Master’s in Counseling Psychology

master's in counseling psychology

Are you looking for a career where you can help others, experience excellent job growth, and make a good living? Ever consider a career in counseling psychology? This career does all that and more. Earning a Master’s in Counseling Psychology is the first step toward this rewarding and challenging career. Learn more about counseling psychology, including different degree types, which degrees are online, and what a Master’s in Counseling Psychology can do for you.

What is Counseling Psychology?

In addition to being a field of study, counseling psychology is a health specialty in professional psychology that uses a few different practices to help patients and clients resolve crises, prevent and reduce stress, improve their well-being, and learn to function better in their lives.

It focuses not only on developing a normal life span but also focuses on prevention, education, and addressing people as well as the systems in which they function. Counseling psychologists work with individuals, families, and groups by listening to them and helping them work through issues and difficult times.

They assess, interview, observe, and diagnose patients suffering from emotional and mental health disorders. In addition, counseling psychologists provide counseling services. Their main goal is to help their patients achieve effective educational, social, vocational, and personal development.

It’s important to understand that although a psychologist and a counseling psychologist may seem like the same individual, they are actually slightly different. Counselors provide general research-based therapy to patients, while psychologists devote more time to evaluating the patient and providing interventions to clients exhibiting specific disorders or issues. Psychologists also consult with other healthcare professionals.

Another area where there is confusion is the difference between a master’s degree in counseling and a master’s degree in counseling psychology. The master’s in counseling focuses mostly on the client or patient’s well-being and overall health. This degree usually offers several areas of concentration, including school counseling, children and families, addiction counseling, and marriage counseling.

It’s a professional degree that does not require much research. Additionally, individuals with this degree don’t generally deal with patients suffering from serious mental illnesses. The master’s degree in counseling psychology is more research-based. However, students do also learn about patient care. This degree typically offers concentrations in health psychology, forensic psychology, child development, anxiety disorders, sports psychology, and more. Students earning this degree are usually required to complete a thesis.

Patients working with counseling psychologists may receive any of the following as treatment.

  • Counseling and psychotherapy
  • Clinical supervision
  • Training
  • Trauma and disaster management
  • Consultations with organizations
  • Crisis intervention
  • Research methodologies
  • Programs and workshops

What Can You Do With a Degree in Counseling Psychology?

Although earning a master’s in counseling psychology can open the door for many positions in both counseling and psychology, most counseling psychologists need a doctoral degree according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In fact, most states require licensure and certification if the individual wishes to use the title of “psychologist”.

To become a counseling psychologist, the student must not only have a degree but also complete an internship and one to two years of supervised practical experience. Licensing and degree requirements vary by state. Candidates who have questions about their state’s requirements can obtain this information from the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards.

Despite many counseling psychology jobs requiring doctoral degrees, there are still many careers available with a master’s degree. Some of the occupations you may find with a master’s degree in counseling psychology include:

There are many benefits to earning a master’s degree in counseling psychology.

  • Good job opportunities – Graduates of this degree program may have many job opportunities in various areas of counseling and psychology. The BLS predicts that there will be more job opportunities for these graduates than the number of graduates in the next few years.
  • Rewarding work – Most counseling psychologists state that their main reason for pursuing this career is the opportunity to help others in need, which can be extremely rewarding.
  • Many career paths – One of the things graduates of this degree experience is the opportunity to choose from various career paths. There are so many different types of counseling, and those with a master’s degree in counseling psychology are qualified for most of them.
  • Excellent wages – Individuals with a master’s degree in counseling psychology can earn some unbelievable wages. Many feel that few things can be better than earning a good wage doing a job you enjoy.

10 Master’s in Counseling Psychology Degrees

Pursuing a career in counseling psychology can involve earning more than one type of degree. Unlike some careers that require the completion of a specific degree level or major, counseling psychology can offer different educational options. Below are some schools that offer master’s degree programs in counseling psychology.

1. Northeastern University

Master of Science in Counseling Psychology

Northeastern University offers a Master of Science in Counseling Psychology program that’s available to both full- and part-time students. Applicants must have an undergraduate degree in psychology or a relevant major. This program can be completed in two to three years. Graduates are prepared to take certification exams and enter a doctoral degree program.

