Master’s in Psychology Degree Programs in California (M-P)

Sunny job outlooks in the “Golden State” are making more post-bachelor’s students enter Master’s in Psychology degree programs in California.

The U.S. News recognized psychologists for having America’s #1 best science job with 19 percent growth sparking 32,500 national positions and low 1.2 percent unemployment. Therefore, top-notch facilities like Kaiser Permanente, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, and VA Long Beach Healthcare System are hiring. Several California cities, including Richmond and San Francisco, also report six-figure average psychology salaries at $110,489 and $110,900 respectively. ValuePenguin even ranked Hanford, California, as the United States’ #1 best city for psychologists with a 3.4 location quotient.

Whether you’re preparing for your doctorate or seeking counseling careers, consider these psychology grad schools (M-P) in California.

Marymount California University

Graduate Programs Division

Ideally located on a 26-acre waterfront campus in Rancho Palos Verdes facing Catalina Island with a rural satellite in Lake County, Marymount California University is a nonprofit, Catholic RSHM-affiliated institution directed by President Dr. Lucas Lamadrid to educate 1,000 Mariners. Ranked the West’s 18th best regional university by the U.S. News, Marymount is named the eighth “Most Diverse College in California” on Niche. The Graduate Programs Division presently charges $17,067 per full-time term for one of the Master’s in Psychology degree programs in California with average job placement at 88 percent.

MS in Community Psychology

After six prerequisite units of social science graded “C” or better, Marymount Mariners could enter the MS in Community Psychology program to analyze differences in human behavior from a social ecological framework for population-based changes. The 44-unit curriculum involves courses like leadership as storytelling, cultural diversity, community intervention, and clinical psychological science. Evening courses beginning at 6pm are the norm, but making time for three fieldwork research seminars is necessary. Majors could also undertake Boys & Girls Club of Los Angeles projects, join the Peer Health Education Society, and go global in 30+ nations.


• WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)


30800 Palos Verdes Drive E

Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275

(310) 303-7208

Program Link

Meridian University

Psychology Program

Conferring 14 post-bachelor’s options to 75 scholars, Meridian University is a small private, nonprofit WSCUC-accredited higher learning institution directed by Chancellor Jean Houston, a former Columbia professor who has published nearly 30 books like A Passion for the Possible. Since its founding in 1993, Meridian has delivered “Education That Transforms” from its Petaluma Center near Rancho Petaluma Adobe just 30 miles north of San Francisco and another Oakland Center. The Psychology Program awards an M.A., Ph.D., or Psy.D. for learning conventional behavioral theories with an extra focus on the spiritual.

M.A. in Psychology

Boasting an on-time completion rate of 100 percent, Meridian’s M.A. in Psychology is a two-year, non-licensure program focused on transformative learning that sheds light on critical dimensions of the mind, body, and spirit experience for holistic practice. The 65-credit degree lets students concentrate in Somatic Psychology, Integral Psychology, Yoga & Psychology, or Leadership and Social Transformation. Courses either meet one weekend per month or just two weeks annually with asynchronous, online assignments. Other opportunities include practicing in the Tamalpa Institute, claiming the Diversity Grant, and getting inspired by guest speakers like Don Beck.

M.A. in Counseling Psychology

Presently charging $15,300 per year, the M.A. in Counseling Psychology is another of Meridian’s Master’s in Psychology degree programs in California starting with a One-Day Introduction in Petaluma each June before upholding a hybrid online format with monthly Bay Area trips. The 105-credit curriculum spans 11 quarters to gain the intervention skills needed to nurture effective, supportive client relationships. To fulfill Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) requirements, the program also integrates a 340-hour traineeship at locations like Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, El Camino Hospital, and Fremont Hospital.


• WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)


47 Sixth Street

Petaluma, CA 94952

(707) 765-1836

Program Link

Mount Saint Mary’s University

Los Angeles Graduate Division

Opened by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in 1925 on Slauson Avenue, Mount Saint Mary’s University is a private, Catholic women’s liberal arts institution endowed for $65.4 million and led by President Ann McElaney-Johnson to educate 547 post-grad Athenians at two Los Angeles campuses. Crowned America’s 118th “Safest College” on Niche, MSMU is declared the 23rd best university and 16th top value school in the Western region by the U.S. News. The Los Angeles Graduate Division houses 10 post-bachelor’s options with a total annual cost of $54,143 before financial aid like the Graduate Transitions Scholarship.

