2020 Best Graduate Schools Badge

25 Best Psychology Master's Programs 2020

By the GradReports team | Updated 2/21/2020

We ranked the top 25 schools by median salary for graduates of psychology master's degree programs. George Mason University is ranked #1 with a median starting salary of $68,800. Graduates of Westfield State University who completed a master's in psychology program had the lowest median debt on the list, at $18,237. Starting median salaries for graduates from the top 25 schools range from $39,600-$68,800.

Tuition, median salaries, and median debt were reported by the U.S. Department of Education in November 2019. View our methodology for more details about these rankings or read more about the top-ranked schools.

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Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Rank School Location Annual Tuition Median Debt Median Salary
#1 #1 Fairfax (VA) Fairfax (VA) $38,986 $41,000 $68,800
#2 #2 Chattanooga (TN) Chattanooga (TN) $18,538 $32,380 $61,000
#3 #3 San Francisco (CA) San Francisco (CA) $19,875 $58,846 $55,700
#4 #4 Tallahassee (FL) Tallahassee (FL) $26,707 Not Reported $53,900
#5 #5 Arcata (CA) Arcata (CA) $18,802 $29,285 $51,200
#6 #6 Radford (VA) Radford (VA) $22,171 $36,560 $50,600
#7 #7 La Jolla (CA) La Jolla (CA) $15,912 $34,661 $49,100
#8 #8 Fort Lauderdale (FL) Fort Lauderdale (FL) $23,911 $49,077 $47,000
#9 #9 Chico (CA) Chico (CA) $18,910 $37,500 $46,600
#11 #11 Towson (MD) Towson (MD) $20,844 $24,628 $45,800
#12 #12 Claremont (CA) Claremont (CA) $36,380 $89,111 $45,100
#13 #13 West Chester (PA) West Chester (PA) $17,312 $38,891 $45,000
#14 #14 Malibu (CA) Malibu (CA) $39,720 $59,980 $45,000
#15 #15 Multiple Locations Multiple Locations $24,894 $66,625 $44,700
#17 #17 Westfield (MA) Westfield (MA) $6,475 $18,237 $43,600
#18 #18 Cleveland (OH) Cleveland (OH) $18,438 $36,744 $43,000
#20 #20 Manchester (NH) Manchester (NH) $11,286 $36,900 $41,200
#21 #21 Chicago (IL) Chicago (IL) $12,171 $41,000 $40,900
#24 #24 Springfield (MA) Springfield (MA) $34,536 $41,000 $39,800
#25 #25 Wilmington (NC) Wilmington (NC) $21,899 $48,542 $39,600

2020 Best Colleges Highlights

Fairfax (VA)
Median Salary $68,800
Median Debt $41,000
Annual Tuition $38,986

George Mason University (GMU) offers an M.A. in Psychology, and distinguishes itself by providing the following subdisciplines: applied developmental psychology, cognitive and behavioral neuroscience, human factors/applied cognition, and industrial/organizational psychology. During the program, students have the opportunity to work one-on-one with faculty mentors on research of interest.

The program is a total of 30-32 credits, depending on concentration, and the Applied Developmental Psychology concentration is the only one that requires a thesis. The program’s proximity to Washington, D.C.not only offers a multitude of opportunities for internships, jobs, conferences, and networking, but also influences the program’s curricular emphasis on contemporary policy implications of research in psychology. Approximately half of GMU's M.A. in Psychology students pursue doctoral programs, and others enter the workforce in areas like applied research firms, industry, education policy, advocacy, and entrepreneurship.

Founded in 1972, GMU is located in Fairfax, Virginia. Just 25 minutes outside of downtown Washington, D.C., students can take advantage of the rich cultural, artistic, and recreational activities that the DC area has to offer.

Visit George Mason University's website.

Median Salary $61,000
Median Debt $32,380
Annual Tuition $18,538

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) offers a Master of Science in Psychology with a Research concentration. The program aims to prepare students for careers in research and teaching, and is facilitated through their mentoring model in which students are matched with a faculty sponsor to further their career goals. The Research concentration is designed for students looking for in-depth knowledge and research experiences that will prepare them for doctoral work or applied research positions, as opposed to clinical or I-O psychology.

The program can be completed in two years with full-time enrollment, and there are some courses available in the evenings. Curriculum focuses on courses like Applied Research, Teaching of Psychology, and the progression of a Master’s Thesis. Thesis work should begin during the first year and will consist of either original empirical research or a theoretical interpretation of existing psychological thought based on previously published material. Graduates can expect to master a variety of statistical and methodological skills required to conduct psychology research.