2. University of Wisconsin Madison

Master of Science in Counseling

The University of Wisconsin in Madison has a Master of Science in Counseling program through its Counseling Psychology School of Education. It combines lab, fieldwork, and practicum experiences with coursework. This program, which does not require a GRE, can be completed in two years. Students who complete this program are qualified to work in Wisconsin as licensed professional counselors.

3. Holy Names University

Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology

Holy Names University offers a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology program that can be completed in about two years or once the required 63 units are completed. Upon graduation, the individual can work under the supervision of a licensed doctoral-degree psychologist or advance to a doctorate degree program.


4. University of St. Thomas

Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology

The University of St. Thomas offers a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology program through its Morrison Family College of Health. This full- or part-time program offers a couple of paths: entry into a career as a licensed professional counselor or entry into a doctoral degree program. It offers concentrations in co-occurring disorders or family psychology.

5. Tennessee State University

Master of Science in Counseling Psychology

Tennessee State University offers a Master of Science in Counseling Psychology program that specializes in mental health. This program is for students who want to work in mental health settings or those who want to advance to a doctoral degree in counseling psychology. This two-year program does not require any standardized testing for acceptance.

6. Dominican University of California

Master of Science in Counseling Psychology

The Dominican University of California has a Master of Science in Counseling Psychology that offers specializations in Professional Clinical Psychology as well as Marriage and Family Therapy. About 90 percent of graduates from this program are employed as licensed marriage and family therapists or registered marriage and family therapy associates. This on-campus program can be completed in less than 36 months.

7. Purdue University Global Campus

Master of Science in Psychology

Purdue University Global Campus offers an online Master of Science in Psychology that offers four areas of concentration: forensic psychology, addictions, industrial/organizational psychology, and general psychology. Purdue also offers graduate and post-baccalaureate psychology certificate programs.

8. Bradley University

Master’s Degree in Counseling, Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology

Bradley University offers a master’s degree in counseling and a master’s degree in clinical psychology. One program prepares students to gain employment working as counselors, and the other program prepares them to work as psychologists with patients suffering from long-term mental issues. These are online programs that allow the students to choose from a couple of different concentrations.

9. Western Michigan University

Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology

Western Michigan University features a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology program that offers a blended curriculum of coursework, practicum experiences, and theories designed to teach students about counseling and psychotherapy, psychological assessment, and psychopathology. WMU also offers students study abroad opportunities. About 95 percent of the graduates of this program are employed within three months of graduation.

10. University of Kentucky

Master of Science in Counseling Psychology

The University of Kentucky offers a Master of Science in Counseling Psychology that has students completing lab work, practical experiences, and research. This program is mostly designed for students wishing to enter into a doctoral degree in counseling psychology program, which is a very competitive program. Although there is no required GRE, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field.

Salary and Job Outlook for Counseling Psychologists

Licensed clinical and counseling psychologists have historically earned very good wages according to the BLS. As of May 2021, their annual wages ranged from about $47,000 to $167,400 or more with the average wage at $99,640. Various factors can affect the wage earned, including certifications, experience, employer, and location.

Below are the five states where the highest average wages were earned.

StateAnnual Salary
New Jersey$143,150
New York$120,350

To give you an idea of how much wages can vary by location, I’ve also put down the five states where the lowest wages are earned.

StateAnnual Salary
West Virginia$63,410

In addition to earning high wages, clinical and counseling psychologists are expected to see good job growth from 2021-2031 as reported by the BLS. Psychologists overall should experience a six percent employment growth, but clinical and counseling psychologists could see a growth of ten percent. The increasing need for counselors and therapists has put these professionals very much in demand.

Approximately 6,500 new jobs should be created for these professionals by 2031. Of all the different types of psychologists, clinical and counseling psychologists should experience the highest job growth. It’s not hard to understand why counseling psychology has become such a popular career choice.

Get Your Counseling Psychology Degree Today

Whether your path is to the PsyD, you want to work as a school counselor, or a Licensed Professional Counselor, the degree is Counseling Psychology is for you. Get started today!