Online Master's Degrees in Clinical Psychology

Clinical psychology focuses on helping people lead more productive lives by addressing mental health disorders, relationship struggles, and emotional issues.  An online master’s in clinical psychology may be a viable option for those who wish to pursue a career in the field. Completing an online degree may equip you with the skills necessary to diagnose clients, develop treatment plans, facilitate therapy, and carry out other daily functions of the job.

Different online programs are designed to meet various state requirements—so be ready to research your top picks, before settling on a single program. And ensure that your choice fits your career interests and goals.

Although becoming a clinical psychologist requires a doctorate, a master’s in clinical psychology may present an array of meaningful career opportunities—such as becoming a licensed professional counselor (LPC) or a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT).

Psychology@Pepperdine
PROGRAM: MASTER'S IN CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY - (LICENSED PROFESSIONAL COUNSELOR)

Bachelor's holders can prepare to become a licensed professional counselor online. With no GRE scores required to apply, the 24 month online MA in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine allows you to advance your career and be a catalyst of change.

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Compare Online Master’s Programs in Clinical Psychology

Compare Online Master's Programs in Clinical Psychology
University Name State Degree Type GRE Requirement GPA Requirement Total Credits Licensure Pathways
Capella University CA Master of Science in Clinical Psychology No 2.3 75 Varied
California Southern University CA Master of Arts in Psychology No n/a 60 LMFT & LPC
National University CA Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology No 2.5 90 quarter units LMFT & LPC
Pepperdine University
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CA Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology No n/a 62-68 LMFT & LPC
Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) TX Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology Yes 3.0 63 Licensed Psychological Associate (LPA)
Union College KY Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology Yes 3.0 49 plus an additional 12 for students who wish to pursue licensure LPC
University of West Alabama AL Master of Science in Experimental Psychology Yes 3.0 39-57 LPC

Details of Online Master’s Programs in Clinical Psychology

There are a number of factors to consider when choosing an online master’s in clinical psychology program. Below we’ll take a look at the details of the available online programs.

Capella University

Program Overview:

Program Requirements:

  • Credits Needed: 75 Credits
  • Practicum Hours: 600
  • Residency Requirements:  10-week online course + five-day in-person residency program
  • On-Campus Requirement: No

Admission Information:

  • Minimum of a 2.3 GPA from an accredited institution

California Southern University

Program Overview:

Program Requirements:

  • Credits Needed: 60 Credits
  • Practicum Hours: Students must enroll in three practicum courses (three credit hours hour each)
  • Internship Requirements:  Students may enroll in an optional internship course (six credit hours)
  • On-Campus Requirement: No

Admission Information:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution

National University

Program Overview:

Program Requirements:

  • Credits Needed: 90 quarter units
  • Practicum Hours: 225-280 hours
  • Internship Requirements:  N/A
  • On-Campus Requirement: No

Admission Information:

  • Students must have a GPA of 2.5 or higher from an accredited institution OR have a GPA of 2.75 or higher in the last 90 quarter units of their program
  • Students with an undergraduate GPA of 2.0-2.49 may apply for admission if they demonstrate satisfactory scores on one of the following examinations: GMAT, GRE, Miller Analogies Test
  • Personal interview

Pepperdine University

Program Overview:

Program Requirements:

  • Credits Needed: 62-68
  • Practicum Hours: 225-280 hours for students in California. Students outside of California will be required to complete 700 hours (if they intend to pursue licensure)
  • Internship Requirements:  N/A
  • On-Campus Requirement: No

Admission Information:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Statement of Purpose

Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU)

Program Overview:

Program Requirements:

  • Credits Needed: 63
  • Practicum Hours: 225 hours
  • Internship Requirements:  n/a
  • On-Campus Requirement: No

Admission Information:

  • Bachelor’s degree in psychology, counseling, social work, human services, or behavioral science
  • Students without a degree in psychology or behavioral science may take and submit the SAGU psychology department’s psychology major studies exam with a minimum score of 70 or above, or submit the GRE Psychology Subject Test Results of at least a score of 70 or above
  • Essay describing interest in clinical psychology and career goals (at least three pages)
  • Letters of recommendation including at least one from a mental health professional
  • GRE scores (may be submitted within the first semester of enrollment)

