Top 20 Psychology Degree Programs in the South in 2015

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Badge - Online Psyc Degrees - Best Degree ProgramsBy Kristen Fescoe
Posted April, 2015

Throughout the United States, Psychology is one of the largest major fields of study. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the field of professional psychology will likely grow by approximately 12 percent between now and 2020. While a Master’s or Doctoral Degree in psychology is a terminal degree leading to a career in psychology, an undergraduate psychology degree is a stepping-stone to a number of different career options. Students pursuing training in psychology can take this liberal arts education and apply it to fields such as medicine, law, human resources, business and a number of other options. The southern region of the United States is home to hundreds of highly respected and fully accredited colleges and universities offering training in psychology. There are many different undergraduate and graduate programs ranging from General Psychology to the many specialized sub-fields in psychology. The twelve states in this region offer some of the nations best training programs in Psychology.

Ranking Methodology

This ranking list has been created to highlight the 20 best Psychology Degree programs, at both the undergraduate and the graduate level, in the Southern Region of the United States. Factors considered:

Overall Cost of Attendance

The first factor being considered is the overall annual cost of attendance. Schools offering a regionally superior academic program while also keeping student costs low are given higher consideration. Each individual college or university reported the tuition data.

Points:
Under $30,000 / $30,001 – $40,999/ $41,000 and above:
3 Points / 2 Points / 1 Point

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 For the Southern Region of the United States.

Points:
US News and World Report Best Southern College Ranking:
Top 25/ Top 15 / Top 10 / Top 5
1 Point / 2 Points / 3 Points / 5 Points

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. Schools granted program specific accreditation earned 1 extra point per accreditation.

Points:
CACREP, NASP or NCATE Accreditation: 1 Point

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 Rates Above 50% / Above 75% / Above 90%
1 Points / 2 Points / 3 Points

Graduation Rate

Additional consideration was given to those schools that had the highest 6-year graduation rate. A higher percentage means that students entering the program will have a higher likelihood of completing the program within 6 years of beginning. US News and World Report provided the data for this score.

Points:
6 Year Graduation Rate
Above 60% / Above 70%/ Above 80%
1 Point/ 2 Points/ 3 Points

Number of Degree Options or Areas of Specialization

While it may not be imperative in some fields to offer an array of areas of specialization, psychology is not one of those fields. With a vast number of possible specializations and concentrations it is important to Psychology Students to have the ability to pursue a degree specialized to fit their career goals.

Points:
Programs offering both Undergraduate and Graduate Training = 5 points

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 higher ranking on the US News and World Report Best Southern Colleges List and then lowest tuition rates. The main purpose of this list is to highlight the top Psychology Degree Programs in the Southern Region of the United States. Specializations, awards and achievements earned by the school or department have also been noted.

Ranking Top 20 Psychology Degree Programs in the South

#20 – Queens University of Charlotte – Charlotte, North Carolina

Queens-University-best-psychology-program-in-the-southThe College of Arts and Sciences

Bachelor of Arts

Points: 4
Program Website

The Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Psychology program is offered with two optional areas of study: General Psychology and Human and Community Services. The curriculum used by the Psychology Department focuses on the gathering of a greater comprehension of theories that are fundamental in determining behavior. The general coursework introduces students to basic psychological principles, while upper-level courses offer opportunities for additional work in areas of specific interest to students. Independent study opportunities allow students to create and implement original research. There are internship opportunities in community settings that allow students to gain practical application of psychological principles. The BA Degree in Psychology offers rudimentary training in preparation for graduate study in areas of psychology, education, social sciences, social work and law as well as a foundation for careers in personnel, social work, mental health, health care and similar areas. Students can choose from courses in the following areas: development, social psychology, learning, cognition, physiological psychology, abnormal psychology and clinical issues. You may also elect to pursue courses in special areas of psychology including sports psychology, family therapy, language, death and dying, forensic psychology, and the psychology of religion. Each student can customize the major to enhance each students understanding of the tenets of the field while pursuing active research in a field of interest.

US News and World Report Southern Regional Ranking: Tied for #18
Annual Tuition: $30,850
Degree Options:
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
Enrollment: 2,285
Acceptance Rate: 76.9%
Six Year Graduation Rate: 52%
Accreditations:
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

#19 – Hampton University – Hampton, Virginia

Hampton University Best Psychology Program in the SouthThe School of Liberal Arts

Bachelor of Arts

Points: 4
Program Website

The Bachelor of Arts in Psychology Degree offered through the School of Liberal Arts offers a Liberal Arts curriculum leading to a degree in Psychology. Psychology majors are prepared with basic knowledge of psychology through the study of important theories, research and applications of the field. The Department of Psychology is among the United States leading departments for training African American undergraduate psychology majors. This department is one of Hampton’s most successful departments as measured by the increase in the number of students who graduate each year, retaining students and graduating those enrolled. The overall goals as stated by the department include:

