How to become a Clinical Psychologist

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I wrote this guide because people often ask me how to become a Clinical Psychologist. Much of it is my opinion – other psychologists may have different suggestions so I’ve included links to other sources at the bottom of this page.

What qualifications do you need to become a Clinical Psychologist?

The rules and qualifications vary depending on which your country you plan to work in. Here are the steps you’ll need to take if you are planning to work in Malaysia.

If you are planning to work as a clinical psychologist in another country, I’d advise using the steps below as a starting point. Do check the requirements for your particular country and share what you find out in the comments section below so that others can benefit.

Studying Clinical Psychology in Malaysia

These are the steps if you plan to study clinical psychology in Malaysia:

  1. Obtain a good grade in a psychology undergraduate degree.
  2. Preferably, gain some relevant work experience. Some courses in Malaysia are now accepting students without work experience.
  3. Complete a Masters in Clinical Psychology or a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology.
  4. Preferably, become a full member of the Malaysian Society of Clinical Psychology (MSCP). The Allied Health Professions Act of 2016 made it illegal for anyone to call themselves a clinical psychologist unless they are registered as a clinical psychologist. This has yet to be fully enforced as the Malaysian government is currently in the process of setting up the register. The government took advice from the MSCP on the requirements for getting registered so being a full member of the MSCP will make it easier to get registered. It’s also a way of showing potential clients and employers that you are properly qualified until the register is launched.

Studying Clinical Psychology Overseas

If you plan to study clinical psychology at a university outside of Malaysia and then return to work as a clinical psychologist in Malaysia here’s what you need to do:

  1. Obtain a good grade in a Psychology undergraduate degree recognised by the country that you wish to train in.
  2. Gain some relevant work experience (see below for more information about gaining work experience).
  3. Secure funding to study overseas.
  4. Complete the post-graduate clinical psychology course that the country you are studying in requires for you to gain that country’s professional accreditation. In Australia & New Zealand this could be a Masters in Clinical Psychology. In the UK, USA & Canada you need a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology to qualify to work as a clinical psychologist.
  5. Obtain ‘Professional Accreditation’ from the country that you are studying in (or at least prove that you are eligible for that accreditation).
  6. If you have accreditation from overseas, it may not be necessary but, it would be helpful to become a full member of the Malaysian Society of Clinical Psychology.

An example: a Malaysian studying Clinical Psychology in the UK

This might be easier to understand with an example. A Malaysian wishing to study Clinical Psychology in the UK before returning to work in Malaysia should follow these steps:

  1. Obtain a good grade (an Upper Second Class Honours, 2:1 or equivalent) in an undergraduate degree in psychology that is recognised by the British Psychological Society (BPS)
  2. Gain some relevant work experience (see below for more information).
  3. Secure funding to study in the UK (a three-year course is likely to cost more than 75,000 GBP plus living costs).
  4. Complete a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (a British Masters in Clinical Psychology will not allow you to work as a Clinical Psychologist in the UK and it will not allow you to work in Malaysia as a Clinical Psychologist).
  5. Register with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) or obtain Chartered Member status as a Clinical Psychologist from the British Psychological Society (BOS) (the legal body in the UK is the HCPC but BPS Member status is sufficient for people returning to their home country).
  6. Preferably, become a full member of the Malaysian Society of Clinical Psychology

The legal situation in Malaysia

In Malaysia the Allied Health Professions Act of 2016 made it illegal for anyone to call themselves a clinical psychologist or do the work of a clinical psychologist unless they are a fully qualified clinical psychologist.

This is a good step because working as a clinical psychologist without appropriate training can lead to people being hurt. Clinical psychologists are trained to know how to respond if someone is planning to seriously hurt or kill themselves. Even if a person is not planning to hurt or kill themselves an untrained person acting as a clinical psychologist could still cause them harm by failing to help them with the problems that they are facing whilst taking their money.

There are currently some people in Malaysia who claim to be psychologists or clinical psychologists when they have not been through the appropriate training. The most prominent example of this is Edward Chan and his company which he named the ‘International Psychology Centre’. I mention him here because he offers many courses to people interested in practicing in clinical psychology. None of these courses would be accepted as legitimate by the Malaysian Society of Clinical Psychology so I suggest avoiding them if you are hoping to gain registration in Malaysia.

The government are in the process of setting up a register for clinical psychologists and other professions which should be complete by 2025. Once the register is fully operational there should be a crack down on those practising as psychologists without the necessary qualifications (unless they are closely supervised by a qualified clinical psychologist). 

Work experience

Many clinical psychology courses want you to have work experience before you start studying. They want you to understand what you are getting yourself into. It’s good to find out whether you like talking to people in psychological distress before you start training because as a clinical Psychologist that’s what you will spend most of your time doing.

