15 Best PsyD & PhD Clinical Psych Programs – 2024

January 19, 2024

best psyd programs clinical psychology

The following list looks at the best clinical psych programs, some of which result in a PsyD while others lead to PhDs. The Doctor of Psychology, or PsyD, degree is a doctorate in psychology focused on clinical practice rather than research. So, depending on the program, your coursework will be dedicated more toward developing a patient-facing practice and less on conducting experiments and publishing research than with the PhD programs listed. Finding the best PsyD programs or PhD in clinical psych programs that suit you and your needs doesn’t need to be difficult. The first thing to look for will be a school that’s accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) and/or the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (PCSAS).

The APA “assures the public, licensing boards and potential employers that you have a sound educational and scientific foundation on which to build a successful career in psychology,” and the school accreditation process guarantees that you’ll be receiving an education that will solidify your career and create credibility for you and your future clients.

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Not only that, you’ll be entering a growing field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the “overall employment of psychologists is projected to grow 6 percent from 2022 to 2032.” When you break out the average increase in demand for clinical and counseling psychologists, however, the BLS projects that the number of jobs will increase by about 11 percent. That’s faster than the average for every other occupation. There will be an estimated average of 12,800 new jobs for all psychologists each year until 2023. The median salary for psychologists was about $85,000 in 2022. This is higher than the average U.S. annual take-home pay across the board.

We’ve compiled the following list of accredited PsyD and PhD programs worth highlighting. The following schools will send you well on your way to serving the mental and emotional health of others while ensuring that you have ample opportunity to work closely with faculty, get real-world exposure, and enter the workforce competitively.

US News and World Report Methodology and Rankings 

US News and World Report has ranked the top accredited clinical psych programs in the country. In order to rank the schools, they survey faculty at 231 different, accredited PsyD and PhD clinical psych programs.  Faculty rate programs on a 1-5 scale judging academic quality. The rankings are determined by averaging each program’s scores. Unsurprisingly, this means there are a lot of ties. This also means that there are a ton of great schools out there. Therefore, you can’t go wrong with these top-tier, accredited programs.

Best PsyD Programs & Clinical Psych PhD Programs – Important Factors to Consider 

When applying to any graduate school, it’s important to assess how competitive admissions are, the amount of time you’ll spend in the program, the costs of the program, if funding is available (either full or partial), and what career placement possibilities look like upon graduation. In a field like clinical psychology, graduating without going into debt will make your career all the more successful. It will also allow you to give care to patients without attaching a dollar sign to them.

Let’s dive into the rankings: 


The University of California, Los Angeles is so universally renowned in psychology that it tops the list.

In addition to a dedicated Clinical Psychology concentration, the doctoral program also allows students to pursue Behavioral Neuroscience, Cognitive, Developmental, Health Psychology, Learning and Behavior, Quantitative, and Social Psychology.

The program is competitive; in 2023, there were 28 admitted students out of 1,226 applicants. Funding is available through fellowships, training, and teaching or research assistantships. The department strives to match students with funding upon admission, according to UCLA. However, they also recommend that students apply for external funding, as well. This means that full funding may not be guaranteed for everyone.

UCLA also touts a chapter of Underrepresented Graduate Students in Psychology (UGSP). This a student group which offers support and community to students from diverse racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and geographic backgrounds.

2) University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

UNC Chapel Hill’s PsyD program boasts a long-running accreditation with the APA—they’ve held the status since 1949. The program is also accredited by the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (PCSAS). The program emphasizes “training in clinically-informed research and evidence-based clinical work,” and they recognize that your needs, desires, and goals may change over the course of your time in the program.

UNC is highly selective. Out of 681 applicants in 2023, just eight students were offered admission. Starting in 2020, UNC Chapel Hill stopped considering GRE scores as a factor in admissions, which saves you the pain and expense of the test (if you’ve applied only to other schools that also didn’t require the GRE).

The school also provides full tuition remission, health insurance, and a nine-month stipend for all incoming Clinical Psychology students for the first five years in the program. Chapel Hill proudly states that they have offered this package for the last 50 years. The stipend for the 2022-2023 academic year was $20,000. The full funding package is one of the many reasons that Chapel Hill is a competitive, highly-ranked option for aspiring clinicians.

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3) Stony Brook University (SUNY) 

Stony Brook’s Clinical Psych program began in 1966, and they’ve done well since then, maintaining a top spot on the US News and World Report rankings for decades. The program claims to prepare students for both research and clinical work from a broad range of psychological perspectives. Stony Brook says that their program is best suited to students who want to pursue academic and research-related careers, and that many graduates end up balancing their research with time spent serving patients in a clinical setting. In that way, Stony Brook is a great option for anyone who wants to work with patients while also contributing to the body of psychological research.

Stony Brook is accredited by the PCSAS as well as the APA. In the 2022-2023 academic year, 444 people applied, nine were offered admission, and six students accepted. All students admitted received a full, nine-month stipend (currently $17,502), full tuition remission, and health insurance. Summer funding is also available in the form of teaching assistantships, fellowships, research grants, and work studies. On average, students receive about $4,000 of summer funding, as well.

4) UC Berkeley

Taking into consideration that this is one of the best programs in the country, one of the most interesting things about UC Berkeley is its newly changed accreditation status. The program is PCSAS accredited, however, its APA status is “accredited – inactive,” and students will no longer matriculate through the APA version of the curriculum.

