The Most Lucrative Therapy Careers and the Degrees That Can Prepare You

So you want to be a therapist? You’re in luck! 

We really need more therapists.  

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected growth for most therapy jobs is well above the national average. The national average is 5%.

Growth in Therapy Careers

Take a look at how therapy jobs stack up to the average.

Projected Growth by Percentage: 

  • Marriage Counselor 22%
  • Psychologists 14%
  • Social Worker 11%
  • Substance Abuse Counselor 22%
  • Physical Therapist 22%
  • Occupational Therapist 18%
  • Speech Language Pathologist 27%

As you can see the projected growth for most therapy jobs over the next 10 years is significant. We anticipate the need to grow even further as the generations change. There are more instances of depression and anxiety amongst children than ever before.  The world really needs therapists.  

Therapists often refer to their job as a calling and we can see why. Therapists need to be able to interface with individuals who have undergone trauma, are depressed, feeling anxious, struggling to communicate with their significant other, engage in disordered eating patterns and much more.  These jobs require a lot of compassion, strength, and organizational skills.  

If you think you are ready to become a therapist then great!  The path to therapy is not a walk in the park but the end result is a high paying career that brings a lot of fulfillment and purpose to life.  

Purpose is no small thing. Purpose helps us to live longer lives and helps us to recover from adversity.Thanks to psychologists and neuroscientists we now understand the importance of finding purpose in everything and a career is no different. 

If therapy feels like a calling then it may be time to pursue a career in therapy.  As you know you will need to do more than fill out an application to land a job as a therapist.  There are a few routes to a career in therapy. Let’s take a closer look at how to become a therapist.


How Do I Become a Therapist? 

There are a few routes to becoming a therapist and they depend entirely on what type of therapist you would like to become.  You can obtain a PhD in Clinical Psychology, a Master of Social Work, a PsyD or a Master of Counseling.  Speech and language pathologists, behavior analysts, music drama and arts therapists, and physical therapists all have their own requirements.  Additionally, many people head back to school for additional training and certification such as a certification in play therapy or eating disorder therapy. 

Clinical Psychology 

If you are looking to become a clinical psychologist then you will need a PhD or PsyD. To gain entrance into a program it is important to have some research experience as well as some experience with psychology. It is not necessary to have a bachelor’s degree in psychology so consider other ways to obtain experience if you have an undergraduate degree in a field other than psychology.  To gain psychology knowledge consider auditing an experimental psychology course and volunteering to do research in a lab.

Social Work

A Master in Social Work is a route towards a career in mental health.  Though different from a psychologist, social workers have the option to work in private practice and many MSW programs offer specializations. Social workers have a lot of freedom in private practice and may also  work in hospitals and other centers for care. The job is in-demand and lucrative.  If you are considering heading back to school in order to counsel others and make a difference in your community, consider the LCSW. The online MSW in social work at Columbia is one of the best. 


Counseling 

A Master of Counseling degree is a good option if you are looking to pursue a career in counseling. There are programs in person and online. If you are interested in becoming a counselor check out the online counseling program at NYU.

School Counselor 

School counseling programs are different. They require either a master’s degree in school counseling or a doctor of school counseling.  These programs prepare you to become a counselor in the K-12 setting. Check out the Education Counselor degree at Vanderbilt.  

Perhaps you have a general desire to help people with no specific career path in mind. Everyone needs to make a living and financial success is an important motivator.  For this reason we compiled a list of the most lucrative jobs in therapy.  Many of the most lucrative jobs are the highest in demand. Take a look. 

The 20 Most Lucrative Therapy Careers

1

Eating Disorder Therapist

Average Earnings

$90,153

An eating disorder therapist works to help individuals engage in a healthy eating pattern and to teach skills to help patients engage in behavioral pattern changes.  The eating disorder therapist may treat patients with anorexia, bulimia, or morbid obesity. Take a look at a few of the job duties of an eating disorder therapist: 

  • Assess patients
  • Use techniques to help eliminate maladaptive behaviors related to food
  • Conduct family therapy
  • Track patient progress
  • Collaborate with the patient’s entire care team

As an eating disorder therapist it is not uncommon to interact with individuals who are very sick.  In fact, eating disorders may be lethal. Therefore it is important that an eating disorder therapist be capable of dealing with high-stress situations. Additionally, an eating disorder therapist will need at least a master’s degree but generally speaking requires a PhD to advance in this career. Finally, an eating disorder therapist should be compassionate.  The median salary for an eating disorder therapist is $90,153. 

2

Physical Therapists

Average Earnings

$87,930

A physical therapist helps a person physically recover from something be that an injury, a surgery, or an underuse of some kind. The physical therapist helps the patient recover by teaching them exercises that physically strengthen the body and bring balance back to the body.  Take a look at some of their job duties: 

  • Consult with patients
  • Diagnose movement disorders
  • Teach patients various exercises and techniques for strengthening 
  • Assist patients with assistive equipment like a wheel chair 
  • Track patient’s progress

As a physical therapist you must be intelligent and strong with a lot of patience as well as good communication. This is a very physically demanding job that requires time with people- it is essential that you enjoy working with people.  The median salary for a physical therapist is $87,930. 

3

Occupational Therapists

Average Earnings

$85,350

An occupational therapist works with people of all ages and abilities and encourages them to integrate their sensory experiences with hands-on activities.  Many occupational therapists work with disabled individuals and use special equipment to help those individuals adapt. Take a look at some of the job duties of an occupational therapist: 

  • Observe and assess patients and evaluate their conditions
  • Develop a treatment plan for a patient
  • Help autistic children engage in play activities
  • Work with the patient’s entire team including family members
  • Recommend special equipment

As an occupational therapist you will need to have a lot of stamina. This job requires physical play as well as a creative flair.  Occupational therapists often work with special needs children and adults but may work with myriad types of populations.  It is essential that an occupational therapist be compassionate.  The average salary for an occupational therapist is $85,350.

