Top Ranked Psychology Degree Programs - Chicago, IL

Students interested in studying psychology in the Chicago area have many schools to choose from. Read about the top local schools' degree programs, tuition and ranking info to find the right one for you.

School and Ranking Information

There are more than 25 schools offering psychology degree programs within 25 miles of downtown Chicago. The following schools are considered the top three based on rankings, psychology degree levels offered, number of degrees awarded in the field and graduation rates:

  • Winner: Northwestern University, located in Evanston, secures first place for its multiple top-15 national rankings in psychology from U.S. News & World Report, high graduation rate and highly awarded faculty.
  • Runner Up #1: The University of Chicago in Chicago is the first runner up due to its multiple degree options in the field and for its location right in Chicago.
  • Runner Up #2: The University of Illinois at Chicago receives third place for its vast quantity of degrees awarded in psychology and its low tuition rates.

School Comparison Chart

Category Northwestern University University of Chicago University of Illinois at Chicago
Ranking(s) Graduate psychology program ranked #14 in 2013
Graduate clinical psychology program ranked #14 in 2012*
Graduate psychology program ranked #21 in 2013* Graduate psychology program ranked #60 in 2013
Graduate clinical psychology program ranked #42 in 2012*
Location Evanston, IL (12.1 miles from Chicago) Chicago, IL Chicago, IL
School Type 4-year, private not-for-profit 4-year, private not-for-profit 4-year, public
Tuition & Fees (2012-2013) $43,779 (undergraduate)
$43,692 (graduate)**
$45,609 (undergraduate)
$46,830 (graduate)**
$13,122 (undergraduate, in-state)
$25,512 (undergraduate, out-of-state)
$15,467 (graduate, in-state)
$25,763 (graduate, out-of-state)**
Psychology Degree Levels Offered Bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees** Bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees** Bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees**
Psychology Degrees Awarded (All Levels) in 2011-2012 251** 90** 557**
Most Popular Psychology Program (2011-2012) Bachelor's in Psychology - General (154 awarded)** Bachelor's in Psychology - General (39 awarded)** Bachelor's in Psychology - General (520 awarded)**
Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal program time) for 2005 Entering Class 94%** 92%** 54%**
Noteworthy Current faculty includes a Nobel laureate, MacArthur Fellows, and members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences*** Faculty currently includes 8 Nobel Prize winners; John Dewey established University of Chicago's Laboratory Schools*** Largest university in the Chicago area***

Sources: *U.S. News & World Report, **NCES College Navigator, ***Schools' websites.

Winner: Northwestern University

  • Ranked #12 among national universities in 2013, according to U.S. News & World Report
  • Has 20 psychology laboratories and research centers
  • Has Undergraduate Psychology Association (UPA)
  • PhD in Clinical Psychology program accredited by American Psychological Association (APA)

Northwestern University's undergraduate psychology program offers instruction in five primary areas: brain, behavior, & cognition; clinical; cognitive; personality; and social psychology. Through this program, students learn to develop research topics and analyze data in the classroom and lab. Students can choose to enter the Psychology Honors Program in their final year at Northwestern, which allows them to explore a specific research topic in depth. Northwestern also offers a Master of Arts in Counseling program that is nationally recognized. Although Northwestern doesn't admit students to a master's program in the clinical psychology or psychology departments, master's degrees are awarded in some cases.

Runner-Up #1: University of Chicago

  • Ranked #4 among national universities in 2013, according to U.S. News & World Report
  • Per the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the student-faculty ratio is 6:1, five students less than the national average for 4-year, private not-for-profit schools
  • Center for Cognitive & Social Neuroscience offers research resources, training sessions, workshops, and an annual colloquium series

Students at the University of Chicago can earn a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with specializations in biopsychology, cognition and communication, human development, and mental health, among others. Third-year students in this program may be eligible for the Earl R. Franklin Research Fellowship, which provides students with financial assistance to complete a summer research project that can be used as the senior research project. Students looking to earn a master's degree can enroll in the Master of Arts Program in Social Sciences (MAPSS) with a concentration in psychology. Students complete nine graduate-level courses in this three-quarter program, including the core course, 'Perspectives in Social Science Analysis'. The PhD in Psychology program offers specializations in cognition, developmental psychology, integrative neuroscience, and social psychology. Students in this program must take three of five core courses and 11 courses in all.

Runner-Up #2: University of Illinois at Chicago

  • Has a Psi Chi chapter, the International Honor Society in Psychology
  • Students can earn a cash prize for the Nancy Hirschberg Memorial Prize for Undergraduate Excellence in Psychology
  • One of only 88 Carnegie level-one research universities in the nation
  • PhD program accredited by the APA

The University of Illinois at Chicago offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology; students in this degree program may study general or applied psychology. The general psychology concentration focuses on psychology within the context of a liberal arts education. Students in the applied psychology concentration take extra courses in testing and fieldwork. Students pursuing the PhD in Psychology can specialize in cognitive psychology, community and prevention research, clinical psychology, behavioral neuroscience, or social-personality psychology. Students may also pursue interdepartmental concentrations in neuroscience, gender and women's studies, and violence studies. Students who do not enter the program with a Master of Arts (MA) in Psychology from another institution will earn this degree before working toward the PhD in Psychology; a MA cannot be pursued independently of a PhD at the school.


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