Best Colleges for Psychology – Introduction
If you already know you want to major in psychology, you’re probably wondering about the best psychology schools. As a prospective student, you may be looking at the best colleges for psychology in the U.S. (or even the world!). If so, our list of the top psychology schools is a great place to start your research. Still, remember that college rankings aren’t definitive. Only you can decide which of the best universities for psychology is best for you.
On the other hand, if you’re not sure about your major in college, you might consider psychology. Psychology is one of the most popular college majors. A psychology degree gives students a wide variety of transferrable skills. Students who major in psychology can explore the intersection of psychology in crime, children, social work, animals, and more.
Psychology is on track for career growth
Additionally, psychology is a fast-growing career path. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that from 2021 to 2031, employment rates for psychologists will increase by 6%. Possible careers for graduates from the best universities for psychology include psychologist, guidance counselor, research assistant, and rehabilitation specialist.
Sound interesting? Then, let’s jump into our guide to the best universities for psychology. In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about choosing the best universities for psychology. This includes what to expect as a psychology major and why students choose to major in psychology. We’ll also discuss how to decide which of the best universities for psychology may be right for you.
U.S. and International options
In this guide, we’ll discuss the best colleges for psychology in the U.S. (including some of the best psychology schools in California and Texas). We’ll also discuss the best colleges for psychology in the world (including the best colleges for psychology in India, Canada, and Australia).
Maybe you’re just starting to search for “psychology colleges near me.” Or, maybe you’re using college rankings to find the best college by major. If that sounds like you, you’re in the right place. But, before we answer the question, “what are the best colleges for psychology?”, let’s start with the major itself.
Should I major in psychology?
Overall, students should choose a college major in a field that sparks their interest. If you want to learn how the brain works before starting a career in research or clinical work, psychology may be the major for you.
In college, you’ll have many more course options than you did in high school. If you think you want to major in psychology, try taking an introductory course during your freshman year. Then, you can learn more about what coursework will look like and decide whether you’d enjoy it.
Choosing psychology on your college applications
If you feel confident about your interest in psychology, great! Many colleges ask students to state their interest in their application. For example, the UNC application gives you the option to select your top three academic interests. This includes choosing both majors and minors.
However, if you feel like you might change your mind later, that’s alright too. Choosing psychology on your UNC application doesn’t lock in your decision. In fact, you won’t officially declare your majors and minors until the end of your second year.
Further, some applications to the best psychology schools will ask you to provide an explanation of your interest. For instance, the University of Minnesota admissions team asks students to detail why they’re interested in their chosen college major. If this applies to your applications, make sure you know why you want to choose psychology for your major in college.
Is it hard to major in psychology?
If you’re just starting to explore your interests, you may have come across some myths about college majors. One popular myth is that psychology is an “easy” major, along with other majors like communications, sociology, or history. This is usually in comparison with “difficult” STEM majors, like physics, engineering, and neuroscience. However, this could not be farther from the truth.
The type of work you do will differ across college majors. However, college coursework is challenging across all majors. Psychology courses get significantly harder as you progress through your degree (and, eventually, into graduate programs). You’ll also notice some of the best psychology schools are also considered the best in overall national universities. Many top schools have rigorous coursework. So, you can expect their psychology programs to be just as tough.
In general, the ease or difficulty of your college major depends on where you study and the courses you take. So, an intro psychology course might not be particularly difficult for some students. However, upper-level psychology courses can be quite challenging.
Is psychology a high demand major?
According to the APA, psychology is becoming more and more popular—and employment opportunities for psychologists are increasing. Niche ranks psychology as the 3rd most popular college major, just behind business/management and nursing. Let’s look at how popular this major is at some of the best undergraduate psychology schools.
Harvard admissions doesn’t report what percentage of students apply to their psychology program each year. However, 28.3% of 2027’s admitted students intended to concentrate in the social sciences, which includes psychology. Psychology was also one of ten most popular Harvard majors for the class of 2021. Of all Harvard majors, 4% of students graduated with a B.A. in Psychology.
Similarly, of all Yale majors, 4% of their 2021 graduates chose to study psychology. This is about the same as when you look at how psychology compares to popular UT Austin majors. So, this major is a popular choice.
Furthermore, of the over 275 Penn State majors students can choose from, many students choose to pursue either a B.A. or a B.S. in psychology. As you can see, out of all the college majors, psychology has fairly strong representation.
What do psychology majors study?
Psychology is defined as the study of the mind and behavior. Today, it’s a broad area of study comprising many different types of research and focuses. The subcategories of psychology include experimental, cognitive, lifespan development, personality, and more. Research is also a big part of psychology, so curiosity is a great characteristic in any potential psychology major.