4

Speech Therapists

Average Earnings

$77,510

A speech therapist also known as a speech and language pathologist (SLP) must diagnose and treat all related disorders including swallowing disorders in children and adults. Speech-language pathologists are familiar with all issues involving communication.  Take a look at a speech therapist’s job duties: 

  • Evaluate and diagnose disorders
  • Treat the speech and language communication disorders 
  • Educate family and caregivers about ways to improve speech and language
  • Work alongside other professionals on speech and language goals
  • Train or supervise 

Speech therapists are in high demand and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this position is expected to grow at a rate of 27% which is much faster than the national average. Speech therapists are intelligent and patient people who are compassionate.  The median salary for an SLP is $77,510. 

5

Cognitive Therapists

Average Earnings

$77,000

A cognitive therapist helps individuals who are struggling with their personal mental well being. They help to identify thought patterns as well as behavioral patterns that may negatively impact their well being and design strategies to help that person change their mental well being. 

  • Assess a patient
  • Provide recommendations for that patient 
  • Research in the field and continuing education
  • Case management and administrative duties 
  • Help patients conduct behavioral experiments 

The median salary for a cognitive therapist is $77,000 per year. If you are interested in becoming a cognitive therapist it is important that you are compassionate and caring but also able to emotionally distance yourself from your patient’s.  All therapists will need this skill.  Additionally, it is important that you are organized and have the ability to work with a wide range of patients and disorders.  Many cognitive therapists choose to specialize. 

6

Marriage Therapists

Average Earnings

$75,437

A Marriage therapist works with couples during times of crisis. This may include during a separation or divorce.  Marriage therapists identify where there are psychological issues or communication issues or behavioral patterns that interfere with marital success. Take a look at some of the job duties of a marriage counselor:

  • Evaluate relationship problem
  • Observe the dynamics of a relationship
  • Treat psychological disorders that may interfere with the marriage
  • Help clients transition through tough changes like a divorce 
  • Point out behavioral problems and target those for change

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics marriage therapists are in demand- growing at a rate of 22% which is much faster than than the national average.  Like all therapists, marriage therapists should be compassionate individuals who are good listeners.  A marriage therapist must also be impartial and organized and have the ability to give clear instructions that both parties will want to listen to and follow.  If you have great communication skills and superior listening skills and a strong desire to help couples navigate the world of married life, then this job may be a great fit for you. 

7

Hypnotherapist

Average Earnings

$75,000

A hypnotherapist typically has a background in psychology and therapy and uses hypnosis to help patients overcome maladaptive behaviors, phobias, and other psychological conditions. Hypnotherapists consult with clients to help them determine their treatment plans. Take a look at a few of the job responsibilities of a hypnotherapist: 

  • Hypnotherapy sessions
  • Assessment
  • Determine Goals to be targeted with treatment
  • General paperwork/administrative office duties
  • Educate clients

A hypnotherapist is an individual who is an expert communicator. This person will have a strong understanding of the human brain and must therefore be analytical as well as compassionate and personable.  The median salary for a hypnotherapist is $75,000 a year. 

8

Sex Therapist

Average Earnings

$72,589

A sex therapist is a compassionate individual who helps individuals and couples who are experiencing difficulties with sex. A sex therapist uses a number of the same techinques such as talk therapy and counseling to help individuals and couples find solutions to those sexual difficulties. Take a look at the job duties of a sex therapist: 

  • Coach individuals who are struggling with intimacy
  • Combine couples therapy with individual talk therapy
  • Identify sexual triggers for the individual
  • Administrative duties required by a private practice 
  • Provide education on the topics related to sex

It goes without saying that a sex therapist should be an expert in their field as well as compassionate. The job pays on average $72,589 annually and is growing at a rate of about 12% which is faster than the national average. 

9

ABA Therapists (W/BCBA)

Average Earnings

$70,176

An ABA therapist or a board certified behavioral analyst (BCBA) is a behavior scientist and therapist that uses behavioral principles as outlined in applied behavior analysis to help their clients make positive behavioral changes.  The BCBA works with people of all backgrounds but most popularly works with people with autism. Their job duties are many and varied. Take a look: 

  • Analyze and assess behaviors to be targeted for modification
  • Write programming for a team to execute.
  • Utilize applied behavioral analysis 
  • Supervise others using applied behavioral analysis
  • Take data and determine how to adapt behavioral protocol 

An ABA therapist in many ways is more analytical than a talk therapist as much of their job relies on data collection and observation.  However, it is always important for a BCBA to be both patient and compassionate with an ability to talk to a wide range of people. It is common for a BCBA to work as part of a team.

10

Child Therapist

Average Earnings

$68,222

A child therapist is a therapist with a background in developmental psychology. This person works with children to assess issues, diagnose problems and treat mental emotional as well as social problems.  Take a look at the job duties of a child therapist: 

  • Assessment and diagnosis 
  • Create a treatment plan that is individualized to the child
  • Educate family members about the best course of actions
  • Refer when necessary such as in the instance of addiction
  • Document and record the treatment procedures 

The person who is right for child therapy is a special type of person. This person is caring and compassionate with an approachable demeanor and an intuitive understanding of children’s needs. This person is also very highly educated and aware of the current science and best practices surrounding child development and psychology. The median salary for a child therapist is $68,222. 

