Best Graduate Degrees in Psychology

N. Susan Emeagwali
by
Updated June 5, 2024
Edited by
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A graduate psychology degree can open the door to fast-growing occupations that pay well and serve the greater good. Prospective students may find choosing a degree from the many available options overwhelming. Explore our ranking of psychology degrees, program structure, and other key factors to consider when picking the right option for you.

Popular Online Master’s in Psychology Programs

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

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Best Graduate Degrees in Psychology

#1 Best Graduate Degrees in Psychology

Touro University Worldwide

  • Location-markerLos Alamitos, CA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$14,440
  • Out-of-state$14,440
  • Retention Rate85%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled2,251
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment99%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 Best Graduate Degrees in Psychology

Regent University

  • Location-markerVirginia Beach, VA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$17,220
  • Out-of-state$17,220
  • Retention Rate70%
  • Acceptance Rate32%
  • Students Enrolled10,380
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment93%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 Best Graduate Degrees in Psychology

Saybrook University

  • Location-markerPasadena, CA
  • 4 year
  • Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$0
  • Out-of-state$0
  • Retention Rate0%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled915
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment100%
  • AccreditationYes
#4 Best Graduate Degrees in Psychology

Golden Gate University

  • Location-markerSan Francisco, CA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$11,088
  • Out-of-state$11,088
  • Retention Rate50%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled2,685
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment56%
  • AccreditationYes
#5 Best Graduate Degrees in Psychology

Arizona State University Digital Immersion

  • Location-markerScottsdale, AZ
  • 4 year
  • Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$10,710
  • Out-of-state$12,984
  • Retention Rate74%
  • Acceptance Rate70%
  • Students Enrolled57,848
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment98%
  • AccreditationYes
#6 Best Graduate Degrees in Psychology

University of West Alabama

  • Location-markerLivingston, AL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$9,100
  • Out-of-state$18,200
  • Retention Rate63%
  • Acceptance Rate74%
  • Students Enrolled5,594
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment83%
  • AccreditationYes
#7 Best Graduate Degrees in Psychology

University of Southern California

  • Location-markerLos Angeles, CA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$60,446
  • Out-of-state$60,446
  • Retention Rate96%
  • Acceptance Rate13%
  • Students Enrolled49,318
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment46%
  • AccreditationYes
#8 Best Graduate Degrees in Psychology

National Louis University

  • Location-markerChicago, IL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$13,419
  • Out-of-state$13,419
  • Retention Rate61%
  • Acceptance Rate92%
  • Students Enrolled7,142
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment60%
  • AccreditationYes
#9 Best Graduate Degrees in Psychology

Ball State University

  • Location-markerMuncie, IN
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$8,434
  • Out-of-state$25,918
  • Retention Rate73%
  • Acceptance Rate69%
  • Students Enrolled19,770
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment60%
  • AccreditationYes
#10 Best Graduate Degrees in Psychology

Harvard University

  • Location-markerCambridge, MA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$51,143
  • Out-of-state$51,143
  • Retention Rate98%
  • Acceptance Rate3%
  • Students Enrolled21,209
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment38%
  • AccreditationYes

Did You Know…

The most common master’s in psychology specializations are clinical, counseling, and industrial and organizational psychology, according to the American Psychological Association (APA).

What to Look for in a Graduate School for Psychology

Before applying to graduate school, explore what each psychology program offers to ensure it aligns with your objectives. One of the first things to consider is whether a program has a good reputation and will provide you with the training and credentials necessary for employment and licensure.

Accreditation: Accreditation ensures that schools and the academic programs they deliver meet high standards. The U.S. Department of Education recognizes specialized and professional accreditors,such as the American Psychological Association (APA), which accredits doctoral programs. The Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council accredits master’s programs. Attending an accredited program is necessary to qualify for federal financial aid, transfer credits to or from another accredited institution, and meet state licensure requirements.

  • Admissions requirements: Each program establishes criteria, such as GPA, test score, and work experience requirements. The psychology department or school admission website usually outlines a list of materials students need to apply. Many schools no longer need GRE test scores, but some schools still do. Doctoral programs often require just a bachelor’s degree for admission.
  • Cost: Graduate school requires an investment of time and money. Students should establish a budget for their psychology degree. Many factors contribute to the cost of the best graduate schools for psychology, such as in-state or out-of-state residency status, part-time or full-time enrollment, and online or on-campus tuition and expenses. Some programs help students pay for psychology degrees through tuition reimbursements, stipends, and other funding.
  • Program length: A master’s degree typically takes 18-24 months to complete, while a doctorate requires 5-7 years. Students should have an end goal in mind as they determine how many years they want to devote to graduate school.
  • Program format: Learners can pursue an on-campus or online degree from the best graduate schools for psychology. Online learning provides flexibility for degree-seekers unable to attend classes on campus because of work, family, and other obligations. This format also makes programs in other states accessible with no need for relocation. Hybrid programs allow students to take some courses online and others on campus.
  • Curriculum and concentrations: The structure of master’s and doctoral programs includes core courses, clinical training, research projects, and a thesis or dissertation. Participants receive specialized training through clinical and non-clinical concentrations and sub-fields of psychology, such as counseling, clinical, cognitive, or industrial/organizational.
  • Practicum experience: Accredited graduate psychology programs require supervised field practicum or internship experience. This component is required for state licensure. Online students typically complete practicum requirements in their communities. Some institutions have staff dedicated to helping students find a field placement with partnering organizations and at other clinical sites.
  • Graduation rate: Establishing a school’s track record preparing students for graduation is something to consider. The best graduate schools for psychology list their graduation data on the institution’s website.
  • Program outcomes: Prospective students should match their career goals with program outcomes. School data include internship match rates, licensing exam pass rates, and job placement percentages. For those planning to seek professional licensure, the first two data points are especially crucial when evaluating graduate schools for psychology.

