Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology

//Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology
Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology 2021-12-22T22:59:42+00:00

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With the field of psychology continuing to grow, it comes as no surprise that professionals are clamoring to uncover what the best doctoral degree programs in psychology are in America. Many specialties are exploring how to make Americans happier and healthier, and perhaps even more productive. So higher ed institutions are beginning to provide affordable options for both pre-professionals and in-service professionals alike.

This ranking showcases a variety of programs that may be focused on general psychology or have a stated focus. All schools on this list are known to be the most affordable in the country, with some schools even funding a doctoral candidate’s education in exchange for help teaching undergraduate students. No matter what kind of program a professional is looking for, they will find it on this ranking.

Methodology

A ranking like this could not exist without first doing research. For this list, the information was provided by the National Center for Education Statistics and its publicly available College Navigator database, both of which can be found online. The initial group of 80 schools was established simply by searching for “best doctoral degree programs in psychology.” Each school was then researched independently based on several factors, including affordability. Several schools were noted for having the tuition funded by the school, so these were listed based on the ranking provided to the school by U.S. News and World Report. The final 50 schools are ranked based on the school’s total estimated in-state graduate tuition cost for the entire program.

50. The University of Tennessee at Knoxville

Knoxville, Tennessee

Doctor of Philosophy in Experimental Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Experimental Psychology requires 60 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: $19,680

The Doctorate in Psychology offered by the University of Tennessee at Knoxville is perfect for students  interested in experimental psychology. This five-year program helps students who wish to become researchers and academics in the field. It provides them with several opportunities to find their field of interest before graduating. Students will go through a research-based curriculum before focusing on their dissertation, which could take between one to two years to complete.

This program was designed especially for students who are ambitious and self-motivated. A practicum is also required. Students complete their work in a research laboratory under the supervision of two faculty members. This degree requires:

  • a minimum of 60 credit hours of coursework
  • a dissertation
  • a set of qualifying exams

Find more information by contacting the school’s graduate admissions office.

49. The University of California at Berkeley

Berkeley, California

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Science

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Clinical Science requires 60 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: $19,111

The University of California at Berkeley has one of the best doctoral degree programs in psychology in the country. This program focuses on clinical science and translational research, providing students with a great terminal degree in foundational mechanistic processes. The program is a member of the Academy of Psychological Clinical Science, which is a group of doctoral programs that focus on this field.

The curriculum is dedicated to research and clinical assessment, making it a great program for those who wish to work as clinical psychologists. This degree requires:

  • 60 credit hours of coursework beyond a master’s degree
  • a dissertation
  • practicums
  • a set of qualifying exams

Sample courses include:

  • Research Methods
  • Professional Development in Clinical Science
  • Clinical Assessment.

48. Endicott College

Boston, Massachusetts

Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Behavior Analysis

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Applied Behavior Analysis curriculum is focused on advanced concepts and theories based on applied behavior analysis.

Website

Tuition: $19,089

Students enrolled at Endicott College have the chance to complete a Ph.D. in Applied Behavior Analysis. This is a research-based program that focuses on preparing scientist-practitioners to work in a variety of fields, including both in the private and public sectors. It is possible to complete this degree as an on-campus, hybrid, or fully online degree.

Students must have earned a master’s degree in applied behavior analysis. Academic practicums are required for this degree. There are no exceptions. The curriculum is focused on the advanced concepts and theories based on applied behavior analysis. The program makes a great stepping stone for licensed BCBA professionals. This degree requires:

  • a minimum of 60 credit hours of coursework
  • a research project
  • a set of qualifying exams
  • a dissertation

Sample courses include:

  • Analysis and Intervention in Developmental Disabilities
  • Behavioral Research on Complex Skill Acquisition
  • Research in Social Skills Training.

47. The University of Maryland

College Park, Maryland

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Clinical Psychology uses a training-based model of learning.

Website

Tuition: $18,828

The University of Maryland offers one of the best doctoral degree programs that focuses on clinical psychology. This program is a member of the Academy of Psychological Clinical Science. It has been accredited by the American Psychological Association since 1963 and emphasizes the relationship and integration between research and clinical practice. This is a training-based model of learning. Students are expected to demonstrate their understanding of methodologies and concepts in real world practice. Students are paired with a mentor throughout their course of study. They work closely with mentors to create a curriculum that reflects their career goals and interests. Find more information on this degree and its graduation requirements by contacting the school’s graduate admissions office.

46. Regent University

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Clinical Psychology will participate in an internship during their last year of study.

Website

Tuition: $17,550

A great doctoral degree program in clinical psychology can be found at Regent University. This is a versatile degree that teaches from a Christian perspective and can be completed in four years, followed by a full-time, one-year internship. Students will note that real world experience in the form of practica and internships are necessary for the completion of this degree.

Students spend the first four years in the classroom and labs focusing on methodology and theory. Once they have completed their dissertation, they move on to an internship that takes up the last year of their degree. After graduation they will be ready to move into licensed practicing. This degree requires:

  • a minimum of 60 credit hours of coursework
  • a dissertation
  • practica
  • an internship
  • a set of qualifying exams

Sample courses include:

  • Marital Therapy
  • Psychology of Women
  • Adult and Gerontological Psychology

45. Grand Canyon University

Phoenix, Arizona

Doctor of Philosophy in General Psychology With an Emphasis in Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Psychology requires 60 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: $17,550

Grand Canyon University offers a low-cost Doctorate in Psychology that focuses on industrial-organizational psychology. This program examines how people learn and behave in the workplace. This program will not lead directly to licensure, so students are encouraged to check with their state to ensure that the work they do for this degree will help them in the process.

