We've ranked the top psychology schools in the country for students preparing for careers that require a psychology degree. We've rated the best schools according to their overall academic programs and since most psychology undergraduates go to grad school, we've also placed an emphasis on schools that best prepare students for a graduate school education.
1. Harvard: Among the numerous reasons for Harvard’s ranking as the top psychology program in the country would be the Psychology department’s faculty members. Harvard has employed some of the most prominent and respected members of the research community; B.F. Skinner, George Miller, and Jerome Bruner. These individuals have created paradigms of study which are taught in institutions of higher learning across the nation. Psychology majors can elect to pursue various curriculums based on their area of interest. Harvard offers a general studies option, mind, brain, and behavior track, a social and cognitive neurosciences curriculum, among others. Harvard students have the opportunity to continue after graduation into the graduate program and participate in revolutionary research programs.
2. Stanford: Stanford University’s psychology department has an award winning faculty. The curriculum focuses on understanding human behavior. Stanford’s psychology students engage in various research projects and are offered the opportunity to develop and design their own. Students are allowed to create a curriculum which focuses on a specialized field of study in which they are interested. Stanford offers an opportunity to engage in a coterminal program which allows them earn an advanced degree in psychology.
3. Yale: Yale University’s psychology department boasts among their faculty a substantial number of accomplished PhD’s. Yale requires students to successfully complete twelve specialized psychology courses and a senior project. The senior project allows students to utilize all of the skills and knowledge acquired to explore any aspect of psychological interest. Yale offers courses in every aspect of psychology from behavior to science to research methods. Psychology tutorials and research projects are also offered to Yale students.
4. University of California Berkeley: The University of California, Berkeley’s psychology department explores all aspects of psychology. Students can study genes and environment, child development, behavior, mental disorders, social psychology. The faculty includes published authors and award winning researchers. The curriculum is designed to provide psychology majors with a broad based education to prepare graduates for future endeavors in any aspect of psychology. Research opportunities, specialized projects, and opportunities to immerse in activities and events related to the psychology field.
5. Princeton University: The majority of Princeton University’s faculty have obtained doctorates from one of the select revered Ivy League schools in the country. Each faculty member is actively engaged in a research project geared towards their area of interest. Prior to entering the psychology department, undergraduates must first successfully complete their freshman and sophomore years. After completing certain prerequisite requirements, sophomore students may request to pursue classes with a psychology concentration prior to acceptance into the department. Psychology majors are required to complete two papers in their junior years, must participate in a research project or critical analysis writing, and must successfully complete nine advanced courses in psychology using the distribution guidelines outlined by the department to ensure students receive a comprehensive education.
6. University of Chicago: University of Chicago instills a foundation of basic scientific psychological knowledge so that their graduates can be successful in the field. The school requires students to complete numerous specialized courses in the psychology field, two statistics courses, and participation in a research project. Students are required to complete courses in the basic areas of psychology also. The University of Chicago offers an honors program and has a local chapter of Psi Chi, providing students with additional opportunities. The faculty members of the psychology department include professors with doctorates and dual doctorates and have been extensively published.
7. UCLA: UCLA’s psychology curriculum focuses on the scientific study of the various facets of psychology. The program is intended to provide a comprehensive understanding of the broad realm of psychology. UCLA offers three separate undergraduate psychology degree programs; psychology, cognitive science, and psychobiology providing their students with a unique opportunity to tailor the degree to their interests. The University also offers various minors in related psychology disciplines. Students are offered the opportunity to engage in either existing research projects or to develop and conduct their own. UCLA psychology majors are also offered the opportunity to have their research published in a journal.
8. Cornell: Cornell University requires their students to first pass a prerequisite three psychology courses with at least a grade of C+ prior to admission to the psychology program. The program requirements at Cornell University include 40 psychology credits, statistics courses with a demonstrated aptitude in the subject, and can include fieldwork. Students must complete at least one course each in cognition, behavioral and evolutionary neuroscience, and social psychology. Students can follow a program which specializes in social psychology or biopsychology.
9. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT’s focus on cutting edge technologies to attain answers to long sought psychological based questions makes their program both unique and exciting. Generally known for their advanced science and technology programs, MIT is not the school most would usually think of in regards to a psychology program. But their program is one of the best in the nation. Students of psychology interested in a strong scientific background in psychology and examining all of the newest approaches to this field of study will benefit greatly from MIT’s program. MIT examines a broad range of psychological aspects. Graduates of MIT’s program will be well versed in all aspects of psychology.