Using this set of questions from one of the best universities for psychology, Harvard University, let’s discuss the kinds of questions psychologists seek to answer. As a psychologist, you may want to explore:
- How we make sense of the world
- How we create memories
- How our conscious processes/unconsciousness influence our behavior
To answer these questions, psychologists observe various factors, such as biology, cultural and social environments, and daily situations. Now, you may be interested in how these topics translate to your studies at the best universities for psychology. Let’s look at the different kinds of coursework psychology majors can expect to do.
Psychology major requirements
As we’ve mentioned, psychology is one of the most popular college majors. So, it’ll be no surprise many top-ranked schools offer a degree in psychology. However, each school will have its own unique program and requirements. Lists of Yale majors, Harvard majors, Penn State majors, and UT Austin majors will all include psychology. However, that doesn’t mean every program will be right for you.
The type of psychology degree you’re pursuing will also impact your course requirements.
For example, the University of Minnesota Admissions and Academics page shows they offer a B.A., B.S., and minor in psychology. The requirements will be slightly different if you choose to get a Bachelor of Arts versus a Bachelor of Science. You can also choose to pursue a minor, which will have less extensive requirements.
However, just like any other major in college, there are some basic requirements you can expect to see at all the best universities for psychology. These include:
- Pre-requisite courses
- Research/lab work
- Advanced courses
Students exploring more specialized areas of study or honors programs may have additional requirements as well. These may include track-specific courses and even an undergraduate thesis.
Now, let’s look in depth at these major requirements at some of the best undergraduate psychology schools.
UC Berkeley’s prerequisites include course areas such as:
- Psychology (Psychology 1 is an introduction to psychology course)
- Biological science (students can choose from specific courses like Biology 1A and Anthropology 1)
- Social science (students can choose from specific courses like Linguistics 5 and Political Science 1)
- Quantitative (students can choose from specific courses like Stats 2 and Math 10A)
Students who took AP courses and did well on the AP exam can use their score to satisfy one of the major prerequisites. At many of the best universities for psychology, students will need to complete their prerequisite courses before declaring their psychology major.
Many of the best universities for psychology have strong lab facilities and research opportunities. Accordingly, many of these schools have research/lab work requirements for the major.
Taking research-centered courses is particularly important for students interested in attending graduate school. For instance, the only required research courses at UNC Chapel Hill are PSYC 210: Statistical Principles of Psychological Research and PSYC 270: Research Methods in Psychology. However, the school recommends adding the following courses to your curriculum:
- PSYC 395: Independent Research
- PSYC 530: Design and Interpretation of Psychological Research
- PSYC 693H: Honors in Psychology I
- PSYCH 694H: Honors in Psychology II
At Harvard University, undergraduate psychology majors in the general track must take six “advanced” courses. Two of these courses may be non-departmental by petition. These requirements vary for the Life Sciences Track (cognitive neuroscience and evolutionary psychology) and the Mind/Brain/Behavior Track (cognitive science).
Remember, the best universities for psychology will all have unique requirements for their psychology programs. So, be sure to check their department’s page for the most in-depth information about what to expect in your coursework.
Now, you know a little more about the courses you can expect to take at the best universities for psychology. Next, let’s get into our list of the Top 20 colleges for psychology.
What universities are known for psychology?
If you’re not concerned about finding “psychology college near me,” you’re likely interested in finding the best universities for psychology. This search likely starts with college rankings.
You may not be surprised to find many of the schools included on our list of the best universities for psychology rank highly among National Universities. This means that these colleges are popular for students of all majors.
This also means the best universities for psychology are competitive. Of course, the low Stanford acceptance rate or the number of applications received by Harvard admissions may be intimidating. However, don’t let these factors deter you from applying. Instead, try to focus on finding psychology programs that excite you.
Now, let’s learn more about the best universities for psychology. We’ve included the top psychology schools across the country, from the best psychology schools in Texas to the best psychology schools in California. Remember, this list of the best universities for psychology is specific to the United States. So, our first list won’t include the best universities for psychology in Canada. It also won’t highlight the best universities for psychology in Australia. We’ll take a look at these schools later on when we go over the best college by major globally.
Top 20 Colleges for Psychology
Looking for the best college by major can help you build a college list. Of course, the best undergraduate psychology schools all offer different things to students.
Overall, there isn’t concrete and comprehensive information around rankings for undergraduate psychology programs. With that in mind, much of this list comes from U.S. News’ list of the best graduate programs in psychology (Ph.D. specifically). We’ve also referred to data from the Times Higher Education rankings for psychology programs. These schools have strong faculties and plenty of research opportunities, which is key at the undergraduate level as well.