Union College

Program Overview:

Program Requirements:

  • Credits Needed: 49 plus additional 12 for students who wish to pursue licensure
  • Practicum Hours: Practicum in Assessment course (3 credits)
  • Internship Requirements:  N/A
  • On-Campus Requirement: Yes—hybrid program

Admission Information:

  • GPA of at least 3.0 from an accredited institution
  • At least nine hours of undergraduate psychology coursework

University of West Alabama

Program Overview:

Program Requirements:

  • Credits Needed: 39-57
  • Practicum Hours: Psychology Practicum course (3 credits)
  • Internship Requirements: Internship in Counseling Psychology course (3 credits)
  • On-Campus Requirement: No

Admission Information:

  • GPA of at least 3.0 from an accredited institution
  • GRE scores (may be submitted within the first semester of enrollment)
  • A minimum score of 280 (combined verbal and quantitative) on the GRE and a minimum score of 3 on the written portion
  • Statement of purpose
  • Writing sample
  • Three academic references with contact information

In order to compare more programs, including those without  a clinical focus, please see our list of online master’s in psychology programs.

How to Choose a Master's Program in Clinical Psychology

When choosing an online master’s program in clinical psychology, it’s important to consider what you hope to gain from the program, as well as your next career or educational steps. Whether you plan to pursue your doctorate, or you plan to have a career in counseling or therapy may impact which programs are most appropriate for your goals.

If you plan to become a clinical psychologist, you’ll need to obtain a doctorate. Certain master’s programs within this discipline may be better suited to prepare you for the postgraduate education that is required. If you plan to pursue a career that requires a doctorate degree in clinical psychology, it’s important to consider programs that focus on preparing you for the next step in your education.

If you wish to pursue clinical licensure without a doctorate, you may want to focus on programs that meet requirements for licensure in the state you hope to practice in. Some online master’s programs prepare you to practice as an LPC or an LMFT. The requirements for these licenses are determined by state boards, so when choosing your program, it’s important to think about the state in which you wish to practice. For those who wish to pursue a career that does not require a doctorate degree such as a therapist of counselor, choosing a program that prepares you for a doctoral program may be less important for your specific goals.

Some programs are accredited by the Master’s in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC), and though considering your program’s accreditation can be useful, some non-accredited programs may still provide a pathway to state licensure. Taking time to consider what your ultimate career and educational goals are can help you determine which programs will help meet your needs. Considering whether or not you wish to pursue a doctorate degree or not may be an important factor to consider.

If you aren’t planning to pursue your doctoral degree, but hope to work in a role where you help people overcome struggles related to mental health, another viable degree option may be a master’s in mental health counseling. A number of master’s in mental health counseling programs help you meet state requirements for licensure to practice.

Psychology@Pepperdine
PROGRAM: MASTER'S IN CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY - (LICENSED PROFESSIONAL COUNSELOR)

Bachelor's holders can prepare to become a licensed professional counselor online. With no GRE scores required to apply, the 24 month online MA in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine allows you to advance your career and be a catalyst of change.

Sponsored

Education Requirements for Clinical Psychology Degrees

The MPCAC does not have set education requirements for accredited programs, though the council does stipulate general requirements for aspiring clinical psychologists. The MPCAC requires programs to be rooted in “science-based practice,” and students must accrue 600 hours of supervised training that includes 240 hours of direct contact with patients.

It’s important to remember that accreditation does not necessarily lead to licensure. According to the MPCAC, “licensure across states is not guaranteed for any graduate, regardless of program accreditation.”

Programs that adhere to MPCAC guidelines generally provide students with valuable learning opportunities, but as mentioned above, some non-accredited programs still meet state licensure requirements. If you plan to pursue your LPC of LMFT licensure, be sure to look into if your program meets your state’s guidelines.