This program is as much about hands-on training as it is about coursework, so students will spend a great deal of time in real world settings. The curriculum focuses on the psychology of leadership, how psychology applies to business, and more.

This degree requires:

  • a minimum of 60 credit hours of coursework
  • two residencies
  • a practicum
  • a dissertation

a set of qualifying exams

Sample courses include:

  • Theories of Inquiry
  • Testing and Assessment in the Workplace
  • Psychology of Leadership.

44. The University of Kentucky

Lexington, Kentucky

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Clinical Psychology includes concentrations in clinical child psychology, neuropsychology, and research methodologies.

Website

Tuition: $17,036

Students at the University of Kentucky are provided with one of the best doctoral degree programs  devoted to clinical psychology. Students in this program will have strong research interests. This program is a member of the Academy of Psychological Clinical Science. It’s accredited by both the Commission on Accreditation of the American Psychological Association and the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System.

Students are exposed to broad but advanced concepts in the clinical psychology field, then move into more in-depth fields. Concentrations include:

  • clinical child psychology
  • neuropsychology
  • research methodologies

This degree requires:

  • a minimum of 60 credit hours of coursework
  • a dissertation
  • research projects
  • a practicum
  • a set of qualifying exams

Sample courses include:

  • Systems of Psychotherapy
  • Psychopathology
  • Personality Theory.

43. The University of California at Los Angeles

Los Angeles, California

Doctor of Philosophy in Developmental Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Developmental Psychology requires 60 credit hours of coursework.

Website 

Tuition: $16,851

The University of California at Los Angeles is one of the best low-cost Doctorate in Psychology available in the country. The program has several psychology concentrations, including:

  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Developmental Psychology, and more

This is a research-based program that focuses on lifespan development with research fields in every stage of human development. Students will have access not only to a rigorous curriculum but also to state-of-the-art research laboratories. Here, they can either assist professors in their work or work on their own program.

This program requires:

  • a minimum of 60 credit hours of coursework
  • a practicum
  • research projects
  • a set of qualifying exams
  • a dissertation

Sample courses include:

  • Developmental Psychobiology
  • Developmental Forum
  • Social and Emotional Development.

42. The University of Alabama

Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Psychology is a research-based, mentor-model program.

Website

Tuition: $16,170

The experimental psychology program at the University of Alabama is one of the best in the country. It provides researchers and academics with a world-renowned education. This program has three concentrations:

  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental Science
  • Social Psychology

This is a research-based, mentor-model program. It was designed to eliminate as many core curriculum courses as possible so that students can focus on their research interests. Students are required to attend a weekly brownbag research seminar, a teaching practicum and more in order to graduate from this program.

Students interested in this program should contact the school’s graduate admissions office to learn more about the program and graduation requirements.

41. The University at Buffalo – SUNY

Buffalo, New York

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Clinical Psychology requires 72 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: $15,683

The University at Buffalo offers a doctoral degree in clinical psychology that is based on the clinical-science training method. Students are required to attend laboratory sessions as well as conduct their own clinical research in order to graduate. There are two emphases with this program:

  • Adult and Child Psychopathology
  • Interventions

Students have lab-based mentorships. They will with their mentors in a lab-based environment that replicates real-world environments. This degree will help students qualify for licensure in the state of New York. It’s accredited by the American Psychological Association, an accreditation the school has held since 1954.

Students need to complete:

  • a minimum of 72 credit hours of coursework
  • a one-year internship
  • a dissertation
  • research projects
  • a qualifying exam

Sample courses include:

  • Multivariate Statistics
  • History and Systems
  • Advanced Statistical Methods.

40. Alaska Pacific University

Anchorage, Alaska

Doctor of Psychology in Counseling Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Counseling Psychology requires 93 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: $15,660

The affordable Doctorate in Psychology degree  at Alaska Pacific University  is perfect for students who are already working in the field. This is a live online degree that requires residencies every six weeks for the duration of the program. Based on a skills-focused model, students learn the base needs for their field before pursuing their own interests. Students have a great deal of curriculum, most of which is focused on:

  • counseling theories
  • research methodologies
  • skills

This degree requires:

  • a minimum of 93 credit hours of coursework
  • practicums
  • a research project
  • a dissertation
  • a comprehensive final exam

Sample courses include:

  • Biological Bases of Behavior
  • Techniques of Data Analysis
  • Psychology of Management.

39. The University of Vermont

Burlington, Vermont

Doctor of Philosophy in General/Experimental Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Psychology requires 90 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: $14,000

The University of Vermont has one of the best doctoral degree programs in psychology. This degree is based on experimental psychology. Students focus on their own research interests. Built on the mentor-model, students are paired with a professor who aligns with their stated interests. Students work side-by-side with someone who has experience in the field they wish to enter.

In this research-based program, students will spend most of their time outside of the classroom deep in research projects or conducting their own research. This program requires:

  • a minimum of 90 credit hours of coursework
  • a master’s thesis
  • a doctoral dissertation
  • research projects
  • a set of qualifying exams

For more information contact the school’s graduate admissions office.

