Online Master’s Programs in Child Psychology

A Guide to an Online Master’s in Child Psychology

A master of child psychology qualifies professionals for the most in-demand jobs in the industry. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data indicates that elementary and secondary schools offer the highest levels of employment. In fact, 27% of professionals work for state, local, and private schools. Another 24% work for or manage their own private practices, where they can target adolescent populations.

Psychology professionals primarily work in clinical, counseling, and school settings. Child psychologists also gain access to roles in hospitals and the government. Overall, the psychology degree field continues to expand. The BLS projects a 14% increase in employment from 2018 through 2028.

What Can I Learn in an Online Master’s in Child Psychology Program?

Child psychology master’s programs create opportunities that professionals cannot access with a child psychology degree alone. Course content emphasizes advanced topics regarding brain functions, therapy, and counseling. Students can also complete concentration areas to establish a competitive edge in the job market. The best master of psychology programs require internships and field experiences, which may lead to job placement. Colleges and universities offer multiple program formats, which include online, hybrid, and on-campus programs.

What Common Courses Are Offered in a Master’s in Child Psychology Program?

Trauma and Crisis Intervention

This course examines multiple forms of trauma, including disasters, sexual trauma, and family trauma. Students explore how trauma impacts adolescents, their support network, and their overall communities. Other topics include the development of PTSD in target populations, clinical intervention, exposure-based treatment, and self-care strategies. This course also discusses how to avoid compassion fatigue.

Ethics and Multicultural Issues in Psychology

This course provides an overview of issues with relationships and trends in a multicultural society. Students also learn to examine their own culture and biases. This course encourages students to promote social justice and identity development. Course content addresses mental health counseling standards and interdisciplinary treatment team collaboration.

Cognitive Processes

Cognitive processes investigates learning, language, attention, and decision-making in children and adolescents. Students evaluate relevance, perspectives, and usefulness of cognitive psychology when applied to real world dilemmas. Other topics may include linguistics, philosophy, neuroscience, metacognition, and functions of long- and short-term memory. This course develops creative thinking, scientifically driven decision-making, and skeptical inquiry thought processes.

Child Development

Child development explores the emotional, physical, social, and cognitive factors of growth and development from birth through adolescence. By the end of this course, students should understand how to analyze factors affecting development, determine the long-term impact of multiple influences and experiences, and describe how brain research impacts knowledge of growth and development.

Measurement and Assessment

Measurement and assessment teaches students to apply psychometric techniques used in psychology. Students examine strategies and techniques used to administer tests and assessments. This course requires learners to assess test and assessment results. Students also learn how to identify when tests or assessments lack ethical compliance.

What Exams or Projects Should I Expect?

Students earning master’s degrees in child psychology online should anticipate engaging in a culminating experience at the end of their program. Possible requirements include a capstone seminar, which allows students to demonstrate their understanding of pertinent knowledge and skills. Programs may also require students to complete a thesis paper, which could examine a current dilemma in the field and innovative theories that could solve these issues.

Programs typically require students to complete a field experience under the supervision of a licensed practitioner. Requirements may also vary depending on students’ specialization. While state requirements vary, students should anticipate completing a licensure exam.

What Specializations Are Available in a Master’s in Child Psychology Program?

A master of child psychology allows graduates to provide services to children and adolescents both inside and outside of school settings. Child psychology students can choose from multiple concentration options.

School Psychology

School psychology focuses on supporting educators and students’ learning abilities. These professionals collaborate with students’ families, teachers, administrators, and other relevant professionals. School psychologists may deliver intervention or support.

Educational Psychology

Educational psychology targets children and adolescents within research settings. This speciality works to improve clients’ educational experience and identify issues impacting their education. Professionals typically develop custom solutions to meet each child’s needs.

Counseling Psychology

This specialty focuses on social, developmental, and organizational concerns. Counseling psychology prepares students to work with clients individually or in groups. Professionals strive to help clients understand and develop solutions to their problems.

What Can I Do with a Master’s in Child Psychology Degree?

Earning a master’s in psychology online prepares graduates for careers that help other people. Graduates should identify their ideal target population and work environments to help determine the most suitable careers for them. The list below includes five potential options, but child psychology majors qualify for other opportunities, as well.

School Psychologist

Child psychology master’s programs prepare graduates for careers in school psychology. These professionals collaborate with educators, counselors, and students’ families. School psychologists diagnose learning issues and design behavioral interventions.

Child Psychologist

Child psychologists work with children and adolescents in schools, private practices, hospitals, and research settings. These professionals assess children’s behavioral, psychological, social, and emotional needs. They also help clients overcome behavioral issues.

Juvenile Offender Counselor

Juvenile offender counselors collaborate with state and national governments to encourage young offenders to become assets to their community. These professionals can work with adolescents individually or in groups.

Family Therapist

Family therapists work with families experiencing emotional, cognitive, social, or behavioral problems. Services include diagnosing, counseling, developing interventions, and treating clients. In some cases, issues may affect the entire family, while others only impact individual family members.

Developmental Psychologist

A master of child psychology prepares graduates for careers in developmental psychology. These professionals explore human growth and the developmental process. Work environments include government agencies, academia, and schools.

How Much Can I Make with a Career in Child Psychology?

Child psychologists salaries vary. For instance, geographic location and work environment can influence professionals’ earning potential. Additionally, concentrations and additional certifications may impact salary. Students should note that the wages listed below represent how much professionals earn on average, not guaranteed wages.

School Psychologist

School psychologists observe, record, and interpret how clients respond to their environments. These professionals focus on social, cognitive, and emotional behavior. This role requires particular attention to developmental disorders and educationally related disorders. School psychologists diagnose learning issues and design behavioral interventions.