11

Psychotherapist

Average Earnings

$57,830

A Psychotherapist helps individuals who are struggling with anxiety, depression, and other mental-health disorders and is likely what a person thinks of when thinking about therapy jobs and careers. Some of the job duties of a psychotherapist include: 

  • Performing therapy sessions for children, adolescents and adults. 
  • Help clients to understand and address their own struggles 
  • Use a variety of techniques like mindfulness and journaling to help clients achieve their goals
  • Engage with a verbal interactions to help clients work through their issues
  • Observe clients and make assessments

A psychotherapist is a sincere observant and positive individual who helps people struggling with their mental well being. It is important to be compassionate and caring as well as up-to-date on best practices in the field of mental health.  A psychotherapist may specialize in an area for example child psychology.  The median salary for a psychotherapist is $57,830. 

12

School Therapist

Average Earnings

$56,310

A school therapist or school counselor assists students who need support at the school age.  School counselors are needed for students of all ages.  Your job is to help students dealing with bullying, self esteem, academic performance and more.  Here are some of the job duties: 

  • Listen to students concerns about academic performance and more
  • Help the students to create a plan of action
  • Improve parents/guardians support 
  • Mediate conflicts 
  • Help with addiction issues and facilitate rehabilitation

As a school counselor your jobs are going to be varied and it is important to note that school counselors are needed for grades K-12 and beyond. It is important for a school counselor to be a resilient listener and very well organized. As the job duties are so varied you will need to be up-to-date on best practices for school counseling.  The median salary for a school counselor is $56,310. 

13

Play Therapists

Average Earnings

$53,924

A play therapist typically works with children ages 10 and under and observes the play and uses play as the developmentally appropriate language for therapy.  A play therapist may have to help children work through very difficult issues including abuse and neglect. It is important to be resilient and strong as a play therapist. Take a look at some of the job activities: 

  • Observe and participate in play with children
  • Create a therapeutic environment and relationships with children based on trust
  • Educate parents on play therapy
  • Assess children and determine their individual needs
  • Attend meetings and maintain clinical records and produce reports regularly 

The median salary for a play therapist is $53,924. If you are interested in play therapy consider your passion and energy levels.  Many play therapists like to add their skill to their list of skills whereas others prefer to work exclusively with children in this capacity. It is always a good idea to include variety as a play therapist. You may wish to receive additional credentialing through the Association of Play Therapy. 

14

Existential Therapist

Average Earnings

$50,000

An existential therapist helps their clients to explore their aspirations in life. They operate on the belief the individual choice makes the biggest impact on their outcomes and abilities to overcome their concerns. Existential therapy encourages individuals to live authentically. 

  • Assess clients 
  • Talk with clients to determine a plan of action
  • Remain current on best-practice modalities 
  • Knowledgeable about developmental psychology and abnormal psychology as well as experimental psychology
  • Use holistic approach to treating patient often mind/body/spirit 

As an existential therapist must be a compassionate person and a resilient listener with a knowledge of a wide array of psychological approaches to well being. As an existential therapist you will help people to navigate some of their biggest roadblocks to success and so it is important to be able to help a person overcome a wide range of obstacles. The median salary for an existential psychologist is $50,000. 

15

Art Therapists

Average Earnings

$47,860

Art therapy is a form of expressive therapy where clients use the creative processes of making art to explore their feelings and process their experiences. Art therapy helps people to process trauma, develop social skills, and more. Take a look at some of the duties of an art therapist: 

  • Assess clients and observe their art
  • Encourage creative expression and thinking 
  • Take notes and make suggestions for therapies down the road 
  • Help individuals seeking personal growth and development
  • Keep records of materials for future sessions
  • Attend conferences and remain up to date with the latest developments in art therapy

An art therapist is a very special person indeed and typically is an artist themselves in addition to an art therapist.  Many art therapists have a “special eye” for therapy and help to facilitate creative outlets to individuals who may not otherwise have an outlet for creative expression. The median salary for an art therapist is $47,860. It is important to be analytical and creative as well as patient and willing to learn. Art therapy is an ever-changing field. 

16

Addiction Therapist

Average Earnings

$47,665

An addiction therapist or substance abuse counselor works to help their clients identify why they abuse substances. The substance abuse counselor may work in an acute capacity or ongoing as the individual recovers from addiction.  

  • Meet with your clients and make evaluations
  • Create goals for treatment 
  • Help individuals find a career and reestablish themselves into a community
  • Help clients find a support group 
  • Meeting with clients’ family to educate them on best ways to provide support

If you are a compassionate person who wants to help then you may wish to consider substance abuse counseling. The growth rate of this job is 22% which is far faster than the national average which is 5%.  The median salary is $47,665 and that number differs depending on the area in which you live and number of years of experience.  

17

Drama Therapist

Average Earnings

$46,091

Drama therapists coordinate sessions that are controlled and use drama-based activities to help assess the psychological impact of a specific area of concern such as a traumatic event.  Additionally a drama therapist will use these observations to make assessments about  the individuals. 

  • Assess your clients needs
  • Plan unique activities for sessions that are appropriate to the individual
  • Help clients understand and process information using script work, storytelling, improvisation etc.
  • Coordinate with other professionals such as psychiatrists and doctors
  • Write reports 

The median salary for a drama therapist is $46,091 per year. This is a great career choice for any individual who is looking to marry their creative passions in theater with a helping role.  

18

Massage Therapist

Average Earnings

$46,000

A massage therapist performs therapeutic massages on soft tissue and muscles. This type of massage therapy provides treatment for injuries or other medical conditions that may cause tightness and mobility issues. Take a look at the job duties of a massage therapist: 

  • Assess a client’s needs
  • Consult with clients about treatment options
  • Practice massage from various schools of massage 
  • Refer patients to other practitioners for integrative care (such as chiropractors, physical therapists etc.) 
  • Follow up with clients throughout the course of treatment 

If you are someone who likes to make their own hours and does well in nontraditional settings, then you may want to consider massage therapy. The median salary for a massage therapist is $46,000. Massage therapists often engage in regular continued education and will often include massage types from a variety of schools of massages. Massage therapists often have their own private practice.

