Over the course of the past fifteen years there has been a shift within the field of psychology. More people are pursuing their master’s degrees in this field in order to better help people and earn a decent wage.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a career in psychology can be relatively lucrative. As of 2019, the median salary in this field was $80,370, with the higher salaries often reserved for those with master’s or doctoral degrees.Many colleges and universities are now offering master of psychology programs and counseling to serve as terminal degrees. Most of these programs include a rigorous curriculum, covering the theoretical aspects of the field, extensive training in how to conduct and analyze research, and clinical skills for work with clients. Some programs will also require you to complete an internship or practicum as part of their course of study.
Ready to get started on your path to a master’s degree in psychology? Here’s a look at some of the best master’s programs in psychology.
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Here are the Most Frequently Asked Questions about Master's Degrees in Psychology
How long does it take to get a master's in Psychology?
A master’s degree in psychology can take you anywhere from two to four years to complete, depending on the program you’re in and whether you’re going to school full time or part time.
What can you do with a master’s degree in Psychology?
You can do a lot with a degree in psychology. A master’s in psychology degree can prepare students to get their doctoral degree or for careers in counseling, research, or clinical work.
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What Can You Do With a Master’s in Psychology?
Though you’ll need a doctorate degree for many career paths in psychology, there are still plenty of opportunities for a graduate with a master’s degree in this field. Once you’ve earned your master’s degree, you can apply it to entry-level positions in counseling, education, and even business. Many master’s programs for psychology majors also offer specific concentrations for specializing in your desired field.
Some potential career paths for master’s psychology graduates include human resources, project management, marketing, family services, social services, law enforcement, school counseling, victim advocacy, rehabilitation counseling, and childcare.
When it comes to earning your master’s degree in psychology, the requirements will vary depending on the program you enroll in. Generally, master’s programs will require you to take between 30 to 40 credits and select a concentration to specialize in. Popular options for concentrations include clinical, child, social, abnormal, and organizational psychology.
In many programs, you’ll have to keep up a certain GPA, which is typically above a B grade. Most psychology programs will also require you to form and defend a thesis or create a portfolio of your work.
Courses for a Master’s in Psychology
When taking Research Methods, you will learn about the methods used to conduct psychology research as well as career paths you can take within the field of psychological research. Research plays a big role in psychology, so it’s important that you learn about the different methodologies and how to apply them to your own research.
History of Psychology
It’s just as important to understand groundbreaking discoveries in your field as it is to know how it is we got there. A history of psychology class will cover in detail the background of psychology — how it came to be as well as basic theories documented and tested throughout history.
One of the more unusual courses, Forensic Psychology will cover, in-depth, the subject of criminal psychopathology. In this class, you will explore the psychology behind violent and non-violent crimes, learn the commonly diagnosed disorders among criminal offenders, and dive into different treatment options for difficult patients or clients.
In your psychotherapy classes, you’ll be introduced to the basics of psychological assessments. The courses will most likely focus on theories rather than practical application, but will help train you to evaluate patients or clients.
Career Path for a Master’s in Psychology Degree
Once you finish your master’s degree in psychology, the world is practically at your fingertips. Possible career trajectories include working as a clinician, forensic psychologist, substance abuse counselor, school counselor, or sports psychologist. If any of these fields interest you, you can choose to specialize in certain areas during your master’s program to make landing a position a little easier.
You may not want to stop at a master’s program either. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those who pursue their doctorate have the most solid outlook in the psychology field, so you may want to consider continuing your education, too.
Job Outlook & Salary
The average salary for a psychologist in the U.S. was $80,370 as of May 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job growth for psychologists is expected to grow 3% from 2019 to 2029. This is in line with the average occupation projection rate.
If you’re planning to practice in the following states, expect some of the highest median wages for psychologists: Oregon at $112,010, California at $111,750, District of Columbia at $106,900, New York at $96,170, and Louisiana at $96,040.
While the job field is broad and promising for those with psychology degrees, most opportunities appear to be offered to those with doctorate degrees. If you’re planning to stay with a master’s degree, however, there are still plenty of well-paying career paths available to you as well.
Yearly Mean Wage for Healthcare Managers
How Can a Master's Student Pay for College?
Paying for your continuing education can add up fast. If you’re struggling to find ways to pay for a master’s program in psychology, you’ll find several scholarships, fellowships, and awards you can apply to if you’re pursuing your master’s degree in psychology below.
For information on more scholarships, grants, and awards you can apply to, visit the American Psychological Association website.
The Queen-Nellie Evans Scholarship recognizes minority graduate students who demonstrate a commitment to improving the quality of life of marginalized communities. To be eligible, you must be an enrolled minority graduate student.
