Best universities for psychology degrees 2018

Find the best colleges for psychology using Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings data

November 8 2017
Best universities in psychology

Psychology is the study of the mind and human behaviour. Psychology students will learn about the feelings that humans experience, what motivates us and how we interact with each other. 

Many psychology graduates will go on to careers as professional psychologists, however a degree in psychology can also lead to careers in childcare, social work or in the legal profession. Scroll down for a full guide to what you can do with a psychology degree. 

This year, for the first time, Times Higher Education has released a ranking of the 100 best universities for psychology degrees. The ranking features 16 countries. 

Stanford University takes first place in the 2017 ranking, followed by University College London, the only UK university to make the top 10. The only other non-US university in the top 10 is the University of British Columbia in Canada.

Nearly half of the universities in the overall ranking (47 universities) are US universities. The next most represented country is the UK, with just 13 universities present. Germany and the Netherlands are also well represented, with eight and seven universities respectively.

The ranking uses the same methodology as the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, but with a higher weighting for citations and a lower weighting for teaching. The full methodology can be found here

Best universities worldwide

Best universities in the world
Best universities in the United States
Best universities in the UK
Best universities in Canada
Best universities in Australia
Best universities in Europe
Best universities in Germany
Best universities in the Netherlands

The top 5 universities for psychology degrees

1. Stanford University

The department of psychology at Stanford University was one of the first departments to be established at the institution. 

Undergraduate and graduate programmes are available, with the latter emphasising research training. The department is split into five research groups known as department areas. The areas are affective science, neuroscience, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, and social psychology. 

The department has close ties with many other departments on campus such as biology, law, medicine, law and business. There are aims to increase participation in various interdisciplinary programmes on campus. 

Research is carried out in areas including addictive behaviours, psychopathology and risk, and stereotyping.

2. University College London

The UCL Division of Psychology and Language Sciences is the largest department  of its kind in the country, with more than 120 academic staff and approximately 1,500 students. 

The undergraduate programme at University College London is accredited by the British Psychological Society and graduates are eligible to become members. 

As well as undergraduate courses, the department offers 20 master’s degrees in topics including business psychology, neuroscience, decision science and human-computer interaction. 

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3. Princeton University

The psychology department at Princeton University has produced one Nobel prizewinner, six Distinguished Contributions awards from the American Psychological Association and three William James Fellow Awards from the Association for Psychological Science. 

Graduate study is focused on systems neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience, perception and cognition, personality and social psychology, and physiological psychology. This is viewed as a preparatory programme for a PhD. 

The department is closely affiliated with the Center for the Study of Brain, Mind, and Behaviour, which fosters research on neuroscience and psychological function. 

4. Harvard University

Psychology programmes at Harvard University have been running since the late 1800s, when US psychologist and philosopher William James began to introduce psychology classes as a separate entity to the philosophy department, under which the subject previously had been classified.

Psychology is one of the most popular undergraduate courses at Harvard and one of the most famous alumni of the department is actress Natalie Portman, who graduated in 2003. 

The graduate programme in psychology focuses on four main research areas: cognition, brain and behaviour; developmental psychology; social psychology; and clinical science. 

5. Duke University

Psychology is one of the most popular subjects among Duke University students, with many choosing it as a minor subject. 

Undergraduate students are able to gain research experience by working alongside faculty members on some of their research projects. The university also offers internships that allow students to gain more experience. 

The graduate programme is made up of five training areas: clinical psychology; cognition and cognitive neuroscience; developmental psychology; social psychology and systems; and integrative neuroscience.

Student experience of studying psychology

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Top universities for psychology degrees 2018 

Click on each institution to view its World University Ranking 2018 profile

Psychology Rank 2018 University Country
1 Stanford University United States
2 University College London United Kingdom
3 Princeton University United States
4 Harvard University United States
5 Duke University United States
6 Northwestern University United States
7 University of Michigan United States
8 University of California, Los Angeles United States
9 Carnegie Mellon University United States
10 University of British Columbia Canada
11 University of California, San Diego United States
12 University of Wisconsin-Madison United States
13 University of Toronto Canada
14 University of Amsterdam Netherlands
15 Columbia University United States
16 University of Washington United States
17 University of Minnesota United States
18 New York University United States
19 Karolinska Institute Sweden
20 University of Edinburgh United Kingdom
21 Vanderbilt University United States
22 University of California, Santa Barbara United States
23 Pennsylvania State University United States
24 Michigan State University United States
25 Washington University in St Louis United States
26 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill United States
27 University of Rochester United States
28 Ohio State University United States
29 University of Groningen Netherlands
30 University of Virginia United States
31 Free University of Berlin Germany
=32 McGill University Canada
=32 University of Melbourne Australia
34 LMU Munich Germany
35 Brown University United States
36 KU Leuven Belgium
37 University of York United Kingdom
38 University of Southern California United States
39 University of New South Wales Australia
40 Ghent University Belgium
41 Humboldt University of Berlin Germany
42 Radboud University Nijmegen Netherlands
43 Peking University China
=44 University of California, Irvine United States
=44 Indiana University United States
46 University of Texas at Austin United States
47 Boston University United States
48 Heidelberg University Germany
49 University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
50 University of Queensland Australia
51 University of Maryland, College Park United States
=52 University of St Andrews United Kingdom
=52 Utrecht University Netherlands
54 Tilburg University Netherlands
55 National University of Singapore Singapore
56 Cardiff University United Kingdom
57 Florida State University United States
=58 Dartmouth College United States
=58 University of Glasgow United Kingdom
=58 Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Netherlands
61 Emory University United States
=62 Australian National University Australia
=62 University of Warwick United Kingdom
64 Maastricht University Netherlands
=65 University of Colorado Boulder United States
=65 University of Sydney Australia
67 University of Connecticut United States
68 Birkbeck, University of London United Kingdom
=69 University of Florida United States
=69 Rice University United States
=69 Simon Fraser University Canada
72 University of Zurich Switzerland
73 University of Bristol United Kingdom
74 University of Iowa United States
75 University of Freiburg Germany
=76 Chinese University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
=76 Hebrew University of Jerusalem Israel
78 University of Bern Switzerland
79 University of Sussex United Kingdom
=80 University of Geneva Switzerland
=80 Georgetown University United States
82 Arizona State University United States
83 University of Illinois at Chicago United States
84 University of Kent United Kingdom
85 University of California, Riverside United States
86 University of Tübingen Germany
87 University of Oregon United States
88 University of Würzburg Germany
89 University of Georgia United States
=90 University of Helsinki Finland
=90 University of Mannheim Germany
92 Trinity College Dublin Republic of Ireland
=93 University of Basel Switzerland
=93 University of Southampton United Kingdom
95 University of Auckland New Zealand
=96 University of Arizona United States
=96 Texas A&M University United States
98 University of Pittsburgh United States
99 University of Alberta Canada
100 City, University of London United Kingdom

View the full table of best universities for psychology degrees

What can you do with a psychology degree?

Read more: The most detailed subject guide you will ever see to help you pick your degree   

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