Ranking Top 20 Small Psychology Departments Offering Graduate Degrees 2016

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Badge - Online Psyc Degrees - Top Graduate Degree ProgramsIn this ranking, we highlight the top 20 small psychology departments offering graduate degrees in psychology.

Throughout the United States, there are colleges and universities of all shapes and sizes. While some students seek the hustle and bustle of a large academic setting, many students are drawn to the intimacy of a small department. Often these departments are nestled in strong communities with opportunities to enjoy the arts, culture, dining, the outdoors and many other out of the classroom activities. Inside the classroom, these schools can offer a more student-oriented teaching style, where students get to know their classmates and professors. By admitting fewer students each year, the department can offer more support and training to graduate psychology students.

At the graduate level, psychology requires a high-level understanding and ability in the area of scientific research. Most master’s and doctoral programs require students to plan, conduct, analyze and publish novel psychological research. By pursing a graduate psychology degree at a smaller department, students may have the chance to receive closer guidance and mentorship from instructors. A graduate degree from one of these top 20 small graduate programs can mean the beginning of an exciting career in psychology.

Ranking Top 20 Small Psychology Departments Offering a Graduate Degree in Psychology

#20 – University of Chicago – Chicago, Illinois

University of Chicago Best Small Graduate Psychology ProgramThe Department of Psychology

Points: 6
Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Program Website

The University of Chicago is located in Chicago’s Hyde Park community and offers students a rich campus life in a metropolitan setting. The university is made up of the College and a number of graduate and professional schools. The Department of Psychology supports a Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology, with available specializations in:

  • Cognition
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Integrative Neuroscience
  • Social Psychology

The common curriculum consists of 8 courses, with additional requirements for graduate students set by the student’s area of specialization. The requirements for doctoral candidates include:

  1. Proseminar: A one-quarter course where faculty members give a summary of their ongoing research and students write a research proposal that is submit for an NSF graduate fellowship if the student is eligible for this funding.
  2. Three course Statistics Requirement
  3. Trial Research Seminar: All graduate students are required to complete the trial research seminar in the spring quarter of the first year. The purpose of this seminar is to help students formulate and complete their trial research projects.
  4. Breadth Requirement: Students are required to complete a minimum of three doctoral level courses in Psychology, extending across different areas of psychological science. These courses should be chosen in consultation with the student’s advisor and program area. These courses must be passed with a grade of B or better.

US News and World Report Ranking:
#4 Best National University
#15 Best Value School
#21 Best Graduate Program in Psychology
Average Annual Graduate Tuition and Fees: $50,685
Total Graduate Enrollment (all graduate program): 9,359
New Students Admitted Annually: 12-15 students
Acceptance Rates: 8.8%
Accreditation:
Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCACS)

#19 – Brown University – Providence, Rhode Island

Brown University Best Small Graduate Psychology ProgramThe Department of Cognitive, Linguistics and Psychological Sciences

Points: 7
Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Program Website

Brown University is a private Ivy League university offering a range of a graduate programs. The Department of Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences (CLPS) is focused on the interdisciplinary study of mind, brain, behavior, and language. CLPS confers three doctoral degrees: Cognitive Science, Linguistics and Psychology. Doctoral candidates are accepted by the department and formally choose one of the three programs upon completion of the first year. Students in the graduate Psychology program become prepared for careers as scientists and teachers who will have the skills to make contributions to society in academic and applied settings. Students gain a broad competence in the empirical subjects, theories, and experimental approaches of psychology. Each student will develop expertise in one or more research specializations. All programs of study are tailored to meet the needs of the individual students with a research advisor and graduate committee chosen by each student.

