Best Psychology Programs with a Detailed Curriculum Overview

Psychology is the field of study concerned with understanding human mental processes. Several psychology specialties exist, including clinical, health, school, developmental and organizational psychology, and students can pursue studies at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

School Overviews

According to U.S. News & World Report, Harvard, Princeton and Brown are among the highest-ranked national universities, and they all have well-regarded psychology programs; read on to learn more about those schools and others with strong programs.

Princeton University in New Jersey

School Highlight: Princeton University's psychology undergraduate students complete a concentration that can lead to an additional certificate in an area such as neuroscience.

Princeton University was listed as first among U.S. News & World Report's 2017 list of the best national universities. The Princeton University Department of Psychology offers a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Ph.D. program. Doctoral students may concentrate in systems neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience, perception and cognition, and personality and social psychology, and physiological psychology; a dual Ph.D. in social policy and psychology is also available. Undergraduate students have the opportunity to participate in conducting research experiments related to their classroom coursework - such as studies of memory - and are required to fulfill a certain number of research hours.

Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts

School Highlight:Focus areas for Harvard University's graduate psychology program include clinical science, social science and organizational behavior.

In 2017, U.S. News & World Report ranked Harvard University as tied for 2nd on its list of national universities. Psychology courses were first offered at this 4-year private institution in the late 1800s. Former faculty members include noted American psychologists Henry Murray, B.F. Skinner and Gordon Allport. Students at Harvard can pursue an undergraduate program in psychology, a Ph.D. program or a postdoctoral fellowship. Although the curriculum varies according to the concentration of study, common courses include social psychology, neurobiology of behavior, abnormal psychology, developmental psychology and cognitive psychology.

Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island

School Highlight: Brown's Department of Cognitive, Linguistic & Psychological Sciences (CLPS) allows students to focus their research in areas such as perception and action, development and behavioral neuroscience.

Brown University, another Ivy League school, was ranked 14th among national universities by U.S. News and World Report in 2017. At the CLPS, students can earn a Ph.D. in Psychology, Cognitive Science or Linguistics. While there are no standalone master's degree programs available, there is a fifth-year master's degree program available, as well as a concurrent baccalaureate/master's degree program in cognitive science or psychology. Research focus areas include behavioral neuroscience, neural/computational modes of cognition and language, social psychology and psycholinguistics, among others.

Top Psychology Programs in the U.S.

The following universities also offer strong psychology programs:

  • Carnegie Mellon University's BrainHub initiative combines psychology with the engineering and computer science departments in an effort to understand the brain; the school is located in Pittsburgh, PA.
  • Doctoral programs at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH, allow students to focus on cognitive neuroscience or experimental psychology, and available resources include an MRI machine dedicated to research.
  • At Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, Ph.D. programs are available in five areas, and Ph.D. candidates receive full funding for their studies.
  • Psychology is one of the most popular undergraduate degrees at Rice University in Houston, TX, and graduate degrees are structured around Research Interest Groups (RIGs).
  • At Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, psychology is offered at the undergraduate and doctoral levels, and a combined 4+1 B.S/M.S. is also available.
  • Research facilities associated with the psychology department at Yale University in New Haven, CT, include centers for child development, emotional intelligence and neuropsychiatry.

No matter what degree level a student is searching for, there are well-regarded universities around the country that offer programs in psychology. Some top options include Princeton, Harvard and Brown University.

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