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Top Schools for Psychology

Read about degree programs in psychology, a social science that includes specializations in clinical, biological and industrial psychology. The resource below includes brief summaries of the programs offered by three high-profile schools, as well as a list of other universities in the U.S. that award degrees in psychology.

A psychology degree can prepare students for entry-level or advanced work in numerous social science fields. Earning an undergraduate or graduate psychology degree from a top university may increase career opportunities after graduation.

School Overview

The four schools summarized below include an Ivy League school, as well as two public and one private university. All four schools offer bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs in psychology, as well as opportunities for graduate research in a number of specialized areas. In addition, all of these schools were ranked by U.S. News & World Report in one or more categories.

Stanford University in Stanford, CA

School Highlight: A co-terminal M.A. in Psychology is available, giving undergraduates the opportunity to take advanced courses in psychology for three academic quarters and complete a master's thesis.

Stanford is a private university with a psychology program that U.S. News & World Report ranked number one in the country for 2013, the most current year for psychology rankings. Additionally, the university placed tied for fifth on the U.S. News & World Report list of the best national universities in 2017. In addition to a bachelor's degree and master's degree in psychology, Stanford offers a doctoral program. Students pursuing the school's Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program can concentrate their research in a variety of areas, including cognitive, developmental, neurological and social psychology.

University of California - Berkeley

School Highlight: Undergraduate research opportunities are available for psychology majors.

In 2016, the University of California in Berkeley tied for the second best graduate school for psychology, according to U.S. News & World Report. As of 2017, the university's psychology department ranked in the top 30 by the National Research Council (NRC). Undergraduates pursuing programs through the Department of Psychology have the chance to participate in directed group studies, field studies or supervised research. Graduate students conduct independent research projects to fulfill their Ph.D. requirements.

Harvard University in Cambridge, MA

School Highlight: A postdoctoral fellowship program in psychology is available.

Harvard University is an Ivy League school which U.S. News & World Report ranked number two among national universities in 2017. As of 2016, the university's Department of Psychology ranked tied for fourth in the nation, as designated by U.S. News & World Report.

Harvard offers an undergraduate degree program in psychology that allows for concentrations in mind, brain and behavior, social and cognitive neurosciences and a general track. Graduate students can pursue specialized research in language and social cognition, animal behavior, motor control or sensory perception. They can also investigate how people with emotional disorders develop on the cognitive level, among other topics. The department also offers a postdoctoral program for professionals who already hold a Ph.D. in Psychology.

University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, MN

School Highlight: A research experience program provides undergraduates with early exposure to a research environment.

University of Minnesota's graduate psychology programs were ranked #9 by U.S. News & World Report as of 2013. In addition to its undergraduate psychology program, the school offers a doctoral psychology program with numerous specialization options, including counseling psychology, social psychology, cognitive and brain science, among others.

In addition, the College of Education and Human Development offers programs leading to a Master of Arts and a Specialist Certificate in education and school psychological services, which has been approved by the National Association of School Psychologists. Graduates are eligible to receive their state and national school psychologist credentials. The school's Institute of Child Development also offers a Ph.D. in Child Psychology.

Top Psychology Schools

Below are five more schools that have top-ranked psychology programs:

  • The University of Washington in Seattle, WA features a diversity science program.
  • The University of Illinois at the Urbana-Champaign, IL campus offers nine divisions of study in its Psychology Department.
  • The University of Wisconsin, located in Madison, WI offers an individualized graduate major.
  • The University of California in Los Angeles features labs for researching child and infant development.
  • Princeton University in Princeton, NJ offers a joint-degree program in psychology and social policy for graduate students.

While you may be qualified for positions in fields other than psychology with a bachelor's degree in psychology, individuals with a master's degree may work as assistants under a psychologist. To practice as a research, counseling and clinical psychologist, you'll need a Ph.D. and a license.


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