Top 25 Master’s Degree Programs in Psychology

Best Value Schools - Top Master's Programs 2016
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Over the course of the past fifteen years there has been a shift within the field of psychology, which has led to an increasing number of master’s degree holders providing care to those in need of mental health services. Many colleges and universities are now offering master’s degree programs in psychology 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. Many such programs will require students to complete an internship or practicum as part of their course of study. A rising number of schools are offering research opportunities that begin during the first year.

Another important curricular requirement at many universities is completion of a thesis. Typically, students pursuing a master of science will conduct a research-based thesis, and those pursuing a master of arts will complete a literature review based thesis. In many cases, students will have the opportunity to present their findings at conferences and student presentations.

Details about our ranking methodology can be found at end of the article.

Ranking the Top 25 Master’s Degree Programs in Psychology

#25: LeTourneau University – Longview, Texas

Letourneau University Best Value Best Masters Degree Psychology
Psychology, M.A.

Points: 6
Program Website

Based in Longview, Texas, LeTourneau University brands itself as the “Christian Polytechnic University,” reflecting its commitment to career-oriented education with a Christian worldview. The school’s academic programs feature pedagogical designs that encourage students to “learn by doing,” and its psychology master’s programs give all students, including online learners, extensive opportunities to build and apply their skills in real-life, face-to-face settings. Students in the online master of arts in psychology program combine technology-driven distance learning with comprehensive clinical counseling training, leading to career opportunities in fields including human resource management, school psychology, behavioral analysis, marriage and family therapy, and mental health counseling, among others.

#24: Baker College – Flint, Michigan

Baker College Best Value Best Masters Degree PsychologyThe Department of Psychology

Points: 6
Program Website

Baker College focuses exclusively on academic programs in fields experiencing high rates of growth, ensuring that students get a relevant education that prepares them for career success. With a legacy that dates back more than a century, Baker College holds a prominent reputation for updating its academic mission to reflect economic and social change. Its online psychology master’s programs reflect this mandate, enabling students to earn a master of science in industrial and organizational psychology. Designed for aspiring human resource professionals, this programs delivers respected academic credentials that help learners prepare for success in organizational development, HR management, and employee training initiatives.

#23: American Public University System – American Military University – Charles Town, West Virginia

American Public University Best Value Best Masters Degree Psychology
The School of Arts and Humanities – The Department of Psychology

Points: 6
Program Website

As part of the American Public University System, American Military University delivers relevant, affordable education to a military-affiliated student body. Focused on meeting the post-service career needs of current and former military personnel, AMU features more than 200 undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs, with 100% online classes that run on flexible 8-week and 16-week schedules. Its master’s in psychology program leads to a master of arts designation, and trains students in essential topics including human behavior across the lifespan, psychological assessment techniques, personality evaluations, psychopathology, and diversity issues. Departmental experts constantly update and upgrade the curriculum to reflect changing trends, research insights, and best practices.

#22: Chicago School of Professional Psychology – Chicago, Illinois

Chicago School of Professional Psychology Best Value Best Masters Degree Psychology
The Department of Online Learning – The Department of Psychology

Points: 7
Program Website

Founded in 1979, the Chicago School of Professional Psychology uses an engaged practitioner educational model to train students to become community service-oriented professionals. This unique approach takes a wider view of psychology’s role in the contemporary world, extending its applications beyond the traditional boundaries of clinical practice and into society as a whole. The school’s extensive selection of online psychology master’s programs affords students a great deal of latitude in concentrating their studies in particular areas of interest. Learners can earn a master of arts degree in over a dozen specialist areas, with master of science designations available in two disciplines.

#21: John F. Kennedy University – Pleasant Hill, California

JFK University Best Value Best Masters Degree Psychology
The College of Graduate and Professional Studies – The Department of Psychology

Points: 7
Program Website

A private, not-for-profit educational institution with both online and on-campus study options, John F. Kennedy University features regional accreditation from the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) along with an official endorsement from the American Psychological Association (APA). Through its globally oriented worldview, JFKU emphasizes the complete personal growth of its students. Learners enjoy multiple online master’s in psychology options, including a master of arts in sport psychology, a master of arts in holistic education, and a master of arts in consciousness and transformative studies. All three options take a career-centered approach, encouraging students to develop the knowledge and skills needed to succeed as professionals.