US News and World Report Ranking:
#14 Best National University
#10 Best Value School
#26 Best Graduate Program in Psychology
Average Annual Graduate Tuition and Fees: $47,240
Graduate Enrollment: 2,622
New Students Admitted Annually: 15-20 students
Acceptance Rates: 8.7%
Accreditation:
New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)

#18 – Northwestern University – Evanston, Illinois

Northwestern University Best Small Graduate Psychology ProgramWeinberg College of Arts and Sciences – The Department of Psychology

Points: 9
Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Program Website

Northwestern University is home to a dozen colleges and schools spread throughout three campuses, including: a 240-acre campus in Evanston, a 25-acre campus in Chicago and a third satellite campus in Doha, Qatar. Northwestern is a pioneering research university, with more than 90 school-based centers and more than two-dozen university centers. The multidisciplinary culture found throughout the university helps with innovative programs in areas such as neuroscience, nanotechnology, biotechnology and drug discovery. The graduate program in psychology works to educate scholars and researchers who will have the skills and the tools to become the leaders of scientific psychology. The department offers doctoral training in a number of specialized areas of psychology:

  • Brain, Behavior, and Cognition
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Personality and Health Psychology
  • Social Psychology

All students must complete the general course requirements and courses focused on their specified specialization area. Each graduate student has a primary research adviser. Partnership with additional faculty members inside and outside of the student’s major area is common, and students are encouraged to approach their studies with a range of research approaches and various perspectives. In addition to classroom learning, doctoral candidates participate in a series of research projects, as well as assisting with undergraduate teaching.

US News and World Report Ranking:
#12 Best National University
#19 Best Value School
#14 Best Graduate Program in Psychology
Average Annual Graduate Tuition and Fees: $47,276
Total Graduate Enrollment: 12,506
New Students Admitted Annually: 12-15 students
Acceptance Rates: 13.1%
Accreditation:
American Psychological Association (APA)
Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCACS)

#17 – Washington University in St. Louis – St. Louis, Missouri

Washington University In St Louis Best Small Graduate Psychology ProgramThe Department of Brain and Psychological Sciences

Points: 11
Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Program Website

Washington University is a private university with the mission to “discover and disseminate knowledge, and protect the freedom of inquiry through research, teaching, and learning.” In the early 1990’s the university named the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences as an area of academic excellence and growth. In keeping with the commitment to this field, the university constructed a $28 million facility to serve as the home for the department. The department has stayed engaged in an effort to recruit faculty, more than doubling the departmental size. In 2006 a 16,500 square foot addition was built, allowing for continued growth and development of the psychology department. Graduate training at the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences is organized into four areas of specialization:

  1. Aging and Development
  2. Behavior, Brain, and Cognition
  3. Clinical Psychology
  4. Social and Personality Psychology

Although students declare one primary area of interest when applying, if accepted they will be exposed to all areas through course work, research collaboration, and departmental colloquia. The curricular requirements are designed to offer students a comprehensive coverage of the major areas of psychology, as well as basic training in statistics and research methods.

US News and World Report Ranking:
#15 Best National University
#23 Best Value School
#14 Best Graduate Program in Psychology
Average Annual Graduate Tuition and Fees: $46,010
Total Graduate Enrollment: 6,947
New Students Admitted Annually: 5-15 students
Acceptance Rates: 17.1%
Accreditation:
American Psychological Association (APA)
Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCACS)

#16 – Duke University – Durham, North Carolina

Duke University Best Small Graduate Psychology ProgramThe Department of Psychology and Neuroscience

Points: 11
Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Program Website

Duke University is a private university with the strength of a large research university and the charm of a small liberal arts college. Duke University is comprised of 10 schools and colleges, many of which serve both undergraduate and graduate students. The department supports doctoral degrees in Clinical Psychology, Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience, Developmental Psychology, Social Psychology and Systems and Integrative Neuroscience. The requirements for all five areas includes:

  1. P&N Seminar: A first year course that guides students through program requirements and aids in the preparation of competitive fellowships and grants
  2. A minimum of 4 core-courses among: Psychopathology, Cognitive Development, Social Development, Social Behavior & Personality, Cognitive Psychology, Behavioral and Computational Neuroscience and Cognitive Neuroscience
  3. A minimum of 4 Teaching Assistantships in years 2-5
  4. Major area paper (MAP) that must be completed by the Spring of the 3rd year
  5. Proposal Defense
  6. Dissertation and oral dissertation defense

