Best Online Master’s in Psychology 2021

| TBS Staff

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Completing an online master's degree in psychology can help you progress your career and take on roles focused on providing therapeutic services, advancing research, and managing administrative functions.

While a master's in psychology does not qualify you to work as a licensed psychologist, it does lead to several growing roles that offer substantial salaries and the opportunity to help others.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that roles for psychologists will grow by 14% between 2018 and 2028, which is much faster than the national average for all occupations. More than 26,000 new roles should be created by the end of this time frame.

Top 10 Online Master's Programs in Psychology
#1 McNeese State University Lake Charles, LA
#2 University of Louisiana at Monroe Monroe, LA
#3 The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL
#4 Eastern Washington University Cheney, WA
#5 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH
#6 Arizona State University-Skysong Scottsdale, AZ
#7 Regent University Virginia Beach, VA
#8 Pepperdine University Malibu, CA
#9 University of Idaho Moscow, ID
#10 Fayetteville State University Fayetteville, NC

Best Online Master's in Psychology Programs

McNeese State University true View School Profile $ Lake Charles, LA 45% 36% 57% McNeese State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

A public university founded in 1939, McNeese welcomes more than 7,000 students each year.

The university offers an online master of arts in psychology with three concentration options: applied behavior analysis, counseling psychology, or general/experimental psychology. The applied behavior analysis concentration leads to qualification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Those planning careers as therapists typically choose the counseling psychology track, while the general/experimental psychology concentration prepares students for doctoral study.

Applicants must submit transcripts reflecting a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.5 and at least three credits in statistics and 18 credits in psychology. Applicants also need combined GRE scores of 285. Following the completion of 12 credits or one semester in the program, the Departmental Admissions and Retention Committee makes a final decision on whether to accept the student to candidacy.

University of Louisiana at Monroe true View School Profile $ Monroe, LA 44% 40% 34% The University of Louisiana at Monroe is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Founded in 1931, ULM, a member of the University of Louisiana system, serves approximately 8,400 students per year.

ULM offers a 100% online master of science in psychology with an optional concentration in forensic psychology. Students pursuing the general degree take just one core, personality and social psychology, along with their choice of 24 elective psychology credits. Those in the forensic psychology program take such required courses as advanced theories of crime and delinquency and minorities, crime, and criminal justice, along with six credits of approved electives. Both tracks offer an optional clinical practicum and thesis.

Applicants must have a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA or demonstrate one of the following: a minimum 2.75 GPA, a combined GRE score of 290, or any combination of GPA and GRE score that together equal or exceed 800.

The University of Alabama true View School Profile $$$$ Tuscaloosa, AL 72% 39% 39% The University of Alabama is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

UA, opened in 1831 and now the oldest and largest public university in the state, enrolls more than 38,000 undergrads and graduate students each year.

UA's online master of arts in educational psychology - learning and assessment prepares students for careers as youth leaders and educational professionals and for graduate study. The program does not lead to teacher certification.

All students take the same sequence of courses, including evaluation of classroom learning and advanced educational psychology. Students must also complete a non-thesis research project in their final semester.

Admission requirements include official transcripts reflecting a 3.0 GPA, GRE scores of 300 or MAT 50th percentile (waived through fall 2021), three letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose.

Eastern Washington University true View School Profile $$ Cheney, WA 44% 67% 28% Eastern Washington University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NCCU).

A public university founded in 1882, EWU welcomes more than 12,000 graduate and undergraduate students annually.

EWU offers an online educational specialist in school psychology program. All students must attend synchronous courses Monday evenings from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. PST and attend a three-day on-campus session each year. Students may choose a two-year accelerated program or a three-year regular program. Both options require the completion of a full-time, 1,200-contact-hour internship.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in psychology, education, or a closely related field, with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Additional online admission requirements include three references and three years of full-time teaching experience or five years of relevant professional experience.

