Since it’s the sunshine state, Florida attracts people from all over the country and the world, seeking a better life in the warmth of the southern U.S. And people are moving to Florida in large numbers. From 2010 to 2021, the number of households in the state increased by nearly 16 percent.
Among the people moving to Florida are families with school-aged children. Florida is a great place to learn, with various K-12 school systems throughout the state and a robust collection of best private and public psychology colleges and universities.
With so many children in the state and an excellent selection of child psychology programs, it makes sense to pursue your education in Florida and establish your career there. Programs listed below are just a few examples of the degrees you can pursue in this field in Florida.
Child Psychology Programs in Florida
Florida Institute of Technology
Florida Tech is a private doctoral-level university. Many programs at the school are research-intensive. As such, most programs are residential, meaning you must attend classes on campus. A few online programs are available, though.
Florida Tech is on Florida’s “Space Coast” near Melbourne. You can explore local beaches, visit NASA, and head to Disney World, too. Of course, staying home at Florida Tech’s campus offers many opportunities for learning and recreation as well. With nearly 5,000 students on campus, there’s no lack of friends to be made!
You can study in small classes, too. The student-to-faculty ratio is 15:1, and the average class size is 21 students. This gives you the individual attention you need to do well in your program.
Florida Tech’s clinical psychology program results in a Psy.D. This is a professional doctorate intended for students who wish to work in a clinical setting (a Ph.D. is often associated with research and preparation for academic work).
You can choose from several areas of emphasis in this degree program, including family and child psychology. This track focuses on issues of childhood, like social-emotional development and educational psychology. But it also exposes you to the following:
- Family dynamics
- Couples and families
- Therapeutic techniques
- Issues of adolescence
This program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the American Psychological Association. Most students require 4-5 years to complete the program.
The University of Florida
Not only is the University of Florida one of the largest universities in the nation with more than 53,000 students, it’s also one of the most highly-regarded universities in the U.S. The school ranks fifth among the best public schools and 29th among national universities, according to US News and World Report.
Students at UF are extremely diverse, too. Students come from around the nation and the world to study at UF. Once here, you and other students can pursue degrees in many different areas, including business, biology, law, and, of course, psychology.
With high retention rates, good graduation rates, and a location in the sunny state of Florida, the University of Florida could be an ideal fit for you to pursue your academic and career goals.
The clinical child and pediatric psychology program at the University of Florida prepares you for a clinical psychology career. Likewise, you will learn valuable skills that enable you to conduct research on issues related to child psychology and development.
You will need those research skills, too, because this is a research-heavy program. You are expected to conduct research during your master’s studies and again in your doctoral studies. You must complete a thesis to obtain a master’s degree, and you must defend a dissertation to get your Ph.D.
Some of the areas in which you might conduct research include:
- Pediatric behavioral health
- Risk and resilience of youth
- Diabetes behavioral science
The University of Florida has on-campus research facilities specifically designed for each of the areas listed above.
The University of South Florida (USF)
The University of South Florida wasn’t established until 1956 – a relatively recent date for a university. However, in its short life, USF has experienced significant growth. Today, it serves more than 50,000 students both on campus and online.
USF is a highly diverse school with around 40 percent of students identifying as a person of color. There are students from 146 nations as well. Your chosen degree program will be all the better with input from classmates with varying backgrounds and experiences.
As a student at USF, you can pursue various degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. More than 200 majors, minors, and concentrations are offered in USF’s 14 colleges, including psychology, engineering, social work, and many more.
This Master of Science program from the University of South Florida focuses on child and adolescent behavioral health. Within the program are multiple areas of specialization from which to choose, including:
- Developmental Disabilities
- Research and Evaluation
- Youth & Behavioral Health
You can also choose between a thesis and a non-thesis track. Regardless of the track you choose, you can take courses in:
- Evidence-Based Practices for Children and Adolescents with Developmental Disabilities
- Professional Skills in Addiction Counseling
- Advanced Research Education in Adolescent Behavioral Health
To get your degree, you must complete all coursework, pass a comprehensive exam, and take part in a field experience. Since this is an online degree, you have a greater level of flexibility for completing these requirements.
Florida International University (FIU)
Florida International University has the benefit of being in one of the most vibrant and lively cities in the United States – Miami. But FIU is about much more than an excellent location. It’s also a highly-regarded research university.
For example, FIU ranks in the top five in the nation for social mobility, the top 15 for innovation at public universities, and the top 20 in undergraduate teaching, according to US News and World Report. Additionally, 15 of the school’s programs rank in the top 50.
FIU celebrates its diverse student body, too. Sixty-one percent of its students are Hispanic, while 13 percent are black and another 15 percent are non-Hispanic white. Among them, students study on campus and online as part of FIU’s robust online learning platform.
At Florida International University, you can work towards a Ph.D. in psychology with a specialization in clinical science in child and adolescent psychology. This program is fully accredited by the American Psychological Association and offers you opportunities to learn in classroom settings, in mentorship situations, and in research.
Specifically, the goals of this program include:
- Advancing knowledge of child and adolescent psychology through clinical research
- Providing cutting-edge care to children and their families
- Adding to the body of child psychology research through rigorous inquiry
This is a combined master’s and doctoral program. As such, you must complete a master’s project before being considered for doctoral candidacy. Once in the Ph.D. program, you’ll complete a clinical practicum, an internship, and a dissertation.
Work Opportunities in Florida
With the proper education and training in child psychology, you will be well-positioned for starting your career after graduating from a child psychology program in Florida.
In fact, Florida is among the leading states for employment in this field, ranking fourth in the country for highest levels of employment. The Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area has the 10th-highest employment level in the nation as well.
Many child psychologists in Florida work in public or private school systems, particularly K-12 schools. However, there are many other employment opportunities in Florida as a qualified child psychologist.
For example, large numbers of child psychologists work in the educational support, health services, and healthcare settings. You might find employment in a hospital, doctor’s office, or neighborhood health clinic.
You might also work for a non-profit mental health agency, a local or state government agency like the Department of Health, or work in academia as a professor at one of Florida’s many colleges and universities.
Whatever career path you choose, you must have the appropriate education and training. Often this means having at least a master’s degree, if not a doctorate. It also means having experience in psychological research and the practical application of psychological theories in clinical environments.
The programs outlined above certainly fit the bill for preparing you for a long career. These are just a few examples, though. Before committing to a program, thoroughly explore your options.