Studying psychology can open up doors to a range of successful careers, including that of a psychologist, social worker, psychotherapist and counsellor. Not only are the job prospects strong, but this field of study is the fourth most popular individual major, too.
Whether you’re graduating high-school or you are eager to further expand your knowledge in the field, we’ve assembled a list of the best psychology schools in the world to point you in the right direction.
10. University of Michigan
Location: Ann Arbor, US
A leading research institution in the US, the University of Michigan is an ideal college for prospective psychology students. With a wide range of areas of study, including clinical science, biopsychology, personality and social contexts, and gender and feminist psychology, this university certainly provides students with extensive and prestigious education. You can obtain a bachelor’s degree in psychology or biopsychology, cognition, and neuroscience (BCN), while a master’s programme and a PhD programme are also available.
If you’re still not convinced, consider this: psychologist John Dewey, famous for establishing one of America’s first psychology labs, was one of the first faculty members in Michigan’s Department of Psychology. That’s not all. The University of Michigan also boasts professors like Albert C. Cain, Patricia Gurin, Kent Berridge and Terry Robinson.
9. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Location: Cambridge, US
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology focusses on science, technology and areas of scholarship, with its researchers being at the heart of significant developments such as artificial intelligence and climate adaptation.
As a student, you can enrol in the department’s Bachelor of Science in the brain and cognitive sciences which includes introductory courses in cognitive science, neuroscience and computation, and then a focus on one of four concentrations: computation, cognitive science, cellular/molecular neuroscience and systems neuroscience.
Throughout its history, the school has had several high-profile faculty members including the late Hans-Lukas Teuber, Jim DiCarlo and Ann Graybiel.
8. Yale University
Location: New Haven, US
One of the oldest higher education institutions in the US, Yale University is a world-renowned school. Students focus on five areas of study, including cognitive, clinical, developmental, social/ personality psychology as well as neuroscience.
Yale’s graduate programme also allows PhD students to conduct research in one of the aforementioned areas of specialisation.
With Yale alumni including five US presidents (William Howard Taft, Gerald Ford, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush), it’s no surprise why thousands of students wish to study here.
7. University College London (UCL)
Location: London, UK
University College London is one of the oldest schools in the country. Furthermore, UCL has the largest psychology department in the UK, with over 120 academic staff and approximately 1,500 students.
The UCL Division of Psychology and Language Sciences has an undergraduate programme that is accredited by the British Psychological Society, as well as more than 20 master’s programmes in business psychology, neuroscience, decision science and human-computer interaction.
Not only does this university rank as seventh-best in the world for this discipline, but students also have the opportunity to be educated by esteemed professors like Peter Fonagy and Tali Sharot.
6. University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
Location: Los Angeles, US
UCLA has one of the largest departments of psychology in the UC system. Its reputation as a pioneer in psychology studies is partly owed to its renowned faculty members including Jonathan Kellerman, Elizabeth Loftus, Steve Reise and Keith Nuechterlein.
Students undertake undergraduate degree programmes such as psychology, cognitive science and psychobiology. UCLA’s PhD training programme also makes it a school of influence, focusing on areas including clinical psychology, behavioural neuroscience, and learning and behaviour.
The school is known for its Psychology Clinic, which gives students enrolled in the clinical psychology programme the unique opportunity to train and practise this discipline. UCLA’s programme is also tied with the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior.
5. University of California, Berkeley (UCB)
Location: Berkeley, US
Recognised as a top-ranking public research institution, the University of California, Berkely offers its world-class education.
The psychology programme focuses on five core areas of study, including behavioural and systems neuroscience, clinical science, cognitive neuroscience, developmental, and social/personality psychology. BA students here participate in original independent research under the supervision of faculty, while graduate students can enrol in a five-year PhD programme.
UCB prides itself on its faculty members, which include psycholinguist Susan Ervin-Tripp and psychologists Robert Levenson, Dacher Keltner and Alison Gopnik. It has also produced over 90 Nobel laureates, more than 20 Turing Award winners, and over 14 Pulitzer Prize winners.
4. University of Oxford
Location: Oxford, UK
The University of Oxford is the oldest in the world. Oxford has one of the leading psychology departments in the UK, with recognised figures such as Anne Treisman, Jerome Bruner, and Donald Broadbent having taught here.
At an undergraduate level, students can enrol in the Department of Experimental Psychology which includes over 20 research groups and multiple areas of study such as developmental and social psychology, behavioural neuroscience and psychological disorders.
The university also offers a combined bachelor’s degree in psychology, philosophy and linguistics which joins the study of cognitive, biological, developmental and social psychology.
The University of Oxford also offers graduate students the opportunity to complete a master’s in psychological research or experimental psychology. Although it is considered to be an expensive university, it is certainly one of the greatest in the field.
3. University of Cambridge
Location: Cambridge, UK
Ranked as the third-best psychology school in the world, Cambridge offers both undergraduate and graduate programmes in this discipline.
You can also pursue this area of study through the Psychological and Behavioural Sciences (PBS) course or the Natural Sciences (NST) course, both of which allow you to graduate with a British Psychological Society-accredited degree and pursue a career as a chartered psychologist or neuropsychologist.
The University has a long list of reopened alumni, including actor Sacha Baron Cohen, physicist and mathematician Isaac Newton, and Prince Charles!
2. Stanford University
Location: Stanford, US
Ranking second on the list of top psychology schools is none other than Stanford University. In fact, its Department of Psychology was one of the first to be established at the institution.
Known to have the largest campus in the US (8,180 acres, to be exact), Stanford attracts both undergraduate and graduate aspirers interested in research training, particularly in affective science, neuroscience, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology and social psychology. Students can even participate in other interdisciplinary programmes like biology, law, medicine and business to enrich their learning experience.
Stanford has a world-class faculty, with past and current professors including Walter Mischel, Albert Bandura, Carol Dweck and Benoît Monin.
1. Harvard University
Location: Cambridge, US
As the best psychology school in the world, Harvard University boasts a prestigious department dedicated to this discipline. The field of psychology at Harvard has maintained its prominence since the late 1800s due to William James’s scholarship. The university has a history of prestigious faculty members and researchers including the likes of BF Skinner, Gordon Allport, Jerome Bruner, George Miller and Henry Murray.
Although it is known for its selective admission standards, students at Harvard can enrol in graduate-level programmes that explore social, developmental and clinical psychology, as well as cognition, brain and behaviour. With a department comprising 30 faculty members, and a ranking at first place among psychology departments in the 2007 Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index, Harvard University is, without a doubt, the greatest school to attend if you want to pursue a first-class degree in psychology.
Whichever school you may choose to attend from this list, you can rest assured that you’ll receive the most outstanding education.
Can you recommend any other outstanding psychology schools? Have you attended one of the best universities that are listed above? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below!
This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 27 September 2020.