19

Cognitive Behavior Therapists

Average Earnings

$44,790

A cognitive behavioral therapist helps their clients identify thought patterns and behavior patterns that have negatively affected their lives and encourages that person to change those thought patterns through practices like journaling, exercise, and mindfulness.  Take a look at some of the job duties of a cognitive behavioral therapist: 

  • Coach clients by teaching mindfulness and relaxation techniques
  • Encourage clients to engage in journaling and other written activities
  • Challenge the client’s beliefs 
  • Track data and make recommendations accordingly 
  • Exposure therapy to reduce fear

A cognitive behavioral therapist works methodically with patients to help them overcome maladaptive behavioral and mental “blocks.” This common practice of therapy is one of the most sought after in the field of mental health.  The median salary for cognitive behavioral therapists is $44,790 per year. 

20

Music Therapists

Average Earnings

$43,740

A music therapist uses music to help individuals express themselves and work through boundaries.  It is useful for children and adults and can be used to teach communication or to work through trauma or other difficult situations.  Take a look at the job duties of a music therapist: 

  • Setting up sessions specific to the client’s needs
  • Create engaging musical activities for all ages and abilities
  • Take notes and make referrals where necessary
  • Engage with the other professionals on the client’s team when needed 
  • Educate parents or family members about the goals of music therapy 

The median salary for a music therapist is $43,740.  This creative job is a great fit for any musician who is energetic and passionate about wellbeing. The job requires a license in music therapy along with a degree in music. If you are creative, compassionate and musical then this could be a good therapy career for you. 

As you can see there are a wide range of career options in therapy from physical therapy to existential therapy.  Each position targets a specific population.  Here’s a quick snap shot of who you may be working with in each roll.

  • Eating Disorder Therapist- Teens and Adults who engage in disordered eating patterns. 
  • Physical Therapist- All Ages Individuals Recovering from Surgery, or Needing Physical Therapy for other Reasons
  • ABA Therapist- Often but not always, individuals with autism spectrum disorders 
  • Speech Therapist- Often children but not always could be an adult who needs help with speech and swallowing. Some will specialize in working with the deaf community
  • Child Therapist- Children and teens
  • School Counselor- Children and Teens in grades K-12 
  • Existential Therapist- Typically Adults 
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapist- All Ages Often Targeting a Specific Goal (i.e. reducing anxiety, changing sleep behaviors, resolving trauma) 
  • Massage Therapist- All Ages Typically Adults 
  • Art/Music/Drama Therapy- For Rehabilitation, Adults, Children, Autism, Trauma Survivors, Special Needs Populations and more! 
  •  Addiction Therapist- Teens and Adults 
  • Play Therapist- Children 
  • Occupational Therapist- Children, Autism, Adults, CP, Other Movement Disorders And More! 
  • Sex Therapist- Adults 
  • Marriage Counseling- Adults 

Are you ready to head to school to start programming.  Let’s take a look at some of the best programs offering degrees in therapy and counseling. 

Determining where to head to school can be tricky especially as schools expand their online presence.  Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of studying online. 

Pros and Cons of Studying Therapy Online

Pros of Studying Therapy Online 

More affordable- though often the same tuition costs, studying online saves in travel, room and board, and makes it possible for people to continue working- all money-savers. 

Continue Working- Let’s face it most adults returning to school can’t just quit their jobs.  Studying online may be the only way to continue working and pursue the advanced degree you need to become a therapist. 

Much More Convenient- Most programs are either fully online or require 1-2 on-campus intensives each year meaning that you can access course material from any location and at a time that works best for you. 

Cons of Studying Therapy Online 

Lack of the College Experience- Regardless of what you hear, studying online is not the same as studying in person.  Some people report better learning outcomes and engagement levels from an in-person experience

Less Community- There is an online community and we are all familiar with ways to create relationships through online channels. Many people report that online communities do not truly replace the kind of community building that occurs face-to-face i.e., time with professors, informal conversations that occur in study groups and more. 

Not as much hands-on learning- Though you will be required to complete an internship or practicum, the online learning platform is not as tactile as in-person programming.  

Not all types of programs are available online- Many of the best departments of psychology require students to study on campus in specific laboratories. 

If you are interested in pursuing research it is highly likely that you will need to join a lab.  Some of the best departments in psychology come from the best schools in the world so some of the schools on our list are not going to come as a surprise. Still others may surprise you! You may see more programming in neuroscience or computational programming that has an overlap in psychology. In fact, almost all programming in psychology is interdisciplinary.  Take a look at our picks for the top 20 best schools for therapy. 

The 20 Best In-Person Universities For Therapy

1

Harvard University

Graduation Rate

98%

Average Earnings At Grad

$83,000

Harvard University is one of the top-ranked universities in the world. According to the QS ranking Harvard ranks as the 3rd best university in the world.  Harvard is a traditional Ivy League university that attracts students from across the globe.  It currently enrolls over 30,000 students and has a student-to-faculty ratio of 7:1.  What makes Harvard a great school for therapy?  DO=o names like William James and B.F. Skinner ring a bell? These are just a couple of the pioneers who have worked in Havard’s Department of Psychology. Harvard is a research powerhouse. Take a look at the research conducted in the Department of Psychology: 

  • Cognition, Brain and Behavior
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Psychology


The department takes a decidedly interdisciplinary approach and often these areas of research overlap and cross.  If you are interested in psychology research take a deeper look at the individual research labs of those on faculty at the school

2

University of Pennsylvania

Graduation Rate

96%

Average Earnings At Grad

$127000

The University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) is an ivy league institution located in Philadelphia.  There are over 26,000 students enrolled and the student to faculty ratio is 6:1. What sets UPenn apart is their positive psychology department. UPenn is the oldest psychology department in North America and continues to provide innovative research.  Take a look at their current areas for research:

  • Animal Learning and Behavior 
  • Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Judgment, Decision Making and Processes 
  • Individual Differences and Behavior Genetics
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Language and Communication
  • Memory and Learning 
  • Sensation and Perception
  • Evolutionary Psychology
  • Positive Psychology
  • Psychopathology and Psychotherapy
  • Social and Cultural Psychology

UPenn has made particular headway where resilience is concerned and includes programming for undergraduate and graduate students alike. If you are looking to make a positive difference in the lives of others or pursue a research career in psychology then it is time to investigate UPenn.  