Master of Science in Counseling Psychology

Taught by doctoral-trained professors from Pepperdine, UCLA, Antioch, Claremont, and the Adler School, MSMU’s Master of Science in Counseling Psychology is one of the Master’s in Psychology degree programs in California selectively admitting cohorts of 20 for LMFT or LPCC preparation. Currently charging $905 per unit, the 36-60 unit curriculum offers a General Counseling Psychology or Marriage and Family Therapy track with an optional Spanish-speaking certificate. Daytime or evening liberal arts-based courses are supplemented with traineeships at placements like Clinica Romero, Exodus Recovery Center, and Hollywood Sunset Free Clinic.


• WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)


10 Chester Place

Los Angeles, CA 90007

(213) 477-2654

Program Link

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National University

College of Letters and Science / Sanford College of Education

Affiliated with alumni like Lloyd Bryan Molander Adams, Ryan Zinke, and Gerry Czarnecki, National University is a private, nonsectarian teaching school that’s endowed for $558.9 million under President David W. Andrews, Ph.D., to educate 11,820 post-grads who “Live Through Learning” at 28 locations. Ranked sixth for minority master’s graduates by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, NU is graded B as America’s 297th best college for psychology on Niche. The Sanford College of Education also promotes the 149th best online graduate education degrees nationally according to the USNWR.

Master of Arts in Performance Psychology

Leading to the AASP Certified Consultant credential, the Master of Arts in Performance Psychology is led by Dr. Douglas Darba at the Carlsbad Campus for NU post-grads to develop theoretically sound techniques for counseling clients in the sports and exercise arena. Requiring 67.5 quarter units costing $416 apiece, the two-year, full-time program integrates courses like motor behavior, performance consulting, physiology, sports science, behavior change, and athletic enhancement before fieldwork. Admission depends on students completion of a WSCUC-accredited or equivalent bachelor’s with a minimum 2.49 GPA.

Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology

Organized by Dr. Brian P. Tilley, NU’s Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology is a 90-unit, non-thesis program available at 11 California campuses from Bakersfield to San Diego to introduce the professional standards needed to devise mental health treatment plans in multicultural communities. Two three-course sequences are split for those becoming Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCCs) and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFTs). Behavioral sciences courses are applied with 280+ clock hours at approved practicum centers like Alternatives to Violence, Care of Capo Beach, and Five Acres.

Master of Science in School Psychology with PPSP Credential

The NCATE-accredited Sanford College of Education houses another of the Master’s in Psychology degree programs in California at National, the Master of Science in School Psychology with the PPSP Credential. With a 20:1 student-professor ratio, this 90-unit option trains graduates to apply psychological principles in PreK-12 buildings to develop school-wide mental health initiatives for healthy development. Along with the 450+ practicum hours supervised by credentialed psychologists, the curriculum integrates online sessions with 16 Saturday meetings at seven California locations from Rancho Cordova to Woodland Hills.


• National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)

• WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)


