Interested in learning more about the way that people think? Psychology might be the right career path for you. Currently, there are over 150,000 psychologists employed in America. Psychologists receive a median pay of $37.03 an hour, nearly double the national average. In order to become a practicing psychologist or own your own clinic, you will need more advanced education.
To help you make an educated college choice, we’ve curated a list of the 25 best small colleges for psychology majors on a budget. Through meeting the following criteria, each school on our list has proven its dedication to providing a quality, affordable education:
At least one full program for students seeking a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field
Overall undergraduate graduation rate of at least 40%
Estimated annual cost (as reported by College Navigator) of less than $27,000 a year
With a net price of just over $13,000 a year, Madonna University is the most affordable college for psychology majors on this list—if not in the country. And for the price, psychology majors can expect an unprecedented variety of exciting features and opportunities, from concentrations within the major (General Psychology, Mental Health, and Business) to undergraduate research. The campus even has an active chapter of Psi Chi! But most importantly, Madonna offers a comprehensive curriculum that gets the job done by preparing psychology majors for an array of career opportunities in academia, human services, clinical work, and education.
Like many of the top schools in our psychology degrees ranking, Christian Brothers University has an excellent selection of unusual majors, minors, and concentrations within its Psychology Department. But few of these other schools can truly compete with CBU: this unabashedly Christ-oriented institution takes specialization to the next level with over 10 dedicated programs in fascinating fields like Speech Pathology, Cognitive Psychology, and even something called Engineering Psychology. What's more, CBU is a powerful incubator for undergraduate research, encouraging all students to produce original work and share their results with others in order to maintain a thriving intellectual community on campus.
At Carson-Newman University, the Psychology Department hosts a full house of programs - three majors and six minors - to provide an exceptionally customizable experience for intellectually ambitious students. With affordable undergraduate psychology degree programs in General Psychology, Applied Psychology, and Social Entrepreneurship, plus minors in Applied Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Mental Health, Positive Psychology, Social Entrepreneurship, and Criminology, it's hard to comprehend just how comprehensive Carson-Newman's Psychology Department is. Outside the classroom, CNU places a strong emphasis on community engagement, regularly recruiting psychology majors for outreach initiatives at local clinics and other human services organizations.
Glance even briefly at Avila University's Psychology Department website and one section of the page will immediately jump out: the list of psychology student award winners, which includes undergraduates who have earned recognition from national organizations like Psi Chi. While this doesn't speak directly to the quality of Avila's academics, it does provide a strong indication of the kind of educational values the school promotes - not to mention the types of students it attracts. But these values don't just exist in digital print. In fact they permeate campus culture, manifesting in everything from the abundance of available research opportunities to the flexibility of the undergraduate psychology degree program, which features optional concentrations in Mental Health and Research.
At Northwest Nazarene University, psychology majors can choose from three areas of emphasis (Pre-Counseling, Neuroscience/Neuropsychology, and Scientist/Practitioner) in order to tailor their education to fit their individual aspirations. And while this flexibility alone would probably place NNU among the top small schools for psychology, the advantages don't end there. The university is also a strong proponent of undergraduate research (information on current undergraduate work is available on the departmental website), and features a number of related student groups, such as the Psychology Club and a chapter of Psi Chi (i.e., the national honor society in psychology).
Bethel College at North Newton marries a strong liberal arts core with a hands-on psychology curriculum to produce lifelong learners with a passion for understanding the human mind. Experiential learning is integrated into every stage of Bethel's psychology major: from clinical internships and on-campus research assistantships to laboratory coursework, this top small college psychology program provides an abundance of opportunities for undergraduates to acquire a firsthand perspective on the impact of psychology on the real world. What's more, Bethel students can add either a Clinical and Counseling or Neuroscience Certificate to their major with minimal supplemental coursework.
Notre Dame of Maryland University is a women's college that is widely regarded for its innovative and integrated psychology programs. Both NDMU's Psychology and Behavioral Science majors emphasize several signature focuses: observation, communication, motor skills, conceptual and quantitative abilities, and behavioral and social attributes. Students in these programs can also specialize in art or music therapy. A concentration in behavioral neuroscience is also available. Combined with an expansive curriculum that includes topics like animal behavior and gender roles, it's not difficult to see why NDMU appears so high up on our psychology degrees ranking.
With just over 500 undergraduates enrolled, Warner Pacific College is one of the smallest schools on our psychology degrees ranking—but it's also one of the strongest. In fact, if you consider the student-faculty ratio, its size is one of its strengths. WPC's core psychology curriculum is loaded with fascinating topics that range from sexuality and personality theory to the psychology of religion, deviant behavior, and even family violence. The major also introduces undergraduates to qualitative and quantitative research as well as therapeutic methods so that they are well-prepared for both clinical and counseling careers after graduation.