US News and World Report Ranking:

#8 Best National University
#7 Best Value School
#21 Best Graduate Program in Psychology
Average Annual Graduate Tuition and Fees: $46,738
Total Graduate Enrollment: 9,230
New Students Admitted Annually: 4-6 students
Acceptance Rates: 11.4%
Accreditation:
American Psychological Association (APA)
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

#15 – Carnegie Mellon University – Pittsburg, Pennsylvania

Carnegie Mellon University Best Small Graduate Psychology ProgramThe Department of Psychology

Points: 9
Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Program Website

Carnegie Mellon University is a private institution, founded by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. The doctoral program focuses on research training with research and course work that is directed by an advisor to make sure that the student’s interests, goals and career aspirations can be met. Each student is required to engage in original research throughout the entire four years of graduate study. During the first two years, research results are formally presented to the Department in the spring semester. In these years, students complete a core-course sequence consisting of social/personality psychology, developmental psychology, cognition, and cognitive neuroscience. The final years are spent proposing, completing, and defending the doctoral thesis. The three focus areas that are available to graduate students are:

  1. Cognitive Psychology & Cognitive Neuroscience
  2. Developmental Psychology
  3. Social / Personality / Health Psychology

US News and World Report Ranking:
#23 Best National University
# 37Best Value School
#21 Best Graduate Program in Psychology
Average Annual Graduate Tuition and Fees: $40,429
Total Graduate Enrollment: 6,699
New Students Admitted Annually: 15-20 students
Acceptance Rates: 24.6%
Accreditation:
Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

#14 – Indiana University – Bloomington, Indiana

Indiana University Best Small Graduate Psychology ProgramThe Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

Points: 11
Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Program Website

Indiana University Bloomington (IU Bloomington) is a public university that was originally established in 1820. IU Bloomington is the flagship campus of Indiana University’s eight campuses statewide. The mission of the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences is to “lead scientific advances through state-of-the-art experimentation and theory with the goal of understanding how the entire brain-behavior system works – from molecular neuroscience to cognition to the social behavior of groups.”

There are seven doctoral level concentration areas in Psychology, each allowing students to create a plan of study and develop a depth of knowledge in the area most aligned with their interests. These include:

  1. Clinical Science
  2. Cognitive Neuroscience
  3. Cognitive Psychology
  4. Developmental Psychology
  5. Mechanisms of Behavior
  6. Molecular and Systems Neuroscience
  7. Social Psychology

US News and World report named IU Bloomington as having the 18th best Clinical Psychology program and the 11th best Cognitive Psychology program.

US News and World Report Ranking:
#75 Best National University
#29 Top Public School
#26 Best Graduate Program in Psychology
Average Annual Graduate Tuition and Fees: $9,497
Total Graduate Enrollment: 9,997
New Students Admitted Annually: 14-20 students
Acceptance Rates: 76.1%
Accreditation:
American Psychological Association (APA)
Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCACS)

#13 – Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Cambridge, Massachusetts

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Best Small Graduate Psychology ProgramThe Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences

Points: 12
Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Program Website

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, just across the river from metropolitan Boston. The focus at MIT is on scientific and technological research throughout the five schools and one college. Graduate students at the Department of Brain and Cognitive Science can complete a robust and interdisciplinary Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program. This program has been designed to train students to pursue careers in research, teaching, or clinical practice. During the first year of study, students complete rotations through different laboratories, gathering a plethora of information from the department’s scientific diversity. At the end of the first year, students are matched with a laboratory where they will complete their Ph.D.

