California Clinical Psychology Masters Programs

A masters degree in clinical psychology is a post graduate degree designed for those seeking careers as clinical psychologists and mental health counselors. Masters in Clinical Psychology programs teach students to diagnose, treat and prevent mental health disorders through coursework, supervised practice, and research.

Graduates of clinical psychology masters programs may be prepared for a PsyD or PhD program (a prerequisite to be a licensed psychologist)i. They may also assess patients under the care of a licensed psychologist or work in social services.

Clinical psychology is the broad term under which many psychology specializations fall, such as marriage and family therapy, child psychology and neuropsychology. Therefore earning a Master in Clinical Psychology degree may be a great preparation for students who aspire to practice psychology across a variety of areas and with different patient populations.

Masters in Clinical Psychology Degree Information

How to Earn a Masters in Clinical Psychology Degree

Masters programs in clinical psychology combine graduate level curriculum with clinical research. In addition to coursework, students often must complete a clinical case study project or internship to demonstrate their comprehension about a specific clinical area or issue.

Master in Clinical Psychology programs may offer either a the Master of Science (MS) and Master of Arts (MA) in Clinical Psychology degree. While the two may have slightly different approaches, the core curriculum is often similar.

Typical coursework in a Clinical Psychology masters program may include the following.

  • Psychotherapy
  • Statistics
  • Ethics and professionalism
  • Child psychology
  • Abnormal psychology
  • Clinical assessment
  • Group therapy
  • Advanced psychology
  • Personality testing
  • Marital and family systems
  • Personality assessment
  • Therapy and crisis intervention

These are only a few example courses. Master in Clinical Psychology programs vary, so check out a few course lists to find one that matches your interests and goals.

MS vs MA Clinical Psychology Degree

When choosing your clinical pschology masters program, it's important to take into acount the degree that is awarded and the program's approach to subject matter. Both may have a huge impact on your experience in class and preparedness to accomplish certain goals. Often, this means choosing between an MS and MA degree.

MA in Clinical Psychology programs may provide intensive hands-on clinical training, as well as accompanying coursework for students. Courses may cover clinical diagnosis, research methods, psychopathology and the basics of psychological testing. 

Most MA Clinical Psychology programs aim to prepare students for a doctoral degree, like the PsyD, and later practice as clinical psychologists. They often take a liberal arts approach and may be perfect for those interested in treating patients in teh field.

MS in Clinical Psychology programs take a more technical approach with a focus on the science of psychology. An MS may be a prerequisite for PhD programs and ideal for those more interested in research.

While an MS clinical psychology masters program may prepare you to pursue some entry level professions, there may not be as many pracitioner options as with an MA.

How Long Will A Masters Program in Clinical Psychology Take?

A masters in clinical psychology program typically takes 2 years of full time study to complete. However, this depends on your previous education, enrollment status and individual progams.

Applying to Clinical Psychology Masters Programs

Prospective applicants to clinical psychology masters programs typically have a bachelor’s degree in psychology, or have completed coursework in introductory psychology, experimental psychology, and statistics.

Masters in Clinical Psychology Programs may also require:

  • GRE scores
  • Minimum GPA
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Astatement of purpose R
  • Related clinical experience

That being said, every program is unique, so contact schools directly by clicking the link in their listing for details.

What Can You Do With a Masters in Clinical Psychology?

Earning a clinical psychology masters degree might prepare students for a variety of careers within mental health counseling. Some Masters in Clinical Psychology programs, like the MFT, may be considered a terminal degree for mental health professionals whose goal is to pursue careers within a broad range of clinical and administrative settings.

Potential roles include the following.

  • Industrial organizational psychologisti
  • Psychological assistanti
  • Mental health counselor (Requires supervised clinical work and state licensure)ii
  • Marriage and family therapist (Requires supervised clinical work and state licensure)ii

However, to become a clinical psychologists, a doctoral degree will be required. Clinical psychologists may also need to complete an internship, attain at least 1 to 2 years of supervised professional experience, and pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology to be licensed.i

As more people have insurance and turn to clinical psychologists, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that demand for qualified professionals will grow by 20% between 2014 and 2024.i  If this is your goal, a masters program in Clinical Psychology may be considered a springboard to continuing education.

FUN FACT: Candidates with a master’s degree will face competition for most positions, and many of them will find jobs with alternative titles, as nearly all states restrict the use of the title “psychologist” to Ph.D. or PsyD degree holders.i

What Do Clinical Psychologists Do?

Clinical psychologists diagnose and treat psychological problems. They also help individuals deal with personal issues, such as divorce, trauma, or the death of a loved one.

More specifically, a clinical psychologist provides psychological services, including assessment, testing, diagnosis, and treatment, to adults and children in hospital and private practice settings. They may also conduct research on the causes, consequences, and treatment of psychological disorders.i

FUN FACT: In most states, practicing psychology or using the title of “psychologist” requires licensure.i

Selecting a Masters Clinical Psychology Program: On Campus or Online Format?

Masters in clinical psychology programs may be available both online or on campus to fit a variety of students' needs.

Online courses may be perfect for those who want additional flexibility and convenience. Online clinical psychology masters programs could allow students to access their assignments anytime and from anywhere with internet access.

This might be especially beneficial to working students. Or those who want to attend a program far away without relocating. However it is important to note that some online programs do have in person requirements. These may be completed locally or with short campus visits.

Masters clinical psychology schools, on the other hand, could be a perfect option for those looking for more structure. Classroom learning may also allow students to practice and collaborate with peers.

Building interpersonal skills this way could be especially useful for those hoping to pursue careers as practicing clincial psychologists. Plus students may gain access to campus facilities such as libraries, career services and tutoring. Resources and facilities vary by school so follow up directly or organize a campus visit to learn more.

Finally, some programs offer a hybrid option, which may combine the best of both worlds. Hybrid programs may have classes entirely online and on campus. Or individual courses may combine a bit of the two.

Some programs may also have  a residency requirement where students gather at a set location for a longer period of time. Every hybrid clinical psychology masters program is different, so read descriptions carefully to find one that may be perfect for you.

Accreditated Masters in Clinical Psychology Programs

The American Psychological Association (APA) is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation as the national authority on professional education and training in psychology. However, they do not currently accredit master in clinical psychology programs. Their scope is doctoral graduate programs, internship programs, and postdoctoral residency programs.

That said, universities and psychology schools offering masters programs in clinical psychology tend to be regionally accredited. If they also offer programs at the doctoral level, they may be accredited as an institution by the APA as well.

Follow up with the individual school or the US Department of Education to learn more about program level and university accreditation.

Find Masters Programs in Clinical Psychology

Ready to earn your Masters in Clinical Psychology degree? Start reviewing your options right here! You can also look for clinical psychology masters schools by location, or for online programs using the menu bar.

When you find a masters program in clinical psychology you like, click the link to learn more. Then contact the school right away with the on page form. Your future could be only a click away!


Sources: [i] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/mental-health-counselors-and-marriage-and-family-therapists.htm

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