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Psychology Schools

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, many schools offer both a Bachelor of Science (BS) and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in psychology. Psychology is also a popular graduate area of study since an advanced degree is required to practice clinical psychology and many other specialized jobs in the field. Many psychology undergrads go on to pursue a master’s degree or a doctoral degree in psychology to complete their training. 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 for their focus areas (also known as specializations or concentrations). Therefore, students should determine in advance if the psychology department at the school of their choice offers the focus area(s) in which they are most interested. Many of the popular psychology programs offer exciting specializations such as forensic psychology, school psychology, clinical child psychology, and industrial/organizational psychology, to name a few.

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, you can click on any of the states below to find out more. There you will find some interesting facts about psychology schools in that state as well as profiles of some of the state’s most well-known and popular graduate and undergraduate programs.

Best Value Psychology Schools with On-Campus Programs

When choosing a psychology school, you probably 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 included these as well as other 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. Click on the header to sort the table by any given value.

SchoolGrad Rate1Retention Rate*1Transfer Out Rate**1Student Loan Default Rate1% Tenured Faculty2US News National Rank3Princeton Review Psych List4Net Price1
University of Florida91%97%6%1.7%47%#28 tieYes$9,809
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill90%95%5%1.4%44%#28 tie$11,508
Columbia University in the City of New York97%95%1.7%24%#2 tieYes$12,411
College of New Jersey87%94%9%1.3%30%NR$13,269
University of California-Los Angeles92%96%4%1.6%43%#20Yes$13,393
University of Wisconsin-Madison89%95%0.9%48%#42 tie$13,484
Harvard University97%76%0.9%45%#2 tie$13,910
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign85%94%2.3%50%#47$14,272
Stanford University96%86%0.5%75%#6 tieYes$14,402
Williams College94%90%2%0.0%50%NR$14,487
University of Pennsylvania96%95%0.9%58%#8$14,578
St. Augustine College99%54%7.0%NR$15,337
University of California-San Diego89%94%1.0%31%#34 tie$15,632
University of Texas at Austin88%97%2.3%46%#38 tieYes$16,589
University of California-Davis87%93%1.5%56%#38 tieYes$16,640
University of Georgia88%94%7%1.9%53%#48$16,902

Choosing a School

Psychology School

Whether you are applying to a bachelor’s degree program in psychology or a graduate psychology degree program, you will need to research admission guidelines and requirements for your school(s) of choice. 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.

The American Psychological Association (APA) is a great resource for researching application deadlines, acceptance rates, scholarship opportunities, and tuition costs for hundreds of psychology graduate programs across the United States 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 letters of recommendation for their students.

If you are considering earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology online, you can find online learning tips and information that will help you compare top distance psychology programs on our guide to earning an online psychology degree.

Undergraduate Psychology Programs

Majoring in psychology is a popular choice at schools across the country because it produces well-rounded graduates who understand human thought and behavior and who are able to 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. 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 are typically successful working in industries in which understanding what motivates people is critical.

While every school will have its own admission requirements, you should expect to submit your official high school transcript or GED certificate with your application, along with a nominal application fee, in order to be accepted into most schools. Many schools, especially those with a competitive admissions process, will also require score reports from the ACT or SAT exams. You will be more competitive as an applicant if you have a strong GPA and have participated in extracurricular and leadership activities.

Graduate Psychology Programs

Some undergraduates apply for graduate programs immediately following their bachelor’s degree and 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 become more qualified for that position. 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 who are considering a doctoral-level psychology degree should first determine whether they are interested in a career as a practicing psychologist in a clinical or counseling environment or if they are more interested in working in applied research or academia. This distinction will help dictate the type of psychology degree they should pursue. Those with aspirations of becoming practitioners will need to apply to a college or university that offers an APA-accredited doctoral program in counseling, clinical, or school psychology. These types of programs are found 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 can qualify graduates to practice psycholgogy. Students planning to pursue careers in research or academia may want to apply mainly to PhD programs, but both degrees can lead to psychology practice. Regardless of the type of degree obtained, all doctoral graduates who will practice psychology at a clinical level must first receive the proper licensure in their desired state of residence.

Admission into a graduate program in psychology does not always require the bachelor’s degree to be in psychology, but an undergraduate degree is always required, along with a statement of purpose, official transcripts, and sometimes acceptable GRE or GMAT scores, which varies for each school. TOEFL scores may be required for international students. Check with the schools of your choice for more information.

