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.
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:
- Clinical Psychologist
- Counseling Psychologist
- Research Psychologist
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:
- Ambulatory healthcare services
- 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
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists
Psychologists, All Other
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors
Counselors, All Other
Top States for Employment: Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists
Annual Mean Wage
Top Metro Areas for Employment: Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists
|Metro Area||Annual Mean Salary||Employment|
|Salinas, CA||$117,850||Not Reported|
|Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA||$110,010||230|
|Napa, CA||$109,850||Not Reported|
|San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA||$106,160||240|
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.
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
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.
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:
- American Psychological Association (APA). APA accredits doctoral psychology programs in Clinical Psychology and other areas. They also accredit doctoral internships and residencies.
- Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC). MPCAC accredits Master’s programs in counseling and psychology.
- Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (PCSAS). PCSAS accredits PhD programs that use a clinical science training model.
- Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). CACREP accredits certain graduate counseling programs. These include Master’s programs in clinical mental health counseling.
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.
# of Credits Required
Starts Per Year
Minimum Months to Complete
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.
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 Required||Cost Per Credit||Tuition Cost|
# of Credits Required
Cost Per Credit
Total Tuition Cost
Find 42 Top Clinical Psychology Graduate Programs Here
- Offering two quality, competency-based online learning formats: FlexPath & GuidedPath
- Online degrees in business, counseling, education, health administration, human services, information technology, nursing, public health, psychology and social work.
- 97% of alumni agree FlexPath provided the flexibility they needed to pursue their degree (Alumni Outcomes Survey 2017)
- No application fee for April & June terms
- 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
Walden UniversityPhD in Clinical Psychology - General PhD in Clinical Psychology - Health Psychology PhD in Clinical Psychology - Teaching Psychology
The Chicago School of Professional PsychologyM.A. Clinical Mental Health Counseling M.S. Clinical Psychopharmacology M.A. Psychopharmacology
Our Lady of the Lake UniversityMaster of Arts in Counseling: Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Antioch UniversityMA Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Grand Canyon UniversityM.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Health Psychology
Bradley UniversityMaster of Arts in Counseling – Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC)
Liberty University OnlineMA: Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Saybrook UniversityPh.D. Psychology Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology
Capella UniversityMS - Applied Research MS - Clinical Counseling PsyD - Clinical Psychology
Grace College and Theological SeminaryMaster of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Keiser UniversityClinical Mental Health Counseling, MS
Fairleigh Dickinson UniversityMaster of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Malone UniversityM.A. Education, Clinical Mental Health Counseling (MEd-CMHC)
Wake Forest UniversityMaster of Arts in Counseling - Clinical Mental Health
William James CollegeClinical Psychology PsyD