Best Online Master’s in Child and Adolescent Psychology

Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.
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Updated April 19, 2024
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This guide ranks the best online master's in child and adolescent psychology. Courses like theory of personality and social psychology will prepare graduates.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

A child psychology master’s degree can lead to many fulfilling career paths in counseling and therapy to help children with developmental issues, behavioral challenges, or mental health disorders

A child psychology degree provides focused training for careers working with children. The degree builds strong analytical, research, and clinical skills. Graduates apply their degrees as school counselors, behavioral therapists, and child therapists. The degree also prepares students for additional education in child psychology at the doctoral level.

Many online colleges offer psychology graduate programs. In addition to child psychology, degree-seekers can specialize in educational psychology or school psychology. This guide ranks the best online master’s programs in child and adolescent psychology. Prospective applicants can use the ranking to find the right fit for their interests and career goals.

The Best Online Master’s in Child and Adolescent Psychology Programs

The school and/or program descriptions below were drafted using natural language generation technology and have been edited for clarity and accuracy. The data is primarily sourced from government databases such as IPEDS – see sources section for more details.

#1 Best Online Master’s in Child and Adolescent Psychology

Capella University

  • Location-markerMinneapolis, MN
  • 4 year
  • Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$14,148
  • Out-of-state$14,148
  • Retention Rate45%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled38,930
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment0%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 Best Online Master’s in Child and Adolescent Psychology

National University

  • Location-markerSan Diego, CA
  • 4 year
  • Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$11,064
  • Out-of-state$11,064
  • Retention Rate0%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled12,471
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment0%
  • AccreditationYes
Rankings Methodology

Best Online Masters in Child and Adolescent Psychology Programs

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What Is an Online Master’s in Child and Adolescent Psychology?

An online master’s in child psychology degree trains graduate students in advanced psychological assessment, research methods, and treatment. Psychology degrees prepare graduates for careers working with children and doctoral programs in child psychology.

Graduate programs in child psychology may appeal to professionals seeking roles as child psychologists, school psychologists, child therapists, and behavioral therapists. Students often have undergraduate degrees in psychology or related social sciences.

Most master’s programs require each candidate to possess an accredited bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA. Applicants also submit recommendation letters, personal statements, and resumes.

During a master’s program, a psychology degree-seeker completes 30-40 credits of coursework in child development, psychology research methods, and child psychopathology. Many programs offer specialized courses in relevant topics such as bullying, ADHD, and autism spectrum disorders. Graduate learners often complete supervised practicum training to develop and strengthen clinical skills.

What’s the Difference Between a Master of Arts and Master of Science in Child and Adolescent Psychology?

Master of arts (MA) and master of science (MS) degrees in child and adolescent psychology train students to assess and treat mental health disorders. Both programs emphasize psychology research and experiential training. However, an MA offers a greater focus on counseling approaches, while an MS emphasizes research. Some master’s in psychology programs offer MA and MS tracks.

Master’s Degrees in Child and Adolescent Psychology

MA in Child and Adolescent Psychology

Focuses on:

Counseling and therapy skills. An MA typically focuses on treatment approaches rather than psychological research and methodologies. Graduates can go on to pursue doctoral degrees in psychology, particularly those that emphasize clinical work.

Best for these career paths:

  • School counselor
  • Child and adolescent therapist

MS in Child and Adolescent Psychology

Focuses on:

Research and the scientific approach to psychology. An MS generally emphasizes research methods, behavioral studies, and human development. The degree prepares students for research-focused doctorates in psychology.

Best for these career paths:

  • Postsecondary psychology teacher
  • Psychology research assistant

What Can I Expect When Pursuing an Online Master’s in Child and Adolescent Psychology?

Online child and adolescent psychology programs blend classroom and clinical training to prepare graduates for careers working with children. Master’s students strengthen their training through psychology courses and experiential learning. Most programs include a supervised practicum or field experience for enrollees to develop practical skills.

Many graduate students focus on a subfield of child and adolescent psychology. Common concentrations within child and adolescent psychology include:

  • Child psychopathology
  • School psychology
  • Human development

Common Courses in Master’s in Child and Adolescent Psychology Online Programs

Master’s students in child and adolescent psychology study developmental psychology, ethics, assessment and treatment, and research methods. Each child psychology program sets a distinct curriculum, but below are some common master’s-level courses.

  • Current Issues in Child and Adolescent Psychology: Graduate students examine current research in the field and core psychological and developmental theories. The course introduces learners to graduate-level study in child and adolescent psychology.
  • Developmental Psychology: The course covers typical and atypical social and emotional development for children and adolescents. Students examine emotional regulation, attachment, and social behavior. The course evaluates internal and interpersonal processes.
  • Ethics: Clinicians and counselors must follow strict ethical guidelines, particularly when working with children and adolescents. This course introduces ethical considerations when conducting psychological research or offering clinical treatment.
  • Psychological Assessment: Learners examine the assessment process for common mental health disorders encountered during childhood and adolescence. The course introduces the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) diagnostic process and research on assessment techniques. It also teaches how to assess child psychopathology.
  • Research Methods: This course introduces graduate-level psychology research techniques. Students review current research in the field and examine research methodologies. They learn to critically assess research, design scientific inquiries, and follow ethical guidelines.