US News and World Report Ranking:
#7 Best National University
#5 Best Value School
#9 Best Graduate Program in Psychology
Average Annual Graduate Tuition and Fees: $47,284
Total Graduate Enrollment: 6,807
New Students Admitted Annually: 15-20students
Acceptance Rates: 7.9%
Accreditation:
New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)

#12 – Princeton University – Princeton, New Jersey

Princeton University Best Small Graduate Psychology ProgramThe Department of Psychology

Points: 13
Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Program Website

Princeton is the fourth-oldest college in the United States, and is located in the quaint town of Princeton, New Jersey. The Department of Psychology doctoral program is designed to train students for conference of the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree that will lead to a career of productive scholarship in psychological science. The program offers specialization in a range of areas, including behavioral economics, cognitive neuroscience, developmental psychology, language, learning and memory, perception and cognition, the psychology of inequality, social neuroscience, social psychology, and systems neuroscience. There are also multidisciplinary programs that lead to joint degrees in psychology and neuroscience or psychology and social policy are offered.

US News and World Report Ranking:
#1 Best National University
#1 Best Value School
#7 Best Graduate Program in Psychology
Average Annual Graduate Tuition and Fees: $43,720
Total Graduate Enrollment: 2,697
New Students Admitted Annually: 12 students
Acceptance Rates: 7.4%
Accreditation:
Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

#11 – Cornell University – Ithaca, New York

Cornell University Best Small Graduate Psychology ProgramThe Department of Psychology

Points: 13
Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Program Website

One of the most unique aspects at Cornell University is that each of the 14 colleges and schools admits its own students and provides its own faculty. The Department of Psychology Graduate Field Division is consists of 39 faculty members from departments throughout the university including Psychology, Human Development, and Neurobiology and Behavior. The goal of the Psychology Field is to “educate students to become researchers, scholars, and teachers who will contribute to the future of psychology as a scientific discipline in academic or other research-oriented settings.”

US News and World Report Ranking:
#15 Best National University
#17 Best Value School
#14 Best Graduate Program in Psychology
Average Annual Graduate Tuition and Fees: $29,581
Total Graduate Enrollment: 7,397
New Students Admitted Annually: 15-20 students
Acceptance Rates: 14.2%
Accreditation:
Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
New York State Board of Regents (NYSBR)

#10 – University of California Davis – Davis, California

UC Davis Best Small Graduate Psychology ProgramThe Department of Psychology

Points: 13
Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Program Website

The University of California Davis campus is one of ten schools in the University of California system. The Davis campus was originally founded as a farm school for UC – Berkeley. The school is located 15 miles from Sacramento with a wide range of academic options within its undergraduate, graduate and professional schools and colleges. The Psychology Department is home to a nationally-ranked Doctor of Philosophy program. The program was designed to train qualified students so they may pursue careers in the areas of research and teaching. Students work alongside one or two faculty members to develop research programs that often result in published work in peer reviewed psychology journals. The curricular requirements include minimal coursework, instead promoting engagement in research from the start of the program. The department has five concentrated areas of study: developmental psychology; perception, cognition, and cognitive neuroscience; biological psychology (comparative and physiological psychology), social-personality, and quantitative psychology. Just a few of the more than 30 state-of-the-art research labs include:

  • Adult Attachment Lab
  • Agent-Based Models Lab (Schank)
  • Attitudes and Group Identity Lab (Ledgerwood)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience of Language Lab
  • Dynamic Memory Lab (Ranganath)
  • Healthy Emotions, Relationships & Development (HERD) Lab
  • Infant Cognition Lab
  • Laboratory for Comparative Neurobiology of Monogamy (Bales)
  • Longitudinal and Missing Data Methods (Blozis)
  • Mind-Emotion Development

US News and World Report Ranking:
#41 Best National University
#11 Top Public School
#49 Best Value School
#21 Best Graduate Program in Psychology
Average Annual Graduate Tuition and Fees: $13,109
Total Graduate Enrollment: 6,943
New Students Admitted Annually: 15-20 students
Acceptance Rates: 40.6%
Accreditation:
Senior College and University Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)

#9 – University of Texas – Austin, Texas

University of Texas Best Small Graduate Psychology ProgramThe Department of Psychology