  • Goal 1: Knowledge Base of Psychology – Demonstrate familiarity with the major concepts, theoretical perspectives, empirical findings, and historical trends in psychology.
  • Goal 2: Research Methods in Psychology – Understand and apply basic research methods in psychology, including research design, data analysis, and interpretation.
  • Goal 3: Critical Thinking Skills in Psychology – Respect and use critical and creative thinking, skeptical inquiry, and, when possible, the scientific approach to solve problems related to behavior and mental processes.
  • Goal 4: Application of Psychology – Understand and apply psychological principals to personal, social, and organizational issues.
  • Goal 5: Values in Psychology – Value empirical evidence, tolerate ambiguity, act ethically, and reflect other values that are the underpinning of psychology as a science.
  • Goal 6: Information and Technology Literacy – Demonstrate information competence and the ability to use computers and other technology.
  • Goal 7: Communication Skills – Communicate effectively in a variety of formats.
  • Goal 8: Sociocultural and International Awareness – Recognize, understand, and respect the complexity of sociocultural and international awareness.
  • Goal 9: Personal Development – Develop insight into their own and other’s behavior and mental process and apply effective strategies for self-management and self improvement.
  • Goal 10: Career Planning and Development – Pursue realistic ideas about how to implement their psychological knowledge, skills, and values in occupational pursuits in a variety of settings that meet personal goals and societal needs.

US News and World Report Southern Regional Ranking: Tied for #18
Annual Tuition: $22,010
Degree Options:
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
Enrollment: 4,622
Acceptance Rate:36.1%
Six Year Graduation Rate: 68%
Accreditations:
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

#18 – Christopher Newport University – Newport New, Virginia

Christopher Newport University Best Psychology Program in the SouthThe Department of Psychology

Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science

Points: 5
Program Website

The mission of the Department of Psychology at Christopher Newport is to “pursue excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service”. The professors throughout the department are committed to providing students with the information and skills in the science of psychology, the ability to participate in disciplined and empirical inquiry, as well as the skills to “think, act, and communicate rationally, critically, creatively, and ethically”. Students can pursue either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree, depending upon their career goals. All Psychology Majors are required to complete a rigorous and well-planned curriculum, to study and master the relevant topics and methods of psychological study. The curriculum emphasizes necessary concepts, knowledge, methods of empirical study, practical applications of both knowledge and skills, and theoretical considerations. The psychology curriculum requires course work at the elementary, intermediate and advanced levels, as well as courses with laboratory elements.

US News and World Report Southern Regional Ranking: #17
Annual Tuition: $11,646 in state
Degree Options:
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
Bachelor of Science in Psychology
Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience
Enrollment: 5,232
Acceptance Rate: 59%
Six Year Graduation Rate: 66%
Accreditations:
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

#17 – Embry Riddle Aeronautical University – Daytona Beach, Florida

Embry Riddle Aeronautical University Best Psychology Program in the SouthThe College of Arts and Sciences

Bachelor of Science

Points: 5
Program Website

The unique Bachelor of Science (BS) in Human Factors Psychology is offered by the Department of Human Factors at the College of Arts and Sciences. This major was created for students with an interest in tackling the challenges that are met when you integrate the optimization of performance in humans and their corresponding technology. Through this major, students learn to combine an understanding of human psychology with systems design to “design technologies that are more intuitive to use and make people more effective”. Graduates of this program typically enter the work force as Human Factors Specialists who are adequately prepared to assist in making the increasingly technology-driven world more “human-friendly”. The BS in Human Factors Psychology can be earned in as few as eight semesters, requiring 123 credit hours. Students are strongly encouraged to choose a minor that complements Human Factors Psychology, such as Air Traffic Control, Aviation Safety, Computer Science, Flight, or Mathematics.

US News and World Report Southern Regional Ranking: #10
Annual Tuition: $31,948
Degree Options:
Bachelor of Science in Human Factors Psychology
Enrollment: 5,279
Acceptance Rate: 74.1%
Six Year Graduation Rate: 56%
Accreditations:
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

# 16 – Mercer University – Macon, Georgia

Mercer University Best Psychology Program in the SouthThe College of Liberal Arts

Bachelor of Arts

Points: 5
Program Website

The Psychology Major Program at Mercer University has several important areas of focus. Through the curriculum students are given a strong foundation in the scientific, theoretical, and philosophical elements of the greater field of Psychology. The program is designed to implement a curriculum that allows students to further their basic skills in critical thinking, writing, communication, technology and research. The strong Liberal Arts Education enhances the overall well being of student’s personal and professional lives. Upon completion of this program, students are well prepared to continue their education at the graduate (masters and doctoral) level. Psychology majors are given experiential opportunities based on their own research interest. This is completed by independent research projects as a required part of the curriculum. Each faculty member at the Psychology Department has active research groups where students are encouraged to further their skills by working in real-world setting. The average class size in the Department is less than 20 students, with many classes supporting laboratory components as a part of the requirements. Students at the upper levels have the chance to gain experiential learning field placements in the community.

