California Masters of Psychology Programs

California is a land of cultural diversity, innovation, and technical advancement, so it may come as no surprise that it is also a place that attracts top-notch schools and faculty. This is no exception for the field of psychology. There are many master’s degree and doctorate programs in psychology in California, enough to fit every student’s specific list of needs when it comes to choosing a school. In this article, we’ll break down the programs offered in the state by category, though some will overlap. We will examine California’s no GRE psychology programs, accelerated psychology programs in California, affordable California psychology programs, accredited psychology programs, and online psychology programs in California.

Online Psychology Masters Programs in California

As technology becomes more accessible and advanced, more and more schools are turning to online programs to expand their offerings to as many people as possible. California universities with online psychology programs are growing in number, and these programs are offered in many different areas of psychology. Here are a few California online programs in psychology.

Palo Alto University
Master of Science in Psychology

This fully online program offers several concentrations, including General Psychology, Forensic Psychology, and Ph.D. Prep, and Tech and Mental Health. None of these programs requires that students complete a thesis, though the Ph.D. Prep program requires students to travel to Palo Alto for a one-week intensive course on clinical interviewing. The program takes 37.5 or 47 quarter units of coursework to complete, depending on the concentration. This program does not require students to take the GRE before applying.

Saybrook University
Master of Arts in Psychology

Students of this program graduate ready to expand on their current careers, enter new careers in non-licensed research and clinical work, or continue into a Ph.D. in Psychology program. The program takes two to three years to complete and focuses on research methods and applying those findings to various settings and fields. Students can choose to declare a specialization in Consciousness, Spirituality, and Integrative Health; Creativity Studies; Existential, Humanistic, and Transpersonal Psychology; Psychophysiology; or Generalist (which integrates all of the previously mentioned specializations. While there is a one-week residency requirement per academic year, most courses can be completed via distance learning.

University of California Irvine
Master of Legal and Forensic Psychology

This online course, offered by the Department of Psychological Science and the Department of Criminology, Law and Society, trains students in the skills related to the intersection of psychology, research, and the legal process. The two-year program requires 52 credits to graduate. Before beginning the program, students attend a mandatory one-week in-residence course. From then on, the program consists of six online courses per year. Students complete a capstone project during their second year, which is an independent term paper instead of a thesis. Application to this program does not require GRE scores.

Sofia University
Master of Arts in Transpersonal Psychology

Sofia University’s MA in Transpersonal Psychology is unique to this school, according to the school’s website. The program is conducted online, but it has two five-day residencies, which are essentially retreats done either in-person or via teleconferencing depending on safety concerns. These retreats are an opportunity for students to connect and their faculty and put their learning into practice. The two-year program offers students several concentrations, including transformative life coaching, creativity and innovation, and spiritual psychology. Students can also choose to do a secondary concentration in transpersonal ecopsychology.

Fielding Graduate University
Master’s in Applied Media Psychology

Fielding has a 2-year online psychology program that takes 40 credits to complete. The school touts its program as being “for the working professional,” which means coursework is designed with the understanding that students are juggling many responsibilities at once. Students work with faculty and other students in the program to explore the interaction of media, technology, and the human mind. Students use the skills learned in this program to analyze consumption patterns and engagement and explore how people react to technology and media and how they can be used to make a positive social impact.

University of Arizona Global Campus
Master of Arts in Psychology

This online program strives to combine theory and practice and has students integrate their learning into hands-on research projects. Over their two years, students explore topics like developmental, social, and biological psychology. The program is offered on an accelerated basis with 6-week-long courses, and it culminates in a capstone project in the final year as a way of reflecting on their time in the program.

Accredited Psychology Programs in California

Many graduate programs must be accredited by an outside agency for the coursework to satisfy academic requirements for future licensure or qualification that students may wish to pursue. A program that has received accreditation simply means that the program meets minimum quality standards defined by the government or other assessing organizations or groups. Generally, there is no set accreditation for psychology graduate programs. However, there may be accreditation that is expected or required for certain areas of study within the field of psychology. Here are a few programs that have received accreditation from various accrediting agencies.

