Online Master’s in Child Psychology 2021

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Child psychologists work directly with children from infancy through adolescence. They examine various aspects of a child’s behavioral development, including environmental factors and learning patterns. States require child psychologists to obtain a license prior to beginning independent practice. Licensure candidates must hold at least a master’s in child psychology.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a median annual salary of $82,180 for psychologists, much higher than the $41,950 median for all occupations. Many child psychologists work in private practice. Depending on professional interest and training, they could also work in elementary and secondary schools, government agencies, daycare centers, or the court system.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Child Psychology


  • Q. What can I do with a master's degree in child psychology?

    A child psychology master’s degree usually qualifies graduates to become school counselors, family therapists, developmental psychologists, or social workers.


  • Q. How many years is a master's in child psychology?

    Full-time enrollees generally take 18-24 months to complete a master’s in child psychology. Some accelerated programs take only one year to complete. Part-time enrollment may take up to three years.


  • Q. What certification do I need to be a child psychologist?

    Child psychologists require state licensure, but not a certification to practice. However, many practitioners voluntarily seek certification as a cognitive-behavioral therapist or as a school counselor.


Why Get a Degree in Child Psychology?



A master’s in child psychology includes instruction and fieldwork, such as a practicum or internship experience. The degree prepares graduates to administer and interpret different psychological assessment tools that measure a child’s intellectual abilities, visual-motor integration skills, and several neuropsychological functions. A child psychology master’s degree develops communication skills for sharing findings with parents, teachers, and other professionals.

Aspiring clinical child psychologists often need a doctorate to apply for licensure in many states. A master’s in child psychology usually meets the educational requirements of a doctoral program in the field. Online child psychology degree-seekers can pursue their education with minimal interruption to their career or other responsibilities.

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How Much Does a Child Psychology Degree Cost?

National Center for Education Statistics data show postgraduate enrollment costs at public institutions averaged $12,171 for 2018-19. Graduate students at private nonprofit institutions paid an average of $27,776 the same year. The cost of one year of enrollment in a master’s in child psychology program will likely approximate these amounts.

Some schools charge the same tuition for resident and nonresident distance learners. The difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition significantly impacts attendance costs, so online enrollees usually save considerably with a flat rate. Students planning to pursue an online child psychology degree should research whether prospective institutions offer this opportunity.

Schools often give online and on-campus enrollees equal access to many of the scholarship and grant programs they administer. Since they do not require repayment, scholarships and grants make a master’s in child psychology more affordable.

Additional Online Student Fees for Child Psychology



Although several schools now offer an online master’s in child psychology alongside an onsite program, some online child psychology degrees still require some in-person attendance. Schools may require an onsite orientation to start the program or an on-campus final thesis or capstone project presentation before graduating. For online child psychology degree-seekers far from their desired school, any onsite requirements can increase attendance costs.

Child psychology master’s degree-seekers should inquire about technology fees that some schools charge online enrollees only. Calculated per credit or charged as a flat amount each enrollment period, technology fees can substantially affect degree costs.

How Much Do Child Psychology Majors Make?

BLS data show that offices of other health practitioners pay the highest annual mean salary for psychologists at $133,660. Companies offering management and technical consulting services pay the next highest salary at $116,210. Elementary and secondary schools and local government agencies follow, paying $104,360 and $101,410, respectively.

The state where psychologists practice impacts income levels. The following states pay the highest psychologist salaries: California at $124,910, Alaska at $118,270, Illinois at $115,340, Virginia at $109,060, and Colorado at $103,560.

Child psychology master’s degree-holders typically earn higher median salaries than bachelor’s degree-holders and associate-trained workers. According to the BLS, master’s degree-holders earn a median $1,545 weekly salary. Bachelor’s-trained workers earn $1,305, while employees with an associate degree earn $938. Practitioners with a master’s in child psychology join a workforce with higher-than-average incomes and opportunities for career advancement.

Courses in Child Psychology



A master’s in child psychology typically comprises 30-36 credits. Specific curricula differ among schools, but often include statistics, research methods, and learning disabilities foundation classes, alongside the three courses described below. Some programs offer specializations in adolescent, developmental, or abnormal psychology.

Most programs include a practicum or internship experience and require students to complete a culminating activity prior to graduation. A master’s in child psychology usually requires a thesis as the culminating experience. However, some schools offer a coursework-only program and others accept a capstone research project as the final activity.

The course provides an overview of the major transitions of human existence, from early infancy to late adulthood. Curriculum then focuses on the childhood to adolescent years. Students examine various factors that play a crucial role during this period of human development. Topics include social, cognitive, biological, and emotional factors.

