Inside Look at Top Online Clinical Psychology Master’s Programs

From a list of top-ranked schools to a breakdown of what you’ll learn and career options after graduation, here’s everything you need to know about online clinical psychology master’s programs.

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For individuals seeking to evaluate and treat mental illnesses, provide psychiatric therapy to individuals, families, and groups, and address abnormal behavior, an online Master’s degree in clinical psychology is an excellent choice. This degree program provides access to a broad range of in-demand and high-paying employment opportunities. Moreover, it serves as a stepping stone to earning a doctorate and becoming a licensed clinical psychologist.

Healthcare professionals can benefit from the convenience, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness of an online clinical psychology Master’s program. With various options to select from, this guide can assist in finding the ideal program. The following information and recommendations can aid in locating an accredited online Master of Clinical Psychology degree program, leading to a fulfilling profession as a clinical psychology expert.

The Top Online Clinical Psychology Master’s Programs of 2024

From any location, an online clinical psychology Master’s degree program can set you on the right track. These top-rated programs have earned recognition based on various factors, including accreditation, cost, and online program availability. A school’s overall affordability and online accessibility play a significant role in its ranking. Discover which online master’s programs in clinical psychology stand out in 2024.

About the ranking

College Ranking Methodology

Generate List of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least one program in the subject area offered partially or fully online.
  • Career placement and academic counseling services.

Assign Weightings

After generating the list of eligible schools, the STEPS data team then assigned weights and ranked schools based on their performance in a variety of key categories. Affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings, followed by online learning and academic quality metrics (equally weighted).

Online Learning

  • Number of online programs in subject area self-reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Percentage of graduate students at the school taking at least one class online.


  • Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on in-state tuition for graduate students per academic year.

Academic Quality

  • Student-to-faculty ratio: Schools with lower ratios ranked higher.
  • Percentage of students admitted. More selective schools ranked higher.

About Our Data

All STEPS rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: August 2023

Accreditation Glossary

ABHE: Association for Biblical Higher Education, Commission on Accreditation

ABHES: Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools

ACCJC: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges

ACCSC: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges

DEAC: Distance Education Accrediting Commission

HLC: Higher Learning Commission

MSCHE: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

NECHE: New England Commission of Higher Education

NWCCU: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

SACSCOC: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

TRACS: Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, Accreditation Commission

WSCUC: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission


Pepperdine University

Malibu, California

There are several reasons why individuals looking to become a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) or licensed professional clinical counselor (LPCC) should consider Pepperdine University's Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology online program. The curriculum offers a specialty in marriage and family therapy, providing the necessary skills and training needed to help a wide range of clients — from individuals to couples and families. But whether students want to become LMFTs or LPCCs, the core curriculum remains the same, with the difference in coursework coming through electives. Many of the classes are available online, with synchronous coursework available at day or evening hours. While there are several in-person components, most notably the extensive clinical practicums, Pepperdine University has more than 130 approved sites where students can complete these experiential learning requirements.

Program Highlights:

Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology

  • Credits: 62-68
  • Length: 8-12 semesters
  • Cost: $1,875/credit
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: WSCUC
Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to-Faculty Ratio 13:1
Tuition (In-State) $$$$
Accreditation WSCUC
Online Students 53%

How to Choose the Right Online Clinical Psychology Master’s for You

To find your right clinical psychology master’s program online, start by identifying your career aspirations, assessing your ability to fit a degree program into your current schedule, and determining your budget in terms of both finances and time. With this information, explore the available accredited online clinical psychology master’s programs. Factors to consider include affordability, the comprehensiveness of the curriculum, the program format, access to courses and flexibility in scheduling, available specializations or concentrations, and access to support services.

Proximity to the school’s campus is also a crucial factor to consider, as many programs follow a hybrid format (partly online and partly on-campus). This implies that you will need to attend some classes on campus and/or participate in orientation meetings, seminars, thesis defense, and other related activities.

