Just about any career could benefit from the training offered by the best bachelor’s degrees in psychology.
Psychology is a vast field whose reach goes to the fundamentals of who we are and how we make decisions. Students could easily spend just four years just studying one of its variants, like developmental psychology or cognitive psychology. Studying a field so broad may sound challenging—with something so big, where do you start?—but it also affords a lot of opportunities, because psychological training is always an asset. That goes double in the social media age, where misinformation and polarization have made it critical to understand why people behave the way they do. Get started on your journey with one of the 20 best bachelor’s degrees in psychology.
What is a bachelor’s in psychology degree?
At many universities, the psychology department is part of the arts and sciences college, and they award a bachelor of arts degree that favors broad studies in psychology as part of a liberal arts education. Some universities also offer or only offer a bachelor of science degree, which goes deeper on science and math requirements. They almost all begin with introductory courses in psychology, research methods, and statistics. Core coursework can include topics like abnormal psychology or behavioral neuroscience, and expect to spend some time doing math (primarily statistics).
Expect to have lots of company too. In 2016-2017, nearly 117,000 bachelor’s in psychology degrees were awarded, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That’s led some schools, like UC-Berkeley, to cap the number of students that can major in it. At other schools, declaring it as a major is as simple as filling out some forms, though some require a formal application.
Tuition naturally varies, but the average cost per academic year for programs on our list is $21,648, with a median of $22,418. We use the school’s tuition as a base and factor in financial aid opportunities to arrive at a number for each university.
Careers for psychology majors
As Notre Dame puts it, “Many who graduate with a psychology major are not necessarily interested in a career as a psychologist.” Nearly every university in our top 20 of the best bachelor’s in psychology has some variation of this phrase on its website: “Students that graduate with a major in psychology acquire a wide range of knowledge and useful skills that allows them to find employment in many different areas.” (That version comes from the University of Illinois.) A “judicious selection” of psychology coursework provides an “excellent background” for careers in business, education, law, medicine, social work, and, well, psychology, according to Stanford, and Yale adds to that list politics and public policy, marketing, finance, and management. UNC-Chapel Hill tops them all with an exhaustive list of career options, complete with salary estimates and a detailed overview of what they do.
While so many careers are psychology-adjacent or use elements of psychology in their day-to-day work, the University of Iowa offers a word of caution. Students who don’t plan to pursue an advanced degree in psychology should “complement their psychology major with substantial preparation in another program more closely tied to the world of work,” such as social work, education, business, journalism, etc. It also notes that most psychology jobs require an advanced degree, which is why many students use their bachelor’s as a first step toward a master’s or doctorate.
Psychology degree salary potential
Because so many careers are psychology-related, pulling a simple number for a bachelor’s degree in the field is challenging. For instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics—that neverending fountain of employment data from the U.S. Department of Labor—has several classifications: psychologists; industrial-organizational psychologists; clinical, counseling, and school psychologists; and “psychologists, all other.” Salaries vary. The BLS shows psychologists having a median annual wage of $79,010, with 181,700 jobs in the U.S. as of 2018. The field is expected to grow by 14% through 2028 (much faster than the national average of 5%), which translates into an additional 26,100 jobs. In the other categories the BLS tracks, clinical, counseling, and school psychologists have the lowest average salary, $85,340. Industrial-organizational psychologists earn the most, $109,030, with the other categories falling in between.
Again, though, that data only applies to jobs that have “psychologist” in the title, and many people pursue other careers with a bachelor’s in psychology. A human resources manager, for example, earns a median salary of $113,300, according to the BLS. Social workers, $49,470. Training and development managers, $111,340. The short answer: Gauging salary potential for a psychology degree depends on how you intend to use it.
What are the best psychology degrees?
We know that you have educational goals that you’re itching to pursue, but you may not know where to start. The editors of CollegeRank utilize a unique ranking methodology based on the following three aspects:
40% Potential Salary After Graduation: Average mid-career salary of school alumni
30% Institutional Accreditation: Regional and National Accreditation for the 2019-2020 school year
30% Overall Degree Affordability: Average cost of undergraduate and graduate tuition per school
At CollegeRank, we strive to do our best to guide you and your family toward a fruitful academic career. The pursuit of knowledge is a noble one, and we want to help you reach your goals. Please feel free to visit our dedicated methodology page for a step-by-step breakdown. For questions, comments, badge downloads, or data corrections, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com.