#20: Palo Alto University – Palo Alto, California

Palo Alto University Best Value Best Masters Degree PsychologyThe Department of Psychology

Points: 7
Program Website

Situated in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley, Palo Alto University holds regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). Specializing in educating aspiring social scientists, PAU lists social justice, diversity, and cultural responsiveness as its top mandates, and its distance learning formats blend the flexibility of technology-based instruction with limited on-campus residency requirements. Its lineup of psychology master’s programs includes an online master of arts in counseling degree with concentrations in clinical mental health, and marriage, family, and child counseling. Both tracks feature accreditation endorsements from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

#19: California Institute of Integral Studies – San Francisco, California

California Institute of Integral Studies Best Value Best Masters Degree Psychology
The School of Professional Psychology and Health

Points: 7
Program Website

The California Institute of Integral Studies favors a holistic and progressive approach to health education. Founded in 1968, CIIS gained accreditation in 1981 and has long been noted for its innovative philosophy and mandate. The school’s master’s in psychology programs focus on the relationships between mind, spirit, and body, and online students can earn a master of arts in counseling psychology with a concentration in expressive arts therapy (EXA). This 60-unit curriculum meets California’s licensing requirements for marriage and family therapy (MFT) and licensed professional clinical counselor (LPCC) designations. Students must attend a week-long residency at the school’s San Francisco campus, but complete the remainder of their coursework exclusively online.

#18: Adler University – Chicago, Illinois

Adler University Best Value Best Masters Degree PsychologyThe Department of Psychology

Points: 8
Program Website

Named for the pioneering psychologist Alfred Adler (1870–1937), Adler University holds unique status as an accredited institution that specializes in Adlerian psychology. This branch of psychology focuses on individual empowerment as a vehicle for social change, and the university’s founders enshrined Adlerian principles as a central tenet of the school’s philosophy when it was founded in 1954. An acclaimed academy with an international reputation for excellence, Adler University maintains campuses in Chicago and Vancouver, and also provides online learning opportunities. The school’s online master’s in psychology program trains students to apply Adlerian principles to complex real-world issues in government and the private sector, arming graduates with advanced techniques for socially responsible problem-solving.

#17: California Southern University – Irvine, California

California Southern University Best Value Best Masters Degree Psychology
The School of Behavioral Sciences – The Department of Psychology

Points: 8
Program Website

Regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), California Southern University offers fully online degree programs in a focused set of academic disciplines including business, criminal justice, nursing, law, and psychology. A leading provider of high-quality educational programs for nontraditional students since 1978, CSU makes meeting the needs of busy adult learners one of its top mandates. The school’s psychology master’s programs include two academic tracks: a master of arts degree designed for students interested in marriage and family therapy, and a master of science degree for learners who aspire to go on to doctorate studies.

#16: Southern New Hampshire University – Manchester, New Hampshire

Southern New Hampshire University Best Value Best Masters Degree PsychologyThe Department of Psychology

Points: 9
Program Website

Founded in 1932, Southern New Hampshire University has a long history as one of the northeast region’s most flexible higher learning institutions. During its early history, the school created a groundbreaking culture of inclusion for the needs of working professionals by creating business programs that students could join anytime during the year, with options to study during the day or in the evening. SNHU then went on to launch its first fully online program in 1995, making it one of the nation’s earliest adopters of emerging distance learning technologies. Today, its lineup of fully online psychology master’s programs include available concentrations in child and adolescent developmental psychology, forensic psychology, and industrial-organizational psychology.

