Accredited Child Psychology Graduate Programs in Pennsylvania [2024 Guide]

Last Updated: May 28, 2024

Psychology is a very broad field with many specialized areas of study and practice. Yet, even in a specialization, psychology still offers a wide range of possibilities. Child psychology is one such specialization.

For example, you can get a master’s degree, a doctoral degree, or a specialist degree in child psychology. Moreover, you can focus on one of many sub-specialties like developmental psychology, school psychology, clinical child psychology, and others.

Additionally, colleges and universities around the nation offer these programs in large numbers. This includes a handful of schools in Pennsylvania with top-rated child psychology programs.

Child Psychology Graduate Programs in Pennsylvania

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

  • Duquesne University
  • Capella University
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • Indiana University of Pennsylvania
  • Millersville University
  • Southern New Hampshire University Online

Duquesne University

Duquesne University was founded in 1878. Back then, the university was known as Pittsburgh Catholic College of the Holy Ghost and had just 40 students. Today, Duquesne has over 8,300 students, which is a relatively small school by today’s standards. As such, you can enjoy small class sizes and a 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio amidst a beautiful urban setting in the heart of Pittsburgh.

As a student at Duquesne, you will learn in rich academic environments from faculty with extensive experience in their fields. This commitment to academic excellence is reflected in the long list of accolades earned by the university. US News & World Report ranks Duquesne a Best Value School and places it in the top 151 national universities. Additionally, the school has multiple graduate programs that rank among the best in the country.

Child Psychology Program Information

The Master of Science in Education with a concentration in Child Psychology is Duquesne’s best preparatory program if you want to work with children specifically in a school environment. The program requires the completion of 30 credits, which takes about two years of full-time study.

Once you complete this degree, you will have added knowledge and skills to help children navigate their development, mental health issues, family issues, and more. You will also have a solid foundation for continuing your education in a doctoral program in psychology, of which there are two at Duquesne.

The curriculum includes the necessary training for school-based psychology practice, including courses in the following:

  • Child and Adolescent Development
  • Psychology Testing
  • Multicultural Issues and Strategies in Counseling
  • Classroom Discipline and Behavior Management
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders

This program does not lead to licensure as a child psychologist. However, you might be eligible for a Pennsylvania Behavior Specialist License if you take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst Verified Course Sequence.

Use Dusquesne’s online application to apply to the graduate school. To do so, you must have a 3.0 cumulative GPA for your undergraduate coursework. You must also submit your undergraduate transcripts as well as transcripts documenting any graduate work you’ve completed.

University of Pittsburgh

Another excellent school in Pittsburgh is the city’s namesake school, the University of Pittsburgh. The school was founded in 1787 as the Pittsburgh Academy and, from the outset, established expectations of superb academic programs and student performance. Today, Pitt is a member of the prestigious American Association of Universities (AAU), a collection of 62 of the best doctoral-level research universities in the nation.

Pitt is a large school with around 35,000 students. As such, campus life differs significantly from some of the smaller schools on this list. There are hundreds of clubs and organizations for students, a highly diverse student body, and top-tier research facilities. As one of the best value public colleges in Pennsylvania and a top-ranked university in the world, Pitt offers a level of prestige to your education that few universities can match.

Child Psychology Program Information

The University of Pittsburgh’s Master of Science in Applied Developmental Psychology is a two-year, 36-credit program that prepares you to work with children and families in various settings. You will be well-equipped for employment in after-school programs, community mental health centers, residential treatment centers, and many other high-need locations using the skills and knowledge you gain over four semesters.

This program uses a hybrid approach to give you the greatest flexibility for completing your degree. This includes night classes on campus and some online coursework. The classes you will take range widely on developmental psychology topics, such as:

  • Child Development: Conception Through Early Childhood
  • Child Development: Middle Childhood and Adolescence
  • Evidence-Based Interventions in Real-World Contexts
  • Applied Developmental Psychology: Professional Identity and Leadership
  • Assessment of Children’s Development in Real-World Contexts

A unique feature of Pitt’s program is that you can choose from a number of specialties. Infant Mental Health, Child Youth Development, and Behavioral Health in Schools and Communities are just three options.

Regardless of your specialization, you must complete a capstone project during the program’s final year. The capstone involves working with children in a community-based setting. Pitt has partnerships with more than 150 community organizations to help you find the right placement for your field experience.