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Widely recognized as one of the best schools in the country, Stanford University doesn’t have to do a lot of selling to convince people to apply there. It’s well known and respected (U.S. News and World Report ranks it No. 6 for National Universities), it has a beautiful, Silicon Valley-adjacent location in northern California, and boasts a list of notable alumni so long it has a subsection for astronauts.
Stanford’s psychology program is unsurprisingly robust, offering four optional concentrations (cognitive sciences; health and development; mind, culture, and society; and neuroscience) as part of its 70-credit curriculum. Coursework begins with two introductory courses (one for psychology and one for statistics), then five core courses. Those are chosen from a field of 10, which the school divides into Area A (perception and cognition) and Area B (focus areas like developmental, social, cultural, and clinical psychology). Students also take one “Writing in Major” course, then fill out the remaining credits with concentration courses or electives. Stanford also offers undergrads opportunities to conduct independent research or spend their summers working on research projects.
The university packs a lot in for a reasonable price: $16,562, well below average and median costs for the programs offering the 20 best bachelor’s degrees in psychology.
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Can we really understand the minds of others? How do memories form and how do we forget? How do we perceive the physical world? Are we rational beings, or only boundedly so? Also, what does “boundedly” mean? With the exception of that last one, these are among the questions students in Harvard’s psychology program attempt to answer.
Students choose from one of three concentration tracks: general (most popular), cognitive science (to focus on mind/brain behavior), and cognitive neuroscience and evolutionary psychology, abbreviated CNEP (a mix of psychology and biology coursework). A thesis is required for cognitive science and optional for the other tracks. Beyond the concentration, Harvard also offers a “secondary field” option, kind of like a minor within psychology.
To help students, the program follows what it calls a “structured course progression,” a sort of map of how to proceed “to get the most out of our courses.” That sounds fancy, but it’s pretty obvious: Start with an introductory course (Psychology 1), move to foundational ones (Cognitive Neuroscience, Social Psychology, etc.), then choose advanced courses (a.k.a. electives) in specialized areas. Each track has 12 courses, or 14 with a thesis. Doing a secondary field adds six more classes.
Considering Harvard’s stature and intensity, exorbitant tuition would be expected. But at $17,030, it’s well below average for our top 20. Who says elite education has to be financially crushing?
New Haven, Connecticut
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The website for Yale’s psychology program is all business: no photos, a mountain of text, and only two colors—blue and white. It’s a site that could exist now or in 1996, and it seems to intimate one thing: Come to Yale to work, pal.
Within the broader field of psychology, Yale focuses on clinical, cognitive, developmental, neuroscientific, and social psychology. But it has no specializations other than a standalone neuroscience track.
In general, the psychology major requires 12 courses beyond the prerequisite introductory survey. Students then choose two social science-based and two natural science-based courses from a long list of options, which they take early in their studies. A statistics course is also required, as is at least one covering the basics of planning and conducting research. Up to three more come from “related departments toward the major.” It culminates with a “senior requirement” for two credits that involves writing a final paper. The neuroscience coursework track differs a little, with biology, data collection, and science courses added.
Students doing the standard major will earn either a BA (if they conduct a nonempirical literature review senior year) or a BS (if they design and conduct an empirical research project). Neuroscience trackers have to do a research project.
Phew, got all that? Maybe this will help: Like No. 1 and 2 on our list, Yale is surprisingly cheap: $18,053.
University of Pennsylvania
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There’s having history, then there’s being the first American higher-learning institution to be designated a university. That’s the case with Penn in Philadelphia, which earned that status in 1779 in the midst of the Revolutionary War. That’s serious history, with a pretty serious pricetag: $24,539. History doesn’t come cheap!
The psychology degree requires 13 major credits – 33 are needed for the bachelor’s – beginning with an introductory course (Introduction to Experimental Psychology). As the university notes, the curriculum progresses from students reading textbooks that summarize topics to actually reading empirical research firsthand. They also conduct research either through a structured Research Experience or faculty-assisted Independent Study.
The curriculum includes one course each focused on the biological, cognitive, and individual/group bases of behavior, a lecture course, a research experience (or independent study), a statistics course, and four electives (two of which can be non-psychology). The School of Arts & Sciences also encourages psych majors to take seminars, where they can explore topics in small groups.
University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign
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Psychology is such a vast field of study that it helps to have a concentration to act as a toehold. Illinois offers ten such toeholds for only $16,638. That’s only $1,663 per concentration!
Students earning their BS in psychology in Urbana-Champaign have tons of options: behavioral neuroscience, clinical/community psychology, cognitive psychology, cognitive neuroscience, developmental psychology, diversity science, intradisciplinary psychology, organizational psychology, personality psychology, and social psychology.
