Best Master’s in Clinical, Counseling, and Applied Psychology Programs of 2024

Discover top-ranked programs in clinical, counseling, and applied psychology and find one that meets your needs.
By
portrait of Tessa Cooper
Tessa Cooper
Read Full Bio

Writer

Tessa Cooper is a freelance writer and editor who regularly contributes to international and regional publications focused on education and lifestyle topics. She earned a bachelor’s in public relations from Missouri State University and is passionate...
Updated on April 18, 2024
Edited by
portrait of Margaret Weinhold
Margaret Weinhold
Read Full Bio

Editor & Writer

Margaret Weinhold is an associate editor for BestColleges, where she focuses on core content. She is passionate about increasing visibility and accessibility around higher education. Margaret holds a BA in English from the University of Virginia....
Reviewed by
portrait of Megan Pietrucha, Psy.D.
Megan Pietrucha, Psy.D.
Read Full Bio

Reviewer & Writer

Megan Pietrucha, Psy.D., is a licensed clinical and sport psychologist in private practice. She has also served as the training director for an APA-accredited internship program and taught undergraduate and graduate courses in psychology. She special...
Learn more about our editorial process

www.bestcolleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Turn Your Dreams Into Reality

Take our quiz and we'll do the homework for you! Compare your school matches and apply to your top choice today.

Best Online Master's Degree Programs in Clinical, Counseling, and Applied Psychology

Curious about clinical, counseling, and applied psychology master’s programs? Our ranking breaks down the best programs to advance your psychology career.

With a master’s in clinical, counseling, or applied psychology, you can provide mental health support services as a mental health therapist, clinical counselor, or school counselor. If you want to become a licensed clinical psychologist, these master’s programs qualify you to apply to doctoral programs that will prepare you for licensure.

Popular Online Master's in Clinical, Counseling, and Applied Psychology Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Best Master’s in Clinical, Counseling, and Applied Psychology Programs

We use trusted sources like Peterson's Data and the National Center for Education Statistics to inform the data for these schools. BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site. from our partners appear among these rankings and are indicated as such.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

  • Browse programs
  • Discover matches
  • Request info
#1 Best Master’s in Clinical, Counseling, and Applied Psychology Programs of 2024

Boston University

  • Boston, MA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $1,994
Out-of-State | $1,994

Credits to Graduate: 32

Boston University's MA in psychology enrolls both psychology majors and students with a limited background in the field. The degree does not prepare students to work as psychologists, but it can provide the foundation for a doctoral program. The one-year MA requires courses such as statistical methods and contemporary trends in psychology. 

Enrollees must also take courses in at least two programmatic knowledge areas: clinical research; developmental science; and brain, behavior, and cognition. Instead of a thesis, participants engage in directed study as they work on a research project with faculty. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$58,560
Out-of-state
$58,560
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$58,560
Out-of-state
$58,560
Retention Rate
94%
Acceptance Rate
19%
Students Enrolled
36,104
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
15% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
#2 Best Master’s in Clinical, Counseling, and Applied Psychology Programs of 2024

California State University-Long Beach

  • Long Beach, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $2,082 (0-6 units)
Out-of-State | $396 for each additional unit

Credits to Graduate: 30

The MA in psychological research at California State University, Long Beach prepares students for the workplace and doctoral programs. The two-year degree covers basic psychology areas like clinical, social, and developmental psychology. All students complete coursework in statistics and graduate research methodology.  

Faculty mentors work with enrollees on research that can result in co-authorships and conference presentations. Students culminate this degree with a research thesis. Graduate assistantships are competitive, but they give students paid work experience. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$5,742
Out-of-state
$17,622
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$7,176
Out-of-state
$16,680
Retention Rate
87%
Acceptance Rate
47%
Students Enrolled
40,190
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
87% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
#3 Best Master’s in Clinical, Counseling, and Applied Psychology Programs of 2024

Lehigh University

  • Bethlehem, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $590
Out-of-State | $590

Credits to Graduate: 48-60

Lehigh University offers several master's in counseling psychology programs and a licensure track. Students can choose from the hybrid M.Ed. in international school counseling, or face-to-face M.Ed. in mental health counseling and M.Ed. in school counseling + PA state certification.

