Top 20 Most Innovative Psychology Degree Programs At Small Colleges in the U.S. 2016

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Published February 2016

Psychology is one of the most sought after undergraduate majors in the United States. This is largely due to the wide variety of fields this diverse major can be applied toward. A psychology major is an obvious choice for someone who wishes to pursue a career in professional psychology or counseling. It is also a great choice for individuals who plan to enter the workforce or pursue graduate training in social work, medicine, law, business, human resources, management and many other areas. Graduate training in this field is a great way to begin an exciting career in the interdisciplinary field of psychology. At both the undergraduate and the graduate level, there are many innovative degree programs being offered throughout the United States. They offer cutting edge training by world-renowned faculty members in a range of settings.

For information on how these programs were selected, please see the methodology section at the end of the ranking.

Top 20 Most Innovative Psychology Degree Programs At Small Schools in the United States

#20 – Goucher College – Baltimore Maryland

Goucher College Most Innovative Psychology ProgramsThe Department of Psychology

Bachelor of Arts

Program Website
Points: 3

The Psychology Department at Goucher College uses a varied approach to the study of psychology. The department works to generate an open, supportive, stimulating and lively academic culture. The faculty has a strong passion for the field of psychology, which creates an atmosphere of close and active mentoring both inside and outside of the classroom. The curriculum includes traditional classroom learning combined with experiential learning in the form of community engagement, active involvement in research, collaborative construction of knowledge, and self-directed exploration. Through this approach students are given with the tools they will need to develop a higher-level insight into one’s own and others’ behavior and cognitive processes. These innovations create a strong and exciting learning environment for students of all ages and interests. The psychology department has outlined seven guiding principles for the undergraduate curriculum. The program is designed to enhance students’ development of the following skills and knowledge:

  • Demonstrate understanding and competence regarding the use of research methodology in psychology.
  • Communicate effectively as it pertains to the study and practice of psychology.
  • Engage the world outside the classroom to use and/or inform one’s knowledge of psychology.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the major concepts, theoretical perspectives, empirical findings, and historical trends in psychology.
  • Develop critical consciousness and an appreciation of a variety of ways of knowing.
  • Recognize, understand, and respect the complexity of sociocultural and international diversity as played out in psychology and related fields.
  • Develop an ethical framework with regard to the study and practice of psychology.

Enrollment: 1,734
US News and World Report Innovation Ranking: 6th Among National Liberal Arts Colleges
US News and World Report Ranking:
#112 Best National Liberal Arts College
Average Cost of Attendance: $29,854
Inclusion on National Ranking Lists: Not Applicable
Accreditations:
Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

#19 – Beloit College – Beloit, Wisconsin

Beloit College Most Innovative Psychology ProgramsThe Department of Psychology

Bachelor of Arts

Program Website
Points: 4

In keeping with the guiding philosophy of Psychology as the scientific study of behavior and mental processes the mission of the Department of Psychology at Beloit College is to assist students in learning to think like professional psychologists. In order to obtain this goal, students must generate and evaluate empirical evidence while considering theoretical viewpoints of the field. Students in the department enthusiastically participate in a robust academic program that includes traditional coursework, internships, and student-faculty research. Students in this program have the opportunity to contribute to the knowledge base of psychology and apply psychological principles to everyday life.

Enrollment: 1,303
US News and World Report Innovation Ranking: 6th Among National Liberal Arts Colleges
US News and World Report Ranking:
#61 Best National Liberal Arts College
Average Cost of Attendance: $24,230
Inclusion on National Ranking Lists: Not Applicable
Accreditations:
The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCACS)

#18 – Berea College – Berea, Kentucky

Berea College Most Innovative Psychology ProgramsThe Department of Psychology

Bachelor of Arts

Program Website
Points: 6

Students enrolled in the innovative Bachelor of Arts in Psychology degree program at Berea College learn about the many different areas of study and practice in the comprehensive field of psychology. They will learn areas of psychological practice such as:

  • Conducting research on the causes of behavior in humans and animals
  • Teaching at colleges and universities
  • Helping individuals grow in psychological health
  • Using psychological principles to solve problems in applied settings such as schools, businesses, and other organizations

 

Enrollment: 1,621
US News and World Report Innovation Ranking: 5th Among National Liberal Arts Colleges
US News and World Report Ranking:
#67 Best National Liberal Arts College
Average Cost of Attendance: $1,990
Inclusion on National Ranking Lists: Not Applicable
Accreditations:
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