Southern New Hampshire University true View School Profile Manchester, NH 54% 68% 93% Southern New Hampshire University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

SNHU, a private university established in 1932, enrolls approximately 3,300 students each year.

SNHU offers an online master of science in psychology with three concentration options: child and adolescent development psychology, forensic psychology, or industrial organizational psychology. The non-licensure program offers an optional internship. All students must complete a capstone project.

Applicants need to send official transcripts showing a 2.75 minimum GPA for full admission or a minimum of 2.0 for provisional admission.

Arizona State University-Skysong View School Profile $$ Scottsdale, AZ 14% 55% 97% Arizona State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

ASU, a public university established in 1885, serves more than 53,000 undergraduate and graduate students every year.

ASU offers a fully online master of science in psychology. The flexible program offers full-time and part-time options and various electives in areas such as health psychology, cognitive psychology, and psychophysiology. The program concludes with a comprehensive capstone experience.

Applicants must submit official transcripts showing a minimum 3.0 GPA, a statement of purpose, and two recommendation letters. GRE scores are not required.

Regent University View School Profile Virginia Beach, VA 59% 80% 91% Regent University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

A private Christian university founded by Pat Robertson in 1977, Regent today enrolls just over 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students annually.

Regent offers an online master of science in psychology grounded in a Christian worldview. Optional concentrations include addictions, cyberpsychology, and leadership coaching. Regardless of concentration, all students take such core courses as biological bases of behavior and integrative psychology.

Applicants must submit transcripts showing a minimum GPA of 2.75 (3.0 preferred). The program may request an interview.

Pepperdine University View School Profile Malibu, CA 83% 38% 11% Pepperdine University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

A private Christian university founded in 1937, Pepperdine serves nearly 9,000 students each year.

Pepperdine offers an online master of arts in psychology. The non-licensure, clinically-oriented program prepares students for careers such as child development specialist, executive coach, or group facilitator. All students take the same core courses, along with two electives. Sample courses include interpersonal skills and group therapy, trauma in diverse populations, and career development theory and techniques.

Admission requirements include official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose. Pepperdine does not require GRE scores for this program.

University of Idaho View School Profile $$$ Moscow, ID 59% 40% 31% University of Idaho is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NCCU).

A public university opened in 1892, U of I today welcomes nearly 12,000 students per year.

The university's online master of science in psychology, human factors, blends psychology and engineering, placing students at the heart of the user experience. Graduates find successful careers in such areas as software usability, nuclear power, and aviation systems. Courses include engineering psychology, human factors in engineering design, and human-computer interaction.

Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA (no GRE score required). The program might consider lower GPAs with strong GRE scores, five or more years of related work experience, a letter of support from within the department, or a detailed statement explaining the applicant's ability to succeed.

Fayetteville State University View School Profile $ Fayetteville, NC 35% 60% 66% Fayetteville State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

A historically Black university (HBCU) founded in 1867 and now part of the University of North Carolina system, FSU serves approximately 6,500 students each year.

FSU's online master of arts in psychology takes 18 months to complete. The non-licensure program gives students a broad foundation in diversity, ethics, research, and professional identity. Some graduates go on to doctoral study, while others establish careers in areas such as human resources, data analysis, or social services.

Admission requirements include official transcripts showing six credits of psychology courses and a minimum 2.6 GPA, GRE scores (290 or above preferred, waived through spring 2021), a curriculum vitae, two recommendations, and a personal statement.

Lynn University View School Profile Boca Raton, FL 55% 30% 44% Lynn University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Lynn, a private university established in 1962, enrolls just over 3,200 students each year.

Lynn offers a fully online master of science in psychology with an optional concentration in industrial/organizational (I/O) psychology. All online students receive an iPad with several preloaded apps to enhance their learning experience. The general track focuses on human development, while the I/O track focuses on organizational concerns. Students in both tracks must complete a practicum in their area of specialization.

