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Online Master’s in Clinical Psychology: Find Low Cost Programs

Online Master’s in Clinical Psychology

Earning a master’s degree in clinical psychology can lead to two distinct career pathways. The first is in a variety of counseling positions, such as work as a career counselor, social worker, youth counselor, marriage and family therapist, and the like. The other is the doctoral path – earning the Psy.D. or Ph.D. is necessary in order to become licensed and earn the title of “clinical psychologist.” Either way, an Online Master’s in Clinical Psychology creates a strong foundation for future work or further education.

Those who choose to pursue this challenging program will be happy to find there are numerous clinical psychology programs online; these can provide students with the flexibility they need to complete their education while still juggling their day-to-day responsibilities of work, family and more. The following guide examines some of these programs, what makes them most affordable, and what a master’s student can expect from the program and the resulting career paths available to them.

Most Affordable Online Master’s in Clinical Psychology Degrees for 2020

When seeking the best master’s in clinical psychology degree programs students will look at several factors that matter most to them, such as accreditation, graduation rates and time to completion. One of the most important things to consider is affordability. How much is tuition? What kind of financial aid can students possibly receive? Are there any ways to make the program even cheaper? Below are the top most popular and affordable online master’s in clinical psychology programs for 2019.

Pepperdine University

Union College

California Southern University

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What’s the Difference Between Clinical Counseling and Clinical Psychology?

Though some will use the terms “clinical counseling” and “clinical psychology” interchangeably, they are actually two very different things. “Clinical counseling” might also refer to “counseling” in a broader sense, and often involves therapy for individuals, couples, families or groups. This counseling is often used to get at the heart of issues patients might be facing in their day-to-day lives.

“Clinical psychology” focuses more on those with serious mental illness or psychosis, which means the psychologist will usually work very closely with one person, as well as their medical team, to determine the best courses of treatment.

There is often overlap between the work of a counselor and a clinical psychologist; however, for the most part, a counselor will be trained at the master’s level while the psychologist will be trained at the doctoral level.

Transitioning to the Doctoral Program

For many students, the master’s in clinical psychology is a steppingstone to the doctoral degree. That’s why it’s so important to begin right now by not only choosing the right master’s degree but looking into what a master’s student’s chosen doctoral programs require. For instance, if a student hopes to work in a particular area of clinical psychology, they might want to seek out a master’s program that offers a specialization that can give them a bit of a knowledge boost in the area they’re most interested in.

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How an Online Master’s in Clinical Psychology Works

When a student reaches the master’s level program in almost any field, online education becomes tailored to their life. Colleges and universities are well aware that most master’s level students are going to be working while they go to school, gaining experience in their chosen profession, juggling family and community responsibilities, and much more. Given that, most courses grad students will encounter in any online master’s in clinical psychology program will be offered asynchronously, with occasional deadlines that keep them on track.

Though many of the courses that focus on theory and research can be easily handled online, there are others that require hands-on work. This is especially true in the fieldwork, internship or practicum requirements, where students will work closely with a variety of populations in mental health assessment and treatment while under the close supervision of a seasoned professional. These clinical experiences can be set up by the school in an area local to the main campus, or they can be set up at a facility that is local to the student, wherever in the country they may be. Most programs have dedicated facilitators to handle ensuring that distance learning students can find the best hands-on opportunities in their area.

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Online Clinical Psychology Courses to Expect

When a student begins an online master’s in clinical psychology program, there are certain courses they can expect to encounter. This short list is a snapshot of what to expect.

Counseling TheoriesTherapeutic BoundariesPsychopathology Emotion, Motivation, and CognitionClinical Assessment of Intellectual Functioning
Looks at historical and current evidence-based practices in psychology and counseling disciplines. Addresses the ethical standards, legal dilemmas and decision-
making requirements for all psychologists.
Building clinical skills in relation to the diagnosis, assessment and
treatment of mental disorders.
A look at what drives individuals to act in a certain way, as well as how those factors can change when mental illness is present.An overview of required patient assessments with a focus on intellect and potential issues with mental functioning.
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Do Clinical Psychology Graduates Need to Get Licensed?

Licensure requirements will vary by state, so it’s important for graduates to review the rules for their particular state before starting their master’s program. Most schools that provide online master’s programs in psychology have taken into account the widely varied requirements across state lines and have created programs that work for most state licensure boards. However, it’s still up to the student to ensure a particular program will meet the requirements for licensure on the master’s level (such as for that of a marriage and family therapist), as well as provide the appropriate steppingstone to the doctoral degree.

To learn more about licensure for clinical psychologists, visit these organizations:

  • The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB). This is the international association of psychology licensing boards in the U.S. and Canada. It creates and maintains a standardized written exam, the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP), which is used by most psychology licensing boards. Policies, tests, credentials and more can be found here.
  • National Board for Certified Counselors, Inc. (NBCC). This is the national credentialing board for professional counselors. You may be eligible to take the National Counselor Examination (NCE) to become a Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC). Most states use the NCE as their counselor licensure examination.
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Online Clinical Psychology Master’s Q&A

When choosing a clinical psychology master’s program online, students might wind up with many questions that just don’t have easy answers to be found on the school’s website. Below are some of the most common questions prospective master’s in clinical psychology students have:

What are the admissions requirements?

Some programs prefer a student to have a bachelor’s in psychology while others are more flexible. In some cases, your GPA will be a factor. Most programs will require an official copy of all your transcripts as well as an application essay. Not all programs require the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), but some many which would require you to prepare, schedule and then take the exam.