University of La Verne (NASP)
Master of Science in School Psychology

Students in La Verne’s program learn the fundamentals of counseling and psychology for PK-12 settings, and students take part in the Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) Credential program, which is part of ensuring future school psychologists have a culturally sensitive approach to the environments in which they find themselves. Students also work toward the School Psychology Internship Credential. The College of Education, where the program is offered, is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation. The program itself is accredited by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

Azusa Pacific University (WSCUC)
Master’s in Organizational Psychology

Accredited by the Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), students learn what makes organizations and the people who work in them thrive. With their education at Azusa, students will be equipped to go out into the world and diagnose organizational health, develop change initiatives and implement them, administer job satisfaction surveys, increase morale and employee retention, hire and train talent, and advise and build functional teams. While we have chosen to place this program in the accredited category, the Master’s in Organizational Psychology at Azusa has an online option as well as an on-campus program. It is also among the more cheap California psychology programs with a base cost of $26,520.

California State University Los Angeles
Master of Science in Counseling, option in School Psychology

This unique program is designed to create future school psychologists who will work in education settings to examine and implement success measures for students. The focus of this program is the psychoeducational development of people from birth to the age of 21. The program takes three years to complete on a full-time basis. It is accredited by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), and the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC).

California State University Long Beach
Master of Science in Psychology, Option in Human Factors

This program focuses on a unique area where psychology interacts with human functioning. Also known as ergonomics or engineering psychology, the human factors field is the study of human behavior for designing products, equipment, and systems for people to use safely and effectively. Students who graduate from the program are prepared to apply research and skills to designing jobs, info systems, consumer products, workplaces, and equipment. This program is accredited by the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.

California State University East Bay (NASP)
School Psychology Graduate Program

The school psychology program at CalState East Bay, located in Hayward, is designed to prepare students to work as counselors and psychologists in educational settings to provide social justice and equity for students regardless of socioeconomic background. The program takes three years to complete on a full-time basis and includes two years of coursework and a 1200 hour-minimum internship in the final year. The program is accredited by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).

California State University Monterey Bay (NASP)
Master of Science in School Psychology

Students of this program are prepared to work as advocates of student well-being. The program integrates evidence-based practice into the program, and interdisciplinary training is a core value of coursework creation and implementation. From the beginning of the program, students have practicum-based experiences in intervention and assessment, and they get the chance to have diverse placements in the area. Students are trained to be school psychologists who support English learners and students who have immigrated from other countries. The program is accredited by the NASP.

Humboldt State University

CalPoly Humboldt has three psychology programs for students to consider: Academic Research, Counseling, and School Psychology. The two-year degree in academic research gives students the option of specializing in behavior analysis, neuroscience, developmental psychology, and social/cognitive psychology. The school psychology program takes three years, with the first two years focused on coursework and the last year dedicated to supervised fieldwork. The school psychology program is accredited by the NASP.

California State University Chico
Master of Arts in Psychology

CalState Chico offers the M.A. in Psychology with two options: an option in psych science and applied/school psychology. The applied/school psychology option is accredited through CASP and NCSP at both the state and the national level. Students of this program are trained to be school psychologists, who work with educators, parents, and other mental health providers to make sure students are learning in safe, healthy, and supportive environments. The option in psych science is focused on academic areas of psychology and prepares students to either pursue a doctorate or teach at the community college level. The application for this program does not require the submission of GRE scores.

No GRE Required Masters in Psychology Programs in California

The state of California has many Master’s in Psychology programs that do not require the GRE. The GRE is a standardized test that graduate school applicants have traditionally taken to assess academic readiness for continued education. In recent years, however, and particularly since the Covid19 pandemic, many schools have chosen to forego the requirement of GRE scores with the application and focus on other application materials, like letters of recommendation. Here are some of the programs that do not require the GRE.

Notre Dame De Namur University
Master of Science in Clinical Psychology

This program is designed to prepare students for future doctoral work. The program can also be used as a terminal program for students hoping to work in an unlicensed capacity in many settings, including clinical, medical, research, social service, and administrative settings. Along with practicums for training, students take courses in cognitive behavioral therapy, human sexuality, lifespan development, research, psychopathology, and many more.