#15: Argosy University – Phoenix, Arizona

Argosy University Best Value Best Masters Degree PsychologyCollege of Counseling, Psychology and Social Sciences

Points: 9
Program Website

Accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), Phoenix, Arizona’s Argosy University traces its history to the 2001 merger between the Medical Institute of Minnesota, the University of Sarasota, and the American Schools of Professional Psychology. This history points to a strong legacy of commitment to academic excellence in the field of psychology, which extends to the numerous online master’s in psychology programs the school currently offers. Graduate students can earn master’s degrees in numerous highly specialized psychology fields, including clinical mental health counseling, forensic psychology, and sports and exercise psychology. Argosy University also features a master of arts in industrial organizational psychology program for students who want to train for human resources-oriented careers.

#14: Purdue Global University – Davenport, Iowa

Purdue Global University Best Value Best Masters Degree Psychology
The School of Social Science and Behavior – The Department of Psychology

Points: 9
Program Website

Formerly known as Kaplan University, Purdue Global University maintains a specific orientation toward meeting the needs of adult learners with busy schedules. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), PGU forms part of the acclaimed Purdue University system and features personalized, customizable learning opportunities in dozens of traditional and emerging academic fields. The school’s online master’s in psychology program emphasizes the practical applications of contemporary, cutting-edge psychological theory, sharpening students’ critical thinking skills and preparing them to join the professional ranks in rewarding careers. Students can choose from four available degree specializations, including addiction, applied behavioral analysis, general psychology, and industrial/organizational psychology.

#13: Capella University – Minneapolis, Minnesota

Capella University Best Value Best Masters Degree Psychology
The Harold Abel School of Social and Behavioral Sciences – The Department of Psychology

Points: 10
Program Website

Minneapolis’s Capella University holds a highly respected reputation as an online learning innovator. The school features cutting-edge distance learning formats that deliver peerless levels of flexibility along with groundbreaking tuition models that tie a student’s costs to their learning pace. Capella University also maintains a generous and inclusive transfer credit policy, allowing learners to leverage a wide range of previous academic and real-world experience into advanced standing. Online students can complete a master of science in psychology in one of eight concentrations, or earn a highly respected master’s in clinical psychology with a specialization in applied research, clinical counseling, forensic psychology, or sexual therapy.

#12: Walden University – Minneapolis, Minnesota

Walden University Best Value Best Masters Degree PsychologyThe Department of Psychology

Points: 10
Program Website

Walden University offers more than 85 fully online degree programs through its innovative distance learning interface, which enjoys very high rates of student satisfaction. This virtual college’s student body includes approximately 51,000 learners from 150 countries around the world, with 91% of international students reporting high levels of satisfaction and 85% of current students indicating they would recommend the school to others. Students can opt for one of seven online psychology master’s programs, including a generalist master of science degree and specializations in specific fields including clinical mental health counseling, developmental psychology, forensic psychology, industrial and organizational psychology, marriage and family counseling, and school counseling.

#11: Northcentral University – Prescott Valley, Arizona

Northcentral University Best Value Best Masters Degree PsychologyThe Department of Psychology

Points: 10
Program Website

Founded in 1996, Northcentral University helped pioneer online learning as a viable alternative to traditional in-class study. This 100% distance education institution holds accreditation from the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), and various other regional bodies that endorse specific colleges and schools within the university’s system. Students enjoy access to a wide range of affordable and fully online psychology master’s programs, with options including a master of arts in psychology and various master of science designations including child and adolescent psychology, educational psychology, forensic psychology, health psychology, and industrial/organizational psychology.

#10: Edinboro University of Pennsylvania – Edinboro, Pennsylvania

Edinboro University Best Value Best Masters Degree PsychologyThe School of Education

Points: 14
Program Website

Founded as a private teacher’s college in 1857, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania now ranks as the largest higher education institution in the state’s northwestern region. Despite its expansion into a complete assemblage of academic disciplines, EUP maintains its founding commitment to teacher education through its online psychology master’s programs. The fully online master of education in educational psychology option offers students a flexible path to earning a widely respected teaching degree, and can be completed in just two years of part-time study. The school also features a hybrid school psychology master’s program that combines educational theory with psychology training, with face-to-face classes meeting on the Edinboro campus just once per month and the rest of the coursework taking place online.

