Psychology & Degree Programs
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- Psychologists, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, accessed September 19, 2017, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm
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- Professional organization pages, accessed September 19, 2017: About APA, American Psychological Association, http://www.apa.org/about/index.aspx; Become an AACAP Member, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, http://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Member_Resources/Membership_Information/Home.aspx?hkey=2b59912a-1f68-4db2-b035-e4be2d01ba6f; About Us, Association for Behavior Analysis International, https://www.abainternational.org/about-us.aspx;
- APA Summer Undergraduate Psychology Research Experience Grants, American Psychological Association, accessed September 19, 2017, http://www.apa.org/about/awards/undergraduate-research-opportunity.aspx?tab=2
An understanding of human behavior and its motivations can be a great asset to nearly any career with a human element. Additionally, the coursework necessary to earn a degree in psychology is a time-tested way to work toward that understanding. Although the exact trajectory of a psychology degree program tends to depend on the focus of the curriculum, students typically acquire knowledge and skills in research, critical thinking, data literacy and the concepts, theories and findings of psychological inquiry.
If you're one of the many prospective students who worry that continuing your education might interfere with your existing responsibilities to work and family, don't forget to look into online psychology degrees. Many online degrees for psychology students have open schedules, allowing you to view lectures and complete assignments at your own pace and interact digitally with professors and classmates whenever you need guidance.
Best Colleges for Psychology Degree Programs
We did a quantitative analysis of National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) data on more than 1,300 institutions that offer psychology degree programs, then ranked their total scores to come up with the top 10 schools for psychology degrees. Click the button to read about our methodology, and read on below for some info on the best campus-based and online degrees for psychology students.
The Sarasota, Florida, campus of the nationally distributed for-profit institution Argosy University placed near the top on multiple metrics of our analysis. The prominence of psychology degrees among its graduates and its student-faculty ratio both landed at the No. 1 spot on our list in their respective categories, and just one other school in our top ten had a better graduation rate.
Argosy University - Sarasota was also one of the best colleges for online psychology degrees, reporting nearly 70 percent of students institution wide took at least some of their courses in the virtual classroom. Students in the psychology bachelor's degree program can choose among six concentrations to enhance their studies, including human services, substance abuse, organizational psychology and child and adolescent studies.
The second-lowest average cost of tuition and fees can be found at our No. 2 school, a medium-small institution in North Carolina where psychology was one of the three most popular majors in 2015. The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in psychology at the University of North Carolina at Asheville focuses on general psychology and includes an internship option that provides an intensive fieldwork experience in the final year of the program.
UNC Asheville also makes undergraduate research opportunities available to psychology students, providing some early practice on an important part of psychological scholarship that's typically more prominent in graduate and post-graduate study. Students may assist faculty members with their research or embark on their own projects under faculty supervision.
This private, Christian faith-based institution in Blue Mountain, Mississippi, was founded in 1873 as an academy for women and became fully co-educational in 2005. As a small school -- fewer than 150 total degrees were awarded there in 2015 -- Blue Mountain College offers an intimate learning atmosphere with an average class size of just 15 students and an agreeable student-faculty ratio of 11:1.
The Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in psychology at BMC includes 30 credit hours of major subject coursework, including abnormal psychology, experimental psychology, theories of personality, family psychology and human growth and development. An internship section is encouraged but not mandatory for graduating seniors.
The Channel Islands campus of the California State University system only admitted its first class in 2002, but it's built a solid reputation for interdisciplinary learning and a commitment to student success. The lowest average tuition and fees cost among our top ten schools for psychology can be found here, as well as a graduation rate that just three other schools on our list could match.
The B.A. program in psychology at this coastal institution includes 12-13 credit hours of upper-division electives that you can use to focus your attention on specific areas of the discipline that interest you. Parenting, animal behavior, human motivation, psychology of art and artists, healthy aging and more are available to juniors and seniors at CSUCI.
This small satellite campus of Ohio State University came in at No. 3 on our affordability metric, charging students less than $7,150 per year on average for the basic enrollment expenses of university fees and tuition. It offers psychology degree programs as both B.S. and B.A. study plans, which differ primarily in terms of the type of general education courses needed to qualify for graduation.
Psychology students at Ohio State Marion are required to participate in a psychological study as a part of their introduction to psychology course, in order to experience firsthand what it's like to be a research subject. Researchers work with students throughout the process, explaining the purpose of each study and going over how the resulting data will be used to test the study's hypothesis.
Numerous opportunities to enrich your learning outside the classroom are available at St. Mary's College of Maryland, which had the No. 1 graduation rate among our ten best colleges for psychology. Degree programs at St. Mary's include opportunities for research experience, internships, attendance at psychological conferences, interdisciplinary laboratory courses and more.