4560 California Avenue, Suite 300

Bakersfield, CA 93309

(661) 864-2360

Program Link

705 Palomar Airport Road, Suite 150

Carlsbad, CA 92011

(760) 268-1500

Program Link

3390 Harbor Boulevard

Costa Mesa, CA 92626

(714) 429-5100

Program Link

20 East River Park Place W.

Fresno, CA 93720

(559) 256-4900

Program Link

5245 Pacific Concourse Drive, Suite 100

Los Angeles, CA 90045

(310) 662-2000

Program Link

10901 Gold Center Drive

Rancho Cordova, CA 95670

(916) 855-4100

Program Link

760 Cypress Avenue, Suite 210

Redding, CA 96001

(530) 226-4000

Program Link

804 East Brier Drive

San Bernardino, CA 92408

(909) 806-3300

Program Link

3520 Brookside Road

Stockton, CA 95219

(209) 475-1400

Program Link

9388 Lightwave Avenue

San Diego, CA 92123

(858) 541-7700

Program Link

3678 Aero Court

San Diego, CA 92123

(858) 309-3400

Program Link

6300 Canoga Avenue

Woodland Hills, CA 91367

(818) 932-2460

Program Link

Notre Dame de Namur University

College of Arts & Sciences

Given the CIC College Success Award, Notre Dame de Namur University is a private, co-educational Catholic school attracting 804 post-grad Argos to its 50-acre campus in the Silicon Valley. Placed 272nd nationally for financial value in The Economist, NDNU is a “College of Distinction” was ranked the 44th best Western university by the U.S. News. Also applauded for America’s #2 best grad psychology courses by SR Education Group, the College of Arts & Sciences offers classes of 12 to 25 students across 21 academic departments.

Master of Science in Clinical Psychology (MSCP)

Priced at $896 per unit, NDNU’s Master of Science in Clinical Psychology (MSCP) is one of the most self-designed Master’s in Psychology degree programs in California offering four tracks of value-based learning to promote integrative behavioral change. The 37-unit Generalist option uses late afternoon and weekend courses to quickly prepare for Ph.D. study. The 60-unit MFT concentration produces licensed marriage and family therapists for relational practice. The 67-unit LPCC concentration fills the San Francisco Bay Area’s pipeline of licensed clinical counselors. The eight-unit Certificate in Clinical Gerontology bolsters LMFT or LPCC skills for assisting elderly adults.


• WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)


1500 Ralston Ave.

Belmont, CA 94002

(650) 508-3665

Program Link

Pacifica Graduate Institute

Celebrating its 40th anniversary, Pacifica Graduate Institute is a private, employee-owned higher learning institution with WSCUC accreditation that’s directed by Chancellor Stephen Aizenstat to educate 667 post-grads from a 35-acre campus in the Santa Barbara suburbs. Charging average tuition at $30,100 per year, Pacifica offers unique access to work collections from Joseph Campbell, Marija Gimbutas, and James Hillman. Rooted in Sigmund Freud’s and Carl Gustav Jung’s perspectives, Pacifica’s psychology degree programs rank in America’s top 15 percent on College Factual.

Masters in Counseling Psychology

Led by Dr. Willow Young, the Masters in Counseling Psychology at Pacifica grants a Master of Arts for post-grads delving into the human psyche to collect the therapeutic intervention skills to systematically change client behavior from diverse theoretical standpoints. Reporting an 85 percent pass rate, the 93-unit curriculum qualifies therapists for LPCC and LMFT licensing. Besides courses scheduled from 9am to 9pm, the 10-quarter program also includes 280 practicum hours at approved sites like Aspen Counseling Center, Helpline Youth Counseling, Jean Garvin School, and Kaiser Permanente Hospice.

M.A./Ph.D. in Community Psychology, Liberation Psychology & Ecopsychology

Accepting applications until May 15th or August 15th yearly, Pacifica’s M.A./Ph.D. in Community Psychology, Liberation Psychology & Ecopsychology stands out among Master’s in Psychology degree programs in California for delivering two degrees with dynamic dialogue from a transformative approach. Available with nine three-day sessions each month, the five-year curriculum blends advanced courses like indigenous psychologies with ecopsychological fieldwork and doctoral dissertation research. Since 2015, there’s been a Paul D. Coverdell Fellows track for returning Peace Corps volunteers from Guinea, Jamaica, Romania, and more.


• WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)


801 Ladera Lane

Santa Barbara, CA 93108

(805) 969-3626

Program Link

Palo Alto University

Master’s Programs Division

Located on Arastradero Road in Santa Clara County in Forbes’ 36th “Most Expensive Zip Code,” Palo Alto University is a WSCUC-accredited, private social sciences institution affiliated with Stanford University that’s using the Boulder scientist-practitioner model to serve 1,081 students. Directed by President Maureen O’Connor, Ph.D., Palo Alto was ranked A for weather and B- for local area with an average net price of $7,334 on Chegg. The Master’s Programs Division has two academics options for LPCC licensure, including one graduate psychology degree ranked 170th nationally by the USNWR.

