Chicago offers many exciting opportunities for prospective child psychologists. On the one hand, more than 20 percent of the city’s residents are under the age of 18. More than six percent of the city’s population is under the age of five. So, there is a large population of potential clients once you graduate from your program.
On the other hand, Chicago has many colleges and universities, some of which have the best child psychology programs. Whether you’re from Chicago and want to study close to home or you’re from elsewhere in Illinois, another state, or another country, this city affords you the chance to get a high-quality education in this field.
Below is a list of popular child psychology programs available in the Chicago area. Some programs culminate with a master’s degree, while others result in a Ph.D. Both degrees prepare you well for a future of work in child psychology.
Child Psychology Programs in Chicago
Loyola University Chicago
Loyola University Chicago is a private school affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. It was founded in 1870 and currently occupies a small yet beautiful campus on Chicago’s north side along the shore of Lake Michigan. It is one of the largest Jesuit colleges in the country.
Loyola Chicago offers small class sizes (with a 14:1 student-to-teacher ratio) for an intimate educational experience. Over 90 percent of the university’s faculty hold a terminal degree, too. Between the small classes and expert professors, you will get a top-tier education at Loyola Chicago.
This school is also diverse – 40 percent of students are students of color. As a student on campus, you can enjoy learning with people much different from you. There are hundreds of student organizations you can join as well.
The developmental psychology Ph.D. program at Loyola-Chicago is a dual-degree program. You earn a master’s degree – which requires 24 credits for completion – then continue in your studies to complete the doctoral portion of the program (which requires an additional 36 credits).
A developmental psychology degree like this focuses not just on the healthy development of kids, but also on the healthy development of parents, siblings, and other family members. With a holistic approach like this, you’ll gain perspective in how a child’s development and functioning are affected by those around them.
In addition to coursework and mentorship opportunities with faculty members, you will also take part in extensive psychological research, training, and teaching. These experiences help further develop your skills for future work in non-clinical settings, like in research or academics.
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
This specialist school got its start in Chicago. Today, the Chicago School of Professional psychology reaches far beyond Chicago with campuses in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and many points in between. You can also pursue many different degree programs online through the Chicago School.
If you aren’t sure what you want to study, the Chicago School offers a wide variety of psychology-related programs. This includes:
- Clinical Psychology
- Forensic Psychology
- Educational Psychology
- Business Psychology
- Marriage and Family Therapy
There’s even a nursing program available.
Regardless of the program you select, you will study with expert professors that help you build the knowledge and skills you need to pursue your career goals.
This Master of Arts program in psychology offers a concentration in child and adolescent psychology that will prepare you for a career working with children who have mental health needs. The program is fully online and is offered for full-time and part-time students.
This is a 36-credit program that you can complete in two years of full-time study. Some of the topics you will study include:
- Family systems and family therapy
- Addictive disorders
- Psychological assessment and evaluation
- Juvenile offender treatment
- Trauma and crisis prevention
Additionally, you will learn about evidence-based programs and interventions for common issues of childhood and adolescence, like developmental disorders, social dysfunction, and struggles at school. You can explore these or other topics of interest in the applied research component of this program. The research project is in lieu of a thesis. This program does not require an internship, either.
The University of Chicago
Unlike many schools, the University of Chicago (UC) has more graduate students than undergraduates. More than 10,000 graduate students study at this university, as compared to about 7,000 undergrads.
These numbers make sense given the University of Chicago’s reputation as a research institution. In fact, the University ranks sixth in the nation among best colleges according to U.S. News and World Report.
As a student at UC, you can choose from dozens of majors and minors in the undergraduate college. There are seven professional schools for graduate study as well. You can study:
- Biological Sciences
- Social Work, Policy, and Practice
UC also has programs in the humanities, social sciences, and molecular engineering, to name a few.
The University of Chicago’s doctoral program in developmental psychology focuses on scientific inquiry. As a student in this program, you can research topics related to the emotional development, cognitive development, and social development of children.
You’ll study these and other topics in a rich learning environment. There is traditional classroom coursework, but that’s supplemented with cutting-edge research in areas such as:
- fMRI scans
- Behavioral economics
- Gestural analyses
This is a five-year program. The dissertation component comes during the spring of the fourth year, with a period of research to follow. Before your degree is conferred, you must defend your dissertation to a committee.
Another excellent private school in Chicago is DePaul University. Not only is DePaul known for its academic programs, but it’s also known as one of the biggest private schools in the country. The Catholic-affiliated school was founded in 1898 and has steadily grown into one of the largest Catholic universities as well.
DePaul is organized into ten colleges, including:
- The College of Communication
- The College of Science and Health
- The School of Music
- The Theater School
Among these and other colleges, there are more than 130 undergraduate majors and more than 175 graduate programs you can pursue.
No matter what major you choose, you’ll find small class sizes with a student-to-teacher ratio of 17:1. That kind of individualized attention can help you succeed in your academic pursuits.
DePaul University offers a dual-degree program in clinical psychology with a concentration in clinical child psychology. You’ll get a master’s degree partway through the program, then continue your studies to get a Ph.D.
Like most child psychology-focused programs, this one aims to help you develop competence in a range of areas, including, but not limited to:
- Clinical practice
- Psychological research
- Psychological theory
- Developmental psychopathology
- Evidence-based treatments
Additionally, this program offers a special emphasis on the mental health needs of children in diverse groups, including ethnic minorities, racial minorities, and the poor.
Work Opportunities in Chicago
As a child psychologist, you have the luxury of possessing a skill set that’s needed in many different situations and environments. Backed with a proper education from one of the schools discussed above, you will also have relevant research and supervised work experience that will help you find employment after you graduate.
Chicago’s diversity – which includes many racial, ethnic, religious, and social groups – means that your expertise will likely be used with children from an array of backgrounds. You might work for a non-profit mental health clinic providing clinical services to mostly minority children.
You might also find a job working for the city government, where you can help devise mental health interventions for school kids in Chicago’s sprawling public school system.
Other work opportunities are available in the Windy City as well. For example, you might:
- Consult with corporations about providing on-site childcare for employees.
- Contract with a private school to provide school psychology services to students.
- Open a private practice and work with a specific group of children, such as those on the autism spectrum.
Working in academia is another possibility. With many colleges and universities in the greater Chicago area, you might find that the best fit for your talents and skills is in conducting research and teaching the next generation of child psychologists.
Whatever path you choose, you can find fulfilling work – and work that makes a true difference in the lives of others – as a child psychologist in Chicago.