The 10 best U.S. colleges for a major in psychology
Psychology is an absorbing and interesting topic that remains one of the most popular majors students pursue today. A degree in psychology allows graduates to further understand how people and animals think as students take classes that explore personality types, human development, and behavior. This degree leads to careers in social work, marketing, human resources and public health programs, with more opportunities arising with an advanced degree.
This list rounds up the top 10 colleges for a degree in psychology. Each of these schools offer quality educations that prepare students for success. Students learn all concepts, theories, and methodologies of the psych field while gaining hands-on experience that will be useful when entering the job force.
Learn more about the ranking methodology here. Salaries are estimates with data provided from Payscale.
1. Stanford University
Stanford University is a prestigious research school that houses many of the top academic programs in the country. Students interested in studying psychology should consider Stanford due to the strength of the program.
Psychology majors receive extensive knowledge and training on how to become leaders in the field. Psych classes are supplemented by undergraduate research, introductory seminars and study abroad programs to ensure students understand all theories and receive a dynamic education.
Graduates enter the workforce earning an average starting salary of $53,000, jumping to $67,000 at the mid-career level.
2. University of California-Los Angeles
The University of California–Los Angeles is known as a pioneer in academia. The undergraduate psychology program gives students the opportunity to study human and animal behavior to further understand normal and abnormal reactions and tendencies.
Students take classes in learning and memory, cognition, personality and other specialized fields to help them explore their areas of interest. UCLA graduates typically earn an average starting salary of $45,000, increasing to $77,000 at the mid-career level.
3. Washington University-St. Louis
Established in 1853, Washington University is well-known for offering students a quality education. In addition to being one of the best schools in the country for psychology majors, the university is ranked 19 th in the nation in terms of overall quality.
The Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences has four primary research programs: Aging and Development; Behavior, Brain and Cognition; Clinical Psychology and Social/Personality. Students graduating with a degree in psychology from WUSTL go on to careers that earn an average starting salary of $48,000.
4. Vanderbilt University
Founded in 1873, Vanderbilt has a long history of providing students with a quality education. The social science programs are the largest at Vanderbilt, with psychology being among the most popular.
Psychology majors are challenged to analyze and solve social and psychological problems using the theories and critical thinking skills they acquire in the classroom. This knowledge translates to the real world, and Vanderbilt graduates find jobs earning a mid-career salary of $86,000.
Dig deeper into College Factual s psychology ratings with this interactive tool.
5. Princeton University
Princeton University is a highly selective, independent research university known for its excellent education. The psychology program offers numerous undergraduate research opportunities, which allow students can work closely with faculty members on projects.
Students take classes that study thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to further understand human and animal emotion and interactions. The undergraduate program is designed to prepare students for successful careers in the psych field by providing hands-on experience through independent work during the junior and senior years.
Psychology graduates from Princeton earn an average starting salary of $45,000 and average mid-career salary of $94,000.
6. University of Pennsylvania
Founded in 1740, the University of Pennsylvania is among the oldest in the United States and has spent decades providing a strong education to all students. It is a research institution that has a strong focus on interdisciplinary curriculums.
Penn is home to many exceptional programs ranked among the top ten in the country, including its psychology program. As the oldest continuously functioning psych department in North America, the Penn program has a strong history of developing leaders in the field.
Students learn about the mind and the various ways we respond to outside factors. The school offers the best earnings boost for psychology majors with graduates making $45,000 out of college and $79,000 at the mid-career level.
7. Duke University
Duke University has a strong track record for developing future leaders. A popular and challenging major at Duke is the psychology program. Undergraduate students have the option to focus on abnormal/health, biological, cognitive, developmental or social psychology and take classes within their concentration.
With an affordable net price and best earnings boost, Duke is a good value for your money. The mid-career salary of Duke psychology graduates is the highest on this list at $101,000. Students fresh out of college can expect an average earning of $43,000.
8. Yale University
Yale University is an Ivy League school that often tops the list of best colleges. One of its best programs is the undergraduate psychology program. Along with a variety of psych classes, Yale offers research opportunities that give students the ability to dig deeper into the field.
Psych majors are given the chance to analyze why humans and animals think and act like they do. Theories and ideas are taken out of the classroom and applied to real world situations. The university is a good value for your money because it provides an excellent education that leads to a starting salary around $44,000 and mid-career salary of $91,000.
9. University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
The University of North Carolina was chartered in 1789 and is one of the oldest public universities in the United States. The school’s 729-acre campus has won numerous awards for its architectural beauty. Due to its academic excellence and in-state tuition discount, the university is considered a great value for your money.
The Department of Psychology and Neuroscience has about 1,600 undergraduate majors with over 200 of them working with faculty on research projects. Upon graduation, majors go on to earn an average starting salary of $40,000.
10. University of Virginia
The University of Virginia’s Department of Psychology has research studies in clinical, cognitive, community, developmental, quantitative, neuroscience and behavior, and social psychology. Study abroad programs are available for students who want to gain a more varied perspective of their field of focus.
The university has a freshman retention rate of 97% – that’s one of the in the country. UVA has a reputation for quality and a very reasonable net price, making it a super value for in-state students. With this excellent foundation, psychology majors earn an average starting salary of $41,000.
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