DEGREE FINDER
Bestvalueschools.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured programs and school search results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other information published on this site.

2020 Top Doctoral Programs in Psychology

In the United States, earning a Ph.D. in psychology paves the way to a career as a licensed psychologist. As our understanding of and treatments for mental illness continue to advance and improve, highly trained and educated psychology professionals become more important and more valuable. When applying for your Ph.D. in psychology, you often receive a chance to specialize in a particular branch of psychology.

Depending on the school, specialities may be in clinical psychology, counseling, neuroscience, and/or cognition. Many schools allow you to blend multiple specialities into one. Like most psychologists, you will also get the choice between working in the medical, scientific, or academic fields. Some psychologists choose to work on the cutting edge, developing and testing new treatments and/or assessment methods. Some work directly with patients, helping identify or treat various illnesses. Others work in academia, either advancing research or training future psychologists. The choices you make for your training and specialization during this graduate degree inform your later career path.

For details on how these programs were selected, see the methodology statement at the end of the article.

2020 Top Doctoral Programs in Psychology

John F. Kennedy University

Average Net Price: $8,500

John F. Kennedy University offers a doctor of clinical psychology accredited by the American Psychology Association. The hands-on program includes fieldwork at a cross-cultural clinical site. Graduates can apply for state licensure as a psychologist in California and find careers as program administrators, clinicians, and assessors.

The doctorate typically takes five years of full-time study to complete. The 180-credit program requires core courses, electives, and an internship. Classes include multicultural awareness in professional psychology, clinical interviewing skills, and cognitive-behavioral theory and applications to diverse populations. Ph.D. candidates must pass three written comprehensive exams, write a dissertation, and complete a 36-credit internship.

John F. Kennedy University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).


University of Florida

Average Net Price: $19,053

The College of Public Health and Health Professions at the University of Florida in Gainesville offers a psychology doctorate program that provides general clinical psychology training. Ph.D. candidates can design their own major or choose from four areas of study: clinical child/pediatric psychology; clinical health psychology; neuropsychology, neurorehabilitation, and clinical neuroscience; and cognitive and emotional neuroscience.

The clinical psychology Ph.D. includes courses like clinical assessment across the lifespan, neuropsychology of aging, and best methods for the analysis of psychological change. Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree and at least two undergraduate or graduate psychology courses with a grade of "C+" or better. Applicants must submit official transcripts, GRE scores, a resume, a statement of purpose, and three letters of recommendation.

The University of Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). UF's Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology is accredited by the American Psychological Association.


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Average Net Price: $18,849

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers one of the best doctoral programs in psychology. The Ph.D. in psychology prepares students for advanced careers in research and teaching. The program offers training in six subfields: behavioral and integrative neuroscience, clinical psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, quantitative psychology, and social psychology.

Courses cover topics like addiction science, advanced family theory and research, and cognitive aging. Students also complete a child and adolescent practicum. Ph.D. candidates must pass written and oral exams and complete a dissertation and oral defense. They must also conduct research during each year of enrollment.

Admission requirements for the highly competitive program include a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA. UNC makes admission decisions based on the applicant's academic record, letters of recommendation, relevant experience, test scores, and statement of purpose. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).


Harvard University

Average Net Price: $47,562

Harvard University is a private, Ivy League research institution in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that offers a Ph.D. in psychology. The psychology doctorate program covers four primary areas: social psychology; clinical psychology; developmental psychology; and cognition, brian, and behavior.

Students can follow one of two paths: common curriculum or clinical science. The common curriculum track focuses on social psychology, cognitive neuroscience, cognitive psychology, behavioral neuroscience, and perception. The clinical science path emphasizes clinical psychology research, particularly severe psychopathology. Required courses for both tracks include professional ethics; history of psychology; and cultural, racial, and ethnic bases of behavior. The program takes 4-6 years to complete.

Applicants must submit transcripts, three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and GRE scores. Harvard University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE). The Ph.D. in psychology is accredited by the American Psychological Association.


