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Becoming a Psychologist Without a Psychology degree

By: Roger Cook - Updated: 28 Jun 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Psychologist Psychology Work

The normal route to gaining the qualifications needed to work as a psychologist is to take an undergraduate degree in psychology and then further study and training on an approved postgraduate programme. However, not all psychology degrees are accredited by the British Psychology Society (BPS) and some people realise they wish to work as a psychologist after they have completed a degree in another academic discipline.

Why Bother?

Anyone can call themselves a "psychologist" and seek to work under that label. Equally some psychological approaches (commonly the simpler forms of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) are delivered by a range of people working in the broad area of mental health - counsellors, nurses, psychotherapists etc. If this is what you wish to do there is no need or direct advantage to taking formal qualifications or studying for a degree in psychology.

However, if you wish to work as a "Chartered Psychologist" either in private practice or for organisations such as the NHS you will need to have gained a qualification approved by the BPS. This usually includes an undergraduate degree that leads to the Graduate Basis for Registration (GBR) and a suitable postgraduate qualification. If you do an online search for psychologists working in private practice you will notice how often they describe themselves as a Chartered Psychologist (the status will also help in obtaining Professional Indemnity Insurance).

Alternative Qualifications

If you do not have an undergraduate degree your only option is to commence your studies at that level (this is also true if your existing degree has little or no social science content). If you have an undergraduate degree in psychology from a non-UK university then you will need to satisfy the BPS that it is equivalent in content and standard to a UK psychology degree.

If you have a psychology degree that was not accredited by the BPS or a degree in another subject (though usually in this case you will still need to have studied some psychology within that degree) you have one of two options.

You can opt to take a "conversion course" that will convert your existing qualification to the equivalence of an honours degree in psychology. These are offered by various universities (some 30 in the UK) and most lead to some form of postgraduate award (Master of Education - MEd or a Postgraduate Diploma being the most common). In the main these courses take a year but this does vary. In the main you will have to pay your own fees.

The alternative route is to opt to take the BPS' own Qualifying Exam. You will in addition need to submit a portfolio of four or more articles that are empirical in approach, cover the range of issues in psychology and a variety of analytic methods. The examination will also cover the full range of the discipline (i.e. satisfy the BPS' emphasis on "breadth" of coverage). The fee for this (in 2008/09) is £1025 plus VAT.

A final conversion route is if you do not have a first degree in psychology but do have a Ph.D. in psychology.

Summary Of Options

Essentially if you wish to work as a Chartered Psychologist but do not have a psychology degree you have two main options. You can either enrol on a formal programme of study offered by various UK universities or opt to take the BPS' own qualifying examination. Both options will involve a considerable amount of additional study and cost. If you pass using either method you will then be eligible to undertake further study and training to gain the final qualifications needed to work as a Chartered Psychologist.

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[Add a Comment]
Hi, I completed my Degree (BSc Social Sciences: Psychology & Criminology Pathway). A majority of my modules were psychology based but my course was not accredited. I am interested in studying and obtaining a masters in Occupational Psychology. Would I need to do a conversion course first, or can I go straight to an occupational psychology course.
Barbs - 28-Jun-17 @ 11:56 PM
I have a BSc in Criminology and want to work as a CBT Practioner. Would a BSc in Criminology be deemed to have covered enough social science or would I require a psychology conversion? Thank you.
Eskimo - 3-Apr-17 @ 9:18 PM
What jobs can I apply for without an accredited psychology course. I have a masters in business psychology unaccredited. And an undergrad in business. I'm worried about getting a career in psychology.
EmOue - 25-Mar-17 @ 10:02 PM
I have done MPhil in philosophy and I have done my bachelors in philosophy and psychology... I want to work as a assistant psychologist I just want to know how to get a job in any field of psychology with out doing any course work or diploma in psychology...
Malik - 9-Jan-17 @ 11:18 AM
I have an undergraduate degree in Educational Psychology (Pedagogy) from Spain and in August this year I finished a Msc in Educational Neuroscience at UCL. I would like to become a chartered psychologist, what are the possible routes in becoming this? My real interest is to become an abnormal psychologist. How can I achieve this goal in the least amount of time? Thanks in advance
megan - 5-Dec-16 @ 11:24 AM
Lavs - Your Question:
Hello sir, I recently completed my (ba English) bachelor's degree. I want to study psychology.can I have any chance in getting into clinical psychologist. Or I have to retake the bachelor's degree in psychology? Please.guide me.

Our Response:
You would need to take an undergraduate course in psychology.
CareersInPsychology - 23-Nov-16 @ 10:37 AM
Hello sir, I recently completed my(ba English) bachelor's degree. I want to study psychology .can I have any chance in getting into clinical psychologist.. Or I have to retake the bachelor's degree in psychology? Please...guide me....
Lavs - 22-Nov-16 @ 1:40 PM
Sir..I completed bsc nursing,now i want to turn over my career into psychologist.so please send the procedures,how to become a psychologist.can Bsc nursing student study Msc psychology without bsc psychology
Maman - 23-Jul-16 @ 3:35 AM
Am 18 years old young lady I 've completed my matric last year so I was asking if I can qualify to study clinical psychology ?.I ve passed with higher certificate.Do I qualify?
koketso - 30-Jun-16 @ 3:16 PM
Am 18 years old young lady I 've completed my matric last year so I was asking if I can qualify to study clinical psychology ?.I ve passed with higher certificate.
koketso - 30-Jun-16 @ 3:14 PM
Am doing bsc nursing in India ,how can I turn my carrier into this
Kichu - 16-Jun-16 @ 4:40 PM
I Am 17 doing a level psychology in September for two years as i would love to be clinical Psychologist however i really don't want to go uni as I don't want to get in debt so I was wondering what other way can I do to become clinical psychologist without goin uni
Bob Marley - 14-Jun-16 @ 6:59 PM
Nasie - Your Question:
I'd like to know, is there a way that I can be credited if I have a Diploma in Nursing?

Our Response:
This might depend on the type of nursing you do.You should contact the British psychological society for more information.
CareersInPsychology - 17-May-16 @ 1:57 PM
I'd like to know, is there a way that I can be credited if I have a Diploma in Nursing?
Nasie - 15-May-16 @ 10:38 AM
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