US News and World Report Southern Regional Ranking: #8
Annual Tuition: $33,780
Degree Options:
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
Enrollment: 8,351
Acceptance Rate: 69%
Six Year Graduation Rate: 59%
Accreditations:
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

#15 – College of Charleston – Charleston, South Carolina

College of Charleston Best Psychology Program in the SouthThe College of Human and Social Sciences

Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science

Points: 6
Program Website

Students enrolled as Psychology majors at the College of Charleston have the option of pursuing either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. The Department of Psychology offers courses in the many traditional subject areas as well as the more recently uncovered areas of psychological study. The program prepares students for careers in the behavioral sciences and psychology-related fields, as well as graduate programs in psychology and other professions. This major is an excellent choice for any career where an understanding of human behavior is will be important. The Department of Psychology also supports the Student Advising Committee, which helps students navigate their plan of study within the psychology major. Psychology majors learn to think critically, research vigorously and communicate clearly. The curriculum exposes students to many long-standing areas of psychology (by way of courses such as Conditioning and Learning and Abnormal Psychology) and the more newly developed areas (with such courses as Neuropsychology).

US News and World Report Southern Regional Ranking: Tied for #13
Annual Tuition: $11,018 in state
Degree Options:
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
Bachelor of Science in Psychology
Enrollment: 11,619
Acceptance Rate: 72.2%
Six Year Graduation Rate: 64%
Accreditations:
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

#14 – Union University – Jackson, Tennessee

Union University Best Psychology Program in the SouthThe College of Arts and Sciences

Bachelor of Arts

Points: 6
Program Website

The Bachelor of Arts in Psychology Degree Program offered at Union trains students in the basic principles of modern general psychology as well as the many specialty areas within the field. The department boasts intentionally small class sizes, direct interaction with faculty, and a curriculum based in the Christian context. Psychology majors who completed this program have gone on to secure employment in a wide range of occupations including clinical psychologist, counselor, school psychologist, probation officer, child and adolescent therapist, family services coordinator, director of mental health, social service specialist, college counselor, hospital counselor, pastoral care director, minister to young married couples, children’s hospital psychologist, college dean, physical therapist, attorney, social worker, chaplain, psychological examiner, college professor, assistant director for a child abuse prevention center, executive director for the Girl Scouts, psychotherapist, youth minister, social counselor for the Department of Human Resources, employment coordinator, vocational rehabilitation counselor, youth services officer, private investigator, and director of missions.

US News and World Report Southern Regional Ranking: #13
Annual Tuition: $28,190
Degree Options:
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
Enrollment: 3,996
Acceptance Rate: 74.2%
Six Year Graduation Rate: 64%
Accreditations:
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

#13 – Bellarmine University – Louisville, Kentucky

Bellarmine University Best Psychology Program in the SouthThe Psychology Department

Bachelor of Arts

Points: 7
Program Website

The psychology major at Bellarmine uses a rigorous curriculum to emphasize an empirical approach to the investigation of human behavior. Students have the opportunity to participate in field placements at agencies throughout the community. All psychology majors must complete a research project under close supervision and interaction with the psychology faculty members. Students in this program are properly trained for graduate training in psychology and closely related disciplines. The program also offers the framework for careers in psychology, human services, and human resources. The Psychology Department offers three program options:

  1. The Traditional emphasis is designed for students preparing for graduate training. This emphasis has various optional electives to enhance, enrich, and further the intellectual, emotional and social growth of each student.
  2. The Human Services emphasis trains students for careers in various helping profession. It is a structured and training oriented program with a required Internship.
  3. The Human Resources/Personnel Management emphasis readies students for careers in organizational and business settings working with others. The curriculum is designed for developing practical skills and is training oriented.

US News and World Report Southern Regional Ranking: Tied for #13
Annual Tuition: $36,290
Degree Options:
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with concentration in Human Services
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with concentration in Human Resources
Enrollment: 3,419
Acceptance Rate: 94.8%
Six Year Graduation Rate: 68%
Accreditations:
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

#12 – University of Mary Washington – Fredericksburg, Virginia

University of Mary Washington Best Psychology Program in the SouthThe College of Arts and Sciences

Bachelor of Science

Points: 8
Program Website

The Bachelor of Science in Psychology Degree Program provides students with a foundational introduction to the field of psychology as a scientific discipline. Students are introduced to both traditional areas and more recent trends and theoretical developments in the field. Psychology majors enrolled in this program receive rigorous training in methodology and statistics, as well as enhancement of critical thinking, communication and research skills. The curriculum exposes students to the variety of subject areas that comprise the field of psychology and gives students the chance for experiential learning. Many students participate on research teams and complete year-long research projects under the direction supervision of a faculty member. Many internships are offered at local businesses and social service agencies. Graduates of this program are prepared for either graduate work or employment immediately upon graduation. Possible employment opportunities include research in various business settings; social work; human resource management; computer applications; and counseling and case management in social service and mental health settings like probation and parole, mental retardation, substance abuse, and adolescent/adult group homes.

