2023 Top Schools For Psychology on The East Coast

The benefit of studying psychology in college is that there are hundreds of psychology programs across the nation. You can study psychology at a big school or small school, on campus or online, and explore many different types of psychology specialties, too.

There are excellent psychology schools across the nation, including on the East Coast. It might be argued that the East Coast has the best selection of psychology schools since many of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious colleges and universities are in the East.

With that in mind, we have identified five of the best psychology schools on the East Coast for you to consider. Following schools offer excellent programs and degree options for your education.

Harvard University

School Information

Harvard University is a private institution that was founded in 1636. It’s one of the oldest colleges in North America.

Over the course of its history, Harvard has established itself as a leader in academics and research. Year after year, it ranks among the top colleges in the nation. For example, US News and World Report ranks Harvard third among national universities, first among best value schools, and 14th among the most innovative schools.

As a student at Harvard, you can explore many different academic areas, not just psychology. Harvard has 12 academic schools and colleges that offer courses and degrees in fields that range from the arts to engineering to business.

Psychology Programs

Not only is Harvard well known for its general academic quality, but it’s also known as a top school for psychology in the nation. Part of this is due to the wide range of degree options available to you.

As an undergraduate, you can focus your studies on one of three areas:

  • General Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience and Evolutionary Psychology
  • Cognitive Science

Psychology is also available to study as a secondary field to a complementary undergraduate major.

Unlike many undergraduate psychology programs, Harvard requires a senior thesis. Likewise, you can conduct psychological research at one of the University’s research labs.

Harvard also offers a range of graduate programs in psychology, including four Ph.D. tracks:

  • Clinical Science/ Experimental Psychopathology
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Cognition, Brain, and Behavior (CBB)

These specialties involve varying coursework requirements, research, and the development and defense of a dissertation.

Harvard also offers postdoctoral studies for select Ph.D. students to continue their research after finishing their Ph.D. program. A postdoctoral position like this enables you to complete up to five additional years of research in your area of specialization.

Princeton University

School Information

Like Harvard, Princeton University is a private, Ivy League school on the East Coast. Princeton was established in 1746 as one of nine colonial colleges founded before the Revolutionary War.

Today, Princeton maintains the same commitment to academic exploration as it did back then. The school has 31 Nobel Prize winners on its faculty and staff and 17 Rhodes Scholars among its students in the past ten years alone.

The University focuses on rigorous research. More than 1,600 research funding awards have been given to students thus far. However, classroom work is important, too. With a 5:1 student-to-faculty ratio, you can get all the individual attention you need to thrive in your studies.

Psychology Programs

Princeton University offers an undergraduate concentration in psychology that requires you to complete three prerequisite psychology courses in addition to eight courses within the psychology major. Coursework ranges from experimental methods to abnormal psychology to the psychology of learning.

Furthermore, Princeton’s undergraduate program offers multiple concentration areas that you can use to further specialize your studies. While many psychology majors pursue the Certificate in Neuroscience, other options are available, including:

  • African American Studies
  • Cognitive Science
  • Applications of Computing
  • Gender and Sexuality Studies
  • Language and Culture
  • Linguistics

Princeton also offers graduate-level studies that culminate in a Ph.D. in psychology. This five-year program includes detailed classroom studies, thorough research, and teaching opportunities.

Additionally, you will complete a dissertation and defend it to a committee prior to being approved for your doctorate.

The doctoral program offers several specializations, too. You can choose from Cognitive Neuroscience, Learning and Memory, or Social Psychology. Behavioral Economics, Developmental Psychology, and Systems Neuroscience are additional options.

Yale University

School Information

Yale University was founded in 1701 and consistently ranks as one of the top colleges in the United States and the world. The school offers you opportunities to study here at home and abroad, where you can expand your understanding of psychology by studying with respected experts in the field.

The student population at Yale is quite diverse. Of the approximately 14,000 students on campus, 22 percent are from outside the United States. In fact, students at Yale represent 115 different countries.

Yale offers programs of study in more than a dozen schools and colleges. In addition to well-known programs in business, medicine, and nursing, Yale also has schools for art, divinity, and architecture, to name a few.

Psychology Programs

The psychology department at Yale offers two undergraduate tracks – standard and neuroscience. The standard track provides a general overview of psychology, while the neuroscience track focuses more on the relationship between biology and psychology. Both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science options are available.

