Last Updated: February 22, 2021
Study Psychology in Australia
When it comes to studying internationally, college students have the opportunity to study almost anywhere in the world with the flexibility of having a large number of subjects or fields to choose from. As such, prospective students look not only for the experience of living in an entirely new country but also focus on the quality of the program, in the field of their choice.
One of the most sought-after locations for studies, research, and eventual employment is the country of Australia. The land "down under" offers many different programs of study, which are held in high regard around the world. One such program is psychology, a popular path of study for many undergraduate students.
Psychology is the study of understanding human behavior and factors that contribute towards the wellbeing of individuals and groups. Psychology as a subject of study is an emerging field, especially with the increasing worldwide recognition of the importance of mental as well as physical wellbeing, with growing concerns about psychological health due to recent advances in technology and rapid changes in societal frameworks. The need to study and research these changes in behavioral patterns is both urgent and of paramount importance, making studying Psychology an attractive career option for students who wish to make actual change in society and culture through their work.
One of the first things to look at when choosing a Psychology program in Australia is whether the program is approved and accredited by the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC) and the Psychology Board of Australia (PsyBA); only students who complete a program approved by the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council can work as a practicing psychologist.
Top rated Universities
With over forty different universities located in Australia, there are many different psychology programs offered for both undergraduate and graduate studies. Some of the top psychology programs are offered at the University of Queensland, the University of Sydney, the Australian National University, the University of New South Wales, and the University of Melbourne, all of which were ranked within the top fifty programs for psychology in the world in the QS Rankings by subject, 2020.
How to select a program
Students are provided with a plethora of different choices of what Psychology course to enroll for, but it must be kept in mind that different types of courses lead to different education and career paths in the future. Undergraduate degrees in Psychology may be offered either as a major within a Bachelor of Science (BSc) or a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree or it may be offered as a stand-alone specialist degree such as Bachelor of Psychology
or Bachelor of Psychological Science
Opting for Psychology as a part of a BA or BSc degree is a good option for students who want to develop a solid general idea of the subject. It is especially a great option if the student desire to engage in interdisciplinary studies involving Psychology and various other subjects since it allows the student to study other disciplines alongside their major. These types of degrees are chosen by those who do not necessarily want to become professional practicing psychologists. These degrees are typically 3 years in length.
For provisional registration with the APAC, the student must apply for an accredited fourth-year program, which will require an extra year of study.
For students who have opted for a Psychology major in a BA or BSc program which is not APAC accredited, and want to pursue a career in further research and practice professional psychology may be eligible for entry into a bridging program (approximately 12-18 months duration) which allows you to apply for entry to an accredited 4th-year program. Completion of a fourth-year equivalent Graduate Diploma in Psychology allows the student to apply for provisional registration as a psychologist with the APAC and consequently for postgraduate programs.)
On the other hand, students interested in continuing to work in Psychology-related fields in a professional setting or who want to continue their studies at the postgraduate or doctorate level should instead opt for a Bachelor of Psychology or Psychological Sciences. These are considered to be specialist degrees and are better suited for a professional career in clinical psychology or research in the subject. These degrees typically last for 4 years and may include choices for specializations and fieldwork.
How to Become a Psychologist
Registration to be a psychologist in Australia is controlled by an institution called the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC). Students must complete a minimum of a combined six years of education and training to show experience and preparedness in their field of study to be eligible for the position of a practicing psychologist. The six years of education and experience are an amalgamation of different periods of study. To register as a Psychologist with APAC, one must follow the following steps:
- Undergraduate Level (APAC Level 1):The student must complete an APAC accredited three-year undergraduate psychology program. A level 1 program will serve as an introduction or initiation into the field of Psychology and lay down the framework for further study and research. This stage also allows a degree of flexibility to the student, who may be able to also pursue different minors or other subjects in a shared-pool system.
- Undergradute 4th Year (APAC Level 2): The student must complete the fourth year in his/her studies in Psychology, either as an Honours year of an undergraduate program or a fourth-year equivalent Graduate diploma in Psychology. Full-time Level 2 courses are generally one year in duration.
The completion of this level results in the candidate is eligible to apply for Provisional Registration with the APAC. This is a prerequisite to an application for any postgraduate program, internship, or supervised practice.
- After completion of the above, students are presented with 3 options from which they have to choose in order to achieve General Registration with the APAC as a Psychologist:
- 5+1 Pathway: Students choosing this option need to complete a fifth year of study, such as a Master of Professional Psychology (APAC Level 3) at an educational institution. This is to be followed by a one-year internship as a supervised practice. Finally, the student must pass the National Psychology Exam (NSE).
- 4+2 Pathway:Students must complete a two-year internship as supervised practice, and then must pass the National Psychology Exam (NSE). It must be noted that this pathway is being discontinued by the Psychology Board of Australia (PsyBA). It is recommended that students who wish to practice in following the other two pathways instead.
- Postgraduate professional psychology qualification pathway:This pathway requires students to complete fifth and sixth years of study as part of a Masters or a combined Masters/Ph.D. Doctorate program (APAC Levels 3 and 4).
Professional postgraduate degrees are offered in nine areas of Practice Endorsement (AoPE):
After completion of a postgraduate program, the now registered psychologist must complete the registrar program with the PsyBA to be eligible for AoPE.
- Clinical Neuropsychology
- Clinical Psychology
- Community Psychology
- Counselling Psychology
- Educational and Developmental Psychology
- Forensic Psychology
- Health Psychology
- Organisational Psychology
- Sport and Exercise Psychology
As previously stated, the first step in choosing a program is to check if it is accredited by the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council and also the Psychology Board of Australia. As is the case with most universities, students looking to study in the psychology programs must complete an application process to be accepted into the university. To meet qualifications for general entry, prospective students must have a completed Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) or equivalent qualification documentation (proof of previous education completion); attend and pass interviews and meet prerequisite grades and test scores; meet an English language requirement (testing is possible for proof). Prospective students must also meet the minimum required scores for the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR), which are typically listed on each university's website.
For international students
- Standardized tests for college acceptance can replace the ATAR scores. Examples of such tests are International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma, GCE A-Levels, Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) examination or American College Test (ACT), Cambridge Pre-University Diploma, or European Baccalaureate.
- Have studied in or completed a recognized qualification with the required grades. Check with specific Universities for an indicative required score for some overseas secondary education qualifications.
- Some courses may also have prerequisites such as relevant professional experience or studies in a specific subject (For example, the University of Sydney requires applicants for Psychology courses to have past studies in Mathematics as a prerequisite).
The cost of tuition for studying psychology can vary based on the university and location in Australia; it can range anywhere from $39,000 to more than $60,00 each year. It must be kept in mind that these estimations do not include costs like house rent and other personal costs, only the tuition fees to be paid to the University.