Psychology classes provide 32-36 hours of the 120 needed for graduation. The curriculum comprises an introductory course, one in statistics, three core courses (two for general psychology and one for the concentration), and another on research methods. Four electives dig deeper into the concentration. Except for intradisciplinary psychology, each concentration has a research methods course designed specifically for it. The breakdown of classes differs slightly by concentration. Students also have the opportunity to participate in research projects via lab work.
Because Illinois is one of few states that allows psychologists to prescribe psychotropic drugs if they have extra training, students have the option to take roughly eight additional courses to meet the academic requirements for that certification.
University of Florida
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Among the rankings the University of Florida in Gainesville earns from U.S. News and World Report, which includes No. 34 for National Universities and No. 7 in Top Public Schools, is a spot on the Best Value Schools list (No. 110). UF does offer a good bang for your buck: At $15,283, it’s the fourth cheapest option in our top 20. But it’s No. 1 in puns: “We are an unstoppable force for the Gator good,” boasts its website.
Florida’s BS in psychology “emphasizes the principles and applications of psychological knowledge,” in both the natural and social sciences sense. That’s reflected in the three specialization it offers: general psychology, behavior analysis, and behavioral and cognitive neuroscience. The latter two focus more on natural science, with behavioral and cognitive requiring more math and biology courses than the others. All of them require at least 36 psychology credits, though UF also offers an online BA in psychology for 30 credits.
As expected, the general psychology track takes a wider approach, mixing foundation course work (including biology and research methods) with cognitive and social psychology, along with required courses in statistics, math, and biology. The specializations require more lab courses as part of their curriculum.
Durham, North Carolina
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Mentions of Duke spike every March as the perennial college-basketball powerhouse makes its inevitable appearance in the NCAA tournament, but Duke itself has long been a powerhouse among private universities. U.S. News and World Report ranks it No. 10 for National Universities, No. 26 in Most Innovative Schools, No. 31 for First-Year Experiences, and No. 8 in Best Value Schools. (Its $22,011 tuition places it right at the median for our top 20.)
Duke’s Trinity College of Arts & Sciences offers two varieties of psychology degrees: a BA and a BS. Both share the same 11-course foundation: an introductory course, a research methods one, another in quantitative techniques (statistics, math, etc.), two in “breadth” (which cover “major areas of the discipline”), three in “depth” (i.e., advanced study), at least one seminar, and electives. To those, the BS adds an additional quantitative course and five natural-science electives, for a total of 17 courses.
The school encourages all students to develop their research skills via a research practicum or independent study as well. Looking to do more? Duke suggests Graduation with Distinction, where students write a thesis to be evaluated by faculty.
New York City, New York
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Columbia University—or Columbia University in the City of New York if you’re not into the whole brevity thing—has something specific in mind for its psychology program. Nine discrete goals, in fact, that graduates should accomplish by commencement. We won’t list all of them here, but they’re a hearty mix broad knowledge, research methods, critical thinking, and more. In short, Columbia is not messing around.
The program requires at least 30 points to graduate, broadly divided into foundational, distribution, and seminars/electives. The foundational ones are the usual mélange of psychology, statistics, and research-method basics. “Distribution” comprises three groups of courses, and students take one from each: perception and cognition; psychobiology and neuroscience; and social, personality, and abnormal. Electives and a seminar round out the credit requirements.
In their sophomore year, ambitious students can apply for the Honors Program, where they get experience in “the design, conduct, and analysis of research through direct involvement in the laboratory” of a faculty member. The program begins junior year and continues until the end of senior year.
An elite university founded in 1754 and located in the nation’s most expensive city seems like it’d be prohibitively expensive, but Columbia comes in just above the median for the 20 best bachelor’s in psychology at $22,824.
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We’re guessing Rice University in Houston is the only school on this list whose founder was “chloroformed to death” by his personal valet. That’s not the backstory most Ivy League-caliber universities have, but everything’s different in Texas.
Although “understanding a sociopath” doesn’t fall into the three “learning outcomes” Rice outlines for its BA in psychology, maybe that goes unsaid? The program aims to imbue graduates with a broad understanding of the field, from research methods to key concepts to applications.