3

University of Chicago

Graduation Rate

93%

Average Earnings At Grad

$59000

The University of Chicago is private institution located in Chicago, Illinois. There are 17,000 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 5:1. According to the US News, the University of Chicago ranks as the 6th best school in the nation. Their department of psychology is one of the best in the world that engages with a wide variety of research.  Here’s a glimpse at the work of just a few labs at the University of Chicago: 

  • Attention, Perception and Experience
  • Visual Working Memory and Selective Attention
  • Child Development
  • Cognition Attention and Brain 
  • Cognitive Development
  • Chronobiology and Neuroimmunology
  • Environmental Neuroscience
  • And More! 

The University of Chicago is an incredible place to study psychology as it is nestled in the great city of Chicago.  If you are looking for an urban perspective and a connection to interdisciplinary research then take a look at UC. 

4

Vanderbilt University

Graduation Rate

93%

Average Earnings At Grad

$62500

Vanderbilt University is a private 4-year university located in Nashville, Tennessee. There are about 13,000 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 7:1. According to US News Vanderbilt University ranks as the 15th best university in the nation, 7th for best value schools, and 31st for most innovative school and 26th for best psychology departments. Vanderbilt made it to our list of the best therapy schools for its high graduation rate, high salary for its graduates, and high academic rankings. Take a look at the areas for research for its graduates students in the department of psychology: 

  • Clinical Science
  • Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Developmental Science
  • Neuroscience
  • Quantitative Methods

The department of psychology and human development at Peabody offers the following undergraduate majors in psychology: child development, cognitive studies, and child studies.  Looking to “open the lid” and explore the developmental brain? Research programming at Vanderbilt. 

5

Northwestern University

Graduation Rate

94%

Average Earnings At Grad

$55000

Northwestern University is a private 4-year institution located in Evanston, Illinois. There are 22,127 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 6:1. According to the US News and World Report, Northwestern ranks as the 9th best school in the nation, 14th best for value and 57th best for innovation. The core faculty in their department of psychology focus on the following areas of research: 

  • Brain, Behavior and Cognition
  • Clinical
  • Cognitive 
  • Personality Development and Health
  • Social 

The majority of faculty are interdisciplinary as their research is relevant across disciplines. There is therefore a lot of opportunity to individualize your research to match your interests and goals.

6

Columbia University

Graduation Rate

92%

Average Earnings At Grad

$58000

Columbia University is a private institution located in New York, New York. Columbia enrolls over 30,000 students and maintains a student-teacher ratio of 6:1. According to the US News, Columbia ranks as the 3rd best university in the nation, 6th best for value and 42nd for innovation. The department of psychology is very diverse with faculty members focusing on research that includes developmental psychology, circadian rhythms and more. Take a closer look at their research areas: 

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Circadian Rhythms 
  • Attention Perception, Learning and Memory
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Social Psychology
  • Psychology of Close Relationships
  • Personality Development
  • Judgement and Decision Making 
  • And Much More! 

If you are looking to pursue graduate studies in psychology then we highly recommend taking some time to review the research currently underway at Columbia. Familiarizing yourself with faculty is an essential first step. 

7

Johns Hopkins University

Graduation Rate

92%

Average Earnings At Grad

$56500

Johns Hopkins University (JHU) is a private institution located in Baltimore, Maryland. There are over 26,000 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 7:1. Currently, JHU ranks 10th for best universities in the nation, 19th for best value school, 23rd for most innovative schools and 26th for best psychology department. Let’s take a look at a few of their areas of research at the JHU Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences: 

  • Brain Development and Plasticity
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Real-World Memory
  • Working Memory
  • EyeWitness Testimony
  • Neurobiology of Aging 
  • Learning and Decision Making 
  • Computational Neuroscience
  • And More

As you can see there is a heavy emphasis on neuroscience at JHU- an area that readily overlaps with their engineering programming and computer sciences programming. Though students of psychology are not limited to that, in fact the entire department is interdisciplinary also drawing on areas like the biological sciences, philosophy, linguistics, and more.  If you are interested in psychology and the brain check out the exciting research at JHU. 

8

Washington University

Graduation Rate

92%

Average Earnings At Grad

$62000

Washington University is a private research university located in St. Louis Missouri. This is a research university with the highest research activity according to Carnegie.  The university currently enrolls 16,000 students and has a student-to-faculty ratio of 7:1. Their psychology department is highly specialized and focuses on the following areas: 

  • Aging and Development
  • Behavior, Brain and Cognition
  • Clinical Science
  • Social and Personality Psychology
  • Diversity Science 

If you are admitted to a program you may pursue graduate studies in multiple disciplines.  The clinical science program has ties with the medical school. The diversity science program encourages students to apply what they have learned in other areas of psychology to understanding bias and disparity in healthcare and in society. 