Use rankings as a guide
This collection of schools combines separate lists of the best universities for psychology. So, it should not be seen as a definitive ranking of the best college by major. Instead, use this list as a collection of top schools for psychology with strong programs.
Finding “psychology colleges near me” might be particularly important to you. If so, you may be more interested in finding out more about the best psychology schools in Texas or the best psychology schools in California. But, if you just want to learn about the best undergraduate psychology schools across the country, keep reading.
Do your own research
Remember, you should only use college rankings to get a sense of how the best universities for psychology compare. And, as you’ll see on our two lists of best universities for psychology, not all college rankings are created equal. So, when we provide statistics of the Stanford University ranking, or the Stanford acceptance rate, we’ll let you know exactly what we’re referring to. That way, you can learn more about where these stats come from.
Top 20 colleges for Psychology
1. Stanford University
According to Times Higher Education, the Stanford University ranking in psychology moved from #2 to #1 this year. Located in Palo Alto, CA, students interested in Stanford’s psychology major will face the 4% Stanford acceptance rate. Stanford’s psychology department is renowned at both the undergraduate and graduate level. This makes Stanford one of the best psychology schools in California.
The Stanford acceptance rate for graduate psychology students is even lower; only 14 of 689 applicants were admitted for the ’22-’23 Ph.D. program. Undergraduate students at Stanford University declare their major no later than their junior year. The school also offers targeted research opportunities in psychology, including a dedicated Psych-Summer program.
2. Princeton University
Another one of our top psychology schools boasts an acceptance rate of just 4%. Princeton University, located in Princeton, NJ, is one of the best universities for psychology. This school is also one of the top universities in the country. Psychology ranks highly across all the most popular Princeton majors, and for good reason.
Like other Princeton majors, students can declare their psychology major at the end of their sophomore year. That being said, Princeton offers early research opportunities to first and second-year students. So, you won’t have to wait to get involved with a research lab. Check out Princeton’s psychology degree requirements here.
3. Yale University
In recent years, psychology has ranked among the ten most popular Yale majors. Of all the Yale majors students can choose from, approximately 4% of 2021 graduates chose psychology.
Widely regarded as one of the best psychology programs in the country, Yale offers both a general psychology track and a neuroscience track. Students can also pursue research (including paid work and work-study) both during term time and over breaks. Yale also has a chapter of Psi Chi, which is the undergraduate honor society in psychology.
4. University of Michigan
Also on our list of best universities for psychology is the University of Michigan. At UMich, students can explore a variety of unique program areas, including biopsychology, social work and psychology, and a combined program in education & psychology.
Their STAR (Scholarship, Transferable skills, Academia & Research) Scholars Program supports underrepresented students in research fields, providing mentorship and supporting diversity initiatives within UMich’s psychology department.
The top psychology schools, as ranked by U.S. News, are led by one of the best psychology schools in California—UCLA. Also in Times Higher Education’s top ten best psychology schools, UCLA is a high-powered research university that offers students the choice of three psych majors.
Students can pursue a B.A. in psychology, a B.S. in cognitive science, or a B.S. in psychobiology. In addition to their courses, students can join UCLA’s chapter of Psi Chi or The Undergraduate Psychology Society (TUPS). They can also submit their research papers to the Undergraduate Research Journal of Psychology (URJP).
6. Harvard University
One of the most well-known schools in the world, Harvard ranks #3 on the Times Higher Education’s list of best psychology schools. Harvard admissions reports that they admitted 1,984 of 61,221 applicants to the class of 2026. That puts Harvard’s acceptance rate at just 3%.
That number may make you rush to the Harvard admissions page to get a jump start on your application. However, make sure you check out their Psychology Undergraduate Program page first. There you’ll learn all about one of the most popular Harvard majors, including the course requirements, advising resources, and how to get involved in research.
7. UNC Chapel Hill
Located in Chapel Hill, NC, UNC Chapel Hill is ranked #29 in U.S. psychology programs and #2 in graduate clinical psychology programs. The Department of Psychology has information on all the programs psychology students at UNC can pursue. This includes their honors program, the Gil Internship Program, and their clubs and volunteer opportunities.
If you’re interested in psychology, you can select it as your first, second, or third academic interest on your UNC application. If you’re worried about choosing such a popular major, don’t worry! You’ll also notice the UNC application clearly states your major won’t impact your admissions odds.
8. Dartmouth College
The next school on our list of the best universities for psychology is an Ivy League, located in Hanover, NH. Ranked at #37, Dartmouth’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences offers both a major and minor in psychology.
Students who meet the Honors Research criteria can engage in field research or independent lab work under the guidance of a faculty member. This culminates in an honors thesis to be presented at a departmental symposium in the spring of their senior year.