10. Columbia University: Columbia University has one of the oldest and influential psychology programs in the country. The faculty in the psychology department is comprised of award winning researchers and recipients of teaching awards due to their dedication to their profession. The psychology department offers an honors program and a specialized degree program in neuroscience and behavior. Columbia offers a program designed to meet the career goals of their students and provides opportunities for their students to participate in research projects. The school has one of the most extensive graduate programs in the nation.
11. University of Pennsylvania: The psychology department at the University of Pennsylvania recognizes that psychology is an interdisciplinary field which can be learned in conjunction with other relevant subjects such as science and sociology. Psychology majors are required to complete 13 credits in specific areas of study. The school’s Undergraduate Psychology Society provides opportunities for students to explore various aspects of the field through events and discussions. The society publishes their own journal using research from the undergraduates. The school also has a local chapter of Psi Chi. Various research projects are available for the students to participate in as volunteers, participants, or researchers. The esteemed faculty includes published textbook authors, accomplished researchers, and a number of public speakers on the various topics of psychology.
12. University of Michigan: The University of Michigan offers three psychology majors; brain, behavior and cognitive science, psychology, and neuroscience. These concentrations allow students to tailor their educational program to their career goals and areas of interest. In general, the psychology program is geared towards teaching the broad concepts of behavior through academic study. The curriculum encompasses much of the vast areas of psychology. The University of Michigan offers an honors program for exceptional students.
13. Duke University: Duke University’s psychology program seeks an integrative approach to the field. The school strives to offer a curriculum which teaches the basic groundwork of psychology while including the related aspects of social and health sciences. The psychology program encompasses a broad spectrum of the various related disciplines devoted to understanding the complexities of human and animal behavior. The psychology program is considered liberal arts major and is considered one of the University’s arts and science majors intended to prepare students for a career in any number of fields which benefits from the understanding and study of behavior.
14. New York University: New York University’s psychology program boasts numerous prestigious award recipients among both their students and faculty. The program curriculum is a devoted to developing the interest and knowledge of students in the diverse field of psychology. Psychology majors are required to complete and demonstrate a proficiency in statistics either through successful completion of a course or an exam. Students are directed to select two courses each from both the natural and social sciences which must be satisfactorily completed as well as courses in research methodology. Participation in research projects is encouraged and can be completed as part of the curriculum.
15. Carnegie Mellon University: Carnegie Mellon University has earned respect in psychology for their programs exploration of the cognitive aspects of psychology and artificial intelligence. The University has expanded their scope of study to include many of the other relevant psychology fields. The school is recognized for their scientific contributions in the field and offers students an award winning program. Adhering to the strengths which have earned the school such reverent recognition, the psychology department focuses on cutting edge research and work in conjunction with other departments in an interdisciplinary effort to further their results.
16. Northwestern University: Northwestern, like many of the other schools on this list, boasts an award winning faculty in their psychology department. Faculty work closely with the students fostering an environment of personal relationships among the students and professors. The program focus is on people and is geared towards the scientific evaluation of information and the interpretation of obtained statistics and facts. The curriculum offers students a range of courses with wide latitude of focus and specialization. Research opportunities are offered.
17. Johns Hopkins University: The psychology program at Johns Hopkins University is combined with the related discipline of brain sciences. The program offers majors in many of the various psychology disciplines. The psychology department works in conjunction with other related departments relevant to the study. Students are required to complete statistics, methodology, and lab courses to develop a proficiency in the field. The University is known for its research laboratories and opportunities.
18. University of California, San Diego: UCSD’s psychology program provides a curriculum covering the breadth of the study of psychology. Students are expected to participate in the research opportunities offered at the school in addition to submitting research papers of their own. Students are afforded the opportunity to obtain volunteer positions at mental health facilities to gain experience and broaden their exposure to the various aspects of psychology. The curriculum is designed to provide a groundwork of knowledge which allows graduates to pursue careers in various related fields and study or continue on to graduate studies.
19. University of Wisconsin, Madison: The University of Wisconsin’s psychology program is intended to provide students with the skills, knowledge and abilities to successfully enter one of the numerous fields of psychology or to prepare for further study in a graduate capacity. The psychology program emphasizes the oral and written communication skills as well as the critical and analytical skills of the students. The psychology faculty engages in research in many disciplines of the psychology field and provides students with the opportunity to participate in any of the projects.
20. University of Illinois: The University of Illinois provides a comprehensive psychology program which ranges from the study of behavior in individuals to the study of biological and social mechanisms. The intention of the program is to encourage the advancement of knowledge to facilitate a better understanding of human behavior in order to solve societal problems. The University offers courses with concentrations in biological psychology, clinical psychology, cognitive neuroscience, aging, developmental psychology, engineering and community psychologies. The school offers a challenging curriculum which will serve to provide a strong foundation in the study.