Get Matched With Psychology Programs

Why Earn a Master’s in Psychology?


Simply put for prospective students, an undergraduate degree may not be enough to seek employment in some positions. For graduate students completing a graduate degree in a psychology program with the intent of going into counseling, this is the point at which they begin to learn about the actual counseling process. The career opportunities of their psychology program begin opening into various counseling-related fields and psychology concentrations: general psychology counseling, marriage and family therapists psychology programs, addiction counseling psychology programs, licensed mental health counseling psychology programs, rehabilitation counseling psychology programs, clinical psychology programs, a psychologist who helps clients deal with mental health disorders, etc. At this level, graduate students also have the opportunity to consider whether they want to progress beyond a master's in psychology program into doctoral training.

A good master’s degree in psychology for those interested in counseling should include a psychology program with counseling practicum located within your area of interest. This brings up whether students should opt for full-time classes or part-time and whether to earn a traditional on-campus degree or pursue an online psychology degree at an accredited school. If they continue working, a part-time schedule will be more amenable to work; if they decide to attend classes full-time, then they will need to take extended leave or a sabbatical. Full-time attendance can be completed in two years.

Excellent psychology master’s programs are available throughout the country. Some are on-campus programs and others are online master programs. No matter how psychology students choose to take their master's program, their psychology coursework is likely to include courses that focus on the following subjects.

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Child and Development Psychology
  • School Psychologist and Social Science
  • Social Psychology
  • Health Psychology, Mental Health Disorders and Human Behavior
  • Industrial and Organizational Psychology
  • Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation Counseling
  • Research Methods in Psychology
  • Forensic Psychology
  • Ethical Practice
  • And More

PROS

You may have noticed that psychology and counseling are referred to as two separate roles. While the goal for both roles is similar, offering relief to people who are dealing with mental illness or trauma, counseling is a more hands-on process. You’ll have the chance to get to know your clients and their issues and help them by offering them interventions, recommendations, and solutions using various techniques. You're more likely to deal with trauma or difficult life issues rather than mental health disorders.

You should be able to choose the various demographic groups you may want to work with. These may include children, teens, adults, those struggling with mental illnesses, or people who have committed crimes and must complete counseling sessions as a part of their probation. Your interests will guide your final choice.

The best thing about a master's in psychology degree is that these master's programs prepare students to finally be a licensed psychologist or therapist.

CONS

If you see yourself performing a wide range of duties or find that you are interested in spending your time working with businesses rather than individuals, then earning your master’s degree in psychology may not fit your goals. No matter what specialization or group you work with, you will be counseling people and not much else unless you work in psychology research methods. You will take notes and develop treatment or medication plans and you might do some administrative work if you run your own practice, but there may not be much variety to your work days. You can specialize in school psychology and counseling, mental health counseling or clinical psychology, addictions or rehabilitation counseling, or general health counseling psychology programs. If you wish to do more, than you may want to look into a Master of Social Work (MSW) or other, similar master's programs in psychology.

Another issue with earning your master’s degree is the cost in both time and money. If you go on to earn your master’s right after a bachelor’s program, you are spending two more years in school, or longer if you decide to earn your master’s degree in psychology while working. Master’s programs are also not cheap, which means adding to your educational debt.

Compare Popular Online Psychology Programs

Top 25 Best Online Masters in Psychology Programs


1

Harvard University

Score: 93.75

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $52,456
    • Out-of-State: $52,456
  • Net Price: $19,491
  • Acceptance Rate: 3%
  • Retention Rate: 98%
  • Graduation Rate: 98%
  • Total Enrollment: 30,631
  • Undergrad Students: 9,368
  • Graduate Students: 21,263
  • Grads Salary: $96,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 7:1
  • Harvard University
2

University of Southern California

Score: 82.57

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $63,468
    • Out-of-State: $63,468
  • Net Price: $36,808
  • Acceptance Rate: 12%
  • Retention Rate: 97%
  • Graduation Rate: 92%
  • Total Enrollment: 48,945
  • Undergrad Students: 20,699
  • Graduate Students: 28,246
  • Grads Salary: $89,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 9:1
  • University of Southern California
3

Virginia Tech

Score: 80.48

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $14,521
    • Out-of-State: $29,267
  • Net Price: $19,301
  • Acceptance Rate: 57%
  • Retention Rate: 91%
  • Graduation Rate: 86%
  • Total Enrollment: 38,170
  • Undergrad Students: 30,434
  • Graduate Students: 7,736
  • Grads Salary: $81,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 17:1
  • Virginia Tech
4

Missouri University of Science and Technology

Score: 75.63

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $10,992
    • Out-of-State: $30,480
  • Net Price: $14,023
  • Acceptance Rate: 81%
  • Retention Rate: 86%
  • Graduation Rate: 62%
  • Total Enrollment: 7,080
  • Undergrad Students: 5,498
  • Graduate Students: 1,582
  • Grads Salary: $84,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 18:1
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology
5