9. University of Chicago
The University of Chicago also ranks among the best psychology schools in the country. UChicago is a great choice for students looking to develop broad, foundational knowledge along with widely used research methods. Students can get involved with UC Psych, the undergraduate psychology club. They can also find opportunities to conduct their own research through the Undergraduate Research Initiative.
UChicago hosts professional & academic development events for psych majors all year. Topics include Preparing for Graduate School in Psychology, Health Careers Forum, and Psychology as a Pre-Health Major: Med School and Beyond.
10. UC Berkeley
The tenth school on our roundup of the best universities for psychology is UC Berkeley. UC Berkeley, one of the best psychology schools in California, ranks in the top five on both the U.S. News (#3) and Times Higher Education (#4) lists of best psychology schools.
Students must complete all the necessary prerequisites in order to declare their psychology major. Berkeley’s psychology department announces weekly opportunities for students to get involved outside of the classroom, including research opportunities like creating their own research project through the Honors Program.
11. University of Minnesota
The University of Minnesota, located in Minneapolis, MN, also ranks highly in psychology. According to the University of Minnesota admissions page, psychology is one of over 150 majors and minors students can explore during their college careers.
On your application, the University of Minnesota Admissions team asks you to specify which college you’d like to apply to. It also asks you to state which majors interest you. Housed in their College of Liberal Arts, the department of psychology helps students with career development, getting involved in research, and exploring study abroad opportunities.
12. Columbia University
One of the oldest (and best psychology schools) in the U.S. is Columbia University. This New York City school, ranked #11 by Times Higher Education, has adopted nine Psychology Program Goals, including research methods, values, written communication skills, and applications
Juniors with strong interests in research can apply to the Psych/Neuro Senior Thesis Advanced Research (STAR) program.
13. University of Washington
Seattle is home to the University of Washington, University of Washington also makes many lists of best psychology schools. Unlike some of our other top psychology schools, students must complete departmental admission requirements prior to applying to the psychology program.
For students looking to transfer to UW from a community college, the psych department states which course credits will transfer to your degree progress in their UW Equivalency Guide. To learn more about psychology at UW, check out their Psychology Major Information Video.
Psychology majors at UPenn (ranked #8 by U.S. News and #6 by Times Higher Education) attend one of the best universities for psychology in the country. UPenn has a long history in psychology; theirs is the oldest continuously functioning psychology department in North America.
Students interested in expanding their activities outside the classroom can look to join UPenn’s chapter of Psi Chi or the Penn Undergraduate Psychology Society (PUPS). If you’re looking for a more rigorous opportunity, you can also apply to UPenn’s Honors Program. There, students must complete a year-long independent research project and take a weekly honors seminar.
15. UW Madison
The University of Wisconsin Madison provides students with a comprehensive education in psychology. Students can expect to take foundational courses, along with Biology, Breadth, Depth, and Capstone courses.
If studying abroad is an important part of your college experience, choosing psychology as your major in college won’t prevent you from studying abroad. Many students study abroad and are even encouraged to take courses outside their major that may not be available back on campus.
16. Indiana University Bloomington
Prospective students can visit Bloomington, IN to learn more about Indiana University’s campus and psychology program. While their graduate Ph.D. program is ranked #10 by U.S. News, Indiana University also boasts a strong undergraduate teaching program. Their curriculum blends a liberal arts foundation with field-based knowledge and experiences and is taught by lauded researchers and teachers.
A career planning course is required for students who choose psychology as their major in college, so you’ll be prepared for exciting career paths after you graduate.
17. Penn State
At their campus in University Park, PA, students at Penn State can pursue either a B.A. or B.S. in psychology. As another great university on our list of top psychology schools, Penn State offers valuable opportunities out of the classroom. These include internships and (like other Penn State majors) study abroad opportunities.
If you’re interested in other Penn State majors, popular double majors or minors to pair with psychology include marketing, management, finance, public relations, and Spanish.
18. UC Boulder
One of Colorado’s best universities for psychology is UC Boulder. Students pursuing a B.A. in psychology can learn from faculty experts across many interesting areas of study in their psychology courses. Offerings range from behavioral genetics to child development to clinical psychology.
Students can also join Psychology Club or UC Boulder’s chapter of Psi Ch. Additionally, students can apply for project funding through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP).
19. UT Austin
The next school on our list is one of the best psychology schools in Texas. UT Austin majors encompass more than 170 areas of study across their 13 colleges and schools. Psychology, along with many other UT Austin majors, is housed in the College of Liberal Arts.
