Dedicate your life to helping the next generation with one of the best child and adolescent psychology degrees.
You probably don’t need statistics or research to understand that our childhood and adolescence are the most volatile times in our lives. Puberty, transitions, family conflict: Navigating our younger years can be challenging at best and miserable at worst. Thankfully, child and adolescent psychologists have come to the rescue. And if you want to join the rescue team, consider one of the 5 Best Master’s in Child and Adolescent Psychology.
Child and adolescent psychology is built on the same foundation as general psychology. There is a focus, though, on our younger years. How do children develop emotionally and mentally? What are the best ways to handle emotional and physical trauma? What are the ethical rules and nuanced practices that child and adolescent psychologists must follow? These are some of the critical questions that child and adolescent psychologists try to answer.
This post will focus on the nature of child and adolescent psychology degrees, career possibilities for psychologists, salary potential, and the five best master’s programs in the field.
What Is a Child and Adolescent Psychology Degree?
Graduate degrees in child and adolescent psychology focus on the foundations, practices, and ethics of child and adolescent psychology. Take note that master’s degrees aren’t required: Psychologists must obtain a Ph.D. or Psy.D. to practice the field, and very few doctoral programs require applying students to hold a graduate degree in the field.
So is a master’s in child and adolescent psychology degree useless? Far from it. We shouldn’t look at education in terms of what is and isn’t required to practice your field professionally. Requirements can be a definitive factor, of course, if you have financial or time-related limitations. Otherwise, a master’s degree will strengthen your mind, resume, and applicant profile.
Some standard child and adolescent psychology courses in graduate programs are Approaches to Child and Adolescent Treatment, Counseling Skills With Individuals and Families, and Principles of Assessment and Behavior Change. Admission requirements vary depending on the school, but having a 3.0 or higher GPA, strong GRE scores, three letters of recommendation, official transcripts, and a strong personal statement are about the most demanding requirements of graduate schools.
Careers for Child and Adolescent Psychology Majors
As you may guess, child and adolescent psychology majors usually strive to become child and adolescent psychologists. And as we discussed earlier, having a master’s in the field is not enough to get you that job: You need a Ph.D. or Psy.D. and a license before you can become a child and adolescent psychologist.
While a master’s can’t qualify you to become a psychologist, it does offer you many opportunities. Those who don’t want to continue onto postgraduate school can use their master’s to become social workers, nonprofit directors, public agency administrators, and more.
Those who do continue onto postgraduate school, graduate with a postgraduate degree, and obtain a license can practice as a child and adolescent psychologist. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports no statistics specific to child and adolescent psychologists, but here is the brief breakdown of the work environments for general psychologists:
- 29% are self-employed.
- 24% work for elementary and secondary schools.
- 18% work for ambulatory health services.
- 10% work for the government.
- 6% work for hospitals.
Child and Adolescent Psychology Salary Potentials
We will first report the average salaries for positions you can obtain after graduating with a master’s in the field. Below, we will talk about the average salaries for child and adolescent psychologists. Note that salaries vary: We are just reporting income of the 50th percentile in each field. Some people make less; others make far more.
With a master’s degree, you can become a:
- A social worker, earning $50,470 per year.
- Social and community service manager, earning $67,150 per year.
- Education administrator, earning $98,750 per year.
According to Payscale, child and adolescent psychologists earn an average of $68,611 per year. The 90th percentile earns over $95,000, while the bottom 10% earn less than $41,000 per year. Experience, place of work, and expertise are the most significant determinants of your income. PayScale also reports that child and adolescent psychologists earn an average bonus of $2,501 per year, which is reported separately from salary.
What Are the Best Child and Adolescent Psychology Degrees?
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University of Washington-Seattle Campus
Average Net Price
A beautiful campus, a better location, and one of the best public universities in America: There’s little not to like about the University of Washington. And the same thing applies to the school’s Master of Arts in applied child and adolescent psychology: prevention and treatment program. Students here learn from excellent professors, conduct cutting-edge research, and make relationships that last forever.