In order to encourage diversity within the American Psychology-Law Society, this award will go to graduate students researching psycholegal the issues related to diversity and research by students from diverse backgrounds. The proposed project should be the original work of the student.
This fellowship is awarded to graduate students who are committed to the study of child psychology. You’ll need to submit a detailed budget, project timeline, resume, and two letters of recommendation.
Deadline: November 15, 2021
Sociology: Should you choose to study sociology, you can expect to incorporate a working knowledge of psychology into your degree as well. Sociology students study the complex systems that connect people together and examine factors such as politics, religion, and culture. With a degree in sociology, you can work in social services, as a rehabilitation counselor, or become a postsecondary educators.
Anthropology: As an anthropologist, you’ll study the origins of humanity. As the human brain has developed in a variety of complex ways over time, psychology is very much tied in with this type of study. If you receive an anthropology degree, you can pursue a career in archaeology, linguistics, or biological anthropology.
Philosophy: Since much of philosophy focuses on the causes and ethics of our behavior, it’s no mystery as to how psychology ties in to this field. As with psychology, a philosophy degree is considered versatile and is paired well with other pursuits, such as mathematics, history, and literature. Once you’ve graduated with your philosophy degree, you can pursue a career in teaching, research, or even law.
The Top 25 Master’s Degree Programs in Psychology for 2021
Although TWU was founded as the Girls Industrial College in 1901, the school has enrolled male students since 1972. TWU comprises five colleges and serves approximately 15,500 undergraduate and graduate students.
TWU offers a master of science in psychological science, which consists of 36 credits. Most students graduate after one year of continuous enrollment. Applicants need an undergraduate degree (preferably in psychology) from an accredited school, a minimum 3.0 GPA on all psychology coursework and for the last 60 undergraduate credits, and a minimum of 18 hours of psychology classes. One of the country's most affordable online psychology degrees, the program also requires the submission of recent GRE scores. Applicants need a score of at least 153 on the quantitative and 150 on the verbal sections. A master’s degree at TWU will take most students about two to four years to complete. Texas residents can expect to pay about $8,255 in tuition per year and non-Texas residents will pay a little over twice that, about $18,071, per year for tuition.
Texas Woman's University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Augusta University began as the Medical Academy of Georgia in 1828. Today, the university offers more than 160 academic programs across 10 schools and colleges. Augusta enrolls more than 9,200 undergraduate and graduate students.
The university offers a full-time year-round master of science in psychology program. Students can pursue a clinical/counseling, applied experimental, or general experimental track. The clinical/counseling track comprises 60 credits and requires the completion of 600 hours of clinical internship. The curriculum meets the educational requirements for counselor licensure in Georgia. Degree-seekers can pursue a thesis or non-thesis plan of study.
Both experimental tracks require at least 40 credits. However, the general experimental track requires a thesis for completion, while the applied experimental track does not. These programs follow a cohort model of education.
Augusta University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Georgia residents can expect to pay $9,022 in tuition and fees for one year at Augusta University, while out-of-state students are charged about $24,000 per year for tuition. Students should plan to finish their master’s degree at this public university within two to four years.
Hunter College began in 1870 as the Female Normal and High School, the country's first free teacher's college. The school began admitting male students in 1964 and now enrolls more than 20,000 students and offers more than 170 areas of study.
The college offers a master of arts in general psychology that comprises 30 credits and requires the completion of a thesis prior to graduation. Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university with at least 12 undergraduate credits in psychology.
The degree allows students to explore and learn about the various aspects of the field. It also allows learners to focus on one of three content areas: applied and evaluative psychology; biopsychology and comparative psychology; and social, cognitive, and developmental psychology.
CUNY Hunter College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) At Hunter College, New York residents are charged about $7,382 in tuition per year, while out-of-state tuition is about $15,332 per year. Expect to finish your master’s degree in psychology in two to four years at this school. .
Founded in 1947, Cal State LA enrolls more than 26,000 students and comprises eight academic colleges offering more than 100 certificate, undergraduate, graduate, and pre-professional programs.
The university offers a master of arts in psychology that follows a cohort model of education. The program consists of 31-32 credits and requires applicants to hold a bachelor's degree (preferably in psychology) from an accredited college or university. Applicants with a non-psychology bachelor's degree must enroll in 23 credits of psychology coursework prior to beginning the master's program. Degree-seekers must earn a minimum 3.0 GPA in these courses. The degree requires a thesis.
California State University Los Angeles is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). At Cal State LA, students typically finish their master’s degree in two to four years. Students pay an in-state tuition of $6,781 per year, while non-California residents pay about $18,661 in tuition and fees per year.