Median Annual Salary: $79,010

Job Growth Rate (2018-2028): 14%

Counseling Psychologist

Counseling psychologists assist children and adolescents struggling with issues at home, at school, or within their communities. Professional settings include schools, private practices, hospitals, and research settings. Duties include leading scientific studies that involve brain functions and behavior. These professionals assess behavioral, psychological, social, and emotional needs. Other duties include helping clients overcome behavioral issues.

Median Annual Salary: $79,010

Job Growth Rate (2018-2028): 14%

Family Therapists

Family therapists help clients express their emotions and discuss negative past experiences. Family therapists work with families experiencing emotional, cognitive, social, or behavioral problems. They diagnose, counsel, develop interventions, and treat clients. Issues may affect individual family members or entire families.

Median Annual Salary: $50,090

Job Growth Rate (2018-2028): 22%

School Counselor

School counselors help students acquire the social and academic skills required to achieve success in school. Duties include identifying student interests, monitoring performance and attendance, and collaborating with administrators or families. School counselors may work with individual students or small groups. At times, professionals may need to report incidences of neglect or abuse.

Median Annual Salary: $56,310

Job Growth Rate (2018-2028): 8%

Online Master’s in Child Psychology Program Accreditation

Students earning a master’s in child psychology online gain access to an increasing number of distance programs. Students should only consider accredited colleges and universities. Accreditation indicates that an institution meets strict educational standards and provides learners with pertinent knowledge and skills required to carry out professional tasks.

School-wide accreditations include regional and national accrediting bodies, and students should also look for programmatic accreditation, which specifically targets students’ areas of study. Child psychology majors should consider schools accredited by the American Psychological Association or the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

How to Pay for a Master’s in Child Psychology Degree

Advanced degrees require a significant financial commitment. Colleges and universities allow learners to pay out-of-pocket, but many students cannot afford to do so. Students earning a master’s in child psychology online qualify for multiple funding options. The section below includes potential aid options students can explore.

Techniques for Financing a Master’s in Child Psychology


Students earning a master’s in psychology online qualify for grant opportunities through multiple avenues, including the FAFSA and the International Honor Society in Psychology, also known as Psi Chi. This money does not require repayment.


Students can apply for loans through private institutions, including banks and credit unions. For instance, Chase bank offers loans. FAFSA also offers subsidized, unsubsidized, direct PLUS, and perkins loans. Unlike grants, loans require repayment and accrue interest.


Fellowships provide opportunities for students to gain research experience and offset school costs while earning advanced degrees. Private organizations and universities may offer stipends, free housing, or loan forgiveness.

Scholarships for Master’s in Child Psychology Students

NAJA Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The National Association of Junior Auxiliaries (NAJA) encourages women to serve as active members in their communities. NAJA requires applicants to major in subjects that lead to positions working with children and adolescents.

Amount: Varies See Scholarship

NASP-ERT Minority Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: Established in 1995, NASP continues to support diversity in the field by providing awards to minority students majoring in psychology. Applicants must demonstrate a minimum 3.0 GPA and become a NASP member.

Amount: $5,000 See Scholarship

Sandra KoscieIniak Graduate Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Association of Illinois Township Committees on Youth support struggling youth and their families. Students earning a master’s in child psychology online qualify to apply. Requirements include a resume, letters of recommendation letters, and an essay.

Amount: $1,000 See Scholarship

Psi Chi Graduate Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This international honor society supports individuals joining the field of psychology. Students earning a master’s in child psychology may qualify to apply. Psi Chi applies funds to tuition, textbooks, and additional fees.

Amount: $3,000 See Scholarship

Division 53 Student Achievement Award

Who Can Apply: The American Psychological Association (APA) offers this award to graduate students studying clinical child and adolescent psychology. Applicants must submit two-page letters and sample research project summaries.

Amount: $1,000 See Scholarship

Professional Organizations and Resources

Students earning a master’s in child psychology online benefit from supporting organizations, access to online resources, and seasoned professionals who can act as mentors. Membership organizations also provide additional benefits such as access to conferences and job boards.

American Counseling Association

  • Since 1952, the ACA has provided leadership training and online resources including publications, podcasts, blogs, and online learning. The ACA offers a 45,000-member network.

Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, Division 53

  • This APA division supports the advancement of clinical child and adolescent psychology. Students earning a master’s in child psychology can access training, online forums, and other digital resources.

The American Board of Professional Psychology

  • The ABPP promotes the quality of psychology-related services. It comprises 15 specialty boards and one subspecialty board. Students can use this site to stay current on changes in policy and licensure.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network

  • The NCTSN emerged to provide professionals working with children and adolescents suffering from the aftermath of traumatic experiences. The NCTSN also strives to improve the care for families of struggling youth.

  • This website serves as a resource for students pursuing a career in counseling. Students can access career outlook and salary data, a blog, a podcast, and career support.

American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy

  • AAMFT exists to advance the field of family and marriage therapy. Child psychology graduate students gain access to a 50,000-member network, career services, job boards, magazines, and insurance.

Early Childhood and Youth Development

  • Early Childhood and Youth Development provides information about the latest practices and theories in the field. Child psychology graduate students can access newsletters, conferences, and programs.

WMedicine: Harborview Medical Center

  • Since 1976, the Center for Assault and Traumatic Stress has provided services for individuals who need consultation services. However, this organization also conducts research, online resources, and training.

The National Association of School Psychologists

  • The NASP supports the field of school psychology by providing cutting-edge knowledge and theories. The NASP also promotes ethical conduct. Professionals can access books, podcasts and discussion forums.

National Center for Victims of Crime

  • This nonprofit organization advocates for victims of all ages. Psychologists entering child and adolescent psychology can access training, online resources, an online library, and a professional network.

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