US News and World Report Southern Regional Ranking: Tied for #13
Annual Tuition: $10,252 in state
Degree Options:
Bachelor of Science in Psychology
Bachelor of Science in Psychology with minor in Neuroscience
Enrollment: 4,831
Acceptance Rate: 80.8%
Six Year Graduation Rate: 74%
Accreditations:
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

#11 – Samford University – Birmingham, Alabama

Samford University Best Psychology Program in the SouthThe Howard College of Arts and Sciences

Bachelor of Arts

Points: 8
Program Website

The goal of the Department of Psychology at Samford is to “educate our students about all of the influences, both internal and external, that direct thought and behavior”. Psychology majors learn the rudimentary tenets of psychological research, including the assumptions, methods, and reasoning used to evaluate cognition and behavior. Students also begin to understand the value and inherent limitations of such research. All students in this program must conduct original psychological research, and many students present their findings at local and national conferences. The Psychology Department is proud of the many empirical papers that their students have presented based on research they have conducted at Samford. Many graduates of this program pursue graduate training in psychology and related fields, or go on to professional schools such as law, medicine, business, and seminary. The curriculum used by the Department teaches psychology in the liberal arts context, highlighting the interaction between psychology and other disciplines. It also promotes critical thinking skills that are consistent with the Christian mission of Samford, and emphasize the ethical and moral dimensions of psychology and psychological research.

US News and World Report Southern Regional Ranking: #3
Annual Tuition: $27,324
Degree Options:
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
Enrollment: 4,833
Acceptance Rate: 77%
Six Year Graduation Rate: 69%
Accreditations:
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

#10 – Elon University – Elon, North Carolina

ElonUniversity Best Psychology Program in the SouthThe College of Arts and Sciences

Bachelor of Arts

Points: 8
Program Website

The Department of Psychology at Elon is a part of the Psychology and Human Service Studies Department. This Department supports the University’s largest liberal arts major, with nineteen full-time faculty members and more than 345 majors and 285 minors. The foundational element of this program is a strong focus on psychology as a fundamental and applied science. The field is based in the empirical scientific method with an emphasis on developing a value in learning, which is based upon gathering information systematically, thinking critically, logically, and creatively about that information and then communicating conclusions effectively to a wide range of audiences. This multidisciplinary discipline is grounded in creating in students a well-informed and delicate appreciation for the complex causes of human behavior. The curriculum is based on the American Psychological Association undergraduate learning goals and objectives, and are regularly adapted, assessed, and modified to ensure that students are trained for a career in psychology or related field. The solid grounding in research methodology is combined with both basic and advanced courses in major subfields of the discipline (behavioral neuroscience, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, and social psychology). There are a variety of special topical courses such as Abnormal Psychology, Animal Behavior, Cross-Cultural Psychology, Educational Psychology and Psychology of Leadership.

US News and World Report Southern Regional Ranking: #1
Annual Tuition: $31,247
Degree Options:
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
Enrollment: 6,305
Acceptance Rate: 54%
Six Year Graduation Rate: 82%
Accreditations:
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

#9 – Belmont University – Nashville, Tennessee

BelmontUniversity Best Psychology Program in the SouthThe School of Science

Bachelor of Science

Points: 9
Psychology Program Website
Neuroscience Program Website

The School of Science at Belmont offers a Bachelor of Science in both Psychology as well as Neuroscience. Students enrolling in the Psychology program can also choose from three optional areas of concentration. Graduates from the BS in Psychology program have gone on to secure employment in fields such as human services professions including counseling, psychotherapy, psychological testing and assessment, social work, student affairs, human resources, and many more. Because some of these positions will require a graduate degree, this program will adequately prepare students for entrance into graduate school. The psychology major, especially when combined with a business minor, is also perfect preparation for jobs in the business world (such as in sales or marketing). This psychology major can also help prepare students for a variety of professions such as medicine, law, nursing, human resources, physical therapy and occupational therapy. To guide students through the career planning process, Belmont has created a number of “concentrations” for psychology majors. These concentrations are designed to help students get the coursework they need to gain admission to graduate school or professional school. The concentrations currently available include:

  1. Psychology and Pre-Med
  2. Psychology and Pre-Physical Therapy
  3. Psychology and Pre-OT

Neuroscience is a rapidly growing field, which includes a vast array of sub-disciplines like cognition, behavior, cellular neuroscience and computational neuroscience. The neuroscience major is an interdisciplinary major, based upon the interplay between biology, psychology, chemistry, mathematics and computer science, with a great deal of flexibility to allow students to focus on the areas they enjoy most. The neuroscience program maintains small class sizes taught by faculty members who are committed to Belmont’s student-centered approach. The Neuroscience curriculum offers a multitude of experiences in classes as well as faculty-taught labs. The neuroscience faculty also serves as academic advisors who work closely with students to help them achieve their goals. This individualized attention helps to transform students into neuroscientists.