38. The University of Nevada at Las Vegas

Las Vegas, Nevada

Doctor of Philosophy in Experimental Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Experimental Psychology offers a variety of concentrations, including developmental psychology, cognitive psychology, and neuroscience

Website

Tuition: $13,356

Students at the University of Nevada participate in a doctoral program that’s focused on experimental psychology. This research-based degree program provides students with a mentor-based model of learning. This enables them to translate their classroom education into a real-world research setting. There are a variety of research interests available in this program, including:

  • Developmental Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuroscience

Specific graduation requirements will differ based on the program and concentration students have selected. Students are encouraged to contact the school’s graduate admissions office to learn more about course offerings and research requirements.

37. Stony Brook University

Stony Brook, New York

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Clinical Psychology is a six-year program.

Website

Tuition: $13,007

Stony Brook University offers one of the best doctoral degree programs in Clinical Psychology. It is highly rated by U.S. News and World Report and was developed to be the premier program in the country. This degree is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the American Psychology Association and the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System.

This is an empirically based program that focuses on clinical science and education. It’s a six-year program that includes a one-year, full-time internship. This degree requires:

  • a minimum of 90 credit hours of coursework
  • practicums
  • an internship
  • a dissertation
  • a set of qualifying exams

More information can be found by contacting the school’s graduate admissions office.

36. The University of Mississippi

University, Mississippi

Doctor of Philosophy in Experimental Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Experimental Psychology offers three degree concentrations.

Website

Tuition: $12,975

The doctoral degree in experimental psychology offered by the University of Mississippi is an individualized program of study  focused on a student’s career. This program is led by an apprenticeship, meaning that students begin to understand how the field works before completing their graduation requirements. Students can choose from three concentrations:

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Social Psychology

There are also several interdisciplinary opportunities available through the school, including research projects and more. Students have a set core curriculum that lasts throughout the first year. After that, students begin to focus on their areas of interest.

More information on this degree and graduation requirements can be found by contacting the school’s graduate admissions office.

35. The University of North Dakota

Grand Forks, North Dakota

Doctor of Philosophy in General/Experimental Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Experimental Psychology can be completed in five years of study.

Website

Tuition: $12,960

The University of North Dakota is home to an exceptional doctoral degree program in experimental psychology. This is a four-year, research-based degree that will enable students to focus on an area of interest that aligns with their goals. This program’s concentrations include:

  • Health and Aging
  • Applied Cognition
  • Experimental Analysis of Behavior

Students spend the majority of their five years in the program focusing on their research interests. They complete research projects, independent research papers and more to become prepared for their career. More information on this degree can be found by contacting the school’s graduate admissions office.

34. The University of North Carolina

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Doctor of Philosophy in Developmental Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Developmental Psychology requires 90 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: $12,580

One of the best doctoral programs in psychology in America is offered by the University of North Carolina. The school has a dedicated Developmental Psychology program that focuses on:

  • scholarship
  • teaching
  • research

Students are placed in apprenticeships to help them strengthen their research skills. Teaching practicums prepare them for communicating their work to others. This project takes about four years to complete, giving students the opportunity to:

  • complete their apprenticeships
  • work on their own projects
  • develop a dissertation

This degree program requires:

  • a minimum of 90 credit hours of coursework
  • practica
  • a research project
  • a dissertation
  • a qualifying exam

More information can be found by contacting the school’s graduate admissions office.

33. The Ohio State University

Columbus, Ohio

Doctor of Philosophy in Developmental Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Developmental Psychology offers more than a dozen areas of specialization.

Website

Tuition: $12,424

The Ohio State University offers one of the best doctoral programs in developmental psychology in the nation. This degree is focused on developmental change with emphasis on cognitive development and its sub-disciplines. This is a two-phase program. The first two years of study is focused. on coursework. The culmination of those two years is hallmarked with a master’s thesis, providing them with a graduate degree while on their way to a terminal degree.

Students then move on to their areas of specialty, which can be devised for them or they can pick out of the dozen or more emphases already established. Students are required to complete:

  • a minimum of 60 credit hours of coursework
  • a dissertation
  • an internship
  • a set of qualifying exams

More information can be found by contacting the school’s graduate admissions office.

32. Central Michigan University

Mount Pleasant, Michigan

Doctor of Philosophy in School Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in School Psychology requires 70 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: $12,222

The doctoral degree program in psychology at Central Michigan University is for school psychologists. This program is accredited by the American Psychological Association and will advance the training of a school psychologist. This is a training-based model. Students spend as much time learning about their profession as they will actually put their skills to use in real-world settings. Five years will be spent in this program, including a one-year, full-time internship. Students are expected to complete:

  • a minimum of 70 credit hours of coursework
  • training practica
  • a dissertation
  • a set of qualifying exams

More information can be found by contacting the school’s graduate admissions office.

31. Arizona State University

Tucson, Arizona

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Psychology offers three areas of degree emphasis.

Website

Tuition: $12,134

Arizona State University has one of the best doctoral degree programs in psychology in America that’s dedicated to clinical practice. The program is fully accredited by the American Psychological Association and the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System.

