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Master’s in Psychology in USA: Top Universities, Eligibility, Costs & Careers

Updated on 15 February, 2024

Kanika Pruthi

Kanika Pruthi

Sr. Content Writer & Study Abroad Expert

A graduate degree in psychology will allow you to work in educational institutes and health facilities. So, if you want to pursue a master’s in psychology in the USA, you are absolutely on track for a great career! Your MA in psychology in the USA may cost you anywhere around $30,000-60,000. Psychology students may opt for independent degrees or complete them under their doctoral courses with theses. The course is available at 200+ institutions with varying requirements. 

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While the initial costs may appear steep, a look at the average salaries of graduates will convince you that it is worth it! Average salaries for skilled graduates usually hover between $55,000-131,000 (Payscale 2024), making psychology a rewarding profession for aspirants. Most degrees given by US colleges cover counselling, clinical psychology, and even organizational/industrial psychology. 

Read More: A Guide to Settle in the USA from India!

Doing Master’s in Psychology in USA- Biggest Reasons for Going Ahead:

Here are some of the many reasons for pursuing an MS in psychology in the USA: 

  • The United States of America (USA) has the world’s most reputed educational institutions teaching psychology through varied programs.
  • American institutions offer 50+ sub-topics and divisions of psychology, ensuring vast career options for aspirants. 
  • Psychologists are in high demand throughout schools, universities, colleges, outpatient centers, hospitals, and family services. 
  • Demand is said to increase for psychologists over the next five-six years as well. 
  • Psychologists earn good salaries in the USA. They can expect to an average annual base salary of $89,000 or INR 74 lakh (Payscale 2024). 

Recommended Read: 50 Interesting Facts about the USA

MA in Psychology in USA- Top Universities:

Here are the best universities in the USA for master’s in psychology courses: 

University  QS World Subject Rankings 2023: Psychology Course Tuition (in USD)
Harvard University  1Psychology Master’s Program$3,220 per course
Stanford University 4Psychology (MA) (only available for PhD, JD, or MD students)$20,860/quarter
Columbia University7Psychology Graduate Program Financial support packages are offered to all students 
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor8Accelerated Master's Degree Program in Psychology (available for UG students in the university)$50,800/academic year
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)9MA Psychology  $33,238/academic year
University of California, Berkeley (UCB)11MA Psychology  $18,376/academic year


University of Pennsylvania

14Master of Applied Positive Psychology$71,944
New York University (NYU)15MA Psychology  $25,483/per semester
Princeton University17Graduate Program in Psychology $57,410
Northwestern University29MA Psychology  $18,689/quarter


Course Overview of Masters in Psychology in USA

In the USA, a master’s degree in psychology is considered a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) course. This is why most master's are embedded with PhD programs, and involve high-level research activities. The degree takes about 1-2 years to complete. It is estimated to cost between US$ 30,000-60,000 in tuition. For international students, there are many options for financial aid available.

You can work as a forensic psychologist, child psychologist, clinical psychologist, psychotherapist, school counselor, career counselor, and industrial psychologist with a psychology degree.

Specialization for Master’s in Psychology in USA:

Psychology is a field that offers a variety of specialization options. The following are some of the most popular and in-demand fields of psychology:

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Industrial and Organizational Psychology
  • Experimental Psychology
  • School Psychology
  • Counselling Psychology
  • Marriage Family and Child Counseling
  • Addiction Studies
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Advanced Biological Psychology
  • Human Sexuality
  • Ethics and Multicultural Issues in Psychology
  • Aging and Long-Term Care
  • Arts Therapy
  • Family, Group and Individual Therapy

Read More: Reasons to Study at Northern Arizona University (NAU)

Expected Study & Living Costs:

TOEFL or IELTS$205 or INR 17,000
Application $100-500 (depending on the number of college applications)
Visa Fee$185
SEVIS Fee$350
Annual Cost of Living (Forbes 2024)$46,000-50,000
Tuition $30,000-60,000

Pre-arrival Costs in US

  • TOEFL: Some universities do take in applications without GRE, but TOEFL is something candidates can not skip. Universities require proof of language proficiency and you might need to share your TOEFL score for visa purposes. The exam costs $205.
  • Applying to US universities: Each university’s application fees range from $50 to $100, with the former being the most frequent. However, applications are incomplete until official test scores (GRE and TOEFL) are sent through ETS, which costs an additional $47 (GRE: $27; TOEFL: $20).
  • VISA: Candidates must pay the VISA charge of $185, followed by the SEVIS fee of $350, once they obtain their official document from the university stating their stay in the United States and the amount to be spent for the year.
  • Flight Tickets: Depending on the city, destination, and airline, single-way economy class tickets range from $517 to $776. Return flights range in price from $776 to $1164.

