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Articles / Majors & Careers / 10 Best Colleges for Psychology

July 27, 2021

10 Best Colleges for Psychology

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Photo of UCLA in Los Angeles, CA, USA by tommao wang on Unsplash

What is Psychology?

Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. There are many areas of psychology such as cognitive, developmental, and social. When looking for a psychology school, there are different types of psychology programs that will focus on specialized areas. However, it is not required to know what area you are interested in for undergraduate study.

What Can I Do With a Psychology Major?

There are many different careers for psychology majors. While many people who earn a bachelor's in psychology choose to get a master's, there are plenty of jobs for psych majors without a graduate degree. Possible bachelor’s in psychology jobs include career counselor, childcare worker, and psychiatric technician.

An undergraduate degree in psychology is also a great steppingstone for careers that require a higher degree. In order to become psychologist, you will need at least a master’s degree, but a PhD is preferred. To be a psychiatrist, you will need to become a Doctor of Medicine. 

Harvard University

As one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the country, Harvard attracts students from all over the world. The university focuses on creating educational opportunities for people from many lived experiences. Psychology is one of the most popular undergraduate majors at Harvard.

The undergraduate psychology program offers several different study pathways. Students can choose to study under the general track, cognitive neuroscience and evolutionary psychology track, cognitive science track, or the secondary field in psychology track.

Harvard psychology alumni have gone on to work in a variety of fields. Psych majors have gone into psychological research, law, business, education, medicine, entertainment, social policy, and more.

Stanford University

Stanford University is a competitive private research university with over 6,000 enrolled undergraduate students. The Stanford psychology department is ranked as one of the top psychology programs in the country. Students are drawn to Stanford for the university’s emphasis on research

The undergraduate psychology program is known for its flexibility. The major requirements offer a broad selection of courses to prepare students for a variety of possible career paths. Students who know what they want to focus on can choose an unofficial pathway. Though these pathways are not official minors or concentrations, they allow students to hone in on an area of expertise.

University of California Los Angeles

UCLA is consistently ranked among the world's top-tier universities. The university is known for its extensive resources and for their strong academics, research, and athletics. Psychology is among the top six most popular undergraduate majors at UCLA. 

Ranked as one of the top psychology schools in the country, UCLA provides a wide variety of study options for students. Undergraduate psychology students have the choice of three offered majors: BA in Psychology, BS in Psychobiology, and BA in Cognitive Science.

Students looking for a wide variety of practical experience will be happy with UCLA’s options. UCLA offers a variety of research opportunities, fieldwork, internships, undergraduate research conferences, subject pool & experiment participation, and more.

Yale University

Yale University is a private Ivy League research university with a strong research focus. Known for breakout research in psychology and neuroscience, Yale is one of the top ranked schools for psychology students. 

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.

Yale has an active student community with hundreds of engaging student groups and activities. The university is also known for their athletics and recreation activities. Yale has over 30 varsity teams, 40 club sports, and many intramural programs.

University of Minnesota – Twin Cities

The University of Minnesota - Twin Cities is one of the most prestigious public research universities in the country. The university emphasizes research, education, and outreach. 

Psychology at the University of Minnesota consistently ranks in the top 10 in the United States. The psychology department is the largest at the university with over 1,500 undergraduate students. Over $43 million in external funding is dedicated to support faculty and student research. 

The University offers a BA, a BS, and a minor in psychology. The BA program is designed for students who want a general background in psychology that prepares them for a variety of careers. The BS program is designed for students interested in careers in fields related to psychology, like neuroscience, cognitive science, computer science, biology. 

University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania is a private research university that ranks in the top ten for national universities. The university is one of the country’s top research universities credited with generating groundbreaking discoveries. 

To encourage undergraduate research, the university awards several research prizes to undergraduate students for innovative and engaging research.

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. 

All psychology students are required to complete one semester of empirical research before graduation.

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

The University of Illinois Urbana Champaign is a public research university with over 47,000 students. Psychology at UIUC is consistently ranked as one of the top 15 undergraduate programs and one of the top 10 graduate programs in the country. 

The undergraduate program consists of a BS in psychology. The program emphasizes statistical analysis, understanding of the biological processes of behavior, and acquisition of research techniques and methodologies.

University of Illinois Urbana Champaign is a great option for undergrad students who want to concentrate their studies on a specific area. The university provides ten possible concentrations for psych students. The concentrations include Behavioral Neuroscience, Clinical/ Community Psychology, and Organizational Psychology.

The University of Texas at Austin

The University of Texas at Austin is a public research university that focuses on high impact research. The university ranks among the 40 best universities in the world and in the top 15 top public national universities

Psychology at UT Austin is very competitive but highly rewarding. The undergraduate program encourages students to, “think creatively and critically about human behavior across gender, culture, and age." Students are given opportunities "to relate psychological principles to everyday living.” 

The University of Texas at Austin offers a BS and BA in psychology. UT Austin also offers a minor for students majoring in another subject. Students in the Honors Program have unique opportunities for original research and working with distinguished faculty.

The five most common career fields for recent UT Austin psychology grads are business, service, health-related professions, education, and law.

Brown University

Brown University is a private Ivy League research university located in Rhode Island. The university focuses student experience on innovative student learning. With their Open Curriculum model, students are not bound to a set of core course requirements. Students are free to personalize their course of study.

Brown offers an A.B. and a Sc.B. (Latin degree equivalents of a B.A. and a B.S.) in psychology. The psychology program is designed to provide students with proper foundational knowledge. Students can choose electives to gain an in-depth study of interest through electives, and do independent research through the capstone.

Students of psychology at Brown can choose a concentration of Cognitive Science, Cognitive Neuroscience, Linguistics, or Behavioral Decision Sciences. 

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

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. 

Undergraduate psychology students at the University of Michigan has two majors - psychology or biopsychology, cognition, and neuroscience (BCN). There are also opportunities to join the Honors Program and the Accelerated Master’s Degree Program.

UM - Ann Arbor undergrads have many opportunities for service learning, university research, advanced research, subject pool participation, and study abroad.

Exploring Colleges and Majors?

Join the conversations about college majors or choosing a college the CC forums. Or check out more Best College lists and keep exploring majors and careers.

Written by

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Sam Jaquez

Sam is a freelance writer, a blogger, and a bookmark collector. She studied at the University of Massachusetts Boston where she earned a degree in English. Sam has written articles about productivity, college, film & tv, and science.

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