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The Top Quantitative Psychology Degree Schools

by John Huddle

Students with training from top schools in quantitative psychology have a wide-open and satisfying future in most psychology specialties and across other disciplines. Many disciplines need quantitative psychologists to solve difficult problems. For instance, psychometric measurement tells us if an academic intervention results in reading progress. Statistical modeling predicts which mental illnesses are most prone to suicide, while program evaluation determines if mental health interventions result in longitudinal progress. According to the American Psychological Association, there is increasing demand for new quantitative psychologists as many experienced quantitative psychologists retire.

Top-Ranked Programs

The top programs in quantitative psychology showed general agreement between the 2013 rankings by "U.S. News and World Report's" doctoral programs in psychology, "QS Top Universities" for psychology, “Times Higher Education” World University Rankings for social sciences and CWTS Leiden rankings for social sciences and humanities, combined with the APA list of doctoral programs. QS, Leiden and "Times Higher Education" provide rankings focused on research in psychology or social sciences, a major component of quantitative psychology. The top programs prepare graduates for subspecialties within quantitative psychology, although all programs overlap.

Programs in Psychometrics

Programs in psychometrics emphasize the measurement of psychological variables. The University of California at Los Angeles, ranked No. by “U.S. News and World Report” and 12th by "Times Higher Education," offers a Ph.D. in quantitative psychology. This highly individualized program focuses on theory in measurement, statistics and modeling, providing the opportunity to affiliate with the Advanced Quantitative Methods program. Florida State University, ranked 60th by “U.S. News and World Report” and 76th by Leiden, provides a Ph.D. in measurement and statistics. Students specialize in educational measurement or statistics for work in test development, academia, research or measurement activities in school districts.

Programs in Statistics

Programs in statistics explore statistical modeling and prediction of the psychological processes. Purdue University, ranked 46th by “U.S. News and World Report” and 183rd by Leiden, offers a Ph.D. in psychological sciences with a concentration in mathematical and computer cognitive science. Students learn theory and gain research skills in areas like perception, neuroscience, memory and decision-making within the department and in other disciplines, like robotics, linguistics and artificial intelligence. Baylor University, ranked 101st by “U.S. News and World Report,” offers a Ph.D. in Psychometric and Quantitative Psychology. Students receive a balance between statistical theory and methods with a focus on research, consulting and teaching in biostatistics, industry or academia. Students engage in a number of research projects in institutional and government settings.

Programs in Evaluation

Programs in evaluation focus on assessing programs or services. The University of British Columbia, ranked 24th by QS, 41st by Leiden and 19th by "Times Higher Education," offers a Ph.D. in quantitative methods. Besides rigorous course work in measurement and data analysis, students have teaching opportunities plus extensive training and experience in research. Students are also expected to develop expertise in substantive areas of psychology, such as behavioral neuroscience. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, ranked 12th according to “U.S. News and World Report” and 25th by "Times Higher Education," offers a Ph.D. in measurement, statistics and research design with a focus on the development, evaluation and application of novel quantitative and research methods. The program is designed to offer flexibility to accommodate student’s interests, plus students are encouraged to have an interest in a substantive area of psychology and a minor, like biostatistics.

About the Author

John Huddle is an Army veteran with enlisted service as general hospital staff and hospital chaplain's assistant. His career also included stints as a teacher, adjunct faculty, administrator and school psychologist. Twice, Dr. Huddle was a major party nominee for state office. He also served as a director on several nonprofit boards. Today he enjoys consulting and lobbying for underdog causes.

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