Applicants must submit official transcripts, a personal statement, a resume, and a letter of recommendation.

Fort Hays State University View School Profile $$ Hays, KS 44% 39% 83% Fort Hays State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Founded at the now-closed Fort Hays military outpost in 1902, FHSU has operated at its current location since 1904. Today, the university serves just over 15,000 students every year.

FHSU offers a fully online master of science in school psychology. All students take the same sequence of courses, including appraisal of children, methods in school psychology, and professional ethics in psychology. Students must pass a comprehensive final exam.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree in psychology or education with at least 12 psychology credits and one statistics or research methods class, and a minimum GPA of 3.0. Additional requirements include recent GRE scores, a statement of intent, two letters of reference, and a completed interview questionnaire.

Union College View School Profile Barbourville, KY 27% 72% 61% Union College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

A private Christian college founded in 1879, Union enrolls just over 800 students annually.

Union's online master of arts in general psychology also offers an optional certificate in chemical dependency. The non-licensure program prepares students for career advancement or doctoral study. All students must complete an integrative thesis and a comprehensive final exam.

Admission requirements include a bachelor's in psychology or a related field with a minimum 3.0 GPA and combined GRE scores of 286 or above.

Nova Southeastern University View School Profile Fort Lauderdale, FL 50% 51% 47% Nova Southeastern University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Established as Nova University of Advanced Technology in 1964, NSU serves more than 20,000 students at multiple campuses and online.

NSU offers a fully online master of science in general psychology with an optional track in applied health science. General track students may, if desired, complete a thesis. Students in both tracks take such foundational courses as behavioral neuroscience and psychological quantitative methods.

Admission requirements include either a 3.0 GPA or a combined GRE score of 300, plus a personal statement and two recommendation letters. The program may require a personal interview.

Medaille College View School Profile Buffalo, NY 37% 71% 30% Medaille College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

Medaille, a private college established in 1875 by the Sisters of St. Joseph, now welcomes more than 2,000 graduate and undergraduate students per year.

Medaille's online master of arts in psychology provides a broad overview of the field's key areas, including clinical psychology, behavioral neuroscience, and social and cognitive psychology. All students must complete either a thesis or an internship.

Applicants must submit official transcripts, a resume, a personal goal statement, and two professional references.

Indiana Institute of Technology View School Profile Fort Wayne, IN 36% 67% 35% The Indiana Institute of Technology is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Established in 1930 as Indiana Technical College, today Tech serves more than 2,100 undergrads and grad students annually.

Tech's online master of science in psychology prepares students for careers in social service agencies, businesses, or even the criminal justice system, as well as for doctoral study. All students take the same series of courses, such as multicultural psychology, legal and ethical issues in psychology, and advanced biopsychology. All students must complete a capstone course, including a comprehensive final exam.

Admission requirements include a minimum GPA of 2.5 and two years of work experience.

Tiffin University View School Profile Tiffin, OH 29% 67% 55% Tiffin University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

A private university founded in 1888, TU today serves more than 3,000 students each year.

TU offers a fully online master of science in psychology designed for those pursuing further graduate study or going into teaching. The non-licensure program focuses on scientific and experimental psychology rather than clinical or counseling. Full-time students can complete the program in 18 months. Part-time students typically take about 30 months.

All applicants must submit official transcripts. Those with a GPA below 3.0 must also submit a resume and a 300-word essay.

Mercy College View School Profile Dobbs Ferry, NY 44% 56% 41% Mercy College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

Mercy, a private college founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1950, welcomes more than 10,000 undergrads and graduate students each year.

Mercy's online master of science in psychology prepares students for careers in social services or hospital environments, as well as for doctoral study. In addition to their choice of electives, all students take such core courses as physiological psychology, psychopathology, and professional issues and ethics. All learners must complete a practicum experience. Students may choose to prepare a thesis or take a comprehensive exam.