Antioch University Los Angeles
Master of Arts in Psychological Studies

Antioch’s undergraduate and graduate program offerings in psychology are fairly diverse, but the MA in Psychological Studies is geared specifically toward research. While participation in the program does not satisfy the education requirements for licensure as a psychologist or therapist in California. However, students will be well-equipped to continue into a doctoral program or work in various non-licensed settings. The 48-unit degree has students working with faculty as mentees, with faculty acting as advisors as students navigate their academic and career goals. To finish the program, students must take part in a culminating project, like a thesis, project, or non-clinical practicum.

Mount Saint Mary’s University
Master of Science in Counseling Psychology

Located in downtown Los Angeles, this on-campus M.S. tailors the program to each student. Furthermore, students can choose a specialization in general counseling psychology, marriage and family therapy, or marriage and family therapy with an ¡enlaces! certificate in which classes are taught in both English and Spanish. This is meant to prepare students to work with clients in the Spanish-speaking community. Students are also guided through a traineeship in their last year, in which students put their learning into practice by working with clients in clinics within the community.

California State University Fresno
Master of Arts in Psychology (General/Experimental)

California State’s psychology program takes a mentorship model with its students, with faculty acting as guides for participants in the program. Students learn foundational theories, experimental design, research, and quantitative methods during their time in the MA. By the end of the program, students are prepared to go on to study for a doctoral degree, teach, or work in research settings. One unique function of this program is its focus on small numbers. In some cases, only one graduate student is working with a faculty member, or there may be small groups of two or three working together.

Dominican University of California
Master of Science in Counseling Psychology

Students of this on-campus program learn diagnosis, assessment, client advocacy, communication, and treatment planning as well as current law and professional ethics related to psychology and client situations. Students work with faculty in small classes with at most 20 students. Furthermore, students have the freedom to adapt their curriculum schedule to meet the needs of their lifestyle and life situation, as classes are offered in the late afternoon and evening and on the weekend. While the general M.S. does not lead to licensure, students who wish to satisfy the requirements for licensure can complete the program concentration in either marriage and family therapy (MFT) or professional clinical counseling (PCC).

California State University Northridge
Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology

This MA offers two options for students of the program: clinical research and clinical fieldwork. Students in both tracks are paired with a faculty mentor and learn statistics and research methods as well as clinical areas like psychopathology, psychological assessment, and psychotherapy theories. Students in the clinical research option complete a research project with their mentor faculty member, which culminates in their thesis. Students of the clinical fieldwork option, on the other hand, with their faculty mentor to secure and complete a fieldwork placement, which culminates in an exam.

San Jose State University
Master of Arts in Research and Experimental Psychology

Students of this program graduate with the ability to continue their academic career and get a Ph.D. in Psychology, or they can enter the workforce in the business, industry, or research setting. The program prioritizes mastering statistical and methodological procedures, research experience, and critical thinking skills. Luckily for some, the school does accept GRE scores but does not require them to be considered for admittance.

San Jose State University
Master of Science in Industrial and Organizational Psychology

San Jose’s M.S. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology emphasizes the scientist-practitioner model, with students learning excellence in research skills and critical thinking. Students of the program are prepared to research and form and implement plans in the workplace on issues such as work engagement and motivation, workforce diversity and inclusion, organizational development and change, talent acquisition and management, occupational health psychology, data analytics and statistical analysis, job satisfaction and productivity, learning and development, and employee selection and retention. Submission of GRE scores with the application is optional.

California Lutheran University
Master of Science in Clinical Psychology

The program takes two years full-time to complete and focuses on both practical clinical and research skills. In their first year, students learn statistical modeling and how to apply R statistical programming language for data visualization and exploratory data analysis to help answer research questions. The second year is focused on formulating, researching, and completing an independent research project or thesis under the supervision of a faculty member. The program does not require GRE scores with the application.

Pepperdine University
Master of Arts in Psychology

Students interested in careers in non-licensed clinical work or research opportunities or those who want to continue into a Ph.D. program will want to consider this program from Pepperdine University. The program takes 1.5 to 2 years to complete, and classes can be taken in the evening to accommodate working students. The program is offered both online and on campus. No GRE is required to apply.

