Best Online Clinical Psychology Master’s Programs

A quick internet search shows lots of online clinical psychology master’s programs. We’ll show you the best ones, with details on what to expect both while attending school and after.

If you’re a good listener, excel at putting together pieces of a puzzle to get a complete story, genuinely want to help others, and looking for the next step in your career, you should know about the online master’s in clinical psychology. These programs are the perfect fit if you’re not in a position to put your current work and personal responsibilities on hold to pursue a master’s.

Starting a clinical psychology master’s program online is a big step, and you know you have to make smart decisions to succeed. But there’s so much to figure out. Which schools are the best? What classes will you take and can you specialize? What will it cost? More importantly, what can you do post-graduation and how much will you earn? You’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to get answers to these questions and the information you need to move confidently toward earning an online master’s in clinical psychology.

College Spotlights: Best Clinical Psychology Master’s Programs Online in 2021

Finding a clinical psychology master’s program online that fits your needs can be a bit daunting. We’re lending a hand by highlighting three programs that are stand-outs. We’ve scoured the information to find each program’s unique strengths, such as accreditation, flexibility, program breadth, support services, and affordability. Check back for a full list of top programs later in 2021 to see even more picks.

Capella University

Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, this comprehensive online Master of Science (MS) in clinical psychology offered by Capella University is a competency-based program in which students focus on a scientific study of mental disorders. The program is designed by industry leaders to ensure applicability to the real world.

Coursework prepares students for work in clinical practice, research, consulting, and the government, as well as for doctoral programs. This online clinical psychology master’s program consists of 74 credits that include five core courses; from there, requirements differ based on the student’s specialization in clinical counseling, forensic psychology, or applied research. The format is based on the quarter system, where students can take one to three courses per 10-week quarter. Students can transfer in 15-20 credits, depending on their specialization. They not only have access to the online classroom 24/7 from any device, but they also have weekly assignments and academic coaches to help them stay on track.

The school offers solid career support, including personalized career counseling, job-search tools and strategies, networking and mentoring opportunities, resume-building tools, interview tactics, and a vast array of career tips. Capella University also offers scholarships of $3,000 and $5,000 for graduate students.

Fort Hays State University (FHSU)

The online clinical psychology master’s offered by FHSU is tailored to meet Kansas licensure requirements. However, students across the U.S. and internationally attend this excellent program.

The curriculum consists of 12 core courses that give a solid basis for this online clinical psychology master’s. While most of the courses are online, students are required to come to campus for five-day workshops over two summer semesters, including an on-campus practicum that gives them a chance to apply what they’ve learned. After that, they complete an off-campus, 600-hour internship at a mental health agency where a qualified psychologist oversees their work. This opportunity offers valuable on-the-job experience, preparing students for rewarding careers in psychiatric hospitals, community and state mental health centers, and a variety of other treatment centers.

Tuition is reasonable at $298.55 per credit hour. The total tuition estimate is approximately $18,500 for the required 62 credits. Nonresidents pay the same tuition as state residents for all online courses. FHSU also offers scholarships to new online students who have a 3.0 GPA for their most recent courses.

Pepperdine University

Pepperdine University, a private college in Malibu, CA, has two licensure options for its online master’s in clinical psychology: licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) and licensed professional clinical counselor (LPC). Both concentrations offer coursework in the diagnosis and treatment of addictive, emotional, and mental disorders. The LMFT path focuses on family dynamics. The LPC path covers a broader spectrum of mental health issues and provides services for individuals, families, and organizations.

The curriculum, which can be completed in as few as 27 months, consists of six core courses (including abuse treatment and multicultural counseling), which are part of the total 62-68 units customized to the LPC or LMFT path, and four field placement sessions. (Field requirements vary per state.)

Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission, Pepperdine prides itself on delivering a best-practice online education. Students collaborate in weekly classes, complete coursework through interactive modules and video lectures, and read case studies to help them apply what they learn to the real world.