Ranked #22 (U.S. News) and #10 (Times Higher Education), students can expect opportunities to assist faculty in research, take classes in experiential learning, and become undergraduate teaching assistants. So, it should be no surprise that UT Austin is one of the best psychology schools in Texas.
20. Washington University in St. Louis
Ranked #15 in National Universities with a strong reputation in psychology, Washington University offers students a chance to study at a world-class research university in the vibrant city of St. Louis.
WashU offers majors in cognitive neuroscience and psychological & brain sciences (which is also offered as a minor). Students interested in a more specific area of psychology can engage in a dedicated concentration, such as cognition in children, experimental psychopathology, and lifespan development.
Other strong choices for psychology
While our list of the best universities for psychology includes many of the top psychology schools, we couldn’t include them all! Remember, the best undergraduate psychology schools will all offer a unique educational experience. So, here are three more schools to consider adding to your list of best psychology schools.
Another one of the best universities for psychology is Duke University. At Duke, students can cheer on Duke’s Division I Basketball Team while immersing themselves in the study of human behavior. As a major research university, Duke offers students the support of developmental grants and research services.
Meanwhile, if you’re interested in a joint major, you might check out Emory University. Along with their B.A. and B.S. in psychology, Emory offers joint majors in linguistics, neuroscience & behavioral biology, and a quantitative sciences degree with a psychology track.
Students who want to research animal psychology should consider the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Their psychology building has state-of-the-art research facilities, including labs for research in animal learning and motivation as well as a complete animal colony.
Although none of the above are on the lists of best psychology schools in California or best universities for psychology in Canada, they’re all great schools. Outside of having a strong psychology program, the location, size, and extracurricular activities offered by a school are all important factors to consider. For example, you might be interested in getting your degree abroad! If that sounds like you, keep reading.
Next, we’ll look at some of the best colleges for psychology in the world, including the best universities for psychology in Canada, the best universities for psychology in Australia, as well as the best colleges for psychology in India. Then later, we’ll give you tips to help you decide which schools to include on your list of best psychology schools for you.
Best universities for psychology outside the U.S.
Thankfully for those interested in studying psychology, there are universities all around the world that offer amazing psychology programs. These institutions are the best colleges for psychology in the world. As such, they are responsible for training and educating the next generation of mental health professionals, social scientists, researchers, and more. So, these colleges will each provide a great psychology education. Moreover, they’ll give you a chance to immerse yourself in a different culture.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the top psychology programs in three different countries: Canada, Australia, and India. Each of these countries is home to some of the best universities for psychology in the world.
Best Universities for Psychology in Canada
We’ll start off by checking out top schools for psychology right outside of the United States: in Canada!
Best Canadian Universities for Psychology
University of Toronto
The first school on the list of the best universities for psychology in Canada is the University of Toronto. Students can choose from eight different Psychology tracks across the three campuses, including Forensic Psychology, Neuroscience, and Exceptionalities in Human Learning. As early as their second year, students can work alongside professors in state-of-the-art labs.
University of British Columbia
The second school on the list of the best universities for psychology in Canada is the University of British Columbia. Both the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses offer Psychology as a major for University of British Columbia students.
Students have a choice of a BA program or a BSc program in Psychology. This gives students more flexibility as they pursue their degrees.
The last entry on the list of the best universities for Psychology in Canada is McGill University. This school combines a multicultural atmosphere with strong academic programs. Students can study Psychology here in both English and French and immerse themselves in French Canadian culture in the city of Montreal.
This program also includes a minor in behavioral science designed for students who wish to eventually become practicing mental health professionals in Canada. However, students can also attend law school, join a Fortune 500 company, or work in academia with their psychology degree.
Best Universities for Psychology in Australia
Now that we’ve rounded out our list of best universities for psychology in Canada, let’s look a little further away from the US. For American students looking for an educational experience on the other side of the globe, look no further than Australia! Australia boasts several of the top psychology schools in the world and the lack of a language barrier makes the content highly accessible for English-speaking students.
Plus, even for international students, the cost of college in Australia can be lower than that of many private American colleges and comparable to that of in-state public universities. Here are some of the best universities for psychology in Australia.
Best Australian Universities for Psychology
University of Melbourne
One of the best universities for psychology in Australia, the University of Melbourne offers many different psychology pathways, including an undergraduate major, an honors concentration, and a pre-medical biomedicine track ideal for potential future doctors.
For those looking to enter other fields, U of M also offers a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degree in psychology. These pathways are accredited by the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council and students can find sample course schedules for each of the programs!
University of New South Wales
Just behind University of Melbourne on the list of best universities for psychology in Australia, the University of New South Wales offers over 400 different undergraduate degrees. Many different fields of study offer psychology as a specialty. This means that students can explore how psychology can prepare them for a wide variety of career fields!
