Psychology has been an increasingly popular major for undergraduate students for some decades now. Since the 1970s, the application of psychology to a wider range of fields than previously considered also contributed to a growth in psychology degrees awarded by universities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment of psychologists is expected to increase by 3% from 2019 to 2029. Also of note is the median pay of psychologists, a cool $80,370 per year in 2019, with specialty areas like industrial-organizational psychologists earning a mean annual wage of $111,150.
Hence the reason why BrokeScholar conducted a new study to identify the best colleges for psychology. This report is part of our larger study of the Best Colleges for Your Money in 2021. Both of these studies put particular emphasis on quality education at an affordable price as being essential to rank as a finalis. To be considered for this study of the best colleges for psychology, colleges had to be four-year public or private not-for-profit institutions, while excluding military academies such as West Point. All colleges were evaluated, scored, and ranked based on the following criteria: (1) cost of tuition for the academic year 2019-2020, (2) percent admitted to the college in fall 2019, (3) percent admitted who enrolled in the college in fall 2019, (4) number of Bachelor's degrees awarded in psychology in the academic year 2018-2019, (5) total Bachelor's degrees awarded in the academic year 2018-2019, and (6) percent of Bachelor's degrees awarded that were in a psychology program. All data came from the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES).
Read on to find out the best colleges for psychology majors.
CUNY Hunter College
Location: New York, New York
Undergraduate Population: 17,121
The City University of New York Hunter College also made the list of the Best Colleges for Your Money in 2021, coming in at No. 19 out of 20 finalist schools. As one of the best colleges for psychology, tuition is very affordable at Hunter College, with combined in-state and out-of-state tuition averaging $11,357 for the school year 2019-2020. A significant number and percentage of students pursue Bachelor's degrees in psychology, with majors in psychology programs accounting for 21.4% of all Bachelor's degrees awarded in the 2018-2019 academic year (699 degrees awarded in psychology out of 3,266 total awards).
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
Location: Los Angeles, California
Undergraduate Population: 31,543
UCLA is not only one of the best public universities in the country, but also easily one of the best colleges for psychology, both for undergraduate and graduate students for that matter. UCLA is a very selective public university, with 12% of applicants admitted and 43% of those admitted enrolling in the 2019-2020 school year. As one of the best colleges for psychology, out of 8,561 Bachelor's degrees awarded in the 2018-2019 academic year, 982 of them (11.5%) were for psychology majors.
Location: West Point, Georgia
Undergraduate Population: 2,340
Point University is a four-year private, Christian, liberal arts university in West Point, Georgia, which is about halfway between Atlanta and Montgomery, Alabama. Psychology programs are very popular among Point University's undergrads. Out of all Bachelor's degrees awarded in the academic year 2018-2019, over 15% of them were awarded for psychology majors, namely in applied psychology, and clinical and counseling psychology. Point University is also a selective college, admitting only 29% of those who applied in fall 2019, while having a high enrolling rate once admitted (53%).
College of the Ozarks
Location: Point Lookout, Missouri
Undergraduate Population: 1,546
This school isn't just one of the best colleges for psychology, but also the No. 1 Best College for Your Money in 2021. The College of the Ozarks is one of the few schools that has a federally-recognized work-study program for undergraduate students. This program requires students to work a certain minimum number of hours per week, but in exchange, no tuition is charged as an undergrad. Admission to the College of the Ozarks is tight, with only 10% of those admitted who applied in fall 2019. Out of the 10% admitted, a full 91% of them ended up enrolling, a testament to how much students want to attend the College of the Ozarks.
University of South Florida Sarasota--Manatee
Location: Sarasota, Florida
Undergraduate Population: 2,062
The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee offers a high-quality education at a very affordable price. Tuition and related fees are cheap when compared to other colleges, both public and private. For the academic year 2019-2020, in-state tuition cost $5,587 and out-of-state tuition $16,501, for a combined average of only $11,044. Meanwhile, psychology majors form a significant proportion, 10.9%, of all degrees awarded. For a public university, the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee is quite selective, with an admission rate of 24% in fall 2019, about half of which then went on to enroll at the school.
