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Best Psychology Schools in Michigan in 2021

September 20, 2021 | Staff Writers

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Pros and cons of attending a Michigan school for psychology 

Psychology is the study of human behavior, covering the full spectrum of social, biological, environmental, interpersonal, and genetic factors that contribute to a healthy mental state. In your role as a psychologist in Michigan, you can work in a variety of settings with a broad range of people from different backgrounds.

The state is home to some of the best schools in the world, according to Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, and the Times list of best colleges for psychology. In this article, we’ll look at some of the pros and cons of studying in Michigan, as well as exploring the course options for psychology students and the best schools for bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and doctoral degrees in the state.

Benefits of attending psychology school in Michigan

Michigan is known as the Great Lake State due to the fact it’s surrounded by atmospheric, picturesque lakes. There’s something for everyone in this location, whether you prefer urban living or small-town life. Read on to find out more about what makes this state attractive to budding psychologists.

Excellent schools: The University of Michigan Ann Arbor makes it into practice all of the high profile global rankings for universities, and scores particularly highly for psychology programs.

Decent job prospects: According to the Bureau for National Labor Statistics, Michigan has some of the best-earning potentials for psychology graduates in the northeast. While job prospects might not be as strong as they are in a location such as New York or California, there’s significantly less competition for the best job roles.

Small or big town life: Provided you have access to a car, you can elect to live in a quiet location off the beaten track. Not only does this lower the cost of living in the state, but it also takes you out of the hustle and bustle of city life. That said, if urban living is more to your taste, areas like Detroit and Sterling Heights have larger populations and plenty of nightlife.

Low cost of living: According to data from Zillow, Michigan boasts one of the lowest average house prices in the United States, and the cost of renting is lower than many of the nearby states. What’s more, the average cost of living, including groceries, utilities, and other essentials, is lower on average than the rest of the U.S. Low living costs are essential for students, who have less time to spend earning money as they pursue their degree.

Sense of community: For the most part, the people in Michigan are proud, opinionated, and friendly. If you ever get stuck in the snow in your car and need a hand, you can count on kind neighbors to give you a hand. Locals are also keen to find opportunities to throw parties, with festivals such as Tulip Time and ArtPrize attracting crowds and jovial celebrations for a whole week.

Drawbacks of studying psychology in Michigan

While there are plenty of reasons to study a psychology program in Michigan — just like any location, it has drawbacks. Some of the factors you should be aware of include:

Weather: Although you can count on Michigan to provide you with proper seasons each year, the attitude towards snow might be a shock for individuals from places such as Texas or the southeast. Even when you’re under a few inches of snow, you’re expected to go to work or school. So, if you’re a fan of mild weather and not keen on driving in the snow, it might not be the best location for you.

Transport: Like most of the states in the Midwest, public transport isn’t always reliable and doesn’t offer a frequent, reliable service in many locations. If you’re not a driver, you might struggle to get out and about and socialize.

Educational costs: While the educational institutions in Michigan are excellent, they often come with high price tags. Compared to the rest of America, in-state students pay a little more for tuition. That said, many of the public universities are considered among the most affordable, highest-ranked schools in the country. Just make sure you conduct plenty of research and choose a college that suits your budget. 

Types of classes in a psychology program at a school in Michigan

Studying psychology in Michigan could see you attending one of the top-performing universities for psychology in the country. Many of the schools offer a decent range of degree programs, with plenty of diverse and interesting topics.

Although most people start off by getting a bachelor’s degree in general psychology and choose a specialization at a master’s degree or doctorate degree level, honing in on a specialty related to your desired future job role as soon as possible is always advisable. 

Undergraduate courses for psychologists

Studying psychology at the undergraduate level gives you an introduction to the science of the human mind. Some of the topics you might study while attending an undergraduate degree program include:

General psychology

General psychology is the most popular course for bachelor’s students because it provides an introduction to the entire field. There’s a ton of information contained within this program, which aims to provide learners with a base knowledge about the subject.

This could include different types of mental health disorders, developmental factors that contribute to mental health issues, and treatment modalities. Try not to be overwhelmed by the fact you’re covering a huge subject area in a relatively short time — you’ll be able to delve deeper into your specializations in due course.

History of psychology

Psychology is a relatively young science, but we’ve learned a lot in a short space of time. That said, most people agree that philosophers dating back thousands of years were preoccupied with questions about the inner workings of the mind and human behavior.