The school’s website allows students to explore the different pathways available and decide which aspect of psychology appeals to them.
University of Queensland
Our final school on the list of best universities for psychology in Australia is the University of Queensland. Like the other top psychology schools on this list. Queensland prides itself on providing high-quality education in a wide variety of disciplines. Queensland offers 38 different pathways for earning a Bachelor’s Degree in psychology. Many of these pathways also prepare students for further study in one of their graduate programs.
In addition, the school has over 300 professors or researchers in psychology. Many of these faculty members work with Queensland students on a wide variety of projects.
Best Colleges for Psychology in India
Having already explored the best universities for psychology in Canada and the best universities for psychology in Australia, let’s turn our attention to the best colleges for psychology in India.
India is one of the most populous countries in the world. The best colleges for psychology in India reflect the diversity of the population and the growing number of international students who are discovering these schools.
Best Indian Universities for Psychology
Lady Shri Ram College for Women (New Delhi)
Our first school on the list of best colleges for psychology in India is Lady Shri Ram Women’s College. Their psychology department boasts professors from a variety of fields including research methodology, child development, gender studies, social psychology, and more. Students who attend Lady Shri Ram College not only get to experience their varied curriculum, but they can also contribute to the college’s own peer-reviewed journal, The Learning Curve.
St. Xavier’s College (Mumbai)
Next on the list of best colleges for psychology in India is St. Xavier’s College. This college has campus lab facilities which allow students to perform experiments and research studies as part of their course syllabus. In addition, St. Xavier publishes a yearly magazine that draws its content from the student body.
Christ University (Bangalore)
Also among the best colleges for psychology in India is Christ University. Their Psychology department is housed within their College of Social Sciences ,and they pride themselves on using many different teaching methods to engage students in the course content. They also have lab facilities in neurofeedback, eye tracking, and behavior study that students can access for use in their research. Students can also join the Psychology Association and plan events, such as festivals and research symposiums.
Which Ivy League is best for Psychology?
So far we have explored the best universities for psychology in Canada, the best universities for psychology in Australia and the best colleges for psychology in India. However, American colleges make up 8 out of the top 10 institutions of higher education in the world according to U.S. News. Within America’s top colleges, the place to find the best college by major across academic disciplines has consistently been the Ivy League.
All of the Ivy League schools are among the best universities for psychology. However, Princeton University has the title of the best college by major in psychology. Out of all the Princeton majors available, psychology boasts some of the highest scores in both teaching and research.
Plus, like other Princeton majors, the psychology program includes several flexible requirements through the Open Curriculum, so students can supplement their psychology degree with courses in other areas. You can check out all the program requirements, course offerings, and faculty members at the Princeton psychology department website.
Equal parts teaching and research
What sets the Princeton psychology program apart is the balance of quality teaching with quality research opportunities. Most of the best universities for psychology excel in one of those two areas but lack that same quality in the other. Princeton stands above the rest by having both.
Furthermore, students as young as freshman and sophomores can get involved with research through one of Princeton’s many labs. The advisor system also makes sure students get paired with top-quality professors who oversee their education from start to finish.
Many of the other best psychology schools are also a part of the Ivy League. Harvard (#4), Yale (#8) and Penn (#9) all make the Times Higher Education global top 10 rankings of the best universities for psychology. These top psychology schools also compete with the best universities for psychology in the world, like Cambridge and University College London. So, in college rankings, Ivy League universities remain some of the best universities for psychology in the world.
What is the best college for Psychology?
That being said, top psychology schools are not restricted to just Ivy League schools and international universities. Searching for the best college by major in Psychology reveals that the top of the best psychology schools college rankings is Stanford University.
This Stanford University ranking comes from the Times Higher Education website. This makes Stanford not just one of the best psychology schools in California, but also across the entire country. THE cited Stanford’s small 5-1 student-to-faculty ratio and its emphasis on undergraduate research as the main factors in this high Stanford University ranking. You can explore more details about the Stanford Psychology programs at their department website here.
Create your own rankings
Although Stanford does have the best ranking by major when it comes to psychology, this does not make it the best fit for every student. Even though Stanford is one of the best schools for psychology in California, some students may not want to travel that far. They might consider searching “psychology colleges near me” instead of making the decision purely based on college rankings. In fact, there are many top psychology schools out there. So, you don’t need to attend one of the top 10 best universities for psychology to get a great education for your major in college.
Your college list, like your college majors, should be based on the factors that matter to you. Picking a school just based on your major in college or because it’s one of the best undergraduate psychology schools may backfire, especially because many students do end up changing their college majors before they graduate. So, make sure you use a holistic approach when building your college list. Feel free to check out more resources here.