This is a clinical science training model-based program. Students spend a great deal of time in real-world settings. This helps provide them with an understanding of how the theories taught in the classroom will affect their work. There are three emphases available in this program:

  • Health Psychology
  • Community and Prevention
  • Child Clinical Psychology

Studentsneed to complete:

  • a minimum of 84 credit hours of coursework
  • a dissertation
  • practica
  • a comprehensive final exam

More information on this degree and graduation requirements can be found by contacting the school’s graduate admissions office.

30. Indiana State University

Terre Haute, Indiana

Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Clinical Psychology requires 60 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: $11,536

The Ph.D. in Psychology at Indiana State University is for professionals who wish to become licensed psychologists. It’s designed on the practitioner-scientist model. Students have access to professional theories and models. They will be able to use it in real-world workplaces throughout their time in the program. This degree is fully accredited by the American Psychological Association, an honor the school has held since 1985.

This program values classroom teaching as much as research, so students are required to do both in the five years they are in the program. This degree requires:

  • a minimum of 60 credit hours of coursework
  • a one-year internship
  • a dissertation
  • a set of qualifying exams

More information on this degree can be found by contacting the school’s graduate admissions office.

29. Idaho State University

Pocatello, Idaho

Doctor of Philosophy in Experimental Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Experimental Psychology is a five-year program.

Website

Tuition: $11,470

Idaho State University offers a doctoral degree in experimental psychology. It provides students with an advanced base in education, and research training that will help them achieve their career goals in the field. This program is based on the mentor model. Students are paired with a professor who shares their research interests. Together they will build an individualized study plan aimed at providing students with the training they need for their careers.

This is a five-year program that ensures that students complete the program on time. Students are also able to specialize in their stated area of interest. This degree requires:

  • a minimum of 67 credit hours of coursework
  • a dissertation
  • a set of qualifying exams

Sample courses include:

  • Statistics and Research
  • Multivariate Statistics and Research Design
  • Advanced Topics in Learning.

28. Texas Woman’s University

Denton, Texas

Doctor of Philosophy in Family Therapy

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Family Therapy allows students to work closely with professors in a mentor model program.

Website

Tuition: $11,003

One of the best doctoral degree programs in psychology is offered at Texas Woman’s University. The school’s Family Therapy program is for students interested in a holistic perspective that’s based on systems therapy. This degree is fully accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Marriage and Family Therapy Education. Students who complete this degree will be eligible to sit for national licensure after graduation.

Students work closely with professors on a mentor model and will be able to take part in research if they so choose. More information on this degree and graduation requirements can be found by contacting the school’s graduate admissions office.

27. The University of Arizona

Tucson, Arizona

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Clinical Psychology can be completed in five years of study

Website

Tuition: $10,900

The University of Arizona offers a doctoral degree in clinical psychology that follows the clinical science model. It’s a great choice for ambitious professionals interested in training while they are still in school. This degree is fully accredited by the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System and the American Psychological Association. It’s also a charter member of the Academy of Psychological Clinical Science. This program has four concentrations, including:

  • Psychophysiology
  • Clinical Neuropsychology
  • Intervention Research
  • Health Psychology

Students spend their five years in the program focusing on their area of interest. More information on this degree and its graduation requirements will be found by contacting the department directly.

26. Indiana University at Bloomington

Bloomington, Indiana

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Science

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Clinical Science emphasizes the relationship between holistic and rational-based perspectives.

Website

Tuition: $10,563

The doctoral degree in psychology program  offered by Indiana University at Bloomington is based on clinical science. It provides students with a science-based approach to psychology. Although the program follows a scientific model, it’s integrative. It emphasizes the relationship between holistic and rational-based perspectives.

There are no concentrations available in this program. The school chooses to follow an individualized form of study, allowing students to prepare their own program of study with help from their mentors. This degree has no set program requirements. Students are encouraged to speak to the school’s graduate admissions office to learn more.

25. The University of South Florida

Tampa, Florida

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Clinical Psychology utilizes both apprenticeships and individualized forms of study.

Website

Tuition: $10,354

The University of South Florida offers a doctoral degree program in clinical psychology. It holds accreditation from both the American Psychological Association and the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System. It’s a member of the Academy of Psychological Clinical Sciences. Students will learn from a clinical-scientist model of training. This enables them to move from the classroom into real-world situations with ease. Apprenticeships and an individualized form of study are both utilized at this school, so program requirements may change in the future. Students are encouraged to speak with a graduate admissions advisor to learn more.

24. Marshall University

Huntington, West Virginia

Doctor of Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Psychology focuses on a practitioner-scholar model.

Website

Tuition: $10,224

One of the best doctoral degrees in psychology comes from Marshall University. This is a research-based training program. It focuses on providing students with as much practical experience as possible before they graduate. The program focuses on a practitioner-scholar model that is for applied psychology professionals, not researchers or academics. This program requires:

  • a minimum of 60 credit hours of coursework
  • a dissertation
  • an internship
  • and a qualifying set of exams

Sample courses include:

  • Cross-Cultural Psychology
  • Group Therapy
  • Differential Diagnosis and Treatment Planning.

23. Oklahoma State University

Stillwater, Oklahoma

Doctor of Philosophy in Experimental Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Experimental Psychology offers four degree concentrations.

