10 Most Affordable Master’s in Child and Adolescent Psychology Online

10 Most Affordable Master’s in Child and Adolescent Psychology Online
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The child and adolescent psychology field is growing, especially after the effects of COVID-19 lockdowns on children’s and young adults’ mental health. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts that career opportunities for school, counseling and clinical psychologists should increase 3% between 2019 and 2029.

Job opportunities are expected to continue growing. An online master’s in child and adolescent psychology could cost around $19,200. The current median pay is $82,180 per year or $39.51 per hour for a school counselor or psychologist, providing a worthwhile return on your investment over time. Read our guide below to learn more about affordable programs, concentrations, and career outlooks for this rewarding path.

Accredited Online College Programs

Most Affordable Master’s in Child and Adolescent Psychology Online

  1. Missouri State University

    Springfield, MO



    Partnered with the Springfield Child Advocacy Center, Missouri State University is a public, civic-engaged Great Plains research hub endowed for $138 million that's seen enrollment spike from 543 to 23,537 Bears since 1905 at its 40-building, Neoclassical campus and online. MSU was declared America's 325th best student life college on Niche, 185th top public school by Forbes, 131st best university in the Social Mobility Index, and 112th best value on WalletHub. The College of Health and Human Services led by Dr. Helen Reid logs 22,000 service hours annually in 17 graduate programs, including the Forensic Child Psychology Graduate Certificate Online. Offering funds like the $2,000 Stewart Memorial Scholarship, the 12-credit curriculum strives to protect youth with practitioner-taught courses in Child Exploitation, Child Abuse, and Forensic Psychology Research Methods.

  2. University of Southern Mississippi

    Hattiesburg, MS



    Home to the $1.5 million Gulf Coast Center for Child Development, the University of Southern Mississippi is a public, forward-thinking RU/H institution opened in 1910 that's employing 896 faculty to teach 14,554 Eagles from 74 nations in 180 programs at the 300-acre "Hub City" campus and on Blackboard. USM was proclaimed America's 190th best psychology college by the U.S. News & World Report, 298th best academics on Niche, and 204th top Peace Corps producer in Washington Monthly. The AAFCS-accredited College of Education & Human Development always charges in-state tuition for the Online Child and Family Studies MS without walls. Chaired by Dr. Claire Kimberly, the 37-credit, non-thesis curriculum ends in 24 months with a comprehensive exam after courses like Intimate Relationship Development, Parenting Strategy, and Family Advocacy that currently fulfill CCLS certification.

  3. Liberty University

    Lynchburg, VA



    Closely tied to the Dr. James C. Dobson Center for Child Development, Liberty University is a private, nonprofit evangelical institution that's collecting $724 million in revenue, graduating 18,000 "Champions," performing 8,000 service hours, and teaching its #2 most popular major psychology each year. Liberty was judged America's 210th best private college on Niche, 10th most conservative school by the Young America Foundation, and 254th top value in Washington Monthly. The CACREP-accredited School of Behavioral Sciences trains ministry-savvy people helpers with the Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling Dobson Center Parent & Child/Adolescent Online and an AACC Student Chapter. Coordinated by Dr. Steven Warren, the 36-credit, internship-embedded program includes cognate courses in Childhood Trauma, Multigenerational Influence, and Healthy Sexuality.

  4. University of South Florida

    Tampa, FL



    Scheduling its 31st Annual Child and Adolescent Research & Policy Conference, the University of South Florida is the Sunshine State's fourth-largest public, coeducational RU/VH center that's budgeting $1.6 billion to enroll 10,810 postgraduate Bulls in 130 programs from the "Big Guava" to Canvas online. USF was designated America's 437th best university by Times Higher Education, 177th most impactful college on the CWUR, and 117th most diverse school by Niche. Founded in 2008, the APA-aligned College of Behavioral & Community Sciences admits students with minimum 153 verbal GRE scores into the Online Master of Science in Child & Adolescent Behavioral Health. The 39-credit, non-clinical curriculum organized by Dr. Amy Green customizes course specializations for Developmental Disabilities, Research & Evaluation, Youth & Behavioral Health, or Leadership before the written exam.

  5. Grand Canyon University

    Phoenix, AZ



    Linked to 91,367 LinkedIn alumni, including Horatio Llamas and Tim Salmon, Grand Canyon University is a private, for-profit liberal arts school restructured in January 2004 by Significant Education LLC that's upholding Christian values when awarding 200+ degrees in Sperling's 10th most playful city and on Blackboard. GCU was crowned America's 211th hardest college on Niche, 215th top value by WalletHub, and 312nd most service-oriented master's institution in Washington Monthly. The College of Humanities & Social Sciences enrolls graduates with overall GPAs above 2.75 six times annually for the Master of Science in Professional Counseling with an Emphasis in Childhood and Adolescence Disorders. Chaired by Dr. Darryn Beckstrom, the 74-credit, 60-month program teaches DSM-5 criteria for mental illnesses in courses like Psychopathology and Appraisal to Counsel with 600 internship hours.

