Masters in Psychology Online Degree Programs of 2022

Master's Degree in Psychology & Counseling Career Options & Salary

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Why Earn a Master’s in Psychology?

For graduate students completing a graduate degree in psychology progam with the intent of going into counseling, this is the point at which they begin to learn about the actual counseling process. Their career opportunities begin opening into various counseling-related fields: marriage and family counseling, addiction counseling, licensed mental health counseling, rehabilitation counseling, clinical psychology, 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 into doctoral training.

A good master’s degree in psychology for those interested in counseling should include a counseling practicum located within your area of interest. This brings up whether students should opt for full-time classes or part-time. 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 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
  • School Psychology and Social Science
  • Social Psychology
  • Mental Health Disorders and Human Behavior
  • Industrial/Organizational Psychology
  • Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation Counseling
  • Research Methods in Psychology
  • Forensic Psychology
  • Ethical Practice
  • And More


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.


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 research. 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. 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.

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What are the Best Online Masters in Psychology College Programs?


Harvard University

  • Net Price: $18,037
  • Retention Rate: 76%
  • Graduation Rate: 98%
  • Total Enrollment: 30,391
  • Undergrad Students: 8,527
  • Graduate Students: 21,864
  • Diplomas Awarded: 50
  • Grads Salary: $96,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 5:1
  • Harvard University

Purdue University

  • Net Price: $12,294
  • Retention Rate: 93%
  • Graduation Rate: 83%
  • Total Enrollment: 46,655
  • Undergrad Students: 35,706
  • Graduate Students: 10,949
  • Diplomas Awarded: 27
  • Grads Salary: $78,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 13:1
  • Purdue University

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

  • Net Price: $20,247
  • Retention Rate: 93%
  • Graduation Rate: 86%
  • Total Enrollment: 37,024
  • Undergrad Students: 30,020
  • Graduate Students: 7004
  • Diplomas Awarded: 4
  • Grads Salary: $78,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 14:1
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Hamilton College

  • Net Price: $23,936
  • Retention Rate: 92%
  • Graduation Rate: 91%
  • Total Enrollment: 1,902
  • Undergrad Students: 1,902
  • Graduate Students: 0
  • Diplomas Awarded: 20
  • Grads Salary: $78,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 9:1
  • Hamilton College

University of Southern California

  • Net Price: $39,759
  • Retention Rate: 91%
  • Graduation Rate: 92%
  • Total Enrollment: 46,287
  • Undergrad Students: 19,786
  • Graduate Students: 26,501
  • Diplomas Awarded: 103
  • Grads Salary: $87,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 9:1
  • University of Southern California

Missouri University of Science and Technology

  • Net Price: $13,476
  • Retention Rate: 85%
  • Graduation Rate: 67%
  • Total Enrollment: 7,642
  • Undergrad Students: 6,083
  • Graduate Students: 1,559
  • Diplomas Awarded: NA
  • Grads Salary: $82,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 19:1
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology

California State University-Los Angeles

  • Net Price: $3,859
  • Retention Rate: 83%
  • Graduation Rate: 52%
  • Total Enrollment: 26,745
  • Undergrad Students: 22,832
  • Graduate Students: 3,913
  • Diplomas Awarded: 13
  • Grads Salary: $73,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 25:1
  • California State University-Los Angeles

Arizona State University

  • Net Price: $14,653
  • Retention Rate: 86%
  • Graduation Rate: 66%
  • Total Enrollment: 74,795
  • Undergrad Students: 63,124
  • Graduate Students: 11,671
  • Diplomas Awarded: 68
  • Grads Salary: $72,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 18:1
  • Arizona State University

Florida International University

  • Net Price: $8,988
  • Retention Rate: 91%
  • Graduation Rate: 67%
  • Total Enrollment: 58,836
  • Undergrad Students: 49,049
  • Graduate Students: 9,787
  • Diplomas Awarded: 61
  • Grads Salary: $66,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 25:1
  • Florida International University

California State University-Sacramento

  • Net Price: $11,473
  • Retention Rate: 84%
  • Graduation Rate: 54%
  • Total Enrollment: 32,293
  • Undergrad Students: 29,296
  • Graduate Students: 2,997
  • Diplomas Awarded: 12
  • Grads Salary: $75,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 26:1
  • California State University-Sacramento
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Overview of an Online Master's in Psychology

What Psychology Master’s Degrees are Available Online?

  • Online Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology:
    This degree allows you to reach your professional goal of empowering other people to achieve progress in their lives. As a 48-credit program, 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.
  • Mater of Arts in Psychology:
    This program introduces you to psychological assessments (psychometrics), research, 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 classes, you’ll learn how to apply career development theories and techniques to work on career problems and issues.

Admission Requirements

In many 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 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 a Psychology Master’s Online?

An online master’s program in psychology may take up to two years to complete, including your internship or master’s thesis if you choose this option. Once you graduate, 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 therapy, etc. Your practicum or internship will take place while you are involved in your online master’s degree program.

Potential Careers 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
    In this 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, school, 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 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 Psychologist
    As a mental health professional working directly with clients, you help them to improve their emotional, mental, and behavioral health. You’ll use 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 doctoral degrees.
    Average annual salary: $54,500

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 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 research is 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 do more research, then a PhD helps to prepare you, as a clinical psychologist, to 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 to gain your final degree.

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