All three degrees require a common core of courses such as helping skills, counseling and therapeutic approaches, and assessment and appraisal in counseling. The M.Ed. in mental health counseling and M.Ed. in school counseling each require at least 100 hours of field experience and a two-semester internship of 15-20 hours a week. 

Students finish the school counseling program with a comprehensive portfolio.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$56,980
Out-of-state
$56,980
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$27,000
Out-of-state
$27,000
Retention Rate
94%
Acceptance Rate
46%
Students Enrolled
7,263
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
19% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
#4 Best Master’s in Clinical, Counseling, and Applied Psychology Programs of 2024

Pepperdine University

  • Malibu, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $1,510
Out-of-State | $1,510

Credits to Graduate: 36-48 

Students can complete Pepperdine University's MA in psychology on campus in Irvine, West Los Angeles, or Calabasas. The degree features a convenient evening format and personalized small classes taught by scholar-practitioners.

Core classes cover topics such as personality assessment, theories and techniques of counseling and psychotherapy, and diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders. 

Top-ranked among counseling psychology master’s programs, the MAP prepares enrollees for doctoral studies or for behavioral counselor and case manager careers. Degree-seekers can also complete the MA in psychology entirely online in 18 months.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$59,450
Out-of-state
$59,450
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$37,300
Out-of-state
$37,300
Retention Rate
93%
Acceptance Rate
53%
Students Enrolled
10,446
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
36% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
#5 Best Master’s in Clinical, Counseling, and Applied Psychology Programs of 2024

Auburn University

  • Auburn, AL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $1,510
Out-of-State | $2,698

Credits to Graduate: 30-45

Located in Alabama, Auburn University offers a terminal MS in applied behavior analysis (ABA). The degree prepares graduates to provide clinical and educational services to various populations, including children with autism spectrum disorders. Students receive preparation to sit for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board Examination.

Required coursework includes clinical psychopharmacology, methods for studying individual behavior, and autism and intellectual disabilities. Participants complete a practicum in applied psychology and applied behavior analysis capstone project. Graduate assistantships may help students cover tuition.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$10,080
Out-of-state
$30,240
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$10,080
Out-of-state
$30,240
Retention Rate
93%
Acceptance Rate
71%
Students Enrolled
31,526
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
46% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#6 Best Master’s in Clinical, Counseling, and Applied Psychology Programs of 2024

University of Central Florida

  • Orlando, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $369
Out-of-State | $1,194

Credits to Graduate: 38-61

The MA in clinical psychology at the University of Central Florida offers research/thesis and applied pre-licensure/non-thesis tracks. Students complete the master's in counseling psychology program at the Sanford/Lake Mary campus.

The research thesis track emphasizes research experience and skills, but enrollees do not receive preparation for the licensed mental health counselor exam.

The applied pre-licensure/non-thesis track prepares practitioners to deliver clinical services. Once students complete this curriculum and two years of supervised clinical experience, they earn eligibility to sit for the licensed mental health counselor exam in Florida.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$4,478
Out-of-state
$19,810
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$6,916
Out-of-state
$25,759
Retention Rate
92%
Acceptance Rate
36%
Students Enrolled
70,310
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
9% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#7 Best Master’s in Clinical, Counseling, and Applied Psychology Programs of 2024

Loyola University Maryland

  • Baltimore, MD
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $1,072
Out-of-State | $1,072

Credits to Graduate: 60

Loyola University Maryland's MS in clinical professional counseling positions enrollees for professional counselor licensure in Maryland. Students develop expertise in areas such as assessment and appraisal, marriage and family therapy, and advanced counseling and psychotherapy techniques.

Participants develop their practical skills during 600 hours of supervised field experience. The MS program also requires externship training at sites in the Baltimore-Washington area. The program requires full-time attendance for over 28 months on the Baltimore campus.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$52,130
Out-of-state
$52,130
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$18,540
Out-of-state
$18,540
Retention Rate
88%
Acceptance Rate
84%
Students Enrolled
5,140
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
27% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

How We Rank Schools

To create this ranking, BestColleges sourced the most recent data available from the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Department of Education College Scorecard. We then ranked each school according to the top variables college students selected in our College Choice and Admissions Survey. To learn more, check out our full rankings methodology or read the summary below.