What You’ll Learn in Clinical Psychology Master’s Programs Online

Students of clinical psychology master’s programs acquire relevant knowledge and skills to prepare them for work in research, academics, and clinical practice. This includes:

  • A foundational understanding of historical and current psychological theory.
  • Skills for the proper assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illnesses and behavioral disorders.
  • The ability to create, develop, and conduct research projects and to properly assess, summarize, and present research results.
  • A solid understanding of relevant ethical and legal principles and standards of psychology, and the ability to apply those principles and standards in day-to-day professional practice.

Concentrations in Clinical Psychology Master’s Programs Online

Graduate degree programs sometimes offer students the option of focusing on a particular area within the broader major subject. Opting for such a concentration track can be a great way to stand out in the job market. However, most online clinical psychology master’s programs are not offered with designated specialization options. The two exceptions are the programs at Pepperdine University and Capella University (both highlighted above) whose concentration options are described below:

Applied Research

The Applied Research concentration is intended for PhD or PsyD students who plan to pursue advanced research careers. The curriculum focuses on essential clinical psychology topics, including psychology and counseling theory, assessment, psychopathology, and ethics, as well as advanced research skills such as research methods, tests, and measurements.

Clinical/Professional Counseling

This concentration prepares students to provide professional counseling services to individuals and groups dealing with phobias, anxiety, and other mental health issues. Coursework covers foundational psychology and counseling theory as well as concentration-specific subjects such as clinical interventions, psychological testing, group counseling, career counseling, and addiction-related treatments. With the addition of required fieldwork, graduates may qualify for licensure as an LPC.

Forensic Psychology

This concentration is for students interested in understanding the behaviors of criminals and the workings of criminal minds. Along with foundational coursework in psychology theory and practice, students complete courses covering psychology and the law, forensic techniques, and issues and trends in forensic practice.

Marriage and Family Therapist

This concentration prepares students for careers helping people with issues related to marital, parent-child, and family conflicts including depression, substance abuse, stress, grief, and others. This concentration along with required fieldwork may qualify graduates to pursue professional licensure to become a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT).

Popular Classes in Online Clinical Psychology Master’s Degree Programs

Each online clinical psychology master’s program offers a unique curriculum with course titles and sequences that reflect its academic philosophy and objectives. However, you will find that all programs cover the same or similar clinical psychology subjects. Below are examples of five courses you’ll likely encounter regardless of the specific program chosen:

Ethical and Legal Issues for Mental Health Professionals

Examines ethical and legal principles and issues as they relate to the roles and functions of clinical psychology professionals and their practices. Students identify and analyze specific issues (cultural, privacy, patient-client relationship, etc.) within the context of various practice settings and apply appropriate ethical reasoning, principles, and standards.


This course examines the pharmacological therapeutic effects of psychoactive drugs on the brain and behavior. Topics include historical and current theories of psychopharmacology, brain structure and function, synaptic transmission, drug side effects and addiction, and the efficacy of treating patients with a combination of psychotropic medications and psychotherapy for mental disorders.

Psychology of Substance Abuse and Addictions

This course surveys current issues and trends related to the diagnosis and treatment of substance and non-substance related addictions. Emphasis is on the range of factors (physiological, cognitive, emotional, social, and behavioral) that determine the development of addictions and on the intervention strategies and treatments for various types of chemical dependency and substance abuse.

Research and Evaluation Methods

This course focuses on the relevant methods employed in creating, developing, and conducting psychology-related research and on the proper evaluation and presentation of research results. Topics covered include experimental and correlational design methods, levels of measurement, statistics and their use in hypothesis testing, systemic and cultural influences on research, and the employment of research in evidence-based practice.


This course examines the historical and conceptual perspectives of psychopathology along with the current methods used in the classification and diagnosis of psychological states and abnormal behavior. Specific topics include etiology of psychopathology; interviewing, assessment, diagnosis and treatment methods; emerging diagnoses; the politics of mental disorders; and related ethical and cultural issues.

What Can You Do with a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology?

If you’re interested in continuing your education, you’ll be well qualified to pursue a clinical psychology doctorate degree online or through a traditional campus program. Meanwhile, those who want to jump straight into a career can qualify for various jobs with a master’s degree in clinical psychology. Positions are available in research, academics, and clinical practice. Potential employers include government agencies and facilities; public and private schools and school districts; colleges and universities; hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities; and private practice. Below are five occupation examples.