9

University of Southern California

Graduation Rate

92%

Average Earnings At Grad

$56000

The University of Southern California (USC) is a private university located in Los Angeles, California. There are over 47,000 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 9:1. According to the US News USC ranks as the 22nd best university in the nation, 5th best college for veterans, 37th for best value schools and much more. We selected USC for our ranking for the high academic ranks, high graduation rate and high salary upon graduation. The department of psychology is extremely diverse with areas of research ranging from infants and youth to substance abuse and violence. Take a look at USC’s areas of research: 

  • Adult Development and Aging 
  • Affective and Decision Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Molecular and Psychiatric Genetics
  • Computational Psychology
  • Cognition and Emotion
  • Culture and Ethnicity 
  • Health 
  • Infants Children and Youth
  • Language and Literacy
  • Learning and Memory
  • Neuroimagery 
  • Vision
  • Violence and Aggression
  • And More! 

We like the diversity of this department.  If you are interested in pursuing advanced studies in psychology there is bound to be something for you at USC.

10

University of Notre Dame

Graduation Rate

96%

Average Earnings At Grad

$51000

The University of Notre Dame is currently ranked as the 15th best school in the nation, 24th best value school, 77th most innovative school . The research activity is “very high” according to Carnegie. The parent university is located in Notre Dame, Indiana. There are over 12,000 students enrolled at the parent location and the student-to-faculty ratio is 10:1.  The psychology department at Notre Dame offers programming for undergraduate and graduate students. Take a look at their areas of research: 

  • Clinical
  • Cognition
  • Brain and Behavior 
  • Developmental 
  • Quantitative Psychology

Students have the opportunity to pursue joint doctoral programs with Computer Science and Engineering and with the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. Their undergraduate degree focuses on research. 

11

University of Virginia

Graduation Rate

93%

Average Earnings At Grad

$56500

The University of Virginia is a public school located in Charlottesville. There are 24,639 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 15:1. According to the US News, UVA ranks as the 28th best school in the nation and 9th for veterans, 4th for top public schools. Their department of psychology ranks among the top in the nation and the research conducted there is varied and interdisciplinary.  Take a look at some of their areas of research: 

  • Development in the Lifespan
  • Quantitative Methods and Data Science
  • Innovation and Advancing Methods
  • Molecules, Neuronal Circuits and Behavior
  • Theory and Application in Social Psychology

As you can see, this is a highly interdisciplinary department and students have the opportunity to work with professors that specialize in areas like race and gender identity, public policy, Montessori education, autism spectrum disorders, brain training with online innovation and much more.  

12

Tufts University

Graduation Rate

93%

Average Earnings At Grad

$54500

Tufts University is a private institution located in Medford, Massachusetts. There are 11,586 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 9:1. This is a doctoral university with very high research activity according to Carnegie. US News ranks Tufts as the 29th best school in the nation, 28th best value school, and 72nd most innovative school among others. The university offers undergraduate and graduate programming in the field of psychology. The undergraduates are welcome to pursue a psychology major as well as a major in biopsychology, engineering psychology, cognitive and brain science, or clinical psychology. Take a look at the areas of research for graduate students: 

  • Biological
  • Cognitive
  • Developmental
  • Experimental Clinical
  • Social
  • Joint Ph.D. program Cognitive Science 

Graduate students may also elect to pursue studies through the department of education as a school psychologist or through the Eliot Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development for clinical developmental psychology.

13

Boston College

Graduation Rate

92%

Average Earnings At Grad

$54500

Boston College is a private research university located in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. There are 14,720 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 13:1. According to the US News, Boston College ranks as the 37th best college nationally as well as 34th for best value, 52nd for innovation, 8th for service learning, and 31st for undergraduate research among many other accolades. Boston College offers joint programming in psychology and neuroscience for both undergraduate and graduate students. Take a look at the areas of research for graduate students: 

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Quantitative and Computational
  • Social Psychology

Students looking to pursue a career in counseling psychology should do so through ther Boston College school of education. 

14

Lehigh University

Graduation Rate

89%

Average Earnings At Grad

$56500

Lehigh University is a private research university located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. There are 6,849 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 9:1. US News ranks Lehigh University in the top 50 for best national universities and highly for undergraduate teaching, value, and innovation among others. We selected Lehigh for the high quality academic programming as well as for the high salary that its graduates receive and graduation rate of its students.  Undergraduate students are welcome to get involved in research and at the department of psychology students may take part in supervised or independent research research at the undergraduate level.  Graduate students focus on research in the following areas: 

  • Cognition and Language 
  • Social and Cognitive Development
  • Social Cognition and Personality 

These broad categories of psychology include areas of study like language, memory, cognitive changes, gender and identity development and more. 

15

New York University

Graduation Rate

85%

Average Earnings At Grad

$54000

New York University (NYU) is a private 4-year university located in New York City. There are over 50,000 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 9:1. According to US News NYU ranks as the 29th best university in the nation, 62nd for best value, 10th for best colleges for veterans, 4th for study abroad and 5th for business. These are the areas of study in their department of psychology: 

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Cognition
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Developmental psychology
  • Perception
  • Personality Psychology
  • Social Psychology

All undergraduate students have the opportunity to pursue studies in psychology at any one of the NYU study abroad campuses. 

16

Georgia Institute of Technology

Graduation Rate

87%

Average Earnings At Grad

$55000

Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) is a highly-ranked public technology school located in Atlanta.  There are 32,723 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 18:1. Georgia Tech is known for its exemplary engineering programming but is also ranked among the best universities in the nation, 10th best best for colleges for veterans, 5th best for top public schools, 8th for undergraduate research, and 5th for co-ops and internship among many more accolades.  It appears that Georgia Tech also maintains a high level of research activity. The psychology department is decidedly interdisciplinary with a focus on neuroscience, engineering and quantitative biosciences. Take a look at the areas of research: 

  • Cognition and Brain Science
  • Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Aging
  • Engineering Psychology
  • Industrial/Organizational Psychology
  • Quantitative Psychology

As an undergraduate students may purse a major or minor in psychology or choose to specialize.  