US News and World Report Southern Regional Ranking: #5
Annual Tuition: $28,660
Degree Options:
Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience
Bachelor of Science in Psychology
Bachelor of Science in Psychology with concentration in Pre-Med
Bachelor of Science in Psychology with concentration in Pre-Physical Therapy
Bachelor of Science in Psychology with concentration in Pre-Occupational Therapy
Enrollment: 6,915
Acceptance Rate: 79.9%
Six Year Graduation Rate: 68%
Accreditations:
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

#8 – Lipscomb University – Nashville, Tennessee

LipscombUniversity Best Psychology Program in the SouthThe College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Master of Marriage and Family Therapy and Master of Science

Points: 11
Program Website

The Psychology Department at Lipscomb aims to be a “student-focused environment with faculty who are known for excellence in teaching and advising”. Students receive a range of opportunities to excel both inside and outside of the classroom. Throughout their training students participate in internship experiences, work closely with faculty members to conduct psychological research, attend and present research at local conferences, and become active in the Psi Chi National Honor Society in Psychology or the Chi Sigma Iota National Honor Society in Counseling. In addition to the Bachelor of Arts or Sciences Degrees, the Department also offers two individual graduate degree programs.

The Master of Marriage and Family Therapy provides students with a rigorous 60-credit hour curriculum that has been created to fulfill the academic requirements for licensure as a Marriage & Family Therapist in the state of Tennessee (as well as many other states). This licensure allows students to offer Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) services to individuals, couples, and families in a vast range of settings in the community such as mental health centers, private practices, churches, and para-church organizations. The program also emphasizes faith integration that students report is especially helpful for those who wish to practice in faith-related settings. The M.MFT in Marriage and Family therapy is a 60 hour, 24 month program based upon a cohort model, which requires all coursework and practice necessary for students seeking MFT licensure.

The Master of Science (MS) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling has been created to meet the academic requirements for Tennessee licensure as a Professional Counselor with Mental Health Service Provider designation (LPC-MHSP). This licensure allows students to provide counseling services in a variety of settings in the community such as mental health centers, private practices, and churches. This program also emphasizes faith integration although students are not limited to faith-based settings. The MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree has received accreditation by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

US News and World Report Southern Regional Ranking: Tied for #18
Annual Tuition: $27,390
Degree Options:
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
Bachelor of Science in Psychology
Master of Marriage and Family Therapy
Master of Science in Psychology
Enrollment: 4,580
Acceptance Rate: 52.7%
Six Year Graduation Rate: 64%
Accreditations:
Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

#7 – University of North Carolina – Wilmington, North Carolina

University of North Carolina Best Psychology Program in the SouthThe Department of Psychology

Bachelor of Science and Master of Science

Points: 11
Program Website

The Department of Psychology at UNC offers training in psychology at both the undergraduate and graduate level. The Bachelor of Science in Psychology Degree Program holds the following Program Outcomes (PO) and Student Learning Outcomes (SLO) for the Undergraduate Major in Psychology:

  • PO 1: Students will receive a high quality education in the diverse discipline of Psychology, and learn communication and critical thinking skills expected of an individual with scientific training.
  • PO 2: Majors are exposed to applied, active learning experiences in psychology involving research and service.
  • PO 3: Majors are prepared to take their place as working citizens and to pursue further education in psychology and other professions and academic disciplines.
  • SLO 1: Students will demonstrate the ability to think critically about and analyze psychology concepts and literature.
  • SLO 2: Students will be able to effectively communicate psychological concepts and research in the style of the American Psychological Association.
  • SLO 3: Students will be able to present and interpret quantitative data in psychological research.

The Master of Arts in Psychology Degree Program has three concentrations, one general and two clinical, with a common set of program goals and student learning outcomes. Each of the three concentration areas emphasizes the empirical scientific method and principles common to all fields of psychology. All students participate in supervised research, and a thesis is required. The three concentration areas include:

  1. General Psychology
  2. Substance Abuse Treatment Psychology
  3. Applied Behavior Analysis

Students in each of the three concentration areas complete a research methods sequence during the first year of study, a common core of courses in psychology, a comprehensive exam, and a thesis. Students enrolled in the Substance Abuse Treatment and Applied Behavior Analysis concentrations complete additional coursework emphasizing clinical andn behavior analytic concepts and skills.

US News and World Report Southern Regional Ranking: #16
Annual Tuition: $6,392 in state
Degree Options:
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
Master of Arts in Psychology
Master of Arts in Psychology with concentration in Applied Behavior Analysis
Master of Arts in Psychology with concentration in General Psychology
Master of Arts in Psychology with concentration in Substance Abuse Treatment Psychology
Enrollment: 13,937
Acceptance Rate: 56.8%
Six Year Graduation Rate: 71%
Accreditations:
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

#6 – Loyola University – New Orleans, Louisiana

LoyolaUniversity Best Psychology Program in the SouthThe College of Humanities and Natural Sciences

Bachelor of Science and Master of Science

Points: 11
Undergraduate Program Website
Graduate Counseling Program Website

The College of Humanities and Natural Sciences at Loyola offers both undergraduate and graduate training in Psychology. Both programs are founded upon the organization of a non-traditional design, including a non-traditional sequence of courses. Individual courses are designed with the sole purpose of meeting the unique needs of the students, with frequent involvement of laboratory activities. This means that students are provided with solid preparation often unavailable at smaller university liberal arts Psychology departments. There is a range of instructional and investigative methods used in the course offerings. There are several upper division courses and laboratory activities which are frequently not available to undergraduates (such as Animal Learning, Studies in the Psychology of Women, Environmental Psychology, Psychopharmacology). The undergraduate thesis program leads to award winning research projects and a nationally recognized Practicum program. There is a strong commitment to student advising and close student-faculty interaction. The faculty members are nationally recognized as researchers, experts in several disciplines of psychology and professional psychologists.

