Illinois is a renowned hub for psychology studies countrywide. It is home to top institutions with outstanding programs that draw a lot of interested students. In 2018, there were 3,211 psychology degrees conferred by the states’ universities, making it among the top five states with the highest number of Psychology graduates. Psychology is, therefore, a popular program in many colleges and universities in Illinois.
Studying psychology in Illinois can lead to a rewarding career and numerous employment opportunities. Illinois was ranked 5th nationwide in 2019 by employment rates in counseling, school, and clinical psychologists. This is according to data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
However, a bachelor’s degree is only the first step towards a career in psychology. In Illinois, to be licensed to practice, you must possess a doctorate in psychology. A student has to complete a four-year bachelor’s degree and then take a master’s degree that takes 2-3 years. To earn a Doctorate, a student spends between 5-7 years in school. The length of time depends on whether the student’s major requires clinical experience before completing the program.
Studying in Illinois gives students many opportunities for finding an internship and work that matches their area of study. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Illinois is projected to increase by 5.9% between 2018-2028 in clinical psychologist jobs, school psychologists, and counseling. Although this is a lower percentage than the previous projections, Illinois remains a top destination for studying and working for psychologists.
As a psychologist, you can choose to pursue either of the main areas available; research or practice. Apart from general psychology, which is very popular with most students, you can specialize and study other psychology majors dealing with more specific fields within psychology.
This area of study focuses on an in-depth study of mental health and abnormal behavior. Specialists in this field can help assess, diagnose and treat various psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety. An example of such professionals includes psychotherapists, counselors, and also clinical psychologists.
Behavioral psychology is a method of learning built on the theory of the acquisition of behaviors through conditioning. Behavioral psychology is applied mainly to education and therapy.
Students learn how to assess and treat psychiatric issues, abnormal behavior, and mental illness in this field. Most of these professionals operate private clinics, but they can also be found in institutions such as colleges and community centers offering social psychologists services. Clinical psychologists also work in hospitals and mental health institutions.
Besides general psychology, counseling psychology is also very popular and among the largest subfields in psychology. The focus of the program is to assess and treat patients undergoing mental distress and other psychological issues. A counselor focuses on helping a patient deal with concerns in their lives that are causing them distress. They also work in counseling programs for institutions and communities.
This psychology branch deals with teaching, education, and student issues. An educational psychologist studies issues revolving around dealing with education parties such as students, teachers, and parents. They also cover learning disabilities, learning differences, giftedness, etc.
This is the study of how people grow and change throughout life. A student learning to be a developmental psychologist will study physical and social growth, intellectual development, emotional and perceptual changes that occur in a human’s lifespan. Most of them will then pick a specific age group of study, such as infants, teenagers, etc.
In this area of study, a student learns and specializes in law and psychology matters. A forensic psychologist can be used as an expert witness in the criminal justice system to provide testimony in court. Other specialists who can render their services in legal proceedings like forensic psychologists are counselors, clinical psychologists, and school psychologists. They can testify, give an analysis or recommendations in legal proceedings.
This branch of psychology focuses on working with school children to help them deal with learning matters. They also work with parents, teachers, and the students to help create or improve a healthy environment for learning. They deal with matters of academics, social and emotional issues that affect learners. A school psychologist can work within an institution or consultants in private practice.
Psychologists in this area use psychological principles to research and assess issues that occur in a work environment. The psychologist studies real problems such as employee behaviors and attitudes and leadership. This psychology branch is broad; some psychologists may choose to focus on human-machine interaction and human capabilities and error.
This area of psychology is the study of the biological foundation of human behavior. Students learn the basics that support biological reasons for behavior processes. This is where students are introduced to neurotransmitters, neurons, and synapses focused on understanding human genetics. It also helps students hone their research skills through the evaluation of biopsychology research.
Many other specific psychology programs that a student can study at the university are such as cognitive psychology, comparative, social and sports psychology, etc.
Best Illinois Psychology Colleges and Programs
The university you choose to take your psychology degree matters, and it can make or break your career. It determines your foundation as a psychologist, what program you study, and up to what level it’s offered. Colleges in Illinois offer students multiple excellent bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and doctorate psychology programs.
Students should first find out what they need out of a program before they enroll. The most important thing is that the university is licensed by the state, the graduation rate, and the university’s general reputation.
