Best Psychology Graduate Programs in Pennsylvania [2023]

Study Psychology in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is home to nearly 300 institutions of higher learning. You can go to one of 15 community colleges in the state, one of its technical colleges to prepare for a career or study at an Ivy League school like the University of Pennsylvania. With so many choices, you can pursue your chosen field of study in virtually any environment you wish – including studying entirely online.

As someone wanting to get a graduate psychology degree, you have various programmatic choices in Pennsylvania. From clinical psychology to experimental psychology to developmental psychology, you can specialize your learning to fit your future educational and occupational goals.

You can get a jump start on your education at one of the five psychology graduate programs listed below.

Psychology Graduate Programs and Schools in Pennsylvania

West Chester University (WCU)

West Chester University, which is on a 486-acre campus in West Chester, Pennsylvania, is a public research university that grants undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees. Its location in the greater Philadelphia area gives you easy access to recreational, entertainment, and cultural opportunities, as well as the area’s rich history.

With more than 17,000 students, WCU is the fourth-largest university in the Philadelphia area. If you attend school on campus, you can enjoy nearly 300 different clubs and organizations and plentiful opportunities for community service.

Moreover, there are 23 sports clubs for students that include ultimate frisbee, fencing, volleyball, and water polo. Whether you’re in class or enjoying time away from your studies, WCU has a lot to offer!

WCU’s graduate psychology programs include two master of science options and one PsyD program. In each case, you will find that WCU’s faculty brings their expertise to the classroom and helps prepare you for your career.

Master of Science in General Psychology

The general concentration is a good option if you want to prepare for a career or potentially continue your studies at the doctoral level. You will gain advanced knowledge of psychological topics like assessment, diagnosis, and various theoretical models. You will also take statistics and gain research experience. This includes courses in experimental design, research analysis, and psychological measurement.

This is a cohort program that requires the completion of 36 credits. You may also complete an optional master’s thesis, which must be defended to a committee before your degree is conferred.

Master of Science in Industrial-Organizational Psychology

The I-O concentration is a 39-42 credit hour program that requires about two years of full-time study to complete. This program serves as preparation for psychology careers in business and industry but also serves as a stepping stone to doctoral degree in I-O psychology.

You will take courses in employee training, organizational behavior, and change management. These classes are offered with flexibility in mind. You can take evening and online courses to help fit your studies into your busy life.

PsyD in Clinical Psychology

WCU’s PsyD in Clinical Psychology is a professional degree program designed to prepare you for practice as a licensed clinical psychologist. This APA-accredited program follows the practitioner-scholar model that focuses on evidence-based practice for addressing mental health concerns.

In addition to core coursework, you must also complete applied clinical and research classes. You will undertake a supervised clinical practicum and a research practicum, in addition to a clinical internship and a dissertation. It takes five years of residential studies to complete these degree requirements.

To apply to one of WCU’s graduate programs in psychology, you must submit a completed application, official transcripts from all colleges you’ve attended, and three letters of recommendation. You must also submit a personal goals statement and maintain a 3.0 GPA in college coursework and a 3.25 GPA in psychology coursework.

Millersville University

Millersville University was founded in 1855 in the village of Millersville. Today, it’s a growing public institution with a wide range of degrees and programs for undergraduate and graduate students. It’s a small school with just over 6,000 students, yet you can enjoy small class sizes, a high number of classes taught by professors (not grad students), and a top-30 ranking among public universities in the North.

What’s more, Millersville offers affordable tuition and a high rate of student financial assistance. In fact, more than 80 percent of Millersville students receive some financial aid. And within six months of graduation, 95 percent of Millersville graduates have a job. This mix of affordability and preparation for your career makes Millersville an excellent choice.

Psychology Programs

The Master of Science in Clinical Psychology from Millersville offers you two tracks: a 42-credit pre-doctoral option or a 60-credit licensure option. The 60-credit option prepares you to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Pennsylvania.

Whether you choose the pre-doctoral or licensure track, you will take courses in:

  • Child Development in the Family System
  • Psychopathology
  • Cognitive Therapy
  • Existential/Humanistic Therapies
  • Group Counseling and Psychotherapy

Further requirements for the licensure track include Human Growth and Development, Career Development, and Multicultural Counseling.

Additionally, you must complete a six-credit internship which takes place in the spring semester of the second or third year of the program, regardless of the track you select. If you choose the licensure track, you have to complete at least 600 hours during the internship.

While in the program, you must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA. Likewise, to enter the degree candidacy phase of the program, you must pass competency exams in three core areas and have a satisfactory evaluation from the Psychology Graduate Committee.

To apply to this program, you should have at least 18 credits of undergraduate psychology courses on your official transcript. You must also submit three letters of recommendation, an autobiographical sketch, and satisfactory scores on the GRE. A writing sample and an interview with program staff are also required.

The University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania is a private Ivy League school that’s regarded as one of the finest academic institutions in the country. It’s also one of the oldest colleges in the nation, having commenced classes in 1740, well before the United States was an independent nation. Benjamin Franklin championed the university’s founding and served as its first president.

Today, Penn enjoys many accolades. It ranks seventh in the nation among national universities according to US News and World Report.

Moreover, Penn ranks 18th in the nation for best value and 59th in the nation for innovation. The school also has many individual programs ranked in the top 10 in the nation, including the top-ranked nursing program and business program in the country.