It’s also important at this time to check to see if a clinical psychology master’s program is APA accredited. The American Psychological Association (APA) regulates clinical psychology education at the graduate level.

What are the prerequisites?

If a student does not have an academic background in psychology, there may be basic undergraduate coursework needed in order to apply. This would include subjects such as Intro to Psychology, Abnormal Psychology and Developmental Psychology. These classes are readily available to take online or at a community college.

What can I specialize in?

Some programs offer specializations that include unique coursework such as:

  • Sports Psychology
  • Addiction Treatment
  • Industrial-Organizational Psychology
  • Forensic Psychology
  • Child Development
  • Experimental Psychology

How long does it take to earn a clinical psychology master’s online?

An online master’s degree in clinical psychology typically takes two years to complete as a full-time student and three years as a part-time student. The amount of time a student spends in school will also depend upon other factors, such as whether you choose a school that has multiple start dates, any credits you might bring to the table during the admissions process, and whether you choose an accelerated program.

How much does an online master’s in clinical psychology cost?

The costs can vary widely depending upon tuition rates, fees, and other expenses. One thing to consider is that some programs offer a flat-rate tuition for distance learners, while others might offer in-state rates to anyone who takes online courses. Always explore a school’s website to find tuition information, and look at the above spotlight schools for a general idea of what the pursuit is going to cost.

Can a student work as a clinical psychologist with a master’s?

No. Though you can become licensed to work as a counselor, social worker or similar mental health professional with only a master’s degree, a doctoral degree is required to obtain the title of clinical psychologist.

Will a master’s program help a student become licensed?

It’s important to remember that licensure for a clinical psychologist is only possible with a doctoral degree. However, finishing the master’s degree can open you up to licensure for jobs that are not considered clinical psychology, such as those in marriage and family counseling. Regardless of whether you intend to become licensed for a counseling position or you want to continue on to the terminal degree, it’s important to ensure that the program you choose is compatible with your state’s licensing board requirements. Check with the licensing board, as well as the school, to be sure.  

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Careers & Salaries for Clinical Psychology Master’s Degree Holders

While a grad student won’t be a psychologist at the end of their online master’s in clinical psychology, they will be prepared to enter the workforce in a wide variety of positions in therapy and mental health. If they choose to complete a program with a specialization, they could be well-qualified for positions that give them the opportunity to spread their wings and help certain populations or groups. Here are some of the most common jobs available for those who graduate from an online master’s in clinical psychology program but don’t have plans to continue on to earn their doctorate.

PositionMedian SalaryJob Growth Rate
Mental health therapist or counselor$44,630 23 percent
Psychological assistant$33,75016 percent
Psychiatric technician$30,8606 percent
School counselor$56,31013 percent
Psychology professor$78,47015 percent
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Professional Associations

Looking for a great way to network? Need to find out more about the clinical psychology career? Want more information on the variety of programs out there, from a professional perspective? These professional associations for those in the world of psychology can be a big help.

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Affordable Online Clinical Psychology Master’s Programs

College Name & Address Tuition Graduation Rate
Eastern Kentucky University
521 Lancaster Ave, Richmond, KY 40475
$10,99842.9%
Johnson and Wales University – Online
115 Cedar St, Providence, RI 02903
$11,13057.6%
Ashford University
8620 Spectrum Center Blvd, San Diego, CA 92123
$11,16048.6%
University of Hartford
200 Bloomfield Ave, West Hartford, CT 06117
$11,25053.9%
Capella University
225 South 6th St, Minneapolis, MN 55402
$11,44017.1%
Franklin University
201 S Grant Ave, Columbus, OH 43215
$12,06038.9%
University of South Maine
96 Falmouth St, Portland, ME 04103
$9,16232.4%
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Clinical Psychology Master’s Programs Accredited

College Name Tuition Graduation Rate
Lamar University
4400 S M L King Jr Pkwy, Beaumont, TX 77705
$15,64432.9%
WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY
1834 Wake Forest Rd, Winston-Salem, NC 27109
$39,21288.2%
FORT HAYS UNIVERSITY
600 Park St, Hays, KS 67601
$237
perc credit
80.7%
MEDAILLE COLLEGE
18 Agassiz Cir, Buffalo, NY 14214
$27,27643.9%
SOUTHERN NEW HAMPSHIRE UNIVERSITY
2500 N River Rd, Hooksett, NH 03106
$18,81051%
WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY
Morgantown, WV 26506
$27,24156.7%
CAPELLA UNIVERSITY
225 South 6th St, Minneapolis, MN 55402
$14,98717.1%
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Best Online Clinical Psychology Master’s Programs

College Name Tuition Graduation Rate
Eastern Kentucky University
521 Lancaster Ave, Richmond, KY 40475
$10,99842.9%
University of Hartford
200 Bloomfield Ave, West Hartford, CT 06117
$11,25053.9%
Lamar University
4400 S M L King Jr Pkwy, Beaumont, TX 77705
$15,64432.9%
WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY
1834 Wake Forest Rd, Winston-Salem, NC 27109
$39,21288.2%
WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY
Morgantown, WV 26506
$27,24188.2%
Capella University
225 South 6th St, Minneapolis, MN 55402
$11,44017.1%
MEDAILLE COLLEGE
18 Agassiz Cir, Buffalo, NY 14214
$27,27643.9%

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