#9: Grand Canyon University – Phoenix, Arizona

Grand Canyon University Best Value Best Masters Degree Psychology
The College of Humanities and Social Sciences – The Department of Psychology

Points: 12
Program Website

Chartered in 1949, Arizona’s Grand Canyon University combines a Baptist Christian worldview with high standards of research and academic excellence. Accredited by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education, GCU elected to transition back to a not-for-profit orientation in 2018, and the school now enjoys the benefits of a major investment and expansion cycle that began in 2009. Choice abounds for online students, as GCU offers a long list of psychology master’s programs leading to master of science degree designations. Available concentrations include forensic psychology, general psychology, geropsychology, health psychology, human factors psychology, industrial and organizational psychology, and life coaching.

#8: University of Southern California – Los Angeles, California

University of Southern California Best Value Best Masters Degree Psychology
The Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences – The Department of Psychology

Points: 13
Program Website

Based in Los Angeles, the University of Southern California ranks as one of the world’s leading private research institutions. Home of the famous Trojan family, USC plays a major role in the L.A. economy as the city’s largest private-sector employer. With more graduate students than undergrads, USC attracts widespread praise for the quality of its master’s programs, and the school offers a rigorous master of science in applied psychology degree that enjoys an excellent reputation among professionals and employers. Through concentrations in organizational psychology and consumer psychology, this psychology master’s program leads to an enticing set of career options in advertising, human relations, business, marketing, communications, and career counseling.

#7: Austin Peay State University – Clarksville, Tennessee

Austin Peay State University Best Value Best Masters Degree Psychology
The Department of Psychological Science and Counseling

Points: 14
Program Website

Named after inspirational Tennessee governor Austin Peay (1876–1927), Austin Peay State University upholds its namesake’s legacy by fostering a strong sense of student civic and intellectual engagement. This military-friendly school offers a comprehensive and generous body of student support services, which extend to members of the institution’s online learning community. Distance learners can complete an online master’s in psychology that leads to a master of science in industrial-organizational psychology (M.S.I.O.) degree designation. Graduates emerge with strong professional aptitudes in candidate evaluation and selection, skills development leadership, motivation, leadership, and collaboration, putting them in an excellent position to succeed in a wide range of human resource-oriented careers in government and the private sector.

#6: Colorado State University – Fort Collins, Colorado

Colorado State University Best Value Best Masters Degree Psychology
The Division of Continuing Education – The Department of Psychology

Points: 14
Program Website

Based in the beautiful city of Fort Collins, Colorado State University attracts students from around the world with its breathtaking campus and wealth of local outdoor activities. Fort Collins ranks as one of the nation’s top college cities to live in after graduation, and students enjoy excellent rates of post-matriculation success, with 84% going on to find gainful employment or resume their studies within six months. CSU’s lineup of online psychology master’s programs includes a highly rated master of applied industrial/organizational psychology. This terminal degree program takes a research-based, practical approach to training aspiring human resource and employee management professionals for sustained career success.

#5: University of Maryland – College Park, Maryland

University of Maryland Best Value Best Masters Degree PsychologyThe Department of Psychology

Points: 16
Program Website

One of America’s leading public research colleges, the University of Maryland holds undisputed status as the state’s flagship institution of higher learning. Physically situated in the economically vital Washington-Baltimore corridor, UM displays a campus-wide commitment to social entrepreneurship and counts 50,000 students, staff, and faculty among its community. Its online psychology master’s programs include a master of professional studies in industrial/organizational psychology, which delivers a rigorous curriculum in a blended learning format. Students access recorded interview and lecture materials through UM’s enhanced online platforms, and participate in synchronous distance classes via webcam technologies. The program’s limited in-class requirements transpire at UM’s main campus in College Park, Maryland.

#4: University of Wisconsin – Madison, Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin Best Value Best Masters Degree PsychologyThe Department of Counseling Psychology

Points: 16
Program Website

One of America’s so-called “Public Ivy” colleges, the University of Wisconsin enjoys an excellent reputation for the quality of its academic programs. The University of Wisconsin system remains one of the globe’s most extensive public education organizations, maintaining 26 physical campuses across the state along with its acclaimed eCampus online education network. Online students can pursue a master’s in psychology through UW’s Department of Educational Psychology, which offers a hybrid master of science program. Students can specialize in four available concentrations: school psychology, quantitative methodologies, learning science, and human development. Learners complete the majority of their coursework online and attend on-campus sessions during the summer.

