Top Schools for Psychology
Psychology is a very popular area of study in the U.S. and nearly every university will offer a degree in psychology or at least offer some psychology courses. But not all schools are equally prestigious and well-respected. For international students who are interested in studying psychology in the U.S., it is important to find out which programs offer them the best place to study and the best chance at success.
As always, one should contact individual departments and obtain as much information as possible about the faculty, students, teaching duties, etc. before making a decision about where to study. There is more to one's educational experience than prestige. Still, prestige is an important factor and a key element in determining the quality of one's education. With these thoughts in mind, let us turn to the top schools for psychology for undergraduate programs and graduate programs in the US.
When it comes to undergraduate programs, the top schools for psychology are spread out across much of the U.S. From Stanford University on the West Coast to the University of Michigan in the Midwest, to Yale University in the Northeast, international students will find that there is are very good psychology programs in nearly any geographical area in which they would like to study. Stanford, Yale, and Michigan are among the very best programs, so there is a lot of competition to get in and high standards for applicants.
Many other programs offer excellent educational opportunities and will be open to a broader range of students. In fact, at the undergraduate level, the level of instruction at a program does not vary as much as rankings might suggest. This is in part because rankings often depend upon the quality of the research output of faculty members in a program, and does not necessarily reflect how good the faculty members are as instructors.
Also, many of the courses one must take as an undergraduate psychology major or minor are virtually the same no matter which school one attends. For instance, nearly every program in the U.S. requires a course on research methods and on statistical methods in psychology. The best schools in psychology offer a broad range of courses beyond these, of course, but one can receive a great undergraduate education in psychology at many schools besides those at the very top of the rankings.
The National Research Council (NRC) provides a ranking of undergraduate programs for studying psychology in the U.S. that international students might find useful.
Many schools with the best undergraduate programs, such as Stanford and Yale, are among the top schools for psychology graduate programs, as well. While many graduate programs offer great educational opportunities, it is fair to say that the prestige or ranking of one's graduate program is more important than it is for an undergraduate program, particularly for international students who are interested in careers as a university instructor or researcher.
Also, specialty rankings take on increased importance as students will be expected to become experts in narrower areas of study within psychology. Thus, standards of admittance and competition to get into a top graduate school are extremely high.
Students should have a good grasp of their chances at getting into the graduate school of their choice, which can be based on their success while completing their undergraduate degree. A good graduate degree is often required if one intends to move on to a career as a university instructor or researcher. Thus, it is especially important to be aware of the quality of one's graduate program.
U.S. News provides a ranking of top schools for psychology graduate programs in psychology as well as a specialty rankings list to help evaluate top tier schools.