The pathway of study and supervised practice to become a general psychologist is a minimum of 6 years, and to become registered with an area of practice endorsement (e.g. clinical neuropsychology, clinical psychology, forensic psychology or sport and exercise psychology) is a minimum of 8 years of study. The first 4 years are common to all pathways, and will be covered in this article.
It is extremely important that regardless of the pathway you take, your courses are accredited by the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC) and approved by the Psychology Board of Australia (PsyBA).
While most undergraduate psychology degrees are 3 years, the courses that include a pathway into the 4th year (honours) generally require a higher ATAR for entry. While Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) students will need to score high enough grades in the first 3 years to proceed to the fourth year, and students from the 3 year degree will need to apply for an honours year, the process of gaining an honours place is competitive.
Graduates of a number of degrees including psychological science, psychology, arts, social science, health sciences, science, commerce and behavioural science must ensure that they complete the required APAC-accredited pre-requisite subjects in their undergraduate course to be eligible to proceed down the postgraduate pathway if their intention is to become a psychologist. As well as a high grade point average in the first 4 years of university study, students may also need to be prepared to gain clinical experience by working as a therapy assistant and research experience as a research assistant in order to obtain a place in sought-after Masters Programs that are a pathway to an area of practice endorsement.
Undergraduate entry into psychology courses – 3 year undergraduate + 1 year honours pathway
The following tables shows the ATAR scores that were required to enter each 3 year APAC-accredited undergraduate course at the beginning of 2020 in the various states and territories throughout Australia. Each state has the 3 year course followed by the 1 year of honours in a separate table. Please note that this is a rough guide only for future years as it changes from year to year depending on the applications each university receives.
Undergraduate entry into psychology courses – 4 year Bachelor (honours) degree
For entry into a 4 year psychology honours course commencing in 2020, the ATAR ranged from 70 to 99 depending on the course and university. Please note that this is a rough guide only for future years as it changes from year to year depending on the applications each university receives, and that some universities will also have additional selection criteria to gain entry.
Graduate entry into psychology courses
Graduate diploma courses are bridging courses where those who have completed an undergraduate degree in an area other than psychology can complete the APAC-accredited 3 year sequence in a shorter time frame. These are predominantly fee-paying places (i.e. not subsidised Commonwealth-supported) places. After completing the graduate diploma, you would then need to complete a 4th year honours (or equivalent) program in order to progress along the pathway to becoming a psychologist. Three year bridging graduate diplomas available on the following universities:
Pathways to becoming a psychologist in Australia
The Australian Psychological Society has an excellent explanation and pathway infographic available: https://www.psychology.org.au/Training-and-careers/Careers-and-studying-psychology/studying-psychology/Study-pathways. Please note that the 4+2 internship pathway is being phased out, and that the 5+1 pathway will be the requirement to becoming a psychologist with general registration in the coming years.
Current list of accredited and approved programs of study to become a psychologist
The information presented in this article was correct at the time of publishing. Please check with the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council for details of accredited courses and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency for an up to date list of approved programs of study to become a psychologist in Australia.
More resources on My Health Career
- Videos about a career in psychology
- How to become a psychologist in Australia – by psychologist Dan Martin
- The career progression of a psychologist – many roads lead to Rome – by Dr Rebecca Ray
- What’s the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?
- Transitioning to academia for early career psychologists
This information is general in nature and does not take into account your personal circumstances. My Health Career accepts no responsibility for ensuring that you enrol in a course that is right for you. Please do your own research to ensure that you enrol in the correct course. This may include speaking with a careers advisor, guidance officer, career development practitioner, representatives of the Australian Psychological Society, and admissions officers from the university or universities you are looking at applying to.