#17 – Bard College – Annandale on the Hudson, New York

Bard College Most Innovative Psychology ProgramsThe Department of Psychology

Bachelor of Arts

Program Website
Points: 7

The Bard College Psychology Program combines an innovative group of faculty members and a highly motivated group of students who work to collectively answer questions about the workings of the brain. Some of these include the interactions of brain, mind, and behavior; the person in social context; the development of the person throughout childhood and adulthood; the nature of thinking and language; and the problems and pathologies that people develop, along with methods of treating them. The Bachelor of Arts in Psychology degree program provides students with the chance to understand how the distinctive perspectives and scientific methods of psychology can affect human thought, emotions, and behavior. Students learn about the many language and analytical approaches of psychology that have become a common basis for many professional endeavors. Students who complete this program are well prepared for graduate study in this field, as well as in a variety of related career pursuits.

Enrollment: 2,059
US News and World Report Innovation Ranking: 1st Among National Liberal Arts Colleges
US News and World Report Ranking:
#45 Best National Liberal Arts College
Average Cost of Attendance: $25,275
Inclusion on National Ranking Lists: Not Applicable
Accreditations:
Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

#16 – Grinnell College – Grinnell, Iowa

Grinnell College Most Innovative Psychology ProgramsThe Department of Psychology

Bachelor of Arts

Program Website
Points: 8

The Department of Psychology at Grinnell College states “Psychology is invigorated by the intellectual imperative to understand behavior, the ethical imperative to alleviate human suffering, and the aesthetic imperative to find form and pattern in our lives.” In keeping with this philosophy, the psychology curriculum highlights the behavior of biological organisms existing in social habitats. Psychology majors learn to use empirical scientific methods to study behavior, while using critical thinking skills to investigate empirical methods. The program is offered within a liberal arts context, allowing the psychology curriculum to arm students with they tools they will need for scientific inquiry. Students enrolled in this program parlay their learning into a variety of professional careers, including teaching, scientific research, clinical work, medicine, and law. All psychology students will be required to complete their introductory courses in a specific order, starting with Introduction to Psychology and either Introduction to Statistics or Applied Statistics early in their college careers. A critically important class is Research Methods, which equips students with tools for inquiry. In addition to the required courses, students will complete a number of electives that are designed to help the student move toward advanced courses that allow for study of topics in depth and may provide the impetus for individual research projects. In addition, the department encourages students to pursue experiential learning through internships.

Enrollment: 1,734
US News and World Report Innovation Ranking: 6th Among National Liberal Arts Colleges
US News and World Report Ranking:
#19 Best National Liberal Arts College
#7 Best Value School
Average Cost of Attendance: $24,896
Inclusion on National Ranking Lists: Not Applicable
Accreditations:
The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCACS)

#15 – Franklin and Marshall College – Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Franklin and Marshall College Most Innovative Psychology ProgramsThe Humanities Division

Bachelor of Arts

Program Website
Points: 8

Students at the Humanities Division of Franklin and Marshall College learn to study the mind and behavior in both human and non-human animals. They learn how professional psychologists test hypotheses and theories using empirical observations of behavior in experimental, field, computer modeling and self-report settings. One of the major innovations at Franklin and Marshall is the opportunity for undergraduate level research. The department believes that the best way to communicate this empirical approach is by allowing students to actively participate in it at an early point in their academic career. This allows students to learn and apply psychological methods throughout their course work. The curriculum tackles modern psychological theories that apply to a vast array of phenomena, while also molding students into professionals who employ various approaches to the empirical analysis of these important theories. Throughout this learning process, students develop analytical, research, quantitative and communication skills. The empirical orientation leads students to engage in collaborative and independent research experiences under the mentorship of the faculty.

Enrollment: 2,209
US News and World Report Innovation Ranking: 1st Among National Liberal Arts Colleges
US News and World Report Ranking:
#40 Best National Liberal Arts College
#31 Best Value School
Average Cost of Attendance: $22,974
Inclusion on National Ranking Lists:
US News and World Reports List of Top School for Learning Communities
Accreditations:
Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

#14 – Colorado College – Colorado Springs, Colorado

Colorado College Most Innovative Psychology ProgramsThe Department of Psychology

Bachelor of Arts

Program Website
Points: 9

Colorado College has a rich and historic commitment to a liberal arts tradition. In keeping with this school-wide tradition, the Psychology Department is dedicated to offering an academic program that helps students develop the rudimentary skills and knowledge they will need to lead an intellectually enriched life. This program prepares students for both graduate studies and professional work. The Department offers comprehensive exposure of academic psychology, highlighting scientific research literature and an empirical understanding of human and non-human animal behavior. It is expected that psychology majors will gain a strong methodological competence in a range of research techniques, which are introduced in statistics and research design courses and expounded in the higher-level courses. The dedication to empirical research at the undergraduate level is one of the elements that make this program so pioneering. Students learn about the ethical responsibility that is required in psychology, both in the treatment of research participants (human and non-human) and in the preparation of academic and professional work. Psychology majors learn to incorporate this sense of ethics and uphold their ethical responsibility throughout their study and practice. These students will also gather a knowledge base in core areas of psychology, with an in-depth investigation in advanced study courses.