Points: 13
Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology
Program Website

The University of Texas at Austin is a public university that was established in 1883. Despite the large total undergraduate enrollment of 39,523, the total graduate enrollment is just under 12,000 students. Many of the available graduate programs are small and student-centered, with many opportunities for hands-on learning. The goal of graduate training in the Department of Psychology is to “prepare students for academic or other scientific careers in research and teaching.” Students can choose to pursue one of several areas of specialization: Behavioral Neuroscience, Clinical Psychology, Cognitive Science, Developmental Psychology, Individual Differences and Evolutionary Psychology, Perceptual Systems, and Social Psychology.

US News and World Report Ranking:
#52 Best National University
#16 Top Public School
#14 Best Graduate Program in Psychology
Average Annual Graduate Tuition and Fees: $10,878
Total Graduate Enrollment: 11,790
New Students Admitted Annually: 18-20 students
Acceptance Rates: 39.7%
Accreditation:
American Psychological Association (APA)
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

#8 – Stanford University – Stanford, California

Stanford University Best Small Graduate Psychology ProgramThe Department of Psychology

Points: 14
Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Program Website

Stanford University is a private university with a total graduate enrollment of 9,944. The sprawling 8,180-acre campus is situated about 30 miles from San Francisco. Students seeking a graduate degree in psychology from a small school will thrive in this nationally honored psychology department. The Department of Psychology confers a Doctor of Philosophy (no terminal master’s degree is offered) in five areas of study, including: Cognitive, Developmental, Neuroscience, Affective Science, and Social Psychology.

US News and World Report Ranking:
#4 Best National University
#4 Best Value School
#1 Best Graduate Program in Psychology
Average Annual Graduate Tuition and Fees: $44,757
Total Graduate Enrollment: 9,944
New Students Admitted Annually: 10-15 students
Acceptance Rates: 5.1%
Accreditation:
American Psychological Association (APA)
Senior College and University Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)

#7 – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – Champaign, Illinois

University of Illinois Best Small Graduate Psychology ProgramThe Department of Psychology

Points: 14
Master of Arts in Psychology, Master of Science in Psychology and Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Program Website

The University of Illinois is located in the twin cities of Urbana and Champaign Illinois, just a few hours from Chicago, Indianapolis and St. Louis. The school is the state’s flagship institution and is a classic land-grant university. The Psychology Department is made up of nine central divisions, with faculty members teaching in one or more divisions. Graduate students have one divisional home, as the various divisions have different curricula and requirements. The division structure is designed to be flexible, with a great deal of departmental collaboration and interaction across divisions. The division include:

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Clinical/Community
  • Cognitive
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Developmental
  • General
  • Quantitative
  • Social-Personality
  • Industrial-Organizational
  • Visual Cognition and Human Performance

Students at the graduate level can work towards the following graduate degrees in psychology:

  1. Master of Science (MS) – without thesis – The Master of Science degree in applied personnel and applied measurement is conferred as a terminal degree to candidates who complete 32 hours and completion of an appropriate applied psychology undergraduate program.
  2. The Master of Arts (MA) – with thesis – This degree is conferred to candidates who complete 32 hours of graduate work and submit an acceptable thesis. The thesis is expected to be a report of original empirical research. The Master of Arts is designed to be a step towards a PhD.
  3. The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) – The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is awarded to candidates who complete an approved program in their area of specialization and meet all Departmental and Graduate College requirements.

