Psychology Schools and Program Guide
At Psychology Degree 411, we help match prospective undergraduate and graduate students with the psychology school that is the best fit for them. Because psychology is one of the most popular programs of study in the world, most schools offer either a Bachelor of Science (BS) or a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in psychology. Many psychology undergrads go on to pursue a master’s degree or a doctoral degree in psychology to complete the training required to practice clinical psychology and many other specialized jobs in the field. There are hundreds of colleges and universities that offer accredited and respected psychology programs, both online and on campuses across the nation.
Psychology schools are known for their advancements in research and their specialization or concentration areas. Prospective students should make sure the psychology department at the school of their choice offers the focus area(s) they want to study. Popular psychology programs offer specializations such as forensic psychology, school psychology, clinical child psychology, and industrial/organizational psychology, to name a few. Keep in mind that while there will be some time to study special topics during your undergraduate degree, the focus will be on completing core coursework, while further specialization will be at the graduate level.
Psychology School Facts
- There are 1,774 not-for-profit colleges and universities that offer a psychology program in the United States.1
- 72 of these schools offer an associate degree in psychology.1
- 1,434 of these schools offer a bachelor’s degree in psychology.1
- 228 of these schools offer a certificate program in psychology.1
- 761 of these schools offer an advanced degree in psychology.1
- 309 Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) psychology programs are accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA).2
- 107 Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) programs are accredited by the APA.2
Table of Contents
- Psychology School Information by State
- Best Value Psychology Schools With On-Campus Programs
- Choosing a School
- School Accreditation
- Psychology Program Profiles
- Typical Courses
- Additional Resources
- Frequently Asked Questions
Psychology School Information by State
If you want to learn more about psychology schools and programs in your state, click on the states below to find out more. There you will find state-specific facts about psychology schools along with profiles of some of the state’s most well-known graduate and undergraduate programs.
- Select a State
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Washington DC
- West Virginia
Best Value Psychology Schools With On-Campus Programs
When choosing a psychology school, you want to consider several factors, including affordability, graduation rate, and retention rate. To help you, we have researched the top US schools with on-campus undergraduate psychology majors with a graduation rate of 85% or greater and a net price of less than $17,000 per year.
A high graduation rate is a traditional marker of student success at a college or university, while net price gives you an idea of what you may pay for your psychology degree. In the table below, we have also included quality markers such as retention rate, transfer-out rate, student loan default rate (all for full-time, first-time students pursuing bachelor’s degrees), and the percentage of tenured faculty. Finally, we have included psychology rankings from US News & World Report and indicated whether each school appears on the Princeton Review’s Best Colleges-Great Schools for Psychology Majors list
|School||Grad Rate1||Retention Rate*1||Transfer Out Rate**1||Student Loan Default Rate1||% Tenured Faculty3||US News National Rank4||Princeton Review Psych List5||Net Price1|
|University of Florida||91%||97%||6%||1.7%||47%||#28 tie||Yes||$9,809|
|University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||90%||95%||5%||1.4%||44%||#28 tie||—||$11,508|
|Columbia University in the City of New York||97%||95%||—||1.7%||24%||#2 tie||Yes||$12,411|
|College of New Jersey||87%||94%||9%||1.3%||30%||NR||—||$13,269|
|University of California-Los Angeles||92%||96%||4%||1.6%||43%||#20||Yes||$13,393|
|University of Wisconsin-Madison||89%||95%||—||0.9%||48%||#42 tie||—||$13,484|
|Harvard University||97%||76%||—||0.9%||45%||#2 tie||—||$13,910|
|University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign||85%||94%||—||2.3%||50%||#47||—||$14,272|
|Stanford University||96%||86%||—||0.5%||75%||#6 tie||Yes||$14,402|
|University of Pennsylvania||96%||95%||—||0.9%||58%||#8||—||$14,578|
|St. Augustine College||99%||54%||—||7.0%||—||NR||—||$15,337|
|University of California-San Diego||89%||94%||—||1.0%||31%||#34 tie||—||$15,632|
|University of Texas at Austin||88%||97%||—||2.3%||46%||#38 tie||Yes||$16,589|
|University of California-Davis||87%||93%||—||1.5%||56%||#38 tie||Yes||$16,640|
|University of Georgia||88%||94%||7%||1.9%||53%||#48||—||$16,902|
Choosing a School
Before applying to the psychology degree program of your choice, you need to research the school’s admission guidelines and requirements. It is always a good idea to apply to more than one school, just in case you do not get accepted by your first choice.
