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Best Colleges for Psychology

Written by Nicole Kim
Updated: July 17, 2023
7 min read
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The fascinating field of psychology studies the workings of the human mind and behavior, encompassing a wide range of topics. Psychology students may learn about cognitive processes, social behavior, personality, and mental health. Psychologists use scientific methods to research these topics, aiming to better understand how the human mind works and how we can improve our mental and emotional well-being.

It's no wonder that psychology is an increasingly popular major among college students, and many renowned colleges for psychology offer excellent programs in the field.

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These universities provide students with diverse faculty mentors who are leaders in their fields, myriad research opportunities, and the chance to specialize in their course of study to meet their unique interests. Undergraduate students who develop a strong interest in the field may decide to go on to earn a doctoral degree at one of these prestigious psychology schools.

Psychology has many practical applications, from treating mental health disorders to improving educational outcomes. Students majoring in psychology may work in law, business, social work, medicine, and many other fields! Learn more about the best undergraduate business schools and more on our blog!

With so many psychology programs, it can take time to determine which schools are the best colleges for psychology. To help you build your school list, I have compiled a list of the best colleges for psychology in the United States.

Applying for scholarships for psychology majors can help you pay for the cost of your undergraduate education so that you can focus on your studies. Don't forget to create a free profile to start applying for scholarships today!


Best Colleges for Psychology

Stanford University

Stanford University's Department of Psychology is one of the most highly-regarded psychology departments in the world, consistently ranked among the top schools for psychology in the United States. Stanford University offers a comprehensive and diverse range of opportunities for students interested in psychology, from undergraduate research opportunities to a PhD program that provides advanced theoretical and empirical training.

Undergraduate psychology students at Stanford can join various psychology labs led by professors, including a language cognition lab, social learning lab, and computation and cognition lab. These labs allow students to engage in cutting-edge research and gain valuable experience in the field.

In addition to lab opportunities, the department offers a Senior Honors Program, through which students can conduct their own psychological studies, allowing them to explore their own research interests and practice research methods.

For students interested in advanced study and research in psychology, the department houses a PhD program that educates candidates on theoretical and empirical information and methods of psychological investigation and study.

University of California Berkeley

UC Berkeley is home to one of the top psychology programs in the United States. The Department of Psychology at UC Berkeley is known for its groundbreaking research on topics such as cognition, perception, and social psychology.

The undergraduate psychology program provides a variety of course offerings in Berkeley's six key research areas in psychology: behavioral and systems neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience, developmental psychology, social-personality, cognitive psychology, and clinical science. The learning goals for the department include fostering methodological, statistical, and critical thinking skills in their psychology students.

The department also offers many research opportunities for undergraduate students, including the Berkeley Research Apprenticeship Program, which pairs students with faculty members to work on ongoing research projects.

For students interested in pursuing graduate study in psychology, UC Berkeley offers a PhD program that provides advanced training in various subfields of psychology. The program is designed to prepare students for successful careers in academia, research, and various other psychology-related fields.

You can learn more about the best liberal arts colleges in the United States through this exclusive blog post!

psychology degrees

Harvard University

Harvard University's Department of Psychology is one of the oldest and most prestigious psychology departments in the United States. The psychology department is known for its focus on interdisciplinary research and its commitment to providing students with broad exposure to the field of psychology.

Undergraduate psychology students at Harvard can choose from a variety of psychology course listings, including courses on clinical psychology, developmental psychology, social psychology, and cognitive psychology. The department also offers several research opportunities for undergraduates, including the Psychology Peer Advising Program, which pairs students with faculty members to work on ongoing research projects.

Harvard's Bachelor of Arts in Psychology major focuses on strengthening students' abilities to critically assess quantitative evidence from experimental data and study complex issues involving the mind and society at large. The department also offers a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree in psychology for industry professionals looking to complete their undergraduate psychology degree part-time while working full-time.

The PhD program in psychology at Harvard allows graduate school students to follow one of two paths: the Common Curriculum, which covers social psychology, cognitive psychology, cognitive neuroscience, behavioral neuroscience, and perception, and the Clinical Science track.

University of California Los Angeles

UCLA is another one of the best colleges for psychology, a great university with diverse opportunities for students interested in the field. The psychology department at UCLA is known for its focus on basic and applied research, with faculty members conducting research on topics such as cognitive neuroscience, developmental psychology, and social psychology.

Undergraduate psychology programs at UCLA include a B.A. in Psychology, a B.S. in Cognitive Science, and a B.S. in Psychobiology - the study of mental and cognitive processes in relation to other biological mechanisms. Students take introductory courses in psychology in all three psych majors. Later on, in their course of study, undergraduate students choose specialized courses in psychobiology, animal behavior, learning and memory, motivation, perception, and more to suit their unique interests.