Admission requirements include official transcripts reflecting a minimum 3.0 GPA, two letters of recommendation, a resume, and a personal statement.

Divine Mercy University View School Profile Sterling, VA 79% Divine Mercy University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

A private Catholic graduate school focused on psychology and counseling, DMU enrolls approximately 300 students per year.

The university offers a fully online master of science in psychology that blends the latest scientific understanding of human behavior with a Catholic perspective on human dignity. Courses include The Catholic-Christian vision of the person, statistical analysis for psychology and the social sciences, and leading people and programs. All students must also complete a final capstone project.

Admission requirements include official transcripts reflecting a minimum GPA of 2.5 (2.75 preferred), GRE scores (optional but recommended for those with less than a 2.75 GPA), two letters of recommendation, a statement of intent, and a resume.

Adler University View School Profile Chicago, IL 24% Adler University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Adler, a private university named for pioneering psychotherapist Alfred Adler, welcomes nearly 1,400 students per year.

Adler's online master of arts in psychology offers four different concentrations: gender and sexuality studies, crisis management, child and adolescent development, or health and wellness. All students, regardless of concentration, must complete a 200-contact-hour social justice practicum. They also choose between a final capstone project and a thesis.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree with either a minimum 3.0 GPA or a minimum 2.5 GPA with two letters of recommendation. Adler offers case-by-case consideration for those with a GPA below 2.5.

Online Master's in Psychology Programs Ranking Guidelines

We selected the following programs based on their quality, the types of courses offered, the faculty, rankings, awards, and reputation -- including the school's reputation for effectively providing online degrees.

The motto of is Finding the best school for you. Here is how we do it:

The value of any ranking list of schools and/or degree programs depends on having a methodologically sound assessment of each school’s/program’s characteristics, especially insofar as these can be objectively measured. A college or university is a complex entity, with numerous factors to consider, and distilling these down to the place where meaningful comparisons can be made to form a defensible ranking list becomes part science and part art.

To meet this challenge—and thereby provide you with the most useful and insightful educational rankings on the Internet — formulates our rankings based on five informational categories (six, when considering online schools). The major metrics and qualities for which we rank are these (with expanded, detailed considerations and weights listed):

1. Academic excellence based on a school’s curriculum generally or within the selected discipline [weight = 25%]

  • Weighs school against known leading schools in that discipline
  • Weighs number of core curricula listed as advanced courses within that discipline and compares against introductory courses
  • Weighs school’s curriculum against known knowledge needs of major employers in that discipline
  • Considers number and types of specializations offered within that discipline
  • Considers faculty expertise in that discipline
  • Considers range of electives within that discipline
  • Considers quality of online environment offered to students (if applicable), particularly within that discipline

2. Strength of faculty scholarship [weight = 25%]

  • Considers education background of the faculty
  • Considers years of faculty experience both inside and outside of academia.
  • Considers faculty membership and leadership within relevant, prominent associations
  • Considers academic papers published by faculty in relevant, prominent periodicals
  • Considers awards and recognitions given to faculty members from prominent organizations and from other sources

3. Reputation [weight = 20%]

  • Considers a school’s reputation among academic peers and employers regarding the following:
    • Faculty
    • Curriculum
    • “Freshness” of academic knowledge
    • Adaptability to changes in employment sectors
    • Suitability of graduates for the workplace

4. Financial aid [weight = 10%]

  • Mandatory: Requires full accreditation from an agency endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education and listed on the federal register to accept student federal financial aid
  • Considers range of school-sponsored financial aid such as scholarships and grants

5. Range of degree programs [weight = 20%]

  • Considers range of degree levels: associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral and professional
  • Considers range of degree subjects offered, such as art & design, computers & technology, education & teaching, criminal justice, and business

6. Strength of online instruction methodology (if applicable) [weight = 25%; subtract 5% from each of the above for online schools/programs]