CUNY City College

Score: 74.98

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $11,090
    • Out-of-State: $20,520
  • Net Price: $5,181
  • Acceptance Rate: 67%
  • Retention Rate: 75%
  • Graduation Rate: 59%
  • Total Enrollment: 14,489
  • Undergrad Students: 11,929
  • Graduate Students: 2,560
  • Grads Salary: $77,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 14:1
  • CUNY City College
6

LeTourneau University

Score: 73.81

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $16,875
    • Out-of-State: $16,875
  • Net Price: $26,974
  • Acceptance Rate: 49%
  • Retention Rate: 77%
  • Graduation Rate: 67%
  • Total Enrollment: 3,536
  • Undergrad Students: 3,350
  • Graduate Students: 186
  • Grads Salary: $85,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 13:1
  • LeTourneau University
7

Florida International University

Score: 73.33

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $9,119
    • Out-of-State: $21,600
  • Net Price: $9,881
  • Acceptance Rate: 64%
  • Retention Rate: 91%
  • Graduation Rate: 69%
  • Total Enrollment: 55,609
  • Undergrad Students: 45,688
  • Graduate Students: 9,921
  • Grads Salary: $68,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 24:1
  • Florida International University
8

Arizona State University

Score: 72.32

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $12,014
    • Out-of-State: $24,498
  • Net Price: $14,808
  • Acceptance Rate: 90%
  • Retention Rate: 85%
  • Graduation Rate: 67%
  • Total Enrollment: 80,065
  • Undergrad Students: 65,492
  • Graduate Students: 14,573
  • Grads Salary: $75,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 19:1
  • Arizona State University
9

American Public University System

Score: 70.61

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $6,660
    • Out-of-State: $6,660
  • Net Price: $11,172
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 90%
  • Graduation Rate: 55%
  • Total Enrollment: 48,668
  • Undergrad Students: 39,206
  • Graduate Students: 9,462
  • Grads Salary: $76,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 24:1
  • American Public University System
10

California State University-Sacramento

Score: 70.37

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $7,176
    • Out-of-State: $16,680
  • Net Price: $11,596
  • Acceptance Rate: 93%
  • Retention Rate: 80%
  • Graduation Rate: 54%
  • Total Enrollment: 31,818
  • Undergrad Students: 28,921
  • Graduate Students: 2,897
  • Grads Salary: $78,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 24:1
  • California State University-Sacramento
11

California State University-Los Angeles

Score: 70.14

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $7,176
    • Out-of-State: $16,680
  • Net Price: $5,801
  • Acceptance Rate: 87%
  • Retention Rate: 73%
  • Graduation Rate: 51%
  • Total Enrollment: 26,460
  • Undergrad Students: 22,737
  • Graduate Students: 3,723
  • Grads Salary: $75,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 22:1
  • California State University-Los Angeles
12

Kansas State University

Score: 70.09

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $10,294
    • Out-of-State: $23,018
  • Net Price: $18,855
  • Acceptance Rate: 95%
  • Retention Rate: 86%
  • Graduation Rate: 69%
  • Total Enrollment: 19,722
  • Undergrad Students: 15,046
  • Graduate Students: 4,676
  • Grads Salary: $72,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 18:1
  • Kansas State University
13

Mississippi State University

Score: 70.03

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $9,398
    • Out-of-State: $25,444
  • Net Price: $15,364
  • Acceptance Rate: 75%
  • Retention Rate: 81%
  • Graduation Rate: 63%
  • Total Enrollment: 22,649
  • Undergrad Students: 18,305
  • Graduate Students: 4,344
  • Grads Salary: $71,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 16:1
  • Mississippi State University
14

Pepperdine University

Score: 69.9

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $39,100
    • Out-of-State: $39,100
  • 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: $80,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 13:1
  • Pepperdine University
15

University of Idaho

Score: 69.82

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $7,754
    • Out-of-State: $26,990
  • Net Price: $14,954
  • Acceptance Rate: 74%
  • Retention Rate: 74%
  • Graduation Rate: 61%
  • Total Enrollment: 11,507
  • Undergrad Students: 8,809
  • Graduate Students: 2,698
  • Grads Salary: $73,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 16:1
  • University of Idaho
16

University of North Dakota

Score: 68.65

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $11,963
    • Out-of-State: $17,944
  • Net Price: $17,359
  • Acceptance Rate: 83%
  • Retention Rate: 79%
  • Graduation Rate: 63%
  • Total Enrollment: 13,876
  • Undergrad Students: 9,928
  • Graduate Students: 3,948
  • Grads Salary: $71,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 17:1
  • University of North Dakota
17