  6. Capella University

    Minneapolis, MN



    Chosen for the 2010 CHEA Outstanding Institutional Practices Award, Capella University is a respected for-profit, outcomes-based Twin Cities college that's celebrating its 25th year of awarding over 73,600 degrees across 54 majors on Blackboard Collaborate with 69 percent retention. Capella was applauded for America's 87th highest location diversity on College Factual, 26th top online psychology courses by Best Value Schools, and 273rd best master's education in Washington Monthly. Championed by Dr. Kelley Chappell, a Distinguished Faculty Award winner, the Harold Abel School of Counseling & Psychology offers a traditional or self-paced FlexPath toward the Online Master of Science in Psychology Child and Adolescent Development Concentration. Ten weeks of fieldwork are blended into the 27.5-55 credit curriculum's virtual courses like Prenatal Development, Child Psychology, and Multicultural Issues before the integrative experience.

  7. Northcentral University

    Prescott Valley, AZ



    Certified to collect Federal Title IV financial aid in 2009, Northcentral University is a for-profit, doctoral-granting virtual school owned by the Rockbridge Growth Equity LLC co-founded by Quicken Loans' Dan Gilbert that forgoes physical San Diego residencies to adapt to 10,093 adults' needs. Northcentral was picked America's 31st most focused psychology school on College Factual, 59th top college by OnlineDegreeReviews.org, and 196th best university in Washington Monthly. Directed by Dr. Mark White, the COAMFTE-accredited School of Social & Behavioral Sciences draws on 250+ years of combined experience for a Master of Science in Child and Adolescent Psychology Online. The 30-credit, non-thesis curriculum mandates 100 internship hours of developmental practice between 10 courses like Autism Spectrum Disorders, Applied Statistics, and Early Childhood Intervention.

  8. Southern New Hampshire University

    Manchester, NH



    Named a 2017 OLC Digital Learning Innovator, Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit teaching-oriented institution of the Northeast 10 that's generating $200 million by training 73,177 Penmen from 36 states beyond its brick-and-mortar Merrimack Valley campus on Blackboard. SNHU is lauded America's 109th best big school on Niche, 83rd best value by the U.S. News & World Report, and 22nd top university for adults in Washington Monthly. Submitting a $40 application without GRE/MAT scores to the School of Social Sciences could unlock the Online MS in Psychology Child & Adolescent Developmental Psychology option anytime. Headed by Dr. Peter Frost, the 2008 Outstanding Instructor Award recipient, the 36-credit, capstone-included program involves taking two courses like Cognitive Processes, Personality Theory, and Intervention Strategies each 10-week term.

  9. Erikson Institute

    Chicago, IL



    Established in 1966 by four youth advocates, including Barbara Taylor Bowman, the Erikson Institute is an independent, post-grad child development college that's HLC accredited and endowed for $29.6 million to educate 260 master's students while running the Center for Children and Families on LaSalle Street. Erikson is ranked America's 174th best social work school by the U.S. News & World Report and 13th best early childhood program on College Choice with the 457th highest R&D expenditures by the NSF. Cohorts enter the Master of Science in Child Development Online each January or August for concentrations in Child Life, Special Needs, Children's Law, Administration, Infancy, or New Language Learners. Led by Dr. Jie-Qi Chen, the 38-49 credit curriculum blends online and Chicago instruction with 15 internship hours weekly for students with minimum 2.75 GPAs.

  10. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

    Chicago, IL



    Home to the Naomi Ruth Cohen Institute for Mental Health Education, the Chicago School of Professional Psychology is a nonprofit, single-subject WSCUC-accredited graduate college formed in 1979 where 4,300 students at an average age of 32 analyze human behaviors online or at five locations, including near the Staples Center. The NCSPP 2005 Advocacy Award winner is esteemed for America's seventh best online psychology pick on Super Scholar and 26th best psychology buy on GetEducated with a 65 percent licensing rate. Administered by Dr. Kim DellAngela, the Online Behavioral Sciences Division has an Online M.A. in Psychology Child and Adolescent Concentration accepting $50 applications until December 8th or April 15th. Short, two-hour virtual residencies occur each term for 24/7 courses like Crisis Intervention, Addictive Disorders, and Family Systems taught by practitioner faculty with an applied research project.

