10 Best Online Master’s in Child Psychology

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Reviewed by Linda Weems I got started researching colleges and universities about 10 years ago while exploring a second career. While my second career ended up being exactly what I’m doing now, and I didn’t end up going to college, I try to put myself in your shoes every step of the way as I build out College Cliffs as a user-friendly resource for prospective students.

Updated: March 7, 2024, Reading time: 24 minutes

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Child Psychology graduate programs feature a holistic curriculum that can lead to rewarding career opportunities in therapy and counseling to help children and adolescents with mental health challenges, behavioral disorders, and developmental issues.

Best Online Master's in Child Psychology - fact

On average, adolescent psychology programs are graduate-level academic programs that can be completed within two to three years. The program opens several job prospects focusing on helping young people with academic success, crisis intervention, mental health awareness, and child advocacy.

A master’s program is also a crucial requirement to becoming a legally licensed psychologist, which also requires a doctorate credential. Master of Science (MS) and Master of Arts (MA) prepare graduates for doctoral studies. However, several differences are evident between the two academic degrees.

Individuals with an innate passion for helping young people, a problem-solver attitude, excellent written and non-written communication skills, and understanding are excellent candidates to become family therapists, child/school psychologists, or mental health counselors.

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The Lowdown

Pursuing an online master’s degree in child psychology consists of a diverse range of courses that educates online graduate students about psychology and its application to youth and children. Graduate students will participate in lectures and complete classes in child development, helping them understand the different stages of child development from infancy to adolescence. Some graduate programs in child and adolescent psychology prepare graduates to obtain licensure in therapy or counseling.

Although many colleges and universities have master’s degree programs in psychology as part of their academic offerings, finding a 100% online psychology graduate program specializing in child psychology is more challenging. Luckily, a few schools offer this program without the practicum or internship requirements.


Choosing the best online master’s in child psychology program must be aligned with the student’s academic and professional aspirations. Given that there are MA and MS degree offerings in child psychology, aspiring students must evaluate the purpose of pursuing such an academic venture.

Given the nature of the academic program, every online child and adolescent psychology program curated here is carefully selected according to the following set of criteria:

Visit our Methodology page and see our comprehensive ranking and school selection process.

10 Best Online Master’s in Child Psychology

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University

Online Master of Science in Psychology-Child and Adolescent Psychology Concentration

Southern New Hampshire University’s online MS in Psychology program offers a concentration in child and adolescent, ideal for aspiring students wanting to help young people after completing a doctorate or immediately after the master’s program.

As students of SNHU’s child psychology graduate program, individuals develop and strengthen their understanding of crucial components of psychology, including cognitive neuropsychology, developmental psychology, and cognitive psychology.

What Makes This Program Unique:

Instead of introducing new concepts, the capstone requirement of the MS academic program focuses on preparing students to use critical thinking, analysis, experimentation, and observation, as well as becoming proficient in applying scientific methods throughout their profession. The program curriculum encompasses all aspects of mental processes, including decision-making, learning, attention, language, and memory in psychology.

Did You Know?

Southern New Hampshire University is a nationally recognized academic institution for paving the way toward a more achievable, affordable, and innovative education. Since 2015, the university has been among the “Most Innovative” schools in the US News & World Report. The Online Learning Consortium also recognized SNHU as the 2017 Digital Learning inventory.

Capella University

Capella University

Online Master of Science in Psychology-Child and Adolescent Development

Capella University offers a 100% online MS in Psychology specializing in Child & Adolescent Development program, preparing students with the essential skills to facilitate effective treatment and positive outcomes in modern families, adolescents, and children. The program features a competency-based learning model that allows distance learners to apply valuable and new capabilities to their professions.

What Makes This Program Unique:

Since Capella offers the FlexPath learning format, students can enroll in one or two courses at a time, allowing them to take as many courses as they prefer in 12 weeks. They will no longer have to wait as soon as they finish a particular course. Candidates who didn’t qualify for the FlexPath can enroll in the GuidedPath. Once they have completed one course in the GuidedPath and with a minimum of 2.8 GPA, students can transition to the FlexPath.

Did You Know?

Capella University offers several ways for graduate students to save on tuition expenses. Graduate students can apply for the $2.5K Capella Progress Reward to help them finance their master’s program. The university offers tuition discounts and other benefits to veterans, Guard and Reserve members, active-duty service members, and spouses. Additionally, students can save time and money by transferring up to 15 credits into their academic degrees.

National University

National University

Online Master of Science – Child and Adolescent Developmental Psychology

The online MS in Child and Adolescent Developmental Psychology at National University helps prepare graduates for a fulfilling career or advocacy that serves children, adolescents, and their families. Through the program, distance learners will learn more about child and adolescent psychology, providing them with an in-depth understanding of autism spectrum disorders and ADHD.