Each track also has a senior requirement. In both cases, this entails completing a large research paper prior to graduation. All told, you must complete 12 courses within the psychology major to graduate with Yale’s degree in psychology.

If you wish to further your education, Yale’s graduate program in psychology offers a research-based curriculum that prepares you for academic and applied research. Likewise, you can choose to concentrate your studies on one of five areas:

Upon choosing a specialization area, your coursework and research will primarily take place in your concentration. However, there are opportunities to work with students in other tracks to conduct cross-subject research.

Duke University

School Information

Duke University is a private doctoral research institution in Durham, North Carolina. The school is divided into ten schools and colleges, including those focused on nursing, medicine, public policy, and business. Despite being a small school with just over 6,800 undergraduate students, Duke has many academic offerings.

As an undergraduate, you can study many popular fields, including computer science, biology, and economics. The fifth-most popular undergraduate major at Duke is psychology.

While Duke has a solid academic reputation, it also has a vibrant campus environment. You can choose to join more than 700 student clubs and organizations for specific interests. These range from club sports teams to fraternities and sororities to religiously-affiliated clubs.

Psychology Programs

Duke’s undergraduate psychology program offers two options to specialize your studies – psychology or neuroscience. In both cases, you will need about four years to complete your degree.

You can choose from Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science tracks for the psychology and neuroscience specializations. The primary difference between the BA and BS tracks is that you have to take additional courses for the BS track. You can also choose an interdepartmental track that gives you a more diverse curriculum to study.

The graduate program in psychology at Duke leads to a Ph.D. There are no terminal master’s programs. If you pursue a Ph.D. in psychology, you can specialize in one of five areas:

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Systems and Integrative Neuroscience

Though you select a specific track to pursue, the Duke graduate program is interdisciplinary in nature. Likewise, there is a heavy emphasis on research and apprenticeship training with your advisors. Once admitted to the program, you’ll receive five years of academic support to complete your studies.

The University of Maryland

School Information

The University of Maryland is a public, co-ed, doctoral-granting institution in College Park. With nearly 31,000 undergraduate students, it’s the largest school on this list. Maryland also has a robust offering of academic programs.

For example, you can study traditional subjects like business, education, and engineering. But you can also study much more niche subjects like dance, cinema and media studies, and religions of the ancient Middle East.

Of course, psychology is also an option! All told, Maryland offers more than 100 undergraduate majors, 115 graduate programs, and 84 doctoral programs within 12 distinct schools and colleges.

You will get a well-regarded education at the University of Maryland, too. US News and World Report ranks Maryland 19th among public schools and 55th among national universities.

Psychology Programs

As an undergraduate psychology student at the University of Maryland, you can choose between a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science track.

The BA option includes 11 psychology courses as part of the major requirements for graduation. The BS option requires three additional courses in advanced math and science, though both degrees can be completed in four years of full-time study.

In both cases, you must also fulfill a multicultural requirement by taking an approved course in psychology that looks at issues through the lens of minorities. Examples of courses that fulfill this requirement include Psychology of Racism, Psychology of Women, and Diversity in Organizations.

The graduate program options in psychology at the University of Maryland are quite robust. You can choose from two Master of Professional Science degrees – Clinical Psychological Science or Industrial Organizational Science. Both options are 15-month programs that can be completed in five terms.

Additionally, both MPS degrees can be considered terminal degrees. With master’s-level training in these fields, you can confidently enter the workforce and make positive contributions in clinical or industrial organizational settings.

The University of Maryland also offers a Ph.D. program in which you can select one of five specialties:

  • Clinical
  • Cognitive and Neural Systems
  • Counseling
  • Developmental
  • Social, Decision and Organizational Science

Depending on your chosen specialty, your work might focus more on research or developing clinical skills. For example, the clinical and counseling tracks utilize the scientist-practitioner model to prepare you for working with clients. The Cognitive and Neural Systems track focuses more on conducting research and adding to the body of knowledge of human behavior.

No matter which program you choose at Maryland – or any of the other programs discussed in this guide – you will participate in high-level academic activities and research that prepare you well for a career in psychology.

You will also work alongside some of the most highly-regarded psychology faculty in the nation. If your goal is to change the world through a better understanding of the human psyche, these programs will set you up for success!

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