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2021 Best Colleges for Psychology in California

Psychology is a popular major and California is the 1st most popular state for students studying this major. 33,523 of the 174,215 Psychology degrees earned last year were given by schools in California. With so many choices it can be a challenge finding the right fit. This year's Best Colleges for Psychology in California ranking analyzed 51 colleges and universities that offer a bachelor's degree in psychology. We look at over 20 factors to determine the top 15% of schools for Psychology students in California.

Choosing a Great Psychology School

Best Colleges for Psychology in California The psychology program you select can have a big impact on your future. This section explores some of the factors we include in our ranking and how much they vary depending on the school you select. To make it into this list a school must excel in the following areas.

Overall Quality is a Must

A school that excels in educating for a particular major must be a great school overall as well. To make it into this list a school must rank well in our overall Best Colleges ranking. This ranking considered factors such as graduation rates, overall graduate earnings and other educational resources to identify great colleges and universities.

The lowest ranked school in our list is in the top 15% of our overall quality ranking while the vast majority are in at least the top 13%.

Overall Best Colleges Rank  ( 200 to 43 )
Lowest Ranked Overall
Top Ranked Overall

Better Early and Mid Career Salaries

A psychology degree from colleges on this list typically results in above average salaries following graduation. A psychology bachelors degree from a college in California helped students who graduated in 2015-2017 earn $28,225 a couple years later.

Other Factors We Consider

In addition to the above, you should consider some of the following factors:

  • Major Focus - How much a school focuses on Psychology students vs. other majors.
  • Major Popularity - How many other psychology students choose this school.
  • Accreditation - Whether a school is regionally accredited and/or a recognized psychology related accrediting body.

Our full ranking methodology documents in more detail how we consider these factors to identify the best schools for Psychology students in California.

More Ways to Rank Psychology Schools

Since picking the right college can be one of the most important decisions of your life, we've developed the Best Psychology Schools ranking, along with many other major-related rankings, to help you make that decision.

In addition to our rankings, you can take two colleges and compare them based on the criteria that matters most to you in our unique tool, College Combat. Go ahead and give it a try, or bookmark the link so you can check it out later.

Best Schools to Study Psychology in California

The following list ranks the best colleges and universities for a Psychology degree.

Top 10 Best Psychology Colleges California

It is hard to beat University of California - San Diego if you want to study psychology. Located in the city of La Jolla, UCSD is a public university with a fairly large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 94 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means UCSD is a great university overall.

There were approximately 435 psychology students who graduated from this degree at UCSD in the most recent data year.

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University of California - Los Angeles is a wonderful option for individuals interested in a Psychology major. Located in the large city of Los Angeles, UCLA is a public university with a fairly large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 65 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means UCLA is a great university overall.

There were approximately 1063 psychology individuals who graduated from this program at UCLA in the most recent year we have data available.

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Any student pursuing a degree in psychology needs to check out Saint Mary's College of California. SMC is a small private not-for-profit college located in the suburb of Moraga. This college ranks 28th out of 116 schools for overall quality in the state of California.

With 72 individuals who graduated from this program in the most recent data year, Saint Mary's College of California is one of the most popular colleges to study psychology in California.

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#4

University of San Francisco

San Francisco, CA

University of San Francisco is one of the best schools in the country for psychology. USFCA is a large private not-for-profit university located in the city of San Francisco. This university ranks 26th out of 116 schools for overall quality in the state of California.

University of San Francisco is one of the most popular universities to study psychology in California with approximately 250 graduations in the most recent data year.

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#5

Pepperdine University

Malibu, CA

Located in the large suburb of Malibu, Pepperdine is a private not-for-profit university with a moderately-sized student population. This university ranks 19th out of 116 colleges for overall quality in the state of California.

There were about 347 psychology students who graduated from this program at Pepperdine in the most recent year we have data available.

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Located in the large city of Irvine, UC Irvine is a public university with a fairly large student population. This university ranks 15th out of 116 schools for overall quality in the state of California.

There were approximately 951 psychology individuals who graduated from this degree at UC Irvine in the most recent data year.

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#7

Santa Clara University

Santa Clara, CA

SCU is a moderately-sized private not-for-profit university located in the medium-sized city of Santa Clara. A Best Colleges rank of 68 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means SCU is a great university overall.

With 180 students who graduated from this program in the most recent data year, Santa Clara University is one of the most popular universities to study psychology in California.

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Located in the city of Los Angeles, USC is a private not-for-profit university with a very large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 40 out of 1,715 colleges nationwide means USC is a great university overall.

A favorite choice for psychology undergraduates, there were roughly 268 individuals who graduated from this program at USC in the most recent data year.

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UC Merced is a moderately-sized public university located in the rural area of Merced. This university ranks 38th out of 116 colleges for overall quality in the state of California.

University of California - Merced is a fairly popular university to study psychology in California with approximately 231 graduates in the most recent year we have data available.

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UC Santa Cruz is a large public university located in the city of Santa Cruz. This university ranks 30th out of 116 colleges for overall quality in the state of California.

For those interested in something more advanced, UC Santa Cruz also offers 2 different higher degree levels in psychology, the most popular of which is a Doctor's Degree.

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Best Psychology Colleges in the Far Western US Region

Explore all the Best Psychology Colleges in the Far Western US Area or other specific states within that region.

State Colleges Degrees Awarded
Washington 37 2,819
Oregon 37 1,812
Hawaii 36 467
Nevada 35 837
Alaska 33 116

Psychology Majors to Study

Major Annual Graduates
General Psychology 24,691
Clinical, Counseling & Applied Psychology 4,668
Child Development & Psychology 3,564
Other Psychology 608

View All Psychology Related Majors >

Related Major Annual Graduates
Social Sciences 46,842
Education 22,239
Communication & Journalism 17,090
Family, Consumer & Human Sciences 8,169
History 5,169

View All Psychology Related Majors >

Notes and References

  • The bars on the spread charts above show the distribution of the schools on this list +/- one standard deviation from the mean.
  • The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a branch of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) serves as the core of the rest of our data about colleges.
  • Some other college data, including much of the graduate earnings data, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s (College Scorecard).
  • Credit for the banner image above goes to Nevit Dilmen. More about our data sources and methodologies.

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