UNO was established in 1958 as the Louisiana State University in New Orleans, the first racially integrated public institution in the South. UNO serves more than 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students and comprises eight academic schools and colleges.
The school offers a master of science in applied psychology comprising 40 credits. Students seeking to complete the program as a terminal degree do not need to write a thesis. Instead, they must complete a five-section practicum. UNO also offers a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) in applied psychology. Degree-seekers who plan to pursue a Ph.D. can choose from two concentration areas: applied biopsychology or applied developmental psychology.
Learners can participate in several psychology research labs on campus covering topics such as autism brain and language and biological and environmental risk for affective disorders. At UNO, in-state tuition comes in at $9,072 per year and out-of-state at $13,908 per year. Expect to finish your degree at this public institution in the usual two to four-year span.
The University of New Orleans is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Columbia began in 1754 as King's College. It is the oldest university in New York and the fifth oldest in the nation. Seven students comprised the school's first class. Today, Columbia enrolls approximately 33,400 learners and consists of 20 academic schools and colleges.
Columbia offers a master of arts in psychology, from which students can select from several concentrations, including cognition, behavioral neuroscience, sensation and perception, and social and personality psychology. The program requires students to serve as teaching assistants for one semester each year. Degree-seekers must also complete some mandatory classes to support their educational and career objectives.
Columbia University in the City of New York is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). Columbia has a hefty tuition price tag of $61,671 in tuition and fees per year. You will generally finish your master's degree at this private university within two to four years.
Established in 1962 and built on the site of an abandoned air base, FAU set out to provide higher education options to the residents of the southeast region of the state and Americans everywhere. Today, FAU boasts a population of nearly 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students. One of the country's most affordable colleges, the university offers more than 170 degrees across eight academic colleges.
FAU offers a master of arts degree in psychology that comprises 36 semester hours. The program only accepts full-time applicants. Students typically graduate in 2-3 years. Since the program is mentor-based, admission during any given year depends on the number of faculty members who can directly supervise a new student.
FAU provides fundamental experimental training specifically for students who plan to continue on to a doctoral program in psychology. The school does not currently offer graduate opportunities for counseling or clinical psychology.
Florida Atlantic University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). At FAU, students getting their master's can plan to obtain their degree within two to four years. This public university is one of the most affordable on our list. Florida residents only pay $4,879 in tuition per year, while non-Florida residents pay about $17,324 per year for tuition.
Established in 1957, SBU began as a preparatory college for secondary teachers of science and mathematics. The university currently offers more than 350 bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs across 11 schools and colleges.
SBU degree-seekers can enroll in a full-time, one-year master of arts in general psychology program that comprises 30 credits. The curriculum includes coursework in graduate statistics, cognitive science, integrative neuroscience, and clinical psychology. Although GRE scores are optional, applicants need a minimum undergraduate 3.25 GPA to be considered for admission. Students must complete an approved program of study with a grade of at least a B in every course to be considered for the master's program.
Stony Brook University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). At SBU, out-of-state residents pay nearly three times as much as in-state residents. The cost for out-of-state tuition is about $27,761 per year and about $10,091 per year for in-state tuition. Students at SBU generally complete their master's degree program within the typical two to four years.
The institution that would become CSULB began in 1949 as the Los Angeles-Orange County State College. From 160 students during its initial year of operation, CSULB now enrolls nearly 37,000 students and comprises eight colleges.
CSULB offers a full-time, two-year master of arts in psychology degree in psychological research that comprises 30 graduate credits. Called MAPR, the degree prepares graduates for doctoral studies or master's-level careers in the field. Students enroll in classes that cover key psychological subjects such as statistical design and analysis; developmental psychology; perception and physiological psychology; and health, behavior, and intervention. MAPR applicants need a bachelor's degree in psychology or at least 24 upper-division units of psychology coursework. This affordable college costs about $7,340 in tuition per year for New York residents and $15,290 per year for out-of-state students. Students can expect to take about two to four years to finish their master’s degree here.
California State University Long Beach is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
CCNY began in 1847 as the Free Academy of the City of New York, a school founded to provide educational opportunities for the children of immigrants and the working class who showed academic promise. Today, CCNY continues to provide a range of academic options for more than 16,000 undergraduate and graduate students across eight professional schools and divisions.
CCNY offers a master's in general psychology that allows learners to follow a thesis or non-thesis course of study. The thesis option requires the completion of 31 credits, while the non-thesis program requires 41 credits. Regardless of which path they choose, students must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA throughout their enrollment at CCNY. The curriculum includes coursework in psychometrics, cognition, psychopharmacology, and neuroscience.