In this course, you’ll study ancient writers such as Socrates and Plato, as well as modern philosophers like Nietzsche and Schopenhauer, moving into the evolution of psychoanalysis and therapy, starting with Freud and Jung. By gaining an insight into how our understanding of the human psyche has developed, you’re in the best position to turn a critical eye to your studies.

Cognitive Neuroscience

While we often think of the brain and body as separate entities, it’s important to remember that thoughts, feelings, behavior, and action all stem from biological functions.

Cognitive Neuroscience is the study of physiological processes, neuroanatomy, sensation and perception, neural pathways, and the gut-brain axis. Whether you’re interested in studying neuroscience at the graduate level or intend to work as a clinical psychologist, understanding the biology behind the behavior is essential.

Statistics

You might not think of maths as being particularly relevant with regards to psychology, but statistical skills are essential for studying and working in the field. Investigating human behavior doesn’t provide answers until you start looking at large data sets and finding patterns.

Research is an essential aspect of a psychologist’s work, and learning the methodology around statistical techniques is crucial for practically any job related to mental health.   

Abnormal psychology

While some psychologists work with sports teams or organizations to provide the support that maximizes performance, many mental health professionals can expect to work with people who display abnormal behaviors or personality traits.

Substance use disorders, personality disorders, psychosomatic disorders, and mood disorders are a few of the topics you’ll cover in-depth during a course in abnormal psychology.  

Personality psychology

Over the years, many people have come up with theories about personality, how it develops, and how mutable it is. From Freud’s theory of the superego, ego, and id — to the five factor personality model, you’ll learn a variety of ways to categorize, assess, and understand personality from a clinical perspective. 

This subject aims to teach you about the similarities that occur between individuals and show the difference between traits that are more fixed or easier to change with therapy.

Social psychology

Social psychology is a combination of learning about mental health and sociology. Society, and a person’s place within society, plays a huge role in the way they behave and are perceived by others. The bystander effect, obedience, persuasion, leadership, nonverbal communication, and social pressure are some of the subtopics learners can expect to explore in this subject. Many bachelor’s degree graduates choose to go into a career as a social worker.

Developmental psychology

Developmental psychology is the study of human development, from birth through to old age. While many of the people who take this course may intend to study child development at a later stage, this course often forms the foundations for psychologists general understanding of how people’s minds change as they progress through life.

This topic looks at how culture, friends, school, and family affect development, as well as learning how the biology of emotions and cognition develop and change. 

Experimental psychology

Most psychology majors at graduate level can expect to study a course in experimental psychology. This subject requires you to understand about experimental designs and basic research methods, helping you to fine-tune your problem solving and critical thinking skills. A large part of many psychologists’ job involves conducting experiments to prove or disprove theories, so there’s a good chance you’ll perform experiments while studying this subject.  

Graduate degree level specializations

General psychology and developmental psychology are the main undergraduate degrees, although some schools offer more specialized bachelor’s programs. At graduate school, you’ll get the chance to study more specific subjects.  

For many people, master’s degree, Psy.D., and Ph.D. level studies are the time to choose a specialization that relates to the specific career path you intend on taking. Let’s take a look at some of the best graduate program specializations you can study in Michigan.

Clinical psychology

In a clinical psychology graduate course, you’re preparing for a clinical career where you’ll treat people who are diagnosed with emotional, behavioral, and mental health disorders. To get into a career in this field, you’ll need to obtain a master’s or doctorate degree, and some of the most popular jobs for graduates include clinical psychologist, counseling psychologist, and research psychologist. 

Some of the coursework topics students cover include research methods and scholarly writing, psychopathology, cognition, emotion and motivation, counseling psychology, multicultural and gender issues, and biological bases of behavior. To get into this type of career, you’ll need to apply to the Michigan Board of Psychology to become a licensed psychologist.

Cognitive psychology

Cognitive psychology is focused on giving students the knowledge necessary to understand how psychological processes guide behavior. Instead of taking a psychoanalytical approach to treatment, cognitive psychology is more future-focused and goal oriented. Some of the subjects you might cover on a graduate degree course include perception and human performance, critical thinking, eyewitness memory, research, and cognitive aging. 

Organizational psychology

Industrial organizational psychology or I-O psychology is the study of psychology when applied in the setting of an organization. Human behavior and interaction have a huge impact on a workplace, and using psychological methods is one of the best ways to build the most efficient, high-performing teams, based on science. 