17

University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

Graduation Rate

91%

Average Earnings At Grad

46000

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC Chapel Hill) is a public university that enrolls over 30,000 students. Regardless of its large student body, the university maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 13:1 which is likely due to its very high levels of research activity. US News ranks UNC Chapel Hill as the 29th best university in the nation, 10th best colleges for veterans, 10th best value school, 5th best public school, and much more.The Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at UNC Chapel Hill focuses on psychology and neuroscience as well as the ways in which they overlap. Take a look at the areas of research: 

  • Behavioral and Integrative Neuroscience
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Quantitative Psychology
  • Social Psychology

Undergraduate students may pursue either a BA in Psychology or a BS in Psychology or a BS in Neuroscience. 

18

University of Rochester

Graduation Rate

88%

Average Earnings At Grad

$50000

The University of Rochester is a public doctoral university with very high research activity. There are over 30,000 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 13:1. According to the US News and World Report the University of Rochester ranks as the 29th best university in the nation, 10th best college for veterans, 22nd best value school, and much more. We selected Rochester for their high academic standing and the success of its graduates. The department of psychology offers programming for their undergraduate and graduate students and includes research opportunities in the following areas: 

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Social-Personality Psychology

Undergraduate students have the opportunity to study a variety of subfields related to psychology including neuroscience and developmental psychology. 

19

Bucknell University

Graduation Rate

89%

Average Earnings At Grad

$53500

Bucknell University is a private 4-year university located in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. There are 3,668 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 9:1. This is a specialty focus school with an emphasis on Arts and Sciences. Though Bucknell certainly focuses on undergraduate studies, the university also offers a MS in psychology. Students gain insight into different theoretical perspectives including: 

  • Adult and child development
  • Cognition and learning 
  • Health psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical and counseling work

Their master’s program is highly selective, accepting two or three students each year. The candidates that are appropriate for this program should have previous research experience that matches the research interests of the faculty.  Like with all programs, it is important to do your research on the program itself before applying. 

20

Santa Clara University

Graduation Rate

88%

Average Earnings At Grad

$62000

Santa Clara University is a private Roman Catholic institution that enrolls around 9,000 students each year. The student-to-faculty ratio is 10:1. According to the US News and World Report, Santa Clara ranks as the 54th best university in the nation and also highly for veterans, undergraduate teaching and value. Santa Clara made it to our ranking for their academic excellence and the high average salary of its graduates. Santa Clara offers an undergraduate degree in psychology some of the upper division courses include: 

  • Developmental Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Social/ Personality
  • Learning/Cognition/Perception 

There are five tracks undergraduates may follow including in industrial/organizational psychology and clinical psychology among others. 

The 10 Best Online Schools For Therapy

Not everyone can head back to school and we get that. Don’t fret! You can still make a difference in people’s lives through online study. In fact, if this is you, then you are in the majority.  We have noticed that not all programs are available online but most of the essentials are.  We anticipate that there will be even more online offerings in the coming years.  As for now, here are some of the best online degrees for individuals looking to pursue a career as a counselor, therapist, and social worker.  Take a look.

1

Vanderbilt University

Graduation Rate

93%

Average Earnings At Grad

$62500

Vanderbilt University is a private institution located in Nashville, Tennessee. There are over 12,000 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 7:1. Peabody College at Vanderbilt currently offers an online Master of Education with a school counseling specialization.  This is a 48-credit-hour degree that takes 3 years to complete. The program consists of weekly online classes, regular internships, and two on-campus intensives. The internships take place at an elementary, middle, and high school. Take a look at a few of the elements in the curriculum: 

  • Social/Behavioral Science
  • Counseling Skills
  • K-12 Organization and Administration
  • Understand Cultural Diversity
  • Research and Assessment 
  • Ethics
  • Career Development
  • Skills Specific to Good Counseling 
2

Northwestern University

Graduation Rate

94%

Average Earnings At Grad

$55000

Northwestern is a private 4-year institution located in Evanston, Illinois. There are over 22,000 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 6:1. According to the US News, Northwestern ranks as the 9th best school in the nation 14th best for value and 57th for innovation. Northwestern offers an online MA in counseling for individuals looking to make an impact in the field of mental health. The counseling degree includes one emphasis in child development. This program is a good fit for individuals who already have an undergraduate degree in psychology as well as for individuals who have an undergraduate degree in another field. If you are new to psychology you will need to take three additional “bridge” courses before initiating the standard program.  Take a look at some of the courses from the standard curriculum: 

  • Psychopathology in counseling
  • Human Development 
  • Assessment of Counseling 
  • Theory and Technique of Substance Abuse 
  • Counseling Methods
3

Columbia University

Graduation Rate

92%

Average Earnings At Grad

$58000

Columbia University is a private 4-year university located in New York, New York and currently enrolls over 20,000 students. The student-to-faculty ratio is 6:1. According to US News Columbia ranks as the 3rd best school in the nation, 6th for value and 42nd for most innovative schools. Another way Columbia continues to innovate is through their online degree offerings including their incredible online Master of Social Work (MSW). This is a 60 credit hour program where 42 credits come from coursework and 18 come from field experience.  This is a highly customizable program and students choose a specialized field of practice.  One program includes an opportunity to specialize in DBT.  Here are their seven fields of practice: 

  • Aging
  • Contemporary Social Issues
  • Family Youth & Children’s Services 
  • Health, Mental Health, and Disabilities 
  • Services to Immigrants and Refugees 
  • School-Based
  • World of Work 
4

