Best Psychology Schools: How They Are Ranked

Learn about the best schools for psychology, including what they have to offer in terms of academic rankings and program options. Read summaries of three leading universities, and use the table at the end of the resource to find other schools in the U.S. that offer degrees in psychology.

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School Overviews

In general, students enrolled in a psychology program explore how the human brain develops and responds. While programs are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, a graduate degree is required to become a professional psychologist. Each of the three universities featured below offers bachelor's and doctoral programs in psychology. All three schools have received high rankings from U.S. News & World Report for the quality of their psychology programs.

Top U.S. Schools with Psychology Programs

1. Stanford University in Stanford, CA

Stanford University ranked first on the U.S. News & World Report survey of 'Best Psychology Schools' in 2009, as well as first on its list of top cognitive psychology programs. Undergraduate psychology majors at Stanford can pursue specializations in mind, culture and society; heath and development; neuroscience or cognitive sciences. Doctoral students can specialize in affective, cognitive, developmental or social psychology; a specialization in neuroscience is also available.

2. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of Illinois seventh on its list of 'Best Psychology Schools' in 2009, as well as 45th among national universities for 2012. In addition to a Bachelor of Science in Psychology program, the university offers a doctoral program in nine distinct areas of study. Program options include cognitive, developmental or quantitative psychology; brain and cognition or industrial-organization psychology. Graduate students can also specialize in visual cognition and human performance, behavioral neuroscience, clinical-community psychology or social-personality cognition. The university's Department of Educational Psychology also offers a doctoral degree in counseling psychology.

3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge

U.S. News & World Report ranked the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) eleventh on its list of 'Best Psychology Schools' for 2009. In the same year, MIT was ranked fifth for its cognitive and experimental psychology programs and sixth for its behavioral neuroscience programs by USN&WR. MIT offers a bachelor's degree program in brain and cognitive sciences. Students can also pursue a specialized doctoral degree in molecular and cellular neuroscience, cognitive or systems neuroscience, cognitive science or computation. Once admitted, graduate students can expect to spend half of their time in laboratories conducting research.

Schools Offering Leading Psychology Programs

School Name Distinction Location
Cornell University Bachelor's degree program in biopsychology Ithaca, NY
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Students complete an apprenticeship before selecting a graduate specialization Cambridge, MA
Princeton University Ranked first on the U.S. News & World Report list of national universities in 2012 Princeton, NJ
Stanford University Offers an affective science specialization for students interested in how emotion and culture interact Stanford, CA
University of California - San Diego Ranked third on the U.S. News & World Report list of cognitive psychology and behavioral neuroscience specialty programs in 2009 La Jolla, CA
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign The Visual Cognition and Human Performance research facility includes EEG/ERP, fMRI, eye tracking and optical imagining equipment Champaign, IL
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor Ranked first on the U.S. News & World Report list of social psychology and behavioral neuroscience specialty programs in 2009 Ann Arbor, MI
University of Virginia Graduate programs in psychology are offered exclusively at the Ph.D. level Charlottesville, VA
University of Wisconsin - Madison Individualized graduate programs can include several specializations in psychology Madison, WI
Washington University in St. Louis Specialization in aging and development allows students to study both early language development in children and the aging issues faced by the elderly St. Louis, MO
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Popular Schools

Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Psychology
      • Psychology and Human Behavior
        • Cognitive Science
        • Psychology, General
  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Psychology
      • Psychology and Human Behavior
        • Psychology, General
        • Social Psychology
  • School locations:
    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Psychology
      • Developmental Psychology
      • Psychology and Human Behavior
        • Cognitive Science
        • Counseling Psychology, General
        • Psychology, General
  • School locations:
    • Rhode Island (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Brown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Psychology
      • Psychology and Human Behavior
        • Cognitive Psychology and Psycholinguistics
        • Psychology, General

Popular Schools

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