The degree requires 47 hours of major coursework (and 120 total), or 15 psych courses. Aside from five “introduction to” core classes everyone has to take—psychology, social psychology, cognitive psychology, statistical methods, and research methods—students choose their own adventure. They select 10 courses from a lengthy list of psychology classes with titles like Cognitive Neuroscience: Exploring the Living Brain, Stress/Health Across Lifespan, and something called Non-Traditional Interfaces (about nonvisual computer interfaces). There are also research options.
At $24,131, Rice costs a bit more than the median price of the list, but remains fairly reasonable for a private university.
Providence, Rhode Island
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An Ivy League school in Providence, RI, Brown has a reputation as an elite university—U.S. News and World Report ranks it No. 14 in National Universities—that isn’t as stodgy as the designation may imply. It embraces “open curriculum,” which allows students to “develop a personalized course of study” for their “concentrations,” which is what Brown calls majors.
In the psychology concentration, the open curriculum format means lots of course options. The school awards A.B. and Sc.B. degrees, which are the abbreviations for the fancy Latin names for BA and BS degrees. The A.B./BA requires 12 courses, the Sc.B./BS 17, thanks to an additional lab course and four extra science ones.
Each track has the same basics: two introductory courses, then one for each section of foundation courses (social/personality, perception/cognition, development, learning/animal behavior/behavioral neuroscience), four electives, and one independent study or seminar. Each foundation has at least three course offerings. For example, in Perception/Cognition students would choose from Human Cognition, Brain Damage and the Mind, or Perception and Mind. Electives offer the best opportunity to further personalize the curriculum, with a long list of 17 possible options.
At $25,651, Brown is on the pricier side, which is to be expected for the Ivy League.
Carnegie Mellon University
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How much would you pay to live in Pittsburgh and earn a BS or BA in psychology? How about $29,817? Yes, it’s the third priciest on our list, but does it help if we say Carnegie Mellon ranks No. 25 in National Universities by U.S. News and World Report?
Maybe let the school make its case. According to Carnegie Mellon, its psychology program from others is distinguished by “a focus on both critical consumption and generation of research ideas and acquisition of research skills.” Both the BA and BS tracks take two research methods courses to get up to speed. Their curricula are identical except for the two extra natural sciences courses required by the BS.
What else is required? Some surprises, like calculus and computer programming. But a lot of the usual stuff: an intro to psychology, statistics (for two semesters), two psychology survey courses, two research methods courses, two or four science ones, and three electives.
Which courses to choose? Maybe let a concentration be your guide: learning and developmental psychology, cognitive, quantitative, social/health, social/personality, cognitive neuroscience, and clinical psychology. Each has its own curriculum path, though concentrations are entirely optional.
Ithaca, New York
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While it may take years for a generation not to immediately think “Andy Bernard” anytime they hear “Cornell,” the Ivy League school embraced the notoriety bestowed on it by The Office’s loveable doofus—Ed Helms even gave a commencement address there in 2014. But Cornell has been in Ithaca, NY, since 1865, so six seasons of a sitcom is but a footnote in its history.
The school’s psychology degree requires 40 major credits, which includes prerequisites, a statistics course, and at least one class from each of the degree’s focus areas: perception, cognition and development; behavioral and evolutionary neuroscience; and social and personality psychology. Students are also encouraged to do an independent study or field work, which can count for up to 12 credits.
Cornell also offers concentrations in behavioral and evolutionary science (a.k.a. biopsychology) as well as personality and social psychology. The former requires additional coursework in biology, physical sciences, and mathematics. The latter has no additional requirements, but allows students to count some courses in anthropology, economics, and sociology toward their major credits.
Students who want to pursue psychological research more deeply can apply for the Honors Program, where they design and conduct an empirical research project (with the help of a faculty mentor).
If you plan to head to Ithaca, plan to bring a lot of money. Its tuition is $31,449, the second most expensive among the 20 best bachelor’s degrees in psychology.
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Likely the only university on this list founded by a man called “the Commodore,” Vanderbilt University lies in Nashville, and thus lies close to a number of restaurants serving the city’s famous hot chicken. Plan to factor in extra money for that on top of the school’s $23,295 tuition.
When it comes to psychology, Vanderbilt’s College of Arts and Science keeps it pretty simple: a BA in psychology with an Honors Program option. No concentrations. The major coursework adds up to 36 hours and requires a General Psychology course, one in Experimental Design, another in Quantitative Methods, four “distribution courses” (from six options, nearly all with “psychology” in their name—abnormal, cognitive, social, etc.), and five electives.
During sophomore year, ambitious students can apply to the Honors Program, where they gain “intensive experience” conducting research with a faculty mentor. It involves “working extensively” in a lab during their junior and senior years, participating in the Honors Seminar, and climaxes with writing and defending a thesis. The extra work tacks on six more credit hours to the degree, for a total of 42.
