Studying psychology can open doors to a range of successful careers, including 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 leaving school, ready to embark on a psychology degree or eager to further expand your knowledge in the field, we’ve gathered a list of the top 10 psychology schools in the world to point you into the right direction.
10. University of Cambridge
Location: Cambridge, UK
Average ranking: 20
The University of Cambridge is a great option for those looking to study psychology in the UK. Ranking as the 10th best psychology school in the world, Cambridge grants students with both undergraduate and graduate programmes.
Learners can proudly study psychology through either the Psychological and Behavioural Sciences (PBS) course or the Natural Sciences (NST) course, which both 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 reputable name in the UK and was even attended by famous faces like actor Sacha Baron Cohen, physicist and mathematician Isaac Newton, and Prince Charles!
8. Columbia University (tie)
Location: New York City, US
Average ranking: 11.5
Columbia University has one of the most influential psychology departments in the US and prepares students for professional careers in many areas of the field. With a long-standing history of over 250 years, this school offers bachelor’s degrees in both psychology or neuroscience and behaviour. Graduate students, on the other hand, have the opportunity to enrol in programmes that focus on cognition, sensation and perception, social-personality psychology, and behavioural neuroscience.
Although considered an expensive university, the college proves its excellence thanks to the 32,000 students who choose it, as well as its renowned alumni such as James McKeen Catell, Robert S Woodworth and Edward Thorndike.
8. University of Pennsylvania (tie)
Location: Philadelphia, US
Average ranking: 11.5
Marked as yet another top psychology school in the world, the University of Pennsylvania is one of the oldest in the country, having opened in 1740. Popular among undergraduate students, this college enables them to delve into courses like social and abnormal psychology, and more innovative ones like the pursuit of happiness, which gives attention to the ‘scientific and theoretical aspects of well-being’.
With options to also study a PhD as well as a doctoral degree, students are also rewarded with the benefit of being taught by psychology pioneers like Martin Seligman, Jonathan Baron, Angela Duckworth, Robert Kurzban and Sara Jaffee.
7. University of Toronto
Location: Toronto, Canada
Average ranking: 10
Included in the University of Toronto’s 980 programmes of study is its well-esteemed Department of Psychology. With over 2,500 psychology students on campus, this top university is one of the most stellar education institutions in Canada.
With a strong focus on research in clinical, social and developmental psychology, as well as behavioural and cognitive neuroscience, the University of Toronto helps students elevate their career prospects by offering opportunities in research, study-abroad programmes, service learning and mentorship.
The school not only exhibits exceptional undergraduate programmes but also unique departments such as the Graduate Department of Psychological Clinical Science (offering a combined Master of Arts and PhD programme) and Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development.
6. University of Michigan
Location: Ann Arbor, US
Average ranking: 9.5
A leading research institution in the US, the University of Michigan is yet another good college for aspiring psychology students. With a wide range of areas studied, including clinical science, biopsychology, personality and social contexts, and gender and feminist psychology, this university certainly provides students with an extensive and prestige education. Bachelor’s degrees in psychology or biopsychology, cognition and neuroscience (BCN) can be obtained, while a master’s programme and a PhD programme are also available.
If that doesn’t make you want to enrol, consider this: psychologist John Dewey, famous for establishing one of America’s first psychology labs, was one of the first faculty members in the Department of Psychology. That’s not all. The University of Michigan also boasts psychology professors like Albert C Cain, Patricia Gurin, Kent Berridge and Terry Robinson.
5. New York University
Location: New York City, US
Average ranking: 8.5
Considered one of the best colleges for psychology in the world, New York University offers undergraduate, masters and doctoral degrees to striving psychologists. The department excels in research areas such as cognition and perception and neuroscience, while students can benefit from learning from famed knowledgeable and skilled faculty members like Carol Gilligan, Jonathan Haidt, Yaacov Trope and Lawrence T Maloney.
University attendees are given the opportunity to engage in independent research in faculty labs as well as participate in graduate programmes like the MAs in General Psychology or Industrial and Organizational Psychology.
4. University College London
Location: London, UK
Average ranking: 6.5
The University College London is recognised as one of the oldest schools in the country and is well-known for being the first to offer admissions to women and accept students from all religions. Furthermore, the 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 third best in Europe for psychology, but students at this top school also have the opportunity to be educated by esteemed professors like Peter Fonagy and Tali Sharot.
3. University of California, Los Angeles
Location: Los Angeles, US
Average ranking: 4.5
UCLA has one of the largest departments of psychology in the UC system. Its pioneering reputation in psychology studies is partly thanks to its renowned faculty members including Jonathan Kellerman, Elizabeth Loftus, Steve Reise and Keith Nuechterlein. Students of the UCLA psychology programme participate in undergraduate degree programmes such in psychology, cognitive science and psychobiology. Its PhD training programme also makes it a school of influence, focusing on areas including clinical psychology, behavioural neuroscience, and learning and behaviour.
UCLA is famed for its UCLA Psychology Clinic, which gives students in the school’s nationally top-ranked clinical psychology programme the unique opportunity to train and practise psychology. More so, the psychology programme has strategic relationships with the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior.
2. Stanford University
Location: Stanford, US
Average ranking: 3.5
Ranking second as one of the 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), the academic leader in psychology 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.
A factor that contributes to a successful psychology department is a world-class faculty. Previous and current professors include Walter Mischel, Albert Bandura, Carol Dweck and Benoît Monin – all luminaries in psychology.
1. Harvard University
Location: Cambridge, US
Average ranking: 1
Officially dubbed the best psychology school in the world, Harvard University boasts a prestigious department dedicated to the popular course of study. The field of psychology at Harvard has maintained prominence ever since the late 1800s due to William James’s scholarship. The university even 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 known for its very selective admission standards, students at Harvard can enrol in graduate-level programmes that explore social psychology, developmental psychology, clinical psychology, and cognition, brain and behaviour. With a department of 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 when wanting to pursue a rich and first-class degree in psychology.
Whichever school you choose to attend in our list, rest assured you’ll be receiving the most outstanding education in psychology.
What other psychology schools do you recommend? Have you attended one of the best universities listed above? Let us know your experiences in the comments section below.