For those pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree, tThe American Psychological Association (APA) offers information on application deadlines, acceptance rates, scholarship opportunities, and tuition costs for hundreds of psychology graduate programs across the US and Canada. The site also features tips for top psychology students to distinguish themselves from the competition, like gaining valuable research experience as an undergraduate, selecting the best undergraduate course schedule, and building relationships with faculty and mentors who can later write students letters of recommendation.
Undergraduate Psychology Programs
Majoring in psychology is a popular choice at schools across the country because of students’ curiosity about human behavior and their interest in improving mental health.6 Psychology programs produce well-rounded graduates who understand human thought and behavior, think critically, and communicate effectively. Because becoming a clinical psychologist requires additional schooling and licensure, many psychology majors find work after graduation in fields not directly related to their degree. While studying psychology as an undergraduate, students should concentrate on taking classes that will improve their marketability post-graduation. Most schools offer resources such as student advisors and career centers to help you choose the courses that will best fit your career path. In addition, by choosing a complementary minor or an emphasis outside of psychology, students can distinguish themselves in business, healthcare, or whatever career most interests them.
Undergraduate psychology majors can improve their chances of finding employment by identifying careers that utilize strong writing skills, analytical thinking, small group work, and interpersonal communication. Psychology graduates find meaningful work in industries where understanding what motivates people is critical.
Admission requirements vary by school, but typical requirements include an official high school transcript (or GED certificate) and an application fee. Many schools also require standardized test scores from the ACT or SAT exams. A strong GPA, taking advanced placement (AP) coursework, and participation in extracurricular and leadership activities may increase your chance of admission.
If you are considering earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology online, you can find online learning tips and compare top online psychology programs on our guide to earning an online psychology degree.
Graduate Psychology Programs
Some undergraduates apply for graduate programs immediately following their bachelor’s degree. Others go back to school mid-career in order to advance their position or their pay. Many psychology students pursue master’s degrees in psychology to qualify for careers in specialized areas of the field. An aspiring coach, for example, may seek a master’s in sport psychology to increase earning potential. Someone who aspires to become a sheriff or police chief may pursue a master’s in criminal psychology. A person entering the field of product design will likely seek a master’s in human factors to become qualified for those jobs.
Students interested in a doctoral-level psychology degree should first determine whether they want to become a practicing psychologist in a clinical or counseling environment or if they want to work in applied research or academia. This distinction will determine the type of psychology degree they should pursue. Those with aspirations of becoming practitioners should apply to a college or university that offers an APA-accredited doctoral program in counseling, clinical, or school psychology. Doctoral programs are offered as Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degrees or a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Psychology degrees. Both of these degree options include training in clinical practice and qualify graduates to practice psychology. Students interested in careers in research or academia should apply exclusively to PhD programs, but those pursuing psychology practice can apply to both PhD and PsyD programs. You can learn more about the differences between these two degree types on our home page. Regardless of the type of degree they obtain, all doctoral graduates who will practice psychology at a clinical level must first receive proper licensure in their desired state.
Admission into a graduate program in psychology does not always require a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Still, a bachelor’s degree is always required, along with a statement of purpose, official transcripts, and GRE scores for some programs. International students must also be able to show proficiency in English. Check with the schools of your choice for admission requirements.
