2011 Graduate Study in Psychology

2009-10: Tuition Costs for Master’s and Doctoral-level Students in U.S. and Canadian Graduate Departments of Psychology

Daniel Michalski, Marlene Wicherski & Jessica L. Kohout
APA Center for Workforce Studies
June 2010

Report text

Introduction and methodology

In January of each year the APA’s Education Directorate notifies the chairs of graduate departments of psychology of the annual Graduate Studyin Psychology effort. The following month the chairs are emailed an invitation including a link to the online survey. This original email is followed by three subsequent email contacts requesting participation in the study. APA receives a notification email when a program has completed the survey and graduate programs are dropped from the database when they have not updated their data for two straight years. The information is provided voluntarily by graduate departments and schools of psychology.


When using the information in this report, readers should be aware of possible sources of error. Analyses are based on the subset of departments that participated in the survey, not the population at large. 

Furthermore, some information was collected at the department level and some at the program level. This is an important distinction because master’s programs can reside either in doctoral-level departments or departments where the master’s is the highest degree granted. Therefore, information on some master’s degree programs would be presented in tables reporting doctoral department data.  

Tuition and financial assistance amounts reported by Canadian departments are provided in Canadian dollars.

The objective of Graduate Study in Psychology is to provide information about more than 450 graduate departments, programs, and schools of psychology in the United States and Canada that award a degree in psychology or related fields on the topics of student enrollment and support, departmental budget, faculty, enrollment and attrition rates, and requirements for admission. These data are available in a searchable online database. Students can locate information on specific departments using this tool.

Graduate Study in Psychology has been an ongoing effort for more than 20 years. Previous reports included demographic characteristics of faculty and first-year psychology graduate students, as well as application, acceptance, and enrollment characteristics of U.S. and Canadian graduate departments of psychology. The report also includes admission and graduation requirements, tuition information, and information on financial support available to U.S. and Canadian graduate students in psychology. Review more data from previous Graduate Study in Psychology efforts.

Specifically, this brief focuses on tuition costs for doctoral-level and master’s-level departments of psychology in the U.S. and Canada for the 2009-2010 academic year. For the Graduate Study in Psychology effort, residency within the U.S. is defined as students who have established residency in the state where the institution is located; within Canada, it is defined as students who have established residency in Canada.


Table 27 examines annual and hourly tuition rates for doctoral students in U.S. and Canadian private and public departments of psychology for residents and non-residents. A total of 285 U.S. departments and 26 Canadian departments of psychology provided tuition data. Departments in private institutions were less likely to distinguish between resident and non-resident status in calculating tuition rates. As such, the values for tuition rates at private institutions do not vary substantially by residency status. The median annual tuition rate for doctoral programs in public institutions was $7,789 and $27,993 for private institutions.  Doctoral tuition for non-residents in public institutions was more than twice that for residents: $18,447 compared to $7,789. 

By hour, the median tuition rate of $950 at private institutions was nearly three times the public institution median resident per hour tuition rate of $346. Conversely, median tuition rates for non-residents at public or private institutions were much closer in amount: $773 versus $950 per hour respectively.

Non-resident tuitions at public institutions per year and per hour both were less than tuitions at private institutions.

Tuition rates appear to have increased over 2008-2009. Median per hour tuition for residents at private and public institutions both increased approximately 5% (from $328 to $346 for public institutions; from $899 to $950 for private institutions). Non-resident median tuition at public institutions similarly increased (6%) from $728 in 2008-2009 to $773 per hour in 2009-2010.

Median annual doctoral tuition for non-residents at Canadian departments was more than twice that for residents: $12,077 versus $5,430.

Tuition for master’s students in U.S. and Canadian doctoral and master’s departments of psychology in private and public institutions are presented in Table 28. Data from some master’s programs were included with the doctoral programs in instances where these programs were administratively housed within the institutions’ doctoral departments. Three hundred sixteen U.S. departments and 22 Canadian departments provided data on master’s tuition. As with doctoral-level departments, there were substantial differences in tuition rates between public and private institutions and the rates charged to residents and non-residents at public institutions.

Annual tuition at U.S. master’s departments in public institutions was $5,892 in 2009-2010; demonstrating an increase of 10% over the 2008-2009 rate of $5,343. Annual tuition for non-residents was more than double this amount, at $13,021. By hour, the annual rates translated to $315 for residents and $572 for non-residents. Annual tuition for residents enrolled at master’s departments in private institutions was more than double the annual tuition paid by residents at public institutions, $16,104 versus $5,892 respectively.

Residency was also a factor in Canadian departments of psychology with residents paying an annual tuition of $4,473 and non-residents paying $11,395. Twenty-two Canadian departments responded with resident tuition rates while 20 departments provided tuition rates for non-residents.

As was the case  with tuition rates for doctoral students in Table 27, tuition rates at private institutions varied only slightly (if at all) based on residency. 


Overall, tuition rates for students pursuing graduate degrees in psychology continue to rise each year at U.S. institutions.  Residency is a factor at public institutions, but less of a factor at private institutions.  However, the tuition paid by non-residents at public institutions is closer to that paid by all students at private institutions across all types of programs and departments.  In all cases, tuitions at private institutions were higher than those paid by students at public institutions regardless of residency status.

Canadian departments revealed trends similar to U.S. departments but to a some what lesser degree
The data reviewed indicate that tuitions continue to increase across the board for graduate study in psychology raising concerns for affordability and access to graduate education.