An affordable online Master’s in Clinical Psychology is a highly-sought after degree in today’s job market. The profession is growing at a rate of 14 percent annually, which is higher than the median job growth of all other jobs in the U.S. The greater demand at schools, hospitals, and mental health centers for clinical psychologists is the driving force behind this growth and competition is tight.
Clinical psychology is not a “one-size-fits-all” kind of career. There are many subfields within clinical psychology, such as counseling psychology, experimental psychology, forensic psychology, industrial-organizational psychology and school psychology. A clinical psychologist can work range of locations including hospitals, medical facilities, substance-abuse rehabilitation centers, counseling offices, research labs, criminal justice facilities, business and schools. The possibilities are truly endless.
Many of these careers are not accessible without an accredited degree in clinical psychology; however many adults find that going back to school while working can be taxing and difficult. Thankfully, many schools are offering an affordable online Master’s in Clinical Psychology either 100 percent online or in a hybrid/blended program. Obtaining the degree needed to move up to the next step in a career is no longer an impossible feat.
The list for our ranking was generated by using the NCES database and the search term Master’s in Clinical Psychology. Schools for our ranking must be accredited in their field and offer the master’s degree either entirely online or is a hybrid/blended model. Of the initial 20 schools to make our list, we narrowed the list to the following 10 schools based on in-state graduate tuition rates.
Ranking Low-Cost Master’s in Clinical Psychology
10. Grand Canyon University
West Phoenix, Arizona
Online Master Of Science In Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Chartered in 1949, Grand Canyon University began with just 16 faculty teaching 100 students. Today, more than 19,000 students study at the West Phoenix campus and online. The program is designed with students who want to become professional counselors in mind. It is also tailored so that graduates who complete the necessary 62 credits and earn their degrees can easily achieve licensure in the state of Arizona. Students learn not only about the techniques and theories behind such counseling but also active ethics and research strategies. The university prepares these graduates for private practice or practice in a clinical setting as well.
9. Lock Haven University
Lock Haven, Pennsylvania
Online Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
For almost 150 years, Lock Haven University has delivered nationally ranked education, first as a teacher’s college and then as a college focused on the humanities, science, and business. When it comes to an online master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling, students can take advantage of the university’s commitment to excellence there as well. Not only does the program provide a path to achieving a Pennsylvania license, but the university also has agreements with many other states regarding licensure there. The degree involves 60 credits of study, 51 of which include core courses devoted to counseling itself, research, diagnostics, and the like. Nine further credits cover specializations in the field.
8. University of Louisiana Monroe
Online Counseling, Master of Science Clinical Mental Health Counseling Concentration
The University of Louisiana Monroe has progressed from humble beginnings as a junior college in the 1930s to a bastion of well-rounded education in the 21st century. Online graduate students, for example, who wish to pursue a career in clinical mental health can complete the required 60 credits to earn their Master of Science degrees in that field. The university has earned accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, and many states require graduation from a program with this accreditation to be licensed. Because the university values a low professor-to-student ratio, it only accepts a certain number of applicants for this program.
7. Southwest Assemblies of God University
Online Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology
Although Southwestern Assemblies of God University is currently in Texas, it began life in Oklahoma in 1927 as Southwestern Bible College. Since that time, it has expanded its course offerings to include many fields of study, notable among them mental health. The master’s degree in clinical psychology comprises 48 credit hours of instruction in classes whose foci are counseling theory, cognitive behavior, psychopharmacology, and others related both to the treatment of mental disorders and traditional therapy. Should students wish, they may also concentrate on the research subfield.
6. University of Houston at Victoria
Online Master of Arts Degree in Counseling Psychology
Having only had state authorization to grant degrees since 1983, the University of Houston at Victoria is a relative newcomer in the world of post-secondary education. Nevertheless, it is nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report for excellence in the West. The university’s mental health program requires a score of 980 on the Graduate Record Exam. The thrust of the coursework for this degree is clinical and comes to 60 credit hours. It is also designed specifically to help students earn the title of Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Texas.
5. West Virginia University
Morgantown, West Virginia
Online Master of Science in Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling
West Viginia University’s online graduate program in mental health focuses on the rehabilitation side of the equation. The rehabilitation in question is not just that associated with addiction but also, with its roots in the 1920s after World War I, regarding the mental aspect of recovering from all injuries up to and including the catastrophic. It is a 51-credit hour course. Aside from the focus on disabilities, the program also stresses the importance of ethics, research, and the cultural perception of people with disabilities and addictions.