The Master of Science in Counseling Degree Program offers qualified graduate students a judiciously designed curriculum designed to prepare them personally, academically, and professionally for careers as skilled clinical mental health counselors. One of the program’s core beliefs is that effectual professional counselor training requires a combination of three important modes of learning: academic learning, experiential learning, and learning about individual. This graduate degree program is consistent with the Jesuit tradition of “educating the whole person, is designed to help students gain knowledge, understanding, and skills in a planned sequence that builds toward more advanced concepts and more sophisticated clinical interventions”. The program emphasizes ethical, social, and cultural concerns.

US News and World Report Southern Regional Ranking: #11
Annual Tuition: $36,610
Degree Options:
Bachelor of Science in Psychology
Bachelor of Science in Psychology with Pre-Health concentration
Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Enrollment: 4,686
Acceptance Rate: 87.1%
Six Year Graduation Rate: 55%
Accreditations:
Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

#5 – Rollins College – Winter Park, Florida

Rollins College Best Psychology Program in the SouthThe Department of Psychology

Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts

Points: 12
BA Program Website
MA Program Website

The Bachelor of Arts in Psychology Degree Program is designed to reflect the breadth, enthusiasm, and rigor of scientific study regarding human behavior and experiences. The department supports four groups of students:

  • Those who want to participate in the discipline but choose not to pursue a psychology major
  • Students who believe psychology might enhance their main academic interests. Some of these fields include: business administration, education, religion and philosophy, sociology, anthropology, creative writing, health sciences or law.
  • Students who need to complete psychology courses work to engage in “helping professions” such as human resources, secondary teaching, vocational and educational guidance, special education, early childhood education, or day-care work
  • Those who intend to pursue a career in professional psychology: college or university teaching, research, or clinical or industrial psychology

All psychology majors, faculty members and psychology students are asked to uphold the following tenets and values that are fundamental to the curriculum:

  1. Psychology is science. Majors should learn the philosophy and principles of science and be well versed in theory, methods, and statistics (i.e., the foundations of scientific inquiry).
  2. Psychology is practice. Majors should gain experience in applying psychological principles and methods to understanding and solving real-world problems.
  3. Psychology is diverse. Majors should be exposed to a variety of fields and perspectives within the discipline to gain a broad-based knowledge and appreciation of how psychologists seek to understand the world.

The Graduate Training Program in Counseling Program is single in its commitment to nurturing a transformative experience filled with personal growth and self-awareness, which will serve to heighten each students professional effectiveness in the field of clinical mental health counseling. This graduate program is also unique because it offers advanced training in group counseling theory and practice. The program emphasizes core values of multiculturalism and social justice, clinical skills, practical experience, and ethical foundation that are necessary for a successful career in counseling.

US News and World Report Southern Regional Ranking: #2
Annual Tuition: $43,080
Degree Options:
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
Master of Arts in Counseling with concentration in Mental Health
Enrollment: 2,435
Acceptance Rate: 58.9%
Six Year Graduation Rate: 68%
Accreditations:
Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

#4 – Appalachian State University – Boone, North Carolina

Appalachian StateUniversity Best Psychology Program in the SouthThe College of Arts and Sciences – Cratis D. Williams Graduate School

Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts

Points: 13
Undergraduate Program Website
Graduate Program Website

The Appalachian State University Department of Psychology is proud to support a wide variety of both undergraduate and gradate training opportunities in Psychology. The University is a member institution of the sixteen-campus University of North Carolina Educational System. The city of Boone is located in the scenic western mountains of North Carolina, just a few miles from the Tennessee and Virginia borders. The Psychology Department is made up of a dedicated faculty of psychologists who emphasize critical thinking, empirical scientific inquiry and the application of psychology to daily functioning. The mission of the Department is to “promote understanding of the science of psychology and its utility to members of the University community, the community of scholars, and the public”. The goal of the Psychology Faculty is to train undergraduate students with useful skills and knowledge within the discipline of psychology.

The mission of the Marriage and Family Therapy Program is to “provide clinical and academic training in marriage and family therapy to students who are committed to the effective practice of marriage and family therapy, functioning at a high level of clinical competence”. Some of the strengths of the program include:

  • Students can complete the 48 credit hour program in as few as two years without thesis or 45 hours with thesis if enrolled as a full-time student.
  • The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT).
  • Internship: Students are expected to complete at least 500 hours of direct client contact under AAMFT- approved supervision prior to graduation. The internship experience spans a 12-month period. At least half (250) of the direct client hours must be with couples and families.

