Best Accredited Psychology Graduate Programs in North Carolina [2024]

Studying psychology in North Carolina comes with two distinct advantages. First, there are over 130 colleges and universities in the state, many of which offer graduate studies in this field. This means you get a wide range of school sizes and types to fit your specific wants and needs as a psychology student.

Second, North Carolina is in need of qualified psychologists. At the time of this writing, nearly 2,000 psychology jobs are available. With jobs in this field predicted to grow at a six percent rate, it’s reasonable to assume there will be just as many jobs available when you complete your program.

With that said, the first step in getting a graduate education in North Carolina is picking the right program.

Psychology Masters and PhD Programs in North Carolina

Listed below are some of the popular schools offering psychology graduate programs in North Carolina:

  • Capella University
  • Methodist University
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
  • East Carolina University
  • North Carolina Central University
  • University of North Carolina at Wilmington

To find out how we select colleges and universities, please click here.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC Chapel Hill)

One of the best-known universities in North Carolina – and the nation, for that matter – is the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. But UNC Chapel Hill doesn’t just have name recognition. Instead, the school backs up its famous name by ranking among the top 40 universities in the world for research. UNC Chapel Hill is also ranked 29th among global universities and 20th among U.S. universities.

With so many accolades for its academic quality, it’s no surprise that UNC Chapel Hill is a large school with over 30,000 students. Most of the students are undergraduates, but there are over 11,000 graduate students as well. In fact, the school offers over 100 master’s degree programs and 65 doctoral programs, so advancing your education in psychology at UNC Chapel Hill comes down to choosing which graduate psychology degree you will pursue.

Psychology Graduate Programs

UNC Chapel Hill’s Department of Psychology and Neuroscience offers a Ph.D. program in psychology with six different sub-fields that allow you to specialize your training. These sub-fields include:

  • Behavioral and Integrative Neuroscience
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Quantitative Psychology
  • Social Psychology

While each sub-field has unique features, they also share the common trait of being five-year residential programs. No matter which specialty you pursue, you will take part in rigorous coursework, psychological research, and training opportunities that prepare you to be a competent psychologist.

The Behavioral and Integrative Neuroscience track focuses on exploring the biological bases of behavior. This is done by conducting psychological research in state-of-the-art facilities unising modern experimental psychology tools. This track is designed to prepare you for a career of applied research, teaching, and providing professional psychology services to the community in which you live.

The Clinical Psychology specialty focuses on developing your clinical skills for working with clients in a therapeutic setting. Likewise, you’ll conduct clinically-informed research and advance the body of knowledge of clinical psychology through campus-based psychological inquiries. There are two tracks: Child/Family and Adult.

UNC Chapel Hill’s Cognitive Psychology concentration was designed to prepare you for rigorous professional research in psychology. Graduates of this track often go into teaching or professional community-based work, too. This program is closely aligned with other doctoral programs at UNC, which allows you to focus your studies even more on areas like psycholinguistics, cognitive neuroscience, and cognitive aging.

If you select the Developmental Psychology track, you will find a flexible curriculum that enables you to pursue training that aligns closely with your career goals. This program trains you in the science of psychology as well as the application of psychology in academic and professional situations.

No matter your specific concentration, the Developmental Psychology track helps you gain the knowledge and skills needed to make positive changes in the lives of children and adolescents.

Quantitative Psychology is yet another specialty option at UNC Chapel Hill. This program is within the L.L. Thurstone Psychometric Laboratory, where you will participate in interdisciplinary studies in areas like education, biostatistics, public health, and sociology. Your training also focuses on preparing you to make unique contributions to the field of psychology. You will evaluate current knowledge, use advanced quantitative methods, and measure and model human behavior.

Lastly, UNC Chapel Hill offers a specialization in Social Psychology that allows you to explore diverse areas in this field. You will have the opportunity to learn about relationships, intergroup relations, wellness, health, and many other social psychology topics. This is a flexible program designed to allow customization of your studies and enable you to reach your potential as a psychological theorist and researcher.

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (North Carolina A&T)

At North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, you will join more than 12,000 students. While most of these students are undergraduates, there are nearly 2,000 graduate students on campus pursuing one of the dozens of master’s and doctoral programs the school offers.

North Carolina A&T’s main campus is in Greensboro. However, the school operates a fully online campus for students who don’t want or cannot attend classes in person. In some cases, you can take individual courses online.

In others, you can complete an entire degree without setting foot on campus. The new Health Psychology master’s program discussed below is a hybrid program with both online and in-person courses.

Psychology Graduate Programs

The College of Health and Human Sciences at North Carolina A&T offers a new Master of Science in Health Psychology program that explores how mental and physical health are related. Though this is not a terminal degree, graduating from this program prepares you for master’s-level jobs in health psychology and related fields, such as:

  • Community health worker
  • Psychometrist
  • Behavioral health science writer
  • Research consultant
  • Behavioral health case manager

You can also opt to continue your education in a doctoral program, where you can lean on your practical and research-based graduate education to explore health psychology at an even deeper level.

During this two-year program, you will explore topics like:

  • Applied Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Community Health
  • Health and Aging
  • Qualitative Research Methods for the Behavioral Sciences
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

You will also complete a thesis research project and a practicum to gain real-world experience.

East Carolina University (ECU)

Most students at East Carolina University are working towards a bachelor’s degree – the school offers almost 100 undergraduate programs. But as a graduate student at this school, you can join thousands of other students pursuing one of nearly 70 master’s programs and 20 doctoral programs – several of which are in the field of psychology.