University of Illinois at Chicago

Average Net Price: $18,456

The University of Illinois at Chicago offers a Ph.D. in psychology program that includes five majors: behavioral neuroscience, clinical, cognitive, community and prevention research, and social and personality. Students must also complete a programmatic, student-centered, or special topic minor. The psychology department funds all psychology Ph.D. students for at least their first year of study.

All students complete a first-year research apprenticeship and a one-year statistics course. The program requires a master's thesis by the end of the second year of study. Ph.D. candidates create a dissertation proposal by their fourth year and defend the dissertation by the end of their fifth year. The department hosts a weekly colloquium that encourages students and faculty to share their research and discuss current issues in the field.

The University of Illinois at Chicago is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The psychology program is accredited by the American Psychological Association.


Stanford University

Average Net Price: $51,354

Stanford University's psychology department ranks among the top in the nation. The Ph.D. in psychology prepares students for careers in research and teaching and takes approximately five years to complete. The program offers five areas of study: cognitive, developmental, neuroscience, affective, and social psychology.

Degree requirements include a first-year project, five core courses, a professional seminar, two statistics courses, an oral exam, and a dissertation. Students must spend at least half of their time in the program engaged in research. They must also teach at least five psychology courses.

Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree, statement of purpose, three letters of recommendation, and unofficial transcripts from all postsecondary institutions. Prospective students must complete an interview with the admissions committee. Stanford University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).


University of South Florida

Average Net Price: $13,699

The University of South Florida in Tampa offers one of the best doctoral programs in psychology. The Ph.D. in school psychology typically takes five years to complete. Students earn a master's degree in their first two years and begin Ph.D. coursework in their third year.

The program offers specializations in areas like organizational consultation, pediatric school psychology, school-based mental health services, and intervention. Learners can also design their own specialization.

Students must meet program requirements in research competencies, psychological foundations, consultation/intervention/problem-solving, and professional practice. The curriculum includes courses like biological bases of behavior, advanced behavioral interventions, and research design. The Ph.D. also requires a dissertation and an internship.

The University of South Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The Ph.D. in school psychology is fully accredited by the American Psychological Association and the National Association of School Psychologists.


Yale University

Average Net Price: $42,100

A private Ivy League university founded in 1701, Yale University offers a Ph.D. in psychology that focuses on training for academic and applied research careers and emphasizes the historical and theoretical contexts of psychology.

The competitive psychology doctorate program enrolls 15 new students each year. Yale limits specific requirements for the degree, allowing each student to receive training that aligns with their career goals and interests. Degree requirements include three basic-level courses, a first-year research paper, a pre-dissertation research project, an essay in the student's concentration, and a dissertation.

The program offers weekly seminars in clinical psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, neuroscience, and social/personality psychology. Yale University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).


Florida International University

Average Net Price: $15,153

Accredited by the American Psychological Association, Florida International University's Ph.D. in psychology focuses on clinical science in child and adolescent psychology. The program gives students advanced knowledge and skills in statistics, research methodology, and theory construction. Students receive training in psychological treatment and assessment techniques for children and adolescents.

All Ph.D. students receive guaranteed funding, including a stipend and tuition waiver, for four years. The program also encourages students to apply for additional internal and external financial aid.

Admission requirements include significant research experience, strong letters of recommendation, and a record of academic achievement evidenced by GPA and GRE scores. Florida International University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).


University of Utah

Average Net Price: $15,827

The University of Utah's Ph.D. in psychology emphasizes collaborative research, with psychology faculty and students frequently working with other departments, such as medicine and computer science. The program automatically considers all Ph.D. students for funding opportunities when they apply.

Psychology students choose from four concentrations: clinical psychology, social psychology, cognition and neural science, and developmental psychology. Although students choose one concentration, they can easily move between concentrations to pursue research interests. The program also offers cross-area interests in developmental psychopathology, sexuality, and biological bases of behavior.

Admission requirements include a personal statement, CV, unofficial transcripts from all prior postsecondary institutions, three letters of recommendation, and GRE scores. Clinical psychology applicants who lack a psychology bachelor's or master's degree must also take the GRE advanced subject test. The University of Utah is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).


