Best Psychology Graduate Schools in the Nation

Read about the best graduate psychology schools in the U.S., which typically focus on clinical, behavioral or developmental psychology, among other specialized areas. Learn about the program options at four high-ranking universities, and find a list of other schools that offer graduate degrees in psychology.

Graduate programs in psychology can lead to a Master of Arts (M.A.) or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) and help students prepare for careers as counselors, psychologists and researchers.

School Overviews

Highly ranked graduate programs in psychology can be found at the following four public and private universities: New York University, the University of California in Berkeley, the University of Texas in Austin and Harvard University. Each of these schools was ranked highly among national universities by U.S. News & World Report for 2017.

University of California - Berkeley

School Highlight: For 2017, U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of California in Berkeley (UC Berkeley) 20th among national universities and 1st among public schools in the United States.

U.S. News & World Report ranked the university's psychology program the second in the nation for 2017. Doctoral candidates at Berkeley can pursue a Ph.D. accredited by the American Psychological Association. Areas of specialization include clinical science; cognition, cognitive neuroscience; behavioral and systems neuroscience; clinical science; development and social-personality. Many students choose to work with professors from other departments in the university in order to strengthen their dissertation.

University of Texas at Austin

School Highlight: The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) placed 18th among public schools, as designated by U.S. News & World Report for 2017.

Ph.D. programs in psychology at UT Austin include specializations in clinical or developmental psychology, cognitive science or behavioral neuroscience. Studies in individual differences and evolutionary psychology, social and personality psychology and perceptual systems are also available. The course schedule is often flexible with a few core courses in statistics and basics of psychology. Also, in 2013, U.S. News & World Report ranked the school as one of the top 15 graduate psychology programs in the country.

New York University in New York, NY

School Highlight: U.S. News & World Report ranked New York University (NYU) among the top 50 universities in the country for 2017.

In 2013, the university's graduate psychology program placed 30th in the nation, also according to U.S. News & World Report. NYU offers an M.A. in General Psychology or Industrial/Organizational Psychology, as well as a Ph.D. in Cognition and Perception or Social Psychology. Ph.D. candidates may minor in developmental or quantitative psychology. Graduate programs in applied psychology are also available through NYU's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development. These include school psychology and social intervention.

Harvard University in Cambridge, MA

School Highlight: The school's Psychology Study Pool helps researchers find study participants.

U.S. News & World Report ranked Harvard as tied for #2 among all national universities for 2017. The ranking for its psychology graduate school was #4. The school offers a PhD in the field of psychology. Based on their academic interests, students in the program choose between four areas of study: social psychology, developmental psychology, experimental psychopathy and clinical psychology, and cognition, brain and behavioral psychology. Students must also choose between a Common Curriculum and a Clinical Science track.

Top Schools with Graduate Psychology Programs

These top schools also offer graduate programs in psychology:

  • Princeton University in Princeton, NJ, maintains a research affiliation with the Princeton Neuroscience Institute Imaging Center.
  • Stanford University in Stanford, CA, ranked number one on U.S. News & World Report's list of best graduate psychology schools in 2013.
  • The University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign is home to the interdisciplinary Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology.
  • At the school's Ann Arbor campus, University of Michigan undergraduate students may be invited to the Accelerated Master's Degree Program.
  • At the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities in Minneapolis, research is based in eight areas of specialization.
  • Graduate students at Yale University in New Haven, CT, can train in the Yale Psychology Department Clinic, among other facilities.

For students who want to pursue graduate studies in psychology, some of the best universities in the United States offer various tracks of study in the field, including evolutionary psychology, developmental psychology and industrial/organizational psychology.

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