Ranking Methodology Summary

Chevron Down

To qualify for our rankings lists, each school must be an accredited public or private, nonprofit institution. Each eligible school was then ranked based on a formula measuring:

  • Affordability (30%)
  • Student outcomes (30%)
  • Reputation (20%)
  • Diversity and social mobility (20%)

In addition, we only included colleges with graduation rates in the top third of all online colleges.

What Can I Do With a Master's in Clinical, Counseling, and Applied Psychology?

After completing a master's in clinical, counseling, and applied psychology, you can go on to complete doctoral programs so that you can pursue a job as psychologists. You can work in various settings like schools, hospitals, and clinics.

The BLS notes that 28% of psychologists are self-employed. Private-practice psychologists may hire other professionals to assist them in client and administrative work. Psychologists who work in private practice set their own hours. Other psychologists may work nights and weekends to accommodate client schedules.

Still, others find pursuing a field with job growth three percentage points higher than the job growth for all occupations worth their hard work. The BLS projects the need for psychologists to increase by 6% between 2022 and 2032, faster than the average growth rate for all occupations.

Careers in Clinical, Counseling, and Applied Science/caption>
Job Title Median Annual Salary (May 2023)
Psychologist $92,740
Substance Use Counselors $53,710
Marriage and Family Therapist $58,510
Rehabilitation Counselor $44,040
Social Worker $58,380
Social and Community Service Manager $77,030
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Frequently Asked Questions About Clinical, Counseling, and Applied Psychology Programs

Is a master's in clinical, counseling, and applied psychology worth it?

Chevron Down

Each professional has different standards for whether their master's in clinical, counseling, and applied psychology is worth it. For some clinical psychologists, salary is the most important factor. According to the BLS, clinical, counseling, and school psychologists earned a median annual wage of $92,740 in May 2023.

For other psychologists, enjoying their day-to-day tasks makes this career worthwhile. These professionals get the chance to make a positive, lasting impact on the lives of others. They possess the knowledge to diagnose disorders and design treatment plans.

What continuing education is available for clinical, counseling, and applied psychology graduates?

Chevron Down

After completing a master’s in psychology, graduates can pursue their doctorate in clinical, counseling, or applied psychology. You’ll need a doctorate in psychology to become a licensed psychologist in most states.

Most states require continuing education credits for licensure renewal. The American Psychological Association offers continuing education. Professionals can choose from topics like addiction, aging, gender and sexuality, and health disparities. Many continuing education courses take place online, but some employers may coordinate in-person continuing education opportunities.

How much money can I make with a master's in clinical, counseling, and applied psychology?

Chevron Down

The earning potential for clinical psychologists varies depending on your location, years of experience, and employer type. On average, graduates of a master's in clinical, counseling, and applied psychology programs earn annual salaries between $59,000-$61,000.

With a master of arts in clinical psychology, professionals report an average salary of $60,000 per year based on Payscale data. Those with a master of science in clinical psychology earn an average of $69,000 based on 2024 data. Professionals with a master’s degree in counseling psychology earn an average of $61,000 per year.

What are the highest-paying jobs with a master's in clinical, counseling, and applied psychology?

Chevron Down

The highest-paying role with a master’s in clinical, counseling, and applied psychology is board-certified behavior analyst. These professionals earn a median pay of $72,000, according to April 2024 data from Payscale.

Graduates with master’s degrees in clinical, counseling, and applied psychology make the most money in private practice. Counselors with their own practice can choose how much to charge their clients and can earn about $100 to $150 per hour.

You can boost your earning potential with a doctorate, skills in program management and team leadership, and five or more years of experience.

Note: The insights on this page — excluding school descriptions — were reviewed by an independent third party compensated for their time by BestColleges. Page last reviewed January 19, 2024.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Compare Your School Options

View the most relevant schools for your interests and compare them by tuition, programs, acceptance rate, and other factors important to finding your college home.