Enrollment: 2,050
US News and World Report Innovation Ranking: 1st Among National Liberal Arts Colleges
US News and World Report Ranking:
#25 Best National Liberal Arts College
#22 Best Value School
Average Cost of Attendance: $24,141
Inclusion on National Ranking Lists: Not Applicable
Accreditations:
The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCACS)

#13 – Rollins College – Winter Park, Florida

Rollins College Most Innovative Psychology ProgramsThe College of Arts and Sciences – The Department of Psychology

Bachelor of Arts

Program Website
Points: 10

The Rollins College of Arts and Sciences is home to an innovative and cutting edge Psychology Department. Students with a strong desire to pursue a career in Neuroscience can pair a Neuroscience Minor with their Psychology Major. Throughout this program, students learn how the brain and nervous system function and affect behavior and thoughts. Classes cover a range of subjects, including cellular biology, language, and evolution. The minor is specifically designed for students in related major fields and those interested in pursuing a career in the allied health professions. The neuroscience minor provides students with access to upper-level courses outside of their major by waiving most prerequisites for qualifying students.

Another optional global health minor, which can be paired with a psychology major or many other major areas of study. The global health minor focuses on issues effecting community health at home and around the globe, uncovering that health and poverty are often linked and that health challenges may not respect political boundaries. The program includes courses from anthropology, biology, communication studies, critical media and cultural studies, economics, English, environmental studies, history, pre-medicine studies, mathematics, physical education, political science, and psychology to explore health related issues from a variety of methodological and topical perspectives.

Enrollment: 1,932
US News and World Report Innovation Ranking: 1st Among Southern Regional Universities
US News and World Report Ranking:
#1 Best Academic Institution in the Southern Region of the US
Average Cost of Attendance: $32,621
Inclusion on National Ranking Lists:
US News and World Reports List of Top School for Undergraduate Research and Creative Projects
Accreditations:
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

#12 – Davidson College – Davidson, North Carolina

Davidson College Most Innovative Psychology ProgramsThe Department of Psychology

Bachelor of Arts

Program Website
Points: 10

The Psychology Department at Davidson College works to prepare students for graduate training or entrance into the work force in several areas of study and practice. The programs curriculum development efforts are in keeping with the American Psychology Association’s guidelines for undergraduate psychology programs. The courses span the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences, teaching students to think critically and gain a more thorough comprehension of the self and those around you. Psychology majors learn from a broad spanning curriculum that integrates the empirical scientific method with the traditional study of human and animal behavior and the physiological and cognitive processes underlying behavior. Students learn to apply psychological knowledge to generate solutions that address practical problems in wide-ranging contexts ranging from the family to the clinic to various businesses.

Enrollment: 1,770
US News and World Report Innovation Ranking: 1st Among National Liberal Arts Colleges
US News and World Report Ranking:
#9 Best National Liberal Arts College
#16 Best Value School
Average Cost of Attendance: $22,457
Inclusion on National Ranking Lists: Not Applicable
Accreditations:
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

#11 – Butler University – Indianapolis, Indiana

Butler University Most Innovative Psychology ProgramsThe College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Bachelor of Arts

Program Website
Points: 11

The mission of the Butler University Department of Psychology is to “provide undergraduate students with knowledge of the principles of behavior as established by scientific methods.” Students in this program gather a thorough understanding of psychological science through training in the classroom and experiential learning through research projects. Classroom learning is designed so that students receive a general overview of the basic topics and methods in psychology. In later years of training they will advance to a more thorough exploration of specific content areas. Research involvement allows students to transform from novices to partners by taking increasingly greater responsibility for the design and implementation of psychological research projects. Through this progression students acquire the knowledge and skills that will properly prepare them for graduate study in psychology or related fields and to help them pursue careers in business, government, education, medical or public service settings.