The Master of Arts in Psychology Degree program includes tracks in Experimental Psychology and Clinical Psychology.

  1. Experimental psychology students gain knowledge and skills across areas of experimental psychology and learn to become researchers in a specialty field of experimental psychology. The program prepares students to design and execute original research in the field, especially in preparation for doctoral programs.
  2. Clinical psychology students are trained with an interdisciplinary combination of academic, research and professional practice experiences. This program prepares students for Ph.D. training or licensure as a Licensed Psychological Associate in the state of North Carolina.

The interdisciplinary Master of Arts in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and Human Resource Management offers an innovative program supported in combination by the Psychology and Management Departments. Students are required to complete courses from both departments. The program is designed to prepare students with specialized training in human resource management. The curriculum emphasizes developing knowledge of theories, methods, and research findings derived from the behavioral sciences. The program also emphasizes the gathering of skills in the application of this knowledge to such organizational activities as selection, placement, and motivation of employees; training and development; performance appraisal; and development and change of organizations.

US News and World Report Southern Regional Ranking: #9
Annual Tuition: $6,553 in state
Degree Options:
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
Bachelor of Science in Psychology
Bachelor of Science in Psychology with concentration in Business
Bachelor of Science in Psychology with concentration in Health Studies
Bachelor of Science in Psychology with concentration in Human Services
Bachelor of Science in Psychology with concentration in Natural Science
Bachelor of Science in Psychology with concentration in Social Science
Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology
Concurrent – Master of Arts in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and Human Resource Management
Enrollment: 17,838
Acceptance Rate: 65.8%
Six Year Graduation Rate: 68%
Accreditations:
Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT)
Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

#3 – Stetson University – DeLand, Florida

StetsonUniversity Best Psychology Program in the SouthThe College of Arts and Sciences

Bachelor of Arts and Master of Science

Points: 13
Undergraduate Program Website

MS Mental Health Counseling Program Website

MS in Marriage, Couple and Family Counseling Program Website http://www.stetson.edu/other/academics/media/family-counseling.pdf

MS School Counseling Program Website

The Department of Psychology is home to several options for undergraduate and graduate training in psychology. The primary mission of the Department of Psychology at Stetson is to “provide a strong foundation for graduate work in psychology”. Students enrolled in this department will gain the skills tat are imperative for both graduate study in psychology but also for many other areas of graduate study and for a broad variety of careers not requiring graduate degrees. Although Psychology is one of the most popular majors in the College of Arts and Sciences, the classes are kept intentionally small, with approximately 10 to 25 students. This ensures the chance for the kind of interaction between student and professor that is necessary to efficiently train psychology students.

The Department of Counselor Education at Stetson University is home to C.A.C.R.E.P.-accredited programs, which are designed to offer quality learning for students both personally and professionally. Students can choose from the following degree options:

  1. Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  2. Marriage, Couple and Family Counseling
  3. School Counseling

In spring and summer of 2013, there were 13 graduates of Stetson University’s Master’s Degree Programs in Counselor Education (two school counseling graduates; eight clinical/mental health counseling graduates; and three marriage, couple and family therapy graduates). All graduates consistently achieve high pass rates on the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE). The pass rate for these graduates taking the CPCE examination for the first time was 100 percent. Of the 2013 graduating students, 77 percent graduated from the program in the expected time period and 77 percent of those program graduates who desired employment in the counseling profession are currently employed as professional counselors.

US News and World Report Southern Regional Ranking: Tied for #6
Annual Tuition: $40,040
Degree Options:
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling
Master of Science in Marriage, Couples and Family Counseling
Enrollment: 4,044
Acceptance Rate: 59.3%
Six Year Graduation Rate: 64%
Accreditations:
Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

#2 – The Citadel – Charleston, South Carolina

The Citadel Best Psychology Program in the SouthThe Department of Psychology

Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts and Educational Specialist

Points: 15
Program Website

The Citadel’s undergraduate degree programs in Psychology are strongly established in the liberal arts and sciences tradition. The Psychology Major plan of study is formed around a broad liberal arts education where training in the humanities and the sciences is united through a focus on the study of human behavior. Students in this program develop an approach to learning that integrates an “empirical, objective methodology built upon observational and statistical strategies, with skills in discerning patterns across data – all of which in turn foster conceptual and theoretical analysis”. Graduates of this program are expected to have gained the knowledge base and abilities in data analysis that would be sufficient for graduate study in any of the specialty areas of psychology. Graduates are also well prepared for employment in careers that require understanding and motivating others.

The Education Specialist (EdS) Degree in School Psychology Degree program uses a training model that based upon the application of the principles of the scientific methodology to a school setting. By using this model the program applies theory and research to apply knowledge to practical and applied problems and settings within the ecology of schools. Prior to completion all students are trained to meet these standards and fulfill the program’s mission to “develop competent, professional problem-solvers who are compassionate and caring in their service”. The program also requires students who will be graduating to meet NASP guidelines for training, and be eligible for certification as Level II school psychologists in the State of South Carolina, and will be eligible for National Certification.