University of California - Los Angeles

Average Net Price: $18,993

The University of California - Los Angeles offers a psychology doctorate program with concentrations in areas like behavioral neuroscience, health psychology, social psychology, and clinical psychology. Graduates can work as university instructors, researchers, and psychologists.

Depending on their concentration, students take core courses on topics like social psychology, research methods, and statistics. Learners also complete a dissertation. Some concentrations require an internship. Students work on research projects with faculty members throughout their time at UCLA.

The university offers research opportunities through the Institute for Social Science Research, Fernald Child Study Center, the Brain Research Institute, and the Neuropsychiatric Institute. The program also works with local clinics, hospitals, and institutes to provide research opportunities and training. The University of California - Los Angeles is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).


Duke University

Average Net Price: $54,712

Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, offers a Ph.D. in psychology with five graduate training areas: clinical psychology, social psychology, cognition and cognitive neuroscience, systems and integrative neuroscience, and developmental psychology. Ph.D. candidates work closely with one or two faculty members, following the program's apprenticeship model.

The program begins in the fall. Duke offers guaranteed full funding to admitted students for at least five academic years. The university's Global Health Institute, Social Science Research Institute, and Center for Child and Family Policy offer research and training opportunities for Ph.D. students in psychology.

Applicants must submit three letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and transcripts. The admission committee interviews applicants in early spring. Duke University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).


University of Washington

Average Net Price: $21,656

The University of Washington's mentor-based psychology doctorate program prepares students for research and teaching careers. Learners study under the guidance of one or more mentor faculty members with similar scholarly interests. The program typically takes 5-7 years to complete.

UW's Ph.D. in psychology offers the following subdisciplines: animal behavior, behavioral neuroscience, clinical psychology, child clinical psychology, cognition and perception, developmental psychology, social and personality, and quantitative psychology. The program also offers a diversity science specialization, quantitative minor, and data science option.

Applicants do not need a prior degree in psychology, but some prior psychology coursework is desirable. The University of Washington is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).


University of Pennsylvania

Average Net Price: $38,630

The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia offers a research-focused Ph.D. in psychology. The department's faculty include past presidents of the American Psychological Association, members of the National Academy of Sciences, and fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The full-time program features first-year coursework, focused research experiences, seminars, teaching requirements, and faculty mentorship.

Students must complete 20 credits of coursework focused on the brain, the mind, the individual, and the group. Ph.D. candidates can choose a clinical or non-clinical track. The non-clinical program takes 4-5 years to complete, while clinical students spend five years in the program, followed by a one-year clinical internship.

The clinical training program prepares students for academic and research careers in personality, psychopathology, and clinical psychology. Students receive training in assessment, diagnosis, and psychotherapy. The University of Pennsylvania is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).


Oklahoma State University

Average Net Price: $13,283

Oklahoma State University offers a Ph.D. in psychology that prepares students for careers in research, teaching, and clinical practice. The department offers financial support to Ph.D. candidates through research assistantships, teaching assistantships, traineeships, and fellowships. All students receive an office on campus and access to department equipment.

Students can focus on clinical psychology, which prepares students to work as scientific clinical psychologists. The experimental program offers concentrations in cognitive, comparative-neurobiology, developmental, and social/personality psychology. OSU's Psychological Services Center offers a variety of research and clinical practice opportunities.

Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree in any field, but students need substantial prior psychology coursework. Recommended prerequisite courses include introductory psychology, experimental psychology, and statistics. Oklahoma State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).


University of Iowa

Average Net Price: $19,256

The University of Iowa in Iowa City offers a Ph.D. in psychology that admits students each fall. The program prepares graduates for careers in teaching; research; and other scholarly endeavors in academic, governmental, industrial, and medical settings.

Students can focus on one of three areas: clinical science, behavioral and cognitive neuroscience, or cognition. Students work with a faculty mentor and research advisory committee to create an individualized plan of study that reflects their interests and career goals. All Ph.D. candidates receive advanced training in contemporary psychological techniques and methods and psychological research and theory.

