical psychology. Another reason to complete a master’s in clinical psychology program is financial.

    Those with graduate degrees will earn more than those working in the industry with only a bachelor’s degree because they can work as counselors and have the opportunity to move into management positions in various facilities. Finally, a person who completes a master's in clinical psychology program can earn other certifications, which will also open new opportunities for career advancement in clinical counseling, as a licensed clinical psychologist, or licensed marriage and family therapist.


  • A master’s degree is a large investment of both money and time, especially for positions which require supervised clinical experience. The degree can take up to three years to complete and, depending on the program, a master’s thesis or comprehensive exam could be required. Also, those who do not have a minimum of a 3.0 grade point average in their undergraduate degree program might not be accepted into a master’s program. Also, as was mentioned earlier, many clinical psychology programs are being rolled into a doctorate program, which is an even bigger commitment of time and money.

    Finally, depending on the career path of the person, they might not make a large salary, which would mean that your advanced degree offers a lesser return on the investment for the graduate degree. Online programs are also relatively rare. You may be able to take a few courses online, but because of the hands-on nature of counseling careers, the program as a whole is unlikely to be online-accessible.

Top 10 Best Online Masters in Clinical Psychology

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $41,400
    • Out-of-State: $41,400
  • Net Price: $47,804
  • Acceptance Rate: 49%
  • Retention Rate: 88%
  • Graduation Rate: 84%
  • Total Enrollment: 10,030
  • Undergrad Students: 3,662
  • Graduate Students: 6,368
  • Grads Salary: $84,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 13:1
  • Pepperdine University
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  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $9,922
    • Out-of-State: $27,126
  • Net Price: $12,615
  • Acceptance Rate: 69%
  • Retention Rate: 73%
  • Graduation Rate: 64%
  • Total Enrollment: 19,777
  • Undergrad Students: 14,416
  • Graduate Students: 5,361
  • Grads Salary: $67,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 15:1
  • Ball State University
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  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $4,749
    • Out-of-State: $17,898
  • Net Price: $14,410
  • Acceptance Rate: 92%
  • Retention Rate: 80%
  • Graduation Rate: 65%
  • Total Enrollment: 27,151
  • Undergrad Students: 21,688
  • Graduate Students: 5,463
  • Grads Salary: $71,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 18:1
  • East Carolina University
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  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $16,390
    • Out-of-State: $29,578
  • Net Price: $19,700
  • Acceptance Rate: 96%
  • Retention Rate: 67%
  • Graduation Rate: 55%
  • Total Enrollment: 7,457
  • Undergrad Students: 5,517
  • Graduate Students: 1,940
  • Grads Salary: $79,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 15:1
  • University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth
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Lamar University

Score: 75.56

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $6,471
    • Out-of-State: $13,815
  • Net Price: $11,757
  • Acceptance Rate: 84%
  • Retention Rate: 59%
  • Graduation Rate: 38%
  • Total Enrollment: 16,803
  • Undergrad Students: 8,264
  • Graduate Students: 8,539
  • Grads Salary: $80,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 20:1
  • Lamar University
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Brescia University

Score: 74.63

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $16,320
    • Out-of-State: $16,320
  • Net Price: $16,127
  • Acceptance Rate: 50%
  • Retention Rate: 77%
  • Graduation Rate: 43%
  • Total Enrollment: 646
  • Undergrad Students: 551
  • Graduate Students: 95
  • Grads Salary: $63,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 9:1
  • Brescia University
  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $5,088
    • Out-of-State: $6,378
  • Net Price: $17,001
  • Acceptance Rate: 92%
  • Retention Rate: 68%
  • Graduation Rate: 45%
  • Total Enrollment: 9,242
  • Undergrad Students: 6,901
  • Graduate Students: 2,341
  • Grads Salary: $76,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 17:1
  • West Texas A&M University
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Vanguard University of Southern California

Score: 74.31

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $12,618
    • Out-of-State: $12,618
  • Net Price: $24,279
  • Acceptance Rate: 75%
  • Retention Rate: 72%
  • Graduation Rate: 60%
  • Total Enrollment: 2,256
  • Undergrad Students: 2,001
  • Graduate Students: 255
  • Grads Salary: $68,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 16:1
  • Vanguard University of Southern California
  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $3,979
    • Out-of-State: $11,334
  • Net Price: $13,322
  • Acceptance Rate: 88%
  • Retention Rate: 76%
  • Graduation Rate: 51%
  • Total Enrollment: 12,949
  • Undergrad Students: 10,427
  • Graduate Students: 2,522
  • Grads Salary: $65,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 15:1
  • Fort Hays State University
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Liberty University

Score: 69.43

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $7,740
    • Out-of-State: $7,740
  • Net Price: $29,913
  • Acceptance Rate: 99%
  • Retention Rate: 79%
  • Graduation Rate: 66%
  • Total Enrollment: 96,709
  • Undergrad Students: 48,906
  • Graduate Students: 47,803
  • Grads Salary: $63,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 18:1
  • Liberty University
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Certificate Vs. Master in Clinical Psychology

What Clinical Psychology Master’s Degrees are Available Online?