San Diego State University
Master of Arts in Psychology

This research-oriented program prepares students for further education in a Ph.D. program or work in research, medical, and academic settings. Coursework includes topics in behavioral and cognitive neuroscience, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, physical and/or mental health, and social psychology.

Accelerated California Psychology Masters Programs

Accelerated programs in California (or any state) are designed to take less time than traditional graduate school programs, which are generally two to three years in length. Accelerated programs, on the other hand, take between one and two years, which is typically accomplished by not including summer breaks or by having students take more than one course at a time. Some programs may accelerate their coursework by having students accomplish more in less time, such as allowing students to earn a joint master’s and Ph.D. or earning two master’s degrees at once. Here are some great accelerated psychology programs in California.

Claremont Graduate University

Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California, has seven no GRE master’s programs. They include a Master of Arts in Applied Cognitive Psychology, a Master of Arts in Applied Psychology: Public Health, a Master of Arts in Applied Social Psychology, a Master of Arts in Organizational Behavior and Evaluation, a Master of Arts in Positive Developmental Psychology and Evaluation, a Master of Arts in Positive Health Psychology, and a Master of Arts in Positive Organizational Psychology and Evaluation. These programs typically take two to three years to complete and incorporate hands-on training and coursework.

University of Southern California
Master of Science in Applied Psychology

The Master of Science in Applied Psychology is offered both online and on-campus at USC, which is located in Los Angeles. The on-campus option is a residential program which is a one-year intensive experience. Each year’s residential program is unique to that year and includes plenty of hands-on, experiential practice. The online program, on the other hand, consists of four semesters and can be completed in 16 months. Both programs combine consumer psychology and organizational psychology in their training of students.

University of California Riverside
Master of Arts in Educational Psychology

Participants in this program learn the basics of student learning and development, measurement, assessment, and program evaluation. Coursework and research are designed to prepare students for work in educational research, for leadership positions in school districts, or for Ph.D.-level coursework. The program takes one to two years to complete, depending on student needs and pace. Students can choose to either complete a thesis or take a comprehensive exam at the end of their graduate school career.

Alliant International University
Master of Arts in Organizational Psychology

This one-year, accelerated program trains students to analyze workplace functioning and design and implement strategies and initiatives to improve the work environment. Students learn in the classroom and the real world as they embark on experiential projects like surveys, interviews, talent assessments, leadership development, and designing programs for skill development and change. This program is offered on campus at the Fresno, Los Angeles, and San Diego campuses. It is also offered online.

Holy Names University
Master of Arts in Counseling and Forensic Psychology

This on-campus program at Holy Name University in Oakland allows students to earn two master’s degrees in one program. By the end of the program, students who have completed all requirements will earn both a master’s in forensic psychology and a counseling master’s degree. Furthermore, students will be eligible to continue in the licensure process as either a Marriage and Family Therapist or a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor. Beyond the clinical experiences, students will have to earn the academic hours required for licensure, students learn the basics of forensic assessment and the intersection of psychology and the justice system. The program requires students to complete 81 units of coursework.

Affordable California Masters in Psychology Programs

The rising costs of education have long been a point of discussion and contention for both those who have already spent money on academic study and those who are considering continuing their education. While few options give students a free education, there are ways to minimize costs. One option is to choose a more cost-effective program. Let’s take a look at some affordable psychology programs in California.

California Southern University
Master of Arts in Psychology, Master of Science in Psychology

California Southern University’s Behavioral Sciences School offers students many options for pursuing graduate-level psychology degrees. Whether students are continuing after finishing the school’s bachelor’s degree in psychology or coming in from a different background, the programs are geared toward students with different types of interest in the field. Students interested in research and theory might be attracted to the M.S. in Psychology program in which students work with faculty to create a strong foundation to move into a doctoral program. This program does not satisfy the requirements for licensure for clinical work. The MA, on the other hand, prepares students who are hoping to work with clients in a clinical setting. The program takes 42 credits to complete, and each credit costs $545. This price is slightly more approachable compared to many other California psychology programs.