You’ll find lots of support and services, including 24/7 technical support, a dedicated student advisor, and an admissions team to help guide your online experience and answer questions. Students also get individual executive coaching, 15-month access to LinkedIn’s Premium Career services, global alumni connections, job boards, and virtual and land-based networking events.

Advantages of Earning an Online Master’s in Clinical Psychology

Attending a clinical psychology master’s program online offers several advantages. For one, the cost of online education is often less than in-class instruction. Plus, you don’t have the expense of relocation. Your peers are often quite diverse, giving you more perspectives and a larger post-graduation network. Consider these three key advantages to earning an online clinical psychology master’s degree:

  1. Broader career options

    There’s a high demand for people with a master’s in clinical psychology, and you only need a 3.0 GPA and a bachelor’s degree, which often doesn’t have to be in the field of psychology. Because a graduate student in clinical psychology studies theories that are applicable in numerous fields, career options aren’t limited to working as a counselor or therapist, though those options are certainly at the forefront. Career possibilities are plentiful with this master’s: forensic psychologist, executive director at a social-service or community organization, career counselor, substance abuse counselor, organizational psychologist, marriage and family therapist, and learning disabilities specialist, to name a few.

  2. Increased flexibility

    If you’re interested in pursuing a clinical psychology master’s program online, you are probably a go-getter—which also means you are busy. Whether that is professionally harried or for other reasons, an online program lightens your time burdens by not tying you to a strict schedule. Faculty responds quickly through email and is adept at working with a range of needs.

  3. Preparation to pursue a doctorate

    PhD or PsyD programs are highly competitive. Having a master’s in clinical psychology gives you a leg up with advanced proficiency in the field. Plus, completing the lengthy internship that’s required when earning an online clinical psychology master’s degree demonstrates your depth of knowledge and commitment to professional practice.

What You’ll Learn in Online Clinical Psychology Master’s Programs

Like other aspects of a clinical psychology master’s programs online, coursework differs from school to school and even from one concentration to another. We’ve described a few of the most common courses below to give you a taste of what to expect. Additionally, many master’s programs in clinical psychology require a practicum, a lengthy internship, or both, giving you vital experience that employers, PhD programs, and PsyD programs rate quite favorably.

Popular Courses

  • Clinical Assessment

    This course first teaches students the objectives of performing an assessment and how to plan assessments. It then teaches assessment processes, such as collecting data, interpreting data, and communicating conclusions. You may learn specifically how to administer neuropsychological, behavioral, personality, and intellectual assessments.

  • Multicultural Perspectives

    A multicultural perspectives class prepares graduates for the comprehensive range of ethnicity, sexual orientation, race, gender, spirituality, and ableness that they will encounter as professionals. Students learn how to tailor treatment procedures that take these factors into account for individuals, couples, families, and even communities. For example, students learn how poverty plays a role in family dynamics and how this affects treatment in various situations.

  • Psychopathology

    Psychopathology is the scientific study of behavioral and mental patterns that reduce a person’s ability to function. Students learn the causes of psychopathology, such as heredity, disease, intoxication, and psychological trauma, and how to distinguish between them. Students also learn how to critically evaluate and treat the major groups of dysfunctions and deviances.

  • Psychopharmacology

    Psychopharmacology is the study of the effects that drugs have on the mind and behavior. This coursework includes the study of neurobiology and major psychotropic drugs. The class often investigates the role that age, gender, culture, and other personal concerns play in the use of medications.

  • Substance Abuse

    This course examines a variety of approaches to identifying, evaluating, and treating people who are abusing substances, along with the commonly co-occurring disorders such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and antisocial tendencies.

Specialization Paths

Having a concentration gives you unique opportunities to do more targeted research and to learn more within your specialty. In turn, you become a more competitive candidate when pursuing jobs and you can earn a higher salary because your specialty sets you apart from other candidates. It shows you have truly invested in becoming an expert and are deeply knowledgeable in your field. We’ve put together a few choices to show you how broad the specializations can be within this field.