Website

Tuition: $9,950

Oklahoma State University offers a doctoral degree in psychology program that’s based on experimental psychology. Students in this program will have four concentrations to choose from:

  • Cognitive
  • Comparative-Neurobiology
  • Developmental
  • Social-Personality

This is an M.S.-Ph.D. program. Students complete a master’s degree along the way to earning their doctoral degree. A flexible curriculum enables students to complete courses in their area of interest. Students will also have the chance to complete internships and assistantships in their chosen workplace.

Contact the school’s graduate admissions office for more information on this degree, including graduation requirements and course offerings.

22. The University of Iowa

Iowa City, Iowa

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Science

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Clinical Science is a highly individualized degree.

Website

Tuition: $9,267

Students enrolled at the University of Iowa are offered the chance to complete a doctoral degree program in clinical science. The main goal of this program is to give students the chance to conduct and complete research in their area of interest. The program also offers them the chance to publish their findings and integrate them into new and existing training theories.

The university is a charter member of the Academy of Psychological Clinical Science. It’s accredited by the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System. It places a premium on a student’s work, not so much what they learn in the classroom. Since this degree is highly individualized, students should contact the school directly for more information on the program.

21. Liberty University

Fairfax, Virginia

Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Counselor Education and Supervision requires 60 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: $8,925

Liberty University offers one of the best doctoral degrees in psychology in the country. This program focuses on counselor education and supervision. It’s taught with a Christian worldview. This degree is accredited by the Council on the Accreditation of Counseling Related Educational Programs. It’s a rigorous degree, with students completing coursework and work experiences prior to graduation. Requirements for this degree include:

  • 60 credit hours of coursework
  • a practicum
  • an internship
  • a dissertation
  • a set of qualifying exams.

20. The University of Missouri

Columbia, Missouri

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Clinical Psychology offer two degree tracks.

Website

Tuition: $8,822

Students enrolled at the University of Missouri will be able to enroll in a Psy.D. In Clinical Psychology program that will fit their needs. The program is fully accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the American Psychological Association as well as the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System. It’s a member of the Academy of Psychological Clinical Science.

This degree has two tracks:

  • Child Psychopathology
  • Adult Psychopathology

However, there are other areas of interest that a student can pursue. This degree focuses on training and research. Core requirements are minimal to let students choose their own path. Students should speak to the graduate admissions office to learn more about what they can expect from the program.

19. The University of Toledo

Toledo, Ohio

Doctor of Philosophy in Experimental Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Experimental Psychology requires students to complete a teaching practicum.The Ph.D in Experimental Psychology pairs students with a mentor throughout the program.

Website

Tuition: Paid by the University

The University of Toledo offers a doctoral degree in psychology program that focuses on the research-based experimental psychology field. This degree emphasizes:

  • methodology
  • statistics
  • training
  • mentoring

Students in this program work side-by-side with their mentors and professors. They assist on research projects or conduct their own. This ensures that they have a good grasp on the field prior to graduation. It is possible to specialize in:

  • quantitative psychology
  • health psychology
  • experimental psychopathology. Students are alsorequired to complete a teaching practicum and work to strengthen their communication and teaching skills. More information on this degree and its requirements can be found by contacting the school’s graduate admissions office.

18. The University of Memphis

Memphis, Tennessee

Doctor of Philosophy in Experimental Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Experimental Psychology requires 90 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: Paid by the University

Students interested in experimental psychology should check out the University of Memphis and its doctoral program in psychology. This is an M.S.-Ph.D. program. Students without a graduate degree can enroll and earn their master’s degree while completing the requirements for their doctoral degree. Students spend much of their time learning about research methodology and statistics. They will use both of these in their advanced courses and research practica. All students are required to:

  • complete 90 credit hours of coursework
  • research practica
  • a masters thesis
  • a doctoral dissertation
  • a set of qualifying exams.

17. Washington State University of Vancouver

Vancouver, Washington

Doctor of Philosophy in Experimental Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Experimental Psychology requires 90 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: Paid by the University

Washington State University of Vancouver is home to one of the best doctoral degree programs in psychology. This school has one of the oldest experimental psychology programs in the West. It’s focused on independent research and mentoring. Students will have the chance to specially train in one of five areas, including:

  • Cognition
  • Behavior Analysis and Social/Organizational Psychology, among others

Like many programs on this ranking, students have the opportunity to complete a master’s degree within this program. This degree requires:

  • a minimum of 90 credit hours of coursework
  • a master’s thesis
  • a written final exam
  • a doctoral dissertation.

15. (Tie) Baylor University

Waco, Texas

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Clinical Psychology requires 60 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: Paid by the University

Baylor University is home to an exceptional doctoral program in clinical psychology. It provides professionals with the information necessary to become competent applied psychologists in the field. This degree is based on the practitioner-scientist model of training. Students work in real-world scenarios while completing this degree. This program is fully accredited by the American Psychological Association.

Students are required to complete:

  • a minimum of 60 credit hours of coursework
  • a dissertation
  • a set of qualifying exams.

15. (Tie) The University of Louisville

Louisville, Kentucky

Doctor of Philosophy in Experimental Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Experimental Psychology offers a mentor for each student.

Website

Tuition: Paid by the University

Students at the University of Louisville will be offered the chance to complete a doctoral degree in experimental psychology program. This is a research-based degree for students who wish to work in academic and non-academic settings alike. Students will find that this degree, aside from being self-funded, will enable them to individualize their course of study. All students work with a mentor to create a plan that includes:

  • a dissertation
  • coursework
  • research opportunities

More information on this degree can be found by contacting the school’s graduate admissions office.