4. Chadron State College
Online Master of Arts in Education – Clinical Mental Health Counseling Concentration
The graduate program with a concentration in clinical mental health counseling is a hybrid program at Chadron State College, which means students must study some courses online and some at the campus itself. It is a 60-credit hour degree, and the class known as EDCI 631: Research Design & Data Analysis, which is crucial to the course of study’s overall compass, should be completed and passed within the student’s first 12 credit hours. The final course to be completed is the internship, which is akin to the student teaching component of a teaching degree. Also, although this is, at its root, a graduate degree in education, a previous teaching degree is not required.
3. University of West Alabama
Online Master of Science in Experimental Psychology: Clinical Psychology Option
At the University of West Alabama, which has been in operation in various forms since 1835, students can pursue a graduate degree in experimental psychology with a clinical option. Depending on the student’s concentration and whether or not the student chooses to write a thesis or take a comprehensive examination, the course will be anywhere from 39 to 57 credits. Students who receive permission from the dean may also select the class PY597. In this course, students select their own topics that are separate from the curriculum. Most often, students choose items regarding a specialization they wish to study. The program demands that students maintain a 3.0 GPA or face removal from the program.
2. Lamar University
Online Master of Education in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Lamar University has come a long way since its days before and during the Depression as a junior college. Currently, the Carnegie Foundation for Teaching has designated it as an outstanding doctoral research university. The online Master of Education in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is equally prestigious and has been ranked by U.S. News & World Report. The degree requires 60 credits to complete, and included therein are two five-day seminars, a practicum, and an internship. As with any university accredited by The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, space is limited. Consequently, the criteria for admission are selective.
1. Capella University
Online Master of Science in Clinical Psychology: Clinical Counseling Specialization
From its location where its tallest buildings cast a shadow on the Mississippi River, Capella University provides a diversified selection of programs under its Master of Science in Clinical Psychology degree. Students have four subfields from which to choose, and those students selecting the clinical counseling specialization must complete 75 credits. This is a higher number of credits than one might usually encounter, but Capella University requires three residencies and two practica as part of the coursework. The university also tailors this hybrid graduate program to fulfill all of the prerequisites for the doctoral program automatically, so students wishing to progress further can do so without problems.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Can You Earn in this Field?
The overall median income in the United States for clinical psychologists is $70,580 annually. Different specializations pay differently. Industrial-Organizational psychologists have a median income of $82,760. The top 10 percent of people in this field make $120,000 annually or more. Some research psychologists make the most of all because they receive not only their salaries but also various grants and research fellowship stipends. Of course, not every job within any certain specialty will pay the same, so prospective psychologists in a field should research that field to find out what’s what.
What About That License?
All 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the four inhabited United States territories all have licensing requirements. Budding psychologists should contact the appropriate licensing boards prior to their graduation so that they know both what to expect after graduation and what is needed to acquire the needed licenses.
Do You Need a Ph.D.?
Eventually, yes, you will most likely need a Ph.D. as part of your CV. Entry-level positions seldom require it, but most high-level jobs do. You would certainly need one to be a professor or to work at the most prestigious research locations. Also, because almost all states and territories have continuing education requirements, not only will getting your Ph.D. qualify as that continuing education, but having it will also enable you to get into the most selective programs as you fulfill those requirements.
Private Practice or Group Practice?
There is a second question you must ask to answer this one: How much marketing do you want to do? If you’re just breaking into the field and don’t have a large patient base, you’re going to have to beat the bushes and shake out the trees to build such a base. You probably won’t be doing much in the way of counseling off the top, but hard work on the business end of the equation could pay off handsomely. Should you want to “do your thing” right away, it would probably be better to join a psychological entity, such as a school, a research lab, or a group practice.
What About Psychiatry?
As a clinical psychologist, you will not be a medical doctor like a psychiatrist. In almost all cases, you won’t be able to prescribe medications. As a psychologist, you would most likely consult with a psychiatric colleague if you believed one of your patients needed drug therapy. You could, however, become a psychiatrist after becoming a clinical psychologist by attending medical school.
What if You Can’t Find a Job in the U.S.?
American psychologists, because of the high level of training here, are in high demand overseas. Practicing as a psychologist overseas, however, comes with its own slate of problems. Some cultures, for example, have vastly different rules of society when it comes to mental health and require the most delicate handling. Some European countries also value an undergraduate psychology degree more than a Ph.D.
On the other hand, New Zealand has such a shortage of competent, well-trained psychologists that having an American Ph.D. is practically a guarantee of employment. Some countries, such as India, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates have no licensing requirements at all.
Also, not everyone speaks English. You should learn the foreign language of the country where you plan to practice even if most of its people know English. That’s just common courtesy. So, if you plan to go overseas, then you should check out the countries where you plan to apply for work.
In all, earning an affordable online Master’s in Clinical Psychology is a terrific way to begin a rewarding career based on helping others through what might be the toughest times of their lives. The employment possibilities are truly global. The earning potential is vast. All you need is the will to succeed.