You must apply to Pitt before you can enroll in this master’s degree program. The following materials are required as part of your application:

  • A goal statement
  • A resume or curriculum vitae
  • Information for three academic or professional references
  • Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Just outside of Pittsburgh is Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The school was founded almost 150 years ago as a normal school for teachers. Enrollment was just a handful of students, but as the years have gone by, IUP has grown to serve nearly 9,000 students each year. The lion’s share of students at IUP are undergraduates. However, the university also has a well-regarded graduate school with nearly 2,000 students.

The school has over 100 undergraduate degrees and more than 40 graduate programs, including 13 doctoral programs. At each level, you can expect a high-quality education with professors who are at the top of their respective fields. IUP’s academic programs have been recognized time and again for their quality, as evidenced by the fact that IUP has been in Princeton Review’s Best Colleges Guidebook for 22 years running.

Child Psychology Program Information

IUP’s School Psychology program culminates with a Ph.D. designed to prepare you for competent practice with children in a school-based setting. You can begin the program immediately after completing your bachelor’s degree – no master’s degree is required.

Since this is a bachelor-to-doctoral program, you can finish it in less time than completing a master’s and doctorate separately. You will need around five years of full-time study to finish the graduation requirements. These requirements include courses like:

  • Foundations of Behavioral Analysis
  • Advanced Psychometric Theory
  • Advanced Psychopathology
  • Academic Interventions
  • Neuropsychology of Children’s Learning Disorders

This program also requires the completion of eight practicum experiences that occur in each of the first four years of the program. The fifth year is reserved for an internship and dissertation work. Once completed, you will have a Master of Education in Educational Psychology and a Ph.D. in School Psychology.

You can apply here for IUP’s graduate school. When applying, you will need some basic documentation, such as:

  • Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A goals statement that outlines your academic and career goals.

Millersville University

Millersville University might be a good fit if you prefer to attend school in a small-town setting. The town of Millersville has around 7,500 residents. The university is even smaller, with about 6,000 students. Both in town and on campus, you can enjoy a laid-back atmosphere with a slower pace of life than what you typically find in larger cities and at larger schools.

Since Millersville is a small school, you benefit from more opportunities for one-on-one interaction with your professors. You also benefit from smaller class sizes that help you focus more on your studies. Also helping you along the way is the fact that Millersville is among the top 30 public universities in the north.

Child Psychology Program Information

Millersville University offers an Educational Specialist program in School Psychology that expands your learning beyond what is typical for a graduate program. You will complete a 30-credit Master of Science degree first and then finish 34 additional credits Educational Specialist Degree.

Not only does this program give you extensive post-baccalaureate training, but it also leads to certification as a school psychologist in Pennsylvania. The training you get in this program prepares you for a career as a school psychologist that is knowledgeable of child development, psychological assessments, and appropriate interventions for schoolchildren with mental health needs.

Required coursework is highly varied and exposes you to essential topics in school psychology. Some of the classes you will take include the following:

  • Applied Behavior Analysis in an MTSS Framework
  • Seminar in School Psychology
  • Child Development Within the Family System
  • Behavioral Assessment of Children and Youth
  • Childhood Disorders

This three-year program also requires several experiential learning activities. You must develop a professional portfolio over the course of your studies and participate in a practicum experience in a school setting. Moreover, you must complete a supervised internship in a school setting.

Start the process of enrolling in this program by applying online. Admissions requirements are as follows:

  • 2.75 cumulative undergraduate GPA or higher, including 18 semester hours of psychology
  • GRE scores (if your GPA is 2.99 or below; the GRE is not required if your GPA is 3.0 or above)
  • Official undergraduate transcripts from all colleges and universities attended
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • An autobiographical sketch that outlines your academic and professional goals
  • A personal interview

Child Psychology Work Opportunities in Pennsylvania

As mentioned in the introduction, child psychology is a very broad area of study and practice. As a result of this, the work opportunities are also extremely varied.

For example, with a master’s degree or a doctorate in child psychology or a related area, you can work in private practice (provided you have the appropriate Pennsylvania licensure). As a self-employed child psychologist, you can work with any population of children you like.

On the one hand, you might offer generalized services for children and their families. On the other hand, you might focus your practice on providing services for specific childhood disorders, like ADHD or autism.

Another option is to work in a school setting as opposed to being self-employed. School psychologists provide academic, social, emotional, and behavioral interventions for students in pre-K through the 12th grade. Additionally, school psychologists assess students, devise interventions to address specific mental health concerns, and help train teachers and other staff members on critical children’s mental health issues.

In some cases, child psychologists work in medical and clinical settings. For example, you might work as a psychologist on staff at a children’s hospital in one of Pennsylvania’s large cities. As another example, you might work in a community mental health center or a residential treatment center for mentally-ill youth. Whatever your passion, you can tailor your training to the specific career path you have in mind!

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