What can I do with a psychology degree?
Those who choose psychology as their major in college have a variety of career options open to them. With a degree from one of the best universities for psychology in Canada, Australia, or the US, you’ve got loads of options.
Many graduates of the best psychology schools go on to become therapists or mental health professionals, but that is far from the only option. Most of the best psychology schools prepare their students to enter a wide variety of career fields including education, criminal justice, health care, law, and business.
Plan on graduate school
Most of these psychology tracks require more than just an undergraduate degree. Students entering psychology-related college majors should plan on attending at least some graduate school after they earn their bachelor’s degree. Most graduate programs prioritize admission to students with psychology college majors who hold either a BA or a BS.
There is no official accreditation process from the American Psychological Association for undergraduate programs. However, the best universities for psychology will offer courses in a wide range of psychological fields. The best undergraduate psychology schools prepare students for graduate work by exposing them to different theories and methods of practice across different fields.
Find strong research opportunities
In addition, quality research opportunities can distinguish the best universities for psychology from other universities. The best psychology schools will offer opportunities for undergraduates to do research within their major for college. This research not only prepares students for graduate level and clinical work, it also forges relationships between students and professors.
These professors can then write letters of recommendation for you to enter graduate school. Your published research will also help distinguish you from other applicants at the best colleges for psychology. See the APA website for additional details about psychology graduate education.
What field of psychology makes the most money?
When it comes to salary, your earning potential generally depends on what kind of degree you have. Even graduates from the best undergraduate psychology schools tend to make around $50,000 according to an APA study in 2019. Students who go on to receive a Master’s Degree in psychology can increase their median salary by about $10,000. However, the highest-paying jobs in psychology require a doctoral degree, including clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, and professors of psychology.
According to recent data collected by Research.com, demand for psychology jobs is growing steadily, especially in healthcare and education settings. The problem-solving and analytical skills possessed by graduates of the best universities for psychology make them desirable hires for a variety of skilled positions.
The highest-paid position for those trained in psychology is as a psychiatrist. However, that position requires both psychology experience and medical school since psychiatrists are trained physicians. Still, clinical psychologists and mental health professionals with a doctoral degree and significant training can still earn upwards of $100,000 per year.
Is psychology a good career?
Before choosing a psychology major in college, you might ask yourself if psychology is a good career choice. A better question might be: is psychology a good career choice for me? Especially if you are thinking about studying psychology abroad at one of the best colleges for psychology in the world, it is worth reflecting on your own personal pros and cons list for a career in psychology.
It is important to note here that no career, including psychology, is objectively good or bad. If you enjoy listening to and helping others, answering difficult research questions, or learning about the brain and its processes, psychology may likely be a good career fit for you. Those who are less passionate about the sciences or those who find difficult conversations to be challenging may be less suited for a career in psychology.
It is also key to understand the investment of time and effort required to enter the best universities for psychology and later obtain the necessary credential to practice in your state. Students who want to enter the workforce more quickly and avoid postgraduate education may want to explore other options for college majors.
10 Reasons to Major in Psychology
Why You Should Major in Psychology
1. Take interesting courses
Have you ever wanted to learn more about the way humans think? Psychology can offer insight into the way people think, learn, and interact with others. The best schools for psychology offer you the chance to explore a wide range of topics within the field. A college major in psychology gives you the chance to take interesting courses at some of the best undergraduate psychology schools
2. Learn more about how to connect with your community
The insights you gain from psychology classes can help you both communicate better with others and understand yourself better. Courses in psychology can help with your own health and mental wellness. In addition, many of the best universities for psychology in the world offer student societies or psychology clubs where students can connect with others in their major and form a community together.
3. Engage in cutting-edge research
Psychology is a research-driven profession and the best colleges for psychology in the world provide sites for this research. Students and professors in psychology collaborate on cutting-edge research projects in fields such as Behavior Therapy, Neuroscience, and Child Development. If you like solving problems and answering challenging questions, psychology provides the tools and pathways to get those answers.
4. Help and serve others
So many psychology majors enter the field because of a desire to help people. Whether on an individual or corporate-wide level, careers in psychology offer people a chance to help others and use their knowledge for the greater good.
5. Find engaging employment opportunities
Whether in research or clinical work, psychology is at its heart a collaborative science. The work psychologists do is extremely engaging and whether at conferences or in therapy sessions, psychologists are constantly working together both with clients and with fellow professionals. Each day presents new challenges and if you’re the kind of person that gets bored easily, you might like the variability that comes with a career in psychology.
6. Analyze data with a real-world impact
Much of psychology involves quantifying and measuring very difficult things to put into numbers, like intelligence, anxiety, or stress. The experiments conducted in psychology labs have a real-world impact on people’s lives. The best colleges for psychology in the world will have great research opportunities for their students.
