schools for psychiatry in the us

10 Top Schools for Psychiatry in the US

The rapid increase in anxiety, grief, and depression in people has led to an expected rise in the demand for psychiatrists. If you’ve always had the desire to take care of those suffering from one mental health issue as a psychiatrist, there’s never been a better time for you to do so. 

With the projected shortage of psychiatrists in the US by 2030, most schools of psychiatry have adjusted their acceptance rate to accommodate more applicants. However, your success as a psychiatrist depends on the quality of education you receive. That’s why, to narrow your search and make it less tedious, this article will introduce you to the best ten schools for psychiatry in the US.  

You’ll also get to understand your role as a psychiatrist and the areas you can specialize in for better output. 

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Who is a psychiatrist?

A psychiatrist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, study, and treatment of mental disorders.

Your duty as a psychiatrist is to understand through diagnosis why people with mental health problems behave the way they do, and to provide medication accordingly. 

People experience slight or severe mental disorders for many reasons: family history, drug overdose, brain injury, chemical imbalance in the brain, or even stress. It’s your duty to study your patient and determine the best treatment measures to take. 

Is there a demand for psychiatrists in the US? 

The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics projects a 12.5 percent increase in the demand for psychiatrists in the US between 2020 and 2030. 

There’s currently over 45,000 psychiatrists in the country. However, due to the aging population and other factors, the US expects a shortage of about 21,000 psychiatrists by 2030. This is adding to the fact that there’s a rapid increase in the number of mental health patients. 

Therefore, if you’re looking to study psychiatry, there’s already an existing demand for your services. But you’d need to acquire quality education and training for you to succeed in the field. 

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Top Schools for psychiatry in the US

Here is a list of the top ten schools for psychiatry in the USA

1. Harvard University

Harvard University, a private Ivy League research school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is known for its excellence in medical education. It’s not a surprise that it ranks first among the best schools for psychiatry in the US. 

The department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School offers residency programs in general psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry, and adult psychiatry. They also offer training in psychology. Their residency programs take place in about five world-class hospitals in the US. They offer a wide range of educational opportunities and training, including research and teaching opportunities.

With state-of-the-art facilities and experienced and practicing psychiatrists as teachers, you’re guaranteed to receive the best medical education in Harvard. 

Visit the school website for more information.

2. Columbia University

Columbia University is known as one of the best schools in the United States to study psychiatry. The private Ivy League college located in New York is an excellent place for you to acquire a world-class education in psychiatry. 

Columbia University’s residency program is a combination of coursework and clinical rotations over four years. The fourth year entails detailed research in areas like psychobiology, brain stimulation, and mental health policy.

You can visit the school website for more information.

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3. University Of Pittsburgh

The University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) is a public research university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pitt is known for excellence in the medical field, and its faculty houses some of the world’s leading experts in mental health. There’s no doubt as to why the school ranks as one of the best schools for psychiatry in the US.

The University of Pittsburgh features a comprehensive curriculum that covers all aspects of psychiatric care, which includes assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and research. They offer a wide range of courses and training programs that are perfect for those interested in becoming psychiatrists. Pitt also offers residencies and fellowships in geriatric psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry, and general psychiatry, among others

You can learn more about the University of Pittsburgh’s psychiatry programs here.

4. Yale University

The Department of Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine is one of the best in the US. It offers education in psychiatry for medical students and a variety of residency and fellowship programs. As one of the best research universities in the world, Yale University is known for its contributions to mental health treatments. 

Your 2nd year at Yale will see you take on a three-month elective where you’ll work on an academic project of your choice. In the 3rd year, you’ll dedicate about 20 percent of your time to academic projects, and in the 4th year, you’ll receive training grants to fund your academic activities. All of this takes place as you participate actively in clinical research and practice and gain hands-on experience as a psychiatrist in one of the top hospitals Yale is affiliated with. 

Yale University’s website bears more information on the program.  

5. University of Pennsylvania

The Department of Psychiatry has a mission to provide excellence in psychiatric education throughout medical training, residency inclusive.

The Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine aims to provide an exceptionally strong and well-balanced program of clinical services that crosses all age groups and areas of psychiatry and behavioral health. 

This school offers eight psychiatric electives, including rotations in community psychiatry, and alcoholism and addiction. Also, a compulsory six-week psychiatric clerkship entailing active learning using mental status evaluation is an important feature of the clerkship.

Visit the school website for more information. 

6. Stanford University

Stanford University is a private research university in Stanford, California. Its world-class facilities and faculty make it one of the best schools for psychiatry in the US. 

Stanford University’s psychiatric program is divided into a pre-clerkship learning period, 66 weeks of clinical training, which is mandatory, and an evaluation of the student’s skills and knowledge at the final stage.

Interviews and psychiatric evaluations are carried out by students during the clerkship. This is carried out under the direction of a member of Stanford’s medical faculty while researching diagnostic procedures and treatment options for a wide range of psychiatric patients.

Each of Stanford University’s six divisions provides basic knowledge of various psychiatric subspecialties. The following subspecialties Sleep Medicine, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Brain Sciences, General Psychiatry and Psychology, Medical Psychiatry, Public Mental Health, and Population Sciences are included in these divisions.

Stanford University is a good recommendation if you are considering a career in any of the applicable psychiatric subspecialties because it has the best resources in these.

You can visit Stanford’s website for more information.

