Psychology is the study behavior, personality and the functioning of the mind. This broad field is one of the most popular majors, and this is our analysis of the best colleges for psychology majors, with a listing of the top 20 in this field.
20 Best Colleges for Psychology
|University of Texas
|University of Michigan
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology
|University of Pennsylvania
|University of Illinois
|University of California - Los Angeles
|University of California - Berkeley
|University of Minnesota
|University of Chicago
|The Ohio State University
|University of Washington
|University Of Wisconsin
More information on our RealRankTM analytics used in creating this ranking can be found on the About page.
Share your personal experience with any of these universities in the conversation below.
What is a Psychology Major
Psychology majors typically focus on one of the specialties listed below, or at minimum cover one in a thesis paper. Although psychology is not a “hard”science, like many fields, science and technology increasingly have become important, with the fields of cognitive science an neuroscience providing some of the top opportunities for students majoring in psych. Among the specialties within the psychology field are:
- Clinical Psychology
- Applied Psychology
- Cognitive Science
- Community Psychology
- Developmental and Pediatric Psychology
- Industrial and Organizational Psychology
- Animal Psychology
Economic Value of A Major in Psychology
Psychology is a hugely popular major. After all many people are fascinated with how their mind, and works, and how their friends’ minds work, or how they can be attractive in others’ perceptions. This is a natural lure of the field. However, there are some difficult facts that go along with this popularity.
Here are some of these hard facts about psychology as an undergraduate major. I hate to be blunt about it, but sometimes good advice requires it. First of all, many colleges use the basic introduction to psychology course as a “weeder” course. In other words, it may be graded on a low scale to weed out students who are not considered serious enough for actually majoring in the field.
Then even if you decide to continue on and get a degree in psychology, the job prospects for undergraduate psychology majors tends to b quite limited. Why is this? There are fewer jobs than the number of graduates pumped out by the universities. The consequence of this is two-fold:
- Lower starting salaries, and,
- Graduate School required.
In fact, for most people who major in psychology, the undergraduate degree is just the first step. Many go on to get an advanced degree in the field, or they go on to other fields, such as law, biology or medicine.
For those who want to stay in the field of psychology as a career, most of the options require either a masters degree or Ph.D. in psychology to qualify:
- Clinical Psychologist
- Social Worker
- School Teacher
Advanced degrees typically are required for some other careers that have been popular with psych majors, including law and nursing.
Psychology is a Relatively Low Paying Career
Psychology, like other social sciences, is a relatively low paying career path for recent college graduates. In order to qualify for the higher paying jobs in the field, get an advanced degree. Of course, there are exceptions, and it may be possible to move into high paying positions with just hard work, skill, and even some luck. Because of the comparatively low earnings potential, our recommendation is that you avoid incurring a lot of college debt as an undergrad if you intend to pursue a career in psychology.
To minimize potential college debt in a lower paying career path like psychology may provide you might want to focus your undergraduate college search for universities that have a lower tuition cost and expense profile. You can determine that by looking at the tuition and cost estimators that many college websites provide. If the college you are interested in lacks an estimator on their site, a general rule is that sociology departments in public universities are less expensive. The public universities on our top 20 list below all provide real resume value and academics comparable to, if not better than, those in some of the more expensive universities.