It’s important to evaluate the programs being offered and the specializations so that you choose a college and a program that suits your future career goals.
But how do you choose the college with the best programs with so many colleges to choose from? You will need to get answers to the following questions while making that decision.
- Up to what level does the university offer its programs?
- Will you specialize in your area of interests, e.g., clinical psychology, educational or school psychology, organizational psychology, or counseling psychology?
- Is the university licensed to offer psychology programs?
- Is there an online program?
- What is the university’s graduation rate?
- What are the reviews from students and alumni?
As earlier mentioned, psychology schools and programs are top-rated in Illinois. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the psychology programs are popular with 3,035 610 employed psychologists nationwide. We shall look at some of the top schools and the programs they offer to point you in the right direction.
Northwestern University offers both undergraduate and graduate degree courses at its main campus in Evanston, while the Ph.D. program in clinical psychology is offered in its Chicago campus. For the B.A. program, a student must choose a minimum number of courses among the subjects such as gender psychology, perception, decision-making, and close relationships. The minors included coursework in neuroscience, pathophysiology, and cognitive development. This is in addition to courses in statistical methodology and psychology research.
Graduate students get an opportunity to earn a master’s degree in clinical psychology if they complete coursework in professional ethics, substance abuse counseling, and psychotherapy theories together with supervised practical professional experience. If you opt to go for a doctoral degree, you will have these five courses to choose from:-
- Clinical psychology
- Behavioral psychology
- Brain psychology
- Personality psychology
- Cognitive psychology
A Ph.D. program at the university should adequately prepare a student for research or teaching. The Ph.D. program prepares students to undertake professional research and teaching. The clinical psychology Ph.D. program separately offered at the Chicago campus trains students towards professional clinical practice.
As students undertake a Ph.D. program, they might also earn a Master of Arts or Science degree as they study towards the doctorate level. The university’s overall graduation rate is 94%, and a student review of A+ as a comprehensive university.
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is considered among the best psychology universities in the world.
It is recognized for being research-oriented, offering excellent research opportunities to students wishing to specialize in some specific areas of psychology. It hosts several research centers like the Institute of Mind and Biology and the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience.
The programs offered are bachelors and doctoral degree programs and other areas of specialization in psychology. For the B.A. students, the programs include social, biological, cognitive, and developmental psychology courses. This is in addition to offering other electives like neuroscience, developmental psychopathology, communication, and cultural psychology.
As earlier stated, the university is renowned for its research-driven programs, especially at the doctorate level. These programs mainly concentrate on cognition, developmental, interactive neuroscience, and social psychology. Requirements for earning a doctorate in any of these programs, a student must complete a preliminary research project and the dissertation.
Students can also take up a dual Ph.D. program in business and psychology. The university’s overall graduation rate is 94% and A+ by student reviews for academics and programs’ access.
DePaul University is located in Chicago, and it offers many undergraduate and graduate programs. If a student chooses to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, they can choose an emphasis option between human services, community, organizational, or standard psychology.
A student also gets two internships working in a community setting, human services, or organizational setting. This B.A. program also allows students to complete their last two years online. On the other hand, their Bachelor of Science in Psychology has track options between general psychology cognitive neuroscience.
The undergraduate studies give students an option to also minor in experimental psychology, applied and organizational psychology. The requirements for the minors are two courses in introductory psychology and two electives in the specialization area.
DePaul University also has Masters and Doctorate programs in community psychology, clinical psychology, experimental psychology, and industrial/organization psychology. For those who want to pursue a Ph.D., there is specialized coursework, and students are required to produce and defend a dissertation.
Clinical psychologists on the Ph.D. level must complete a year of internship. In completing a Ph.D. program, a student earns a Master of Arts degree too. The overall graduation rate is 74% and rated A+ by student reviews for academic.
Illinois State University
The Illinois State University offers degree, master’s, and doctoral degree programs. For both B.S. and B.A. programs, students must take coursework in learning and cognition, lifespan development, statistics, and physiological psychology. ABA student needs to complete a further study in a foreign language.
If you are a B.S. student, you will need to take a natural science and a math course. Psychology minors are earned by completing 21 units in courses such as psychological research, statistics, or personality.
The university’s M.S. and M.A. have integrated other specializations in industrial/behavioral psychology, developmental psychology, cognitive and behavioral sciences, and quantitative psychology. It’s mandatory to complete one specialization, but students are free to complete two.