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:5

  • Stanford University (Stanford, CA) #1 tie
  • University of California-Berkeley (Berkeley, CA) #1 tie
  • Harvard University (Cambridge, MA) #3 tie
  • University of California-Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA) #3 tie
  • University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (Ann Arbor, MI) #3 tie
  • Princeton University (Princeton, NJ) #6 tie
  • University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign (Champaign, IL) #6 tie
  • Yale University (New Haven, CT) #6 tie
  • Cornell University (Ithaca, NY) #9 tie
  • Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) #9 tie
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison (Madison, WI) #9 tie

School Accreditation

Accreditation is one of the most important factors to consider when you are exploring psychology schools. There are two main types of accreditation: institutional and programmatic. Institutional accreditation means that the entire school is accredited by the organization granting that accreditation. Regional accreditation is a type of institutional accreditation that is a sign that schools have met widely-recognized standards of quality and performance, is a qualifier for certain types of federal funding (including student federal financial aid), and can also increase the likelihood that credits earned at one regionally accredited school will transfer to another. 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

In addition to these regional accrediting bodies, there are national programmatic accreditors that specialize in the accreditation of programs specific to psychology and counseling. Major programmatic accreditors in the psychology field include the American Psychological Association (APA), the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP), and the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (PCSAS).

Select Schools with Traditional Psychology Programs

University of California-Berkeley

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 undergradute 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 towards their specific fields of interest.

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

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 who are 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. Minors in Psychology and Health Psychology are also offered at U of M.

University of Pennsylvania

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 wide range of research opportunities that can be 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.

University of Washington

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 various 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 preferable for students who seek more flexibility in their education. Online programs give students the autonomy to complete coursework and assignments from the comfort of their home computer. Though online programs are not in-person, they can still promote collaboration among peers and between the instructors and students. Most psychology programs with online options are offered in a hybrid format (i.e., as a combination of on-campus and online coursework). Hybrid programs can 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

Since an increasing number of students are enrolling in online programs, many colleges and universities have begun offering fully online psychology degree programs for students looking for more flexibility in learning. 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.

  1. University of Florida – Gainesville, FL
  2. Indiana University Bloomington – Bloomington, IN
  3. University of Central Florida – Orlando, FL
  4. Utah State University – Logan, UT
  5. Oregon State University – Corvallis, OR
  6. Regent University – Virginia Beach, VA
  7. University of Arizona – Tuscon, AZ
  8. University of Alabama Birmingham – Birgmingham, AL
  9. University of Missouri – Columbia, MO
  10. University of West Florida – Pensacola, FL

Typical Psychology Courses

Since psychology courses can be taken at the undergraduate to doctorate level, the types of psychology courses available vary widely. Courses such as Introduction to Psychology, Child Psychology, and Social Psychology are normally taken at the undergraduate level, before students have chosen a specialty. Courses such as Human Memory and Learning; Issues & Ethics in Counseling; and Theories of Personality may be more likely taken as part of a graduate-level curriculum.

  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Adult Development and Life Assessment
  • Animal Sensory Processes
  • Basic Counseling Skills
  • Brain and Behavior
  • Child Psychology
  • Child/Adolescent Development
  • Cognitive Functioning in the Elderly
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Conditioning and Learning
  • Counseling Psychology: Methods of Applied Psychology
  • Developmental 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
  • Mind and Cognition
  • Neuroscience
  • Physiological Psychology
  • Psychology Capstone
  • Psychology of Adult Development and Aging
  • Psychology of Language
  • Psychology of Learning
  • Research and Presentation
  • Research Methods in Psychology
  • Senior Thesis I
  • Senior Thesis II
  • Sensation and Perception
  • Social Psychology
  • Sports Psychology
  • Statistics for the Behavioral & Social Sciences
  • Theories of Personality

Additional Resources

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 may wish to consider an online or hybrid program. If you prefer attending class in-person and have a schedule that allows you to be on campus, then a traditional psychology program might be best for you. If you do decide on an online program, you should make sure the curriculum is the same as or comparable to the on-campus version and that it is appropriately accredited 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?

Again, the answer to this question is highly personal. 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. We also recommend that you apply to the 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.

How long will it take me to finish a psychology program?

The length of time required 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?

It is becoming more common for undergraduate and graduate degree programs to be offered in a variety of formats to fit the needs of all types of students. Psychology programs are no exception. For traditional students – those who prefer to attend class on-campus in a structured classroom setting – there are hundreds of traditional psychology programs to choose from, since it is one of the most popular areas of study in the United States. 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 other types of psychology programs to choose from, including online, hybrid, and evening programs.

References:
1. National Center for Education Statistics: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. College Factual: https://www.collegefactual.com/
3. US News & World Report National University Rankings: https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities
4. The Princeton Review. The Best 385 Colleges, 2022 Edition. The Princeton Review, 2021.
5. US News & World Report, Best Psychology Schools: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-humanities-schools/psychology-rankings