M.S. Psychology Online

Giving highly structured doctoral prep without relocating, the MS in Psychology Online is a part-time, low-residency program that begins every Fall quarter for ambitious post-grads with a 3.3 GPA or better. After one face-to-face intensive in Palo Alto, students spend one year and nine months online sharpening their behavioral research methodologies. The 46-unit degree involves courses like statistics, psychopathology, adult development, cognition, clinical intervention, and personality. Weekly evening online classes cost $21,056 per year for the roughly 30 students enrolled. Graduates seamlessly transition into the APA-accredited Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with specializations from LGBT to Forensics for training in the Gronowski Center.


• WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)


Allen Calvin Campus

1791 Arastradero Road

Palo Alto, CA 94304

(650) 417-2051

Program Link

Pepperdine University

Graduate School of Education and Psychology

Established by philanthropist George Pepperdine during the Great Depression, Pepperdine University sits atop an 830-acre, Mediterranean Revival campus in Malibu overlooking the Palos Verdes Peninsula to educate 4,264 post-grad Waves as a private, Christian NAICU research institution endowed $793 million. Once ranked #1 in The Princeton Review’s “High Quality of Life,” Pepperdine is declared the United States’ 107th top private university with the 127th best academics by Niche. Featuring an average financial aid package of $36,881, the Graduate School of Education and Psychology meets CAEP standards while delivering the 143rd best psychology education nationally according to the U.S. News.

MA in Psychology

At the West LA, Irvine, and Encino locations, Pepperdine’s MA in Psychology is a Churches of Christ values-oriented, two-year program that’s charging $1,195 per unit for post-grads to understand the clinical science of behavior for application in social services fields or further doctoral study. Starting each Fall, Spring, and Summer, the 36-48 unit curriculum involves weeknight and occasional weekend courses covering the spectrum from group therapy to career development theory. Second-year students complete two community service placements at approved sites like Bienestar Human Services, El Centro De Ayuda, and Chrysalis Downtown.

MA in Clinical Psychology with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy

Using a shared-learning cohort model, the MA in Clinical Psychology with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy is another of the Master’s in Psychology degree programs in California that fulfills LMFT licensing with a practical foundation in relational counseling. For $1,495 per unit, the 60-66 unit degree is completed with daytime courses in Malibu or evening courses in West LA, Encino, and Irvine. Requisite courses like substance abuse, human sexuality, psychotherapy, and mental health systems let post-grads join Pepperdine’s alumni network of 20,000. The MFT Clinical Training and Professional Development Office also arranges practicum.

Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy Online

Conducted by the same Ph.D.-level faculty trained at UCLA, Berkeley, Miami, Loma Linda, and more, the Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy Online lets aspiring LMFTs earn the MA in Clinical Psychology within 11-12 online sessions for 62 total units. Online courses prepare for strengths-based, relational counseling with courses like family assessment, mental health diagnosis, psychopharmacology, and interpersonal skills. Four clinical rotations are included conveniently across California from Gateways Hospital to Heritage Oaks Hospital. Logging into the Adobe Connect web conferences will cost $1,495 per unit, but funds like the Education for Life Scholarship are helpful.

MA in Clinical Psychology with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy with Latinas/os

Empowered by the Aliento Center for Latina/o Communities, Pepperdine’s MA in Clinical Psychology with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy with Latino/as is delivered solely in Irvine for future LMFTs to focus on serving California’s Hispanic citizens for healthy, loving relationships. Beginning a global immersion trip to Spanish-speaking countries like Mexico or Peru, the 66-72 unit curriculum devotes 26 units to Latina/o-specific courses. The three-year, full-time program bills $1,195 per unit in small courses with a 13:1 student-faculty ratio. Manifested in the works of Gustavo Gutierrez, the degree uses a recovery model with two bilingual practica.

