Top Ranked Psychology Degree Programs - San Diego, CA

School and Ranking Information

The San Diego area has more than a dozen options for students seeking degrees in psychology. The top three schools for psychology in San Diego, based on rankings and program offerings, are the University of California - San Diego (UC - San Diego), San Diego State University (SDSU) and Alliant International University.

In California, to work as a psychologist, one must be licensed. Licensure requirements vary based on the type of position; however, clinical psychologists must complete an accredited doctoral program, internship and professional experience and pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology and then the California Psychology Supplemental Examination. All three of the following schools have doctoral programs in clinical psychology that are accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) and can prepare graduates for licensure.

  • Winner: UC - San Diego offers the highest ranked psychology graduate program of schools in San Diego, based on 2013 U.S. News & World Report (USNWR) rankings. It also awarded the largest number of undergraduate psychology degree programs of schools in San Diego, according to 2011-2012 National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) figures. It offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees.
  • Runner-Up #1: SDSU is ranked by USNWR in the top 100 for graduate psychology programs nationwide and offers numerous research labs and centers for future psychologists. It offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral programs.
  • Runner-Up #2: Alliant International University features the largest number of graduate degree programs in psychology in San Diego. It offers bachelor's, master's, doctoral programs and graduate certificates.

School Comparison Chart

Category University of California - San Diego San Diego State University Alliant International University
Rankings 14th for Top National Graduate Psychology Programs in 2013*,
26th for Top National Graduate Clinical Psychology Programs in 2012*,
38th for Top National Universities in 2013*
26th for Top National Graduate Clinical Psychology Programs in 2012*,
52nd for Top National Graduate Psychology Programs in 2013*,
165th for Top National Universities in 2013
N/A
Location La Jolla, CA San Diego, CA San Diego, CA
School Type 4-year, public 4-year, public 4-year, private not-for-profit
Tuition & Fees (2012-2013) $13,217 in-state, undergraduate;
$36,095 out-of-state, undergraduate;
$12,734 in-state, graduate;
$27,836 out-of-state, graduate**
$6,578 in-state, undergraduate;
$18,236 out-of-state, undergraduate;
$7,844 in-state, graduate;
$17,390 out-of-state, graduate**
$15,190 undergraduate;
$21,624 graduate**
Psychology Degrees Offered Bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees Bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees Bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees; graduate certificates
Psychology Degrees Awarded (All Levels) in (2011-2012) 549** 500** 614**
Most Popular Psychology Program (2011-2012) Bachelor's in Psychology, General (521 awarded)** Bachelor's in Psychology, General (446 awarded)** Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (238 awarded)**
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal degree time) for 2005 Entering Class 85%** 66%** 29%**
Noteworthy The university was ranked 8th among top public schools in the nation in 2013* The school is recognized by the Carnegie Foundation as a highly active research university Psychology students provide over 1 million hours of volunteer service to their communities yearly

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

Winner: University of California - San Diego

  • U.S. News & World Report ranked the graduate behavioral neuroscience program 1st in the nation and the graduate cognitive psychology program 3rd in the nation in 2013
  • The Department of Psychology has 31 full-time faculty members who specialize in five areas of study
  • The school features a psychology research center

In 2013, the University of California - San Diego reported that there were about 1,565 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in the psychology department. Psychology majors can earn a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science; the BS requires more lab and specialty courses. A master's program in general psychology and a doctoral program in experimental psychology are also offered. Students interested in clinical psychology can enroll in a PhD program offered in conjunction with SDSU. Within the psychology department, students have research opportunities in cognitive psychology, behavioral neuroscience, developmental psychology, social psychology and perception. They can complete interdisciplinary research with other schools, like the medical school.

Runner-Up #1: San Diego State University

  • The psychology department has about 36 research labs, centers and programs
  • Psychology students hold prestigious awards, such as the National Science Institute's Science Across Virtual Institutes (SAVI) Award

At the undergraduate level, the school offers a psychology major and minor. Students can apply for research assistant positions in labs as well as field placements at local organizations. A master's degree in psychology that requires thesis research in one of the psychology labs can prepare students for doctoral-level studies. Students looking for licensure can complete the doctoral program in clinical psychology that is jointly offered with UC - San Diego. Students can take advantage of research facilities focused on cognition, health, social and cultural issues, among others. Students can join Psi Chi, the national psychology honors program, and the school's psychology club.

Runner-Up #2: Alliant International University

  • The marital and family therapy master's and doctoral programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE)
  • About 56% of the awards conferred by this university in 2011-2012 were in the field of psychology, according to NCES

Alliant International University's California School of Professional Psychology awards bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees. Alliant offers the most psychology graduate program variety in the San Diego area. Utilizing a unique approach that emphasizes hands-on training and multicultural awareness, students can complete programs in areas like clinical psychology, marital and family therapy, school psychology and industrial-organizational psychology. Programs can prepare graduates to seek licensure in their respective fields of psychology. In addition to classroom training, Alliant International University focuses on experiential learning through direct service to the community. At the San Diego campus, students have access to four learning centers, including the Family Center at the Center for Applied Behavioral Science and the Organizational Consulting Center.

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