US News and World Report Ranking:
#41 Best National University
#11 Top Public School
#7 Best Graduate Program in Psychology
Average Annual Graduate Tuition and Fees: $17,745
Total Graduate Enrollment: 12,181
New Students Admitted Annually: 18-20 students
Acceptance Rates: 59%
Accreditation:
American Psychological Association (APA)
Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCACS)

#6 – University of California –  San Diego, California

UC San Diego Best Small Graduate Psychology ProgramThe Department of Psychology

Points: 14
Non-Terminal Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Program Website

The University of California in San Diego campus is nestled alongside the Pacific Ocean in the La Jolla community of San Diego. The picturesque campus makes an excellent learning environment for a wide range of students. The Department of Psychology offers one of the most widely respected doctoral programs in the country. The Department of Psychology was established in 1965 and the first class was admitted in 1966. The faculty and staff uphold a commitment to “the belief that the best training for a career in psychology, even one in clinical psychology, is a strong background in experimental psychology.” One of the major strengths of the program is the apprenticeship/colleague system that is in place. This allows graduate students to work closely with one or more faculty advisor(s) throughout the educational process. Graduate students participate in research projects starting in their first year, when they begin a year long research project that serves as a major criterion in the evaluation of first year students. All students spend a substantial amount of time conducting supervised research throughout their graduate careers, which means that graduate students in this program are treated more like colleagues than students. In addition to traditional classroom learning, there are lectures, labs, seminars, journal clubs, a weekly colloquium series featuring internationally prominent speakers. Students admitted into the doctoral training program can apply for their Master of Arts during their course of study, however it is not a terminal degree. The areas of concentration are as follows:

  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Sensation and Perception
  • Social Psychology

In addition to being the 14th best general psychology program in the United States, UC San Diego has also been names as the 26th best Clinical Psychology program, the 3rd best Cognitive Psychology program and the top Behavioral Neuroscience in the nation.

US News and World Report Ranking:
#39 Best National University
#9 Top Public School
#48 Best Value School
#14 Best Graduate Program in Psychology
Average Annual Graduate Tuition and Fees: $12,829
Total Graduate Enrollment: 5,899
New Students Admitted Annually: 12-15 students
Acceptance Rates: 33.5%
Accreditation:
Senior College and University Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)

#5 – University of Wisconsin – Madison, Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin Best Small Graduate Psychology ProgramThe Department of Psychology

Points: 14
Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Program Website

The University of Wisconsin in Madison is one of the largest and most-respected universities in the country. The university is widely viewed as a leader in teaching, research and public service. Programs throughout the university expose students to nationally recognized faculty who are responsible for both teaching, as well as using their skills and research to better the world. The Department of Psychology trains students with cutting edge training that will prepare them for a range of professional careers in academic, clinical, research, and other settings. There is a strong focus on academic training in general psychology as well as rigorous research training in the chosen area of concentration. All students are expected to become “creative scientists” and to display a commitment to research and scholarship. Students must participate in a first-year research project where their results are presented to the entire department in the fall of the second year. Many graduate students have several significant publications before they complete their doctoral training.

US News and World Report Ranking:
#41 Best National University
#11 Top Public School
#9 Best Graduate Program in Psychology
Average Annual Graduate Tuition and Fees: $11,865
Total Graduate Enrollment: 11,904
New Students Admitted Annually: 20 students
Acceptance Rates: 49.8%
Accreditation:
American Psychological Association (APA)
Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCACS)

#4 – University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, North Carolina

University of North Carolina Best Small Graduate Psychology ProgramThe Department of Psychology

Points: 15
Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Program Website

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was established as the nation’s first public university in 1789. It has earned a reputation as one of the leading universities in the world. The school is commonly referred to as one of the “Public Ivies.” The university is also home to one of the strongest and most diverse student bodies in the nation, creating a sense of community, made up of students from every state and more than 100 countries. The nationally renowned Department of Psychology confers a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Psychology with the option of specialization. The Ph.D. program is designed to offer students the knowledge, skills, and judgment they will need to become active contributors in research, academics, and professional service to the greater community. Students can choose from one of six sub-fields: Behavioral Neuroscience, Clinical Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Quantitative Psychology, and Social Psychology. Some of the national awarded programs found at the department include:

  • The 2nd Best Clinical Psychology Graduate Program
  • The 5th Best Developmental Psychology Graduate Program