Psychology Programs

The clinical training program at Penn is rooted in clinical science. The purpose of focusing on clinical science is to fully prepare you for academic and research-related careers in the field of clinical psychology.

In addition to robust research opportunities, you will also partake in clinical training that includes assessment of psychological disorders, diagnosis, and treatment options, like psychotherapy.

To get a well-rounded education, you will take courses in:

  • Psychopathology
  • Psychological Assessment
  • Psychodiagnostic Interviewing
  • Empirically Supported Treatments

A variety of psychology seminars are also required as part of your studies. These seminars focus on highly specific psychology topics, such as Neuropsychopharmacology, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and Developmental Psychopathology, to name a few.

This Ph.D. program also requires a year-long clinical internship experience. This experience comes after the completion of all coursework, seminars, and related research. These requirements take about five years to complete.

You will receive funding to offset the cost of your degree. In fact, Penn provides all Ph.D. students in this program with full funding for their five-year course of study.

Program admission is contingent upon identifying a faculty member with whom you’d like to study. You must also submit official transcripts, a personal statement, a CV, and three letters of recommendation. The GRE is not required to apply to this program.

Shippensburg University

Shippensburg University was founded in 1871 as the first teacher’s college in Pennsylvania. Today, it’s a comprehensive public university with more than 100 undergraduate programs, 50 master’s programs, two doctoral programs, and numerous certificate options.

This school is widely regarded for its academic programs and its commitment to academic excellence. One hundred percent of courses are taught by faculty, not graduate assistants.

The school also boasts many accreditations and certifications, including those in journalism, criminal justice, and engineering. No matter your course of study, you’ll enjoy small class sizes and plentiful opportunities for hands-on learning.

Psychology Programs

The Master of Science in Applied Psychology program at Shippensburg University was designed to fulfill three distinct needs. It’s a pre-doctoral training program for continuing your studies after graduation. It’s also designed to help you advance your career. If you want to change careers within psychology, this program can help you do so as well.

This is a 30-credit program delivered entirely online. Most students complete the degree requirements in one year of study (spring, summer, and fall). During your studies, you will explore topics such as:

  • Advanced Research Design and Statistics
  • Introduction to Behavior Analysis
  • Applied Psychology of Women and Gender
  • Introduction to Group Dynamics
  • Applied Child and Adolescent Psychopathology

You can choose electives in various specialties, too. This includes behavioral assessment, theories of learning, and behavioral treatment, to name a few.

Additionally, you can pursue a Behavior Specialist Certificate (BSC) as part of your studies. No additional courses are necessary – the required classes for your degree also count toward the certificate.

The coursework you complete for the certificate fulfills part of the requirements to get a Behavior Specialist License (BSL) in Pennsylvania. However, you must complete 1,000 hours of clinical experience and gain one year of work experience in functional behavioral assessment to qualify for the BSL.

This program offers rolling admissions, so you can begin the coursework in any term. To apply, you must complete the graduate application for admission, submit official transcripts from each university you’ve attended, and submit a short personal statement. Additionally, you must have taken undergraduate psychology and statistics courses.

Pennsylvania State University-Harrisburg

Penn State Harrisburg was founded in 1966 to provide a convenient and affordable option for higher education. The commitment to providing affordable programs continues today, with approximately 80 percent of students receiving some form of student aid.

As a student at Penn State Harrisburg, you can choose from more than 75 programs of study, with associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees available in a wide range of specialties.

Since the school is part of the Pennsylvania State University System, you can begin your degree in Harrisburg and transfer to another Penn State campus. This includes working on your graduate degree in psychology before transferring to a doctoral-degree institution, like the main Penn State campus in State College, Pennsylvania.

Psychology Programs

The Master of Arts in Applied Clinical Psychology at Penn State Harrisburg focuses specifically on research-based and practical applications of psychology. The education you get in this program can lead you in many different directions, including becoming an LPC or entering a doctoral program.

This MA program is longer than most – 48 credits are required to graduate. You will take an array of psychology courses, including the following:

  • Ethics and Professional Practice in Psychology and Counseling
  • Research Methods
  • Statistics
  • Interviewing and Counseling
  • Tests and Measurement

This coursework includes a 100-hour clinical practicum internship and a master’s research paper. You must also complete a 600-hour supervised internship in a clinical psychology setting. Many students find internship placements in local community health clinics, though you might also be placed in the University Counseling Center, local jails, or local hospitals.

Upon graduation from this program, you will have the relevant knowledge and skills to work in human services, academia, or mental health agencies. You might also find employment in school systems, research laboratories, or inpatient mental health settings.

To apply, you must have an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution (with at least 18 credits of psychology courses). You must have a 3.0 GPA or higher in your last 60 credits of coursework as well.

Your application should also include three letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and GRE scores (if you want to qualify for graduate assistantships). A personal interview is required as well.

Requirements to Become a Psychologist in Pennsylvania

Becoming a licensed psychologist in Pennsylvania is a relatively straightforward process. As a new graduate, you must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Have a doctoral degree from an APA-accredited program (or a Canadian Psychological Association-accredited program)
  • Achieve satisfactory scores on the Examination for Professional Practice In Psychology and the Pennsylvania Psychology Law Examination
  • Gain two years of experience (one of which must be post-graduate)

You must also pay an initial licensing fee of $105.00. License renewal requires that you complete 30 continuing education credits and pay a $300.00 fee every two years.

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