Clinical Psychology Curriculum

The MPCAC does not directly dictate curriculum requirements for master’s in clinical psychology programs, however, it does set forward a set of guidelines that programs must cover. The MPCAC’s core curriculum benchmarks [PDF, 197 KB] include:

  • Professional identity, and ethical and professional standards
  • Evidence-based theories and practice of counseling and psychotherapy
  • Multiculturalism and diversity
  • Theories of psychopathology and relevant classification systems
  • Tests, measurements, and other assessments of behavior
  • Research methods and program evaluation
  • Biological basis of behavior
  • Developmental basis of behavior
  • Social/organizational/community basis of behavior
  • Understanding and use of supervision during applied experiences

Online Class Interactions

There are a number of common criteria that students may consider when choosing an online degree program. Prospective students might consider the program’s interactive aspects, particularly whether it offers real-time classes connected with conferencing technology or relies solely on self-paced learning modules.

As an online student, you’ll want to ensure that your computer equipment and internet connection meet the minimum technical specifications for hardware, software, and bandwidth recommended by your school. Lastly, students may want to consider the traditional aspects of a learning environment, such as class size and faculty credentials.

Clinical Psychology Degree & Career Comparison

If you're considering a career in clinical psychology, it’s helpful to understand the different psychology career opportunities you can pursue. You may wish to become a psychologist, or work in a position that doesn’t require licensure—either way, knowing what level of education prepares you for your desired role may help you plan the path to getting there. Below are a few potential careers associated with earning a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctorate in the field:

Bachelor's Degree:

  • Community service manager
  • Human resources specialist
  • Intake coordinator

Master’s Degree:

  • LPC
  • LMFT
  • School/ Career Counselor
  • Counseling Psychologist
  • Forensic Psychologist
  • Marriage & Family Therapist
  • Substance Abuse Counselor
  • Learning Disabilities Specialist

Doctorate:

  • Licensed Clinical Psychologist
  • Academic roles in clinical psychology

How to Become a Licensed Clinical Psychologist

If you want to become a licensed clinical psychologist, there are several common requirements you’ll need to fulfill. The American Psychological Association (APA) sets guidelines for those who wish to work as licensed clinical psychologists. The APA outlines the basic steps to becoming a clinical psychologist, which include:

FAQs

If you’re considering an online master’s in clinical psychology, there are a few factors you may want to consider. Being informed about different program options, career outcomes, and future opportunities may help you choose the program that’s right for you. The following section will provide answers to frequently asked questions regarding clinical psychology training.

What is Clinical Psychology?

Clinical psychology is one of the largest specialty areas in the field of psychology. According to the APA, professionals in clinical psychology, “focus on individual differences, normal and abnormal behavior, mental and emotional health, healthy behaviors and mental disorders and their prevention.” Clinical psychologists provide care through assessment, research, intervention, and treatment of a range of mental health issues.

How Long Does It Take to Earn a Master of Clinical Psychology?

How long it takes to earn a Master of Clinical Psychology depends on the program you choose and if you study full-time or part-time. Many online master’s programs are designed to be flexible, and some people may be able to continue working while going to school. Many full-time master’s programs take about two years to complete, but you should evaluate your program’s requirements as well as the course load you’ll be able to handle.

What Can You Do with a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology?

A master’s in clinical psychology may serve as a path toward pursuing higher education in the field. Once you’ve completed your master’s program, you may move on to obtaining a doctoral degree in clinical psychology, which will provide you with the necessary education to become a licensed clinical psychologist.

If you don’t want to pursue doctoral education, there are graduate programs that may help you fulfill the requirements needed to become an LPC or an LMFT. It’s important to research the differences between an LPC vs an LMFT so you can decide which career best fits your goals and interests.

Can You Become a Clinical Psychologist with a Master’s Degree?

To become a clinical psychologist, you’ll need a doctoral degree in clinical psychology. Many psychologists who specialize in clinical psychology obtain a PsyD, which is a clinical degree that’s based on practical experience and an exam rather than a research-based dissertation. However, a master’s degree is a prerequisite for some PsyD programs, so getting your master’s may be part of your path toward becoming a clinical psychologist.

Last updated: October 2020