Top 9 Places to Study Psychology Abroad

by Briana Aragon

As the study of the human mind, the field of psychology must give special consideration to culture and how different societies affect behavior. Students concentrating in this discipline should consider a study abroad experience that complements their psych major, in order to enhance their understanding of the field as a whole and round out their undergraduate curriculum.

Studying psychology abroad can really set you apart from the pack. Not only will you meet fellow students who nerdy laugh about your psychology jokes (“What did the hippocampus say when it retired? "Thanks for the memories." ZING), students will get a chance to evaluate topics from international and culture-specific perspectives, and understand how others engage with the material.

brain diagram

You may also be able to find specialty courses abroad that are unavailable to you at your home university, or even combine a psychology internship with your international studies to receive hands on professional experience on top of academic credit. Lastly, many psychology study abroad programs have optional language training included, which can be extremely beneficial for psych students as they try to communicate with locals and gain a deeper level of cultural immersion. 

Historically, Europe has been a leader in the development of psychology, therefore, many top psychology degree programs and universities are located in this region. However, there are also several opportunities to study psychology abroad, whether in the summer, for a semester, or for an entire year, in places like AustraliaSouth America and Asia too.

Just as having a psychology degree prepares you for versatile career paths, so too do your options for study abroad vary. Lucky for you, many study abroad programs, regardless of their location, offer lower level psychology classes as a course option, on top of specialty programs. But, to make your trip really work, you should choose to study psychology in a location that is integral to your preferred niche within the field. Doing so might expose you to key thinkers, give you access to unique academic collections, or challenge you to warp your worldview from the inside out. To help you decide where to expand your psychology education abroad, we've outlined nine of the best locations to study psychology abroad in the world below.

Landscape of Austria

1. Austria

Home to the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, Austria has long been at the forefront of psychology. Study abroad programs focused on psychology are available all over the country, offering courses in social psychology, counseling, and research methodologies, among others. Some especially popular locations to study psychology in Austria include Vienna and Innsbruck.

2. Italy

Follow in the footsteps of famous psychiatrist Roberto Assagioli and discover psychosynthesis or humanistic and transpersonal psychology. Surrounded by the glittering Mediterranean seas, this iconic boot-shaped peninsula is littered with psychology study abroad opportunities. Larger cities, like Rome and Florence, will have the greatest number of psychology study abroad programs, but you can also find programs in smaller towns any time of the year. Students can choose external programs or enroll directly in one of the many universities across the country, in disciplines like cognitive science and behavior studies. 

Sunset view in Paris, France

3. France

Fancy hypnosis? The pre-scientific discovery of hypnosis was made by Armand-Marie-Jacques de Chastenet, a French neurologist from the 1700s. Similar to Italy, France offers psychology study abroad programs in urban hubs like Paris and  Aix en Provence, as well as in smaller towns. There are several well established universities with deep roots in the history of psychology to consider too; after all, France is home to Alfred Binet, Theodore Simon, and countless other pioneers in the field. If you’re looking to improve your language skills, psychology courses in France are usually available in both English and French.

4. Australia

Let's shift our attention on Australia, which is famous for its psychologists, psychiatrists, and neurologists that have brought a new light upon developmental psychology, psychopathology, etc. There are plenty of opportunities to study psychology down under in cities like Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Perth. With course instruction in English, students who are not so linguistically inclined will find Australia to be a particularly enticing option. Students can chose to enroll in one of several universities, including Macquarie University, or even the Australian Institute of Psychology. Some specializations that are popular in Australia include neuroscience, health psychology, and women’s studies. If you have a girl crush on Amanda Rishworth like we do, head to Adelaide for the opportunity of a lifetime to study psychology abroad!

5. Denmark

Are you generally critical or skeptical of psychological “schools?” If so then you and famous Danish psychologist Edgar Rubin would get along just fine. Just north of Germany at the foot of Sweden, this peninsula-island network provides a central location to study psychological theory, research, and practice in a specifically Danish and European context. Many study abroad programs in Denmark provide cultural field trips to neighboring countries all over the continent. Students often call capital city Copenhagen home while attending the University of Copenhagen, University of Southern Denmark, or even the Danish Institute for Study Abroad.

Charles Bridge, Prague

6. Czech Republic

Did you know that Sigmund Freud was technically born in modern-day Czech Republic? The Czech Republic is highly central in Europe, and home to the historical and intellectual capital city of Prague. Popular courses for psych students in Prague include applied psychology and clinical psychotherapy. When not examining the human mind’s every function and behavior, students will be able to easily visit other historically relevant cities in the field of psychology, like Vienna, Austria and Krakow, Poland.

7. Chile

Study psychology for a semester at a university in Santiago, take a summer program in Valparaiso, or explore the stunning city of Vina del Mar; psychology students will have a lot of freedom when it comes to choosing locations and institutions for study abroad in Chile. Most study abroad programs in Chile include Spanish language training too, so you can beef up your language skills alongside your psychological knowledge. Since there is not a strong presence of indigenous psychology in Chile, universities tend to focus on the study of social psychology and psychotherapy theories developed abroad. What will make your education unique in Chile is professors’ abilities to connect global theories to Chilean realities.

8. Japan

In a field overwhelmed with western influence and philosophy, you would be wise to take advantage of an opportunity to explore the Asian psychology movement. Study abroad programs are available all over the country, from Tokyo to Kobe. Courses in Japan are generally taught in English, but students are encouraged to improve their Japanese skills by taking at least basic Japanese courses. Psychology classes in Japan generally place a larger emphasis on Japanese history in relation to the development of psychology.

Rhine Castle, Germany

9. Germany

Until the middle of the 19th century, psychology was widely regarded as a branch of philosophy. But then Germany came along and that went to the wayside: Germans developed the mathematical basis for scientific psychology. Located in the heart of Europe, Germany has long been a leader in the development of psychology. You can study psychology abroad in your choice of cities, including Munich, Berlin, Freiburg, and Frankfurt. Even better news? Courses often include some German language training as well.

So, what do you THINK?

Are you convinced that studying psychology abroad is the missing piece to your amazing-college-experience puzzle? (If not, you should probably read this article). We know you have some action potential, and that we can talk you into just about any behavior a la Pavlov. But we’d rather just meet you abroad than classically condition you to go!