US News & World Report’s Top-Ranked Graduate Schools with Psychology Programs 2023
According to US News & World Report, which ranks psychology programs based on academic quality assessed through a survey of peer academics, the top schools in the country for graduate psychology programs are:
- Stanford University (#1 tie, Stanford, CA)
- University of California-Berkeley (#1 tie, Berkeley, CA)
- Harvard University (#3 tie, Cambridge, MA)
- University of California-Los Angeles (#3 tie, Los Angeles, CA)
- University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (#3 tie, Ann Arbor, MI)
- Princeton University (#6 tie, Princeton, NJ)
- University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign (#6 tie, Champaign, IL)
- Yale University (#6 tie, New Haven, CT)
- Cornell University (#9 tie, Ithaca, NY)
- Northwestern University (#9 tie, Evanston, IL)
- University of Wisconsin-Madison (#9 tie, Madison, WI)7
Accreditation is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a psychology program. There are two main types of accreditation: institutional and programmatic. Institutional accreditation means the entire school is accredited by the organization granting that accreditation. Regional accreditation is a type of institutional accreditation that signals schools meet widely-recognized standards of quality and performance. Regional accreditation is a qualifier for certain types of funding, including federal student aid (FSA), and increases the likelihood that credits earned will transfer to another school. The six accreditation regions in the US include:
- Higher Learning Commission (HLC): AZ, AR, CO, IL, IN, IA, KS, MI, MN, MO, NE, NM, ND, OH, OK, SD, WV, WI, and WY
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE): DE, DC, MD, NJ, NY, and PA
- New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE): CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, and VT
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU): AK, ID, MT, NV, OR, UT, and WA
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC): AL, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, TX, and VA
- WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) and Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACCJC): CA and HI
There are also national programmatic accreditors that specialize in the accreditation of programs specific to psychology and counseling. Programmatic accreditation is awarded to a specific program within a larger institution and vouches for the quality of that program. Major programmatic accreditors in the psychology field include:
- American Psychological Association (APA)
- National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)
- Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
- Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (PCSAS)
Select Schools With Traditional Psychology Programs
The Psychology Department at the University of California-Berkeley (UCA’s flagship campus) promotes the discipline’s diverse specialties and covers six key divisions of study including Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience; Clinical Science; Cognition; Cognitive Neuroscience; Developmental; and Social-Personality. At the undergraduate level, the program results in a Bachelor of Arts (BA) and at the graduate level, the program results in a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Psychology. While the BA degree covers all six areas of research, the graduate program offers additional opportunities for specialization within each track. In the Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience track, areas of specialty include Hormones and Behavior; Perceptual and Value-Based Decision Making; Sensory Systems; Neural Basis of Learning and Memory; Neuroethology; and Biology of Sensitive Periods. Within the Cognition track are additional areas of specialty like Learning and Memory; Concepts and Categorization; Reasoning and Problem Solving; Language; and Perception and Attention. Within the Cognitive Neuroscience focus are areas of specialty such as Sensory and Perceptual Processes; Attention and Working Memory; Learning and Memory; Emotion; and Motor Control. In all programs, students can take coursework targeted toward their specific fields of interest.
As one of the largest public research institutions in the nation, the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (U of M) offers undergraduate and graduate students a plethora of opportunities for research and study in psychology. The Department of Psychology at U of M offers a Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BS) in Psychology, with the BA being for students interested in studying a second language. U of M’s Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program includes areas of specialization in seven areas: Clinical Science and Psychopathology Research Program (CSPR); Cognitive and Brain Science (CAB); Counseling Psychology; Industrial/Organizational Psychology (I/O); Personality, Individual Differences, and Behavior Genetics (PIB); Quantitative/Psychometric Methods (QPM); and Social Psychology. The CSPR and the Counseling Psychology specializations include practica placements that prepare graduates for licensure as psychologists in Minnesota. U of M also offers minors in Psychology and Health Psychology.
As one of the first psychology departments in North America, the University of Pennsylvania’s (Penn) Department of Psychology has a rich and respected history. Based in Philadelphia, Penn offers an undergraduate major and minor in Psychology, and its Psychology Graduate Group offers a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) a range of research opportunities broadly classified into two areas: Brain, Cognitive, and Decision Science and Clinical, Positive, and Social Psychology. The clinical psychology PhD program is APA-approved. Graduate students study alongside faculty, exploring concepts of neural and cognitive mechanisms related to memory, learning, attention, language, foraging, decision-making, and neuro-regulatory mechanisms. In addition to the Clinical Training Program, there is a Vision Training Program, a Joint Juris Doctor (JD)/PhD Program; a Joint PhD Marketing/Psychology Program; a Medical Doctor (MD)/PhD Program; and an Integrative Language Science and Technology Initiative.
One of the top public schools on the West Coast, the University of Washington (UW) is located in the heart of Seattle. The Department of Psychology at UW offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Psychology. The BS prepares undergraduates for psychology doctoral programs that lead to careers in research, teaching, or clinical psych. The BA offers a general education in psychology for those preparing for master’s-level graduate degrees or for students who want to apply psychology’s principles to other careers. UW also offers Doctor of Psychology (PhD) programs in eight areas of psychology: Animal Behavior; Behavioral Neuroscience; Clinical Psychology; Child Clinical Psychology; Cognition and Perception; Developmental Psychology; Social and Personality Psychology; and Quantitative Psychology.
Online, Hybrid, and Evening Psychology Schools
Psychology programs with non-traditional options are a good fit for students who seek more flexibility in their education. Online programs give students the autonomy to complete coursework and assignments from home. These programs still promote collaboration among peers and foster relationships between instructors and students. Most online psychology programs are offered in a hybrid format. Hybrid programs give students the best of both worlds by combining traditional on-campus learning with distance learning options. To learn more about online psychology schools, read our Guide to Earning an Online Psychology Degree.
