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A master’s in psychology equips students with advanced skills to pursue diverse career paths in the field of psychology. Graduates, especially those who continue on to earn a Ph.D., can pursue roles such as clinical psychologist, counseling psychologist, or industrial psychologist. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a psychologist in the U.S. is $85,330 a year. Typically completed in two to three years, the program’s average cost varies but falls within the range of $12,000 to $30,000, as per the National Center for Education Statistics. Discover how these top programs blend theoretical understanding with practical application, preparing students for impactful careers in various domains of psychology.

How to Choose a Master’s in Psychology Degree Program

Choose your area of study

Choosing your area of study in a master’s of psychology program determines the focus of your coursework and future career path. Consider specialties such as clinical psychology, counseling psychology, or industrial-organizational psychology, each offering distinct opportunities. Reflect on your interests, strengths, and career goals to make an informed decision. Research the curriculum and faculty expertise of each program to ensure alignment with your aspirations. Additionally, explore potential internship or practicum opportunities in your chosen area of study to gain practical experience and enhance your skill set.

Research schools and programs

Thorough research is essential for finding the best fit for your master’s of psychology degree. Compile a list of institutions offering the program and evaluate factors such as curriculum, faculty qualifications, and accreditation status. Consider whether you wish to study online or on-campus, and note the location and specialization options of any programs that appeal to you. Look at student reviews and alumni outcomes to gauge program satisfaction and success rates. Contact admissions counselors or faculty members to gather additional insights and ask questions.

Prepare for tests and applications

Preparing for tests and applications for a master’s of psychology program requires careful planning and attention to detail. Familiarize yourself with each program’s admission requirements, which may include standardized test scores like the GRE, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose. Dedicate time to study for any required exams and aim to showcase your academic abilities and commitment to the field in your application materials. Seek guidance from mentors, test tutors, or admissions counselors, and ensure all materials are submitted before the deadline to maximize your chances of acceptance.

Select your program

In selecting your program, consider factors such as accreditation, program format, specialization options, and faculty expertise. Evaluate the curriculum to ensure it aligns with your career goals and interests. Explore any unique features such as research opportunities, clinical placements, or industry partnerships. Also, weigh factors like location, program reputation, and the presence of a strong alumni network, which can be useful in your professional life. Take the time to compare programs and consider visiting campuses or attending virtual information sessions to make an informed decision.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Consider various funding options when determining how you will fund your degree. Your first step should be to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine your eligibility for federal financial aid opportunities such as loans and work-study programs. Research any scholarships, grants, and assistantships available through the program or external sources. Investigate institutional scholarships and tuition reimbursement programs offered by employers. Explore your options for part-time employment or online work opportunities to supplement your income. Develop a budget and explore payment plans to manage expenses effectively.

Best 50 Accredited Master’s in Psychology Degree Programs

The Best Master's in Psychology Degree Programs

University of Louisiana at Lafayette

NYU Arts & Science

Harvard Extension School

Arizona State University

William & Mary

Boston University

Kansas State University

Stony Brook University

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign

National Louis University

University of Missouri

Old Dominion University

Penn LPS

University of Maryland

USC Dornsife

American University

Northeastern University

George Mason University

University of Wisconsin - Madison

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How we rank schools

Our list covers graduate-level programs in psychology that prepare students for a diverse set of careers, including human resources, market research, and family services. This degree is available in several different formats, including Master of Science in psychology, Master of Arts in psychology, Master of Arts in media psychology, and Master of Arts in counseling psychology. Our research covers programs that offer on-campus, online, and hybrid learning formats.

All of the institutions on our list are approved by a DOE-recognized regional accrediting organization, such as the New England Commission of Higher Education or Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. These organizations evaluate schools to ensure they provide students with a high-quality education. Those who attend a school that isn’t regionally accredited may be unable to access financial aid or transfer credits to another institution if needed.

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

What Can You Expect From a Master’s in Psychology Degree Program?

In a master’s degree program in psychology, prospective students can expect to gain advanced knowledge and skills in various areas of psychology. Coursework typically covers topics such as research methods, psychological theories, assessment and evaluation techniques, and ethical considerations. Students learn to critically analyze psychological literature, design and conduct research studies, and apply psychological principles to real-world settings.

Depending on the program, students may also have opportunities for hands-on experience through internships, practicum placements, or research projects. The program typically takes two to three years to complete. Some programs may include in-person labs, residencies, or clinical placements to provide practical training and networking opportunities. Graduates emerge prepared to pursue diverse career paths in psychology or advance to doctoral studies.

Potential courses you’ll take in a master’s in psychology degree program

  • Advanced Research Methods in Psychology. This course provides students with an in-depth understanding of the research methodologies used in psychology, including experimental design, statistical analysis, and data interpretation. Students learn to critically evaluate research literature, design their own studies, and analyze empirical data to address psychological research questions.
  • Psychological Assessment and Measurement. Students will focus on the principles and practices of psychological assessment, including the administration, scoring, and interpretation of psychological tests and measures. They will learn about different types of assessments, such as intelligence tests, personality inventories, and neuropsychological measures, and gain hands-on experience administering and interpreting assessments in clinical and research settings.
  • Psychopathology and Diagnosis. This course examines the classification, etiology, and treatment of psychological disorders. Students learn about diagnostic criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), as well as theoretical perspectives on psychopathology. Emphasis is placed on understanding the complexities of mental health conditions, cultural considerations in diagnosis, and evidence-based approaches to assessment and intervention.
  • Cognitive Neuroscience. This course covers the neural mechanisms underlying cognitive processes such as perception, attention, memory, language, and decision-making. Students learn about brain anatomy and function, neural pathways, and methods used to study the brain, such as neuroimaging techniques. The course integrates findings from cognitive psychology and neuroscience to deepen understanding of how the brain supports cognitive functions and contributes to psychological phenomena.

Master’s in Psychology Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to a master's in psychology degree program?

To apply to a master’s in psychology program, gather required materials such as transcripts, letters of recommendation, a resume, and a statement of purpose. Many programs require standardized test scores like the GRE. Ensure all materials are submitted before the application deadline. Additionally, schedule a meeting with an admissions counselor to discuss program specifics, admission requirements, and any questions you may have. Their insights can provide valuable guidance into the requirements for your chosen school and ensure your application meets all criteria. Taking this step can increase your chances of a successful application and help you navigate the admissions process smoothly.

How much does a master's in psychology degree cost?

The cost of a master’s in psychology degree program varies widely depending on factors such as program format, institution, and location. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, average tuition costs for these programs range from $12,000 to $30,000. However, students should also consider additional expenses such as textbooks, technology fees, and possibly travel costs for in-person residencies or internships. Online programs may offer flexibility but could incur additional technology fees or require proctored exam fees. Accelerated programs may provide savings in tuition costs. Public institutions generally offer lower tuition rates than private colleges and universities.

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

Earning a master’s degree in psychology typically takes two to three years, depending on factors such as enrollment status and program structure. Full-time enrollment will allow students to complete the program more quickly than part-time enrollment. Additionally, online programs may offer more flexibility, allowing students to pace their studies and potentially complete the degree at a faster or slower rate compared to on-campus programs. The total number of required credits also impacts program length, with some programs requiring around 48 to 60 credits for completion. Prospective students should consider their personal commitments and academic goals when determining the most suitable enrollment status and program format for their master’s in psychology.

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