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Becoming a Psychologist Without a Psychology degree

By: Roger Cook - Updated: 25 Jul 2021 | 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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Hi, I'm 45 years old. I've been a bricklayer all my life and can lay bricks faster than anyone else in our street. I like the idea of changing careers now and becoming a psychologist and doing hypnotism and stuff like that. I have a couple of books from the library and a dark suit. When I wear the suit I feel like a psychologist. Is there anything else I need or is this enough?
Big Kev - 25-Jul-21 @ 3:46 PM
I am a postgraduate in hospital administration want to become a councelling psychologist .What can be my route of study
Ifat warsi - 26-Oct-20 @ 11:01 AM
1- Please advise me on the shortest and least expensive options for me to be a registered psychologist/ psychotherapist. 2- of course I’d ather be a chartered psychologist. But I worked very hard to gain a 2:2 in my undergraduate psychology degree. It’s accredited by the BPS. I have quite a lot of experience in mental health. What I want to know is that Is the 3 yr Post Graduate training route To becoming chartered more demanding and intense than an undergraduate degree or is it just more specialised? I don’t know if I have the brains for it... Or the energy I’m 46.
Semmy - 13-Oct-20 @ 10:34 PM
I have a LLB law degree with honours and a Masters in Medical Law and Malpractice. I would love to work in mental health. What qualifications would I need
Aimee - 21-Sep-20 @ 1:21 PM
Can you study psychology part time? At home?
Sally - 22-Aug-20 @ 11:51 AM
I 'm completed my degree b.sc BTZC, I want to become psychologist ( human behaviour )iam eligible to study M.SC psychology ,and how to prepare and what are the exams universities are they conduct ? My ambition to become a psychologist but even I don't no any about this couse . Finally I don't know correct information ,either I'm eligible or not.please provide information sir or mam please
Tharuna - 31-Jul-20 @ 1:09 PM
I have a degree in Psychology with counselling from a UK university. I also have an Msc by Research and a PhD in the area of Health and Wellbeing. I have been working as a counsellor for a private organisation and am a member of the Counselling Division of the British Psychological Society (BPS). what to I ned to do to become a Psychotherapist?
Chestnut - 23-Jul-20 @ 4:12 PM
I am already a qualified counsellor and wish to take on a master on clinical psychology training. Would this qualify me as a counselling psychologist?
Mimi - 6-Jul-20 @ 8:24 PM
Hi, I want to go into Forensic Psychology, but more of the research side of things. I just graduated with a 2:1 in English and the Masters course I am meant to be doing is the Investigative Forensic Psychology Msc and Bournemouth University but this is not BPS accredited, should I switch to a conversion course? Also if I did this masters, unaccredited, but then went on to their PhD in Psychology afterwards, would that then be BPS accredited?
Z - 5-Jul-20 @ 8:17 PM
Hi, I am currently studying a part-time Psychology and Criminology (Hons) while working as an unqualified teacher with over 16 years experience within the educational sector. It seems only natural to go into Educational child psychology and do my doctorate as I have the experience within the educational sector (which is one of the criteria). I also have a natural ability to connect with young adults. However, I believe my degree is not accredited by the BPS. Could you please advise me as to whether I need to do a masters degree in order to apply for the Doctorate program?
Yeo - 1-Jul-20 @ 2:39 PM
I am 57 years old and have a career in the entertainment industry spanning thirty- fiveyears. Ionly have a performers diploma from adrama school I graduated from in 1985. Ihave suddenly developed an interest in Psychology. Is it a waste of time me pursuing a career in Psychology given my circumstances?
Peace - 2-Apr-20 @ 6:50 AM
How can I become an educational psychologist? I have a law degree but I have spent the last 11 years tutoring kids after school, I don’t have a teaching qualification
Flybr - 15-Jan-20 @ 10:38 PM
Please advise me on the shortest and least expensive options for me to be a registered psychologist/ psychotherapist. I would rather a phone call than an email please call 07393 567674 Kind regards
Lottie - 3-Jan-20 @ 9:24 PM
I have a Bachelors if Education (First Class Honours). What is the quickest route for a job in psychology in Belfast?
A - 19-Nov-19 @ 5:23 PM
I have completed MCA and MBA.I would like to do Ph.D in Pshychology. Is it possible to do ? or do i want to pursue bachelors in Phsychology?
Shruthi - 8-Nov-19 @ 8:41 AM
I have completed MCA and MBA. I would like to do Ph.D in Psychology. Is it possible to do? Or do I want to do undergraduate in Pshychology?
