Top 25 Psychology Graduate Schools

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March 22nd, 2009 in Rankings

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Featured Programs

Earlier, we published our rankings of the top 10 schools for undergraduate studies in psychology. But the real excitement for a student of psychology starts in grad school. For that reason, we've decided to expand our rankings this time around and offer the top 25 universities for graduate studies in psychology. Don't forget about online options that may help you work towards your Psychology Degree.
Graduate Degrees in Psychology

1. Stanford University

This psychology graduate program is ranked the best year after year. In fact Stanford University has held the top spot among American universities for decades. Because of such a prestigious reputation, the psychology program has the most innovative tools, studies, and approaches. A Stanford University education will uniquely address cognition, emotion, memory, language, culture, vision and perception.

2. University of Michigan (Ann Arbor)

The University of Michigan has one of the largest psychology departments in the country. Despite its size, the professors are very accessible to their students and they offer an especially individualized education, which earns the Ann Arbor campus graduate program such a high ranking. Students can focus their studies in any of these areas of psychology: clinical, cognition, developmental, biopsychology, social, and personality.

3. University of California (Berkeley)

The UCB psychology graduate program is so well rated due to an exceptional research department. Students are taught to excel in scholastic research by the nation's leading professors. The coursework will enable students to pursue independent study from innovative perspectives that is firmly grounded in the psychological tradition.

4. Yale University

Yale University has a top ranked psychology department currently and historically, and therefore has the very best in the field teaching in its department. Not only are the faculty excellent, but Yale offers graduate psychology students the prize opportunity of interfacing with their professors and contributing to cutting-edge research projects as a part of their studies. Through visiting lectures and seminars, students learn first-hand the relevant data and theories, and can add their own input to the ongoing research.

5. Harvard University

Harvard University maintains excellence in the field of psychology since the time psychology began under Harvard's esteemed William James in the late 1800s. Harvard University has continued the legacy of innovation by being a pioneer in the field year after year. So many well-known psychologists have worked in the program, including B.F, Skinner, Jerome Bruner and Henry Murray.

6. University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign)

UIUC is known for having a superb faculty, a tradition that began at the university in the late 1800s when it was among the earliest in the nation to embrace the field of psychology. It is a massive faculty of approximately 100 and their excellent reputations are world-renowned. Among the psychology faculty members there are editors of well-known journals, advisors to politicians, and leaders of professional societies.

7. University of California (Los Angeles)

The UCLA psychology department is known for its specialty in childhood learning and behavior problems and graduate students benefit from the ability to train in its excellent childhood study center. Furthermore the UCLA campus is in a superb location in a beautiful area of Southern California, only five miles from the beach. However, applicants should be aware that UCLA offers only a psychology PhD and no master's degree.

8. Princeton University

PU psychology department receives such a high ranking for its focus on aiding graduate students to develop their teaching skills, as well as providing in-depth study of brain functioning. All students are expected to be teachers' assistants during their studies. Students also have access to the excellent facilities of CSBMB which is cutting edge in examining neurology, brain function, and data analysis.

9. Carnegie Mellon University

CMU is among the best graduate psychology programs due to its small size and exceptional faculty. The faculty consists of the world's top researchers in cognition, development and personality. Only 20-30 students are in the program at a time, enabling a very individualized education that supports the program's philosophy of a scientific and creative approach to studies.

10. University of Minnesota

U of M psychology program began in 1919 and has been among top 10 programs since 1957. While the faculty is a group of extremely accomplished psychologists, they are also known for being outstanding teachers. This graduate program is unique in offering specializations in the following areas: biological or clinical science psychopathology, cognitive and biological psychology, counseling, organization psychology, personality and behavior genetics, school psychology, and social psychology.

11. University of Wisconsin (Madison)

This top ranked psychology program takes a very hands-on approach to psychology training and research beginning in the first year of the graduate program. During their first year, students develop and present extensive research projects, and throughout their education students are supported to begin publishing and presenting their work at major conferences. The University of Wisconsin also has graduate training grants in the studies of Language and Emotion.

12. Columbia University

Columbia's small graduate psychology department of approximately 30-40 students is best known for its excellence in research pertaining to the social, cognitive and biological areas of psychology. Most commonly graduates of Columbia achieve competitive job placements in academia, research, medical institutions and market research projects. This psychology program does not provide training in clinical, school, or counseling psychology.