Indiana Wesleyan University

Score: 68.49

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $14,112
    • Out-of-State: $14,112
  • Net Price: $21,755
  • Acceptance Rate: 87%
  • Retention Rate: 78%
  • Graduation Rate: 67%
  • Total Enrollment: 2,603
  • Undergrad Students: 2,236
  • Graduate Students: 367
  • Grads Salary: $72,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 13:1
  • Indiana Wesleyan University
18

Ball State University

Score: 67.96

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $9,636
    • Out-of-State: $26,334
  • 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: $64,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 15:1
  • Ball State University
19

Nova Southeastern University

Score: 66.39

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $22,062
    • Out-of-State: $22,062
  • Net Price: $29,589
  • Acceptance Rate: 76%
  • Retention Rate: 78%
  • Graduation Rate: 62%
  • Total Enrollment: 20,948
  • Undergrad Students: 6,971
  • Graduate Students: 13,977
  • Grads Salary: $76,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 17:1
  • Nova Southeastern University
20

McNeese State University

Score: 66.32

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $5,703
    • Out-of-State: $7,203
  • Net Price: $10,154
  • Acceptance Rate: 71%
  • Retention Rate: 69%
  • Graduation Rate: 46%
  • Total Enrollment: 6,230
  • Undergrad Students: 5,696
  • Graduate Students: 534
  • Grads Salary: $71,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 19:1
  • McNeese State University
21

Eastern Kentucky University

Score: 66.19

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $10,008
    • Out-of-State: $13,644
  • Net Price: $10,806
  • Acceptance Rate: 64%
  • Retention Rate: 77%
  • Graduation Rate: 49%
  • Total Enrollment: 14,324
  • Undergrad Students: 12,072
  • Graduate Students: 2,252
  • Grads Salary: $66,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 16:1
  • Eastern Kentucky University
22

Indiana Tech

Score: 65.97

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $10,224
    • Out-of-State: $10,224
  • Net Price: $22,179
  • Acceptance Rate: 65%
  • Retention Rate: 60%
  • Graduation Rate: 37%
  • Total Enrollment: 2,595
  • Undergrad Students: 1,490
  • Graduate Students: 1,105
  • Grads Salary: $87,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 15:1
  • Indiana Tech
23

Angelo State University

Score: 65.38

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $4,181
    • Out-of-State: $11,525
  • Net Price: $12,838
  • Acceptance Rate: 79%
  • Retention Rate: 73%
  • Graduation Rate: 41%
  • Total Enrollment: 10,599
  • Undergrad Students: 9,066
  • Graduate Students: 1,533
  • Grads Salary: $74,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 18:1
  • Angelo State University
24

Mercy College

Score: 65.37

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $17,478
    • Out-of-State: $17,478
  • Net Price: $15,879
  • Acceptance Rate: 86%
  • Retention Rate: 74%
  • Graduation Rate: 47%
  • Total Enrollment: 8,615
  • Undergrad Students: 6,379
  • Graduate Students: 2,236
  • Grads Salary: $73,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 15:1
  • Mercy College
25

University of Nevada-Las Vegas

Score: 65.27

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $5,976
    • Out-of-State: $22,518
  • Net Price: $13,159
  • Acceptance Rate: 85%
  • Retention Rate: 77%
  • Graduation Rate: 47%
  • Total Enrollment: 30,660
  • Undergrad Students: 25,365
  • Graduate Students: 5,295
  • Grads Salary: $70,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 18:1
  • University of Nevada-Las Vegas

Overview of an Online Master's in Psychology


What Psychology Master’s Degrees are Available Online?


  • Online Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology:
    This online master's in psychology degree allows you to reach your professional goal of empowering other people to achieve progress in their lives. As a 48-credit program towards an online master's degree, you’ll obtain advanced counseling and psychology skills. Once you have graduated and are working, you’ll be able to help clients identify the sources of psychological distress and maladaptive behavior patterns.
  • Master of Arts in Psychology:
    This psychology online program introduces you to psychological assessments (psychometrics), research methods, treatment options, group counseling, and clinical issues in human diversity. In your practicum or internship, you’ll work with agency clients under the supervision of a licensed counselor. In your psychology online classes, you’ll learn how to apply career development theories and techniques to work on career problems and issues.

Admission Requirements


In many psychology online degree programs, you’ll have to select the graduate admission requirements that best fit your status as an incoming student. If you are entering clinical mental health counseling (CMHC) or a similar degree program, a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a closely related field is mandatory. Your undergraduate GPA must be at least 3.0, though a higher average is preferred. You should highlight all work, life, and volunteer experiences when you apply and detail your motivation in pursuing this field, along with your goals.

If you are an international student, you should take the TOEFL or IELTS test and submit your scores. You’ll also need to submit official transcripts that prove you have earned a bachelor’s degree.

How long does it take to earn an Online Master's in Psychology?