What Makes This Program Unique:

National University’s child and adolescent psychology graduate program is an excellent choice for busy professionals and adult students wanting the flexibility and convenience of completing higher studies despite their commitments. The 100% online academic program has no residency requirements, no group projects, and no GMAT/GRE requirement for admission.

Did You Know?

National University features a more simplified and streamlined enrollment process, so students can quickly start their programs immediately. The school accepts and evaluates enrollment applications year-round, in which students can start their classes as soon as next month, depending on their location and program of choice. Since National University is a military-friendly institution, the school offers a diverse range of opportunities to make higher education more accessible and affordable to adult learners, especially active-duty service members, veterans, reserves, and their dependents.

Liberty University

Liberty University - Online

Online Master of Arts (MA) in Applied Psychology: Developmental Psychology

Liberty University has an MA in Applied Psychology – Developmental Psychology designed to help graduates work with children and adolescents in counseling settings. Regardless of the level of experience, the academic program is designed to help all students meet their academic and professional aspirations. Plus, the university is a consistent school contender among many online publications that feature the country’s best online graduate programs in psychology.

What Makes This Program Unique:

Liberty University’s online master’s in developmental psychology provides students with the opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of more advanced concepts of cognitive and social psychology. The holistic curriculum explores the different aspects and specific issues of human development across different lifespans.

Distance learners can develop a comprehensive understanding of how individuals handle social interactions, biological changes, life events, and stress. Professors also share their insights on psychopathology and neuropsychology in the program. Since the school’s mission is Training Champions for Christ, all classes are taught from a biblical perspective or worldview.

Did You Know?

Tuition at Liberty University for all undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs hasn’t increased in 7 years. It is a non-profit university that strives to keep higher education more affordable and accessible for all students. Given that, the school is recognized by several public and private institutions for accessibility, affordability, and quality of academics.

Bay Path University

Bay Path University

Online Master of Science in Developmental Psychology

Bay Path University’s MS in Developmental Psychology provides a comprehensive curriculum with a solid foundation in developmental psychology. Apart from that, students will become proficient in extensive research-based skills essential for applying their knowledge of developmental psychology to a diverse range of professional settings.

What Makes This Program Unique:

The MS in Developmental Psychology program is a holistic program that encompasses a broad spectrum of developmental psychology-related concepts. Distance learners become knowledgeable in presentation, as well as oral and written communication skills according to the established professional guidelines and APA format. Apart from that, they explore topics that help them appreciate issues related to family, the environment, sexual identity, gender, and culture.

Did You Know?

Bay Path University is home to The American Women’s College, the country’s first all-women, all-online accredited baccalaureate degree programs, as well as graduate programs for men and women. The university is an independent and non-profit institution and is a member of the Women’s College Coalition.

Walden University

Walden University

Online Master of Science in Developmental Psychology-Child and Adolescent Development

Walden University offers a specialization in Child and Adolescent Development as part of its Master of Science in Developmental Psychology program. It is one of six specializations offered at the university through the College of Social and Behavioral Health.

What Makes This Program Unique:

The Child and Adolescent Development graduate program is part of the specializations offered at Walden University, emphasizing modern and relevant issues faced by children in the digital age. Distance learners apply the latest research methods and theories on health issues, behavior analysis, abnormal psychology, and child development to improve the well-being of adolescents and children in families, communities, and schools.

Did You Know?

Graduates interested in consulting, researching, and teaching can accelerate their progress toward a doctorate by applying their academic credits to the Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology program at Walden.

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Online Master of Arts in Psychology-Child and Adolescent Concentration

The MA in Psychology with a concentration in Child and Adolescent at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology equips students with the necessary skills to address complex issues that influence child behavior and development. The program offers a transformative academic experience, providing students the flexibility of completing a graduate degree without interfering with their professional and personal commitments.

What Makes This Program Unique:

Graduate students can obtain digital credentials after completing their MA in Psychology, Child and Adolescent Concentration degree. Through the school’s partnership with the Credly Acclaim platform, eligible students receive digital credentials that they can use for digital resumes, email signatures, and social media platforms. The MA program doesn’t have a traditional thesis option or internship requirements. Instead, students will accomplish the Applied Research Project throughout their academic program.

Did You Know?

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology aims to make its professional degree programs more accessible to students regardless of their financial capacity. The school offers several opportunities, including scholarships and other financial aid programs to help students finance their graduate studies.

The University of Minnesota

The University of Minnesota

Online Master of Arts (MA) in Applied Child and Adolescent Development

The University of Minnesota’s 100% online MA in Applied Child and Adolescent Development program is offered through its College of Education and Human Development. The academic program offers comprehensive scholarly insights to students, exploring different topics on ethics, research methods, emotional and social development, and biological and cognitive development.