US News and World Report Ranking:
#30 Best National University
#5 Top Public School
#13 Best Value School
#12 Best Graduate Program in Psychology
Average Annual Graduate Tuition and Fees: $10,594
Total Graduate Enrollment: 10,785
New Students Admitted Annually: 4-6 students
Acceptance Rates: 28.5%
Accreditation:
American Psychological Association (APA)
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

#3 – University of California – Berkeley, California

UC Berkeley Best Small Graduate Psychology ProgramThe Department of Psychology

Points: 16
Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Program Website

The University of California at Berkeley is a public university with the benefits of a large university. Although the undergraduate enrollment is quite large, the graduate enrollment is kept intentionally small. The goal is for students to receive a leading education with the attention that can only be given in a small academic department. Graduate psychology students at Berkeley learn in small classes with many opportunities for classroom and experiential learning. The stated goal of the graduate program in Psychology is to “produce scholar-researchers with sufficient breadth to retain perspective in the field of psychology and sufficient depth to permit successful independent and significant research.” While all students are taught the tenets of the broad field of psychology, there are six identified training units for students to further customize their training. These include:

  1. Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience
  2. Clinical Science
  3. Cognition
  4. Cognitive Neuroscience
  5. Developmental
  6. Social-Personality

The requirements for each specialty area vary, but all six involve a mixture of courses, seminars and supervised independent research. Graduate psychology students are encouraged to complete courses outside the Psychology Department, which utilizes the unique faculty strengths found throughout the Berkeley campus.

US News and World Report Ranking:
#20 Best National University
#1 Top Public School
#2 Best Graduate Program in Psychology
Average Annual Graduate Tuition and Fees: $12,971
Total Graduate Enrollment: 10,439
New Students Admitted Annually: 18-20 students
Acceptance Rates: 16%
Accreditation:
American Psychological Association (APA)
Senior College and University Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)

#2 – University of California – Los Angeles, California

UCLA Best Small Graduate Psychology ProgramThe College of Life Sciences – The Department of Psychology

Points: 16
Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Program Website

The University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) offers wide ranging opportunities for investigation, discovery, and education, within a close-knit community that offers students a sense of belonging. The undergraduate enrollment at UCLA is large, but the graduate enrollment numbers are just over 10,000. The UCLA Psychology Department offers graduate training culminating in the Doctor of Philosophy degree (there is no separate M.A. program or Psy.D. program offered). Students can pursue any of the following areas of emphases: Behavioral Neuroscience, Clinical, Cognitive, Developmental, Health Psychology, Learning and Behavior, Quantitative, and Social Psychology. The program is designed to train psychologists to function efficiently as researchers, college faculty members, and professional research psychologists. In addition to the general psychology ranking, the Department of Psychology has earned the following notoriety from US News and World Report:

  • #1 in Clinical Psychology
  • #4 in Behavioral Neuroscience
  • #9
 in
 Cognitive Psychology
  • #5
 in 
Developmental Psychology
  • #3
 in 
Social Psychology

US News and World Report Ranking:
#23 Best National University
#2 Top Public School
#2 Best Graduate Program in Psychology
Average Annual Graduate Tuition and Fees: $12,571
Total Graduate Enrollment: 12,212
New Students Admitted Annually: 16-20 students
Acceptance Rates: 18.6%
Accreditation:
American Psychological Association (APA)
Senior College and University Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)

#1 – Yale University – New Haven, Connecticut

Yale University Best Small Graduate Psychology ProgramThe Department of Psychology

Points: 17
Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Program Website

Yale University is an Ivy League university made up of the College, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and 13 professional schools. Yale maintains a unique balance of being both a small college as well as a large research university. Students participate in ongoing intellectual stimulation and the excitement of being part of a major international center of learning. The graduate program in Psychology enrolls about 15 new doctoral students each year. When students submit their application, they must identify interest in one of five areas of concentration. The five academic interest areas include:

  1. Clinical Psychology
  2. Cognitive Psychology
  3. Developmental Psychology
  4. Neuroscience
  5. Social/Personality Psychology