  • Applied Research

    Applied research combines clinical psychology with psychological research practices to solve problems. For instance, an applied researcher might investigate management options for panic attacks or examine how to improve workers’ productivity. This concentration can lead to career options from studying consumer behavior to organizational psychology.

  • Cognitive Behavior

    This specialty emphasizes how to gauge a client’s emotions and behaviors and how the two interact. Students studying cognitive behavior focus on how to replace an individual’s automatic negative thoughts and behaviors with conscious ones that are more constructive, realistic, and objective.

  • Forensic Psychology

    Forensic psychology is a crossroads between the criminal mind and human behavior. Using clinical research methods and evidence-based practices, students learn how to assist in the criminal justice system, civil courts, law enforcement, prisons, and juvenile detention centers. For instance, they learn how to evaluate and testify as to a person’s state of mind or capacity. They may also learn how to work with law enforcement to profile likely offenders. Note that most forensic psychologists pursue their PhD or PsyD after finishing their online clinical psychology master’s program.

  • Marriage and Family Counseling

    Graduates specializing in marriage and family counseling learn to help families and couples with their relationships. For example, they learn how to coach both parents and children in their relationships with each other and how to prepare couples for marriage. Most importantly, they teach couples and families how to safely express their emotions and how to communicate honestly with each other.

  • Psychopathology

    This discipline studies the causes, symptoms and behaviors, evaluations, treatments, and outcomes of patients with mental illnesses. At the research level, psychopathologists investigate and examine mental illnesses to better understand them, which, in turn, helps psychopathologists find better treatments and preventative measures. At the clinical level, psychopathologists use current diagnostic methods for evaluating and treating people with mental disorders.

Accreditation for Online Clinical Psychology Master’s Programs

Institutional accreditation is a thorough review of the quality of a college or university. When pursuing any degree, you want to make sure that the institution is accredited. This is particularly important if you intend to pursue a PhD or PsyD and want credits to transfer. It also makes you more competitive in the job market when going up against other contenders with the same degree. Institutional accreditors may be regional or national. Find a list of high-caliber regional and national accreditors on the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors website. To determine if your school is accredited, check the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.

A program accreditation is a comprehensive review of programs at an institution of learning. To determine if a program is accredited, check the Council for Higher Education Accreditation database. If you choose to pursue a doctorate after graduating from your clinical psychology master’s program online, you’ll want to find one that is accredited by the American Psychological Association.

States have different licensure requirements for practicing clinical psychology. If you are seeking licensure or certification after graduating, before enrolling in a program check the requirements in the state where you want to practice and make sure your school can properly prepare you to meet these requirements.

What You Can Do with a Master’s in Clinical Psychology

The MBA is one of the most popular degrees among all graduate programs. That’s because MBA degree holders are in high demand by businesses in all segments of the economy throughout the U.S. and around the world. And that means lots of high-paying jobs with plenty of room for career advancement are available. Below are descriptions of five careers readily available to online MBA in leadership program graduates. You’ll also find current estimated annual salary figures provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and PayScale.org to give you an idea of what you might earn with your new MBA in organizational leadership online.

Career Counselor

Career counselors evaluate clients to help them match their aptitudes, interests, skills, education, and training to set suitable and realistic career goals. If needed, they teach clients job-finding skills, such as interviewing and writing résumés. Career counselors also give clients guidance on how to resolve workplace conflict. These counselors typically work in private practices, colleges, and career centers across a variety of industries, such as government, healthcare, social-assistance programs, and outplacement businesses.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$34,380 $57,040 $96,090

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021

Forensic Psychologist

Forensic psychologists conduct interviews to evaluate a person’s social, mental, and emotional state of mind and then present these findings to lawyers, the court, or law enforcement. These experts are well-versed in the characteristics that criminals commonly share and may be active in research in this specialty to continue to increase information in the field.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$45,380 $80,370 $132,070