Enrollment: 4,062
US News and World Report Innovation Ranking: 1st Among Midwestern Regional Universities
US News and World Report Ranking:
#2 Best Academic Institution in the Midwestern Region of the US
#13 Best Value School
Average Cost of Attendance: $32,742
Inclusion on National Ranking Lists:
US News and World Reports List of Top School for Undergraduate Research and Creative Projects
Accreditations:
The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCACS)

#10 – Mercer University – Macon, Georgia

Mercer University Most Innovative Psychology ProgramsThe College of Liberal Arts

Bachelor of Arts

Program Website
Points: 11

Like many other schools on this list, Mercer University is considered an innovator in the undergraduate training of psychology students. The Psychology Department at Mercer has several goals. The carefully considered curriculum provides students with a strong background in the empirical, theoretical, and philosophical features of the field. Through this curriculum students have the opportunity to advance their rudimentary skills in critical thinking, writing, speaking, computer use, and research. There is a strong focus on the role that a liberal arts education plays in the development of a strong personal and professional life. Mercer offers a unique chance for students to learn about psychology directly. The empirical elements of the curriculum focus on the creation of new knowledge in this growing field. Students have the option of completing an independent, original research project as part of the undergraduate curricular requirements, something that most undergraduate programs do not offer. Additionally, each faculty member has an active research group and students are encouraged to choose a research project on which to participate. The average class size in the major is less than 20 students, and many courses have laboratory components as a part of the curricular requirements. Advanced students have opportunities to participate in experiential learning in applied areas by entering into field placements within the community.

Enrollment: 4,570
US News and World Report Innovation Ranking: 8th Among Southern Regional Universities
US News and World Report Ranking:
#8 Best Academic Institution in the Southern Region of the US
#2 Best Value School
Average Cost of Attendance: $20,054
Inclusion on National Ranking Lists:
US News and World Reports List of Top School for Undergraduate Research and Creative Projects
Accreditations:
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

#9 – Evergreen State College – Olympia, Washington

Evergreen State College Most Innovative Psychology ProgramsThe Department of Psychology

Bachelor of Science

Program Website
Points: 11

Evergreen State College is a distinctive school with a focus on student growth. Students can choose from programs and courses in more than 60 fields of study. There is an interdisciplinary approach to psychology that includes a range of approaches for students to build their understanding of the social, psychological, and biological elements that affect human health and behavior. Psychology majors are prepared in both theory and practice for graduate study and work in clinical psychology, human and social services, and psychological research. All students in this major are given a solid understanding of human behavior, which is seen as a marketable skill set in a number of career settings including social services, advertising, marketing, education, health care, and politics. For each major there are no specific course requirements. Each student can choose to develop an Area of Emphasis with help from advisors and faculty. Courses available include:

Lower Division – Programs for freshmen and sophomores:

  • Madness and Creativity: The Psychological Link (Freshman-Only Program)
  • Bodies That Matter

Upper Division – Programs for juniors and seniors:

  • The Art of Counseling
  • The Emerging Self
  • Psychology and the Arts
  • Research Capstone in Psychology

All Levels – Both upper and lower division students may take these programs:

  • Abnormal Psychology (Freshmen – Senior)
  • Anthrozoology (Freshmen – Senior)
  • EastWest Psychology: Destructive Mind/Emotion (Freshmen – Senior)
  • EastWest Psychology: Positive Mind/Emotion (Freshmen – Senior)
  • The Essential Ingredients of Intercultural Competence (Freshmen – Senior)
  • Health and Human Development (Sophomore – Senior)
  • Hearing Voices: the Self and Other in Psychology, Language, and (Un)Creative Writing (Freshmen – Senior)
  • History and Systems in Psychology (Freshmen – Senior)
  • Of Blood and Beauty: The Thought, Literature, and Art of German-Speaking Cultures (Sophomore – Senior)
  • Peaceable Mindfulness (Freshmen – Senior)
  • Persuasion: The Science, Art, and Ethics of Influence (Freshmen – Senior)
  • Psychology and Community (Sophomore – Senior)
  • Reality and Dreams: Seeing the Inner and the Outer (Sophomore – Senior)
  • So You Want to be a Psychologist (Freshmen – Senior)
  • The Social Psychology of the Prison-Industrial Complex (Freshmen – Senior)
  • Theories of Personality (Freshmen – Senior)

Enrollment: 3,878
US News and World Report Innovation Ranking: 1st Among Western Regional Universities
US News and World Report Ranking:
#1 Best Academic Institution in the Western Region of the US
#6 Top Public School
Average Cost of Attendance: $13,630
Inclusion on National Ranking Lists:
US News and World Reports List of Top School for Learning Communities
Accreditations:
Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)

#8 – Elon University – Elon, North Carolina

Elon University Most Innovative Psychology Programs
The College of Arts and Sciences The Department of Psychology