The majority of clinical psychology graduate degrees fall under the Master of Art category, but some online programs fall under a Master of Science degree category. It depends on whether the college or university places psychology under science or humanities but the vast majority of online master’s degrees in clinical psychology are under the humanities umbrella. It’s also important to note that many online clinical psychology programs are specializations under a general psychology degree but are also being absorbed into online doctoral programs for clinical psychology.

To summarize, available degrees include:

  • Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology
  • Master of Science in Clinical Psychology
  • Master of Arts in Psychology with Clinical specialization
  • PsyD in Clinical Psychology
  • PhD in Psychology focused on Clinical Psychology

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Online Psychology Admission Requirements

The requirements to enter a Master’s in Clinical Psychology degree program varies by school, but the general requirements include:

  • An online bachelor’s degree with a high concentration of psychology courses. A psychology undergraduate degree is not required, but there needs to be a minimum of 16 hours of psychology courses included in the degree. This means a person who majored in social work and minored in psychology could apply.
  • GRE results: some schools are not requiring GRE results as part of their application, but some are. Check with your selected school to determine if this exam is required.
  • Transcripts from all colleges attended.
  • Letters of recommendation - a minimum of three letters is required for most programs but some require more. Check with your school of choice for the required number.
  • Application fee.

How long does it take to earn a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology Online?

An online master’s degree in clinical psychology typically takes three years. The online programs include classroom study, a clinical internship, a master’s thesis, and a comprehensive exam. Some graduate students take longer than three years, while others take less. The difference depends on the course load, work experience, and other external factors such as personal and familial responsibilities.

Potential Careers in Clinical Psychology with an online Master’s Degree

Many states require those who want to work as practicing clinical psychologists to have a PhD in Psychology. However, those with a master’s degree can still have successful careers in the profession.

Some of the career paths a person can pursue with a master’s degree in clinical psychology include:

  • Counseling Psychologist
    These psychologists offer counseling to individuals for a variety of issues and conditions in a clinical setting. They often work as part of a clinical team but can work as a solo counselor under another psychologist.
    Average salary: $58,900
  • Forensic Psychologist
    Forensic psychologists work in many different settings, but their job is ultimately the same: profiling criminals and diagnosing mental illnesses in this particular population. Forensic psychologists may find work in mental institutions, prisons, hospitals, and for the court system.
    Average salary: $70,200
  • Marriage & Family Therapist
    Marriage and family therapists focus on diagnosing and treating conditions that affect married couples and the family in general. The therapist will counsel and treat individuals, a married couple, or the entire family, depending on the issues they face. Marriage and family therapists can work in private practice or as part of a clinic or hospital.
    Average salary: 49,500
  • School/Career Counselor
    School and career counselors help students decide their futures. At the high school level, these counselors help students determine if college is their ideal path or a technical or trade school is a better approach. At the collegiate level, career counselors help students home in on a specific path geared toward their major.
    Average salary: $45,000
  • Substance Abuse Counselor
    Substance abuse counselors help those struggling with addiction overcome their issues. They can work through the court system, mental health institutions, or health clinics. Those who seek counseling can use a substance abuse counselor as a sounding board as they work through the issues that led to their substance abuse. Many substance abuse counselors have struggled with addiction themselves and therefore have a unique perspective they can use when helping others.
    Average salary: $40,000

Psychology Educational Options to Advance

If a person with an online master’s degree in clinical psychology wants to advance in their career, additional education in the form of a PhD and licensure may be required. Although counselors can obtain certain licenses with a master’s degree, others need you to obtain a PhD instead. This is also true for those who want to advance into management and director positions and those working as clinical psychologists with a master’s degree will need to work under a fully licensed psychologist for a period of time to qualify for their own license and to go into private practice on their own.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a master’s in clinical psychology worth it?

No matter your ultimate goals, if you aim to have a long career in psychology, you are most likely going to need to have a master’s degree. This is the case for counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, researchers, teachers, and many others in the field. Psychology and counseling are both fields that have very high educational requirements, so earning your master’s degree isn’t really a choice so much as a necessity if you want to work in the field. So, is a master’s in this field worth it? Yes. Always.

What is the difference between a master’s in psychology and one in clinical psychology?

While a master’s degree in psychology will cover all the basics of human behavior, the mind, the brain, and various psychological functions, a degree in clinical psychology will also focus on illness. It will not just discuss the effects of mental illness but will teach you about the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illness. This is the difference in all degrees that have a clinical focus.

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