In short, the faculty and administration decided that the “evolving curricular and other demands” associated with APA accreditation were inconsistent with the kind of training they were trying to give their students, a training that would place paramount “reducing the burden of mental illness and related problems in living.” You can read the full statement here.

If that kind of pedagogical philosophy appeals to you, you might also consider that Berkeley has a rigorous program guided by its faculty advisor/mentor program. Students are matched from their first year with a faculty advisor who follows their progress throughout their four-to-six-year residency at the school.

There were 308 students who applied for the 2022-2023 academic year, four were granted admission, and four accepted. All of those students received an assistantship that includes a full tuition waiver. You can find out more about UC Berkeley’s financial assistance packages for psychology doctoral students here.

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5) University of Minnesota, Twin Cities 

An incredibly sought-after program, the University of Minnesota is both APA and PCSAS accredited. Following Berkeley’s lead, however, the school is considering letting go of its APA accreditation in the future.

The program offers students the options of an “adult” or “developmental” track, and the chosen focus does not limit students to practice with either children or adults. There were 10 total students for whom 2022-2023 was their first year of enrollment.

The University of Minnesota offers a wealth of funding options for students. All admitted students receive full tuition remission, health care, and a nine-month stipend. They also receive a new laptop computer to support their research. Beginning in 2022, all students were also guaranteed summer funding through a variety of diverse opportunities. Having a healthy funding package can make a huge difference in the life of a graduate student, and Minnesota does not disappoint. You can find more details about assistantship opportunities on their website.

6) University of Washington, Seattle (tie with Minnesota)

According to the University of Washington Graduate Study in Psychology website, “We do not make offers to U.S. or International applicants unless we can fund them with either a Teaching or a Research Assistantship for half time (expected workload of 20 hrs/wk).” Sometimes, the program can also offer fellowships, which do not entail an expected workload. This financial security undoubtedly keeps UW performing well and ranking high on the list.

The department generally receives 800-1000 applications for 20 funded positions.

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7) University of Wisconsin, Madison (tie with Minnesota)

UW Madison’s Psychology Ph.D. program is highly competitive. It receives more than 400 applicants annually and accepting fewer than 10 percent of students.

While the program does not explicitly state that it guarantees full tuition remission and a stipend as the previous programs do, it does state that students frequently receive NSF and NIH predoctoral fellowships to complete their programs. Teaching and research assistantships are also available.

8) University of Pennsylvania

If you’re going to UPenn, you’ll be living in the heart of Philadelphia. This, of course, also means a high cost of living. Luckily, this Ivy League institution boasts a stipend of at least $40,500 per year, full tuition remission, and summer funding opportunities. Funding is guaranteed for five years, the expected length of time to complete the program.

In terms of competitiveness, you’re looking at similar rates of acceptance as similarly ranked schools. The program website states, “Last year we received over 800 applications. We can accommodate about 8-10 new students per year.”

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9) University of Pittsburgh (tie with UPenn)

If you don’t go to UPenn, you can study in the western half of the state and still enjoy the same academic caliber.

Pitt also provides financial support for six years, and perhaps longer, depending on the student. The support includes a stipend which covers “living expenses, health insurance, public transportation, and tuition reimbursement.” It’s good to be a Panther!

10) Harvard University 

Rounding out the top 10 is Harvard.

The standard financial aid package at this university is as robust as that of any school. That shouldn’t come as a surprise given Harvard’s elite status. According to the program website:

“The financial aid package for Ph.D. students entering in 2023 will include tuition and health fees support for years one through four, or five, if needed; stipend support in years one and two; a summer research grant equal to two months stipend at the end of years one through four; teaching fellowship support in years three and four guaranteed by the Psychology Department; and a dissertation completion grant consisting of tuition and stipend support in the appropriate year. Typically students will not be allowed to teach while receiving a stipend in years one and two or during the dissertation completion year.”

The nice thing about not “being allowed” to teach in the first two years is that students can concentrate solely on their coursework and intellectual and professional development, a real boon for clinicians in crimson.

More Great Programs 

The next seven schools all tied with Harvard in terms of rank on the US News and World Report list. They—and many others—certainly merit investigation and application, should you find yourself intrigued by the faculty, the opportunities, and, of course, the stipend.

  1. Indiana University, Bloomington (tie with Harvard)
  2. Penn State University, University Park (tie with Harvard)
  3. Temple University (tie with Harvard)
  4. University of Colorado, Boulder (tie with Harvard)
  5. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (tie with Harvard)
  6. University of Texas, Austin (tie with Harvard)
  7. Washington University in St. Louis (tie with Harvard)

A Note About Online Clinical Psych Programs 

Because the emphasis in these programs is on training students to become clinicians in a therapeutic setting, there are currently no APA-accredited online PsyD or PhD programs. PCSAS doesn’t seem to have a direct statement about the nature of online programs. However, its list of accredited schools can be found here.

The world is changing and many people are pursuing telehealth therapy options online. This may change the educational landscape in the future. Finding the program that works for you means choosing a school that will set you up for the most success. An accredited degree is often the first step in the licensure and employment process.

Best PsyD Programs and PhD Programs in Clinical Psychology) – Additional Resources

If the PsyD program seems a little overwhelming, you might check out the best master’s programs in Psychology and How to Become a Psychologist. If you’re ready to dive into applications, check out College Transition’s best advice on how to optimize your GRE score, the top GRE vocab words to study, and—if you’re worried—how to overcome a low GPA in the grad school admissions process.