The course familiarizes enrollees with different intervention strategies commonly used in clinical practice with children. Participants explore topics such as cognitive behavioral therapies, relationship-based interventions, and dyadic developmental psychotherapy. The course includes supervised clinical experiences so students can practice applying the different strategies in real-life situations.

Enrollees study the connection between the human brain and cognitive processes. The course includes the most recent research findings and development in this field of exploration. Students learn current and emerging techniques, such as computerized tomography, recombinant DNA procedures, neurochemical approaches, and magnetic stimulation.

How to Become a Child Psychologist



States require psychologists to earn a license before practicing. Licensure requirements vary by state, with most requiring clinical candidates to possess a doctorate in psychology or counseling. In some states, a master’s satisfies licensure educational requirements for practitioners planning to become school counselors or industrial-organizational psychologists.

Licensees must renew their license every three or five years, depending on the state where they practice. As with initial licensure requirements, specific renewal criteria also vary by state. Most states require completing a certain number of continuing education units in between renewal periods.

Certifications and Licensure for Child Psychology



An industry-recognized credential, especially in a broad field such as psychology, helps distinguish certified professionals from other practitioners. Certifications present holders as knowledgeable and skilled professionals committed to and capable of providing expert service in their specialization field.

American Board of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology Certification


As an American Board of Professional Psychology affiliate, ABCCAP requires candidates to meet criteria with both boards’ approval to earn the credential. Candidates need a doctorate in child psychology, a valid license in the field, and one year of supervised postdoctoral work.

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Certified Cognitive-Behavioral Therapist


The National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists requires candidates to possess a master’s or doctoral degree in psychology, social work, occupational therapy, or a related field. Applicants also need six years of postgraduate experience providing cognitive-behavioral therapy services.

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National Certified Counselor


The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) accepts certification applicants with at least a master’s degree in counseling or psychology. Candidates must show completion of 3,000 hours of postgraduate counseling experience over a two-year period. NBCC may waive the work experience requirement for licensed candidates.

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Online Master’s in Child Psychology 2021



See Our Rankings Methodology
  1. University of South Florida-Main Campus
    Location

    Tampa, FL

    MSU provides an online MS in child life studies. The degree supports careers such as hospital child life specialist, grief center child life specialist, or medical camp worker.

    This master's degree in child psychology serves learners at various experience levels by offering both standard and advanced tracks. The 44-credit standard track benefits students new to the field. Participants complete 35-38 credits of required classes. Coursework includes advanced family theory and childhood death and bereavement. Learners also study therapeutic and play intervention.

    The 35-credit advanced track supports practicing child life specialists in creating research initiatives. Enrollees take courses in advanced family studies and trends and issues in child life. They also take several research courses. Both master's in child psychology tracks require students to complete a comprehensive exam and a clinical internship or research practicum.

    MSU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  2. Missouri State University-Springfield
    Location

    Springfield, MO

    SNHU in Manchester, New Hampshire, offers an online MS in psychology with a child and adolescent psychology concentration. The program prepares enrollees to assess, evaluate, and treat various issues facing children and their families. Graduates often work in schools, child welfare agencies, or healthcare facilities.

    The 36-credit master's degree in child psychology includes core courses in cognitive psychology, personality, and social psychology. Participants gain an understanding of human development, cultural and psychological needs, and research methods. Child development and psychology concentration courses include cognitive neuropsychology. Other courses cover developmental psychology and intervention strategies.

    This online master's in psychology program accommodates working students. It allows asynchronous class participation during after-work hours. Enrollees can transfer up to 12 graduate credits toward their master's degree. SNHU does not require GMAT or GRE scores. Applicants need either a bachelor's in psychology or prerequisite psychology coursework and a bachelor's in another field.

    SNHU is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

  3. University of La Verne
    Location

    La Verne, CA

    This private nonprofit university based in La Verne, California, offers an MS in child and adolescent development. La Verne tailors the program for teachers and child and youth services professionals seeking leadership opportunities and greater expertise. The MS program features concentrations in child or adolescent development in online, hybrid, and on-campus formats. Participants also choose between practitioner and researcher tracks.

    Enrollees complete core courses in academic writing and research methods. The core curriculum also covers educational psychology and human development. The early childhood specialization offers courses in attachment, cognition and brain development, and language and concept development. The adolescent specialization includes coursework on adolescent development, motivation in education, and adolescents and risk.

    Applicants to La Verne's master's in child psychology need a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited school. Eligible candidates hold a minimum 3.0 GPA during the last 60 credits of their early childhood or childhood development courses. Application materials include a statement of purpose and three recommendation letters.

    La Verne is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

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