The City College of New York is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
CSUN began in 1958 as the San Fernando Valley State College, serves nearly 40,000 degree-seekers, and offers bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees across nine academic colleges.
CSUN offers a master's in psychological science that allows students to pursue an emphasis in clinical research or clinical fieldwork. The clinical research emphasis allows learners to focus on independent research projects and culminates in a master's thesis. Students pursuing the clinical fieldwork option participate in a practicum experience in either the child and adolescent diagnostic assessment clinic or the anxiety and mood disorders clinic. Students who choose this option must pass a comprehensive exam prior to graduation.
California State University, Northridge is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
NLU began in 1886 as a training school for kindergarten teachers who then set out to teach the young children of mostly immigrant families. Today, NLU offers bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees across four academic colleges and enrolls nearly 9,000 students. NLU offers a master of arts in psychology that comprises 36 semester hours.
To help focus their studies and make sure their program supports their educational and career objectives, students can choose from four concentration areas: general psychology, psychological assessment, community psychology, and teaching of psychology. The curriculum includes coursework in theories of personality, advanced social psychology, biological bases of behavior, and psychology of organizational leadership. The program gives enrollees the option of writing a thesis or taking a comprehensive exam as their culminating experience prior to graduation.
National Louis University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Founded in 1837 as Marshall College, Marshall University is one of the first public institutions in West Virginia to provide higher education opportunities to the state's residents. Marshall enrolls more than 13,000 undergraduate and graduate students from 49 states and 56 countries. Marshall comprises nine academic schools and colleges.
Learners at Marshall can enroll in a master of arts in psychology comprising 36 graduate credit hours. Students complete a common core of 24 credits in subjects such as advanced or applied developmental psychology, psychometrics, biological bases of behavior, and ethical and legal issues in psychology. Learners can complete the remaining credits in general psychology or clinical psychology. The program offers a thesis option for students who wish to write one. All degree-seekers must pass a comprehensive exam prior to graduation.
Marshall University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Now enrolling more than 19,000 students, QC opened in 1937 with an initial enrollment of just 400 students. QC offers undergraduate and graduate programs across four academic divisions.
The school's master of arts in general psychology comprises either 30 graduate credits (thesis option) or 36 graduate credits (non-thesis option). Only students with a 3.7 GPA can pursue the thesis option. Learners who do not meet this qualification must take a comprehensive exam as their culminating experience. The program requires all students to enroll in the history of psychology, advanced experimental psychology, and statistical methods.
Applicants are not required to submit GRE scores. However, they need a bachelor's degree in psychology from an accredited institution or must show completion of at least 15 undergraduate psychology courses with a grade of B or higher.
Queens College, CUNY is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
CSUDH began as South Bay State College in 1960, comprises six academic colleges, and enrolls nearly 16,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
The university offers a master of arts in psychology comprising 30 credits. Learners typically take two years of full-time study to complete the program. Students can follow a clinical psychology or health psychology track. Clinical psychology students must complete a minimum of 550 practicum hours in research, teaching, or clinical work.
Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with at least a B average for the last 60 credits of undergraduate enrollment. The program also requires applicants to submit the results of a standard graduate examination such as the GRE or the GMAT.
California State University Dominguez Hills is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
CSUSB opened in 1962 as a three-building campus with an initial enrollment of 293 students. Today, the university serves almost 20,000 students and consists of six academic colleges.
CSUSB offers a master of arts in psychological sciences that consists of 34-35 graduate credits. The program features a general concentration and a behavioral and cognitive neuroscience concentration. Students must complete a minimum of 25 credits at the university. The curriculum includes coursework in biological psychology, analysis of variance, advanced methods in psychological research, and theories of learning and motivation. Regardless of their concentration area, all enrollees must complete a master's thesis.
California State University, San Bernardino is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
UB emerged from the 1962 consolidation of a private medical college (founded in 1846) into The State University of New York system. The school comprises 13 academic schools and colleges; offers more than 400 programs of study at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels; and supports a student population of over 31,000.
UB offers a master of arts in general psychology that consists of 30 credit hours and features concentrations in four areas: clinical psychology, behavioral neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and social-personality psychology. Most students take two years to earn the degree.
A mentor-based program, student admission largely depends on the number of faculty members who can take on a new student each academic year. Coursework includes subjects such as attitudes and social cognition, developmental psychopathology, cognitive processes, and psycholinguistics.
University at Buffalo is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
Established in 1974, UHCL opened with a 60-member faculty and a student enrollment of 1,069. Today, the university offers more than 90 bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs; comprises four colleges; and supports a population of over 9,000 students.
