What Are the Best Schools to Study Psychotherapy?

Review the typical characteristics of a school with a strong program in psychotherapy. Read about three top-ranked schools with programs in this field, and explore the graduate psychotherapy programs they offer. Schools offering Clinical Psychology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Should I Look for in a Top Psychotherapy School?

Psychotherapy training is offered at the graduate level. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, psychotherapy services may be provided by medical doctors or psychiatrists who are able to prescribe medication, clinical psychologists or other professionals who are generally licensed and legally-regulated. Top schools in this field may have related research and training institutes that complement your studies and clinical requirements. You might find highly ranked medical schools, affiliated hospitals or clinical psychology programs accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) or other accreditation agencies.

What Are Three of the Best Schools for Psychotherapy?

Columbia University in New York, NY

Columbia tied for third best national university, according to U.S. News & World Report's 2019 rankings. In 2019, its medical school tied for sixth in the top research category. The Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research, a separate Columbia graduate school, offers psychotherapy programs providing advanced training for clinical psychologists and psychiatrists. Students conduct clinical work at the Columbia Psychoanalytic Center under supervision of senior faculty.

The 1-year transference-focused program addresses severe personality disorders, including narcissism. Adult, child and adolescent and parent-infant psychotherapy are 2-year programs. The parent-infant program enhances understanding of early childhood development, psychopathology and parenting. Trainees have access to faculty in multiple university disciplines including child psychiatry, neuroscience and developmental psychology. The parent-infant psychotheraphy program also accepts licensed social workers and other professionals working with families and children. These psychotherapy programs are offered:

  • Adult Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Program
  • Child and Adolescent Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Program
  • Transference-Focused Psychotherapy
  • Parent-Infant Program

University of California in Los Angeles, CA

University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) ranked first among the top clinical psychology programs in U.S. News & World Report's 2016 evaluation. In 2019, the publication ranked the David Geffen School of Medicine 6th for top medical school in the research category. The clinical psychology doctoral program is APA-accredited. Work arranged over a full 12-month calendar includes a 1-year full-time internship.

Students are involved in research, coursework, teaching and clinical training throughout the program. A staff psychiatrist is available for consultation on medication at the Psychology Clinic. Training is also conducted at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, Geffen-affiliated sites and in local agencies. These graduate psychology programs are available:

  • Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology in Clinical Psychology

University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA

According to U.S. News & World Report in 2016, Penn tied for eleventh in top clinical psychology programs. In 2019, its Perelman School of Medicine was ranked third best in medical research. Clinical psychology study with psychotherapy options are available through both the Department of Psychology in the School of Arts and Sciences and the Perelman School of Medicine. The medical school sponsors the Center for Psychotherapy Research.

A 1-year or 2-year medical school clinical psychology internship through the Department of Psychiatry can include Pennsylvania Hospital rotations in the acute psychiatric unit, general medical hospital, palliative care cancer center or community mental health. The Department of Psychology's 5-7 year APA-approved clinical psychology training program offers psychopathology and psychotherapy as an area of research interest. The 1-year practicum can include an emphasis on cognitive behavioral psychotherapy. Students can be admitted to the Ph.D. program only, but they may apply for the M.A. after completing one year of the program. The psychology department and the law school also offer a joint J.D. and Ph.D. program. These degrees are offered through the psychology department:

  • Clinical Training Program in Psychology
  • Ph.D. in Psychology
  • Doctor of Medicine/Ph.D. in Psychology
  • J.D./Ph.D. in Psychology

More Top Schools for the Study of Psychotherapy

College/UniversityInstitution TypeLocationEstimated Graduate In-State Tuition*
University of North Carolina--Chapel Hill4-year, PublicChapel Hill, NC$12,000
University of Washington4-year, PublicSeattle, WA$16,500
University of Wisconsin--Madison4-year, PublicMadison, WI$12,000
Yale University4-year, PrivateNew Haven, CT$42,000
Duke University4-year, PrivateDurham, NC$55,000
University of Illinois--Urbana-Champaign4-year, PublicChampaign, IL$18,000
University of Minnesota--Twin Cities4-year, PublicMinneapolis, MN$18,500
Stony Brook University--SUNY4-year, PublicStony Brook, NY$13,000
University of California--Berkeley4-year, PublicBerkeley, CA$14,000
University of Texas--Austin4-year, PublicAustin, TX$12,000

*Source: NCES, U.S. Department of Education

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