The mission of the Master of Arts in Clinical Counseling Degree Program at The Citadel is to “prepare students to become scholarly practitioners of psychosocial counseling in community agencies, including college counseling centers, hospitals, mental health centers, and social services agencies”. The curriculum is designed to train students to use theories of human development, psychopathology, and behavior change to help solve psychosocial problems of a diverse population of individuals and families seeking mental health services in the community. The program uses a blend of educational and experiential learning to foster students’ ability to employ a scientific approach to assessment, goal development, intervention, and evaluation of services for individuals and families experiencing a variety of psychosocial difficulties.

US News and World Report Southern Regional Ranking: #4
Annual Tuition: $12,568 in state
Degree Options:
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
Master of Arts in Clinical Counseling
Educational Specialist in School Psychology
Enrollment: 3,598
Acceptance Rate: 76.5%
Six Year Graduation Rate: 69%
Accreditations:
Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

#1 – James Madison University – Harrisonburg, Virginia

James MadisonUniversity Best Psychology Program in the SouthThe College of Health and Behavioral Studies

Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Master of Arts, Doctor of Philosophy and Doctor of Psychology

Points: 17
Program Website

The Department of Psychology at James Madison University has adopted the learning objectives recommended by the American Psychological Association for the training of psychology students. Students who enroll in the Psychology Major program and other coursework required for their bachelor’s degree program will meet the following 10 learning objectives:

  1. Goal 1: Knowledge Base of Psychology. Students will demonstrate familiarity with the major concepts, theoretical perspectives, empirical findings, and historical trends in psychology.
  2. Goal 2: Research Methods in Psychology. Students will understand and apply basic research methods in psychology, including research design, data analysis, and interpretation.
  3. Goal 3: Critical Thinking Skills in Psychology. Students will respect and use critical and creative thinking, skeptical inquiry, and, when possible, the scientific approach to solve problems related to behavior and mental processes.
  4. Goal 4: Application of Psychology. Students will understand and apply psychological principles to personal, social, and organizational issues.
  5. Goal 5: Values in Psychology. Students will be able to weigh evidence, tolerate ambiguity, act ethically, and reflect other values that are the underpinnings of psychology as a discipline.
  6. Goal 6: Information and Technological Literacy. Students will demonstrate information competence and the ability to use computers and other technology for many purposes.
  7. Goal 7: Communication Skills. Students will be able to communicate effectively in a variety of formats.
  8. Goal 8: Sociocultural and International Awareness. Students will recognize, understand, and respect the complexity. of sociocultural and international diversity.
  9. Goal 9: Personal Development. Students will develop insight into their own and others’ behavior and mental processes and apply effective strategies for self-management and self-improvement.
  10. Goal 10: Career Planning and Development. Students will emerge from the major with realistic ideas about how to implement their psychological knowledge, skills, and values in occupational pursuits in a variety of settings.

The JMU Department of Graduate Psychology and Counseling supports eight graduate programs designed for students who want to pursue advanced study in psychology or counseling. These programs share the common goals of academic excellence, development of research and applied skills, and personal and professional growth. Each of the eight programs is rigorous and distinctive in preparing practitioners and scholars for the future. There is a strong commitment to diversity and a dedication to coursework that tackles socio-cultural issues. Students are provided with experiential learning opportunities with clients from a variety of cultures and backgrounds. Some of the major strengths of this graduate program include:

  • Individualized academic advising and concerned, involved faculty
  • Classes conducted in small, seminar-style environments
  • Classes that have an experiential emphasis
  • Numerous research opportunities,
  • Students are encouraged to become active scholars.

Financial assistance is readily available in all eight programs, and students have opportunities to gain experience working in on-campus centers and inter-professional clinics.

US News and World Report Southern Regional Ranking: Tied for #6
Annual Tuition: $9,662
Degree Options:
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
Bachelor of Science in Psychology
Bachelor of Science in Psychology with concentration in Behavior Analysis
Master of Arts in Psychology
Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology
Doctor of Psychology
Enrollment: 20,181
Acceptance Rate: 60.6%
Six Year Graduation Rate: 81%
Accreditations:
American Psychological Association (APA)
Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

Opportunities for a Psychology Degree in the Southern Region of the United States

The twelve states that comprise the Southern Region of the United States support some of the best, most innovative colleges and universities throughout the country. Students interested in either undergraduate or graduate training in psychology can find a program that offers exactly what they are looking for. There are programs in General Psychology as well as programs that train students in the many specialty areas of psychology. Students can pursue a degree in a traditional on-campus format, or may choose an online format, which is more flexible for busy working professionals. Graduates from these many strong programs can pursue graduate training in Psychology or a related field, as well as pursue careers in other fields such as nursing, law enforcement, human resources, career counseling and many others. A Graduate or Undergraduate Psychology Degree from a top rated Southern College or University is an excellent move towards a growing career in many fields.

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

Ranking Top 30 Public Ivies Offering a Degree in Psychology in 2015

Ranking Top 20 Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Psychology in 2014

Ranking Top 20 Doctoral Programs in Clinical Psychology in 2014

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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