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 UCL, 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. UCL

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 UCL 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. 


Best universities by degree subject

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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. Yale University

The Yale University psychology department separates research into five different programmes: clinical psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, neuroscience and social/personality psychology. Students and staff are offered weekly seminars in each of these programmes.

The department provides courses for students at the undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD level. Only about 15 students are admitted for doctoral research each year.

Recently, the department launched a new course that has since become the university’s most popular in its 316-year history. Some 1,150 students (or a quarter of undergraduates) signed up for the Psychology and the Good Life course, which aims to teach students about changing their habits to promote positive thinking. It was launched in reaction to high rates of low student well-being on campus.

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

Opportunity and adventure at the Florida Institute of Technology
University mental health: taking student well-being seriously
Using an academic learning diary


Top universities for psychology degrees 2018 

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

Psychology Rank 2018UniversityCountry
1Stanford UniversityUnited States
2UCLUnited Kingdom
3Princeton UniversityUnited States
4Yale UniversityUnited States
4Harvard UniversityUnited States
5Duke UniversityUnited States
6Northwestern UniversityUnited States
7University of MichiganUnited States
8University of California, Los AngelesUnited States
9Carnegie Mellon UniversityUnited States
10University of British ColumbiaCanada
11University of California, San DiegoUnited States
12University of Wisconsin-MadisonUnited States
13University of TorontoCanada
14University of AmsterdamNetherlands
15Columbia UniversityUnited States
16University of WashingtonUnited States
17University of MinnesotaUnited States
18New York UniversityUnited States
19Karolinska InstituteSweden
20University of EdinburghUnited Kingdom
21Vanderbilt UniversityUnited States
22University of California, Santa BarbaraUnited States
23Pennsylvania State UniversityUnited States
24Michigan State UniversityUnited States
25Washington University in St LouisUnited States
26University of North Carolina at Chapel HillUnited States
27University of RochesterUnited States
28Ohio State UniversityUnited States
29University of GroningenNetherlands
30University of VirginiaUnited States
31Free University of BerlinGermany
=32McGill UniversityCanada
=32University of MelbourneAustralia
34LMU MunichGermany
35Brown UniversityUnited States
36KU LeuvenBelgium
37University of YorkUnited Kingdom
38University of Southern CaliforniaUnited States
39University of New South WalesAustralia
40Ghent UniversityBelgium
41Humboldt University of BerlinGermany
42Radboud University NijmegenNetherlands
43Peking UniversityChina
=44University of California, IrvineUnited States
=44Indiana UniversityUnited States
46University of Texas at AustinUnited States
47Boston UniversityUnited States
48Heidelberg UniversityGermany
49University of Hong KongHong Kong
50University of QueenslandAustralia
51University of Maryland, College ParkUnited States
=52University of St AndrewsUnited Kingdom
=52Utrecht UniversityNetherlands
54Tilburg UniversityNetherlands
55National University of SingaporeSingapore
56Cardiff UniversityUnited Kingdom
57Florida State UniversityUnited States
=58Dartmouth CollegeUnited States
=58University of GlasgowUnited Kingdom
=58Vrije Universiteit AmsterdamNetherlands
61Emory UniversityUnited States
=62Australian National UniversityAustralia
=62University of WarwickUnited Kingdom
64Maastricht UniversityNetherlands
=65University of Colorado BoulderUnited States
=65University of SydneyAustralia
67University of ConnecticutUnited States
68Birkbeck, University of LondonUnited Kingdom
=69University of FloridaUnited States
=69Rice UniversityUnited States
=69Simon Fraser UniversityCanada
72University of ZurichSwitzerland
73University of BristolUnited Kingdom
74University of IowaUnited States
75University of FreiburgGermany
=76Chinese University of Hong KongHong Kong
=76Hebrew University of JerusalemIsrael
78University of BernSwitzerland
79University of SussexUnited Kingdom
=80University of GenevaSwitzerland
=80Georgetown UniversityUnited States
82Arizona State UniversityUnited States
83University of Illinois at ChicagoUnited States
84University of KentUnited Kingdom
85University of California, RiversideUnited States
86University of TübingenGermany
87University of OregonUnited States
88University of WürzburgGermany
89University of GeorgiaUnited States
=90University of HelsinkiFinland
=90University of MannheimGermany
92Trinity College DublinRepublic of Ireland
=93University of BaselSwitzerland
=93University of SouthamptonUnited Kingdom
95University of AucklandNew Zealand
=96University of ArizonaUnited States
=96Texas A&M UniversityUnited States
98University of PittsburghUnited States
99University of AlbertaCanada
100City, University of LondonUnited 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   

Editor’s note, 5 April 2018: this table has been amended to include Yale University. For more details, please click here

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