The general graduate psychology program has been named the fourth best in the country, and has earned the following accolades in specialty areas within the field:

  • #2 in Clinical Psychology
  • #5 in Cognitive Psychology
  • #11 
in 
Developmental Psychology
  • #3
 in 
Social Psychology

US News and World Report Ranking:
#3 Best National University
#3 Best Value School
#4 Best Graduate Program in Psychology
Average Annual Graduate Tuition and Fees: $37,600
Total Graduate Enrollment: 6,859
New Students Admitted Annually: 15 students
Acceptance Rates: 6.3%
Accreditation:
American Psychological Association (APA)
New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)

Opportunities for a Graduate Psychology Degree from a Small College

Small departments are an excellent fit for many students. Largely because they can offer a more supportive and intimate learning environment, where students can work more closely with their peers and their instructors. Any student who thrives in this more engaged type of environment will benefit from these training programs. A graduate program in psychology offered by one of these programs offers a rigorous, robust and comprehensive curriculum that prepares graduates for employment in a number of areas as well as further graduate training. Graduates from one of the most recognized small psychology programs in the country would have a wide range of options for their future. This may include private practice, research, academia, work in the medical setting and a range of other options. By earning a graduate psychology degree from one of the best small colleges in the United States, you will graduate prepared and ready for an exciting career in psychology.

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

Ranking Top 20 Graduate Degree Programs in Psychology in 2015

Ranking Top 20 Liberal Arts Colleges Offering a Degree in Psychology in 2015

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


Ranking Methodology

The goal of this ranking list is to outline the twenty best small graduate programs in the United States offering graduate training in Psychology. While many nationally known universities have a large undergraduate enrollment, many offer graduate programs that are much smaller and more intimate. In order to be considered for this list, the school must admit 20 students or fewer each year. Many of these programs are offered by some of the leading colleges in the nation. Factors considered:

College Ranking

The first factor that was weighed into the ranking of the colleges was whether or not each 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, Top Public School List, the Best Graduate Psychology Programs List, and Best Value Ranking.

Points:

US News and World Report Best National University Ranking, Top Public School Ranking, Best Value School Ranking and Best Graduate Psychology Program Ranking:
Top 25 / Top 10 / Top 5
1 Point / 2 Points / 3 Points

Overall Cost of Attendance

The next factor being considered is the average annual cost of graduate attendance. Schools offering academic training in psychology while also keeping student costs low are given higher consideration. Those schools that keep their cost of attendance lower receive a higher ranking on this list. Average annual graduate tuition and fees data was gathered from the College Navigator Tool.

Points:
Under $30,000 / $30,001 – $35,000/ $35,001 – $40,000
3 Points / 2 Points / 1 Point

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: 2 Points

Likelihood of Acceptance

As more and more individuals are pursuing psychology degrees the ability to be accepted to a college program is becoming increasingly competitive. Those schools with higher acceptance rate were given additional points. US News and World Report provided the data for this score.

Points:
Acceptance Rate – 10-19% / 20-29% / Above 30%
1 Points / 2 Points / 3 Points

Total School Graduate Enrollment: Data was gathered from the College Navigator Tool.

5,000 – 7,000 / 7,001- 9,000/ 9,001 – 13,000
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 with lower annual tuition rates. The main purpose of this list is to highlight the best Small graduate programs in the United States offering graduate training in Psychology. Specializations, awards and achievements earned by the school or department have also been noted.


By Kristen Fescoe
Published March 2016

About the Author

After earning a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Rutgers University and then a Master of Science in Clinical and Forensic Psychology from Drexel University, Kristen Fescoe began a career as a therapist at two prisons in Philadelphia. At the same time she volunteered as a rape crisis counselor, also in Philadelphia. After a few years in the field she accepted a teaching position at a local college where she currently teaches online psychology courses. Kristen began writing in college and still enjoys her work as a writer, editor, professor and mother.

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