Bachelor of Arts

Program Website
Points: 12

The Department of Psychology at Elon College represents the schools largest liberal arts major, with nineteen full-time faculty and more than 345 majors and 285 minors. At the core of the program is a focus on psychology as both a basic and an applied science. The curriculum is grounded in the empirical scientific method, emphasizing student development of a lifetime of learning based in the ability to gather information systematically. Students learn to think critically, cogently, and creatively about the gathered information and they must then be able to communicate their conclusions efficiently to a diverse range of potential audiences. Psychology at Elon is seen as a “socio-cultural discipline,” with emphasis placed on the development of an informed and sensitive appreciation for the multifaceted causes of human behavior. Psychology majors will gather the knowledge and skills to have a productive impact on human relationships of all levels, ranging from individual and family functioning to broader policies governing broader social institutions. The curriculum is based on the American Psychological Association undergraduate learning goals and objectives, with continuous planning, assessment, and modification our course offerings. It is the goal of the department to ensure that students are adequately prepared for a career in psychology or related field. Throughout their training students gather a strong foundation in research methodology as well as basic and advanced courses in major subfields of the discipline (behavioral neuroscience, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, and social psychology). The department offers many special topics courses such as Abnormal Psychology, Animal Behavior, Cross-Cultural Psychology, Educational Psychology and Psychology of Leadership. This allows students the opportunity to explore experiential learning opportunities in psychology, including study abroad, internships, and the closely mentored opportunities in independent research.

Enrollment: 5,782
US News and World Report Innovation Ranking: 1st Among Southern Regional Universities
US News and World Report Ranking:
#1 Best Academic Institution in the Southern Region of the US
Average Cost of Attendance: $32,205
Inclusion on National Ranking Lists:
US News and World Reports List of Top School for Undergraduate Research and Creative Projects
US News and World Reports List of Top School for Learning Communities
Accreditations:
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

#7 – Creighton University – Omaha, Nebraska

Creighton University Most Innovative Psychology ProgramsThe College of Arts and Sciences – The Department of Psychology

Bachelor of Arts

Program Website
Points: 13

The Department of Psychology at Creighton is housed within the largest of all colleges at the school – The College of Arts and Sciences. Psychology is among the most popular undergraduate majors at Creighton University. Psychology courses are available to psychology majors and non–majors throughout the university and offer insight into the complete range of human behaviors, cognitions, and emotions. The many available course offerings cover the main topic areas of psychology, as well as a range of specialty courses. Students can opt to complete internship courses and independent research courses where they can learn through valuable opportunities that apply their classroom learning outside of the classroom. The mission of the department is to “foster the development of critical thinking skills, oral and written communication skills, as well as the ability to conduct research and statistical analyses.” Graduates of this program often pursue masters or doctoral training in various areas of psychology (counseling/clinical, educational/school, cognitive, development, forensic, social, physiological, industrial/organizational). Other graduates have gone on to pursue professional training in the health professions (medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, physical therapy, occupational therapy), in law, or business (advertising, marketing, accounting). Others pursue advanced degrees in other psychology-related fields, such as social work or human resources. Students who seek to distinguish themselves during their undergraduate training in psychology can pursue an honors certification program, which has higher expectations and more stringent requirements than the traditional major.

Psychology majors have the opportunity to pair their major with a minor in Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience. This minor is especially relevant to students who have an interest in the biological sciences and related careers. The goal of the minor is to “provide a balanced, synthesized, and integrated view of what we know about the brain and its relation to cognition and behavior.”

Enrollment: 4,065
US News and World Report Innovation Ranking: 3rd Among Midwestern Regional Universities
US News and World Report Ranking:
#1 Best Academic Institution in the Midwestern Region of the US
#2 Best Value School
Average Cost of Attendance: $28,551
Inclusion on National Ranking Lists:
US News and World Reports List of Top School for Undergraduate Research and Creative Projects
Accreditations:
The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCACS)

#6 – Duke University – Durham, North Carolina

Duke University Most Innovative Psychology ProgramsThe Department of Psychology and Neuroscience

Bachelor of Arts or Science and Doctor of Philosophy

Program Website
Points: 13

The Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke confers both the Bachelor of Arts and the Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology. The mission of the undergraduate program in psychology is to “provide students with a dynamic and interactive learning experience that confers a strong background in psychology as a science.” Students can pursue training in 5 topic areas, including:

  1. Abnormal/Health
  2. Biological Bases of Behavior
  3. Cognitive Psychology including cognitive neuroscience
  4. Developmental Psychology
  5. Social Psychology

In the training of students, these topic areas are critically evaluated and real world applications are discussed in lectures, in small group formats, and in one-on-one independent study experiences. The departmental goals for undergraduate psychology program are consistent with the American Psychological Association Board of Educational Affairs learning goals and outcomes for undergraduate students. Students can pursue either a Bachelor or Arts (AB) degree or a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree, depending upon their academic and career goals. The BS requires additional credits in the natural sciences and calculus beyond the coursework required for the AB.