Students at UHCL can pursue a master of science in psychology, which comprises 36 credits for the thesis or special project option, or 39 credits for the internship or comprehensive exam option. The curriculum includes classes in advanced experimental methods and statistics, human growth and development, learning principles, and advanced cognitive and affective psychology. UHCL does not count courses in which students earn a C+ or below toward the master's degree.
University of Houston Clear Lake is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
In 1911, Fresno State (then known as Fresno State Normal School), admitted 150 students during its initial year of operation. More than a century later, the university's student population has grown to over 25,000. Fresno State boasts eight schools and colleges that offer more than 100 bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs.
Fresno State students can pursue a master of arts in psychology that comprises 30 graduate credits. Learners study developmental psychology, psychobiological bases of behavior, and role and function of research data analysis. Students advance to candidacy only if they receive a grade of A or B in their advanced research design and statistical techniques class, meet the graduate writing requirements, and pass the department's statistical proficiency exam.
California State University, Fresno is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
Established in 1970 as a center that provided classes in teacher education and various business disciplines, TAMIU officially became a member of the Texas A&M University System in 1989. TAMIU currently supports a population of nearly 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
The university offers a master of science in psychology that comprises 36 credits and supports both thesis and non-thesis options. Students who choose a non-thesis program must complete a six-credit internship experience. Core coursework for both options includes classes in research design and statistics, cognitive science, human development across the lifespan, and survey of social psychology. The program does not require the submission of scores from a standard graduate entrance exam.
Texas A&M International University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Established as the first public university in Wisconsin in 1848, UW-Madison began with an initial enrollment of 17 students. Currently supporting a student population of over 45,000 and comprising 13 schools and colleges, the university offers more than 400 bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs.
UW-Madison offers a master of arts in psychology as a step toward a Ph.D. The program consists of 30 credits, at least 16 of which learners must complete at the university. Students earn the master's degree after completing a research paper that they begin during their first year in the program. Only courses for which students receive a grade of B or higher count toward the credit tally required for the degree.
University of Wisconsin-Madison is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
NMSU resulted from the merger of Las Cruces College (founded 1888) and the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (founded 1890). From an initial enrollment of 35 students, NMSU now boasts over 16,000 students and offers more than 180 programs across six academic colleges at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels.
NMSU offers a master of arts in general experimental psychology, which comprises 36 credit hours. Degree-seekers can pursue emphasis areas in engineering, cognitive, or social psychology. Students must complete a first-year project and a research thesis to earn the degree. The curriculum includes coursework in learning theory and methodology, behavioral neuroscience, psycholinguistics, and history and systems of psychology. Most students graduate from the program in 2-3 years. NMSU does not offer a non-thesis option.
New Mexico State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Established in 1875, BYU enrolls more than 33,500 students from all 50 states and 103 countries. BYU comprises 13 academic schools and colleges and offers over 300 programs at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels.
BYU students can pursue a master of science in psychology as an embedded program within the Ph.D. in clinical psychology. The master's curriculum comprises a minimum of 36 credits and makes up the first two years of study for the doctoral degree. The program includes coursework in data analysis in psychological research, professional and ethical issues in psychology, psychopathology, and relationships and psychodynamics. Learners must complete a master's thesis before proceeding to doctoral work.
Brigham Young University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
When UTPB was established in 1973, the school only accepted upper-level (juniors and seniors) and graduate students. UTPB became a four-year institution (accepting freshmen and sophomores) in 1991 and now enrolls nearly 6,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
UTPB offers a master of arts in psychology with concentrations in clinical and experimental psychology. Clinical psychology students can choose to complete a master's project or write a thesis as their culminating experience. Experimental psychology students must write a thesis. The curriculum includes courses in advanced statistics (analysis and variance), ethical and professional issues, lifespan development, and social psychology.
The University of Texas Permian Basin is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Founded in 1947 as Sacramento State College, Sac State comprises eight academic colleges, enrolls more than 31,000 students, and offers over 150 bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and credential programs.
Sac State offers a master of arts in general psychology that consists of 30 credits. Students must complete required courses in methods in empirical psychology and contemporary statistical methods in psychological research. The curriculum also includes courses in advanced psychopathology, learning and behavior, and theories of personality. Learners can choose to write a thesis or complete a master's project as the culminating experience. Applicants must submit their latest GRE scores.
California State University, Sacramento is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
Amanda Push is a freelance writer who covers education topics for Best Value Schools, Grad School Hub, and Criminal Justice Degree Schools, and others. Her writing has also been featured at TheSimpleDollar.com, Interest.com, MyMove.com, and Safety.com.
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