Top 10 Graduate Schools in Counseling and Psychology

stanford university walkway

If you're searching for the top graduate schools in counseling psychology, developmental psychology, or other psychology specialty areas, the ranking list by U.S. News & World Report is a good place to start.

Every year the publication ranks the best specialty graduate schools in the country based on measurements that include faculty resources, student retention and graduation rate.

You'll want to keep a couple of things in mind as you read about top graduate schools in counseling psychology:

  • You'll find that most grad programs in psychology are intended for you to earn a doctoral degree.
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  • If you're considering a career in counseling psychology, educational psychology or school psychology, degrees in these areas are often offered by the school of education rather than psychology department.

Top 10 Graduate Schools in Counseling Psychology

Here is the top 10 list for psychology grad schools for 2013 (the last time the psychology specialty was ranked):

Stanford University

About the program: You will be encouraged to work across different study areas in the graduate program at Stanford. The psychology department is currently conducting wide-ranging research from topics such as aggression and social behavior to learning and memory. The Smithsonian Institution recognized the Stanford psychology department in 2003 for ranking first in the nation for more than 50 years.

University of California–Berkeley

About the program: The graduate program in psychology at UC Berkeley emphasizes research and an interdisciplinary approach. The faculty focuses on eclectic topics, some of which include: language and social development in children; cultural influences on perception; finding causes and treatments for disorders such as ADHD, dementias and schizophrenia; and social behavior such as conformity, prejudice and dissent.

University of California–Los Angeles

About the program: As a graduate student at the UCLA psychology program, you will be trained exclusively to earn a PhD—no independent master's program is available (you may also appreciate that the ocean is five miles from campus!). Rigorous scientific and interdisciplinary research is the program's emphasis. The goal is for you to become a highly effective psychologist working in psychological research or college and university instruction.

Harvard University

About the program: The field of psychology began at Harvard in the late 1800s, thanks to the patronage of the influential philosopher and psychologist, William James. Harvard's department of psychology is strictly research-oriented, and has long enjoyed its reputation as a prestigious and top-ranking program. As a graduate from this program, you will be well-prepared to find work as a research psychologist at a university.

University of Michigan–Ann Arbor

About the program: As a graduate student at the UCLA psychology program, you will be trained exclusively to earn a PhD—no independent master's program is available (you may also appreciate that the ocean is five miles from campus!). Rigorous scientific and interdisciplinary research is the program's emphasis. The goal is for you to become a highly effective psychologist working in psychological research or college and university instruction.

Yale University

About the program: If you're one of the lucky few to get into Yale's psychology graduate program—only about 15 new PhD students are admitted per year—you'll enjoy extensive attention from the department's large faculty as you pursue an individualized course of study. With a focus on providing you a solid background in research as well as teaching, Yale's graduate training can prepare you for a career in academic as well as applied settings.

Princeton University

About the program: If you prevail amid the fierce competition to get accepted to Princeton's prestigious graduate program in psychology, your studies will take you approximately five years to earn a PhD. On average, only six doctorate degrees are awarded per year. After graduating you should be well-suited as a scholar for a career teaching or researching psychology.

University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign

About the program: The psychology department at UIUC—now over 100 years old—is a consistently top-ranked program. You have numerous study areas from which to choose your specialty, and students are encouraged to collaborate and interact across these divisions.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

About the program: The school's Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences offer an interdisciplinary approach that leads to a PhD. The programs are designed to foster scientists and researchers as well as effective teachers. One key factor is students in MIT's psychology program begin research apprenticeships as early as their first semester, and students have the option to change assignments as their goals become more focused.

University of Minnesota–Twin Cities

About the program: The graduate psychology department at the University of Minnesota has ranked in the top ten since the first survey in 1957 that compared quality among schools. Training you as a skilled teacher and researcher is the program's foremost priority. This is also the only program in the top ten on this list that offers a specific division devoted to counseling psychology.