Clinical Psychology Master's & PhD Programs

What is a Clinical Psychology Graduate Program?

Clinical psychology graduate programs help students prepare for research or clinical career paths. This branch of psychology focuses on treating mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders.

In order to become a Clinical Psychologist, students must first earn a graduate degree, either a Masters or Doctorate, in some form of clinical psychology.

Clinical psychology programs feature core coursework and often emphasize research. They may also feature supervised clinical practice and internships.

Clinical Psychology Master's & PhD Programs infographic

What Can You Do With A Clinical Psychology Degree?

Clinical psychology programs at each degree level might lead to different career paths. A Clinical Psychology Master’s program may help students prepare for psychologist roles that don’t call for a doctorate. These could include:

  • School Psychologist
  • Industrial-Organizational Psychologist
  • Psychological Assistants (Clinical, Counseling, or Research)

A Master’s program could also prepare students for counseling career paths, including Mental Health Counselor. Mental Health Counselor roles are projected to grow 23% by 2026.

For other roles in the field of psychology, you may need to earn a doctorate degree. Clinical psychology PhD programs could help you prepare for roles like:

Psychologist roles are projected to grow 14% by 2026, faster than average for all occupations.

Do You Need a Graduate Degree in Psychology?

Most psychology career paths call for at least a Master’s degree. And, career paths like Clinical Psychologist require a PhD or Psy.D.

The education you’ll need also depends on your state’s licensure requirements. You’ll generally need to earn a Master’s degree for Mental Health Counselor licensure and a doctorate for Clinical Psychologist licensure. You may also need to complete an internship and/or supervised clinical experience. Many clinical psychology graduate programs include these kinds of preparation.

What Does A Clinical Psychologist Do?

Clinical Psychologists assess and treat disorders related to mental and behavioral health. They may give diagnostic tests, provide psychotherapy, and devise behavior modification programs.

Some Clinical Psychologists treat specific populations – like children or the elderly. They could work in places like:

  • Schools
  • Ambulatory healthcare services
  • Government
  • Hospitals
  • Private practice

Graduates with a degree in clinical psychology could also pursue counseling career paths. Mental Health Counselors provide some of the same services as Clinical Psychologists. For instance, they help treat issues like anxiety, depression, and stress.

Clinical Psychologist Salary

Occupation

Average Salary

Employment

Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists

$81,330

108,060

Psychologists, All Other

$93,440

12,880

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

$46,560

241,930

Counselors, All Other

$47,600

27,150

Top States for Employment: Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists

State

Employment

Annual Mean Wage

California

18,250

$94,910

New York

11,380

$91,180

Texas

6,250

$70,060

Pennsylvania

4,800

$79,280

Illinois

3,990

$76,150

Top Metro Areas for Employment: Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists

Top Salary Metro Areas in the United States: Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists
Metro AreaAnnual Mean SalaryEmployment
Salinas, CA$117,850Not Reported
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA$117,760340
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA$110,010230
Napa, CA$109,850Not Reported
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA$106,160240

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists work in many industries. These range from home health services to private businesses. Industries that employ the most professionals in this field include:

  • Elementary and Secondary Schools
  • Offices of Health Practitioners
  • Individual and Family Services
  • Outpatient Care Centers
  • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals

Popular Clinical Psychology Graduate Degrees

Clinical Psychology degrees are reported by the National Center for Education Statistics under the category of Psychology.

By the most recent data (2013), 4,835 Clinical Psychology degrees were awarded to U.S. graduate students. A slight majority (51%) of these programs were at the Master’s level.

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ProgramInstitutionDegree Awarded
M.A. Clinical Mental Health CounselingThe Chicago School of Professional PsychologyMA
Clinical Psychology, Ph.D.Nova Southeastern UniversityPhD
Master of Science in Clinical PsychologyVanguard UniversityMS
Clinical PsychologyUniversity of HartfordPhD
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Masters in Clinical Psychology vs Ph.D in Clinical Psychology?

A Master’s in Clinical Psychology program could help you prepare for certain psychology career paths. Or, it could serve as a stepping stone to doctoral study. This program delves into the theory of psychology, plus techniques for clinical practice. You could also choose a concentration, like counseling, addiction, or gerontology.

Clinical psychology Master’s programs may emphasize research, supervised clinical experience, or both. You’ll often need to complete a Master’s thesis, along with practicums and/or internships.

Clinical psychology PhD programs dive deeper into the field. These doctoral programs are research-intensive but usually include both theory and applied practice. Expect to study skill areas like assessment, intervention, and psychotherapy. Practicums and internships may help candidates prepare for practitioner roles.

Some students earn a Master’s and then pursue a PhD later – or never. In dual Master’s/PhD programs, candidates enroll with a Bachelor’s degree. In these programs, you could pursue a Master’s on the way to earning your PhD in Clinical Psychology.