  • Considers the following of the online classes:
    • Types of online technology used to deliver content
    • Pedagogy style: asynchronous, synchronous, or both (depending on the degree)
    • Extent and quality of the online, community learning environment, including options for communication, interactivity, and collaboration between students and also between students and instructors
    • Variety, breadth, and depth of coursework, and its support, including project options and online tutoring
  • Considers the following of instructors:
    • Extent of training for teaching within an online learning environment
    • Amount of timely, consistent feedback to students
    • Extent of collaboration with prospective employers to ensure suitability of instructional materials for achieving desired skills
    • Ratio to number of students in a class
  • Number and quality of internships in a student’s geographical area for applicable degrees

Because students tend to review a variety of information when choosing a school, the weight a student gives any one criterion will vary. For instance, it’s not enough to offer a carefully constructed ranking of great schools if many are too expensive or too difficult to get into.

To better serve the needs of prospective students, we are therefore increasingly offering filters that help you better use our rankings to find the schools that match your specific needs. These supplement our ranking criteria and include:

  • Accreditation
  • Public or private status
  • Acceptance rate
  • Retention rate
  • Graduation rate
  • ACT/SAT requirements
  • Cost in-state / out of state
  • Undergrad, grad, or both offered
  • Region
  • State
  • City

Get the best rankings here AND get them to suit your personal needs. That’s advantage!

If you have any questions about our ranking methodology, please contact us.

Citations: For a broader account of our ranking methodology, especially as it relates to's underlying educational philosophy and, in other ranking articles, looks beyond academic excellence (as here) to such factors as return on investment or incidental benefit, see our article "Ranking Methodology: How We Rank Schools at TBS." Reputation of schools and degree programs can at least in part be gauged through the school or department's publishing activity, citations, and desirability. At, we keep track of such social and peer validation: "Making Sense of College Rankings." For nuts-and-bolts information about colleges and universities, we look to the National Center for Education Statistics and especially its College Navigator. Insofar as salary and inflation data are relevant to a ranking, we look to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Finally, nothing beats contacting schools and degree programs directly, which our researchers often do, with the result that all the entries in this article should be considered as belonging to this citation!

What Is a Master's in Psychology Degree?

While individuals who complete a bachelor's in psychology can work in several types of support roles, they lack the credentials and licensure required to provide therapeutic services. A master's in psychology gives you the qualifications required to take on clinical and non-clinical roles. The curriculum also provides an advanced understanding of generalist and specialized topics.

Pursuing an online master's degree in psychology helps you build skills and knowledge in psychopathology, lifespan development, theories of behavior and change, and assessment/consulting. You can also select a concentration in an area such as developmental psychology, clinical psychology, or school psychology to build niche understanding.

A master's in psychology gives you the qualifications required to take on clinical and non-clinical roles.

Individuals who want to work in specific clinical roles often pursue this degree, as do those looking to take on managerial and/or leadership positions. Learners who aspire to a doctorate in psychology often skip this degree, as it is not typically required for admission into a doctoral track.

Online Master's in Psychology Programs

Online learning often appeals to degree-seekers who need to balance academic learning alongside professional duties and personal responsibilities. Many degrees are delivered in an asynchronous format, making it possible for learners to watch pre-recorded lectures, interact with faculty and peers, and submit assignments at their convenience.

Some programs offer synchronous classes, meaning students must sign-in at specific times to take part in live lectures. Many schools that use this type of course delivery also schedule meetings on evenings or weekends to help busy students.

Online psychology degrees at the master's level may also appeal to individuals looking to save money. Some public colleges allow out-of-state learners to pay the same rate as in-state students if they study exclusively online. Distance learning can also help save on costs related to transportation, insurance, campus-based fees, and room and board.

Online learning often appeals to degree-seekers who need to balance academic learning alongside professional duties and personal responsibilities.

How Do I Choose an Online Master's in Psychology Degree Program?

