North Carolina Psychology Graduate Programs: Master's & PhD

What is a Psychology Graduate Program?

Psychology graduate programs include coursework, research, and sometimes clinical experience in psychology. They may help students pursue career paths related to the human mind and behavior.

Graduate students study Psychology to gain insight into human challenges. They apply what they've learned to new problems and complete projects in an area of interest.

Psychology graduate programs cover the human mind, personality, and behavior. They explore the ways people interact with each other and the world.

One main application for these programs is addressing mental health problems. You may study what abnormal psychology looks like. And, you may learn how to treat patients with conditions like depression or addiction.

Psychology Graduate Programs: Master's & PhD infographicwritten by Shannon Fandler

What Types of Psychology Graduate Programs Are There?

A psychology graduate degree can be earned at the Master’s and doctorate degree levels. At the doctoral level, psychologists often earn either a PhD in Psychology or a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree.

Different Master’s programs in Psychology include the M.S. (Master of Science) and M.A. (Master of Arts) degrees. The M.S. may focus more on scientific research, while the M.A. may apply psychology theory to behavioral and societal issues. You can also find many different concentrations.

Types of Psychology Majors

  1. (explore the use of techniques and psychological concepts to create behavioral changes)
  2. (focuse on treating mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders)
  3. (explore the ways humans learn, mature and adapt through their lifespan)
  4. (learn scientific methods to improve performance and productivity at both the employee and corporate levels)
  5. (gain a better understanding of criminal behavior)
  6. (learn how to assess mental health challenges and plan a treatment approach)

Popular Psychology Graduate Degrees in North Carolina

Psychology degrees are reported by the National Center for Education Statistics under the category of Psychology.

According to the most recent data (2015/16), 34,177 Psychology degrees were awarded to U.S. graduate students. That is up 4% from 2013/14. The majority (81.9%) of these programs were at the Master’s level. This would indicated that a master's degree is the most popular graduate program in psychology. 

ProgramInstitutionDegree Awarded
Interdisciplinary Training Program for Graduate Study in Cognitive Neuroscience - DoctorateDuke UniversityN/A
PsychologyNorth Carolina Central UniversityMSCP
Clinical PsychologyUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillPhD
Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology - Health Psychology National UniversityPhD
M.S. in Mental Health and Wellness with an Emphasis in Community Mental Health AdministrationGrand Canyon UniversityMS
Master of Science in PsychologyPurdue GlobalMSCP
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Do You Need a Graduate Degree in Psychology?

Career paths that require a psychology graduate degree are growing. For instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that Mental Health Counselor roles will increase 23% by 2026. The same applies to Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors. New jobs may arise from the demand for mental health services among veterans, people with addictions, and others.

You do need a graduate degree in psychology for most career paths in this field. For instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that most psychologists need to earn a doctorate in Psychology.

The amount of education you’ll need also depends on your state’s licensing laws. For example, Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors in private practice must hold a license. In all states, that means earning a Master’s degree and completing supervised clinical experience.

What Psychology Jobs Can You Get with a Graduate Degree?

Many career paths that need a graduate degree in psychology involve working with patients. You could treat people for mental illness or counsel them to resolve personal challenges. Mental Health Counselors are a good example of this. They address mental health concerns ranging from stress and relationship problems to depression and suicidal thoughts.  Clinical and Counseling Psychologists have similar goals but may use different techniques. For instance, Clinical Psychologists often give diagnostic tests and design behavior modification programs.

Other career paths involve research or solving problems by applying principles of psychology. For instance, Industrial-Organizational Psychologists help improve productivity and morale in the workplace. They may help organizational leaders plan policies and training programs that get results.

Annual Mean Wage for Psychology Careers


Annual Mean Wage


Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists



Industrial-Organizational Psychologists



Psychology Teachers, Postsecondary



Marriage and Family Therapists



Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors



Top States for Psychology Employment: Psychologists (All Other)



Annual Mean Wage
















Top Salary Metro Areas in North Carolina: Psychologists, All Other
Metro AreaAnnual Mean SalaryEmployment
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC$94,88060

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Psychologists who don’t work in healthcare could take part in a variety of industries. Forensic psychologists work within the criminal justice system and apply their knowledge in the courtroom. School psychologists work in educational settings, addressing student behavioral and learning challenges.

Masters in Psychology vs PhD in Psychology?

A Master’s in Psychology is typically the minimum education requirement for many career paths related to Psychology. A Master’s program usually covers an in-depth overview of the field, including research methods.  

Ultimately, most psychologists need to earn a PhD or Psy.D. to meet state licensure requirements. A PhD program delves deeper into the field, with an emphasis on research. Expect to take courses in statistics and experimental procedures. Often, doctoral programs help students prepare for a particular branch of psychology. For instance, you could specialize in addictions or health psychology. To graduate, you usually need to pass a comprehensive exam and write an original dissertation.

Pursuing a PhD in Psychology could be your next move after earning your Master’s. Either program (or both!) could be a step toward your career goals. You could even pursue a dual Master’s/PhD program, where you enter with a Bachelor’s degree and earn your Master’s on the way to achieving your PhD.