Some notable courses in the applied child and adolescent psychology: prevention and treatment program are Principles of Assessment and Behavior Change, Counseling Skills With Individuals and Families, Social and Emotional Development, and Child and Adolescent Psychopathology: Assessment and Diagnosis. These courses will challenge you, update you on the latest practices in the field, and teach you about the foundations of the profession.
Are you interested in applying? If so, you’ll need an undergraduate degree with a 3.0 or higher GPA, preferably in a related field, experience working with children, a successful background check, three letters of recommendation, a purpose statement, unofficial transcripts, and a resume. GRE scores are accepted but not required.
Florida State University
Average Net Price
Are you as interested in human services as becoming a psychologist? If so, consider Florida State University’s Master of Science in family and child sciences. Rather than looking only at psychology practices and the psychologist-patient relationship, this program puts more weight on action in human services, which include businesses, educational institutions, and public agencies.
Some core courses that Florida State University students in this program take are Advanced Child Development, Theories of Child Development, Grant Writing in FCS, Families in Crisis, and College Teaching in Family Sciences. Some students choose to write a thesis; those who don’t write a thesis focus more on instructing courses in the field.
This program is an excellent choice for people who are torn between psychology and human services. With this degree, you can work in human services and still advance to Ph.D. or Psy.D. programs in psychology. And if you find that family and child sciences is the right profession for you, you can choose to enroll in FSU’s dual M.S.-to-Ph.D. option.
University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus
Average Net Price
The University of Pittsburgh is a fantastic school. From an urban setting to an excellent on-campus life to some of the best academic programs in the world, students from near and far flock to Pitt. The university offers an excellent Master of Science in applied developmental psychology program, which is a two-year and 36-credit program.
Students in this program can concentrate in applied research methods for child and youth serving organizations, behavioral health in schools and communities, children with special health care needs, infant mental health, or child youth development. Some courses that all students must take are Development: Conception Through Early Childhood, Evidence-Based Interactions in Real-World Contexts, Applied Developmental Psychology: Professional Identity and Leadership, and Developmental Psychopathology.
To gain admission to this program, students must have a 3.0 GPA from an accredited undergraduate institution. Student’s needn’t have majored in a specific field, but they do need to have completed prerequisite coursework in research methods and developmental psychology to gain admittance to this program. Finally, students should have experience working with children.
Montclair State University
Montclair, New Jersey
Average Net Price
Montclair State University offers an outstanding Master of Arts program in clinical psychology with an adolescent psychology concentration. This option is ideal for those who are sure they want to become psychologists, but want to gain academic and real-world experience before beginning postgraduate school. This program is relatively affordable, and students who graduate from this school consistently find jobs and placements in the nation’s best postgraduate programs.
Some courses that students in this program take are Family Systems and Therapy, Psychometrics, Evidence-Based Psychological Interventions, Multicultural Psychology, Developmental Psychopathology, and Cognitive Assessment. These classes range from general psychology courses that focus on theory to cutting-edge courses that detail best practices.
Montclair State University prefers admitting students with a bachelor’s in psychology. If that isn’t you, you may still gain admission as long as you have twelve undergraduate credits in psychology. If you still don’t meet those requirements, Montclair may still accept you, but you’ll have to complete prerequisite courses at the school. The school requires students to have a 2.7 or higher GPA, GRE scores, a personal statement, two letters of recommendation, and an admissions interview.
Average Net Price
Vanderbilt University may be the most reputable university on this list. Per Wikipedia, “alumni include 53 current and former members of the United States Congress, 18 U.S. Ambassadors, 14 governors, ten billionaires, seven Nobel Prize laureates, two Vice Presidents of the United States, and two U.S. Supreme Court Justices.” Looking at these statistics, you can trust that Vanderbilt University’s Master of Education program in child studies will suit your needs.
Students in this program choose between a clinical and developmental research track or applied professional track. Some courses in the former option are Advanced Applied Child Studies, Developmental Research Methods, and Statistical Inference. Some courses in the latter option are Applied Child Studies, Seminar in Social and Personality Development, and Child Development Practicum.
Students can choose a concentration within their track. Some concentration options for the clinical and developmental research track are clinical psychology, developmental psychology, and educational psychology. Students in the applied professional track can concentrate in child and family services, gifted education, educational program development, and more.