California State University Los Angeles
Master of Arts in Psychology

The MA in Psychology is designed for students who want to hone their research and critical thinking skills and who have a goal of continuing their education at the doctoral level. Students who enter the program work with a faculty advisor who guides them through designing their program and toward their research goals. This program costs between $2,600 and $4,106 for a semester depending on how many units a student chooses to take.

California State University Los Angeles
Master of Science in Forensic Psychology

This program is for those interested in the intersection of psychology and the criminal justice system. Working closely with a faculty advisor, students learn the fundamentals of forensic psychology. Program participants also take part in a nine-month practicum in which they work on-site with supervision in a forensic setting based on their specific interests, such as a sheriff’s office, prisons, probation offices, Department of Children and Family Services counseling centers, rape crisis centers, and more. As this is another CalState L.A. program, tuition is the same as the last program mentioned, with students paying between $2,600 and $4,106 per semester depending on how many units students choose to take on at one time.

California State University Dominguez Hills
Master of Arts in Psychology

The MA in Psychology at CalState is designed for students who are interested in going on to enter a doctoral program, though many students finish the program and enter the workforce in fields related to the industry, mental health, community agency, and education settings. Students can choose either an option in clinical psychology, which has 33 units, or an option in health psychology, which has 36 units. This school lists tuition for graduate school students as $18,109, including mandatory fees, non-residential tuition fees ($396 per unit), book and supplies estimates, and the health insurance fee.

California State University Long Beach
Master of Arts in Psychological Research (MAPR)

This two-year program nurtures students in the fundamentals of psychology and psychological research. Upon graduation, students will be prepared to enter master’s-level work or continue into a doctoral program. Faculty members mentor students as they conduct their hands-on research and complete their capstone project, the thesis. Students attending this school part-time can expect to pay $2,665 per semester, while those attending full-time will pay around $4,171.

Other California Psychology Programs

Not every program fits into the above-mentioned categories, and the following four are among them. While some of these schools have waived the GRE temporarily due to Covid19, there is no indication this will become permanent, neither are they online, accelerated, or specifically accredited.

San Francisco State University
Master of Arts in Psychology

The MA program at San Francisco State University has three concentrations from which students can choose: Developmental; Mind, Brain, Behavior; and Social Psychology. In each concentration, students are prepared to enter careers in research, teaching, and fields directly related to their concentration at the master’s level upon completion of the program. Students will also be academically prepared and qualified to continue into a doctoral program if they choose. The program is designed to take two years to complete. The GRE has been temporarily waived.

San Francisco State University
Master of Science in Psychology

The M.S. in Psychology also has three concentrations: Clinical, School, and Industrial/Organizational Psychology. Depending on the concentration, the program takes between two and three years to complete. The clinical and school concentrations have a heavy focus on fieldwork, where students can apply their classroom learning. In contrast, the industrial/organizational psychology concentration emphasizes the scientist-practitioner model and has students either work on a thesis or take a culminating exam. While GRE scores are usually required with applications, they have been waived for the 2023 application cycle.

California State University Sacramento
Master of Arts in Psychology

There are two specializations within the MA in Psychology program at CalState Sacramento: General Psychology and Organizational-Industrial Psychology. Students in the General M.A. take part in supervised experiences from their first year. Students take part in research projects either as part of a team or individually, both under the supervision of a faculty member. Their research culminates in the presentation of their work at various conferences throughout the country. The Industrial-Organizational Psychology concentration focuses on the scientist-practitioner model, emphasizing the scientific method and practical applications. Students learn how to apply psychological principles to improved workplace environments. The program can be completed in 2.5 years.

John F. Kennedy University
Master of Arts in Sports Psychology

JFK University’s MA program has online, hybrid, and in-person options and takes two years to complete full-time or three years on a part-time basis. Experiential learning is a core focus of the sports psychology program, and students will have ample support from faculty as they embark on their extensive fieldwork requirements. For students interested in earning both a master’s and a Ph.D. in sports psychology, the school offers an expedited option that allows program participants to complete the master’s degree and Ph.D. concurrently.