One of the best small schools for psychology, Morningside College offers a wide range of degree programs within the department to appeal to students' diverse interests. For those who are particularly interested in interpersonal relationships, Morningside's BA in Counseling Psychology is a promising choice; those who would rather study how people change over time might prefer the degree in Developmental Psychology. A third degree in Biopsychology provides compelling coursework for majors who are considering a career in neurological research. Fortunately, students who have trouble choosing from these three distinct programs don't actually have to - the General Psychology degree will give them a taste of everything.
There are many reasons why students choose to attend Multnomah University to earn their affordable undergraduate psychology degree, and price is just one of them. Flexibility is a major part of the appeal of Multnomah's Psychology Department, which offers 2- and 4-year degree tracks as well as flexible online coursework. The school also boasts a hard-to-come-by degree program in Business and Organizational Psychology, which is a burgeoning field with a median salary verging on six figures. And for religious practitioners, Multnomah's biblical emphasis is another strong selling point, as is the required senior practicum.
With undergraduate degree programs in Child Development, Sociology, Human Services, Counseling, Family Studies, and, of course, Psychology, there can be little doubt that East Texas Baptist University is among the top small schools for psychology in the country. ETBU makes an impact not just by preparing students for meaningful careers later in life, but also by sending them out in the community to make a difference throughout their college career. In this way, ETBU's rigorous service learning and practicum requirements are also a high educational watermark, inculcating psychology majors in the practice of compassionate service to others every day.
Wesleyan University is widely considered one of the premiere liberal arts colleges in the country as well as a top college for psychology majors. Wesleyan's undergraduate psychology program is as robust as it is rigorous: in addition to a mandatory "cultural immersion experience" (which majors can satisfy by participating in a study abroad program or performing community service within the town of Middleton), Wesleyan offers optional concentrations in Cognitive Science and Cultural Psychology. Wesleyan is also home to over a dozen specialized psychology labs, all of which invite undergraduate participation.
With degree programs in Psychology (BS or BA), Counseling Psychology, and Human Services, LeTourneau University will appeal to anyone who wants to understand and help their fellow man. But regardless of the particular degree program, this affordable small school for psychology's curricula meld theoretical knowledge with experiential learning to provide a transformative educational experience. Program members can even customize their education with independent study courses, which they'll design with the help of their most experienced professors. LeTourneau is also unique in that it offers a five-year Accelerated BS/MS Counseling Psychology/MAFT, which will qualify graduates for meaningful jobs in marriage and family therapy counseling as soon as they graduate.
Like La Sierra, Andrews University provides undergraduates with a multiple avenues through which they can study the behavior, development, and minds of their fellow humans. In fact, the affordable undergraduate psychology degree program barely scratches the surface of what Andrews has to offer. A deeper dive into the Psychology Department reveals an assortment of majors that includes Behavioral Neuroscience, Health Psychology, and a Pre-Professional clinical track. And that's not even considering the Behavioral Sciences or Family Studies Departments! But Andrews hardly sacrifices quality for quantity, a statement to which many undergraduates will attest - that is, unless they are too busy conducting field research with faculty or traveling to an academic conference.
Specialization options are among the best selling points for an affordable undergraduate psychology degree program, and La Sierra University has more than almost any other school on this list. In addition to two bachelor's degree options (a BA in Psychology and a related BS in Neuroscience), La Sierra offers minors in Health Psychology and Forensic Psychology. This breadth of options makes it easy for majors to mix and match their favorite programs and establish a solid baseline for their desired career. What's more, La Sierra guarantees that all psychology majors acquire hands-on experience in a real laboratory where they can advance the very theories they read about in the classroom.
Evinced by its Best Regional College designation from U.S. News, Walla Walla University is another college that has earned a strong reputation in the educational community. This is thanks in no small part to Walla Walla's affordable small college psychology program, which offers the same standard of education and opportunity as its competitors at half the price of average private school tuition. In fact, the recent addition of a forensic psychology minor indicates that Walla Walla may have even more to offer. Other features to note are a substantial Departmental Merit Scholarship and a student-run on-campus counseling center called Pathways to Change.