  • Our Methodology, Explained

    Grad School Hub compiles rankings based on public data released from educational, commercial, and government databases. Sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics play a significant role in how we source our educational data. After collecting insight for each institution, we organize information into five weighted categories.

    Metric Data Used Percentage
    Academic Quality Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates 40%
    Affordability Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid 40%
    Reputation Admission and enrollment rates 15%
    Program Offerings Number of program options 15%
    Online Enrollment Score Portion of learners taking at least one online course 10%

    A more comprehensive evaluation of how each category is determined and scored is accessible on our Ranking Methodology page.

How Much Can Child and Adolescent Psychology Master’s Online Graduates Earn?

Cheap child and adolescent psychology master’s online are smart. Average wages range from $22,930 for childcare staff to $184,240 for pediatricians. Psychologists receive a median pay of $75,230 on the Department of Labor website. Youth counselors earn mean profits of $46,050. School counseling teams are compensated $57,620 on average. Juvenile justice officers expect a median annual wage of $50,160. Master’s-trained recreational therapists snag mean incomes of $46,410. Child and family social work provides an average payment of $47,510 yearly. On Salary.com, child life specialists earn a median wage of $50,760. Other averages include $76,512 for childcare directors, $49,558 for case managers, and $51,490 for child welfare workers.

Answering your questions about online child and adolescent masters programs

  • What can I do with a master’s degree in child psychology?

    To become a child psychologist, you’ll need to earn a doctorate of PsyD or Ph.D. Most doctoral programs will require you to obtain a graduate-level degree in the field of psychology of your choice. However, you could work using your master’s degree as a child or family therapist or as an entry-level school psychologist or counselor.

  • How many years does it take to become a child psychologist?

    The amount of time it takes to become a child psychologist will depend on how much time you can commit towards study. If you’re able to dedicate yourself to a child psychology graduate program full-time, you should be able to complete your master’s degree in 18 months to two years.

  • Do I need a doctorate degree to become a child and adolescent psychologist?

    You will need a Ph.D. or PsyD to become a child and adolescent psychologist. However, you could work with a master’s degree in related entry-level positions, such as a teacher or counselor while you continue to study for your doctorate. You could enroll for a joint degree program and earn your masters while you work on a PsyD or Ph.D. Doing so could save you up to one year of work.

  • What does the coursework look like for this program?

    Nearly all child psychology graduate programs require courses in statistics, ethics, developmental psychology and research methods. You may specialize further in child-related conditions, such as autism spectrum or learning disabilities. Even if you plan on studying online, you’ll need to complete an independent study capstone project and related fieldwork.

Online Child and Adolescent Masters Program Overview

An online master’s in child and adolescent psychology is possible, although it’s closer to a hybrid due to the possible requirement of fieldwork. It all depends on whether you’re seeking a terminal or non-terminal degree. Terminal degrees require you to complete an internship or fieldwork to earn experience and satisfy the supervised hours required by your state. If you elect to earn a non-terminal degree, you’ll be assigned a capstone project instead of fieldwork.

Full-time students could complete the workload in 18 months to two years. If you choose to work while obtaining your master’s earning your degree will likely take longer. The benefit of choosing an online curriculum is the flexibility to set your own pace and work in your free time.

Admissions and Requirements 

Before you’re able to start your master’s degree in child psychology, you’ll need to fulfill certain requirements to get admitted into the program. Most online schools require a 3.0 GPA or higher before they consider you. Recommendation letters from your previous professors or a current employer could help if your GPA is below the minimum grade requirement. 

To start the child psychology graduate program, nearly any type of bachelor’s degree is acceptable. However, the school of your choice may ask you to complete prerequisite coursework in statistics, psychological theory and research methods. You’ll likely need to take the GRE unless you’re enrolled in certain terminal master’s degrees or you can prove you have a high GPA or  substantial professional experience.

Career and Salary Outlook for for Child and Adolescent Master’s Graduates

Although the American Psychological Association warns that online master’s in child and adolescent psychology jobs will be limited by Ph.D. or PsyD preference, the degree proves useful in many other human services fields. 

Child mental health expertise could help nurture careers in pediatric nutrition, educational diagnostics, school counseling, art therapy, recreation services, coaching, and other disciplines, especially if industry certified. For example, the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association credentials Child and Family Resiliency Practitioners (CFRPs) with master’s degrees and 6+ months of relevant experience. The Council for Professional Recognition has also granted 420,000 Child Development Associate (CDA) designations for early intervention work from birth to five-years-old. It’s possible to transfer master’s credits toward doctoral developmental and clinical psychology admission, but these five sample jobs are available with a cheap child and adolescent psychology masters.