Admissions Requirements for a Graduate Degree in Psychology

Schools offering on-campus and online graduate degrees in psychology usually maintain the same admission and graduation requirements for onsite and offsite enrollees. Common requirements for a master’s program in psychology include:

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university (preferably, but not necessarily, in psychology)
  • A 3.0 GPA or higher
  • Prerequisite courses, such as statistics and experimental methods
  • Completed application essays
  • A clean background check for internships and practicums

Some programs may also require work or volunteer experience in psychology, such as research assisting. Professors who work with you may want an already-trained research assistant.

Some doctoral programs in psychology accept only master’s-trained applicants, while others accept applicants with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a 3.5 GPA or higher.

Cost of a Psychology Graduate Program

While the cost of graduate school can be high, students can make a master’s or doctorate a reality with careful planning. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition and fees for an MA or MS in psychology cost between $9,039-$10,746 per year.

Those planning to pursue a Ph.D. or Psy.D. can expect to pay $16,105-$17,477 in tuition and fees. This does not include the cost of housing, transportation, books, and other expenses. Fortunately, students can choose several options to help pay for their education.

Graduate students can qualify for federal financial aid, such as student loans, scholarships, and grants. Institutional aid is another source of funding. Typically, master’s and Psy.D. programs do not offer tuition stipends. However, many Ph.D. programs offer partial or full tuition remission and stipends, helping to defray the cost of the degree. In exchange, students work as teaching or research assistants for the funding duration.

Students can also take advantage of many merit- and need-based scholarships and grants offered by psychology schools and various organizations.

Annual Median Cost of Psychology Graduate Programs by Program Type
Program TypeTuition and Fees Student Budget
Master of Arts (MA)$9,039$23,704
Master of Science (MS)$10,746$25,780
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)$17,477$39,400
Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)$16,105$39,787
All Programs$11,637$29,072
Source: NCES

Courses in a Psychology Program

Like admission requirements, courses for on-campus and online graduate degrees in psychology remain the same within individual institutions. However, curricula between different schools often vary depending on each school’s specialization areas and academic objectives.

Graduation requirements for master’s psychology programs vary. Most programs cover similar topics, such as psychology research, ethics, statistics, and specialty courses in your concentration.

Accredited programs require some amount of supervised experience. Doctoral programs usually require more supervision than master’s programs. Some programs require a thesis, while others require a capstone project or comprehensive exam. Most doctoral programs require a dissertation.

Below are common offerings in many accredited graduate psychology programs. In many of these foundation courses, enrollees develop the critical and analytical skills necessary for top leadership positions.

  • minus

    Research Methods

    Students learn to conduct social science research using qualitative, quantitative, and other methodologies. Key concepts may include research question development, research methodologies, data collection, and the interpretation of results.

  • minus

    Ethics and Laws in Psychotherapy and Behavioral Science Research

    This course emphasizes conducting research that meets ethical, moral, and legal standards. Topics covered may include professional standards of conduct, research ethics, ethical dilemmas in psychology, confidentiality, and laws and regulations.

  • minus

    Supervision in Clinical Psychology

    Faculty work with trainees one-on-one or in a group format to evaluate their competency as clinicians and researchers. This course helps learners integrate their psychology knowledge into practicum experience by evaluating their therapy sessions and treatment planning with clients to ensure compliance with clinical best practices.

  • minus

    Introduction to Statistical Methods

    Students learn to use statistical methods and conduct data analysis in psychological research. Topics covered include descriptive statistics, univariate and bivariate statistical inference, multivariate analysis, probability theory, and statistical software usage.

  • minus

    Capstone in General Psychology

    A capstone course is typically the culminating experience in a master’s program. It usually involves developing a research project or applying learned concepts to address issues.

Careers with a Graduate Degree in Psychology

Psychology majors work as clinicians, researchers, and other professionals whose services are in demand. A master’s or doctoral degree is a requirement for many psychology careers. Advanced education can also lead to more job opportunities and higher pay.

Psychologists help assess, diagnose, and treat various mental and behavioral disorders and need a Ph.D. or Psy.D. to qualify for state licensure.

Marriage and family therapists and mental health counselors also help people address their psychological challenges and often need only a master’s degree for state licensure.

Non-clinical careers include industrial-organizational psychologists and psychology teachers.

Median Annual Salary and Projected New Jobs for Careers with a Graduate Degree in Psychology
Career Degree Required Projected New Jobs (2022-2032)Median Annual Salary (May 2023)
Clinical or counseling psychologist Ph.D. or Psy.D. 7,700$96,100
Industrial-organizational psychologist Master’s degree 600$147,420
Marriage and family therapists Master’s degree 10,600 $58,510
School psychologist Ph.D. or Psy.D.800$84,940
Mental health counselor Master’s degree71,500$53,710
Psychology postsecondary teachers Ph.D. or Psy.D.2,700 $82,140
Source: BLS

Frequently Asked Questions About Graduate Degrees in Psychology

Graduate school for psychology can be worth it due to graduates’ higher earning potential and lower unemployment rate. An individual’s earnings and employment prospects are tied to their level of education, according to BLS data. Graduates with a master’s or doctorate had higher pay and less unemployment in 2022 than workers with only a bachelor’s degree, an associate degree, or some college. In addition, workers in many psychology professions can look forward to projected job growth in the double digits over the next decade.


Note: The insights on this page — excluding school descriptions — were reviewed by an independent third party compensated for their time by Accredited Schools Online. Page last reviewed May 30, 2024.

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