What Makes This Program Unique:

Completing the MA program with the Child Life track qualifies graduates to take and pass the Child Life Professional Certification Examination, as well as the Child Life Professionals Eligibility Assessment. The Individualized Studies track allows students to develop a plan of study that encompasses child and adolescent practice and theory and combine them with specialized areas that intersect with child development, such as parent education, pediatric nursing, law, criminal justice, child advocacy, and child welfare.

Did You Know?

Students who complete all their courses online can qualify for the Minnesota resident tuition rate. The university offers financial aid options to help graduate students finance their studies, including loans, teaching assistantships, research assistantships, grants, and fellowships.

Montclair State University

Montclair State University

Online Master of Arts (MA) in Child Advocacy and Policy

Montclair State University has an online MA in Child Advocacy and Policy program offered through the Department of Social Work and Child Advocacy. The programs and services specialize in adolescents, children, and families.

What Makes This Program Unique:

The graduate program in Child Advocacy and Policy offers an alternative option for students who can’t commit to the complete master’s program. Aspiring students can apply for the Child Advocacy and Policy Graduate Certificate, featuring five courses that can also be completed fully online. After completing the certificate program, students can transfer up to 15 credits toward the MA program.

Did You Know?

Montclair State University offers qualified students a way to meet their academic expenses through scholarships, grants, and loans. The university’s Office of Student Financial Aid readily assists students regarding the process and eligibility of applying for financial aid options. Various tuition payment plans are also available to help students break their tuition into monthly payments.

Erikson Institute

Erikson Institute

Online Master of Science in Child Development

The online MS in Child Development program at Erikson Institute has three concentrations to choose from, namely Child Life, Infancy, and Core. Each concentration helps students build new skills and knowledge, allowing them to thrive in the field of child development. Regardless of the chosen concentration, internships are essential aspects of the online MSCD degree. 

What Makes This Program Unique:

Internships and fieldwork experiences are essential components of the MSCD program. Graduate students will work during the day at custom-selected internship facilities for a minimum of 15 hours weekly. The fieldwork experience is facilitated in two semesters.

Did You Know?

Erikson Institute’s commitment to providing accessible and affordable access to high-quality education has made it possible for the institution to grant more than $2M in financial and scholarships annually. Undergraduate and graduate students may be qualified for multiple scholarships at the school.

Professional Organizations for Child and Adolescent Psychology Students

Professional organizations typically hold an Adolescent Developmental Psychology Program that offers graduate students a variety of essential resources that help them advance their knowledge and capabilities, as well as join the workforce.

Many organizations provide child psychology students with a plethora of learning and professional platforms and services, including networking events, job listings, career development programs, access to publications and online journals, and academic resources. Some organizations also facilitate workshops, conferences, and career fairs.

Here are some of the professional organizations beneficial for students pursuing an online Master’s in Child Psychology program:

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

The AACAP or American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry is a professional organization that provides child and adolescent professionals with a diverse range of resources for promoting mentally healthy families, adolescents, and children. Its membership perks include the mobilization of resources, continuing studies, peer support, and collective programs. 

American Counseling Association

The American Counseling Association is a non-profit professional organization that advocates the development and growth of the counseling profession. It is the country’s largest association, exclusively representing professional counselors in different practice or specialization settings.

American Psychological Association

The American Psychological Association is the most prominent professional and scientific organization consisting of over 120,000 students, consultants, clinicians, educators, and researchers as members of the association. It was established in 1892 to advocate the advancement, application, and communication of psychological knowledge and theories to improve lives and benefit communities. One of its missions is to increase public awareness of the advantages psychology provides to daily life.

Association for Psychological Science

The Association for Psychological Science is home to thousands of students, professors, practitioners, and psychological science researchers. It aims to offer a holistic understanding of the interaction between individuals and communities through the application, teaching, and research of psychological science.

National Association of School Psychologists

A professional organization, the National Association of School Psychologists advocates and represents the school psychology profession by developing effective strategies for improving students’ mental health, as well as maintaining high standards for practice and ethics. The organization sets the standards for professional ethics, credentialing, and graduation preparation.

Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology

A division of the American Psychological Association, the Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology fosters public policy, professional practice and ethics, training, and scientific inquiry in child and adolescent psychology for improving the mental health and welfare of families, youth, and children. By becoming a member, individuals have access to many benefits, including newsletter and journal subscriptions, a comprehensive website of learning resources, and student benefits.