Choosing an Online Master’s in Child and Adolescent Psychology Program

Which child psychology school should you choose? Many applicants research tuition and fees, discounts for in-state residents or online learners, and credit requirements to identify their ideal program. Prospective enrollees must also research specialization options, graduate advisors, and field experience options to identify the right fit for their unique needs.

Many of the top-ranked psychology programs offer child and adolescent psychology specializations. Online programs should also work with students to find local practicum opportunities. In addition, make sure the program meets the requirements for accreditation and licensure.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Child and Adolescent Psychology Degrees

Prospective graduate students should always choose accredited universities. Accredited schools meet the highest standards for educating students and granting degrees. Colleges and degree programs earn accreditation after undergoing rigorous review.

During an accreditation review, independent accrediting agencies evaluate schools on their student learning outcomes, faculty qualifications, and graduation requirements. Degrees from accredited programs meet the requirements for state licensure for clinical practice and admission to doctoral programs.

Child and Adolescent Psychology Careers

Many careers with a psychology degree draw on the analytical, counseling, and treatment skills gained during a master’s in child psychology degree. With a master’s degree, professionals work in psychology research, school psychology, school counseling, and behavior therapy.

Some career paths, including becoming a psychologist, require a doctorate. A master’s degree can prepare graduates for doctoral-level study in child psychology. Psychiatry is different from psychology and requires an MD. This section introduces common career paths for individuals with a graduate degree in child and adolescent psychology.

Psychologist

Median Annual Salary:$117,750

Psychologists examine human behavior in scientific and clinical settings. They research cognitive processes and diagnose mental health disorders. Child psychologists specialize in developmental issues and behavioral challenges specific to children and adolescents. Other specialties that work closely with children include school psychology. Psychologists must hold doctorates and state-issued licenses.

School Counselor

Median Annual Salary:$61,710

School counselors work closely with students, parents, teachers, and school administrators to help young learners strengthen their academic and social skills. At the high school level, they advise students on higher education and career paths. They also recommend approaches to improve academic performance, educate students about social and emotional health, and help learners manage behavioral issues. A school counselor must possess a master’s degree and acquire certification. In some states, they must also have a background in education.

Child and Adolescent Psychology Professional Organizations

Professional associations help child psychology students enter the workforce and advance their training. These organizations host conferences and events with networking opportunities. They also offer professional development tools, educational resources, and career advice, including job boards. Learn more about professional associations in child and adolescent psychology below.

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

AACAP advocates for child and adolescent psychiatrists. The academy hosts a clinical practice center with resources, an education center to build skills, and resources for early career psychiatrists.

American Counseling Association

ACA provides professional development, advocacy, and a comprehensive code of ethics for counselors. The association publishes books, journals, and a monthly magazine on counseling. It also hosts a yearly conference.

American Psychological Association

APA includes several divisions focusing on child psychology, including the Society of Clinical and Adolescent Psychology, the Society of Pediatric Psychology, and the Society for Child and Family Policy and Practice. These societies encourage professional practice, offer training opportunities, and promote public policies that improve children’s mental health and welfare.

Association for Psychological Science

APS supports scientific psychology, including those who specialize in research, teaching, or applied psychology. The association publishes research and encourages networking opportunities.

Frequently Asked Questions About Child Psychology Degrees

Can You Become a Child Psychologist With a Master’s Degree?

No. Child psychologists must hold a doctorate in psychology and a state-issued license. However, several research-focused psychology careers and school psychology careers in many states only require a master’s degree.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Degree in Child Psychology?

A master’s in child psychology typically takes two years for full-time students. Part-time students may take 2-4 years to complete their degrees. After earning a master’s degree, graduates can enter the workforce, pursue licensure at the master’s level, or pursue doctorates in child psychology.

How Many Years Does It Take to Become a Child Psychologist?

A child psychologist typically spends at least five years in graduate school to complete a doctorate and apply for licensure as a psychologist.

Portrait of Genevieve Carlton

Genevieve Carlton

Genevieve Carlton holds a Ph.D. in history from Northwestern University. After earning her doctorate in early modern European history, Carlton worked as an assistant professor of history at the University of Louisville, where she developed new courses on the history of science, Renaissance Italy, and the witch trials. Carlton has published five peer-reviewed articles in top presses and a monograph with the University of Chicago Press. She also earned tenure with a unanimous vote before relocating to Seattle. Learn more about Carlton’s work at genevievecarlton.com.


Portrait of Reviewed by: Megan Pietrucha, Psy.D.

Reviewed by: Megan Pietrucha, Psy.D.

Megan Pietrucha, Psy.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist who currently practices in the Chicago area. She holds a bachelor’s in psychology from Illinois Wesleyan University and a master’s and doctorate in clinical psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University. Her clinical interests include the treatment of eating and body image concerns, college student and student-athlete mental health, mood disorders, health and wellness, mindfulness, sport and performance psychology, and consultation. In addition to her clinical work, Dr. Pietrucha has served as the training director for an APA-accredited internship program and has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in psychology. She has also worked with high school and college athletes and teams, as well as recreational fitness programs, to provide mental skills training for athletic performance and fitness adherence.



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