Important Resources to Read About USA:

Top Reasons to Study in the USAWhy study in USA?Difference Between L1 and H-1B Visa
Study in USA After Class 12Post Study Work Permit in the USASalary After MS in USA
Best Cities to Study in USAStudy in USA for Indian Students After 12thMasters in USA Costs
Requirements for Studying in USAStudy in the USA from IndiaCost of Studying in USA

Requirements for Admission: 

There are several master’s in psychology in the USA requirements that you should keep in mind. Here’s taking a look at the same. 

  • An undergraduate degree in a related discipline or psychology. 
  • 3 to 3.5 GPA on a four-point scale. 
  • GRE scores of 300-310 at least. You may also apply for a master’s in psychology in the USA without GRE at some universities/colleges. 
  • An academic background in general or introductory psychology with statistics or a laboratory course. 
  • You need TOEFL scores of 79-102. If you are taking the IELTS, then you should score at least 6.5-7.5. 

Now that you know the MS in psychology in the USA eligibility criteria, here’s taking a closer look at the documents required: 

  • Filled-up application form. 
  • GRE scoresheet. 
  • Academic transcripts of all your educational institutions. 
  • IELTS or TOEFL score sheet. 
  • Two-three LORs (Letters of Recommendation). 
  • Resume or CV. 
  • Statement of Purpose (SOP). 
  • Work experience details, if applicable. 
  • Financial proofs for covering costs for academics and living for 12 months.  
  • Compulsory health insurance proof. 
  • Valid passport copy. 

Recommended Read: Study Options in the USA for Indian Students After 12th Commerce

Masters in Psychology in USA: Jobs and Salaries:

Job TitleAnnual Average Salary (in USD)
Industrial-Organizational Psychologist$94,400
Engineering Psychologist$112,851
Forensic Psychologist $79,000
School Psychologist$68,000
Sports Psychologist$79,500
Psychology Teacher$45,000
Mental Health Counselor$50,000
Source: Payscale & Glassdoor 2024

License to Practice as a Clinical or School Psychologist in the USA

Licensure for School Psychologists

Each state has its own set of rules for becoming a licensed school psychologist. On the National Association Of Subrogation Professionals (NASP) website, candidates can learn more about state licensing laws. A master’s degree or higher, a psychology internship, and a background check are all required for school psychologist jobs.

Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) certification is a direct requirement for state licensure in several states, and some states offer or are considering license reciprocity.

Board Certification for School Psychologists

The NCSP certification is offered by the National Association of School Psychologists, while the school psychology specialty (SPS) board certification is offered by the American Board of Professional Psychology.

The NCSP needs a master’s degree in school psychology or a similar area with graduate hours in school psychology, whereas the SPS requires a doctorate. Applicants must complete a practicum, an internship, supervised practice hours, and an assessment for both programs. 

Pre-Professional Experience for School Psychologists

Students complete practicums; 1200 hours of internship are required for Ed.S. degrees. At least 600 of these hours must be spent in a school setting, though during the pandemic, this was decreased to 400 hours. There are sometimes more candidates than available for internships, it’s a good idea to have a backup plan in case you don’t get a placement.

Before candidates can practice independently, most states need two years of supervision. Interns spend at least half of their contact hours in a school setting, working under the supervision of a school psychologist. Study, research, and preparation occupy the remaining hours.

During an internship, students become more independent in terms of the type and scope of assignments that they perform, although they are always supervised. Candidates must then complete an additional two years of supervised practice after graduation.

License to Practice as a Clinical  Psychologist:

  • Acquire a doctoral degree in psychology.
  • Obtain supervised hours, which might range between 1,500 and 6,000 hours according to the state.
  • One needs to pass the PPP (Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology).
  • If applicable, pass a jurisprudence exam.
  • Receive a state licensing board’s approval that all requirements have been met.

Future Employment Avenues

Those with a master’s in psychology may apply for employment across schools, universities, colleges, and even hospitals along with outpatient centers. Many students complete their PhD programs after the master’s course, putting them on track toward a doubly rewarding professional or research career. Completing a PhD in psychology enables graduates to earn average salaries of $8,000 annually. It is more than the annual median salary of $59,428 (Forbes 2023). 

Those with master’s degrees often pursue research and employment under the supervision of qualified doctoral psychologists, particularly in fields like testing, clinical psychology, counseling, and even educational institutions. Organizational and industrial psychology are fast-growing avenues for graduates as well. Aspirants may consider private practices in the USA as well. They have to obtain a license via a doctoral degree, complete the required hours during their internships, and pass the EPPP (Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology). Once an aspirant gets approval from any state licensing authority, they can readily practice in the USA. School psychologists also have to obtain licenses/certificates via state education departments. 

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School psychologists in the USA should go through specialist/master’s degrees while passing the Teacher Certification examination. Some states may require internships too. The official site of the American Psychological Association will help students get an idea about licenses and other official requirements. 

