Psychology is a common college degree that is useful in many careers. Because it is so popular there are a lot of options to choose from. With so many choices available, many people find it difficult to figure out which programs are the best.
What Makes a Program the Best
There is no one aspect of a degree program that makes it better than another. Instead, a combination of factors are used to decide which programs are worthy of ranking highest. Reputation and rank as well as the unique attributes of each program are considered.
The program ranks used here are from the Princeton Review’s Gourman Report. University ranks are also included where available but may be different than program ranks. Tuition costs are considered but it is important for people to be aware that the sticker price at many schools is often not what students actually end up paying.
Some of the best psychology programs in the country by rank confer a Bachelors of Arts rather than a Bachelors of Science. Stanford University, for example, which has ranked #1 in the field for the last 50 years, has only a B.A. option at the undergraduate level. While the merits of a B.A. versus a B.S. continue to be debated it is probably fair to say that school rank should be considered more important.
10. Columbia University
Columbia University provides a well-respected B.A. program in psychology. Laboratory research is available for all qualified students. The honors program in the department consists of a research project done under the supervision of a faculty member in an appropriate area.
Tuition at Columbia is $22,514 per semester. Columbia University was ranked #4 in the country for 2012 by U.S. News.
9. University of Chicago
The University of Chicago offers a fairly typical bachelors of psychology degree program. However, students in the program have access to faculty working at some of the best research centers in the country. The University of Chicago boasts six interdisciplinary research departments in addition to the department of psychology.
Tuition is $43,581 per year at the University of Chicago. The university provides grants to cover any federal loans offered to families making less than $75,000 per year. The University of Chicago co-ranked #4 with Columbia for the 2012 year of U.S. News national university rankings.
8. University of Illinois– Urbana-Champaign
The B.S. in psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers a high degree of autonomy for students interested in customizing their education. Nearly 1/3 of the credit hours required for the degree can be from electives and other departments. Students use this freedom to tailor their degree in order to prepare themselves for a specific job field or simply to pursue their own interests.
Tuition is based on residency. Tuition for undergraduate residents is $14,960 per year. Tuition for non-residents is $29,102 per year. U.S. News ranked the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign #46 for the 2012 year.
7. Harvard University
World-famous Harvard University ranks 7th on the list of top undergraduate psychology degrees. There are three concentrations including two which are honors-eligible. A minor in psychology as a secondary field is also available.
Tuition at Harvard is $37,576 per year. U.S. News ranked Harvard University #1 in the country for the 2012 academic year.
6. University of California– Berkeley
The bachelors degree in psychology at UC Berkeley is a capped major, meaning that students must complete certain prerequisite courses with an acceptable GPA in order to gain admission. The degree has several areas of specialization and encourages research experience. Four psychology societies offer opportunities for undergraduate majors.
Tuition at UC Berkeley is based on residency status. Resident students pay $7493 their first semester and $7328 each subsequent semester. Non-resident students pay $18,932 their first semester and $18,767 each subsequent semester. UC Berkeley ranks #21 nationally on the U.S. News 2012 listing.
5. University of Minnesota– Twin Cities
The University of Minnesota offers a B.A. and a B.S. in psychology as well as a minor through the department of Psychology. They also offer a B.A. and B.S. in Child Psychology and a B.S. in Early Childhood Education through their Department of Child Psychology. The B.S. at the University of Michigan focuses heavily on scientific study and requires a research component.
Tuition at the University of Minnesota is based on residency status. Resident tuition is $6030 per semester and non-resident tuition is $8655 per term. North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Manitoba (Canada) residents qualify for a lower reciprocity tuition rate than other non-resident students. The University of Minnesota overall ranked #68 on the 2012 U.S. News listing.
4. University of Michigan– Ann Arbor
The University of Michigan’s campus in Ann Arbor ranks fourth for undergraduate psychology degree programs in the U.S. They have three undergraduate student societies for psychology majors including the honor society Psi Chi, the Undergraduate Psychology Society which publishes student papers in a journal and the Michigan Association of Psychology Scholars which provides mentorship in various areas of interest. There are three formal concentrations but students can study at least 10 different areas of interest within the degree.
Tuition at University of Michigan is based on department, residency and whether upper- or lower-division courses are taken. Residents pay approximately $6400 per semester for lower-division courses and $7225 per semester for upper-division courses. Non-residents pay $19,464 and $20,838 per semester respectively. The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor ranks #29 on the 2012 U.S. News listing.
3. University of Pennsylvania
UPenn offers a nationally-ranked psychology program with a research requirement. All students are required to complete a research or independent study course with a research focus and many students do both. The Undergraduate Psychology Society offers a chance for students to publish papers and participate in activities related to the field as well.
Tuition at UPenn is $43,738 per academic year. Like Yale, Penn prides itself on not expecting students to take out loans. UPenn ranks #8 on the 2012 U.S. News list.
2. Yale University
Yale University ranks second in the country for undergraduate psychology programs. They offer both a B.S. which requires empirical research and a B.A. which does not. Unlike in some programs, most undergraduates at Yale participate in research. This may be through the labs at Yale during the school year or at another school or research facility during the summer. Yale has a chapter of the undergraduate psychology honors society Psi Chi that is active on campus and chooses students during their junior year based on academic distinction.
Yale tuition is $42,300 per year. The majority of Yale students receive financial aid and Yale does not require their students to take out loans. Yale ranked #3 in U.S. News national universities.
1. Stanford University
Stanford University has maintained their elite status as the best of the best in the field of psychology for over 50 years. Professors and students here perform groundbreaking research in a wide variety of psychological fields. There is a chapter of Psi Chi, the undergraduate psychology honors society, at Stanford. In holding with with the University’s elite reputation, standards for entry into the society are higher at Stanford than elsewhere.
Stanford ranks number 1 for several reasons. National rank is the first reason and the unique opportunity for psychology students to work and gain research experience during the summer is another. Available only to Stanford students, the Psych-Summer Program involves performing research with one of the university’s professors for 8-10 weeks. Students are paid a stipend and gain valuable experience at the same time.
Stanford tuition is $13,350 per quarter for undergraduates as of the 2012-2013 school year. There are three quarters in the academic year. Overall, U.S. News ranked Stanford the #6 university in the country for the 2012 year.