Shruthi - 8-Nov-19 @ 8:39 AM
What can I do? Since my birth I am in possession of the full understanding of the human mind and the ability not just to analyze, but modify its work. I have provoked the interest of different governments as a child, and went through many tests at age of 9.Up to this date they consider my capability unbelievable.I am capable to open up and repair - within a short time - the faults of the collective consciousness of an individual and/or a group.My problem solving ability practically can not be measured; once a well known official organization – I wouldn’t like to mention their name - made an attempt to analyze it during an interesting encounter, and they have realized, that the outcome was equivalent of a 2000 IQ, which could not be a process able experience by a human mind. The director of this establishment admitted that he would like to reach the level I was.If we are talking about levels, I have to mention, that everybody stands on the same level, but with a mind closed, if you like, by a superior lordship. I have all the keys, but I will only act if it was asked by a given person; I would not effectuate any modification of the mind of any person or any group just by myself. My knowledge can not be given over to anybody and can not be learned, because it is not exist.What I know is “the” information;the individual who wants to learn, can not be the same like me, but I can enable him/her to perceive the world and making decisions by the same parameters like I do. Knowledge is an incomprehensible idea; the knowledge is the convictions of a given subject-matter of others, its copy, mostly readable forms, where at the end, with its demonstration a habituating will start, but this will be very far from the true understanding of the real problem, not to mention of its solution So I newer learn a letter, and I am "practising" since 36 years without unsolved cases. I has more then 1200 psychologist client CURED! What can I do. You thing your "system" can teach me something? Regards
Jhon - 29-Jun-19 @ 6:53 PM
Hello, I have obtained my bachelor degree in psychology (Greece) and I have completed my master in clinical psychology in the erasmus university of rotterdam. What have I do in order to be certificated by BPS?
PAN - 24-Jun-19 @ 3:27 PM
Hi, Iam an experienced teacher and SENCO I am looking at becoming an Ed Psyc. Would I have to do a Psychology undergrad? What would be the quickest route for me?
Roo - 18-Jan-19 @ 5:31 AM
Hi, I am currently in my last year for Law and, unfortunately, I figured out that a career in law was not for me. What should I do, as I know that psychology is an area I would like a career in? I am really stuck.
Jordie - 9-Nov-18 @ 1:40 PM
Hi...I have completed My Honours Degree at BBA Management...Bt I'm interested in Psychology...What should I do now for becoming a Psychologist/Psychiatrist or psychotherapist...Plz tell me details...
Laboni - 13-Sep-18 @ 8:53 AM
Thank you for posting this article. It's very useful. You write: "A final conversion route is if you do not have a first degree in psychology but do have a Ph.D. in Psychology". I don't have a first degree in Psychology but I on the final stretch of my PhD in psychology. How do I proceed to get accredited by the BPS? I sent an email to the BPS but to no avail. My academic supervisors suggest that I apply for a CPsychol (chartered status) via research route. What do you think? Furthermore, you mention the BPS' own Qualifying Exam but I cannot find useful information anywhere. Your post is marked as updated on the 25 of Jun 2018, so I assume candidates can still sit this examination. Thank you for your help, Kind Regards, Andrea
Andrea - 18-Jul-18 @ 2:24 PM
Alex - Your Question:
I completed a degree in sport psychology in 2003. At the time I didn't realise it wasn't accredited by bps. Time moved on and pursued a career in teaching. I know want to return to psychology; what would I need to do to do that?

Our Response:
Many universities offer conversion courses for those who have studied some psychology at undergraduate level & wish to undertake further study in order to allow the opportunity for specialisation in psychology. The The British Psychological Society has more information.
CareersInPsychology - 26-Jun-18 @ 11:58 AM
I completed a degree in sport psychology in 2003. At the time I didn't realise it wasn't accredited by bps. Time moved on and pursued a career in teaching. I know want to return to psychology; what would I need to do to do that?
Alex - 25-Jun-18 @ 6:05 AM
Sir ,now I am appearing in 3 rd yearon bsc degree with math,physics,chemistry ...but I want to become a psychologist..now what can I do?is this possible if I wii get bachelor's degree from open University ?plz reply me sir...
Tania - 15-May-18 @ 7:18 PM
Hello, I’m currently in my final year of Bachelors of Management Studies is it possible for me to pursue Psychology as my masters?
xnikshx - 22-Jan-18 @ 8:37 AM
Hello good day! I am Electrical Engineer and i want to take Phd in Psychology or Counselling psychology. How can I become Psychologist without taking the undergrad psychology? or Can I pursue that dream?
Menard - 2-Jan-18 @ 6:07 AM
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
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