It is helpful to gain work experience working with a Clinical Psychologist but it isn’t necessary. It is more important to spend time with people in psychological distress and learn from your experiences.

Most courses are happy to have older applicants who have some work experience outside of psychology. Many Clinical Psychologists started their careers in other fields. So there’s no need to rush into training if you’d like to try out other options first.

Due to the increase in the number of Clinical Psychology courses in Malaysia an increasing number of students have been accepted onto Clinical Psychology courses without any relevant work experience. Clinical Psychology training courses based overseas, in countries such as the UK, USA, Australia and Canada, are likely to require relevant work experience.

An understanding of research methods

Clinical psychologists are trained to be Scientist-Practitioners. Our practice is based on research evidence but we also approach each problem like scientists. For example:

  • We look at the existing evidence (old records, observations, information gathered in interviews),
  • hypothesise why the problem might be occurring and
  • then test our hypothesis by running an intervention.
  • We then evaluate our intervention and determine if we need to alter our hypothesis.

This scientific approach means that many courses will test your understanding of research methods.

Funding

It is usually easiest to study in your own country because overseas clinical psychology programmes are expensive. You can find a list of overseas clinical psychology courses that are open to international applicants here. Some countries sponsor their citizens to go overseas to train as a Clinical Psychologist. Malaysia has done this in the past but not recently. We don’t know of any international funding sources so please share any you find via the comments section below.

If you don’t have funds you could apply for PhD courses in the USA because they sometimes come with funding. You can also send a research proposal to professor. If they are interested in your project they may apply for a grant which would also pay for your PhD. This is most likely to work if you have know how to conduct research and have unique language skills or cultural knowledge that matches their interests.

Job opportunities once you qualify

We’re often asked about the job prospects for clinical psychologists once they qualify. I’ve written an article on ‘the Status of Clinical Psychology in Malaysia‘ which I hope helps give something of an answer to a complex question!

Variation between courses & countries

The advice above varies depending on the course and country you are in. I have written more information for each of the countries below:

Information on Clinical Psychology Training Programmes

For a list of Clinical Psychology Training Programmes open to foreign students please see this page. You can also view the pages for each of the countries below:

Malaysia


UK


Ireland


New Zealand


Further Information …

I’ve included some links to websites that provide useful information on becoming a clinical psychologist below:

Malaysian Society of Clinical Psychology

The Malaysian Society of Clinical Psychology has written a post on how to become a clinical psychologist.


BPS Careers guide to Clinical Psychology

The British Psychological Society’s guide to becoming a Clinical Psychologist.


APA article on pursuing a career in Clinical Psychology

The American Psychological Associations guide to pursuing a career in Clinical Psychology also includes a ‘Meet a Clinical Psychologist’ section.


APS Study Pathways to Clinical Psychology

The Australian Psychological Society’s guide to the academic pathways you need to take to be a Clinical Psychologist.


50 COMMENTS

  1. if i graduate from australia’s master in clinical psychology, can i become a clinical psychologist in Malaysia unlike UK must doctorate?

    • Yes you can. In Australia you can become an accredited Clinical Psychologist by studying a Masters in Clinical Psychology. If you become accredited in Australia it is usually possible to get recognition in Malaysia.

  2. If i complete my masters in USA in clinical psychology, can i work at malaysia as a clinical psychologist while i do my phd at malaysia? Is tat possible?

    • No, unfortunately you can’t. There are no Masters courses in the USA that will qualify to work as a clinical psychologist. You need to do a whole PhD or PsyD there in order to be able to return to Malaysia and work clinically.

  3. Hi Dr Dan,
    1) Does MSCP recognize Clinical Psychology program (Ph.D) from Canada?
    2) Is there any disadvantages for practicing clinical psychologist in Malaysia if they are not registered under the MSCP? I was just wondering because I found a few practitioners that don’t have their names in the registry.

    Thanks!

    • If you have a PhD and a license to practice from Canada I think the MSCP would recognise it (they recognise my British qualification). At the moment registration with the MSCP is voluntary. It’s a good idea so that the public and others know that you have the right skills. In the future it may become a requirement if the Allied Health Act decides to use the MSCP to decide which Clinical Psychologists should be recognised (the law in this area is not currently enforced and it is not clear when it will be). If you already have a Canadian PhD and a license do send me an email.

  4. Hi Dr Dan,

    1) I heard that Australian accreditation in psychology is not as widely accepted in malaysia compared to a British accreditation, is it true?

    2) Would completing an undergrad and masters in psychology in Australia allow me to work in malaysia as a clinical psychologist?

    • I think Australian accreditation and British accreditation as a Clinical Psychologist are seen as equivalent in Malaysia and they should both be widely accepted. Once the Allied Health Professions Act is enforced in Malaysia then you will need to have accreditation as a Clinical Psychologist in Australia to be recognised in Malaysia. In order to get that accreditation you will first need to get an undergraduate psychology degree and then at least a Masters in Clinical Psychology.