Career and School Counselor: The BLS indicates that counselors can expect above-average growth in the field of 8% through 2029. Median pay is $58,120 per year.  Some child and adolescent psychology master’s online offerings fulfill LPC qualifications for assessing mental health, conducting crisis intervention, empathizing with strife, customizing treatment plans, performing personal or group therapy, referring social services, strengthening family relationships, and reinforcing positive behaviors.

Child Life Specialist:  Getting an online child and adolescent psychology masters may establish eligibility for taking the $300, 150-question Association of Child Life Professionals certification exam to counsel youth diagnosed with acute or chronic illnesses. Child life specialists generally work in pediatric wards to explain tough diagnoses, give pre-admission hospital tours, lend emotional support, teach relaxation techniques, allay fears before surgeries, implement play therapy, encourage self-expression, and provide grief counseling to young siblings.

Child, Family and School Social Worker: Adding a master’s in child and adolescent psychology online to BSW training can aid social workers who investigate maltreatment claims, evaluate living environments, create intervention plans, refer family therapy, help apply for benefits like Medicaid, take protective custody if needed, and arrange safe foster homes. They currently earn between $32,300 and $80,290 with a median wage of $48,430.

Equine-Assisted Therapist: Since 1969, PATH International has accredited 881 U.S. centers with over 6,100 horses total that teach youth with behavioral, learning, emotional, and physical disabilities important life lessons while fostering inner peace. Equine-assisted therapists might utilize online masters in child and adolescent psychology to identify clients’ needs, set treatment plans, give horse care workshops, schedule counseling sessions, implement riding or ground activities, supervise patient-pony interactions, and document rehab progress.

Juvenile Justice Officer: Juvenile justice officers might finish child and adolescent psychology online master’s degrees to evaluate parolees’ psyche, interview families, develop rehabilitation plans, make frequent home visits, improve school attendance, suggest resources like drug therapy, write case reports, and keep youth from trouble. The field in general is forecast to increase in demand by 4% by 2029. The median pay is $55,690 per year, but salaries are as high as $98,510.

What is the Job Outlook With a Master’s in Child and Adolescent Psychology Online?

Entering child and adolescent psychology master’s online study is wise since The Key Reporter proclaimed that graduate degrees are the new undergrad in job qualifications. That’s especially true in the human services where a master’s is crucial to rising above entry-level titles like psychiatric aide, social work assistant, and caseworker. The BLS predicted a 4 percent increase in psychology jobs by 2029. The hiring of youth counselors will increase faster than average at 8 percent, adding 26,800 new positions. Child and family social work is expanding by 13 percent to reach 803,900 total employment this decade. Other sunny 10-year outlooks include 22 percent for family therapists, 17 percent for social services managers, 8 percent for recreational therapists, and 3 percent for special needs educators.

Concentrations in a Master’s in Child and Adolescent Psychology

You may want to choose a concentration to further specialize your master’s degree. Pursuing a master’s requires you to choose an MA – Master’s of Art or an MS – Master’s of Science. MAs typically pursue a career in counseling, social work, non-profit or governmental work and mental care. Some concentrations include trauma and crisis intervention, assessment and treatment of juvenile offenders and identifying and child development.

Master’s of Science studies may lead to work as behavioral analysts, case managers, mental health educators, coaches, or human services managers. You could choose concentrations in autism spectrum or ADHD disorders and may choose to undertake at least 100 hours of fieldwork.

Program Organizations for Child and Adolescent Master’s Graduates

If you’re pursuing a child psychology master’s, joining a professional association could be a beneficial networking opportunity and a way to keep up to date on industry-specific developments. The following associations are available for Child Psychology Master’s and often come with reduced membership fees for grad students:

Scholarships for Students in Child and Adolescent Psychology Programs

Most Affordable Master’s in Child and Adolescent Psychology Online

Rank School Location
1 Missouri State University Springfield, MO
2 University of Southern Mississippi Hattiesburg, MS
3 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
4 University of South Florida Tampa, FL
5 Grand Canyon University Phoenix, AZ
6 Capella University Minneapolis, MN
7 Northcentral University Prescott Valley, AZ
8 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH
9 Erikson Institute Chicago, IL
10 The Chicago School of Professional Psychology Chicago, IL

Cynthia Paez Bowman picture

Cynthia Paez Bowman


Cynthia Paez Bowman is a writer and teacher in Ohio who covers higher education, online graduate programs, college planning, and more for Grad School Hub. Her writing has also appeared in MSN, The Simple Dollar, and Bankrate.

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