Students who have earned their Bachelor’s degree in psychology, or a related field, can apply to earn a Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology at Duke. There are five areas of concentration for doctoral candidates, including:

  1. Clinical Psychology
  2. Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience
  3. Developmental Psychology
  4. Social Psychology
  5. Systems and Integrative Neuroscience

Enrollment: 6,626
US News and World Report Innovation Ranking: 7th Among National Universities
US News and World Report Ranking:
#8 Best National University
#7 Best Value School
Average Cost of Attendance: $21,764
Inclusion on National Ranking Lists:
US News and World Reports List of Top School for Undergraduate Research and Creative Projects
Accreditations:
American Psychological Association (APA)
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

#5 – Amherst College – Amherst, Massachusetts

Amherst College Most Innovative Psychology ProgramsThe Department of Psychology

Bachelor of Arts

Program Website
Points: 13

The Department of Psychology at Amherst College uses a diverse range of practices in the quest for a better understanding of human behavior and experience. Like most programs, the department teaches about psychology as the study of the brain and behavior. What sets this department apart as an innovator is the realization that human behaviors generally result from a multifaceted web of interacting influences. The curriculum includes study of physiological, developmental, social, personality, cognitive, abnormal, and cross-cultural elements, all contributing to the overall understanding of thoughts and behavior. The multidisciplinary approach exposes students to a wide variety of topic areas. The Psychology major is designed to offer students a comprehensive introduction to the content of the discipline and the skills required to work within it. Psychology majors are required to elect nine full courses for completion of the curricular requirements. Students who graduate with a Psychology major will develop knowledge, skills, and values consistent with the science and application of psychology. Specifically, they will be able to:

  • Demonstrate familiarity with the major concepts, theoretical perspectives, empirical findings, and historical trends in psychology.
  • Understand and apply basic research methods in psychology, including research design, data analysis, and interpretation.
  • Respect and use critical and creative thinking, skeptical inquiry, and, when possible, the scientific approach to solve problems related to behavior and mental processes.
  • Use the most advanced technology to independently gather and analyze information from the widest array of resources.
  • Demonstrate effective writing and oral communication skills, exhibit quantitative literacy, and collaborate effectively with others.
  • Recognize, understand, and respect the complexity of sociocultural diversity.

Enrollment: 1,792
US News and World Report Innovation Ranking: 10th Among National Liberal Arts Colleges
US News and World Report Ranking:
#2 Best National Liberal Arts College
#1 Best Value School
Average Cost of Attendance: $14,687
Inclusion on National Ranking Lists:
US News and World Reports List of Top School for Undergraduate Research and Creative Projects
Accreditations:
New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)

#4 – Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Cambridge, Massachusetts

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Most Innovative Psychology ProgramsThe Department of Cognition and Brain Science

Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Philosophy

Program Website
Points: 15

The Department of Cognition and Brain Science at MIT is another pioneer in the field of psychology. Students can pursue undergraduate and graduate training in the field. The rigorous undergraduate program is a “tiered system” that builds upon the expertise earned at each preceding level. The program begins with a first year introduction to neuroscience, cognitive science and computation, with a strong focus on courses that enhance critical skills in programming and statistics. Students can focus on individual areas of interest as they progress through the program.

The robust, interdisciplinary Doctorate of Philosophy degree program prepares students to pursue careers in research, teaching, or industry. During the first year of study, doctoral students rotate through different laboratories, gaining exposure to the Department’s rich scientific diversity. At the end of their first year, students are placed into a laboratory to complete their Ph.D. The program requires a commitment to conducting basic research, while also completing coursework requirements. Students are encouraged to complete advanced seminars throughout the program, however the remainder of the program is spent primarily working in a laboratory. Students typically complete the doctoral program in five to six years.

