Are you interested in finding the best clinical psychology graduate program for the next step in your career? If so, there are two degrees you should consider–a master’s degree and a doctorate/Ph.D. degree.
In a master’s degree in clinical psychology program, you’ll learn about topics, such as:
- How to apply psychological theory and research into real-world situations
- How to diagnose and treat mental illnesses and psychological disorders
- About different kinds of emotional and behavioral disorders
- Personality testing
- Lifespan development
- Case management
- Child and family psychology
A master’s degree in clinical psychology will also prepare you for a doctorate degree, which is required to become a licensed clinical psychologist. Those who pursue clinical psychology at the doctoral level can find work within a research or academic field, hospitals and healthcare facilities, schools, and even start their own private practice.
Why Accreditation is Important for Clinical Psychology Graduate Programs
Before you commit to a graduate degree, do your homework and find the program that will suit your needs as you attend school and after you graduate. American Psychological Accreditation (APA) accreditation is an absolute must for any program.
The U.S. Department of Education, as well as the Council for Higher Education, both help govern the APA for doctoral degrees. Largely, it’s a way to certify program standards and outcomes. It’s also protected by federal law to ensure you receive a high-quality education.
The APA accreditation also ensures that programs give you a proper internship experience (typically one year of professional work at an APA-approved site), as well as post-doctoral residency work. Both are absolutely critical in helping develop skills and competencies necessary to become a practicing psychologist.
Do you have a program in mind that wonder is APA accredited? Use this tool provided by the APA to search for an accredited program.
What is the Job Outlook for Clinical Psychologists?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth among clinical psychologists is projected to grow 11 percent between 2012 and 2022, with an estimated 16,400 new job opportunities. The median salary for clinical psychologists is about $73,270.
How Do I Get into Graduate School?
Typically, most programs are highly competitive. You’ll want to have:
- A high undergraduate GPA
- A high GRE test score
- Letters of recommendation
- A few years of research experience under your belt
Which Jobs Can I Get With a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology?
With a master’s in clinical psychology, you can have a career in industries such as education, social work, health care, and mental health care, including the following positions:
- Adjunct professor
- Child mental health specialist
- University clinical psychologist
- Behavior health specialist
- Case manager
- Child protective services specialist
Which Jobs Can I Get With a Doctorate Degree in Clinical Psychology?
To become a licensed clinical psychologist, you’ll need a doctorate degree (Ph.D.) in clinical psychology. Depending on the master’s program you attend, you can choose a specialty area of your interest, including:
- School psychology
- Clinical counseling
- Counseling psychology
- Sex therapy
- Forensic psychology
- Applied research
Once you get your doctorate degree, you can become a licensed psychologist. Examples of careers include:
- Counseling health psychologist
- Child psychologist
- Licensed counseling psychologist
- Geriatric psychologist
- Research psychologist
Most top-tier programs accept students who have presented research findings at regional or national psychology conference with their mentors. Your cover letter will also be highly important: you want to give your prospective programs an insight into who you are and what you want to research.
In fact, most psychology programs in the nation utilize the research-practitioner model to educate their students: scholarly work always comes first. Make sure you have a clear understanding of your research interests and explain how they align with your prospective program’s goals. Remember, the ideal mentor-mentee role is very quid pro quo. Be sure to research each program sufficiently. Ask yourself who you’d want to work with for the next four to seven years of your academic career.
Which Program is Best for Me?
Once you’ve crafted a savvy personal statement essay, nailed your GRE scores, have the Cum Laude GPA, and countless hours of independent research, your next best move is to find what you think might be the potential best fit.
To find the “best fit,” ask yourself what research you’re most interested in–which theories or methodology really excites you. Then, find who is doing that work, and see if they’re taking on new students. Personal outreach might be one of your best bets, too. Find a way to contact your potential faculty member to see if there is a possibility of a match between the two of you.
Also, the APA has a great section on what programs are looking for in candidates.
Here are the U.S. News & World Report’s findings for the best graduate clinical psychology programs. But, what is more important than a ranking is the best potential fit.
Ask yourself the following questions to ensure you make the best choice:
- Is the program APA accredited?
- What kind of funding does the program provide?
- Do they waive tuition?
- Does the program offer teaching/research stipends?
- Are they flexible with my needs?
- Is there an online component?
- Do their graduates get good matches for internships and postdoctoral residencies?
Remember, the best program is the one that suits all of your needs and expectations.
By studying clinical psychology, you’ll get to observe, analyze and treat clients for a variety of mental and behavioral issues in a wide range of industries. Make sure the university you’re interested in offers the type of specialization you’re seeking, and that the program is accredited by the APA. If you’re seriously thinking of studying clinical psychology, here’s a list of the top clinical psychology graduate programs in the nation, ranging from online to in-person programs: