Accredited Child Psychology Graduate Programs in Illinois [Updated for 2024]

Last Updated: June 25, 2024

Studying clinical psychology in Illinois comes with the benefit of having a wide variety of schools from which to choose. Whether you want to study child psychology in a small private school, a large public school, or something in between, Illinois has the options you are after.

What’s more, there’s a diversity of programs that you don’t find in all states. You can study child development, educational psychology, or school psychology. You can also specialize in areas like clinical psychology, counseling psychology, or marriage and family counseling, each of which allows you to include children among your clientele.

Before you can go to work as a child psychologist, you need the appropriate education. The options below are excellent choices for building a career working with children in a therapeutic setting.

Child Psychology Graduate Programs and Degrees in Illinois

Listed below are some of the popular schools offering child psychology graduate programs in Illinois:

  • Illinois State University
  • The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
  • The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Grand Canyon University
  • Southern Illinois University
  • Buttler University
  • Capella University

Illinois State University

Illinois State University is a typical public research institution. The school has more than 20,000 students, the overwhelming majority of which study at the undergraduate level. However, the university offers many graduate degree programs, doctoral programs, and professional degrees that enable you to advance your education further.

Indiana State is located in Bloomington-Normal, a mid-sized city that has been recognized time and again as one of the nation’s best college towns. In addition to that, Illinois State offers dozens of on-campus activities and organizations that help you round out your educational experience.

Child Psychology Graduate Program Information

The graduate program in Developmental Psychology from Illinois State doesn’t just focus on childhood development. Instead, you will study how humans learn, grow, and change over the entire course of the lifespan. This includes studies of:

  • Laboratory In Research Methods For Psychology: Developmental
  • Professional Seminar In Developmental Psychology
  • Statistics: Data Analysis And Methodology
  • Seminar In Developmental Psychology
  • Seminar In Adolescent Development

In addition to these core courses, you will take 16 credits of elective courses in developmental psychology and complete a master’s thesis. You can also do up to nine credits of Professional Practice In Developmental Psychology, should you want to get real-world experience prior to graduation. All told, you need 36 credits to complete this degree.

You must have a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field with a 3.0 GPA or higher in your final 60 credits of coursework to apply to this two-year, full-time program. When applying, you must submit the following:

  • Official transcripts from each college or university attended
  • A writing sample
  • A personal statement
  • A curriculum vitae or resume
  • Three letters of recommendation

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Though today the Chicago School of Professional Psychology has campuses across the nation, it was first founded in Chicago in 1979. The school’s founders were a collection of psychologists and educators who wanted to provide professional training to psychologists in preparation for their careers.

Today, as was the case then, the faculty are experienced psychologists with real-world experience from which they can draw to inspire you to learn more.

The Chicago School offers a broad range of programs. You can major in Educational Psychology, Marriage and Family Therapy, or Clinical Psychology. Business Psychology, Forensic Psychology, and Child Psychology are additional options.

Whatever degree program you choose, you can be sure you get a high-quality education. The Chicago School is both regionally and American Psychological Association accredited school.

Child Psychology Graduate Program Information

The Chicago School’s Master of Arts in Psychology has a concentration in Child and Adolescent Psychology that’s ideal for readying yourself to be a child psychologist. It’s a 36-credit online program that requires about two years of part-time study or one year of full-time study to complete.

The curriculum focuses on issues of child development and psychopathology. As such, you will take courses like:

  • Evidence-Based Programs for Children and Adolescents
  • Addictive Disorders
  • Juvenile Offender Treatment
  • Trauma and Crisis Prevention
  • Family Systems and Family Therapy

This program does not require a thesis or an internship. You do, however, have to complete a research component in an area related to child psychology, such as academic achievement, developmental disorders, or behavioral disorders.

You can access these and other courses using the Chicago School’s Global Student Dashboard. The Dashboard contains all your homework assignments, course projects, and portals for interacting with your instructors and fellow students.

You can apply online to begin your studies at the Chicago School. You must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution to apply. Likewise, you must submit the following with your application:

  • A $50 application fee
  • A 500-750-word essay
  • A resume or curriculum vitae
  • Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

When Congress passed the Morrill Act of 1862, it set aside lands to establish colleges and universities nationwide. One of those schools was the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The school was founded in 1867 and was one of the first land-grant institutions in the U.S.