Enrollment: 4,512
US News and World Report Innovation Ranking: 3rd Among National Universities
US News and World Report Ranking:
#7 Best National University
#5 Best Value School
Average Cost of Attendance: $22,212
Inclusion on National Ranking Lists:
US News and World Reports List of Top School for Undergraduate Research and Creative Projects
Accreditations:
New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)

#3 – Harvard University – Cambridge, Massachusetts

Harvard University Most Innovative Psychology ProgramsThe Department of Psychology

Bachelor of Arts or Sciences and Doctor of Philosophy

Program Website
Points: 15

The Department of Psychology at Harvard offers nationally recognized psychology program at the undergraduate and graduate level. The undergraduate psychology majors offers students three tracks to choose from:

  • The General Track affords the greatest flexibility, and is chosen by about 70 percent of concentrators. This is a Generalist Psychology program that covers the broad range of topics in the field.
  • The Cognitive Neuroscience and Evolutionary Psychology is a track within the Life Sciences cluster of concentrations, which combines coursework from both psychology and several fields within the Life Sciences and is selected by about 25 percent of concentrators.
  • The Cognitive Science Track (an MBB track) includes coursework from other MBB fields in addition to psychology coursework that informs an understanding of the mind such as linguistics, philosophy, human evolutionary biology, history of science, and computer science. This track requires an application for admission and a thesis, and is selected by about 5 percent of concentrators

The doctoral degree program is organized into four unique areas:

  1. Clinical science
  2. Developmental
  3. Social
  4. Cognition, brain, and behavior

Each of these groups is made up of faculty members whose combined interests span a comprehensible program of advanced study and research in one of the many subfields of psychology. Faculty members are strongly encouraged to participate in more than one group. There are also various “themes” that cut across the areas. Active research is being conducted in many topical areas within psychology. There are also regular research seminars on various topics, and numerous opportunities to become involved in research with the relevant faculty.
Students enrolled in the PhD program in the Psychology Department may follow one of two tracks: the Common Curriculum, which includes Social Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Cognitive Neuroscience, Behavioral Neuroscience, and Perception; and Clinical Science. Students may only be considered for Clinical Science during the initial graduate school application process, and may not transfer in at a later date.

Enrollment: 6,694
US News and World Report Innovation Ranking: 8th Among National Universities
US News and World Report Ranking:
#2 Best National University
#2 Best Value School
Average Cost of Attendance: $15,095
Inclusion on National Ranking Lists:
US News and World Reports List of Top School for Undergraduate Research and Creative Projects
Accreditations:
American Psychological Association (APA)
New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)

#2 – Stanford University – Stanford, California

Stanford University Most Innovative Psychology ProgramsThe Department of Psychology

Bachelor of Arts, Co-Terminal Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy

Program Website
Points: 16

The Department of Psychology at Stanford confers a Bachelor of Arts, A Co-Terminal Master of Arts and a Doctor of Philosophy in psychology degree. The undergraduate psychology programs offer top-notch training in the ways to best comprehend human behavior using scientifically rigorous methods. The psychology major offers students a myriad of opportunities for active involvement. Students have access to direct involvement in ongoing research, such as participating in the active undergraduate psychology association (SUPA), and through designing and conducting their own studies through our Senior Honors Program or Coterminal MA program. Psychology majors, including those in the Senior Honors Program, have the ability to specialize in one of four tracks: Cognitive Sciences; Health and Development; Mind, Culture, and Society; and Neuroscience. Specialization tracks are comprised of a specific set of courses leading to advanced undergraduate or even graduate level courses in an area. Ideally students who choose specializations will acquire an understanding of a range of psychological processes, as well as an appreciation of the importance of these processes in the chosen area of application. In many cases specialization facilitates the student’s preparation for graduate work in psychology or a related field.

The department offers a PhD in Psychology in five different areas of study: Cognitive, Developmental, Neuroscience, Affective Science, and Social Psychology. There are no programs in Clinical, Counseling, Industrial, Organizational, or Para Psychology. While there is no available terminal Masters degree program, there is an optional conterminal Masters program for students accepted and enrolled in the PhD program.

Enrollment: 7,019
US News and World Report Innovation Ranking: 2nd Among National Universities
US News and World Report Ranking:
#4 Best National University
#4 Best Value School
#1 Best Graduate Program in Psychology
#79 Best Graduate Program in Clinical Psychology
Average Cost of Attendance: $17,952
Inclusion on National Ranking Lists:
US News and World Reports List of Top School for Undergraduate Research and Creative Projects
Accreditations:
American Psychological Association (APA)
Senior College and University Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)

#1 – Truman State University – Kirksville, Missouri

Truman State University Most Innovative Psychology ProgramsThe Department of Psychology

Bachelor of Arts or Sciences

Program Website
Points: 18

Topping the list of the most innovative psychology programs in the country is the undergraduate degree program offered at the Department of Psychology at Truman State University. Psychology majors at Truman have the chance to investigate behavior and mental processes through a combination of rigorous coursework and experiential opportunities outside the classroom. The program is designed to maximize each student’s opportunity to choose courses that appeal to their needs while still getting covering the breadth of the field. There are courses designed to meet almost all interests, such as children, the brain, or psychology in business, and many, many more. Bachelor of Science Psychology majors have the opportunity to more than just assist in research. At Truman, students become involved in all aspects of research, including developing the hypothesis, designing the experiment, collecting and analyzing data, and presenting findings at local, regional, and national conferences. This innovation means that students at Truman gain more valuable experience. In addition to research, students have access to numerous internship and study-abroad opportunities.