Applicants must submit unofficial academic transcripts, official GRE scores, three letters of recommendation, a CV, and a personal statement. The University of Iowa is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).


University of Virginia

Average Net Price: $21,424

The University of Virginia's psychology doctorate program includes specializations in clinical psychology, cognitive psychology, community psychology, developmental psychology, quantitative psychology, social psychology, and systems and behavioral neuroscience. Each specialization features its own application and graduation requirements.

UVA offers all students an annual stipend, full tuition waiver, and health insurance coverage for five years. The psychology department also encourages Ph.D. candidates to pursue additional financial aid opportunities, such as grants and fellowships.

The admission committee evaluates candidates using a holistic review process, strongly considering prior research experience and program fit. Applicants must submit a personal statement, three letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and unofficial transcripts. The University of Virginia is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).


Indiana University - Bloomington

Average Net Price: $20,579

Indiana University - Bloomington offers a mentor-based Ph.D. in psychology that examines how the brain-behavior system works. Students can choose from seven specializations: clinical science, cognitive neuroscience, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, mechanisms of behavior, molecular and systems neuroscience, and social psychology.

The psychology department manages 52 research laboratories that focus on clinical and translational science; cognitive, social, and developmental psychology; and cellular, molecular, cognitive, behavioral, systems, and computational neuroscience. The program assigns each new student a faculty mentor who supports their research and academic careers.

The department receives $10 million in external research funding each year, mostly from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. Indiana University - Bloomington is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).


University of Missouri-Kansas City

Average Net Price: $16,544

The University of Missouri - Kansas City offers a psychology doctorate program that allows students to focus on clinical psychology or applied cognitive and brain sciences. Both degree options emphasize research and feature a mentorship model that pairs students with a faculty member who shares their research interests. The clinical psychology Ph.D. is accredited by the American Psychological Association and requires a clinical practicum and internship.

The psychology department strives to provide 3-4 years of funding to Ph.D. students, which includes a living stipend and tuition waiver in exchange for a teaching or research assistantship. The university also offers fellowship opportunities for psychology graduate students.

Applicants must submit a statement of purpose, three letters of recommendation, documentation of work experience, official transcripts, and official GRE scores. The admission process also includes a voluntary interview. University of Missouri-Kansas City is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).


Florida State University

Average Net Price: $16,900

Florida State University in Tallahassee offers a research-focused Ph.D. in psychology that provides training in clinical psychology, developmental psychology, cognitive psychology, and social psychology. The clinical psychology program is accredited by the American Psychological Association.

The psychology doctorate program features instruction from internationally renowned faculty who explore questions of the human brain, mind, and behavior. Most students receive financial support, such as tuition waivers and stipends, from fellowships or assistantships.

Admission requirements include three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, college transcripts, GRE scores, and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Most admitted students hold 1-2 years of empirical research experience and an average 3.7 GPA. The program does not require the psychology subject GRE. Florida State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).


City University of New York

Average Net Price: $16,040

City University of New York offers a psychology doctorate program with 10 training areas, including basic and applied social psychology, behavioral and cognitive neuroscience, developmental psychology, and health psychology and clinical sciences. The program prepares graduates for careers in teaching, research, and psychology practice.

The program offers faculty and labs for each of the 10 training areas on eight campuses throughout the CUNY system, including Queens College, Brooklyn College, and John Jay College.

Prospective students must apply to one area of study within the psychology Ph.D. program at a time. Admission criteria vary by area of study. CUNY is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).


University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Average Net Price: $34,903

Students pursuing a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor can choose from six areas of study: biopsychology, clinical science, cognition and cognitive neuroscience, developmental psychology, personality and social contexts, or social psychology. The psychology department also participates in three joint programs of study: social work and psychology, women's studies and psychology, and education and psychology.

The Ph.D. program does not offer a master's degree and requires students to attend full time. The department offers financial support to Ph.D. candidates for five years, including a tuition waiver, health insurance, and a stipend.