Society of Pediatric Psychology

The Society of Pediatric Psychology publishes two essential journals in the field of pediatric psychologic, namely the Clinical Practice in Pediatric Psychology and the Journal of Pediatric Psychology. As part of the SPP, members can participate in the SPP Mentorship Program either as mentors or mentees. Individuals also enjoy access to Special Interest Groups so they can network with peers and colleagues who have the same interests in the field.

Careers for Child and Adolescent Psychology Graduates

A Master’s in Child and Adolescent Psychology often leads to a fulfilling career in social services, counseling, academia, and research. These professionals can work in a variety of settings, highlighting their treatment, diagnosing, counseling, analytical, and communication skills obtained during the graduate program in child psychology. While having a master’s degree opens a variety of career opportunities, some professional pathways require the completion of a doctorate program.

Here are some of the most common professions for graduates with a master’s degree in child and adolescent psychology:

Child Psychologists

While most child psychologist roles require doctoral degrees, completing a non-terminal master’s degree in child and adolescent psychology is the best way to pursue either a Ph.D. or PsyD in this area of discipline. Apart from the doctorate credential, graduates must also obtain a state license to become child psychologists.

Family and Child Therapists

Family and Child Therapists find work in a diverse range of work settings, evaluating their patients’ cognitive, behavioral, emotional, developmental, social, and mental health. Apart from attending to children’s mental well-being, these professionals also venture into groups, such as family dynamics.

Mental Health Counselors

Mental Health Counselors treat patients with various mental conditions, including stress, low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. These professionals also deal with specific age groups, such as youth and children. A master’s program in child psychology or a related area of study is required to work as a mental health counselor.

School Counselors

School Counselors work with school administrators, teachers, parents, and students to help learners develop and strengthen their social and academic skills. These professionals evaluate students’ capabilities and cultivate essential life skills, including effective study habits and time management.

School counseling also entails educating students regarding emotional and social health, advising students on prospective career pathways and higher education, and helping learners cope with behavioral issues.

Many school counselors have a master’s degree in psychology or a related field and have obtained certification.

School Psychologists

Although many academic institutions require school psychologists to have doctorate degrees, many entry-level positions have similar requirements as child therapists, i.e., having a state license and a master’s degree. Depending on the student’s state, having a PsyD or Ph.D. credential is mandatory to become a school psychologist.

Licensure and Certification for Child and Adolescent Psychology Graduates

Many states require professionals in the field of psychology to be licensed. Additional certifications are essential for psychologists to demonstrate and strengthen their expertise in a specific area of interest. While mental health counselors in all states must have a license, school counselors often require an additional credentialing or state-issued license to practice.

Non-Terminal vs. Terminal Master’s in Child and Adolescent Psychology Degree Programs

Many colleges and universities offer non-terminal and terminal degree programs in child and adolescent psychology. The main difference is whether graduates want to pursue more advanced studies after completing the master’s program or start their careers as child therapists or counselors. A terminal degree program prepares students for a career after graduation, while a non-terminal degree prepares graduates for doctoral studies.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any differences between the Online Master of Science in Child Psychology vs. the Online Master of Arts in Child Psychology?

The online Master of Science and Master of Arts in Child Psychology programs train students to become proficient in evaluating, diagnosing, and treating mental health disorders among children and adolescents. Although both graduate programs focus on experiential learning and psychology research, each academic degree has its own purpose and structure. The Master of Science program highlights a more scientific approach and research to psychology.

The MS program focuses on human development, behavioral studies, and research methods, while the MA program emphasizes therapy and counseling skills. Unlike the MS degree, the Master of Arts highlights treatment approaches instead of psychological methodologies and research.

While the MS and MA in Child Psychology programs are stepping stones toward the doctorate degree, the Master of Science program benefits graduates, wanting to pursue a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree. Graduates wanting to become school counselors or child and adolescent therapists can benefit more from pursuing the Master of Arts program.

Can I already become a Child Psychologist with an Online Master’s Degree in Child Psychology?

Although an online master’s degree in child psychology is a crucial step to becoming a Child Psychologist, it isn’t enough. Instead, graduates must pursue either the Doctor of Philosophy or the Doctor of Psychology program. A graduate-level degree in Psychology is a mandatory requirement for most doctorate programs.

Summary Points

Child Psychology graduate programs provide students with comprehensive training and equip them with the essential skills for professions that deal with children. Completing the master’s program helps students pursue rewarding professions, such as behavioral therapists, child therapists, school psychologists, and child psychologists.

Although master’s in child psychology programs are rare, many online schools offer a master’s program in psychology that allows students to pursue a specialization in child and adolescent development or child psychology.

Regardless, both graduate programs feature the same curriculum in the study of the mental and behavioral processes of children and help them cope and overcome their developmental, emotional, social, and mental health problems.

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