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, Indiana
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One of the more famous American universities, Notre Dame—located next to South Bend, IN—is known for football, “Touchdown Jesus,” and golden helmets. Academics is up there somewhere too, though psychology students could easily occupy themselves by studying the passion of Notre Dame fandom among students and alumni.
Calling psychology a “remarkably broad science,” the university focuses its curriculum on quantitative and research methods, per its website, to “achieve a balance among basic psychological principles, research methods and theories, and their applications.”
The BA requires a minimum of 30 credit hours in psychology coursework, but only nine of those come from required courses (a psych seminar and Experimental Psychology I and II). Like some other schools, Notre Dame gives students a lot of leeway to tailor their degree—in this case, 21 hours of leeway. There is some structure to it, of course. Twelve hours must come from two areas of study: social and developmental processes, and biological and learning processes. Six additional hours come from senior-level seminars that are writing and reading intensive, and then another three elective hours finish it off. Within those buckets, students have a variety of courses they can choose. There’s also a thesis option, a year-long investigation that culminates in “a substantial written product” evaluated by a thesis advisor and randomly selected faculty member.
At $27,453, Notre Dame is on the more expensive end for the schools on this list, not surprising given the school’s notoriety.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
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One of the nation’s great public universities (No. 29 in U.S. News and World Report) in one of the best college towns around, UNC-Chapel Hill also has something else going for it: affordability. The cheapest program in our top 20, it costs $11,100, more than $10,000 below the list’s average. The combination of a great school, city, and tuition price makes UNC-Chapel Hill hard to beat, even before you know anything about the program.
But here are some details about that. The school aims to provide a broad education in psychology with a “focus on the statistical and research tools used in contemporary psychological research,” per its mission statement. It awards BA and BS in psychology degrees, with both of them sharing core courses. The BA requires introductory courses in psychology, statistics, and research methods, a trio of upper-level psychology courses, some biology, physical science, and math courses, and four from the major’s program areas (behavioral and integrative neuroscience, clinical psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, and social psychology).
The BS delves deeper into the scientific program areas, requiring courses in cognitive psychology and behavioral and integrative neuroscience. There are also two more from clinical, developmental, or social psychology. It also requires certain biology and math courses, along with some lab courses.
During their junior year, students looking to do more can apply to Senior Honors Program, during which they’ll conduct an independent research project. Juniors and seniors can also apply to the “prestigious, highly competitive” Karen M. Gil Internship Program, which places students at a job in the Research Triangle area with a monthly stipend and three hours of credit toward their major.
University of Oregon
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Located in Eugene, in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, the University of Oregon has a great nickname (the Ducks) and one of the most beautiful campuses in the Pacific Northwest. It’s also the third cheapest option on our list: $15,100. Bring an umbrella, though.
The College of Arts and Sciences—“the academic and intellectual hub of the University of Oregon”— awards a BA and BS in psychology that requires 68 credits to graduate. The school divides its upper-level courses into four areas: research skills and methodologies (statistics, research methods), breadth in the major (Cognition, Social Psychology, Psychopathology, etc.), “broad interest” courses (perhaps Music and the Brain or Human Sexuality), and speciality courses (lab work, research, practicums, field studies, etc.).
BA students take five introductory courses (at four credits each), three methods foundations courses, three breadth courses, and three specialty courses. Add on 12 credits of upper-division electives, and you have yourself a degree. BS students take the same types of courses, though the options are slightly different.
Like other schools on this list, Oregon offers an Honors Program that provides students with the option to conduct research and write a thesis.
University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa
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Routinely ranked as one of the best cities to live—most recently No. 19, according to Money—Iowa City is home to the University of Iowa, itself a competitor in various rankings (No. 84 in National Universities, No. 34 in Top Public Schools, per U.S. News and World Report). It’s also home to the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library, if you’re dying to know more about the 31st president.
Iowa’s psychology coursework focuses on five areas: behavioral and cognitive neuroscience, clinical psychology, developmental science, cognition and perception, and personality and social psychology. It offers a BA (less focused on methodology) and BS (emphasizes research and natural sciences), with the BA requiring 46-47 credit hours of major coursework and the BS 55-57.