Admission requirements for the competitive program include a bachelor's degree, a strong academic record, GRE scores, college transcripts, and three letters of recommendation. The University of Michigan - Ann Arbor is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).


The University of Texas at Austin

Average Net Price: $17,153

The University of Texas at Austin offers a psychology doctorate program with areas of study in behavioral neuroscience; clinical psychology; cognitive neuroscience; cognitive science; developmental psychology; individual differences and evolutionary psychology; social and personality; and perception, brain, and behavior.

Students must complete their degree within seven years. Students complete psychology coursework, research, and seminars. Core courses include principles of sensory and behavioral neuroscience, human language processing, and fundamentals of developmental psychology. Students also complete two quantitative courses and an ethics course.

Prospective students can only apply to one area of study within the psychology Ph.D. program. Applicants must submit a statement of purpose, three letters of recommendation, unofficial transcripts, GRE scores, and a CV. The University of Texas at Austin is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).


Georgetown University

Average Net Price: $50,012

Georgetown University's Ph.D. in psychology emphasizes developmental science. Located in Washington, D.C., the program offers convenient access to some of the world's leading nonprofit and research organizations. Degree requirements include coursework in methodology and statistics, applications of developmental science, and advanced theory. Students also gain practical experience in teaching and writing grants.

Students can pursue a lifespan cognitive neuroscience or human development and public policy concentration. Both concentrations explore social, biological, familial, cultural, political, and economic contexts. The psychology department also offers a dual degree in psychology and public policy with the McCourt School of Public Policy.

Application requirements include an academic statement of purpose, official college transcripts, three official recommendations, a resume/CV, GRE scores, and a writing sample. Georgetown University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).


University of Wisconsin - Madison

Average Net Price: $17,391

The University of Wisconsin - Madison offers a psychology doctorate program with six concentrations: biological psychology, clinical psychology, cognitive and cognitive neuroscience, developmental psychology, perception, and social and personality. Students can also create their own concentration. All doctoral students must complete a minor.

The psychology Ph.D. program offers research and learning opportunities with other departments; training programs; and institutes, including the Institute on Aging, Health Emotions Center, and Wisconsin Regional Primate Research Center.

The competitive program admits less than 10% of applicants each year. Admission requirements include a minimum 3.0 GPA, a minimum GRE score of 310, a personal statement, and three letters of recommendation. The program highly values applicants with undergraduate research experience. The University of Wisconsin-Madison is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).


Ranking Methodology

This ranking has been created to outline the 50 best doctoral psychology programs in the Unites States. Factors considered:

Average Annual Graduate Tuition

One of the major factors being considered is the average annual cost of attendance for a graduate program. Schools offering top-notch academic training while also keeping student costs low are given higher consideration. Data was collected from the College Navigator Tool.

Points:
Under $13,000 / $13,001 - $15,000/ $15,001 - $18,000 / $18,001 - $21,000:
5 Points / 3 Points / 2 Points / 1 Point

Accreditation

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

Points:
Each Regional Accreditation: 1 Point
APA Accreditation: 3 Points

College Ranking

The next consideration was whether or not a school has been granted acknowledgement by a national ranking body. The major source of such national notoriety comes from the US News and World Report Best Colleges List.

Points:

US News and World Report Best Graduate Programs in Psychology, Best Graduate Clinical Psychology Program, Best National University:

Top 10 / Top 20 / Top 35 / Top 50
5 Points / 3 Points / 2 Points / 1 Point

US News and World Report Best Value School, Top Public School or Most Innovative School:

Top 10 / Top 25 / Top 50
3 Points / 2 Points / 1 Point

Student to Faculty Ratio

For many students it is important to receive the individualized attention of their instructors. Preference is given to those schools that have a low student to faculty ratio.

Points:

10:1 or less/11:1-13:1/14:1-16:1
3 points / 2 points / 1 point

Grading Process

Once the points have been tallied the schools are arranged into groups by the amount of points they have earned. In the cases of ties, preference was given to those schools with the lowest annual graduate tuition rates. The main purpose of this list is to outline the best graduate psychology programs in the United States.