As a student, you’ll learn about methods for diffusing workplace issues and discover how to help companies and governments create a culture that provides maximum benefits for everyone. Coursework might include problem solving, data analysis, and behavior within a group setting. You’ll need at least a master’s degree to get a job in this competitive but high-paying field.   

Forensic psychology

A forensic psychologist studies human behavior with a specific focus on why people commit crimes, investigative skills, the criminal justice system, and how to rehabilitate offenders. Professionals in this field can treat offenders, work in jails, act as probation officers, aid law enforcement agents, or help victims.

Some of the coursework you can expect to complete includes themes and theories of psychology, forensic psychology research, criminal behavior, cognitive processes, theories in personality, and psychology in the courtroom. 

Sports psychology

Sports psychology is growing in popularity as more sports teams and coaches are realizing the benefits of applying psychology to teamwork and performance. You’ll learn about how physiology and psychology interact in detail, with a focus on the wellbeing of athletes and how to inspire peak performance.

Some of the subjects you might study in detail are exercise physiology, sports medicine, motor skills, social and developmental reasons for sports participation, and techniques of psychological assessment specific to sports.  

Community psychology

In recent years, a growing body of data has shown that certain demographics have been consistently underserved, leading to the development of mental health issues. On this course, you’ll learn about diversity and how factors such as race, gender, and socioeconomic status affect people psychologically. You’ll hone in on topics like substance misuse, chronic illness, and educational achievement in view of conducting research or providing treatment to underprivileged sections of society.

Electives for psychology majors

If you’re a psychology major, you’ll usually have the option to choose electives that relate to your specific future career goals. For instance, if you’re interested in pursuing art therapy as a career, you might choose an elective course in fine art. Or, if you want to get into consumer psychology, you might select statistics, social psychology, advertising, and marketing as your electives.

Some of the other subjects psychology graduates are most interested in are:

  • Philosophy
  • Sociology
  • Political science
  • Statistics
  • English composition
  • History
  • Biology
  • Health science
  • Communications
  • Criminal justice
  • Social work
  • Anthropology
  • Public affairs

How to decide on a Michigan school for your psychology degree 

How to choose a college to study psychology in Michigan

Choosing a psychology degree program in Michigan can feel overwhelming, but there’s no need to fear. There are some crucial steps that any student hunting for the college that’s going to set them up for the rest of their life should take:

  1. Choose a focus: Before you start looking at schools, it’s a good idea to know what you want to study. For example, if you want a clinical career, you’ll follow a different path compared to if you decided to go into experimental psychology.
  2. Research the faculty: When it comes to a psychology program, the faculty leader has a key role in choosing which applicants are accepted. As such, you should conduct research on the faculty advisor for your chosen courses and tailor your application to their preferences. Check out their publication, read their CV on LinkedIn, and read the biographies on the school websites to find the best match. 
  3. Check the costs: Finances are incredibly important while you study. Although psychology professionals often earn excellent wages, you’ll be studying for at least six years to get to the highest-earning salary brackets. Check out the opportunities for grants, stipends, and fellowships at each school you’re applying for and make a practical choice taking costs into consideration. Plus, some schools charge for applications, so it’s best to avoid those if you’re on a strict budget.
  4. Location: Driving and not driving are important things to factor in when choosing the location to study at, as well as whether Michigan has enough activities to keep you entertained. Cost of living is something else you should take into consideration.

The importance of accreditation

Accreditation is required by the Michigan Psychologists Board, in addition to certain graduate programs, which means the course you attend must be independently checked for quality.

A bachelor’s program might have national or regional accreditation from a body like the Higher Learning Commission, while master’s degrees are regulated by bodies like the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education, or the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. Doctoral degree providers usually seek accreditation from the American Psychological Association. The APA also provides accreditation for doctoral internships and post-doctoral residencies. 

In Michigan, you must get your degree from an accredited program in order to be eligible to apply for licensure.

On-campus vs. online

There are more than 40 schools in Michigan offering online degrees in psychology, at associate degree, bachelor’s degree, and master’s degrees. In most cases, undergraduate psychology degrees are offered online, with a few colleges providing a master’s level education. However, when it comes to doctoral level, there’s such a strong emphasis on internships and clinical experience that studying online isn’t viable. As such, there are no online doctoral degrees in Michigan.  