Psychology Graduate Degree Guide

Masters in Psychology

PhD in Psychology

Sponsored Degree Example: MA in Psychology

PhD in Clinical Psychology

Length of Program: 36 credits, 76 weeks

Length of Program: 6 years

This program focuses on applying psychology principles to human experience. Students explore theories, research methods, and ethics in the field. Coursework also includes developmental, social, and counseling psychology.

This program uses a scientist-practitioner model, with a focus on research and clinical experiences. Choose from concentrations in health psychology, clinical child psychology, and neuropsychology.

  • Personality Theories
  • Psychopathology
  • Learning & Cognition
  • Applied Social Psychology
  • Psychological Testing & Assessment
  • Psychobiological Foundations
  • Research Methods in Psychological Sciences
  • The Nature of Emotion
  • Clinical Supervision and Consultation

No specific program accreditations

Accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA)

What Classes Are Needed for a Psychology Graduate Degree?

Psychology graduate programs cover the scientific foundations of psychology. And, they cover professional applications for that knowledge. You could study developmental psychology and the biological bases of human behavior. You may also take courses in professional practices, ethics, and research methods. And if you pursue a concentration, expect to take in-depth courses in that area.

Courses you could take include:

  • History, Systems & Philosophy of Psychology
  • Psychopharmacology
  • Cognitive/Intellectual Assessment
  • Drug Addiction
  • Life Span Development
  • Multicultural and Gender Issues
  • Personality Disorders
  • Group Dynamics
  • Statistics

What Courses Will I Take?

You could take core and concentration courses in psychology, plus electives in areas of interest to you. Common courses include:

  • Psychopathology. This course explores disorders in psychology. Expect to study the causes and diagnostic criteria of mental illnesses. You could also learn how to treat these disorders.
  • Behavior Analysis. This course covers adaptive and pathological behavior. You could explore factors that influence behavior. And, you could study how behaviors are learned.
  • Psychotherapy. A course in Psychotherapy focuses on how to treat mental illness. You’ll study assessment methods, intervention strategies, and how to work with patients.
  • Personality Psychology. Many programs offer a course that explores personality. You could study factors that make up a person’s identity and self-concept. These include gender, culture, and environmental influences.
  • Research in Psychology. Research is generally an important part of graduate school. Expect to take one or more courses in research methods – like statistical data analysis and hypothesis testing.

What Should I know About Accreditation and Licensure in Psychology?

Earning a graduate degree in psychology from an accredited program might be important, depending on your career goals. For example, you may need to graduate from an APA-accredited program to earn professional licensure in your state.

The American Psychological Association (APA) accredits the following psychology graduate programs:

  • Doctoral psychology programs in Clinical Psychology, Counseling Psychology, School Psychology, or combination programs
  • Doctoral internships
  • Postdoctoral residency programs

APA bases accreditation on factors like the breadth and quality of what students learn. The goal is to make sure what is being taught in your program meets current industry standards.

APA only accredits doctoral-level programs. But, the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC) helps fill the gap. They accredit Master’s programs in counseling and psychology, with a focus on science-based and culturally responsive education.

And if you’re pursuing a counseling psychology program, CACREP should be on your radar. CACREP stands for the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. They accredit Master’s and doctoral programs in counseling.

How Long is Graduate School for Psychology?

That depends on the graduate program and your enrollment status. Doctorate in psychology programs usually take four to six years for full-time students. Psychology master’s programs are usually around two years. However, some take as little as one year.


# of Credits Required

Starts Per Year

Minimum Months to Complete

Life University




Northcentral University


52 weekly start dates


The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Chicago




Pepperdine University


4 (January, April, July, and October)


How Much Does Graduate School Cost for Psychology?

The average cost of a graduate degree from a public institution is $11,617 per year. This means you will be able to find programs both more affordable and more expensive than the average.

This visualization shows graduate tuition costs of four institutions with psychology graduate programs as reported by the NCES. We have then compared those costs to the typically most affordable and most expensive college options, also reported by NCES.

        Instate/Out Of State Tuition


$9,800 University of Western States
$11,617 Average Public Institution University
$14,784 Average Private For Profit Institution Tuition
$18,594 Loyola University Chicago
$22,896 Fairleigh Dickinson University
$26,551 Average Private Nonprofit Institution Tuition
$41,015 Regis College

What are the Costs per Credit for Masters and PhD in Psychology?

Cost per credit varies by college or university. And, state universities may have in-state costs vs. out-of-state costs. Below are a few examples of the cost per credit as reported by these institutions offering graduate psychology programs.


# of Credits Required

Cost Per Credit

Total Tuition Cost

Purdue University Global

60 to 75


$25,200 to $31,500

Grand Canyon University 




Capella University

107 quarter credits

$530 (per semester credit, or 1.5 quarter credits)


Saybrook University 

68 to 83


$78,200 to $95,450

Best 70 Graduate Schools for Psychology in North Carolina:

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  • 97% of alumni agree FlexPath provided the flexibility they needed to pursue their degree (Alumni Outcomes Survey 2017)
  • No application fee for April & June terms
  • Some of the nation's most affordable tuition rates, from a private, nonprofit, NEASC accredited university
  • Qualified students with 2.5 GPA and up may receive up to $20K in grants & scholarships
  • Multiple term start dates throughout the year. 24/7 online classroom access
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