14. Boston University

Boston, Massachusetts

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Clinical Psychology requires 60 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: Paid by University

The Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology program at Boston University was designed for students who are ready to learn how to be applied professionals in their field. This degree is science-based and works on the clinical-scientist model. This degree is fully has been accredited by the American Psychological Association since 1948. Students in this program are paired with a mentor as soon as they are accepted into the program. They will work with this individual for the duration of their program.

This degree requires:

  • a minimum of 60 credit hours of coursework
  • a one-year internship
  • a dissertation
  • a set of qualifying exams

Sample courses include:

  • Lifespan Development
  • Psychotherapy
  • Social Psychology.

13. New York University

New York City, New York

Doctor of Philosophy in Social Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Cognition and Perception can be completed in five years of study.

Website

Tuition: Paid by the University

New York University offers students one of the best doctoral degrees in psychology in the nation. The social psychology program is based on the study of social psychology and behavior. As a multi-level field, students focus on quantitative methods and different approaches to the field. Research is a big part of this degree, so students should be prepared to work alongside professors on their own work or conduct their own research.

Students also have the chance to study abroad in Abu Dhabi as part of the NYU Study Abroad Program. More information can be found by contacting the school’s graduate admissions office.

12. Pennsylvania State University

College Park, Pennsylvania

Doctor of Philosophy in Developmental Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Developmental Psychology emphasizes an individualized plan of study.

Website

Tuition: Paid by the University

One of the best doctoral degrees in psychology in the nation comes from Pennsylvania State University. This highly competitive program offers students comprehensive training in the scientific models and theories that inform developmental psychology. Lifespan development plays a large role in this field, although there are six different areas of specialization, including:

  • Ecology of Development
  • Perceptual and Cognitive Development
  • Biological Basis

The program emphasizes an individualized plan of study. Students are encouraged to contact the school’s graduate admissions office to learn more.

9. (Tie) The University of Virginia

Charlottesville, Virginia

Doctor of Philosophy in Developmental Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Developmental Psychology can be completed in five years of study.

Website

Tuition: Paid by the University

The University of Virginia has an outstanding doctoral degree program. It focuses on developmental psychology and is often ranked in the top 10 programs of its kind nationally. This degree program does not offer a master’s degree along the way. Only students with a master’s degree are admitted into the program. Students will go through two mentors throughout their five-year plan. One mentor is for research projects and one is for their dissertation.

Students are required to teach undergraduate classes as part of having their tuition funded by the school. More information can be found by contacting the school’s graduate admissions office.

9. (Tie) Northwestern University

Evanston, Illinois

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Clinical Psychology requires 60 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: Paid by the University

Students at Northwestern University can complete a doctoral degree in psychology that focuses on developmental psychology. This degree is fully accredited by the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System and the American Psychological Association. The program focuses on both course work and practical experience, providing students with a chance to put their skills to use.

Students spend the first two years of the program focusing on courses that develop their skills. They then move on to practical experience and research. This degree requires:

  • a minimum of 60 credit hours
  • a dissertation
  • a qualifying exam.

9. (Tie) Duke University

Durham, North Carolina

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Clinical Psychology requires 60 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: Paid by the University

Duke University offers one of the best doctoral degrees in psychology in the nation. The clinical psychology program is accredited by the American Psychological Association and the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System. The program is based on the scientist-practitioner model. It also incorporates the clinical science model of training.

Students can choose their own specific area of interest. Their mentor will match these interests. This is a five-year program that also requires a one-year internship. Other requirements include:

  • a minimum of 60 credit hours of coursework
  • a dissertation
  • a qualifying exam.

7. (Tie) The University of Wisconsin at Madison

Madison, Wisconsin

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Psychology is a cohort degree program.

Website

Tuition: Paid by the University

Students enrolled at the University of Wisconsin at Madison have the chance to complete a doctoral degree in psychology that was established over 100 years ago. This is a cohort degree that requires a minor specialization of the student’s choosing. The first year in the program is dedicated to coursework and the First-Year Project.

Students also have to take a set of qualifying exams before being allowed to proceed into practica and their dissertation. The dissertation is fully focused on a student’s stated area of interest and is the culmination of their degree. More information can be found by contacting the school’s graduate admissions office.

7. (Tie) The University of California at San Diego

La Jolla, California

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Psychology requires 60 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: Paid by the University

The University of California at San Diego is home to a doctoral degree in psychology. The school fully funds tuition and offers doctoral candidates modest TA fees. In exchange, students can spend five years at the school earning their degree. This degree has several research interest areas, including:

  • Linguistics
  • Cognitive Science and Neuroscience, and more

All students are required to complete some research for their degree along with their coursework. This degree requires:

  • a minimum of 60 credit hours of coursework
  • a dissertation
  • a set of qualifying exams.

5. (Tie) The University of Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Psychology includes a full-time internship for the final year.

Website

Tuition: Paid by the University

The doctoral degree in psychology at the University of Minnesota is perfect for students interested in completing a general psychology terminal degree while doing research muscles in areas of interest to them. This program has a focus on hands-on research experience and graduate seminars.

