Best Colleges for Psychology in California

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts positive job growth for psychology degree holders. As such, the best colleges for psychology in California continue to offer programs that aim to develop multiple skills.

These include oral and written communication, interpersonal confidence and sensitivity, critical thinking, information technology, and data analysis.

The schools listed below meet such requirements based on reputable sites, such as the U.S. Department of Education. Ranked from the lowest annual cost to the highest, these institutions have other common features:

  • An annual average cost of no more than $27,000
  • A predicted median salary of no less than $45,000

10 Best Colleges for Psychology in California

1. California State University – Bakersfield

4 Year; Bakersfield, CA

Average Annual Cost: $5,318

CSUB has accreditations from the Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) and Western Association of Schools and Colleges, as well as a Hispanic Serving Institution designation.

Its School of Social Sciences and Education – Psychology Division offers a BA in Psychology that aims to develop and enhance the students’ skills, knowledge, and values. Students won’t be confined in the classroom. They’ll have supervised field experience as volunteers or paid research or teaching assistants.

CSUB also offers an MS in Counselling Psychology program. This is ideal for degree holders seeking to become a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) or Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). The Minor in Psychology is perfect for those who want to complement their current majors, such as Criminal Justice, for enhanced criminal profiling skills.

2. California State University – Long Beach

4 Year: Long Beach, CA

Average Annual Cost: $9,622

This large public institution is definitely one of the best colleges offering psychology programs, as the WSCUC Commission recently granted it a 10-year accreditation. It’s also one of the most racially diverse universities in the Western Region.

The university’s largest college, the College of Liberal Arts, has innovative projects and centers, more than 300 experienced, award-winning professors, and 27 departments and programs, including psychology.

Ensuring its graduates have a strong foundation for a job in the psychology industry and/or a post-graduate degree, its BA in Psychology program offers a well-rounded education. A minor in Psychology is also available for those with a different major.

Interested graduate students can choose from three programs:

  • MA in Psychological Research (MAPR)
  • MS in Psychology, Option in Human Factors
  • MS in Industrial/Organizational (MSIO) Psychology

3. California State University – Sacramento

4 Year; Sacramento, CA

Average Annual Cost: $9,979

CSUS is a transformative and diverse public university that earned the 2020 Carnegie Foundation Honor for community service and 2012 Tree Campus USA for tree maintenance. Meaning, it’s an institution not merely focused on quality education but also has a positive contribution to society.

Academic-wise, it currently has seven colleges, subdivided into several departments. The College of Social Sciences & Interdisciplinary Studies – Department of Psychology offers two undergraduate programs.

The BA in Psychology degree qualifies graduates for human-behavior-related professions in the business, education, and public service industries. Meanwhile, the undergraduate Behavior Analysis Certificate is ideal for those who prefer behavior-analysis jobs in human service, health, and education institutions.

For post-graduate degrees, the department offers three options:

  • MS in Applied Behavior Analysis
  • MA in Psychology: General Psychology
  • MA in Psychology: Industrial-Organizational Psychology

4. California State University – East Bay

4 Year; Hayward, CA

Average Annual Cost: $11,116

CSUEB is the fourth most ethnically diverse university in the Western Region. It also boasts an acceptance rate of more than 70% and a student-faculty ratio of 13:1.

One of its most popular majors is psychology, especially since the professors have a Ph.D. The master’s degrees are offered in a separate department, the Department of Educational Psychology (EPSY).

The undergraduate degree programs enrollees can choose from are BA in Psychology, BS in Psychology, Option in Organizational/Industrial Psychology, and BS in Psychology, Option in Ergonomics and Human Factors. Non-psychology majors may also enroll in the Minor of Psychology program.

Ranked sixth in the 2020 Best Graduate Schools list, the graduate programs the EPSY department offers are:

  • MS in Counseling, Major in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT)
  • MS in Counseling, Major in Pupil Personnel Services (PPS)
  • MS in Special Education

5. California State Polytechnic University – Pomona

4 Year; Pomona, CA

Average Annual Cost: $12,734

Although an ethnically diverse, large public university, Cal Poly Pomona only has a mid-level acceptance rate. It has eight different colleges with departments under each, including the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences – Department of Psychology.

