Best CSU Schools for Psychology • 22 CSU Colleges Ranked

best csu schools for psychology and child development majors - SDSU, Fullerton, and more

The best CSU schools for psychology include a handful of elite and prestigious psychology programs. Even outside of that, psychology is such a common major that you’re going to find well-developed programs at every Cal State school.

If you’re open to attending a public university in the University of California system, we’ve also ranked the best UC schools for psychology right here.

If you’re still deciding on a major, we’ve also reviewed Cal State schools in other majors as well:

Getting back to psychology, there can be a lot of variance between programs and their emphases, along with available tracks and classes. Some of the highest-ranked schools offer unique opportunities it will be hard to find elsewhere.

However, it’s good to recognize that any Cal State psychology program can lead to a graduate degree and eventual licensure as a professional counselor.

Psychology majors also have a lower average pay than other majors such as engineering, so your financial aid package may be more important than the school’s prestige.

With those caveats out of the way, let’s get to the rankings of the best CSU schools for psychology.

Best CSU Schools for Psychology

Out of the 23 CSU schools, Cal Maritime is the only school not to offer a psychology degree. Maritime schools and psychology degrees rarely mix, and this is no exception.

22. California State University Dominguez Hills

21. California State University East Bay

20. California State University Stanislaus

19. California State University Bakersfield

18. California State University San Bernardino

17. California State University Northridge

16. Cal Poly Humboldt

15. California State University Los Angeles

14. California State University Sacramento

13. San Francisco State University

12. California State University San Marcos

11. California State University Fresno

10. California State University Channel Islands

9. Sonoma State University

8. California State University Monterey Bay

7. Cal Poly Pomona

6. San José State University

5. California State University Chico

Chico State’s psychology program enrolls over 800 undergraduate majors, with the Psi Chi club offering academic and social activities for undergraduate students.

Chico State also has an undergraduate internship program that “enables students to apply psychology in many local social agencies, businesses, and educational settings”.

Internship programs are one of our favorite things to see, as these play a major role in future career opportunities.

As far as the curriculum, all Chico State psychology majors complete a seminar, and courses also make use of Chico State’s two computer-based laboratories and their wetlab.

4. California State University Long Beach

CSU Long Beach is a regular in the top 5 on our Cal State rankings, and psychology is no exception. With an admissions rate under 50% and high academic standards, CSULB has been teaching psychology since 1949.

With decorated faculty from Princeton, UC Berkeley, Yale, Stanford, and more, CSULB was “ranked by the National Science Foundation as second in the nation (for schools in its category) in the number of students who went on to complete a Ph.D. program”.

3. California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo

With the lowest acceptance rate of any CSU and the highest academic credentials for incoming freshmen, Cal Poly offers excellence in every field they teach.

Cal Poly offers both psychology and child development programs for undergraduates, with “a strong focus on application and hands-on experiences”.

Resources for psychology students include:

  • Internships
  • Research Opportunities
  • Senior Projects
  • Preschool Learning Lab
  • Community Counseling Clinic
  • Three Student Clubs

Cal Poly is better known for their prestigious engineering programs, but they maintain that same excellence in psychology and child development.

2. California State University Fullerton

CSU Fullerton is another highly-ranked Cal State campus, with opportunities for research, student clubs, and internships.

CSU Fullerton’s wide variety of electives allows students to concentrate on a particular area within the wide field of psychology, such as:

  • Clinical psychology
  • Social psychology
  • Developmental and child psychology
  • Industrial and organizational psychology
  • Learning and cognitive psychology
  • Biological psychology

With a broad and well-rounded experience, Cal State Fullerton is one of the best CSU schools for psychology.

What is the best CSU for psychology majors?

San Diego State University is one of the best Cal State schools, period, and psychology is one of their strongest programs.

1. San Diego State University

Do you know what SDSU’s most popular major is? Well, you can probably guess because we’re asking, but yes, it’s psychology.

With 63.7 million in funding, SDSU’s psychology department has ample research opportunities and is a center for psychology discovery.

The PhD program is ranked 33rd in America among all universities, further confirming the top-tier status of SDSU.

Unique opportunities for psychology students include:

  • An on-campus MRI facility
  • Training opportunities at the SDSU Psychology Clinic
  • A close relationship with the South Bay Latino Research Center
  • The SDSU Center for Autism
  • The Psi Chi Honor Society and SDSU Psychology Club
  • SDSU Active Minds
  • Study Abroad Opportunities

San Diego State University is always near the top of Cal State rankings list, and they set the gold standard among the best CSU schools for psychology.


While all of these schools present great opportunities, the financial barriers can be steep. Finding local scholarships in your area can give a needed boost with the tuition payments, and we’ve written a step-by-step guide to writing scholarship essays.

CLEP tests are another great way to save time and tuition money by testing out of certain college courses, and we’ve ranked the easiest CLEP tests here.

We hope you’ve enjoyed your visit to College Guidepost, and we wish you the best in your college and career journey!