University of South Florida St. Petersburg
Location: St. Petersburg, Florida
Undergraduate Population: 3,893
Here's another branch in the University of South Florida system that made the list of the best colleges for psychology. The University of South Florida St. Petersburg is fairly selective, with an admission rate of only 27% in fall 2019. More importantly, psychology majors are very prominent at this school. For the academic year 2018-2019, approximately 12.2% of Bachelor's degrees awarded were for psychology majors. On top of that, the University of South Florida St. Petersburg is very affordable, with in-state tuition costing $5,821 and out-of-state tuition $16,736 in 2019-2020.
University of California, Irvine
Location: Irvine, California
Undergraduate Population: 30,382
UC Irvine is yet another school from the University of California system to make the list of the best colleges for psychology. For a school with an undergraduate population of 30,382, an impressive 9.8% of Bachelor's degrees awarded in 2018-2019 were for psychology majors. For a public four-year university, UC Irvine's tuition is on the higher side, with a combined in-state and out-of-state average of $28,604 in 2019-2020. But with an admission rate of only 27%, UC Irvine is more comparable to four-year private colleges, and in that regard, its tuition fees are far more affordable.
Location: Middletown, Connecticut
Undergraduate Population: 3,018
Wesleyan University is another highly-regarded and highly-selective private liberal arts college in New England. Only 16% of applicants were admitted in fall 2019, one of the most selective rates of all the schools evaluated in this study. As such, tuition is on the higher side, at a cost of $57,334 for the academic year 2019-2020. But it buys you a great education at one of the best colleges for psychology. Wesleyan University's six-year graduation rate is 92%, according to NCES. Meanwhile, psychology majors formed 15.6% of all Bachelor's degrees awarded in the 2018-2019 school year, one of the highest rates of psychology degrees observed in the study.
University of California, Santa Barbara
Location: Santa Barbara, California
Undergraduate Population: 23,349
This school has one of the most scenic locations of the best colleges for psychology, located in beautiful Santa Barbara, California. Psychology is a big field of study at UC Santa Barbara, with more than 11% of Bachelor's degrees in 2018-2019 being awarded for psychology majors. UC Santa Barbara offers a high-quality education that's hard to beat among public four-year universities. It's also one of the more selective public schools, with an admission rate of only 30% in fall 2019. Its tuition fees are on the high side for a public university, with in-state tuition coming to $14,391 and out-of-state $44,145 in the 2019-2020 academic year.
University of Michigan
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Undergraduate Population: 31,266
The University of Michigan offers one of the best-quality educations you can get at a public university in America. Graduation rates at the University of Michigan are very high, with a 92% four-year graduation rate and 93% six-year graduation rate, according to NCES. With an undergraduate population of more than 31,000, an impressive 8.4% of Bachelor's degrees in 2018-2019 were awarded for psychology majors, not to mention psychology degrees on the Master's and Doctoral level. Not surprisingly, the college is quite selective, with the University of Michigan's admission rate being only 23% in fall 2019, with nearly half of those admitted then enrolling.
University of North Carolina (UNC)
Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Undergraduate Population: 19,154
Frequently ranked among the best colleges in the U.S., UNC is also one the best colleges for psychology studies. In the 2018-2019 school year, 8% of Bachelor's degrees awarded were for psychology majors. UNC also offers Master's and Doctoral degrees in psychology. UNC offers one of the best undergraduate educations in the country and is therefore a bit selective, with only 23% of applicants being admitted in fall 2019, and 44% of those admitted going on to enroll. All this comes at a reasonable cost, with in-state tuition in 2019-2020 coming to $8,980 and out-of-state tuition to $36,159, for an average tuition of $22,570.