This department has a specific objective of ensuring its graduates gain sufficient communication skills, knowledge, and scientific literacy. At the same time, they make sure their students are able to apply them in actual practice.

The undergraduate programs available are BA in Psychology and Minor in Psychology. For post-graduate courses, the school offers MS in Psychology, Major in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT).

6. California State University – San Marcos

4 Year; San Marcos, CA

Average Annual Cost: $13,399

As a forward-focused educational institution, CSUSM is one of the universities recognized for successfully preparing students for professional success in relation to costs. It has a Western Association of Schools and Colleges accreditation and Hispanic-Serving Institution designation.

The school’s record shows that 78% of its graduates landed a job within six months, and 80% stayed local. That’s why enrolling in any of its psychology department’s academic programs will surely prepare you for your chosen field.

Students can choose from BA in Psychological Science and BA in Child and Adolescent Development (CHAD) majors. Non-psychology majors can also enroll in the Minor in Psychology offered by the department. For post-graduate education, the university offers a Master in Psychological Science program.

7. National University

4 Year; La Jolla, CA

Average Annual Cost: $14,664

This mid-sized non-profit, military-friendly, veteran-founded private institution has a WASC Senior College and University Commission accreditation. It has the longest list of psychology-related programs among the schools in this list of the best colleges for psychology in California. Hence, it’s also one of the top psychology schools in the country.

Some of the school’s Bachelor of Arts offerings are Sports Psychology, Psychology, and Integrative Psychology. It also offers a Minor in Psychology, several master’s degrees and graduate certifications, and a Doctor of Clinical Psychology (PsyD) program. Some programs can be taken online or on-site, while others are only available for on-site classes.

8. San Francisco State University

4 Year; San Francisco, CA

Average Annual Cost: $15,113

SFSU is recognized by Wall Street as one of the most ethnically diverse institutions. In fact, the university’s Department of Psychology even has a Study Abroad Program. Interested students should note that it has a very competitive student selection process, even if its acceptance rate is around 70%.

The programs available include BA in Psychology. It aims to develop and enhance every student’s psychology knowledge, professionalism, social and ethical responsibility awareness, and communication, critical thinking, and scientific inquiry skills.

Like the other universities, the Minor in Psychology is available for non-psychology major students. For post-graduate education, SFSU offers MA in Psychology, available in three different concentrations:

  • Developmental Psychology
  • Mind, Brain, Behavior
  • Social Psychology

Likewise, those who will take the MS in Psychology degree can choose from three majors: Clinical, School, and Industrial/Organizational Psychology.

9. Alliant International University – San Diego

4 Year; San Diego, CA 

Average Annual Cost: $16,164

This small, non-profit private university is among the first independent schools in the country to offer professional psychology courses. It exclusively caters to degree holders who require continuing education and/or professional advancement.

Most of its programs have APA and COAMFTE accreditations, and the school ensures it maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio. The available on-campus programs include:

  • MA in Marital and Family Therapy
  • MA in Organizational Psychology
  • PsyD in Marital and Family Therapy
  • Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology
  • PsyD in Clinical Psychology
  • Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology

For online programs, the school offers the following:

  • MS in Clinical Psychopharmacology
  • Certificate in Clinical Psychology, Doctoral Respecialization
  • Certificate in LGBT Human Services and Mental Health

10. Azusa Pacific University College

4 Year; San Dimas, CA

Average Annual Cost: $19,232

Wrapping up this list is another small college with a WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) accreditation. As a Christ-centered, non-denominational institution, it accepts students from all backgrounds and strives to provide quality but affordable education.

The school only has a limited number of associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and credential, certification, or badge programs. In fact, there are only two psychology-related degrees: one undergraduate and one post-graduate.

The 120-credit BA in Applied Psychology is ideal for those who want to become child welfare liaisons, behavioral specialists, adolescent residential care counselors, and probation or corrections officers. The 26-unit MA in Psychology program is perfect for those seeking career advancement.

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