An online master's in psychology may take up to two years to complete the online program, including your internship or master’s thesis if you choose this option. Once you graduate with your online master's degree, you’ll have to take state-mandated testing in your state to earn your license, which allows you to practice officially. This applies no matter what specialization in counseling you may choose; social work, counseling, psychology, marriage and family therapists, etc. Your practicum or internship will take place while you are involved in your online master’s degree program.

Common Career Paths for Psychology Master’s Graduates


  • Child and Family Therapist
    Most employers and states require that job candidates for this position have at least a master’s degree in psychology, counseling, or a similar degree. Your responsibilities will include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), diagnosis, and treatment planning, in which you administer psychological evaluations to your clients and their parents. If you arrive at any diagnoses, your counseling sessions and treatment planning will revolve around addressing these issues. You should also have skills in counseling and group therapy. Expect to interact regularly with other professionals who are involved with the child’s family, especially if the children are placed in foster care.
    Average annual salary: $43,200
  • Child Psychologist / School Psychologist
    In this psychologist position, you’ll work with children 17 years old or younger. These children may be diagnosed or require diagnosis of emotional, social, behavioral, or mental health problems. You will use a multidisciplinary approach that allows you to think of the child’s school, home, and social environment when developing your treatment plan. You may work in a large clinic, as a school psychologist, or in private practice. You will help children with struggles that are a result of their traumas. They may struggle with depression, sexuality issues, and/or learning difficulties. In this specialty, you are often required to have a doctorate degree and you must have licensure from the state in which you work.
    Average annual salary: $68,900
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker
    Your job duties depend on the setting in which you work. Your main job responsibility is to provide therapy to individuals who need emotional or mental health support. You may work with a big business to provide your insight on industrial organizational psychology. You may also coordinate hard or soft services to help clients meet their everyday needs. You may work in a mental health clinic, hospital, home healthcare company, substance abuse treatment center, or a residential nursing facility. You may diagnose new clients after assessing their psychological history.
    Average annual salary: $56,500
  • Counseling Psychologists / Mental Health Counselors
    As a mental health professional working directly with clients, you help them to improve their emotional, mental, and behavioral health. You’ll use your specialized knowledge and psychological techniques, addressing issues such as interpersonal conflicts, anxiety, or depression. You’ll also provide assessments and diagnoses before you provide treatment. You will perform risk assessments, evaluate the outcome of therapy sessions, and keep accurate patient records. You may begin with a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field, but your state may require counseling psychologists to hold master’s or a doctoral degree.
    Average annual salary: $54,500

Find Your Online Psychology Program

Salary by Occupation


Occupation Entry-Level Mid-Career Late Career
Psychiatric Technician $30,500 $42,000 $48,300
Case Manager $36,300 $44,300 $65,700
Health Educator $38,500 $50,500 $56,800
Career Counselor $40,500 $47,500 $53,100
Psychologist $63,600 $81,500 $91,100
Psychology Program Manager $67,600 $78,000 $100,000

Options to Advance


If you want to move beyond your psychology master's program and focus on clinical psychology and counseling, then you may want to choose a PsyD major. At this level, you’ll also provide psychological services to clients who need your help. At this educational level, the material you encounter and study in your classes, and your research methods are much more detailed. You may have touched some on this material at the master’s level, but because there is so much more of it to learn, you won’t go into much depth.

If you want to provide your professional psychological expertise to make legal decisions that help to defend or prosecute in a courtroom, then you may want to pursue forensic psychology, and study legal theory and law.

If you want to do more research, then a PhD helps to prepare you, as a clinical psychologist, to improve your research methods and do more research. A PhD allows you to develop those highly advanced problem-solving skills and teaches you new ways of thinking. You'll also find that, as you are working on your doctoral degree program, your communication skills become sharper. Even if they were excellent before, they must be top-notch in order for you to defend your dissertation and research methods to gain your final degree.

Frequently Asked Questions


Is a master’s degree in psychology worth it?

Unless you have decided that you do not wish to work in the psychology field or as a counselor, then a master’s psychology degree is definitely worth it. This is because it is nearly impossible to work in the field without a master’s degree. Those who complete their bachelor’s and still feel drawn to a psychology-focused profession should definitely do the work to earn a master’s degree.

Can you earn a PhD without earning a master’s degree first?

Online students may ponder this question. However, while most students move into a master’s program and then earn some experience before beginning a PhD program, there are some who are more than certain about where their career is headed and who know that they are going to need a PhD to get there. In this case, there are some programs that will allow online students to step right into a PhD program. However, it’s important to know that PhD programs focus heavily on research and offer less education in coursework such as what you would complete in a master’s program. You may miss out on coursework that tells you about the state of psychology currently, and that could be detrimental to your career overall. It’s something you’ll want to think about and, possibly, ask a mentor about before you make a decision.

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