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Human Resources Manager

An HR manager’s role is to support a business or charity through a people-focused vision, strategy, and processes. Often, an HR manager is the liaison between upper management and the workforce. Developing and sustaining a positive, inviting company culture, staffing, employee development, and workforce relations are all within the scope of an HR manager’s responsibilities. A clinical psychologist’s understanding of human behavior makes them a good fit for this position.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$68,300 $116,720 $205,720

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Marriage and Family Therapist

These therapists work with families, couples, and individuals. Their emphasis is on the couple or family’s relationship, even if working with individuals. Marriage and family therapists assess the couple or family functions, their interpersonal relationships and communication, and how these factors affect each individual’s mental health and the couple or family unit as a whole. Note that marriage and family therapists also work with groups in organizations with the same goals in mind.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$32,070 $49,610 $87,700

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Substance Abuse Counselor

While substance abuse counselors can choose to specialize in a specific at-risk population, such as veterans, most see an extensive range of clients. This career first entails listening and evaluating clients to determine why they are vulnerable to addictions. These counselors then assist clients in finding coping strategies that lead them toward recovery and gaining a truer sense of self. Counselors may work in crisis situations, work with individuals on a regular basis, or both.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$29,520 $46,240 $76,080

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Costs and Financial Aid for Online Master’s Degrees in Clinical Psychology

Before committing to earning an online master’s degree in clinical psychology, carefully consider the full cost: tuition, books, fees, housing, food, travel if you’re in a hybrid program, and other daily living expenses. This may seem overwhelming, but there is assistance. With a little research, you’ll find any number of scholarships and fellowships. You might also consider work-study programs that enable you to earn money while attending school. If a program is related to the field you want to end up working in, it can be helpful after graduation, too, because it can lead to a new job and it looks excellent on your resume. Finally, of course, there’s government financial aid, which is the least expensive form of loan available. We’ve put all this together for you in more depth in our financial aid guide, which is coming out later in 2021, so be sure to check it out.

What Your Online Master’s in Clinical Psychology Could Cost

School Name No. of Credits Cost/Credit Est. Total Tuition Cost

Fort Hays State University

62 credits

$298.55

$18,510.10

Palo Alto University

47 units

$941/unit

$44,697.50

Pepperdine University

62 units

$1,645/unit

$101,990–$111,860

FAQs About Online Clinical Psychology Master’s Degrees

What are the admissions requirements for an online master’s in clinical psychology?

Most applications for clinical psychology master’s programs online are submitted via an electronic admission form on the school’s website. Each institution and each program differ in their admission requirements, so check with the admissions department or program chair. Also, remember to ask whether an entrance exam is required. We’ve listed the most common requirements below.

  • 3.0 GPA
  • Application fee
  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited school or program; some schools do not require that the bachelor’s degree be in psychology, though others do
  • English proficiency (ELP or TOEFL scores for international students)
  • Letters of recommendation (usually two or three)
  • Official transcripts (with a list of transfer credits, if applicable)
  • Statement of purpose

How long will it take to finish my master’s in clinical psychology online?

Most clinical psychology master’s programs online take from 24 to 27 months. Whether attending part- or full-time significantly affects this timeline. Also affecting the timeline is the pace at which the online classes are conducted. For instance, some programs require weekly attendance, while others permit you to take courses at your own pace. Some specializations, such as in counseling, require internships that last three to six months.

Can I earn a master’s in clinical psychology 100% online or do I need to visit campus?

You’ll need to spend a minimum amount of time on campus for most clinical psychology master’s programs online—oftentimes about a week per year. If you pursue an online clinical psychology master’s degree that specializes in a form of counseling, however, you may be required to do an on-campus practicum. After that you may also need to do an internship, but typically that can be in a geographic area of your choice provided the organization and the psychologist overseeing the internship meet the school’s standards. Make sure you research and understand online versus in-person requirements, as well as practicums and internships, before enrolling.