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7. University of California – Los Angeles

The University of California, Los Angeles is a public research university with a Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences that is considered one of the best schools for psychiatry in the US. The UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences is an expert in the causes and treatments of disorders of multiplex human behavior.

The psychiatric programs at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) are affiliated with many research facilities and programs that investigate the full scope of neuroscience.

Some of the learning opportunities available at UCLA include the Geriatric Psychiatry Fellowship, Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship, General Psychiatry Residency, Doctor of Medicine with Psychiatry Clerkship, and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship. 

Visit the school website for more information. 

8. Johns Hopkins University

The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine ranks as one of the best psychiatry schools in the US.

The department offers a general psychiatry residency program that features a well-detailed education in clinical psychiatry diagnosis and treatment. With this program, students are trained to work in academia, the public sector, or the private sector. 

The Johns Hopkins psychiatry department offers several residency and fellowship programs to its students. Some of them are Geriatric Psychiatry Fellowship, General Psychiatry Residency, Psychiatry Clerkship, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Residency, Neuropsychiatry Fellowship, Behavioral Neurology, and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship.

More information on the Johns Hopkins psychiatry programs is available here

9. Duke University School of Medicine

Founded in 1838, Duke University’s school of medicine has consistently ranked as one of the best psychiatry schools in the US.

The Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University offers two residency programs to its students: a psychiatry residency and an internal medicine-psychiatry residency program. They also offer child and adolescent psychiatry and geriatric psychiatry fellowship programs. The school also offers undergraduate medical education in psychiatry to give students insights on what they can achieve as psychiatrists. 

You can get more information on the program here

10. University of Michigan–Ann Arbor

The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor is one of the best schools for psychiatry in the US. Its Department of Psychiatry offers various programs, including M.D. programs, Medical Scientist Training Programs, Ph.D. programs, and non-degree programs. 

The University of Michigan Health System has a mission to provide excellence and leadership in patient care, research, and education.

Visit the school website for more information. 

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How long does it take to become a psychiatrist?

It takes 12 years of post-secondary education to become a psychiatrist in the US. That entails four years in a bachelor’s degree program, four years in medical school, and four years in psychiatry residency. 

What major do I need to be a psychiatrist? 

There’s no specific major required for you to become a psychiatrist. However, you need to meet the science and mathematics requirements for medical school. An undergraduate program in psychology, biology, physics, or pre-medicine will serve the purpose. 

What are the specializations in psychiatry?

Here are different areas in which you can specialize as a psychiatrist:

  • perinatal psychiatry: This focuses on issues that arise during pregnancy 
  • geriatric psychiatry: focusing only on aged adults
  • child and adolescent psychiatry: Focusing on children and teenagers
  • young adult psychiatry
  • addiction psychiatry
  • forensic psychiatry: focuses on mental health within the legal system and works with people on trial and those with a criminal record.

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How much does a psychiatrist earn?

According to, the average salary for a psychiatrist in the United States is around $241,777 per year. However, the range falls between $216,656 and $270,447.  

How do you become a psychiatrist?

To become a psychiatrist in the US, you have to earn a bachelor’s degree, attend medical school, and complete a residency program in psychiatry. Here are the actual steps to follow to become a psychiatrist in the US: 

1. Earn a bachelor’s degree 

Obtaining a bachelor’s degree in any scientific discipline is the first step towards becoming a psychiatrist. You can attend a pre-medical school or obtain a bachelor’s degree from any related discipline. The most important thing is to complete the prerequisites needed for admission into a medical school. 

2. Pass the MCAT

After you get your bachelor’s degree, you have to write and pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). This is a standardized multiple-choice exam that assesses your critical thinking, and knowledge of the medical school prerequisite courses. 

3. Earn a medical degree

Getting a medical degree is an important step in your journey to becoming a psychiatrist. This is a four years program that trains you in general medicine. By the end of the program, you’ll be certified as a medical doctor who is free to practice general medicine. However, if you want to become a psychiatrist, you have to complete a compulsory residency program.  

4. Complete psychiatry residency

This is where you get the real specialized training to become a psychiatrist. You can even go deeper by specializing in any psychiatric area of your choice. At the end of your residency, you will be ready to practice as a psychiatrist. 

5. Consider a specialty

After your residency, you can consider taking up a fellowship program where you focus more on a psychiatric specialty.

What states pay the highest for psychiatry in the US? 

According to Money.USNews, these are the best paying states for psychiatrists in the US: 

StatesAverage Annual Salary
North Dakota$288,060
New Mexico$268,290

Conclusion on the top schools for psychiatry in the US

Psychiatry is a unique branch of medicine with a focus on the education of the behavior and mind of humans.

To become a psychiatrist, you must first become a doctor of medicine, and then partake in a residency program in psychiatry. 

Hopefully, this article answers all the questions you may have about schools for psychiatry in the US. 

Frequently Asked Questions about schools for psychiatry in the US

What’s the best school for psychiatry in the US?

Harvard University ranks as the best school for psychiatry in the US. It’s followed by Columbia University, the University of Pittsburgh, Yale and others. 

How long is psychiatry residency in the US?

Psychiatry residency programs in the US take four years to complete. 

Are psychiatrists well paid?

Psychiatrists, with an average annual salary of $241,777, are among the best paid medical practitioners in the US. 

Which state pays the most for psychiatrists in the US?

North Dakota is the highest paying state for psychiatrists in the US. Psychiatrists in the state earn an average annual salary of $288,060. 


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