The world of clinical psychology is constantly evolving; those who work in any aspect of the profession must always be ready to gain new skills to stay relevant in the industry. An advanced degree will help you gain a better understanding and knowledge of a particular field or industry. You will be able to learn the knowledge and skills required to advance your career and earning income. A master’s degree program is an investment in you and into your career.
*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Clinical Psychology Managers, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes193031.htm (visited March 24, 2022).
While this answer used to be two years to earn a M.S. Degree in clinical psychology, this was when most students attended their classes on-campus full time. Now, students have some additional choices, including an online option. Depending on how an individual university has this structured, a graduate student who takes at least 12 credit hours each semester can earn their advanced degree within 18 months. However, most students decide to take only the minimum 9 credit hours per semester. This makes their program run closer to 2 to 2 1/2 years. Depending upon how flexible the university is with courses being offered (and how long a term or semester runs), students can anticipate graduating in 18 months to three years, on average.
Before choosing a major there are some important facts you should know about.
As you begin exploring colleges and universities, you may already know what you want to major in. If you have a clinical psychology graduate concentration in mind, look through the graduate catalog, either online or a copy of the book and browse the majors offered by that college. If you find this major, this will be one school you'll want to consider attending; if not, then cross the school from your list and move on to the next.
If you're uncertain what clinical psychology masters specialty degree you're interested in, try to find a school with a robust variety of courses, that will let you experience a few varied lower level classes and allow you to figure out what you enjoy while you work through your general education.
A clinical psychology master's degree will consist of some really particular training courses to increase your subject knowledge. Generally, a master's degree in clinical psychology looks like your upper division classes on a bachelors, but with a graduate degree or advanced degree the courses are more specific and will require additional critical thinking skills. Below is a sample of online master's degree courses so you can see the kind of curriculum that will be typically found. Universities will differ in their specific study's needed and required. Compare colleges very carefully on the courses they will require you to take to gain your master's degree in clinical psychology. Sample courses you may need:
These days fewer and fewer students graduate in two years. In fact, the government now sets the bar at a three-year term from starting an advanced graduate program to completion. Accredited masters programs in clinical psychology, on the other hand, are more likely to graduate in 18 months to 2 1/2 years. That is because those programs are more competitive, and studies have shown that students in highly competitive programs have more success with graduating in two years (or less.) Keep it mind there are also other determining factors that play a role in how long it takes to graduate like full time vs part time, funding for college, working at the same time (can potentially decrease how many credit hours you can take) etc. A good goal to shoot for is to graduate within 2 to 3 years.
Your school's accreditation is an important aspect of getting your doctorate degree. The two most common forms of accreditation are regional and national.
Regional accreditation is the most recognized and most prestigious available. Because of this label, these colleges often have higher tuition and have more competitive admission standards. Regional accreditation accounts for over 85% of colleges across the United States. There are 6 different regions, including:
MSA (Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools)
NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges)
NCA (North Central Association of Colleges and Schools)
NAC (Northwest Accreditation Commission)
SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools)
WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges)
National accreditation is less common. National accreditation agencies oversee the accreditation process for career, vocational, and trade schools across the United States. As a result, these schools tend to be less expensive, require less general coursework, and feature a more practical, career-oriented curriculum. Because it is less structured, schools are only reviewed every 3-5 years to ensure that they still meet accreditation requirements.
Accreditation is an important part of the selection process. It adds value to a master's degree by offering wider acceptance than degrees from non-accredited schools receive. Accreditation ensures employers and other reviewers of your educational background that you have a quality education in clinical psychology. It informs potential employers that the graduate has the expected level of education and knowledge to perform work in today's high-paced, technology-driven environments.
The Department of Education designates regional and national accreditation agencies. It is also through this department that educational loans and grants are provided to college students. The federal policy is to limit student loans to schools and colleges with acceptable accreditation. Which means that, if your school isn't accredited, you will likely not be eligible to receive any financial aid. For many students, accreditation is key to getting funds to pay for the substantial costs of a graduate degree in clinical psychology.
Colleges and universities generally charge per credit hour for clinical psychology courses. Multiply the cost by the number of credits you're taking for your total semester's financial commitment. Program fees may not be included in the stated tuition rate. If a university charges $331 per credit hour, multiply this by 9 or 12 (the number of credits you're taking per semester). For 9 credit hours, this is $2,979; for 12 credit hours, it's $3,972.
FinAid.org reported that the average cost of a two-year graduate program was between $30,000 and $120,000. And be aware that, even if you are comfortable with the per credit hour cost of the program you are looking at, there will be other costs you need to consider like fees, textbooks, and room and board if you live on campus.
We recommend that students make a specific inquiry about job placement assistance programs at any school they consider for a master's degree program. Advanced institutions incorporate career planning into the two or three-year course of study for a master's or doctoral degree in clinical psychology. The school may host job fairs, business community awareness communications, and host interviews for employers from across the region.
The school of clinical psychology, college, or university is a broad community of alumni, business sponsors, and corporate partners. Both new and established schools often have extensive local, regional, and national networks. The overall resources of the clinical psychology school and the larger schools can potentially assist in producing high levels of job opportunities and hires for recent graduates.
Some schools pair students with advisers, career counselors, and job coaches at various stages of their academic careers. Observers can see the results in annual satisfaction surveys, and the numbers of students that get interviews and offers of employment.