Top-Ranked Online Psychology Schools
Enrollment numbers are increasing for online programs, so many colleges and universities now offer fully online psychology degree programs for students looking for more flexibility. Since choosing an online school can be overwhelming, we have put together a list of the best online psychology bachelor’s degrees in the United States. To read more, visit our ranking of the top online psychology schools to see the full list, along with profiles of selected programs.
- University of Florida (Gainesville, FL)
- Indiana University Bloomington (Bloomington, IN)
- University of Central Florida (Orlando, FL)
- Utah State University (Logan, UT)
- Oregon State University (Corvallis, OR)
- Regent University (Virginia Beach, VA)
- University of Arizona (Tuscon, AZ)
- University of Alabama Birmingham (Birmingham, AL)
- University of Missouri (Columbia, MO)
- University of West Florida (Pensacola, FL)
Typical Psychology Courses
Psychology coursework can be taken at the undergraduate to doctorate level so the types of courses available vary widely. Courses such as Introduction to Psychology; Developmental Psychology; and Statistics and Research Methods are normally taken at the undergraduate level before students choose electives. Courses such as Human Memory and Learning; Issues & Ethics in Counseling; and Theories of Personality may be taken as part of a graduate-level curriculum.
- Animal Sensory Processes
- Brain and Behavior
- Child/Adolescent Development
- Cognitive Psychology
- Conditioning and Learning
- Counseling Psychology: Methods of Applied Psychology
- Hormones and Behavior
- Human Growth and Development
- Human Memory and Learning
- Human Services Practicum
- Industrial/Organizational Psychology
- Introduction to Psychology
- Issues & Ethics in Counseling
- Lifespan Development
- Psychological Disorders
- Psychology of Adult Development and Aging
- Psychology of Language
- Research Methods in Psychology
- Senior Thesis
- Sensation and Perception
- Social Psychology
- Sports Psychology
- Statistics for the Behavioral & Social Sciences
- Theories of Personality
- American Psychological Association (APA), Applying to Grad School: A resource from the APA that includes guidelines and tips for applying to a psychology graduate school, as well as funding information.
- American Psychological Association (APA), Especially for Students: A resource from the APA that includes tips on getting into grad school, finding internships, and scholarship opportunities.
- Psi Chi: International honor society in psychology for students that recognizes academic achievement and encourages leadership and collaboration within disciplines of psychology.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I attend an online psychology program or a traditional one?
The answer to this question depends on a variety of factors, and mostly on your personal preferences. If you need more flexibility to attend psychology school, then you should consider an online or hybrid program. If you prefer attending class in-person and have a schedule that allows you to be on campus, a traditional psychology program might be best for you. If you choose an online program, make sure it is appropriately accredited and the curriculum matches up to the on-campus version in order to ensure you are getting the most for your money. Check out our Guide to Earning an Online Psychology Degree for more information.
How do I decide which psychology school is right for me?
To choose the best psychology school for you, do your research! Make sure the school you choose is regionally accredited and offers the specialization(s) of your interest. For their undergraduate degree, many students complete the first two years of study at a community college close to home, then transfer to a four-year institution to complete their degree. We also recommend applying to your top three schools of your choice, just in case your first choice doesn’t work out. Read some of our school profiles for more information about individual schools.
How long will it take me to finish a psychology program?
The length of time it takes to complete a psychology program depends on the type of program you choose. If you go to school full-time, you can expect an undergraduate psychology program to take four years to complete and a graduate psychology program two to seven years, depending on the level of the degree. If you are a part-time student, you will need more time to complete your program.
I have a full-time job. How can I go to psychology school?
Undergraduate and graduate psychology degree programs are offered in a variety of formats to fit the needs of all types of students. For non-traditional students — typically those who work full-time, have families, or are otherwise hindered by the requirement to attend class on a set schedule — there are many online, hybrid, or evening psychology programs to choose from. Keep in mind that most PhD in Psychology programs require a full-time commitment, so check with each school to make sure it matches your goals.
1. National Center for Education Statistics: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. American Psychological Association Search for Accredited Programs: https://accreditation.apa.org/accredited-programs
3. College Factual: https://www.collegefactual.com/
4. US News & World Report National University Rankings: https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities
5. The Princeton Review. The Best 385 Colleges, 2022 Edition. The Princeton Review, 2021.
6. Collisson, B., Eck, B. E., & Harig, T. (2021). Introducing Gen Z psychology majors: Why they choose to major in psychology (and what they expect to learn). Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology. Advance online publication. https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Fstl0000249
7. US News & World Report, Best Psychology Schools: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-humanities-schools/psychology-rankings