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Master of Arts Degree Program in Clinical Psychology Overview

Majors Overview January 3, 2016

This article talks about Master of Arts (M.A.) degree programs in Clinical Psychology and their education requirements, coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and licensure, continuing education, and certification choices.

Master of Arts (M.A.) Programs in Clinical Psychology

A practical and theoretical background in mental health is typically provided in a 2-year Master of Arts (M.A.) in Clinical Psychology program. Students may also avail a concentration in marriage and family therapy. Internships or hands-on experience in a clinical setting supervised by professionals are usually requirements. A thesis may also be a requirement in some programs.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree, preferably in psychology or a similar field, such as child development or sociology. Additionally, applicants to some programs are required to submit GRE scores. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has deemed admission to a master’s program in psychology to be extremely competitive.


The program coursework focuses on the diagnosis and counseling of clients with mental health challenges, ranging from chronic mental illnesses to temporary crises. Coursework is devised to offer training in the evaluation of individuals with behavioral disorders and personal problems or those who have been part of emotional traumas. Enrollees learn about assessing clients and developing treatment plans for groups, couples, and individuals. Everyday stress, substance abuse, divorce, and death are among the issues the program explores.

Training in therapy and assessment techniques is included in the program coursework; core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Interpersonal psychotherapy
•Human sexuality
•Adolescent and child therapy
•Abnormal psychology
•Research and statistics
•Professional ethics
•Family counseling
•Substance abuse
•Cross-cultural counseling

Career Choices

The best career opportunities are likely to go to psychologists with practical experience, doctoral degrees, and specializations (BLS). Some job options are available to clinical psychology master’s degree-holders; they may choose from possible job positions such as:

•Emergency assessment counselor
•Research Assistant
•Adolescent and child therapist
•Marriage and family counselor
•Psychology Assistant

Job and Wage Outlook

In 2013, counseling, school, and clinical psychologists brought in an average annual wage of $67,760, ranging between $39,020 and $112,380 per annum. Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, professionals in the psychology field are expected to see a job growth of 19% (BLS).

Licensure, Continuing Education, and Certification Choices

State licensure is compulsory for psychologists who work with patients. Licensure as a marriage and family therapist (MFT) or a professional counselor (LPC) may be available to master’s degree graduates. Licensure is renewable through continuing education. State licensing board may be able to guide students about specific requirements.

Program graduates who wish to practice may have to earn a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.). Students enrolled in doctoral programs usually have to complete a dissertation, five years of coursework, and post-doctoral work in the field under the supervision of professionals. Clinical psychologists in most states are required to pass an exam, complete an internship and have at least a year of experience.

Voluntary certification is awarded by the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) in 14 areas, including family and couple psychology, clinical psychology, and clinical child and adolescent psychology. To qualify for certification, interested individuals must earn a doctoral degree and licensure in their discipline, in addition to passing a board exam and satisfying professional experience criteria.

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