#3: Kansas State University – Manhattan, Kansas

Kansas State University Best Value Best Masters Degree PsychologyThe Department of Psychological Sciences

Points: 16
Program Website

Through its Global Campus, Kansas State University has a 50-year history of delivering high-quality distance education to adult learners. KSU earns high praise for value, with low tuition rates and a policy of charging online learners in-state fees regardless of their physical locations. Graduate students at KSU enjoy the opportunity to earn a rare, terminal professional master’s in psychology degree designation. KSU offers a hybrid master’s degree in psychology with an emphasis in industrial and organizational psychology (M.I.O.P.), which combines primarily online coursework with annual two-week on-campus sessions during the summer. This program appeals primarily to students eyeing careers in human resources.

#2: University of North Dakota – Grand Forks, North Dakota

University of North Dakota Best Value Best Masters Degree PsychologyThe Department of Psychology

Points: 18
Program Website

Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and based in Grand Forks, the University of North Dakota ranks among the most innovative and affordable public colleges in the United States. The school features a strongly community-oriented student body, and UND graduates also enjoy excellent post-study success rates, with 93% gaining employment or going on to further studies after completing their degrees. The school’s online master of arts program in forensic psychology enjoys a top nationwide ranking, and focuses on preparing students for rewarding careers in the civil and criminal justice systems. Students typically complete this 30 credit-hour psychology master’s program in about two years.

#1: Ball State University – Muncie, Indiana

Ball State University Best Value Best Masters Degree Psychology
The Department of Online and Distance Education – The Department of Psychology

Points: 24
Program Website

Established in Muncie, Indiana in 1918, Ball State University embraces the interrelated nature of teaching, research, and practice. BSU’s Psychology Department displays a strong commitment to social justice while training students to become highly competent professionals guided by evidence-based principles. The school’s acclaimed online master of science in quantitative psychology program focuses on the statistical analysis and mathematical modeling of macro-level trends in human behavior. This master’s in psychology program leads to advanced proficiencies in both research-oriented and commercial applications of data analysis, preparing students for a wide range of future career paths in both the private and public sectors.

Ranking Methodology

This ranking list has been created to outline the 25 top master’s degree programs in psychology in the United States. In order to be considered, each school must be fully accredited by a recognized accrediting agency. Factors considered:

Overall Cost of Attendance

One of the major factors considered is the average annual graduate tuition. Data was collected from the College Navigator Tool.

Points:

Under $12,000 / $12,001 – $15,00/ $15,001 – $18,000 / $18,001 – $21,000:
5 Points / 3 Points / 2 Points / 1 Point

Number of Degree Options or Areas of Specialization

While it may not be imperative in some fields to offer an array of areas of specialization, psychology is not one of those fields. With a vast number of possible specializations and concentrations it is important to graduate psychology students to have the ability to pursue a degree specialized to fit their career goals.

Points:

Number of Available Degree Options or Areas of Specialization
2 Degree or Specialization Options / 3 or More Degree or Specialization Options
2 Points / 3 Points

College Ranking

The next consideration was whether or not a school has been granted acknowledgement by a national ranking body. The major source of such national notoriety comes from the US News and World Report and Forbes.

Points:

US News and World Report Best National University Ranking / Forbes Best College Ranking: 3 Points
US News and World Report Best Program Ranking, Best Value School Ranking, Top Pubic School Ranking or Most Innovative School Ranking: 2 Points

Accreditation

In order to be included in this ranking list an appropriate ranking body must regionally accredit each college or university. Those schools that have received additional accreditation are rewarded an additional point.

Points:

Each Accreditation: 1 Point

Grading Process

Once the points have been tallied the schools are arranged into groups by the amount of points they have earned. In the cases of ties, preference was given to those schools with the lowest tuition rates.

Related Ranking: Top 30 Online Master’s Degree Programs in Psychology