Best schools for psychology in Michigan

Michigan has a worldwide reputation as being an exceptional location for studying psychology. Read on to discover the best schools for undergraduate, graduate, and online courses. 

Top Michigan psychology schools

University of Michigan Ann Arbor

The University of Michigan is ranked as the best school in Michigan, and in the Midwest on many lists. Considering its excellent reputation, the price of just over $30,000 per year is surprisingly low, which is why it’s referred to as a Little Ivy. You can get an Ivy League level education but from a low-cost, public school.

Its acceptance rate is 21% and the graduation rate is 91%, and students have a wide range of courses to choose from. At bachelor’s level, you can study cognitive science, experimental psychology, other psychology, general psychology, and physiological psychology and psychobiology. At master’s, course options are experimental and general psychology, and doctorates are offered in experimental, general, and other research and experimental psychology.

Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley State University is an affordable college with a high acceptance rate of 83%. The graduation rate is 66% and there are four psychology degree courses to choose from. Undergraduate students can select biopsychology, general psychology, and social psychology as their major. Master’s students can further their studies in the field by specializing in counselor education and guidance services.

University of Michigan Dearborn

The University of Michigan Dearborn is one of the cheaper options on the list, costing just over $26,000 per year before financial aid. The acceptance rate is 62% and the graduation rate is 53% and you can pick from behavioral science and general psychology at bachelor’s level and general psychology as a master’s.

Andrews University

Andrews University is quite expensive, coming in at over $40,000 per year and it has an acceptance rate of 67%, with a graduation rate of 51%. Undergraduate programs are available online, and there are seven courses to choose from.

The school offers behavioral science and general psychology at bachelor’s level; counselor education and guidance services, educational psychology, and mental health counseling at master’s level; and school psychology, counseling psychology, and educational psychology as post-master’s and doctorate degrees.

Western Michigan University

Western Michigan University costs just under $30,000 per year, and offers a broad range of degrees in the field of psychology. Bachelor’s students can study applied behavior analysis, general psychology, and social psychology.

Master’s students have the following options: Applied behavior analysis, college student counseling and personnel services, counseling psychology, counselor education and guidance services, general psychology, I-O psychology, marriage and family therapy counseling, and mental health counseling.

Doctor’s degrees are available in school psychology, I-O psychology, clinical psychology, applied behavior analysis, counseling psychology, general psychology, and counselor education and guidance services. 

Top graduate programs

Michigan has some of the best graduate schools in the country for individuals who are interested in pursuing a career in psychology. Let’s take a look at some of the highest performing schools for master’s and doctoral students.  

Central Michigan University

Central Michigan University is a high-ranking school for graduate psychology degree programs. The courses available at master’s level are clinical psychology, counselor education and guidance services, experimental psychology, general psychology, I-O psychology, and school psychology. Doctorate degrees are in clinical psychology, experimental psychology, I-O psychology, and school psychology. 

Eastern Michigan University 

Eastern Michigan University is a great choice for students looking to complete a master’s degree in psychology. The subjects you can study are clinical psychology, general psychology, educational psychology, criminology, college student counseling and personnel  services, counseling psychology, and counselor education and guidance services. You can also gain a doctorate in clinical psychology from this school.

Wayne State University

Wayne State University is a great choice for anyone looking to study a psychology specialization at master’s or doctoral degree level. Master’s courses you can apply for are counseling psychology, counselor education and guidance services, educational psychology, general psychology, genetic counseling, I-O psychology, school psychology, and vocational rehabilitation counseling. Doctor’s degrees are offered in counselor education and guidance services, educational psychology, general psychology, and other mental and social health services and allied services.

Online colleges 

Studying online is the best choice for many individuals, but particularly mature students who want to obtain a qualification while they work. 

Cornerstone University

You can study psychology at bachelor’s degree level at Cornerstone University, which it’s possible to complete within two years, depending on how you choose to study. In this degree program, you gain a foundational understanding of the knowledge and skills necessary for a career in human services. 

Baker College

Baker College is a great choice for individuals who want to study online. You can obtain bachelor’s degrees or master’s degrees online here, with specializations including I-O psychology. On this course, students learn how to apply psychological theories directly in a practical setting, such as a workplace or government organization. 

Find the program that’s right for you

Whether you’re trying to start your career or make a big change, we can help you find the perfect school to help you reach your goals.

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BestValueSchools.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
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