The University of Illinois has more than 33,000 undergraduate students and nearly 16,000 graduate students. As a student here, you can choose from more than 150 programs of study to advance your education. This includes programs on campus, online, and at University of Illinois System campuses throughout the state.

Child Psychology Graduate Program Information

The Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Illinois is a full-time residential program that takes about five years to complete. The program includes various academic activities designed to help you acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to be a competent practitioner.

For example, you will take core courses in developmental psychology and related courses in two other program areas. Likewise, you must take four minor courses, multiple seminar courses, and gain teaching experience as a graduate student.

This program further requires you to complete a master’s thesis or its equivalent, as well as a doctoral thesis. You are also required to pass a qualifying doctoral examination and pass an oral preliminary examination.

Some of the areas you will investigate include:

  • Family relationships
  • Developmental psychopathology
  • Cognition from infancy to adulthood
  • Language acquisition
  • Social and emotional development

Before applying to this program, you must complete a bachelor’s degree from a regionally-accredited institution and do so with a 3.0 GPA or higher during the final two years of study. Additionally, you must submit the following:

  • A 750-word academic statement of purpose
  • A 250-word personal statement
  • An outline of your academic history
  • A resume or curriculum vitae
  • Three letters of recommendation

Southern Illinois University

Southern Illinois University is a medium-sized school with just over 11,000 students. While SIU’s student body is comprised mostly of undergraduate students, the university has about 3,000 graduate and professional students, too. Nearly one-third of the student body is minority students, which makes SIU a vibrant and richly diverse campus where you can learn.

One of the points of pride of SIU is its standing as one of the best research institutions in the United States. As a prospective psychology graduate student, this is good news! You can explore a range of psychological areas of inquiry at SIU and do so in state-of-the-art facilities and with the guidance of expert faculty.

Child Psychology Graduate Program Information

Southern Illinois’ Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology offers a child specialization curriculum that prepares you for clinical work. However, since this program adheres to the scientist-practitioner model, you will also spend a great deal of time conducting psychological research.

Some of the general courses you will take include:

  • Psychological Measurement
  • Theories of Lifespan and Developmental Psychology
  • Cognitive Assessment
  • Clinical Skills
  • Cognition, Affect, and Behavior

These courses are paired with child psychology-specific classes in areas like Pediatric Psychology, Child Clinical Neuropsychology, and Cognitive Behavioral Play Therapy. In fact, this specialization focuses specifically on the use of cognitive behavioral therapy as a central treatment for children and adolescents.

In addition to these classroom-based experiences, you must also serve as a graduate teacher, conduct original research, and take part in an advanced clinical field placement. You will need about five years to complete all of the program requirements.

To apply, fill out an online graduate application for admission. You must have at least a bachelor’s degree from a regionally-accredited institution to apply. Furthermore, you must provide SIU with the following:

  • Official transcripts from each college or university attended
  • GRE scores
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A personal statement

In addition to these materials, clinical faculty will consider your GPA and research experience when making their admissions decision.

Child Psychology Work Opportunities in Illinois

Illinois ranks second in the nation (behind California) for the highest employment levels of psychologists. And while many psychology jobs are in the greater Chicago area (which has the highest concentration of psychology jobs of any metropolitan area in the nation), you can find child psychology-related positions in all corners of the state.

For example, you might get your degree in developmental psychology and go to work for a private school. In this capacity, you might work with teachers and administrators to ensure educational programs are developmentally appropriate for children. Likewise, you might assist school counselors and psychologists in developing age-appropriate school-wide programs.

If you focus your graduate studies on clinical psychology, you might choose to open a private practice to counsel children and adolescents. As a self-employed child psychologist, you can be as specialized as you want. For example, you might work exclusively with children with an Autism spectrum disorder. Working with adolescents in the juvenile justice system is another possibility.

Of course, you can also work in areas like community mental health, residential treatment, or for a non-profit agency. Child psychologists also work for local and state governments like the Department of Children and Family Services or the Department of Education. In a state as large as Illinois, your employment options are virtually endless!

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