Both degrees cover a lot of the same ground, with introductory courses in topics like behavioral neuroscience, clinical psychology, developmental science, and social and cognitive psychology, along with three upper-level psych electives. But BA students supplement that with a computer science or statistics course and, interestingly, a concentration outside of psychology that requires three courses. BS students dig deeper into the technical stuff with calculus, an advanced course in computer science, mathematics, or statistics, a couple of natural science courses (biology, chemistry, or physics), a psych seminar, and a psych lab.
That sounds like a lot, but it costs comparatively little: $14,845, the second cheapest program in the top 20.
University of California – Berkeley, California
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Ranked No. 2 for Best Public Schools by U.S. News and World Report—and No. 22 in National Universities—UC-Berkeley has long been a hotbed of intellectual and social progressivism, as well as one of the most competitive schools in the country.
That doesn’t stop once you get accepted to the university. Because psychology is a high-demand major, the university caps the number of students who can choose it. Getting in isn’t too stringent: Students who have a 3.2 GPA in prerequisite courses, declare the major by their fifth semester, and submit their application by the deadline are guaranteed admission. Others who don’t meet those standards may still get in, but it’s not guaranteed.
The curriculum emphasizes six areas of research: behavioral systems and neuroscience, clinical science, cognition, cognitive neuroscience, developmental, and social-personality psychology. But it’s not limited to those; it’s designed to provide a broad basis for psychological study. The school divides the curriculum into three tiers: tier I, prerequisites (eight courses); tier II, survey (five); and tier III, electives (three). The prereqs draw from biological science, neuropsychology, social sciences, psychology research, and quantitative courses (math/statistics). The tier II courses comprise at least one class from five study areas: biological, cognitive and development, social/personality, and clinical. Tier III, the electives, pull from upper-level psych courses.
Like research? Berkeley offers an Honors Program requires independent research and “a thesis of high quality” with a faculty mentor. Honors students also required to take several additional classes in independent research, an honors seminar, statistics, and a “special study” course.
While getting into UC-Berkeley is tricky, at least it’s affordable: At $18,178, it lies significantly below the list’s average and median prices for the 20 best bachelor’s degrees in psychology.
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, California
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While some…unpleasantness has thrust the University of Southern California into headlines, the school remains in the upper tier of American universities, the kind of place that reads well on a résumé no matter the major. It’s just that students pay a hefty price for that distinction: $32,892, the most expensive program on our list.
As if to justify the expense, the Dana and David Dornslife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences lays out a long explanation of learning objectives for psychology majors, which we’ll boil down to this: Know your stuff and behave ethically. Students get into the particulars of knowing their stuff and behaving ethically during their 48-credit odyssey in South Central Los Angeles.
The coursework begins with three “lower division” introductory courses in statistics and psychology for 12 credits. The “upper division” coursework starts with two experimental research methods classes, then four courses from five subsections of psychology: cognitive, developmental, clinical, biological, and social. (Stress, Health, and the Mind-Body Connection sounds interesting.) The degree work caps off with two more high-level psych courses chosen by the student (such as Child Language Acquisition or Neuropsychology).
Like a lot of other schools on this list, USC offers an Honors Program that entails the usual stuff: a research project and thesis. Students apply first semester of junior year and usually spend the following summer and fall conducting research. They spend part of their final semester writing their thesis.
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Northwestern has long enjoyed a reputation as one of the nation’s best universities—U.S. News and World Report ranks it No. 9 in National Universities—and its location in the northern Chicago suburb of Evanston, IL, mixes the best of college-town life and big-city opportunity. It’s not known for affordability, with its $26,099 tuition making it the fifth most expensive program on our list. But it has historical bona fides: Northwestern likely hosted the first psychology course at an American university, all the way back in 1857.
These days the Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences awards a BA in psychology that offers flexibility for student interests. Coursework begins with three introductory courses (in psych, statistics, and research methods), then expands to eight courses from three areas: social/personality/clinical, cognitive/neuroscience, and cross-cutting/integrative. Northwestern uses an imposing, multi-columned table to spell out all the requirements and courses, but the short version is that students take at least four courses from social/personality/clinical and cognitive/neuroscience and at least one from cross-cutting/integrative. Classes include general stuff (Psychopathology or The Brain & Cognition) to others like The Holocaust: Psychological Themes & Perspectives, along with research courses. Five additional classes round out the degree work, with at least two in math along with computer science and other options.
Although Northwestern doesn’t have an official honors program, some students can conduct advanced research with a faculty advisor ahead of a senior thesis, which is by invitation only.
If you’re interested in pursuing higher education, then you should check out the 20 best online psychology degree programs and the top 10 online masters in counseling degree programs!