MS in Behavioral Psychology

Accessed solely at the West Los Angeles location for $1,195 per unit, the MS in Behavioral Psychology is one of the few Master’s in Psychology degree programs in California that focuses on producing applied behavior analysts for treating children or adults with autism. Spanning 1.5 or two years, the 36-credit degree involves evening courses starting after 5pm and some online modules to promote the best practices for behavioral change. From a scholar-practitioner model, the BCBA-aligned curriculum also begins accruing the 1,500 practice hours for certification. Applications are accepted until August 1st for bachelor’s holders with a 3.0 GPA or better.


• Council on Accreditation for Educator Preparation (CAEP)

• WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)


24255 Pacific Coast Highway

Malibu, CA 90263

(310) 258-2850

18111 Von Karman Avenue

Irvine, CA 92612

(949) 223-2500

16830 Ventura Blvd. Suite 200

Encino, CA 91436

(888) 339-0109

6100 Center Drive

Los Angeles, CA 90045

(888) 339-0109

Program Link

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Phillips Graduate University

Coordinated by Provost Dr. Ellie Kaucher, Phillips Graduate University is a private, nonprofit post-baccalaureate behavioral sciences institution drawing on Clinton E. Phillips’ monumental family systems theory to produce over 3,000 psychologists and support 300,000 low-income, multicultural families. Strategically located near Ronald Reagan Freeway in Chatsworth just a 43-minute drive from Downtown LA, Phillips holds WSCUC accreditation and was highly recommended with 4.47 stars on Currently, Phillips educates 322 post-grads with a median age of 37 years in six academic programs.

Marriage & Family Therapy (MA in Psychology)

Established in 1971, the Marriage & Family Therapy (MA in Psychology) option immerses Phillips post-grads in full-day courses any day from Monday through Saturday with a three-hour weekly Case Conference to prepare for the California LMFT designation. Using an experiential philosophy to train students on cutting-edge marital therapy developments, the 60-unit degree begins practicum at the on-site David H. Fox Counseling Center in the second term. A sum of 450 clinical hours are required via the Latino Family Therapy, School-Based Child Therapy, Clinical Postmodern Therapy, or Co-Occurring Disorders traineeships.

School Psychology/Pupil Personnel Services Credential (MA in Psychology)

Estimated to cost $22,204 yearly, the School Psychology/Pupil Personnel Services Credential (MA in Psychology) at Phillips meets the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing guidelines for practitioners who focus on nurturing social, vocational, academic, and emotional development in PreK-12 buildings. Emphasizing positive behavioral supports, the 63-unit, NASP-approved degree blends full-day Chatsworth courses with 450 practicum hours and a 1,200-hour internship over three years. Possible placements include Ernest Lawrence Middle School, Wildwood Elementary School, and Simi Valley High School. There’s a similar School Counseling/Pupil Personnel Services Credential (MA in Psychology) that’s less intensive at 55 units too.

Marriage & Family Therapy/Art Therapy (MA in Psychology)

Visual and fine artists will find Phillips’ Marriage & Family Therapy/Art Therapy (MA in Psychology) among the most unique Master’s in Psychology degree programs in California with AATA approval to systematically encourage clients’ healing through creative expression. For dual LMFT and ATCB credentialing, the 64-unit joint program bills $854 per unit for five to seven semesters of courses from studio art to group dynamics and sex therapy. Other graduation requirements include 700 practicum hours, 24 personal therapy hours, and an exit exam. Many also volunteer with the Los Angeles Unified School District’s “Share and Care” Program.


• American Art Therapy Association (AATA)

• WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)


19900 Plummer Street

Chatsworth, CA 91311

(818) 386-5660

Program Link

According to the APA, the costs for master’s in psychology degrees at 496 U.S. institutions surveyed ranged from $8,640 to $34,000 annually. Graduate school is a hefty investment, so applier beware. Practice your evidence-based analysis skills to research which colleges align with your career goals, have high internship match rates, excel on the EPPP exam, promote active research communities, and won’t leave large debt loads. Self-awareness is also important to determine which grad schools are more likely to accept your GPA, GRE/MAT score, and experience level. Venturing into master’s psychology programs isn’t easy, but the reward could be a gratifying, helping occupation with a mean annual wage of $94,650. Keep poring through the Master’s in Psychology degree programs in California here before making your admission commitment.

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