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The best master’s degrees in psychology

Introduction to psychology

The field of psychology is an evolving area of study with applications across several disciplines and career paths. From improving working conditions in organizations to providing counseling, professionals with an impulse to help individuals and communities are drawn to this field. With a graduate degree in psychology, doors open to increasingly engaging roles and opportunities to do research.

Psychology is consistently one of the most popular majors, but as schools and courses grow in number and quality, it can be difficult to choose a program. What’s more, master’s degrees in psychology are usually not offered on their own, but as part of a Ph.D. program. To help you find the degree program and school that best fits your academic and professional goals, this page lists 10 of the best master’s degrees in psychology.   

The best programs for a master’s in psychology

  • Stanford University

    Stanford University Stanford, California
    Stanford University

    Stanford offers a master of arts (M.A.) in psychology. This program includes 5 core courses and two unites of statistics. Part-time study is possible over up to 5 years. The program is only accessible to students enrolled in doctoral programs. To enter into the master’s program, you need to complete first- and second-year course requirements and at least 45 psychology units.

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  • University of California, Berkeley

    University of California, Berkeley Berkeley, California
    University of California, Berkeley

    Berkeley’s master’s degree in psychology is an elective. It is only possible to complete this program as part of a Ph.D. qualification. Graduates at Berkeley are trained to undertake individual research. They may also study courses outside the traditional boundaries of psychology, as long as they remain on campus. Part-time study is not possible.

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  • University of Pennsylvania

    University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    University of Pennsylvania

    The master of applied positive psychology program at the University of Pennsylvania was the first degree of its kind in the world when it launched. Applied positive psychology is the study of happiness, a field of research that can have applications in several industries including workplace health. It is a rare hybrid course that requires just 10 in-person visits to campus.

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  • University of Southern California

    University of Southern California Los Angeles, California
    University of Southern California

    The Master of Science (M.S.) in applied psychology falls under the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. It is designed to combine psychological research with business applications. It is similar in scope to an institutional-organizational master’s program. Note that a master’s qualification can only be earned while studying for the Ph.D.

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  • University of Illinois

    University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Illinois
    University of Illinois

    The University of Illinois offers a 2-year master’s program with the goal of creating research-minded professionals. The school has recently published student theses on topics such as memory capacity, neuropsychiatric markers and emotions in young people. Like many psychology programs, the University of Illinois pairs newcomers with established faculty so that they can take an active role in current investigations.

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  • University of Michigan

    University of Michigan Dearborn, Michigan
    University of Michigan

    There are two paths for students to take at UM Dearborn: clinical health psychology and the health psychology. The clinical health concentration focuses on community outreach while health psychology is research focused. The latter path would suit graduates who wish to continue working in an academic facility in the future.

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  • New York University

    New York University New York, New York
    New York University

    NYU offers a flexible master’s degree that combines a large number of electives with a variable timetable. Common areas of focus at NYU are social psychology, clinical psychology, clinical neuroscience and forensic psychology. This program boasts small class sizes, opportunities for research and internship programs.

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  • University of Wisconsin

    University of Wisconsin Madison, Wisconsin
    University of Wisconsin

    Wisconsin-Madison champions the idea of “creative scientists.” Its psychology graduate program is a combined M.S. and Ph.D., with the former only available as an elective. Students at Wisconsin-Madison explore cognitive and clinical psychology. Access to a world-class series of laboratories is a key selling point of this degree. Tuition is waived for Ph.D. students who have teaching or research assistantship for the duration of the study period.

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Financial aid for degree-seekers

There are a number of options when it comes to financial support for your education including loans, grants and scholarships. You can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to determine your eligibility.