Earning a Master’s in Child Psychology Online

What You’ll Learn & What You Can Do After Graduation

Should I Pursue a Master's in Child Psychology Online?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment for psychologists will increase by 14% through 2026, or roughly double the growth rate for all jobs. The rising need for mental health services in educational settings should lead to particularly strong job prospects for school and child psychologists. Increased demand, in turn, leads to higher salaries. In 2017, psychologists earned a median salary of $77,030, more than twice the median pay for all other occupations.

To take advantage of new opportunities in this field, however, you need an advanced degree. Online master's programs in child psychology allow you to watch lectures, complete assignments, and even take exams on your own schedule, from any location with an internet connection. Students who need to balance their studies with a full-time job or other obligations may find an online program more convenient than traditional campus-based offerings. But while online education offers a great deal of flexibility, it also requires self-motivation and time management skills.

Employment Outlook for Master's in Child Psychology Graduates

Master's in Child Psychology Salary

Earning a master's in child psychology online opens up new career opportunities and strengthens your earnings potential. For example, academic and career counselors at elementary and secondary schools earn approximately $25,000 more per year than the median pay for all other occupations, but most of these roles require, at a minimum, a master's degree in a related field.

Generally, salaries in the field increase with career advancement. The BLS projects that the top 10% of school counselors, typically those with a graduate degree and significant professional experience, earn more than $91,960 each year.

Salaries for School and Career Counselors by Industry

Industry Annual Mean Wage
Elementary and Secondary Schools; State, Local, and Private $62,990
Other Educational Services; State, Local, and Private $49,570
Junior Colleges, Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools; State, Local, and Private $49,150
Healthcare and Social Assistance $37,300

Master's in Child Psychology Careers

An online child psychology master's degree prepares you for a variety of professional roles. You may, for example, work as a family therapist, providing support to children coping with challenges like divorce or the death of a loved one. You could also serve as a mental health counselor, treating adolescents for addiction to alcohol or drugs.

Regardless of the path you choose, careers in child psychology require extraordinary compassion, patience, and interpersonal skills.

School and Career Counselor

Annual Median Salary: $55,410

School counselors help students develop the skills they need to succeed academically. Career counselors focus on supporting students as they choose a profession and look for work. Both may also work with teachers and administrators to design educational programs and policies. Most school and career counselors hold a master's degree.

Social Worker

Annual Median Salary: $47,980

Social workers help young people cope with problems. Social workers conduct interviews to assess their clients' needs, refer families to community resources like childcare and housing, or respond to various crisis situations. While clinical and supervisory roles require a master's in social work, you may qualify for entry and mid-level positions with a master's in a field like child psychology.

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor

Annual Median Salary: $43,300

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors work with patients struggling with addiction, eating disorders, and related issues. Mental health counselors treat individuals with conditions such as anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation. While some substance abuse counselors find work with a bachelor's degree, most mental health counseling jobs require a master's degree.

What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Child Psychology Program?

The educational experience of a child psychology degree program varies by program and the student's professional goals. For example, programs that prepare students for work as family therapists may involve intensive field experiences. Programs that aim to prepare students for doctoral study, by contrast, may feature more coursework in research and analysis. The curriculum of the program you choose should reflect your professional interests.

Curriculum for an Online Master’s Degree in Child Psychology

Themes and Theories of Child Psychology

This course introduces students to the core concepts of child and development psychology. Students explore both the history and contemporary applications of these theories.

Gender and Human Development

In this class, students analyze the biological, social, cultural, and psychological theory of sex difference and gender identity. Topics covered include differentiating sex and gender, stereotypes of gender, the influence of socialization agents such as the schools and media, and transgender psychology. The course also tracks important developmental issues related to gender, like body image and sexuality.

Developmental Psychopathology

Whether they hope to diagnose mental disorders as a child psychologist or connect families with mental health resources as a school counselor, professionals in this field need an understanding of the psychopathologies that may arise in infants, children, and adolescents. This class offers an overview of various emotional and behavioral disorders, including classification systems and therapeutic approaches.

Behavior Analysis for Children and Adolescents

Behavior analysis plays a key role in assessing and treating individuals with behavioral issues and developmental delays, including autism spectrum disorder. Students in this course develop skills in observation, reinforcement, and repeated measures design. They learn to develop intervention plans and use data to evaluate treatment effectiveness.

Research Theory, Design, and Methods

Many students who attend child psychology master's programs online plan to continue their education at the doctoral level in order to become licensed psychologists. Through an exploration of quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods research design and data collection methods, this class equips students with the knowledge and skills needed to write their dissertation.

Certifications and Licenses a Master’s in Child Psychology Prepares For

  • Marriage and Family Therapist Licensure: While exact requirements vary, all states require marriage and family therapists to hold licensure. Applicants must first earn at least a master's degree and complete between 2,000 and 4,000 hours of supervised experience, often referred to as a residency or internship. They must also pass an exam and meet continuing education requirements to maintain a license.
  • Clinical/Counseling Psychologist Licensure: Similarly, all clinical and counseling psychologists must receive a state-level license to practice. Applicants typically must hold a doctoral degree in psychology, complete one to two years of supervised clinical experience, and pass an exam. Many online doctoral programs in psychology require prospective students to first earn a master's degree.

Professional Organizations and Resources

Professional organizations allow members to meet colleagues, take continuing education, and access job listings in child psychology or family therapy. Many organizations host annual conferences and regional events, providing members opportunities to expand their professional networks. They may also offer formal certification programs in areas such as the treatment of childhood trauma or working with immigrant populations. Some even administer mentorship programs to connect recent graduates with more experienced professionals.

  • American Psychological Association: The APA represents more than 118,000 researchers, educators, and clinicians across the country. It features three divisions of interest to child psychology professionals: the Society for Child and Family Policy and Practice, the Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, and the Society of Pediatric Psychology.

  • American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy: The AAMFT publishes a scholarly journal, hosts a career center and job board, and organizes interest groups around topics like working with transgender children and serving the needs of military families. It also administers a minority fellowship program to draw more students from underrepresented populations into the field.

  • American School Counselor Association: ASCA members enjoy access to a variety of professional development resources, including webinars, site-based training, individualized coaching, and a formal credential program. The ASCA also offers policy briefs on subjects such as preventing gun violence in schools and recognizing child abuse.

  • American Mental Health Counselors Association: In addition to an annual research conference, the AMHCA helps its members network and share best practices through online communities organized by location and area of interest. The association also provides continuing education opportunities and maintains a national job board.

  • American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: While the AACAP primarily represents the professional needs of child and adolescent psychiatrists, it offers a wealth of helpful resources for child psychologists and therapists as well, including information on intellectual disabilities, communication disorders, and motor disorders.

  • Federal Student Aid: This U.S. Department of Education website offers guidance on applying for low-interest student loans, qualifying for a public service loan forgiveness program, and identifying other sources of aid, such as state grants and private scholarships.

  • Purdue Online Writing Lab: Both child psychology graduate students and professionals must know how to write well to succeed. The Purdue OWL provides tips on citing sources, outlining academic papers, and crafting cover letters.

  • Harvard Usable Knowledge: Hosted by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Usable Knowledge web portal features a variety of research-based resources on child psychology, covering topics such as student motivation and the importance of parental conversation in the development of literacy skills.

  • Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards: The ASPPB provides a listing of all psychology licensing boards. In addition, it maintains a resource that details the path to licensure in each state, including education and exam requirements.

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