13. University of Texas (Austin)

The University of Texas department of psychology program is unique in providing PhD students with a self-directed, individualized and diverse curriculum. Students receive a general psychology education that produces excellent researchers, professors and clinicians, while also allowing the flexibility of pursuing coursework in the fields of Education, Computer Science, Zoology, Mathematics, Linguistics, Sociology, Human Ecology, Pharmacy, and Public Affairs. It does not offer a master's degree at this time.

14. University of Penn

The University of Penn graduate psychology program ranks among the best in the nation due to the tradition of an intersection of disciplines that allows graduate students at Penn to broaden their approach to their individual field. Most commonly, psychology graduate students collaborate with students of cognitive science and neuroscience. Additionally, Penn offers exceptional training in clinical psychology and has an APA approved program.

15. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MIT's psychology program today continues its historically groundbreaking approach to the study of the brain and how it works. When MIT's program began forty years ago, it set an international standard for how the field of cognition would proceed. The psychology graduate students can choose to focus their education in vision, movement, learning, memory, neurology, language or reasoning.

16. University of California (San Diego)

UCSD is one of the top ranked research universities in the country and offers particularly excellent training in experimental psychology. There are approximately 65 graduate students who each work individually with a professor with an apprenticeship-type approach to research. UCSD graduate psychology students tend to be especially satisfied with their experience in the program because they are treated more like colleagues by the professors.

17. Indiana University (Bloomington)

Consistently a quality program, Indiana University recruits some of the best faculty in the field to support an in-depth focus on research. Students are taught to be excellent scholars through coursework, independent studies and research. In fact to remain enrolled in graduate studies, students are expected to be actively contributing to productive research.

18. Cornell University

Cornell maintains top placement among graduate psychology programs because it is a small program that enables very individual attention to the students. Its greatest strength is its research approach in the areas of biopsychology, cognition and personality. It only has a PhD program and does not offer training in clinical or school psychology.

19. University of California (Irvine)

UC Irvine is an exceptionally well-funded program and maintains its excellence through cutting-edge training centers and research grants that provide many unique opportunities to psychology graduate students. It is the leader in innovative research in fields of neurology, cognition, development, and personality. The award winning faculty members are known to take special interest in their roles as teachers and mentors.

20. University of Washington

The University of Washington psychology program is unique in supporting students to be engaged in specialized studies from the beginning of their graduate education. Students will select one professor during their application process who is best suited as a mentor and will apply for entrance into one of the seven offered psychology specializations. The student and professor develop an individually tailored set of courses, research and training experiences.

21. University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill)

Students of UNC's graduate psychology program benefit from the broad-reaching scope of the courses offered. They are well-trained to receive high level jobs in research, teaching, policy-making and clinical work. Areas of psychological study include biology, clinical, cognition, development, quantitative and social.

22. Northwestern University

Northwestern's psychology program consistently maintains its status as one of the strongest programs in the country due to the intensive, hands-on training offered and the outstanding funding. Students begin early on to conduct their own research studies and present their work at conferences and in journals. All psychology PhD students receive full scholarships and get to enjoy the beautiful lake-front setting right outside of Chicago.

23. University of Chicago

The University of Chicago is a historically relevant program that continues its high rank through an interdisciplinary approach to cutting-edge research on the brain. Distinguished predecessors in the psychology department include John Dewey, John B. Watson, and L.L. Thurstone, among several others. Areas of focus include cognition, development, neuroscience, and social psychology.

24. Johns Hopkins University

John Hopkins has remained a prestigious psychology program since 1883 when it instituted the first psychological laboratory. Since then, students and faculty have led the way in innovations in the fields of biopsychology, cognition and development. John Hopkins graduate program admits PhD students only and does not provide clinical training.

25. Brown University

Brown University excels in providing an in-depth focus on experimental psychology to its graduate students. Since beginning the psychology studies in 1892, it has maintained its position of groundbreaking findings in the fields of animal behavior and social/group theory. Brown's psychology department also provides excellent training in the specializations of sensation, perception and emotion.

  • 1

    Scott Van Sleeuwen, M.A., LMFT States

    January 18th, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    Excellent website. I found this information to be very helpful. I am currently searching for a high quality Doctoral program, and this will aid me in my search and decision-making process.

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