Pursuing a master's degree in psychology represents a massive personal, academic, and professional decision. As such, you should give several program components serious thought.

  • Program Cost: If degree cost represents a significant factor in your decision, look for public, in-state programs or online degrees that allow distance learners to pay a reduced rate.
  • Transfer Policies: Despite your best efforts, sometimes your first school is not the best fit. Try to find a school offering friendly transfer policies so you do not need to retake multiple classes if you need to switch schools.
  • School Size and Type: Decide whether a large school with tens of thousands of students or a smaller, more intimate student body provides the best learning environment for your needs.
  • Program Length: Master's in psychology programs usually take 2-3 years of full-time study, but some schools provide accelerated and/or part-time options.
  • On-campus Requirements: Some programs require learners to visit campus for residencies or learning intensives. If traveling does not fit your budget or schedule, look for a fully online degree plan.
  • Thesis, Fellowship, and Work Requirements: Different programs set different graduation requirements. Decide which type of culminating project best matches your future goals.

How Are Online Psychology Master's Degree Programs Accredited?

Attending an accredited school and master's in psychology program is very important. Failing to do so can create problems related to transferring credits, receiving licensure, and competing for jobs. Accreditation comes in two forms: institutional and programmatic.

When looking at schools, find a regionally accredited institution. The U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education recognize six regional accreditation commissions, which award accreditation to individual schools.

You can use the U.S. Department of Education's Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs to verify that a school or program holds proper accreditation.

The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs is the main accrediting organization in psychology. This organization accredits both master's and doctoral programs, while the American Psychological Association (APA) only accredits doctoral tracks. You can use the U.S. Department of Education's Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs to verify that a school or program holds proper accreditation.

How Long Does It Take to Earn a Psychology Master's?

Earning an online master's degree in psychology typically takes 2-3 years for full-time learners. Part-time students usually need 3-4 years, while students in accelerated programs can usually graduate in 18-24 months.

Several factors affect how long a program takes, including the number of credits required, whether or not you can transfer in credits, and if a school offers courses year round or only during the fall and spring semesters. A program's culminating project can also determine when you graduate.

Courses in an Online Master's in Psychology Program

Online master's in psychology programs cover advanced topics that help graduates prepare for clinical and administrative positions. The list below reviews a few common courses.

  • Lifespan Development: Typically taken in the first year of a program, this foundational course examines how humans change, evolve, grow, and decline as they age. Students consider questions related to the behavioral, cognitive, physical, and socioemotional shifts that take place during key developmental stages and how those can shape our lives. Learners who take this course should be able to identify the psychological shifts taking place at the eight stages of development and explain how culture and society affect development.
  • Culture and Psychology: Students in this class learn how psychology and culture intersect in meaningful ways. Learners discover different meanings associated with culture and how this concept plays out in different communities, socioeconomic groups, age brackets, and geographic locations. Students also consider how cultural identities shape how we see ourselves and others. The course uses case studies to help students develop a deepened sense of cultural competency.
  • Psychology of Personality: This course helps students understand how personalities develop, evolve, and grow over the lifespan. Learners consider various frameworks and methodologies related to personality development and complete assignments designed to help them better utilize these theories in research and practice. They also consider how factors such as gender identity, sex, and age can affect how personalities differ and how that knowledge can better inform their practice.
  • Cognitive and Affective Bases of Behavior: This course covers theories around cognition and how individuals process new information, organize their thoughts, and store their emotions. Students learn how brain functions, such as memory, language use, reasoning, and categorizing, take place and how external factors affect each function. Coursework also takes a look at how stress, anxiety, depression, and trauma affect cognition.
  • Research Theory, Design, and Methods: Designed for distance learners who want to focus their talents on psychological research, this course teaches students to design, implement, and conduct scientific research projects. Content focuses on quantitative and qualitative data retrieval, ethical considerations, mixed-method study design, and using various frameworks to carry out successful projects. As part of class requirements, students must frequently design their own research studies.

