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What Are the Top Ranking Undegraduate Schools for Psychology?

by Susan Sherwood, studioD

Psychology is a popular undergraduate major at colleges and universities. When preparing applications, potential students might consider how well-ranked an institution's psychology program is. U.S. News and World Report publishes higher education rankings annually. This now includes a list of the World's Best Universities in Psychology. The following are the top-ranked American schools.

Harvard University

Harvard's psychology program is ranked first internationally. Several study options are available, depending upon the student's interest. The flexible General Psychology track allows students to choose a focus. In the Cognitive Science track, students research the connection between behavior and the mind. The Social and Cognitive Neuroscience track concentrates on psychological research as it relates to life science. Interested undergrads have the opportunity to volunteer for faculty research projects. Students with high GPAs can participate in the prestigious Honors Program.

Stanford University

Internationally, Stanford's psychology program is rated third best. Students earn a B.A. in psychology and have the option of specializing in Health and Development; Cognitive Sciences; Mind, Culture, and Society; or Neuroscience. These tracks are intended to prepare students for graduate work in the specific field or a professional degree in areas such as law, medicine or counseling. An on-campus nursery school functions as a site for developmental research, and students may work or volunteer there. In addition, an Honors Program is available for qualifying students.

University of California, Berkeley

The psychology program at Berkeley ranks fifth worldwide. Berkeley has so many undergrads interested in a psychology major that only those meeting specific grade and application criteria are accepted. There are five specialization areas: Behavioral Neuroscience; Change, Plasticity and Development; Clinical Science; Cognition, Brain and Behavior; and Social-Personality Psychology. Independent study courses allow students to address personal areas of interest. High-achieving students may complete faculty-supervised thesis projects.

Yale University

Yale University's psychology program is seventh worldwide. Yale College is responsible for the university's undergraduate programs. Students have the option of a B.A. or B.S. degree program. The B.S. degree has specific requirements for research methods and statistics courses. In addition, qualifying candidates must complete an original empirical research project. Other variations include a Computer Science and Psychology major, a Neuroscience track and a Philosophy track. Eligible students may earn general honors -- magna cum laude or summa cum laude -- as well as a distinction within the major.

University of California, Los Angeles

The Psychology Department of UCLA is seventh in the world. Undergraduates can earn a B.A. in Psychology or a B.S. in Cognitive Science or Psychobiology. Students who want to be admitted to one of these programs must meet specific academic requirements in the introductory courses. Special classes are available in such areas as animal behavior, learning and memory, perception, cognition, developmental and clinical psychology. Research experience is offered through laboratory courses and faculty projects.

About the Author

Living in upstate New York, Susan Sherwood is a researcher who has been writing within educational settings for more than 10 years. She has co-authored papers for Horizons Research, Inc. and the Capital Region Science Education Partnership. Sherwood has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from the University at Albany.

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