With numerous accolades from publications like U.S. News and Top Small Colleges, it's no surprise that Southwestern Assemblies of God University also makes our top psychology degrees ranking. SAGU offers a truly comprehensive undergraduate psychology program; theoretical coursework spans counseling, clinical analysis, developmental theory, and behavioralism, while a required field practicum strengthens applied knowledge. SAGU's strong emphasis on Christian practices and values (students must take one Bible, religion, or theology course every semester) also makes it a top choice for those who wish to pursue a career within the church.
Under normal circumstances, small class sizes and personalized education are at odds with affordability. However, Holy Names University is not normal; it's one of the best small schools for psychology in the US. For an average net price of just $24,000, HNU offers a spectacular range of concentration options within the psychology major, including emphases in Business, Clinical and Community Services, Teaching and Liberal Studies, and even Ministry. Additionally, all students must take required courses in statistics, field methods, and experimental psychology to develop their aptitude as researchers and scientists.
Albright College's psychology department is so substantial that it offers six separate degree tracks at the undergraduate level—two more than even Augsburg. From General Psychology to Evolutionary Studies, Albright offers an enormous range of opportunities for scholastic specialization that is virtually unrivaled. But diversity alone does not a top college for psychology majors make; ultimately, it comes down to results. Albright has these as well: according to the department's website, 50% of Albright psychology undergraduates find internship placement in their field, nearly 15 present original papers at national conferences, and virtually all who apply are accepted to graduate school.
At twice the price of the #1 school on this list, one would hope that Augsburg College has twice to offer its psychology undergraduates - and it does. In fact, Augsburg features four majors within its psychology department: Biopsychology, Psychology and Law, Clinical Psychology, and Social Psychology - not to mention more than forty courses spanning just about every topic in the field. Augsburg also places an inordinate emphasis on student research, with nearly a dozen psychology laboratories on campus that keep their doors open year round. Internships are also mandatory at this top small school for psychology to ensure that learning persists beyond the classroom.
With equal emphasis on applied and theoretical learning models, Oakland City University's Psychology Department prepares undergraduates for careers in academia and private practice alike. In particular, OCU is notable for its certificate program in Addiction Counseling, the requirements for which can easily be satisfied within the standard psychology curriculum. Students interested in becoming Licensed Addiction Counselors after graduation can choose from an abundance of topical electives such as Addiction Theory, Psychoactive Drugs, Treatment Planning, and more. But regardless of whether they choose this track or another area of specialization, all undergrads earning their affordable undergraduate psychology degree at OCU have the opportunity to pursue research and internships for credit.
Thanks to an expansive and robust curriculum with numerous tracks for personalization (including an exciting interdisciplinary program in neuroscience), Trinity University is one of the top small schools for psychology in the country. For one thing, there are few strictly required classes. Instead, psychology coursework at Trinity spans a number of topic "clusters" - such as perception, human development, memory and cognition, and sociology - from which psychology majors can select the courses they find most interesting. In their junior and/or senior years, these students can also choose between a focus on field research or a capstone thesis.
Arcadia University sets itself apart from other affordable colleges for psychology majors by placing hands-on learning at the forefront of its curriculum. Unlike other schools on this list, which typically offer undergraduate research as an optional facet of their psychology major, Arcadia requires a minimum of four full semesters of "original data-gathering research" from all majors in its program. But what about students who plan to pursue careers as practitioners rather than researchers? Arcadia has them covered, thanks to a senior internship program that places upperclassmen in prestigious clinics both locally and nationally to learn from the best minds working in the field.
Like Oakwood, Concordia University at Irvine applies a faith-based approach to the study of human thought and behavior. While there are no courses in Concordia's Psychology curriculum that focus solely on religion, both "God's Word" (i.e., scripture) and "God's World" (or the empirical study of humankind) are rigorously integrated throughout the major. In fact, Concordia's Psychology faculty consists of both practicing psychologists and pastors who grant professional as well as spiritual authority to their teachings. But Concordia is not just a top college for psychology majors; it also offers a strong Behavioral Sciences major with specialization options in Anthropology, Sociology, and, of course, Psychology.
For those interested in acquiring a "Christian perspective on psychology," a school like Oakwood University could easily suit their needs. Oakwood offers a Bachelor of Arts as well as a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, both of which provide an ideal combination of affordability, quality, and spirituality. Required coursework in statistics, religion, biology, and research methods guarantee a comprehensive overview of the real work that psychologists do. What's more, Oakwood's top small college psychology program hosts minors in Sociology and Correctional Science, which allow students to personalize their course of study to suit their specific interests within the field.
Want to find out exactly how much it will cost for you to attend one of these affordable small college psychology programs? Check out the U.S. Department of Education’s Net Price Calculator Center.
For information about our methodology, click here.
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