University of Southern California

Graduation Rate

92%

Average Earnings At Grad

$56000

The University of Southern California is a private research university located in Los Angeles. There are 47,000 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 9:1. According to US News, USC ranks as the 22nd best school in the nation, 5th best college for veterans,and 37th best value school. If you are looking to become a K-12 school counselor then it is difficult to beat USC’s online Master of Education in School Counseling. The program is 49 units and may be completed either part-time or full-time. The entire program takes about two or three years to complete. There are three areas of focus related to this program including College and Career Readiness, Restorative Justice, and Trauma Informed Practice. The curriculum also includes fieldwork. Take a look at some of their classes: 

  • The Counseling Process
  • Learning and Individual Differences
  • Politics of Difference 
  • Cross Cultural Counseling 
  • Research Methods and Data Analysis for Counselors
5

University of Virginia

Graduation Rate

93%

Average Earnings At Grad

$56500

The University of Virginia is a public university located in Charlottesville, Virginia. There are 24,639 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 15:1. The University of Virginia ranks as the 28th best school in the nation, 9th best college for veterans, and 4th for top public school. UVA is considered to be a public ivy university for its high quality of academic programming. If you are an educator looking to address the emotional wellbeing of your diverse student body then the online Master of Education in Ed Psych- Social Foundations may be a great fit for you.  Students have the option to complete the program part-time or full-time. Take a look at the courses available: 

  • History of American Education
  • Philosophy of Education
  • Sociology of Education
  • Anthropology of Education
  • Comparative Education
  • Education in Multicultural Societies 
6

Tufts University

Graduation Rate

93%

Average Earnings At Grad

$54500

Tufts is a private four-year university located in Medford, Massachusetts. There are 11,569 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 9:1. According to US News Tufts ranks as the 29th best school in the nation, 28th best value school and 72nd for innovation. One way that Tufts continues to innovate academically is through online programming including their online Master of Science in Occupational Therapy. This is a post-professional master’s degree meaning that applicants of this program should already possess a bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy. Students may complete this program either full-time or part-time to accommodate their needs as working professionals. Take a look at some of the courses from this program:

  • Outcomes Measurement and Monitoring
  • Leadership Project Planning 
  • Therapy in Schools: Best Practices 
  • Occupational Therapy Practice With Older Adults
  • Occupation and Adaptation in the Child and Adolescent 
  • Hand and Upper Extremity Rehabilitation 
7

New York University

Graduation Rate

85%

Average Earnings At Grad

$54000

New York University is a private four-year institution located in New York City. There are 51,847 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 9:1. According to the US News and World Report, NYU ranks as the 29th best school in the nation, 10th best college for veterans, 19th for innovative schools among many other accolades.  Over the years NYU has broadly expanded their online offerings and currently offers three online degrees in the field of therapy including their online Doctor of Occupational Therapy, online M.A. in Counseling for Mental Health and Wellness, and online M.A. in Counseling and Guidance.  Take a glance at the curriculum for the M.A. in counseling for mental health and wellness: 

  • Foundations of Counseling
  • Human Growth and Development
  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Cross-Cultural Counseling
  • Internship for Counseling and Mental Health and Wellness
8

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Graduation Rate

86%

Average Earnings At Grad

$54500

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is a public institution located in Champaign. There are 49,702 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 20:1. This is a research university with very high research activities according to Carnegie. According to US News, Illinois ranks as the 48th best university in the nation 14th best public school and 52nd for most innovative. Illinois offers an online Master of Social Work (MSW) program. There are two enrollment options including the MSW advanced clinical option and the MSW Leadership and Social Change (LSC) option.  The advanced clinical uses a blended online/in person format whereas the LSC offers classes that are fully online. Take a glance at some of the coursework: 

  • Advanced Clinical Assessment and Interviewing
  • Advanced Methods Course
  • Field Practicum and Integrative Seminar
  • Social Work and the Law 
9

Boston University

Graduation Rate

85%

Average Earnings At Grad

$51500

Boston University is a private 4-year institution located in Boston, Massachusetts. There are 35,000 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 10:1. This is a doctoral university with very high research activity. BU currently ranks as the 40th best school in the nation, 18th best college for veterans, 48th best value school and 27th for most innovative schools tied with UPenn and UCLA. The online post-professional doctorate in occupational therapy is one such way BU has innovated in recent years. This is a 33 credit hour doctoral program for working OT professionals. This online course may be completed in 18 months.  If you are interested in an accelerated doctoral program in OT then head here first. Take a look at some of the classes for this online degree: 

  • Evaluation Theory and Practice
  • Health Promotion and Wellness
  • Social Policy and Disability 
  • Evaluating Clinical Theory and Research
  • Outcomes Measurement and Monitoring
10

Northeastern University

Graduation Rate

85%

Average Earnings At Grad

$59500

Northeastern University is a private four-year institution located in Boston Massachusetts. There are 21,627 students enrolled and the student-to-faculty ratio is 14:1. Northeastern ranks as the 40th best school in the nation, 98th for value and 9th for innovation according to the US News and World Report. Bouve College of Health Sciences offers an online Master of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis. The duration of this degree is 18-24 months and is completely online. The program is BACB accredited. Take a look at their curriculum: 

  • Behavioral Concepts and Principles
  • Behavior Assessment
  • Service Administration 
  • Applied Programming Seminar
  • Applied Learning Seminar 

As you can see there are many fantastic online programs for individuals looking to pursue a career in counseling, therapy, and social work.

Should I Go Back to School to Become a Therapist?

Yes!  If this is your calling then the investment for time and money is absolutely worth it. We highly recommend heading back to school to become a therapist.  The jobs are on the rise and the salary is often good.  If you have the resources to invest this is an investment worth making!