Counselors and mental health or wellness therapists are greatly in demand throughout the country. At the same time, psychology has spawned multiple career options like social psychology, neuropsychology, and many other subdivisions. A psychology degree from the USA has global recognition and opens the door towards many attractive professional prospects. 

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Student Visa Procedure

Those applying for foreign studies in the USA will require a suitable student visa. Visas granted in the USA include F-1, J, M, and F-2, among others. F-1 visas are usually applicable for international students. Here are the steps in the process: 

· You have to pay the SEVIS charge before obtaining the I-20 form from your academic institution. Fill up your form and make sure that you take it to the interview for your visa. 

· Pay the visa charge at the bank or financial institution while keeping the receipt carefully. Carry this to your F-1 visa interview too. 

· Schedule your visa interview at your nearest embassy. After the interview, you will get your visa within a maximum of four months if your application is successful. 

· Some of the documents needed include the non-migration application, valid passport copy, DS-160 form, passport-size photographs, receipt of payment for the application fee, and the eligibility certificate for F-1 or nonimmigrant student visas. 

Read More About: IELTS Score to study in the USA

Available Scholarships: 

Studying psychology in the USA may become a costly affair unless you have secured sufficient funding. Hence, you may consider applying for a good scholarship if you are eligible. Numerous organizations and institutions offer scholarships for meritorious international students wishing to pursue psychology in the USA. Here is a list of options: 

Name of the ScholarshipScholarship Amount
Inlaks Shivdasani FoundationMay Vary
Dr. Michael Horowitz or Dr. Jeannie Gutierrez Scholarship for Immigrant or First Generation applicants$10,000 or INR 7.43 lakh (approx)
QS Leadership Scholarship for Masters$10,000 or INR 7.43 lakh
American Psychological Foundation Scott and Paul Pearsall Scholarship$10,000 or INR 7.43 lakh
PEO IPS (International Peace Scholarship)$12,500 or INR 9.29 lakh
President’s Scholarship$7,000 or INR 5.20 lakh

Also Read: What is the acceptable study gap in the USA?

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the minimum IELTS and TOEFL scores required to get admission to Masters in Psychology in the USA?

A minimum score of 6.5 in IELTS and 79 in TOEFL is required to get admission to Masters in Psychology in the USA.

How much does it cost to study Masters in Psychology in the USA?

MS in psychology in the USA may cost you anywhere around $25,000-$60,000, in tuition. You will incur an additional living cost over it. 

What type of job roles can a master’s in psychology graduate get in the USA?

Graduates can apply for positions such as industrial-organizational psychologists in schools, colleges, and other organizations. They can also apply for roles in colleges and schools as counselors or therapists.

Can I do a Master’s in Psychology in the USA?

You can always apply for a psychology master’s degree in the USA. It is a graduate course that you may do independently or as a part of your doctoral program, with a thesis accompanying it. These degrees are either MS (Master of Science) or MA (Master of Arts) courses. The former emphasizes more on scientific and research aspects of the discipline, while the latter focuses more on the humanities aspects of the subject. You need your MS degree to start your professional journey in the USA. You can go on to do your PhD and take up research. To obtain your professional license to practice in the USA, you will require a doctoral degree, along with passing the national/state examination and fulfilling other criteria.

Is Psychology a STEM Course in the USA?

Psychology is a core discipline under the STEM category in the USA. Because of the subject’s direct technological, research, and scientific associations and its vast contribution towards the development of contemporary academia, technology, and science. Psychology has contributed immensely to education as well. Psychology is recognized as a science by the National Science Foundation, making it a STEM discipline.

Can an International Psychologist Practice in the USA?

International psychologists applying for licenses in the USA should select the proper jurisdiction before applying for their license. Canada and the USA are two of the few global countries that need doctoral degrees from applicants to grant them licenses as psychologists. If you wish to practice psychology in the USA, you will require a doctoral degree as mentioned and work for 1,500-6,000 hours, based on the state guidelines for your internship. You also have to clear the EPPP or the professional practice examination successfully while passing a jurisprudence test, if required.

Can I do a Master’s in Psychology after B Tech in the USA?

Of course, you can complete your MS or MA in Psychology after completing your B Tech if you wish. Psychology master’s degrees are open to those who have not graduated in the subject. The eligibility criteria differ across educational institutions, and MA Psychology usually requires applicants to have scored 50% marks in their undergraduate courses. Some institutions may insist on undergraduate studies in psychology or related subjects, although you will still find those which grant admission to students without a definite background in the subject. However, you will have to fulfil varying admission requirements.

Kanika Pruthi

Sr. Content Writer & Study Abroad Expert

Kanika has 5+ years of experience as a writer and content developer. She has written for a wide range of industry verticals, including hospitality, restaurants, non-profits, finance, IT, HR, technology, payroll, and education. She has worked as a creator for a few leading companies and has also helped brands grow through her creative writing.

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