UTC also offers an M.S. in I-O Psychology degree for students interested in industrial and organizational psychology.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga was founded in 1886 as Chattanooga University. In 1969, UTC and a junior college called Chattanooga City College merged and affiliated with the University of Tennessee. It’s now one of four University of Tennessee campuses.

Visit The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's website.

San Francisco (CA)
Median Salary $55,700
Median Debt $58,846
Annual Tuition $19,875

Golden Gate University’s (GGU) Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology is a graduate degree that prepares students to practice relationally-informed psychotherapy and to pursue licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) or Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC). The program is based out of GGU’s San Francisco campus, and is a total of 60 credits, which can be completed either full-time or part-time.

The Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology promotes the integration of theory and clinical practice by requiring students to complete 300 face-to-face clinical contact hours. Curriculum consists of classes like Cross-Cultural Aspects of Psychology, Therapeutic Communication & Counseling Skills, Psychological Assessment, Legal & Ethical Responsibility for Counselors, Community Mental Health, and much more.

The Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology is designed to prepare students either to pursue doctoral study or to practice relationally-informed psychotherapy in settings like community mental health, hospitals, or private practice. The program distinguishes itself by maintaining a strategic partnership with the Psychotherapy Action Network, which is an organization aiming to organize, formulate initiatives, and collectively advocate for mental health policy that is based on the complexity of the individual and not simply on the identification of discrete symptoms.

Golden Gate University was founded in 1901 and is California’s fourth oldest private university. Their main campus is located in San Francisco, California, with additional campuses in Seattle, Washington, and Silicon Valley.

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Tallahassee (FL)
Median Salary $53,900
Median Debt Not Reported
Annual Tuition $26,707

Florida State University offers a Master’s Degree in Psychology with a specialty in Applied Behavior Analysis, based at their Panama City Campus. The program takes five semesters to complete, and though it does not include a thesis, it does culminate in a comprehensive exam in addition to a Professional Portfolio. Courses are taught through an Interactive Television Network, which means that students can attend courses in either Panama City or Tallahassee. Tuition waivers are available for students who work with approved behavior analytic agencies while completing the program.

Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) can be self-employed, serve as educational or behavioral consultants for local or national consulting firms, work in residential settings, or be employed by the state. Graduates of this program go on to work in areas like developmental disabilities, behavioral safety, school consultation, language development, and more.

The curriculum is divided into four areas: Basic Principles, Special Areas of Application, Theory and Research, and Ethical Professional Issues. Course content includes topics like Basic Methods of Applied Behavioral Analysis, Ethical & Professional Issues in Applied Behavior Analysis, Research Methods, and Experimental Analysis of Behavior.

Florida State University is located in Tallahassee, Florida, though this program is based out of its campus in Panama City, Florida. The University was founded in 1851 and is the oldest continuous site of higher education in the state of Florida.

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Arcata (CA)
Median Salary $51,200
Median Debt $29,285
Annual Tuition $18,802

Humboldt State University’s Department of Psychology has three graduate programs that lead to a master’s degree in Psychology: Academic Research, Counseling, and School Psychology. Core course requirements for all options of the degree include Research Methods, an Academic Research Proseminar, and Analysis of Variance, and each student will complete either a thesis or project. Elective courses are relative to students’ selected specializations.

The Academic Research M.A. program specializes in neuroscience, developmental psychology, and social/cognitive psychology. The program takes two years and has a blended program option, which allows current students to begin taking graduate courses in their last year of undergraduate studies. This specialization has a Behavioral Analysis emphasis.

The Counseling M.A. program is designed for students seeking a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) license. The program takes 4-5 semesters to complete, and emphasizes a foundation in clinical theory and research, in addition to extensive training in clinical skills. The Counseling M.A. program requires 150 hours of supervised fieldwork and includes direct work experience with clients.

The School Psychology M.A. program meets the requirements for recommendations to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing for a Pupil Personnel Services Credential with an authorization to practice as a School Psychologist. The program combines coursework, field experience, and research training, and takes a minimum of three years to complete its 85 course credits. Curriculum for this program includes content like Advanced Developmental Psychopathology, Research Methods, Interviewing & Counseling Techniques, Diagnosis & Intervention, Legal & Ethical Foundations, and Cross Cultural Counseling.

Humboldt State University was founded as a public university in 1913 and is located 275 miles north of San Francisco in Arcata, California. It is a part of the 23-campus California State University system.

Visit Humboldt State University's website.