The Most Affordable Graduate Degrees in Psychology and Counseling in the West

Updated June 27, 2023

Looking for an affordable master's in psychology or master's in counseling program located in the West? Check out our ranking of the cheapest programs. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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When deciding whether to pursue a master's degree in psychology or counseling, prospective students should understand the similarities and differences between the two. Counselors typically possess a bachelor's or master's degree and provide talk therapy services to clients across their lifespan. Some may specialize in working with particular populations, including clients facing issues around substance abuse, eating disorders, marriage and family issues, or grief and trauma.

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A psychologist must hold a doctorate to use this title. In addition to offering talk therapy, psychologists can prescribe medications to address common mental health issues. Like counselors, psychologists can work with clients of all ages but tend to specialize their services. Some psychologists focus exclusively on providing direct care services to their clients, while others apply their skills to conduct research or work in academia.

Finding affordable master's in psychology and master's in counseling programs is an important step in the process, especially for learners looking to avoid substantial student loan debt. This ranking is aimed towards students seeking an accredited, affordable master's in psychology or counseling in the western region of the United States, and has been narrowed down to states including Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Alaska, and Hawaii.

Top 10 Most Affordable Graduate Degrees in Psychology and Counseling in the West


View ranking methodology here.

  • Arizona State University-Tempe

    Tempe, AZ

    The clinical psychology Ph.D. program at ASU prepares graduates for professional careers in education, clinical research, and clinical supervision. The selective program requires students to maintain continuous full-time enrollment until they meet all degree requirements.

    The 84-credit curriculum comprises three tracks: health psychology, child clinical psychology, and community/prevention. The degree requires a minimum of 1,500 clinical hours, with practicum training beginning in the second year. Students admitted to the program with a bachelor's degree typically complete all requirements in six years, including a year-long internship.

    ASU provides several financial aid opportunities for graduate students. The psychology department pays tuition for full-time doctoral students who work 20 hours per week as teaching or research assistants.

    ASU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The clinical psychology doctoral program holds accreditation from the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System and the American Psychological Association.

  • Biola University

    La Mirada, CA

    Biola is an evangelical Christian institution located in La Mirada, California. Biola's Rosemead School of Psychology offers a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and a Psy.D. in clinical psychology accredited by the American Psychological Association.

    While differing in career training models, the Ph.D. and the Psy.D. share a unique focus that integrates research in human behavior with Christian theological perspectives. Both doctoral programs require 133 credits. Students earn a master of arts in clinical psychology, along with a minor in theology and biblical studies embedded in the degree.

    The research-centered Ph.D., based on a scholar-practitioner model, requires a master's thesis and a dissertation. In contrast, the practitioner-scholar emphasis of the Psy.D. degree provides clinical training through psychotherapy labs, assessment courses, and additional hours of practicum.

    Biola is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

  • Brigham Young University-Provo

    Provo, UT

    Sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, BYU offers a clinical psychology Ph.D. accredited by the American Psychology Association. The program prepares graduates for clinical careers while emphasizing scientific research in child, adolescent, and family clinical psychology; clinical neuropsychology; or clinical health psychology.

    The program incorporates a master of science in psychology, embedded within the second year as a non-terminal degree. The five-year Ph.D. curriculum requires four years of coursework, research, and clinical training. Clinical training begins in the first year and continues through the second and third years, introducing enrollees to therapy cases and assessments. Each learner must complete a one-year paid internship in the last year of the program.

    Courses include clinical research, psychopathology, cultural diversity and gender issues, developmental psychology, and ethical issues.

    BYU holds regional accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

  • California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo

    San Luis Obispo, CA

    Ranked among the best public institutions in the western states, Cal Poly enrolls over 21,000 undergraduates and graduates. Its master of science in psychology, administered by the college of liberal arts, prepares graduates for positions in social service agencies, inpatient and outpatient mental health clinics, and private practice. Approximately 15% of graduates enter doctoral programs in clinical psychology or counseling.

    This professional degree fulfills the educational requirements for the California marriage and family therapist license. The curriculum includes day and evening classes and extensive clinical training. Full-time students can earn their degrees in two years by taking up to 16 units each quarter. The program offers several campus-based employment opportunities, including clinical, teaching, and research assistants. Enrollees often find part-time clinical work in San Luis Obispo community agencies.

    Cal Poly is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

  • California State University-Long Beach

    Long Beach, CA

    The psychology department at CSULB has established three innovative master's degrees in psychology. Applicants should hold a bachelor's in psychology or have completed four lower-division and eight upper-division psychology courses.