Florida State University (FSU)
Location: Tallahassee, Florida
Undergraduate Population: 33,270
Florida State University also ranked among the Best Colleges for Your Money in 2021, and now ranked among the best colleges for psychology majors. One of FSU's best characteristics is its affordability, whether you're a Florida resident or not. For the academic year 2019-2020, in-state tuition was $5,656 and out-of-state was $18,786, for a combined average of only $12,221. Psychology majors accounted for 7.5% of Bachelor's degrees awarded in 2018-2019, which is significant out of an undergraduate population of well over 30,000 students.
Coppin State University
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Undergraduate Population: 2,383
Founded in 1900 in Baltimore, Coppin State University is a historically black university. This university is definitely on the more selective side, admitting only 28% of applicants in the 2019-2020 school year. As one of the best colleges for psychology, Bachelor's degrees awarded for psychology majors amounted to 11.6% of all Bachelor's awarded in 2018-2019. Equally important is Coppin State's affordability. The in-state tuition for the academic year 2019-2020 was $8,964 and for out-of-state was $15,361, for a comparatively cheap average tuition of $12,163.
Location: Lewiston, Maine
Undergraduate Population: 1,820
Bates College is a highly renowned, highly selective four-year private college. Though its undergraduate population is small, this enables a student-to-faculty ratio of 10 to 1, which is much better than most schools. Bachelor's degrees in psychology make up a substantial part of overall degrees awarded, with roughly 10.9% awarded for majors in psychology programs in 2018-2019. Though its 2019-2020 tuition of $55,683 isn't cheap, it is better than many other private colleges, including those that aren't nearly as selective as Bates.
University of California, Davis
Location: Davis, California
Undergraduate Population: 30,848
UC Davis is the last school to make our list of the best colleges for psychology. Undergraduate students are heavily enrolled in the Department of Psychology, with just under 10% of all Bachelor's degrees awarded in 2018-2019 being psychology majors, mainly research and experimental psychology. UC Davis has gotten increasingly more selective over the years, with an admission rate of just 30% in fall 2019. Tuition averages about $29,372, based on in-state tuition of $14,495 and out-of-state tuition of $44,249 for the year 2019-2020.
Table of the Best Colleges for Psychology in 2021
Here you'll find a full breakdown of the best colleges for psychology, with all the data used in the study. The smallest school to make the final list is the College of the Ozarks. The biggest school to rank is Florida State University.
|College||City||State||Type||Undergrad Population, 2019-2020||Tuition and Fees, 2019-2020||Percent admitted, fall 2019||Percent admitted who enrolled, fall 2019||Psychology as % of Total Bachelor's Degrees Awarded, 2018-2019|
|CUNY Hunter College||New York||NY||Public||17,121||$11,357||35%||21%||21.4%|
|University of California-Los Angeles||Los Angeles||CA||Public||31,543||$28,117||12%||43%||11.5%|
|Point University||West Point||GA||Private||2,340||$21,185||29%||53%||15.2%|
|College of the Ozarks||Point Lookout||MO||Private||1,546||$19,660||10%||91%||6.5%|
|University of South Florida-Sarasota-Manatee||Sarasota||FL||Public||2,062||$11,044||24%||49%||10.9%|
|University of South Florida-St Petersburg||St. Petersburg||FL||Public||3,893||$11,279||27%||34%||12.2%|
|University of California-Irvine||Irvine||CA||Public||30,382||$28,604||27%||24%||9.8%|
|University of California-Santa Barbara||Santa Barbara||CA||Public||23,349||$29,268||30%||18%||11.2%|
|University of Michigan-Ann Arbor||Ann Arbor||MI||Public||31,266||$33,379||23%||46%||8.4%|
|University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||Chapel Hill||NC||Public||19,154||$22,570||23%||44%||8.0%|
|Florida State University||Tallahassee||FL||Public||33,270||$12,221||36%||34%||7.5%|
|Coppin State University||Baltimore||MD||Public||2,383||$12,163||28%||16%||11.6%|
|University of California-Davis||Davis||CA||Public||30,982||$29,372||39%||20%||9.0%|