The graduate school program in psychology at UCLA is grounded in rigorous scientific research. PhD candidates in psychology can practice research at multiple sites and in collaboration with various departments and centers at the university, including the Brain Research Institute, the interdisciplinary Neuroscience and Cognitive programs, the Institute for Social Science Research, and the Neuropsychiatric Institute.

colleges for psychology

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

The University of Michigan's Department of Psychology houses renowned undergraduate programs in psychology and an extensive doctoral degree program in six key research areas.

Undergraduates at the University of Michigan learn about how behavior is motivated, how personality develops from infancy to maturity, and how interpersonal factors affect human relationships. Psychology students have opportunities to engage with research in lab and community settings, and students choose their own coursework to meet their long-term goals.

The graduate degree programs in psychology at the University of Michigan include PhDs in six key areas: biopsychology, clinical science, cognition and cognitive neuroscience, developmental psychology, personality and social contexts, and social psychology.

There are also three joint programs of study for doctoral degree candidates. Students in child psychology and the combined program in education and psychology learn about psychological approaches to studying and addressing issues in education. Students in the gender and feminist psychology area learn about the psychology of gender, psychology, and intersectionality using a social justice perspective.

Finally, PhD students interested in a career in social work can focus on the social work and psychology program area.

Princeton University

The Department of Psychology at Princeton University is another top psychology program at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.

Undergraduates at Princeton are able to get involved with psychology research beginning as early as freshman year. The Summer Undergraduate Research Program provides funding for students to work on research projects under the guidance of a faculty mentor. In addition to funding provided by the university, students can apply for psychology scholarships to help pay for their higher education and research!

In order to successfully complete the degree requirements, psychology students at Princeton must complete an independent research project and present a senior thesis to their peers and faculty. Princeton's focus on a rigorous research environment and self-guided learning makes its psychology program perfect for students who want more autonomy in their own learning paths.

University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign

The University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign houses numerous psychology programs for undergraduate students, as well as a master's degree in psychology and a doctoral degree program.

Undergraduate students at the University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign can major in psychology or brain and cognitive science. The psychology major combines a broad curriculum with a research-based department. Within the psychology major, students can choose to focus on various areas.

The intradisciplinary concentration is the most flexible concentration within the psychology major and allows students to create their own major by combining existing concentrations. Other concentrations include behavioral neuroscience, clinical/community psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and cognitive psychology. Students in the diversity science concentration study psychological research on prejudice, discrimination, race, gender, and ethnicity, while organizational psychology students learn about human resources in organizations.

The Brain and Cognitive Science Major provides undergraduate-level training in neuroscience, psychology, and computation as a flexible, interdisciplinary major intended for students pursuing careers in artificial intelligence, telecommunications, robotics, and similar fields. The major combines aspects of psychology, neuroscience, computer science, linguistics, and other areas of study.

best college for psychology

Frequently Asked Questions About the Best Colleges for Psychology

What career options are available for psychology students?

Students with psychology degrees from the best universities and colleges for psychology go on to pursue a variety of career paths. Psychology graduates may go into law, business, entrepreneurship, social work, mental health, or medicine. Many of the top psychology programs we've highlighted allow undergraduate psychology majors to tailor their paths of study to fit their particular career goals.

Learn more about the best majors for medical school - including psychology - through this exclusive blog post!

What is the number one school for psychology in the US?

Stanford University and the University of California Berkeley are currently considered tied for the number one spot in the United States. While college rankings can help students build their school list, there are many other important factors to consider when finding the best psychology colleges for your goals and aspirations.

How do I maximize my chances of getting into the best colleges for psychology?

To maximize your chances of being accepted to your dream psychology schools, demonstrate your interest in studying psychology through extracurricular activities and college essays. Volunteering at local hospitals or mental health clinics, being involved with psychological studies in your community, and clearly expressing your reasons for wanting to study psychology can help you put your best foot forward on your college applications.

Now that you understand which schools have the best psychology programs, you can start applying to the best psychology schools around! As you continue with your college application journey, don't forget to create a free profile and browse psychology scholarships on our exclusive scholarship platform.

Nicole Kim

About Nicole

Nicole is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn, New York, who specializes in science and health writing, social justice issues, and nonprofit writing. Nicole graduated from Brown University with Bachelor’s degrees in English Literature and Ethnic Studies, receiving Honors in Ethnic Studies for her senior thesis on contemporary poet Ocean Vuong. During her time at Brown, Nicole served as a staff writer and section editor for The College Hill Independent (“The Indy”), New England’s largest alt-weekly publication. Notably, their contributions to the publication include news pieces analyzing complex social justice issues. 

Her piece Imagining Indigenous Futures: The Fight to Save the West Berkeley Shellmound received the Barbara Banks Brodsky Prize in Real World Writing from the Department of English. Nicole is also an experienced writing instructor, having served as a Writing Fellow at Brown University for three years, and is trained in anti-racist and accessible pedagogies of teaching writing. She currently works as a writing tutor and executive function coach with ConnectToLearn Tutors.

Nicole is no longer with the Writing Team, but we continue to value and appreciate her contributions.

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