    The master of arts in psychological research requires two years of full-time attendance. Graduates enter careers in social services, industry, and government, or pursue doctoral studies.

    The master of science in industrial-organizational psychology provides psychological training directly applicable to business and industry settings as a terminal degree. In addition to coursework, this degree requires a practicum and a thesis.

    The master of science in human factors explores human engineering to design products, equipment, and systems. Graduates find employment in many different fields, including aerospace systems, computer software and hardware design, educational technology, usability analysis, and virtual reality.

    CSULB is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

  • Colorado State University-Fort Collins

    Fort Collins, CO

    CSU serves 27,000 undergraduate and graduate students in 55 academic departments. As the flagship of the Colorado State University system, CSU ranks among the nation's top-tiered research institutions.

    Its department of psychology has developed several distinctive graduate programs. Students may enroll in an online master's in industrial-organizational psychology and a terminal master's in addiction counseling. At the doctoral level, the department offers Ph.D. programs in applied social and health psychology, cognitive psychology, cognitive neuroscience, counseling psychology, and industrial-organizational psychology.

    The psychology department provides financial aid opportunities for students enrolled in any of its Ph.D. programs. Enrollees may apply for one of five annual teaching fellows that pays a stipend for teaching undergraduate psychology classes. The university graduate fellows program supports research and interdisciplinary study with a scholarship worth up to $4,000.

    CSU holds regional accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission.

  • Mount Saint Mary's University

    Los Angeles, CA

    MSMU is the only Catholic postsecondary institution primarily serving women in the western states. MSMU offers coeducational graduate, evening, and weekend programs.

    This master of science in counseling psychology offers three specializations. The 36-credit general counseling track prepares students to enter careers in nonprofit and educational settings. The convenient evening format typically takes three years to complete.

    The 60-credit marriage and family therapy track requires two years to complete in the daytime format and three years in evening classes. This program fulfills educational requirements for California licensure as a marriage and family therapist.

    Bilingual students may choose the Enlaces certificate option within the marriage and family track. This certificate in counseling Spanish-speaking clients offers classes in Spanish and focuses on cultural factors impacting the community.

    MSMU is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

  • Multnomah University

    Portland, OR

    Founded in 1936 in Portland, Oregon, Multnomah is a private, Christian university that offers undergraduate and graduate degrees and professional certifications. The community-oriented master of arts in counseling merges professional training with faith-based integration, preparing graduates to practice in church-sponsored and secular settings with children, adults, teens, families, and couples. 

    The 60-credit degree offers a convenient, accelerated format that allows enrollees to finish in three years or less, taking most classes one evening each week and some electives on weekends. Students enter the program in the fall and spring semesters, progressing as a cohort through courses. The program requires a 700-hour internship in the second year.

    The master's degree has received approval by the Oregon Board of Licensed Professional Counselors and Therapists to meet degree standards for licensure in Oregon. Multnomah is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

  • New Mexico State University-Main Campus

    Las Cruces, NM

    Established in 1888, NMSU is the oldest postsecondary institution in the state. This land-grant, space-grant, and Hispanic-serving institution enrolls 14,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

    The university features over 90 graduate programs, including a Ph.D. in psychology that offers areas of emphasis in engineering, cognitive, or social psychology. The program requires 40-70 credits, core coursework in all three areas of emphasis, a quantitative methods sequence, written and oral comprehensive exams, and a dissertation.

    In addition to core requirements, courses include behavioral neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience, and human-computer interaction, along with sensation and perception theory and methodology. Each Ph.D. student must also complete an approved internship or teach at least one undergraduate course. 

    NMSU offers graduate students several financial aid opportunities. Out-of-state students may qualify for in-state tuition and stipends through graduate research and teaching assistantships.

    NMSU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  • Oregon State University

    Corvallis, OR

    Located in Corvallis, OSU serves over 32,000 students in more than 200 undergraduate and 100 graduate programs through its 11 colleges. The School of Psychological Science offers an applied, behavior-based, and research-focused Ph.D. in psychology.

    This highly selective program admits only 3-6 students annually. Cohorts begin in the fall semester. All Ph.D. students take core courses in design, methodologies, and statistics, along with classes in applied cognitive psychology, engineering psychology, and health psychology.

    The program adheres to a mentorship model, assigning students to work with faculty members in their research area throughout their enrollment. The department offers financial assistance that provides tuition, health insurance premiums, and a stipend to students in good standing who are enrolled in at least 12 credits.

    OSU is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

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