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THE USA: Subject Guides

Study psychology in the US

Want to understand the human brain and why it reacts and behaves the way it does? We tell you more about this interesting subject here.

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Psychology is an interesting field that helps you understand the mystery that is our human mind. You will develop several core skills and the subject encourages independent and analytical thinking that is prized in most professions.  We’ve put together a guide for you to explore the kinds of options available and for you to decide if psychology suits you best.


Psychology is based on research activities like other scientific programmes, hence it promotes creative thinking and cultivates a desire to find new discoveries in the field. Students will be expected to research and study available facts and to relate hypothetical ideas to real life situations. If you wish to be a clinical psychologist, you will need to have a master’s or a doctor’s degree.


Why study Psychology in the US?

There are many papers and contemporary theories published in the US. As these are published in English, it is important that you have a certain level of English proficiency. The importance of psychology has been brought to light in the country in recent years, with media texts that have placed it at the centre. The Sopranos, In Treatment, Lie To Me, Criminal Minds series, are some of the few television shows that have made the average American aware of this field.

America has a large pool of psychologists and it’s a great place to practice your craft. Furthermore, the country is a fore runner in psychological research and a degree earned in the country is recognised by almost all parts of the world and is viewed as prestigious.

Psychology is something that can be seen everywhere you go, especially so if you’re studying it in a completely new environment! It provides you with a wide perspective on human behaviour, you will also have the opportunity to live and experience a different culture and meet people from all across the globe.


Types of Psychology courses abroad

  • Vocational degree These programmes contain fewer modules than the full equivalent and are shorter in duration (usually less than a year). You need to be a high school graduate and need to provide a TOEFL score for admission.
  • Foundation degree - Usually offered in private colleges, this option gives the international student a chance to transfer to many universities upon the completion of the 1-year course. Modules in this first year form the basis of subsequent studies; an ideal way to introduce yourself to the subject without committing to the full four years in one location. Applicants must be a high school graduate with satisfactory TOEFL/IELTS score. Letters of reference may also be required.
  • Undergraduate degree - In order to apply for an undergraduate course, you will need a grade point average of 3.00 or above. You will need to take ACT and TOEFL/IELTS exams. Psychology degrees vary in scope and structure. Some of the most popular undergraduate psychology degrees are in applied psychology, behavioural therapy, child psychology, clinical psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, organisational psychology and social psychology.
  • Graduate/Doctoral degree - For master’s degrees, you will need to have a bachelors’ or undergraduate degree with GPA of 3 or above. You will need to provide GRE and TOEFL/IELTS scores. To study for a PhD, you will need to complete an MA in psychology. You will need to provide GRE, TOEFL/IELTS scores and for PhD level courses; work experience in the field is also beneficial.


Admission requirements for Psychology programmes

  • Prior to your application, you should have at least some experience of psychology, statistics and research.
  • You will need a personal statement explaining your skills, goals, experiences etc.
  • It is highly important to have a good grade average; at least 3 out of 4
  • Reference letters from your teachers or previous employers will be essential
  • Many respected institutions require a GRE Subject Exam. This test is made of 3 sections with a little over 200 questions. The first section is experimental and science orientated and makes up 40% of the exam. It includes questions which are designed to test learning, language, memory, thinking etc... The second section is based on social science and makes up 43% of the exam. This section will focus on social psychology and personality. The final section is general and counted as 17% of the exam. This part has questions on the history of psychology, research methods and statistics. More information is available on our article about GRE.
  • Any internship or job experience in the field should be documented
  • You may be called for an interview from the institution you’ve applied for


Studying abroad is a fantastic option for those who want to have a better understanding and excel in the field of psychology. The US is not the only place for you to study psychology, other countries such as the UK also offer equally strong programmes. Do your research and decide which course and in which country suits you best.


Good luck!!


Psyched about studying psychology? Check out the courses available here!


Useful links

3 key fields to study in the US

Apps, maps and finding your way around in the US

Visa conditions for working and studying in the US

City guide: Chicago, Illinois

Top 5 things to do in the US

Study in the USA


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