This is a five-year program with an additional year for the full-time internship that students must complete to graduate. Students are required to complete:

  • a minimum of 60 credit hours of coursework
  • a dissertation
  • a set of qualifying exams.

5. (Tie) Princeton University

Princeton, New Jersey

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Psychology requires 72 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: Paid by the University

Princeton University offers students the chance to complete a fully funded doctoral degree in psychology. This program is for students who wish to work as scholars in the field. There are a variety of concentrations available, including Developmental Psychology and Language. Interdisciplinary programs that offer dual degrees are also available.

This five-year program requires that students complete:

  • a minimum of 72 credit hours of coursework
  • a dissertation
  • a set of qualifying exams

Sample courses include:

  • Responsible Conduct of Research
  • Psychological Research
  • Design and Interpretation of Social Psychological Research.

4. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Champaign, Illinois

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Psychology requires 64 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: Paid by the University

Students enrolled at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have the opportunity to complete a doctoral degree in psychology that takes five years to complete. Students are required, as terms of having their degree funded by the school, to complete teaching experiences. Research is the main part of this program. Students are able to conduct their own research or work with a professor as an assistant researcher.

This degree requires:

  • a minimum of 64 credit hours of coursework beyond a master’s degree
  • a dissertation a set of qualifying exams.

2. (Tie) Yale University

New Haven, Connecticut

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Psychology offers five degree concentrations.

Website

Tuition: Paid by the University

Yale University offers one of the best and most affordable doctoral degrees in psychology in the country. This program is fully funded by the school. In return, students act as Teaching Assistants and teach at the undergraduate level. This is a great teaching experience for any professional who wants to work as an educator. There are five  concentrations, including Neuroscience and Clinical Psychology, among others.

The programs can be individualized even within the concentrations, so students are encouraged to speak with a graduate admissions advisor to learn more.

2. (Tie) The University of Michigan

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Psychology offers six degree concentrations.

Website

Tuition: Paid by University

Students at the University of Michigan are offered the opportunity to complete a fully funded doctoral degree in psychology program. Students receive grants, work as teaching assistants or teach undergraduate courses in order to study for free.

This degree has six areas of concentration, including Social Psychology and Personality and Social Contexts, among others. The five-year degree is set up to provide students with coursework opportunities first, then research, and finally the dissertation. All students are required to complete:

  • a minimum of 60 credit hours of coursework
  • a dissertation
  • a qualifying exam.

1. Stanford University

Stanford, California

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Ranking Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology in 2019

The Ph.D in Psychology offers five degree concentrations.

Website

Tuition: Paid by the University

Stanford University is the home to one of the best doctoral degrees in psychology currently available. This fully funded program has five different concentration areas for students to choose from. Students can also opt to create their own concentration. This program requires students to teach as part of having their tuition funded by the school. It enables them to get real-world experience in the program before graduation.

This degree requires:

  • a minimum of 60 credit hours of coursework
  • a dissertation
  • a set of qualifying exams.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Career Options for a Ph.D. in Psychology Degree?

  • Clinical Psychologist
  • Private Practice Psychologist
  • Industrial-Organizational Psychologist
  • Senior Researcher
  • Political Strategist
  • College or University Professor
  • Professional Consultant
  • Forensic Psychologist
  • Educational Consultant
  • Human Resource Manager
  • Experimental Psychologist
  • Marketing Director
  • Mental Health Clinician
  • Developmental Psychologist
  • Applied Researcher

How Much Can You Earn in this Field?

The current average starting salary for a psychologist is around $65,000 a year, depending on the region. A general psychologist can expect to make around $75,000 a year once they have experience. However, specialty psychologists can make upwards of $250,000. These numbers reflect the average and do not include overtime hours or bonus forms of compensation.

Professionals interested in working in general psychology can earn upwards of $85,000 a year when they have 10 years or more of experience under their belt. They make more money when they work as private psychologists. The salary can jump to $150,000 a year. Urban and metropolitan areas are where most of the money can be made.

However, specialty psychologists, such as psychiatrists or industrial-organizational psychologists, can make over $175,000 a year. This is due to the rigorous training they go through. Psychiatrists go through medical school. Industrial-organizational psychologists regularly complete a doctorate degree in their specialization prior to moving into private practice or consultation work.

What are the Various Disciplines of Psychology?

Psychology is a broad field that focuses on the study of human behavior and its relationship to the brain. As such, the main disciplines in this field are:

  • psychology
  • neuroscience
  • chemistry
  • biology
  • lifespan development
  • philosophy
  • religion
  • sociology

Each of these disciplines informs the field. however, more and more are being found as professionals research the field.

There are various sub-disciplines that, at the doctoral level, enable students to specialize. Some of these include:

  • developmental psychology
  • school psychology
  • industrial-organizational psychology
  • clinical psychology

Each of these sub-disciplines, although there are more, deal with specific sections of human behavior. This means that professionals will still focus on the main disciplines but will emphasize the impact that the broader disciplines have on their specialty.

What is Needed for a License as a Psychologist?

The educational and work requirements to become a psychologist differ based on specialty. Some students may find that a master’s degree is enough to help them earn licensure. Others, especially those who want to work as licensed psychologists, will need to meet the bare minimum prior to actually earning licensure.