Psychology Concentrations

APA recognizes 54 divisions of psychology. Psychology master's programs mirror these divisions by offering a variety of specializations, some of which are highlighted below.

Behavioral Psychology

Behavioral psychology looks at how our experiences, ways of thinking, and habits inform how we behave. Psychologists working in this area use evidence-based practices to help clients identify problematic behaviors, create treatment plans, and address common mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, panic disorders, and substance abuse. They deploy a variety of methodologies to improve behavior and develop strategies for avoiding issues in the future.

Careers this concentration prepares for:

Social worker, mental health counselor, substance abuse counselor, behavioral specialist

Educational Psychology

Educational psychology concerns itself with improving outcomes for preK-12 and college students -- in their educational lives and beyond. Educational psychology professionals conduct research related to cognitive development, social-emotional learning, and other topics that affect a child's ability to learn. When working as practitioners or administrators, they often liaise with school leaders, educators, families, and students to help learners achieve their potential and address any roadblocks that keep them from doing so.

Careers this concentration prepares for:

Student development specialist, crisis intervention counselor, school counselor, assessment coordinator

Forensic Psychology

Forensic psychology sits at the crossroads of psychology and criminal justice. The interdisciplinary curriculum familiarizes learners with theories of criminality, victimology, and the rule of law, while also instilling knowledge of behavioral issues, personality disorders, and psychopathology. Individuals working in this area of the field often study the minds of criminals in an effort to understand aberrations that cause them to break the law. They may also assist in jury selection and interview eyewitnesses.

Careers this concentration prepares for:

Jury consultant, victim advocate, court liaison, juvenile offender counselor

Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Another interdisciplinary branch, industrial and organizational psychology combines studies in business and psychology. The discipline looks at how businesses can improve in efficiency, effectiveness, production, and safety while also increasing employee happiness, quality of life, and loyalty. Topics commonly include workforce training and development, organizational change, team dynamics, and occupational health psychology.

Careers this concentration prepares for:

Behavioral analyst, human resources manager, talent management specialist, hiring/management consultant

Counseling Psychology

Counseling psychology focuses on providing therapeutic services to clients across the lifespan. Students build skills in identifying emotional and mental health concerns, assessing client needs, developing treatment plans, and helping clients develop coping mechanisms to improve their mental state. Common courses include socio-cultural competence in counseling; human development; counseling theories and practice; and therapies for children, adults, and families.

Careers this concentration prepares for:

Counseling psychologist, mental health counselor, bereavement counselor, crisis response counselor

What Can You Do With a Master's Degree in Psychology?

Pursuing a master's degree in psychology qualifies you to take on a variety of positions based on your individual interests and career goals. In the following section, we take a look at some of the top jobs available to graduates of these programs.

Psychology Jobs

Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists
Median Annual Salary: $51,340 Projected Job Growth: 22%

These professionals work with a variety of people seeking counseling services. They may work with individuals, couples, families, and other groups to address relational problems, such as infidelity, infertility, anger issues, and other hardships leading to family strife.

Mental health counselors work across the lifespan to help people experiencing behavioral, emotional, and psychological issues in their everyday lives. Both mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists must maintain licensure. Most states require an advanced degree as a prerequisite for licensure.

Substance Abuse Counselors and Behavioral Disorder Counselors
Median Annual Salary: $47,660 Projected Job Growth: 25%

Substance abuse counselors work with individuals who struggle with substance abuse. They provide counseling to individuals in inpatient or outpatient treatment centers, prisons, and other rehabilitative settings. Many employ 12-step programs, while others use newer frameworks.

Behavioral disorder counselors work with people experiencing addictions, eating disorders, and other mental health issues. They offer therapeutic services, develop treatment plans, and provide assessments for clients. They may also give referrals for other mental health services as needed.