The university also has a master’s program in clinical counseling psychology with a conditional at least two semesters of professional practical hours.
The school psychology Ph.D. program includes a thesis or a research apprentice, coursework, dissertation, 1-year internship, and a progressive exam. The school also offers students a specialist program to prepare students for the licensing exams. The graduation rate is 72% and rated B by student reviews.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
This is one of the campuses for the University of Illinois situated in Champagne. It offers all bachelors, masters, and doctorate degrees in psychology. Students taking a bachelor of science in psychology take courses in community psychology, statistics, brain and cognition, neural network modeling, and personality psychology.
The university also offers a terminal M.S. degree for a specialty in personnel and measurement psychology and is available to students with a bachelor’s degree in applied psychology. It does not require a thesis. A student can acquire an M.A. in psychology as they study for their Ph.D. in either of the following programs:
- Quantitative psychology
- Developmental psychology
- Clinical/community psychology
- Behavioral psychology
- Visual cognition and human performance
- industrial/organizational psychology
- Brain and cognition psychology
- Cognitive psychology
The students under the Ph.D. program take on academic study and both qualifying and preliminary exams. In addition, they are required to take teaching experience and a dissertation for them to be able to graduate.
To adequately prepare students for professional practice or research careers, the university’s educational psychology department awards PhDs in counseling psychology. The university has an overall graduation rate of 85% and a student review score of A+.
Loyola University Chicago
Loyola University Chicago offers students programs in Bachelor of Science in Psychology that includes coursework in law and psychology, human sexuality, comparative psychology, and addiction psychology. It also offers minors in psychology and crime and justice psychology. The school has a specialized five-year degree program that allows students to attain a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Master of Art in Applied Social Psychology.
At the graduate level, the university awards a terminal Master of Art (M.A.) in Applied Social Psychology and doctorate degrees in applied social psychology, clinical psychology, and developmental psychology. The university has a master’s program for statistics, organizational psychology, social psychological theory, and thesis projects.
At the end of the program, students are ready to enter into research or clinical psychology. The university’s graduation rate is 75%, and student reviews of an A+.
Northern Illinois University
The Northern Illinois University department of psychology offers diverse psychology degree programs. Its B.A. and B.S. psychology programs cover courses in personality, developmental, human learning, and research psychology programs.
For graduate students, there’s a choice to pursue a master’s degree in either educational psychology or psychology and also a Ph.D. in either of the two. M.A. students also have an option between non-thesis and thesis psychology courses which integrates coursework in regression analysis in research, biopsychology, behavioral development, and psychopathology.
If you opt to move on to the Ph.D. level, be informed that it involves the competition of a conditional master’s thesis. However, you can choose any of these areas of specialization:-
- Cognitive-instructional psychology
- Developmental psychology
- School psychology
- Social psychology
- Industrial/organizational psychology,
- Clinical psychology
- Neuroscience and behavior
In educational psychology at the master’s level, students get to choose depending on whether they want to pursue a doctorate or not. In both cases, the topics of instruction include studies such as child development, education research methods, and adolescent behavior.
Coursework in educational human development, categorical data analysis, and professional practices is required for the Ph.D. program in educational psychology. The graduation rate is 46% and given a review of B- by student reviews.
The University of Illinois at Chicago
At the University of Illinois Chicago, students are offered bachelor’s degrees in psychology and doctorate degrees in educational psychology. The undergraduate programs are majorly in general or applied psychology, incorporating statistical and research methods that require practical experience.
If you want to attain a master’s degree as you study for your Ph.D., you will be required to specialize in social and personality psychology, behavioral neuroscience, cognitive psychology, or community and prevention research.
Also, a Ph.D. student needs to complete a minor program in an approved area of study. For the educational psychology Ph.D. program, a student has to pick a specialty from two emphasis options and complete a dissertation.
The graduation rate is 56%, and a score of B+ on student reviews.
Why Attend Psychology Colleges and Programs in Illinois
Illinois has a reputation for housing some of the best research institutions and the nation. Students studying here are guaranteed hands-on practical experience in fields requiring such. There are numerous public, private, and non-profit universities to choose from besides the state being a top employer for psychologists.
