Psychology Bachelor's Degrees in California

A guide to California’s top psychology bachelor programs in 2024.

California's vibrant cities, expansive beaches, diverse population, and innovative spirit provide an ideal landscape to study the human mind. The Golden State's top bachelor’s degrees in psychology stand out for their emphasis on practical application and accessibility through various financial aid and scholarship programs. California also has a thriving job market for psychology professionals at all levels.

This page will showcase the best psychology bachelor's degrees in California. We’ll also delve into state-specific education funding options and potential career outcomes for psychology graduates.

What makes our rankings valuable?

Most degree rankings rely heavily on National Center for Education Statistics data, measuring school-wide rates for student retention, graduation, acceptance, etc. The NCES has good data, and we use it too; however, we go further to analyze the current and future demand for the skills and credentials gained. We also list actual tuition costs and delve deep into value and flexibility to consider dual-degree, accelerated, and distance learning options.

The Best Undergraduate Psychology Programs in California
Rank School Location
1 Stanford University Stanford, California
2 University of California - Berkeley Berkeley, California
3 San Diego State University San Diego, California

Psychology Jobs & Salaries in California

Earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology can lead to lucrative roles. Here are some popular psychology careers in California and the median salary and education requirement for each position:

Psychology Occupation Salary in CA Education Requirement
Clinical Psychologist $158,000 Doctorate Degree
Licensed Family Therapist $89,000 Master’s Degree
Social Worker $77,000 BSW or MSW
Mental Health Case Manager $76,000 Associate or Bachelor’s
Behavioral Health Specialist $64,000 Master’s Degree
Psychiatric Technician $62,000 Vocational Certificate

Source: Analysis of Online Job Boards

Top 3 Psychology Bachelor’s Programs in California

We selected California’s best psychology degrees based on multiple factors: curriculum relevance, school reputation, program features, value, and flexibility.

Here are the top-ranked psychology bachelor’s degrees in California for 2024:

1. Stanford University

Stanford's Undergraduate Psychology Program with the Early Childhood Cognition, Learning & Development Pathway offers a deep dive into the developmental stages of early childhood. The curriculum integrates psychology, neuroscience, and education courses, providing students a comprehensive understanding of how children think, learn, and develop. This pathway prepares students for various careers, including child psychology, educational consulting, and developmental research.

Ranked among the top psychology programs in the nation, Stanford has been a leader in the field for decades, a status recognized by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. This prestigious background affords students unparalleled opportunities for groundbreaking research, academic development, and professional achievement in psychology and beyond.

  • Format: On-campus
  • Locations: Stanford, California
  • Tuition Cost: $82,308 per year
  • Related Psychology Majors at Stanford:
    • Health Psychology
    • Judgment and Decision-Making
    • Mind, Culture, and Society
    • Neuroscience
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

2. University of California - Berkeley

UC Berkeley’s Undergraduate Psychology Program is dedicated to understanding and predicting the behavior of living organisms, encompassing a wide range of influences from genetics to social environments and from early childhood to older ages. The program covers six key research areas: behavioral and systems neuroscience, clinical science, cognition, cognitive neuroscience, developmental psychology, and social-personality psychology. Despite these specializations, the program's core learning goals promote developing methodological, statistical, and critical thinking skills applicable across all areas of psychology.

Established in 1921, Berkeley's Department of Psychology has been a global leader in psychological research and education for over a century. The faculty's groundbreaking research spans multiple areas of psychology, and their graduates pursue successful careers in academia, industry, healthcare, and policy at prestigious organizations around the world.

  • Format: On-campus
  • Locations: Berkeley, California
  • Tuition Cost:
    • CA Resident: $15,602 per year
    • Out-of-State: $48,176 per year
  • Related Programs at UC Berkeley:
    • Psychology Graduate Program
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)

3. San Diego State University

SDSU’s B.A. in Psychology with the I-O Psychology Emphasis sits at the lucrative intersection of psychology and business. The program includes well-designed courses in industrial-organizational psychology, psychological testing, and performance measurement. Graduates can pursue careers in human resources, I-O psychology, and talent management. It’s also the most affordable psychology bachelor’s on this year’s list, with an annual tuition of $8,290 for California residents.

The Psychology Department at San Diego State is known for its focus on the real-world applications of psychology in areas like brain mapping, autism research, and clinical therapy. The department's commitment to applied psychology and its solid academic reputation make it an ideal place for students interested in the practical aspects of psychology.

  • Format: On-campus
  • Locations: San Diego, California
  • Tuition Cost:
    • CA Resident: $8,290 per year
    • Out-of-State: $21,170 per year
  • Related Programs at SDSU:
    • Bachelor’s of Applied Arts & Sciences in Psychology
    • Bachelor’s of Liberal Arts & Sciences in Psychology
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)

Financial Aid & Scholarships in California

These are some of the most beneficial scholarships and financial aid programs for Californians considering an undergraduate psychology degree:

Cal Grant

These grants are available to CA residents attending California State Universities, community colleges, and qualifying vocational certificate programs in California. Award amounts vary based on need, academic achievement, and other factors.

Middle Class Scholarship (MCS)

The MCS program provides eligible students with scholarships to attend bachelor’s programs at the University of California (UC), California State University (CSU), and California Community Colleges.

California Dream Act Service Incentive Grant Program (DSIG)

This grant offers up to $4,500 annually to eligible California Dream Act Applicant (CADAA) students. To qualify, students must perform community or volunteer service, completing at least 150 hours per semester or 100 hours per quarter. The grant is available for up to 8 semesters or 12 quarters.

California Military Department GI Bill Award Program

The CMD GI Bill provides educational awards to California Army or Air National Guard members, California State Guard and the California Naval Militia, covering up to 100% of tuition and fees at eligible public and private institutions in CA. Eligibility requires an agreement to serve two years after degree completion.


Psychology and education insiders answer frequently asked questions from psychology bachelor's candidates in California.

What's the degree requirement for psychologists in California?

To become a licensed psychologist in California, you need a doctoral degree in psychology - either a Ph.D. or Psy.D. - from a regionally accredited institution of higher education.

Which California school has the best psychology program?

Our 2024 degree rankings show that Stanford University has California's #1 undergraduate psychology program.

What’s the best online psychology bachelor’s degree in California?

Per our analysis, Golden Gate University in San Francisco has the best 100% online psychology bachelor’s degree in California. Their online B.A. in Psychology features valuable coursework in abnormal psychology, organizational leadership, and psychology’s role in technology, and an affordable tuition cost of $462 per credit.

What’s the most affordable psychology bachelor’s in California?

San Diego State University has the most affordable psychology bachelor's degree in California, with an in-state tuition of $8,290 annually (before financial aid is applied).


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