7. Help change the world for the better
Psychologists have the power to change the lives of the people they serve and have a positive impact on the world. Whether it is helping individuals battle depression, helping couples repair broken marriages, or helping addicts rehabilitate their lives, psychologists make a real difference in people’s lives.
8. Prepare for graduate school
Because so many professions in the field of psychology require a graduate degree, majoring in psychology is an excellent way to prepare for further education. In addition to the typical Psy. D, psychology majors go on to pursue medical degrees, law degrees, and PhDs.
9. Specialize in interesting subfields
For many people, psychology can be an extremely rewarding career field! Psychologists can practice privately or in mental health clinics with other professionals in their field. Some psychologists specialize in substance abuse therapy and spend time helping people overcome addictions. Other psychologists work for major companies, employing their training to analyze consumer behaviors for market research or help address issues within the company or its employees. Whatever your area of interest, there is likely a psychological career in which you can pursue it.
10. Study something that genuinely interests you
Most people go into psychology because they are passionate about either research, clinical work or both. A psychology major can be an incredibly fulfilling way to nurture an interest in child development or build on a desire to help those struggling with mental illness. Whatever your reason is, psychology can provide a means for you to fulfill your passions and discover new interests along the way.
Choosing the right college for psychology for you
Perhaps you’re looking for “psychology colleges near me” or starting your search halfway around the world with the best universities for psychology in Australia. There are many factors to consider when determining where to attend college for psychology. While the strength of academics certainly sets the best psychology schools apart, college rankings are not the only things students should consider. Let’s look at a few important factors to consider when finding your personal best universities for psychology.
Factors to Consider to Choose the Right College for Psychology
1. School Size
The best universities for psychology will have a significant range of sizes from less than 1,000 total students to upwards of 40,000. Larger schools may offer a wider variety of psychology programs with more subspecialties because their large numbers allow for that broad scope of courses. Smaller schools may have fewer course options, but students do get more personalized attention from professors and can have less competition for research spots.
2. Campus Feel
Visiting the campus of schools you are interested in is an excellent way to get a feeling for what your life on campus would look like. While this may not be possible for some of the best colleges for psychology in the world, visiting schools in the category: “psychology colleges near me” can help determine what amenities or campus features are important to you.
Many of the best psychology schools also offer virtual tours so students can explore the campus from the comfort of their own homes. During your visit, be sure to write notes about each school, and try to talk to as many different people on campus as possible.
3. College Location
Rural, suburban, or urban? Close to home or far away? College location is another important factor to consider when deciding where to attend college. In this article, we have seen how the best colleges for psychology in the world are located in a variety of countries and locations.
If you are interested in a university outside of North America, looking at the best colleges for psychology in India and the best universities for psychology in Canada is a good place to start. The best universities for psychology in Canada are in a foreign country that is still close and accessible.
4. Research Opportunities
There are so many different research pathways that you can pursue within the field of psychology. Even within clinical psychology practice, there are specialists in Child Psychology, Geriatric Psychology, Addiction Psychology, Marriage and Family Therapy, School Psychology, Sports Psychology, and more!
Therefore, it is important to find a school where you can research your own personal interests along with a faculty adviser. Be sure to check out course lists and make sure that you can pursue the type of psychology you want to study at your chosen schools.
Best Colleges for Psychology – Final Thoughts
Although college rankings do provide information on the best colleges for psychology in the world, conducting your own research is key. Using your own personal criteria is the best way to evaluate the best colleges for psychology. In this way, you can determine the best psychology schools for you, based on your interests and criteria.
Cast a wide net
Remember, don’t just search for “psychology colleges near me.” We recommend that you cast a wide net. Remember that some of the best colleges for psychology in the world are not in the United States. While psychology remains one of the most popular programs at college campuses around the country, it is also incredibly wide-ranging.
The best universities for psychology provide opportunities for students to explore their passions and connect their major to a career. The possibilities are endless for psychology majors. There are so many different routes that this major for college can take you. Whether you attend one of the best universities for psychology in Canada or in India, you’ve got lots of options as a future psychology major.
CollegeAdvisor can help!
There are so many top psychology schools out there that it can be overwhelming. So, try to find your personal best universities for psychology. CollegeAdvisor.com is here to help. In addition to our online resources and webinars, we have many former psychology majors on our staff. They can help you navigate this complex academic landscape. So, if you’re interested in starting your journey toward a major in psychology at one of the best psychology schools, register for an account today.
This article was written by Stefanie Tedards and Alex Baggott Rowe. Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how CollegeAdvisor.com can support you in the college application process.