There are three general objectives of the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology degree program:

  1. To provide a broad-based education in the discipline
  2. To instruct students in the scientific method
  3. To prepare students for success in graduate school and in the workplace

Although students in the BA program generally are not as actively engaged in research as their BS counterparts, they are still exposed to the tenets of the scientific method. Students begin to understand how the field of Psychology uses the scientific method and statistical inference and analysis to gather and assess data. Upon graduation from this program, all psychology students should understand and appreciate the rationale and methodology of scientific inquiry. Many of the major course requirements are geared toward preparation for graduate school. The content areas in psychology reflect those sampled by the Graduate Record Exam Advanced Test in Psychology. This degree program provides a broad-based education in the discipline of a liberal arts and science. The psychology curriculum (for both the BA and the BS) reflects the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science’s recognition of the subject matter of the discipline.

Enrollment: 5,910
US News and World Report Innovation Ranking: 3rd Among Midwestern Regional Universities
US News and World Report Ranking:
#1 Best Academic Institution in the Midwestern Region of the US
#5 Best Value School
#1 Top Public School
Average Cost of Attendance: $12,041
Inclusion on National Ranking Lists:
US News and World Reports List of Top School for Undergraduate Research and Creative Projects
Accreditations:
The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCACS)

 

Ranking Methodology

This ranking list has been created to outline the top 20 most innovative psychology degree programs offered at small schools throughout the United States. A small college campus has been defined as a college with undergraduate student enrollment at or below 10,000. Factors considered:

Degree Levels

Those programs that offer students degree options at both the undergraduate and the graduate level afford students the flexibility of continuing their education at the same innovative department.

Points:
Undergraduate and graduate degree offerings: 1 Point

Innovation Ranking

US News and World Report conducted an extensive study to determine which were the most innovative colleges in the country. They considered National Universities, National Liberal Arts Colleges and Regional Institutions.

Points:
US News and World Report Most Innovative College Ranking:
Top 10 / Top 5 / Top 3
1 Point / 2 Points / 3 Points

College Ranking

The next consideration was whether or not a school has been granted acknowledgement by a national ranking body. The major source of such national notoriety comes from the US News and World Report Best Colleges List. The Data being considered for this ranking list is National Ranking, National Liberal Arts College Ranking, Regional Ranking, Top Public School Ranking and Best Value Ranking.

Points:
US News and World Report National University of National Liberal Arts College Ranking:
Top 50 / Top 25 / Top 10
1 Point / 2 Points / 3 Points

US News and World Report Regional, Best Value or Top Public Ranking:
Top 25 / Top 10 / Top 5
1 Point / 2 Points / 3 Points

Overall Cost of Attendance

One of the major factors being considered is the overall annual cost of attendance. Schools offering innovative academic training while also keeping student costs low are given higher consideration. Tuition data used was the overall cost of attendance, provided by the College Navigator Tool.

Points:
Under $20,000 / $20,001 – $39,999/ $40,000 and above:
3 Points / 2 Points / 1 Point

Grading Process

Once the points have been tallied the schools are arranged into groups by the amount of points they have earned. In the cases of ties, preference was given to those schools that were granted national notoriety on the highest number of national lists, followed by higher ranking on the US News and World Report Best National Liberal Arts College and finally tuition rates. The main purpose of this list is to highlight the most beautiful small college campuses in the United States. Specializations, awards and achievements earned by the school or department have also been noted.

National Ranking List

Another priority was whether the school offers the opportunity for students to engage in research, conduct creative projects and participate in learning communities. Acknowledgement on one of the following lists was beneficial to the schools overall ranking:

  • US News and World Reports List of Top School for Undergraduate Research and Creative Projects
  • US News and World Reports List of Top School for Learning Communities

Points: 2 Points Per List

Accreditation

In order to be included in this ranking list an appropriate ranking body must regionally accredit each college or university. Those schools that have received additional accreditation are given an edge over schools without the stamp of accreditation.

Points:
Each Accreditation: 1 Point

For More on the Best Graduate Programs in Psychology Please Refer to the Following Articles:

Ranking 25 Best Psychology Schools for Recent High School Graduates in 2015

Ranking Top 20 Up and Coming Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Psychology in 2014

Published February 2016

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