The main requirements for becoming a licensed psychologist in America are:

  • a doctoral degree in their specialty
  • at least 3,000 contact hours in the form of a supervised apprenticeship
  • a year or more of supervised work experience

As noted before, the amount of time in practicums and work experience are determined by the specialty.

Requirements for sitting for licensure also depend on the state. There is no national standard for licensure.  Students will have to contact their resident state’s Department of Psychology to determine what they will need to qualify for licensure. Whatever the state says, the minimum for psychologists is at least a doctoral degree.

Work experience in this sense denotes work that is completed after earning a doctoral degree. This may be seen as an apprenticeship that takes place for between one to three years. After this is completed, students will become eligible to sit for licensure.

Earning licensure means that a student meets the requirements for licensure and completes the exam, which differs from state to state. Only after they have successfully passed and received notice from the Board of Psychologists can they name themselves licensed psychologists.

How Important is Accreditation for Psychologists?

Accreditation is critical in the psychology field, especially for students who wish to become licensed as psychologists or researchers. There are several reasons for this, including:

  • being seen as ethical professionals
  • learning what it takes to be a practicing psychologist
  • being part of an elite group of individuals who care about the well-being of humans in America.

The American Psychological Association, also known as APA, is the leading accrediting association in America. It is also the one that awards licensure to practicing psychologists in the country. They pride themselves on a strong ethical and socially responsible standard, something that is seen as being embedded in all of the psychologists who have earned accredited degrees or licensure through them. This accreditation is the crowning jewel of psychology. Students who earned a degree accredited by the APA will be assumed to hold dear to the tenets that the association has put forth.

Practicing psychology is difficult, but accreditation makes it easier. Completing an accredited degree ensures that:

  • students learn the basic and advanced fundamentals
  • they are up-to-date on what is required in the field
  • thy adhere to the standards that they are required to meet once they have completed their degree.

This is very rigorous and comprehensive. But it also enables professionals to walk into the workforce with a set standard that companies and other workplace settings can appreciate straight away.

Finally, earning an accredited degree is a symbol of ambition. Students who complete this degree are among an elite group of students. It’s difficult to find an accredited degree in the field that doesn’t have a reputation. This means that any student who makes it into a program that holds accreditation will fare much better in the workplace than those who don’t.

Accreditation is seen as optional, but it is definitely something that students should pay attention to. While these programs may be rigorous, the investment in the program is well worth it in the end. All students should seriously research APA-accredited doctoral programs in psychology to find the one that meets their needs.

Why is a Dissertation Required for a Ph.D. in Psychology?

Dissertations are often thought of as a traditional way for students to prove to the school and their mentors that they can articulate what they have learned throughout the course of study. However, this has changed in recent times. Dissertations can now serve as an entry point into a career for students or allow them to work up from the internship they completed at the school into a full-time career.

Dissertations are important in the field of psychology. As an ever-evolving field, psychology still has many sub-disciplines and issues that need to be researched. Dissertations are taken on by doctoral candidates with their own research interests in mind. The dissertation enables them to articulate their own perspectives and findings in that space. This may provide companies and other potential employers with a view of the value of an employee candidate before hiring them.

But psychology students gain much more than just job opportunities from a dissertation.

  • they strengthen their communication skills through the oral defense of the dissertation
  • they learn how to widen their research skills
  • they can work with clients on a research project, and more

In fact, most students who complete a dissertation find that the process showed them their purpose in the field.

Doctoral psychology students will find that the dissertation process is integral to their ability to be seen as professionals in the field. No psychologist can move through the field without first understanding:

  • how research is done
  • how it can be applied to real life
  • and how it can affect clients’ lives

If for some reason a dissertation is optional for a program, any serious student should undertake it. It will teach them infinite amounts of knowledge about the field. It will also teach them what their place is in the field.

Are Practicums or Internships Necessary for a Doctoral Program in Psychology?

Yes, work experiences, or practicums and internships, are required for most doctoral programs in psychology. This applies to both research and applied programs. Students at the doctoral level, regardless of their career path, will have to take part in some sort of internship. The type of work experience will depend on their degree and specialization.

For example, doctoral candidates who are working towards a practitioner or applied degree, such as a degree in clinical psychology, must complete an internship in the field. This is to prove to the school, as well as any licensure associations, that they understand the requirements of the field and can fulfill them in a real-world setting. The internship also applies to the student’s work experience requirement of licensure. Most settings for this type of internship happen in the real world, such as health care or government settings.

Students who wish to work in an academic or research field are most often required to complete a teaching practicum. This can come in the form of a teaching assistant program that allows a student’s tuition to be waived because they are working at the school. Other internships can come from working at research think tanks or other companies that require research assistants. While students in academic or research settings may not be looking for licensure, it is still necessary for their career, and so these work settings will help them when they graduate.

Internships also offer students more than just paid tuition and a modest stipend. Internships can also lead to full-time work, provided that students prove themselves in their job. The people that the students work for can also act as references after graduation, making it a worthwhile investment while they’re completing their requirements for graduation.

The psychology field is ripe with opportunities for practitioners, academics, and researchers alike. As a service-based industry, psychology’s main goal is to help the public lead healthier, happier lives.

If you’re interested in learning what the best doctoral degree programs in psychology are in America, this article should give you a taste of what is possible, and perhaps a glimpse into what your purpose and place in the field might be.

This concludes our ranking of the Top 50 Best Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology.

By OPD Staff