Students at St. Mary's are given the option to study six distinct subjects within the field of psychology, including clinical psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology and biological psychology. As a capstone to their study, students participate in the St. Mary's Project (SMP) program -- a year-long, 8-credit exploration of a single topic that culminates in a written thesis.
Our list's second regional outpost of Ohio State University posted an average cost of tuition that tied for third in the affordability category. The bachelor's degree in psychology at Ohio State Lima aims to give students a broad overview of the discipline, providing an introduction to multiple areas in which they might choose to specialize during graduate study.
Under the aegis of the psychology department at Ohio State Lima, the institution runs an initiative called Project: Positivity that focuses on fostering an environment in which students can speak freely and honestly about mental health. Students are encouraged to use visual art, creative writing, formal essays and research summaries to relate their personal experiences.
Flexibility was one of the top categories for our No. 8 school. More than 60 percent of the students at Texas-based Lamar University took at least some of their courses via distance education in 2015, and it's one of the few schools on our list that offers traditional, campus-based courses on a weekend and evening schedule.
Lamar University structures its B.A. and B.S. programs in psychology each to suit different academic goals. The B.A. program is designed to be more flexible, preparing students for either continued study or a transition into the working world after graduation, while the B.S. is tailored for students who plan to apply to enter graduate school immediately after finishing their bachelor's.
Kean University was one of the larger schools that made our top ten, awarding more than 500 psychology degrees in 2015. The B.A. in psychology at the Union, New Jersey, institution is a 124-credit program that works to develop students' skills in observation, research, analysis and cognitive processing and prepare them for careers in human services.
The psychology department at Kean also offers a unique joint program with Rutgers University -- a dual B.S. in psychology and psychiatric rehabilitation. Completing a program of study in this specialty should prepare students not only to continue studying psychology at an elevated level but also to work within their communities to provide life skills and vocational rehabilitation for individuals who suffer from mental illness.
The smallest school on our list comes in at No. 10, where the psychology major takes an interdisciplinary route and includes an exploration of human communities and how they work. The undergraduate major in psychology and community studies at the University of Maine at Machias combines traditional classroom learning with fieldwork and internships to give students a well-rounded perspective on the discipline.
Two concentrations are available for psychology students at UMM. The applied psychology concentration is similar to a general psychology degree and includes opportunities for students to apply their knowledge in the field. The disabilities in youth concentration focuses on teaching students how to work with psychologically or emotionally disabled children in a range of settings that goes beyond the special education classroom.
Degrees and common career paths in psychology
A bachelor's degree in psychology can give you helpful skills for a wide range of careers on the wider market, but you'll need to go beyond an undergraduate degree before you can be licensed to practice psychology as a profession. Here are a few of the careers available to psychology graduates with a master's degree and above.
Master's degree in psychology
Most psychology students enter their chosen specialization in earnest once they reach the master's level, with degrees that concentrate on clinical, counseling, school, family and industrial-organizational psychology are more common than general psychology study plans. Theoretical concepts, research methods and ways to synthesize knowledge across disciplines are typically at the forefront of graduate programs in psychology.
- Clinical psychologists help people with both short-term and chronic issues and use their knowledge to assess and treat mental, emotional and behavioral disorders
- Counseling psychologists use talk therapy and other counseling approaches to help patients understand and deal with problems in their personal or professional lives
- Educational psychologists, also called school psychologists, work within scholastic institutions to assess students both individually and in groups and address learning or behavioral problems
Career outlook for psychology
Knowing how the job market is likely to look once you graduate can help you make the right decisions about your education while you're still in school. Here's a quick rundown of some employment projections for top psychology careers.
Expected Job Growth
|Psychology Teachers, Postsecondary||37,640||$84,440||15.8%|
|Psychologists, All Other||13,310||$94,650||9.8%|
|Training and Development Specialists||269,710||$63,350||7.5%|
Professional organizations for psychology
Professional organizations can help you grow your network, give you access to exclusive scholarship and research, provide you with professional development opportunities and more. Depending on the organization, you may be able to join a student chapter while on the path to your degree, maximizing the potential returns of forging relationships with esteemed members of your future profession. Here are just a few examples of the type of organizations available to students and graduates of psychology degree programs.
- The American Psychological Association (APA) is a large and long-standing organization that counts researchers, clinicians, educators, consultants and students among its members
- The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry works to provide resources and support to enhance the practice of youth psychiatry in the U.S. and worldwide
- The Association for Behavior Analysts International features job placement services, scholarly journals and professional events for scholars and practitioners of behavior analysis
Financial aid and scholarships in psychology
Numerous grants and scholarships may be available to psychology students who could use some help paying for school. For example, the APA provides institutions with grant funding to help provide summer research experiences to undergraduates. Here are a few other financial aid programs that might apply to your psychology program.
Renewable one time only.
Renewable one time only.