Clinical Psychology Graduate Degree Guide

Master's in Psychology

Ph.D in Psychology

M.S. in Clinical Psychology

PhD in Clinical Psychology

Length of Program: 37 to 67 units

Length of Program: 105 to 108 credits

The MSCP program explore aspects of human behavior, ranging from the social to the neurobiological. Concentrations like Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) could help students target their career goals.

The PhD is designed to help prepare students for goals in professional practice. It focuses on clinical skill areas like psychotherapy. The program features internship and practicum experiences.

  • Lifespan Development
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Psychopathology
  • Neurophysiology and Psychopharmacology
  • Developmental Psychology
  • The Psychology of Multiculturalism in North America
  • Personality Assessment
  • Clinical Psychopharmacology

No specific program accreditations

No specific program accreditations

What Courses Are Needed for a Psychology Graduate Degree?

Coursework in clinical psychology graduate programs covers human behavior, personality, intervention, and more. Some courses focus on typical behavior and development. Others cover psychopathology and how to treat patients with mental health challenges.

You could also take courses in professional ethics, standards, and laws. And, students who choose a concentration pursue specific courses in that area. For example, you could delve into neuroscience or forensic psychology.

Some common courses in Clinical Psychology programs include:

  • Social Psychology
  • Personality Disorders
  • Research Methods
  • Child Psychopathology & Treatment
  • Health Psychology
  • Human Sexuality
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Problem Solving & Creativity

What Classes Will I Take?

Your classes may consist of core courses in psychology, plus electives and coursework within your concentration. You could take classes like:

  • Multicultural Perspectives in Psychology. Cultural identity influences beliefs, behavior, and mental health. This course could help you prepare to work with patients from diverse backgrounds.
  • Health Psychology. This course explores the role of psychologists in medical settings. For example, you could study sleep disorders, behavioral medicine, and biofeedback.
  • Professional Ethics and Law. Mental health professionals often deal with sensitive situations. This course covers topics like patient confidentiality, reporting of abuse, and professional behavior.
  • Psychodynamic Psychotherapy. This course discusses the theory and practice of psychotherapy. You could take a look at Freudian and Jungian models, among others. And, you’ll study contemporary, evidence-based techniques.
  • Personality Theory. This course delves into what makes individuals unique. You could explore motivations, emotions, self-concept, and how personality changes over time.

What Should I Know About Accreditation in Clinical Psychology?

You may need to graduate from an accredited clinical psychology program to pursue licensure in your state. (Check with your state board to learn more.)

Most accrediting organizations evaluate a program’s curriculum, adherence to industry standards, and improvement over time. So, accreditation can help you make sure you are pursuing a high-quality program.

Several organizations accredit programs in clinical psychology or clinical mental health counseling. These include:

How Long is Graduate School for Clinical Psychology?

Earning Master’s degree in clinical psychology may take about two years, or longer. Earning a PhD in clinical psychology could take four to six years.

University

# of Credits Required

Starts Per Year

Minimum Months to Complete

Grace College and Theological Seminary

60

3

24

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

60

Multiple

36

Bradley University

60

2

36

Wake Forest University

60

2

36

How Much Does Graduate School Cost for Clinical Psychology?

The average cost of earning a graduate degree from a public institution is $11,617 per year. So, you might find programs both more affordable and more expensive than the average. Below, note the graduate tuition costs of four institutions with Clinical Psychology Graduate Programs as reported by NCES. We compared those costs to the typically most affordable and most expensive college options, also reported by NCES.

 
 
$11,617 Average Public Institution University
 
$14,784 Average Private For Profit Institution Tuition
 
 
 
 
$26,551 Average Private Nonprofit Institution Tuition
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What are the Costs per Credit for Masters and PhD in Clinical Psychology?

Cost per credit is different for each college or university. State universities may have in state-costs vs. out-of-state costs. Below are a few examples of cost per credit as reported by institutions that offer clinical psychology programs.

University# of Credits RequiredCost Per CreditTuition Cost

University

# of Credits Required

Cost Per Credit

Total Tuition Cost

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

60

$1164

$69,840

Capella University

90

$487

$43,830

Antioch University

60

$625

$37,500

Bradley University

60

$890

$53,400

Find 35 Top Clinical Psychology Graduate Programs Here

  • Offering two quality, competency-based online learning formats: FlexPath & GuidedPath
  • With FlexPath, you can earn your master’s degree in 12 months and under $11,000*
  • 97% of alumni agree FlexPath provided the flexibility they needed to pursue their degree (Alumni Outcomes Survey 2017)

*Assumes accelerated pace. Price varies by your pace and transfer credits. Other fees may apply.

  • Some of the nation's most affordable tuition rates, from a private, nonprofit, NEASC accredited university
  • Qualified students with 2.5 GPA and up may receive up to $20K in grants & scholarships
  • Multiple term start dates throughout the year. 24/7 online classroom access
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