ECU was founded in 1907 as a small public school. In its first years, ECU had very few students, but over more than a century of existence, the school has grown to be a large school with more than 28,000 students.

ECU offers programs both on campus and online to help you reach your educational goals. In both cases, you’ll learn from expert faculty members who take a vested interest in your individual success.

Psychology Graduate Programs

ECU’s Graduate School offers master’s and doctoral degrees in psychology to advance your education. In both cases, there are multiple specialties you can pursue to specialize your studies.

There are two masters-level programs: Industrial-Organizational Psychology (I-O) and School Psychology.

The IoO option is a STEM-designated program that requires 45 credits to graduate. In addition to taking classes in human resources, talent management, and behavioral science, you will have the opportunity to complete a thesis and take part in an internship. The internship experience occurs during the summer between the first and second years of the program and gives you the ability to apply your I-O skills in a real-world environment.

If you prefer to apply your psychology knowledge in a school setting, ECU’s Specialist in School Psychology program is a good fit. This is a full-time residential program that requires 70 credits to graduate. You will need three years to complete these requirements – two years of on-campus studies and a one-year full-time school internship. Your training focuses on working with school officials, children, and their families in a variety of educational settings.

ECU offers three doctoral programs, too: Clinical Health Psychology, Occupational Health Psychology, and Pediatric School Psychology.

The Clinical Health Psychology option is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) and offers training that prepares you for clinical work in hospitals, HMOs, rehabilitation centers, and other healthcare facilities. You will take traditional coursework in addition to conducting research and participating in mentorship activities with a faculty member who shares your research interests.

The Occupational Health Psychology program requires that you first complete a master’s degree in I-O psychology. Once admitted to this doctoral program, you will continue your studies of applied psychology in the workplace.

Likewise, you will learn techniques and interventions that improve the productivity of businesses and organizations at the micro and macro levels. Specific topics of study include employee burnout, work addiction, creativity, and counterproductive employee behavior, among many others.

ECU’s Pediatric School Psychology program is a sub-specialty of the Health Psychology program outlined above. You will learn the tenets of both school psychology and health psychology, which equips you to work with children in both settings. You will study biological influences on behavior, health psychology, social psychology, and many other areas pertinent to the growth and development of children in school settings.

North Carolina Central University

Located in Durham, North Carolina Central University is a small school with around 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Unlike the larger schools in the state, North Carolina Central offers a much more intimate campus environment. You will enjoy small class sizes that help you advance your education with as much support from the faculty as possible.

Despite being a smaller school, there is still a wide selection of programs to pursue. There are more than 30 undergraduate degrees, nearly 30 master’s degrees, almost two dozen certificate programs, and one doctoral program.

No matter what program you choose, you will have to complete community service work to graduate. North Carolina Central was the first school in the UNC system to initiate this requirement for graduation.

Psychology Graduate Programs

The Master of Arts in Psychology from North Carolina Central offers two concentrations: general psychology and clinical psychology. In both cases, you’ll take part in high-level psychological research and learn advanced techniques for exploring human behavior.

The general psychology track requires just 30 credits to graduate, which you can fulfill in about one year of full-time studies. You will take courses in ethics, research methods, and statistics. You must also complete a thesis or a clinical research project.

The clinical psychology track is much more involved, with 49 credit hours needed to graduate. This two-year program focuses on clinical topics like abnormal psychology, cognitive assessments, and clinical interview techniques. You will also take courses focusing specifically on psychotherapeutic techniques.

To apply to either track, you must already have a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a closely related field. You must also have a 3.0 GPA or higher on a 4.0 scale for your most recent 30 credits of undergraduate work and a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.8 or higher.

To graduate, you must complete all course requirements with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0, successfully complete a written qualifying examination, and pass an oral examination related to the thesis or clinical research project.

University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNC Wilmington)

The University of North Carolina at Wilmington has 18,000 students, so it isn’t a large school. However, as one of the seventeen schools in the University of North Carolina system, you can reap the benefits of a much larger institution, like easy transfer credits to and from other member schools.

UNC Wilmington’s location on the coast makes it an attractive option for recreational activities. Wilmington is known as the “Port City,” so watersports, beaches, fishing, and other fun activities await you off campus.

But you can also enjoy perks on campus. For instance, UNC Wilmington has one of the most beautiful campuses in the south, so you can enjoy a top-notch campus experience while you get your degree.

Psychology Graduate Programs

There are two graduate psychology programs at UNC Wilmington: A Master of Arts and a Ph.D.

The Master of Arts program offers you the opportunity to specialize in one of three areas:

In each case, you will participate in challenging coursework and conduct psychological research. In fact, each specialty area focuses on teaching you the scientific bases of psychology and the essential principles of psychology you will need to know to provide competent services after you graduate.

All three concentrations also share the common requirements that you conduct research under the guidance of a faculty member and that you complete a thesis prior to graduation. This research methods sequence is just part of the equation, though. You must also complete a comprehensive exam as part of the graduation requirements.

UNC Wilmington’s Ph.D. in psychology also offers three concentration areas:

  • General Clinical
  • Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Psychological Science

Again, though these tracks each have unique areas of inquiry, they have common features. For example, each specialization requires you to conduct original research and complete advanced psychological science coursework.

Likewise, each doctoral specialty explores various aspects of behavior, including biological, social, and developmental influences. These and other core psychology domains are a large part of your studies during these five-year residential programs, as are experiential learning opportunities and career path guidance to help you solidify your post-graduate occupational pursuits prior to graduation.

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