Median Annual Salary: $82,180 Projected Job Growth: 3%

Psychologists work in myriad clinical, research, and academic settings. To work with clients, these professionals must possess a license and earn a doctoral degree.

Psychologists use their advanced knowledge of behavioral, cognitive, emotional, and social brain processes to treat patients, develop new therapeutic frameworks, educate up-and-coming psychology professionals, and publish their findings within the discipline. They may choose to use a variety of psychological frameworks (e.g., developmental and experimental) to better understand brain functions.

Postsecondary Teachers
Median Annual Salary: $80,790 Projected Job Growth: 9%

Postsecondary psychology professors work in public and private colleges and universities across the globe to help teach aspiring psychologists. They develop syllabi, lead lectures, assign and grade projects and papers, and offer guidance and support to learners as they progress toward graduation.

When not in the classroom, postsecondary psychology teachers may engage in research projects designed to shed light on new psychological topics. They may also attend psychological academic conferences to share their findings and publish reports in academic journals.

Additional master's in psychology careers

  • Behavioral Counselor
  • Career Counselor
  • Case Manager
  • Chief Executive
  • Child Protection Case Manager
  • Clinical Practitioner
  • Data Analyst
  • Developmental Specialist
  • Director of Community Outreach
  • Family Services Worker
  • Forensic Psychologist
  • Group Home Coordinator
  • Human Resource Manager
  • Human Service Worker
  • Industrial/Organizational Psychologist
  • Laboratory Assistant
  • Legal Psychologist
  • Market Researcher
  • Marketing Specialist
  • Parole Officer
  • Project Manager
  • Psychology Professor
  • Public Relations Representative
  • Rehabilitation Specialist
  • School Counselor
  • School Psychologist
  • Social Service Counselor
  • Sports Psychologist

Professional Psychological Organizations

Professional organizations help students, mid-level professionals, and industry veterans alike build contacts, participate in continuing education, and stay attuned to industry news.

American Psychological Association
APA was founded in 1892. Today, the organization serves more than 121,000 members throughout the United States. APA serves as the largest member organization for professionals in this field and works diligently to act as an industry leader. The group provides educational resources for students and teachers, including curricula development tools, scholarships, and advanced education funding.

Members can also access several publications and professional resources, industry news, events, and job listings.

Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology
Psi Chi is one of the largest honor societies in America with nearly 1,200 campus chapters and approximately 750,000 lifetime members. What started as a conversation between two students at the University of Kansas in 1927 has blossomed into a meaningful professional group that serves members in many ways.

Aside from providing nearly half a million dollars in awards and grants each year, the society publishes several academic journals and magazines, hosts regional conventions, produces a podcast, and offers access to industry news.

Association for Psychological Science
APS has established itself as an international association since its founding in 1988. The group hosts domestic and international conventions throughout the year, publishes several journals alongside the Observer magazine, offers member discounts and affinity services, and provides helpful resources on research topics. Members can also search through a regularly updated database of jobs, fellowships, and research opportunities.
International Association of Applied Psychology
Formed in 1920 by a leading applied psychologist, IAAP serves professionals around the world. Membership comes in five different forms: full members, fellows, students, honorary members, and alliance members. The group provides awards, releases publications, manages 18 professional divisions, and offers meetings in the U.S. and abroad. IAAP also presents at the United Nations and hosts the International Congresses of Applied Psychology every four years.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to earn a psychology master's degree?

Most learners complete their online psychology degree in two or three years.

Can you be a psychologist with a master's?

No. You must earn a doctorate to work as a psychologist.

Is a master's in psychology worth it?

If the job you want requires a master's degree, then yes. Many doctoral programs do not require a master's degree to enroll, so pursuing a master's could add an extra step if a Ph.D./Psy.D. is your final goal.

What kind of jobs can you get with a master's in psychology?

Common titles include marriage and family therapist, school counselor, career counselor, and survey researcher. Both clinical and professional roles exist.

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