A student has various programs to choose from at every level, be it undergraduate, graduate, master’s, and doctorates. There’s also a good chance for graduate-level students to pursue specialized programs such as clinical psychology, industrial/organizational psychology, school psychology, behavioral psychology, educational psychology, school psychology, counseling, and psychology.
The universities offer an option for a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Art programs and Master of Science and Master of Arts depending on what a student wants to pursue and specialize in. Most universities may also find internship placements for their students in many institutions and research facilities available in the state.
Pros & Cons of Attending Psychology Colleges and Programs in Illinois
- There are a lot of universities to choose from
- You are guaranteed quality education.
- There are immense opportunities for research and practical works.
- You have a higher chance of employment with a competitive annual salary.
- It can be difficult to pick a college from the many available and highly reputed universities in Illinois
What to Expect in an Illinois Psychology College Program
After you have decided to study a psychology degree program and have researched and picked a school in Illinois, you should know a few things beforehand. These are things you can expect to take on when undertaking a psychology program in Illinois:
After you have checked and have fulfilled all the credentialing requirements, you will need to take introductory courses at the start of your psychology major. These may include general psychology, statistical methods in psychology, lab courses, and statistical methods in psychology.
A general psychology course introduces you to the types of psychology and the history, relations between the brain and behavior, etc. An introductory course in the psychology lab lets you in on how to conduct research, design an experiment, observe learning and techniques, and how to analyze data.
It’s possible to enroll in specific courses if you have already met the specific course’s entry requirements. These specific courses include introducing clinical psychology, child psychology, social psychology, theories of personalities, behavioral psychology, and independent study projects.
Finding the Perfect Major
Higher education in psychology is for people who want and are comfortable dealing with people and want to learn more about human behavior. Apart from qualifying academic credentials, you will need to be a critical thinker, open-minded, problem solver, and effective communication skills.
You should be open to find out some things about yourself as well as learn how the human mind operates. You don’t need to be a psychologist; you can take various other career paths, like research and teaching.
Things You Can Do with a Psychology Major
Most graduates move on to practice psychology, including school psychology, counseling psychology, clinical psychology, and organizational psychology. After the undergraduate degree, the opportunities to venture into other careers are immense. A degree in psychology is considered a firm academic base to other careers such as law, business or medicine, etc.
Other career paths for those who do not wish to pursue their education further include school counselors, corrections officers, law enforcement officers, social work, or human resource managers.
Online Psychology Degree Programs in Illinois
Universities in Illinois allow students to choose from a wide range of psychology bachelor’s degree programs and specializations. They also offer multiple learning options, the leading being on-campus and fully online programs that students can take remotely.
The length conditions remain four years for the psychology degree program, two years for the master’s degree, and between 5-7 years for a doctorate degree. These timelines require full-time enrollment. To fit into this timeline, you are required to study full time for that period, applying for both online and traditional on-campus programs.
Psychology Programs Available Online
To cater to a wider range of students, there are several psychology degrees available for study online. These degrees include courses that introduce a student to general psychology and some specific fields within psychology.
The courses may vary from one university to another by curriculum and course requirements. Some universities like DePaul University offer optional online programs for the 3rd and 4th years while students are undertaking a bachelor’s degree.
- Social Psychology
- Statistics for Psychology
- Abnormal Psychology
- Lifespan Development
Accreditation for Online Psychology Programs in Illinois
For any educational program to be credible, accreditation is vital. The programs should have regional and national accreditation. Between the two types of accreditations, the regional one serves as more highly regarded. It helps universities and programs to receive federal student aid from the government.
Also, transferring credits in accredited programs is easier.
Therefore, students must ensure that they only take an online degree that is accredited to avoid instances where they study, and then their degrees are annulled.
Psychology Internships and Fellowships in Illinois
To graduate, most psychology programs require students to complete internships in their field of study. This is an opportunity for students to interact and practice their craft in a real-life situation to enhance their understanding and skill. Both internships and fellowships work similarly except for the monetary compensation.
An internship is mostly unpaid, and a student is awarded college credits for it. For fellows, they receive pay, sometimes equivalent to the normal salary for the position, although they still work under supervision as they research and do their dissertation. The most important thing is to select a psychology internship or fellowship is to ensure they are in line with their areas of specialization.
Illinois is an excellent state and destination for learners interested in the robust psychology program offers available there. The options here should help put you on the right path.