Best Of The Best Universities for Psychology Degrees: Top 5 Higher Education Institutions, Per Experts

You’re curious about how the mind works, about what leads humans to behave the way they do. You’re looking to further your education in the field of psychology, but you’re just not sure which university will best serve you. That’s why we searched the web to find the overall best universities for psychology degrees, according to experts, and we’ve listed them here for you. Before we get to the list and you get to choosing a school, you’ll need to decide which area of this vast field you want to study.

Psychologists can uncover interesting things about the human mind. In fact, a recent study shows that psychologists studying the roots of nefarious behavior have identified a group of personality traits linked to one another through what they dub a common “dark core.” If you want to dive into the human mind, dark core or not, the first thing to think about is which type of psychologist you’re looking to become. Do you want to see patients (sometimes called clients) in a one-to-one office setting? If so, you will want to look into clinical psychology. Do you want to help a large organization improve its culture, communication, and employee behavior? If yes, industrial and organizational psychology may be your thing. You could also become a forensic psychologist to study criminal behavior. But these are just the tip of the iceberg.

A recent survey of 2,000 American high school students found that although a third of respondents have no post-graduation plans, 82 percent agree the most important thing to them is to do something they’re passionate about, regardless of what career they choose. So, make sure you choose a career path that most appeals to your personality and your interests. This is where the many different areas of study come in, and of course you’ll need specific classes that apply to the degree you choose. You may end up taking classes in abnormal psychology, social psychology, neuropsychology, or addiction psychology just to name a few.

If you’re ready to look into the different universities to begin your psychology career with, then we’re ready to share our list of the best universities for psychology degrees. Of course, we want to know which higher education institution is your choice, so comment below to let us know!

The List: Best Universities for Psychology Degrees, According to Experts

1. Harvard University

This Ivy League research university in Massachusetts may just be the most well-known higher education institution ever. And just as the name is well-known, so is its low acceptance rate, which is just 4%.

The Best Schools writes: “Established in 1636, Harvard has remained at the forefront of the psychology field since the late 19th century. Harvard currently offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in psychology, along with a postdoctoral program.” They also note that Harvard offers “specializations in clinical, cognitive, social, and developmental psychology. Tutorials, research coursework, and projects keep learners engaged and on track throughout their programs.”

“US News & World Report ranked the school first among national universities in 2021. As per QS World University Rankings 2021 of Psychology, Harvard University has the best psychology program,” writes AP Guru.

At Harvard, you’ll follow a path tailored to your study interests. “Undergraduate students can choose one of three study tracks: the general track, which offers the greatest flexibility; the cognitive neuroscience and evolutionary psychology track; and the cognitive science track,” says Times Higher Education.

If you’re one of the 4% that can get in, and you’re looking for the best psychology education one can get, this may be the university for you.

Harvard University
Harvard University (Photo by Emily Karakis on Unsplash)

2. Stanford University

Though not an Ivy League school, Stanford University is quite prestigious. And while it may sit on a warmer coast than Harvard, its acceptance rate is just as cold.

“Stanford is an elite private university located in Stanford, California in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is a mid-size institution with an enrollment of 5,752 undergraduate students. Admissions is extremely competitive as the Stanford acceptance rate is only 5%,” writes Niche.

Times Higher Education notes: “The department of psychology at Stanford University was one of the first to be established at the institution. Research is carried out in areas including addictive behaviors, psychopathology and risk, and stereotyping. Undergraduate and postgraduate programs are available, with the latter emphasizing research training. The department is split into five research groups known as department areas, namely science, neuroscience, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, and social psychology.”

“By facilitating close-knit relationships between faculty, undergraduates, and graduate research teams, Stanford is able to offer incredible learning experiences to their students, and a jump start to any career in psychology. Psychology majors are granted the opportunity to collaborate with well-known psychologists and work on cutting edge experiments and research,” writes BestPsychologyDegrees.com.

If you meet the acceptance criteria, and prefer the warmer weather of California to Massachusetts, then Stanford may be a good option to look into.

Stanford University
Stanford University (Photo by Y S on Unsplash)

3. University of Pennsylvania

Located in Philadelphia, this Ivy League institution is one of the oldest in the United States. Their acceptance rate of just 6% sits right in line with other top universities.

And if you’re wondering what the price tag of an Ivy League school will get you: “There were roughly 320 psychology students who graduated with this degree at UPenn in the most recent data year. Degree recipients from the psychology major at University of Pennsylvania make $18,715 above the typical college graduate with the same degree when they enter the workforce,” writes College Factual.

BestPsychologyDegrees.com writes that “the ‘all-star’ faculty of the psychology program make the University an international force in psychology science and a prime candidate for undergraduate study of psychology.”

“The undergraduate psychology program at UPenn is designed to give students a wide breath of courses. This is done by dividing courses into three content areas: psychology as a biological science, a cognitive science, and a social science,” adds College Confidential. “All psychology students are required to complete one semester of empirical research before graduation.”

Though the acceptance rate for this school is low like the others listed thus far, we did see some variation across sites with some listing it as high as 12%.

4. Yale University

The final Ivy League school on our list, Yale is another big name, big reputation school with stringent acceptance criteria.

“Yale University is a private not-for-profit university based in New Haven, Connecticut. It is an institution with an enrollment of over 1,579 bachelor’s degree candidates. The admission criteria is somewhat competitive with the acceptance rate of 6%,” writes Prepler.

According to College Confidential, “Yale psychology offers a BA and a BS in psychology with opportunities for paid and volunteer research. The department offers a unique neuroscience track for students interested in studying both psychology and neuroscience. There is also a joint psychology and computer science interdepartmental major designed for students interested in work that combines both fields.”

If you’re wondering about Yale alumni: “Four Yale graduates signed the American Declaration of Independence, and the university has educated five US presidents: William Howard Taft, Gerald Ford, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. Twenty Yale alumni have won Nobel prizes, including economist Paul Krugman, while 32 have won the Pulitzer Prize. Other notable alumni include US secretaries of state Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, and actress Meryl Streep,” writes Times Higher Education.

You can rest assured you’re in good company if you choose Yale for your degree in psychology.

Yale University
Yale University (Photo by Pixabay on Pexels)

5. University of Michigan

You’ve likely heard of this university, and you may even follow some of their sports teams (they’re pretty good), but aside from sports, they’re well known for excellent academics. And chances of acceptance for this school are the highest on our list, sitting at about 20%.

College Confidential notes that “the University of Michigan is a top-ranked public university in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The university is one of the largest public research institutions in the country and has an abundance of undergraduate research programs. The Department of Psychology at UM is consistently ranked as one of the top departments in the country. The success of the psychology program is based on award-winning faculty, innovative students, and expansive programs.”

“The school features an undergraduate program in psychology that focuses on a variety of areas including developmental, clinical, personality, and social. The college’s Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience majors are perfect for students who would like a more specific psychology major. There is also an accelerated master’s degree program for highly accomplished students who have the potential to succeed in a Master of Psychology program,” writes University HQ. “The college also provides a PhD program in social psychology, clinical science, biopsychology, and developmental psychology.”

“The psychology department has an above average number of faculty members, coming in at 103 members, and has been nationally recognized for decades as one of the most innovative and productive programs in the country,” says BestPsychologyDegrees.com.

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