  5. (British Masters Course in Clinical Psychology will not allow you to work as a Clinical Psychologist in the UK and it will not allow you to work in Malaysia as a Clinical Psychologist).
    Regarding the above, I wonder where did you get this information? Since I have never seen any official announcement from Ministry of Health Malaysia mentioned about it. Please let me know where I can find this information.
    TQ

    • The Masters Courses in the UK are only introductory courses. Completing a course with them will not give you a clinical qualification that allows you to work independently. You can contact the UK courses to ask them for verification on this if you like. From the Malaysian side, the new Allied Health Professionals Act, which is enacted but yet to be enforced, requires Clinical Psychologists to be registered with a licensing body. It is likely that the Malaysian Society of Clinical Psychology (MSCP) will be the regulator for clinical psychologists as the government has already been liaising with them. The MSCP does not and will not recognise the UK Masters in Clinical Psychology (they will recognise a Masters in Clinical Psychology from Australia if that masters makes you eligible for licensing in Australia).

    • Hi Kumaran, there’s a new law in Malaysia which is meant to legally protect the title of’ Clinical Psychologist’. When it comes into force Clinical Psychologists will have to register and prove their qualifications and experience meet the minimum requirements. Those minimum requirements will most likely be set by the Malaysian Society of Clinical Psychologists (www.mscp.my). You could try registering as an international member with them to see if they accept your qualifications. However, at the moment the law has not yet been enforced so anyone can call themselves a Clinical Psychologist. If you’re from overseas the bigger challenge will be getting a visa that allows you to work here. You’ll need a sponsor (someone who wants to employ you) and unfortunately there are not many jobs available for Clinical Psychologists.

  6. Hi Dr. Dan. I’m considering to pursue BSc Psychology from University of Nottingham Malaysia. This course offered is accredited by British Psychological Society. May I ask if its possible for me to continue doing Masters in Clinical Psychology later on in local Universities such as UKM or USM? And is that enough for me to be qualified as a Clinical Psychologist or will I have to take up Phd first? (due to the BPS accreditation)

    • Hi Rina, I think it is possible to go from the University of Nottingham course to the Masters in Clinical Psychology at UKM or USM. However, most of the Nottingham students went onto HELP rather than UKM. If you take the Masters of Clinical Psychology course in Malaysia then you’d be qualified as a Clinical Psychologist in Malaysia. You would not be qualified as a clinical psychologist in the UK under the BPS or HCPC as that requires you taking a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology in the UK (a PhD from Malaysia wouldn’t qualify you in the UK either).

  7. If I get a masters in clinical psychology from UK. Which European countries will accept this degree for requirement for doctoral program?

    • I wouldn’t really recommend doing a Masters in Clinical Psychology from the UK. It doesn’t actually train you how to do anything clinical. It’s a course marketed by UK universities to UK students who are competing to get onto Clinical Psychology Doctoral courses. There’s some controversy over whether it’s even helpful for UK students to study it. I’d recommend saving your money and applying directly to the doctoral programmes. Unless you can speak one of the European languages fluently I don’t think it will be easy to study clinical psychology there as you need to do therapy with locals as part of the course.

  8. Hi Dr. Dan,

    If I have a bachelor degree in Chemistry. Can I still apply for Masters in Clinical Psychology? Will that qualify me as a Clinical Psychologist here in Malaysia?

    • Hi Reen, if you obtain a Masters in Clinical Psychology in Malaysia it will qualify you as a Clinical Psychologist in Malaysia. However, most courses will require that you have studied Psychology at undergraduate level in order to apply to the Masters in Clinical Psychology. In the UK we have conversion Masters that holders of other degrees can take so that they can apply for the Clinical Psychology courses. I don’t know whether those exist in Malaysia – perhaps you can check with the admissions teams at the university at which you would like to study Clinical Psychology. An alternative is to take the Master of Professional Counselling at Monash University Malaysia. It won’t qualify you as a Clinical Psychology but it does give you a counselling qualification that is recognised in Australia.

  9. Hi Dr Dan!

    I am currently studying the Master of Professional Psychology in Australia. It’s a relatively new pathway to become a registered psychologist here, which involves a 5th year of study (after 4 years of undergrad studies), and then an additional year of placement. While graduates of this pathway are usually known as “general psychologists” (and not “clinical psychologists”), we are able to take on similar caseloads. I’ve been wondering if this will become an issue when I return to Malaysia to get registered with the Psychology board here (i.e. MSCP), even when we’ve gained full registration with the Australian health board (i.e. AHPRA)?

    Hope to hear from you soon!

    Sarah

    • Hi Sarah, sorry for the slow response – I had to do a little reading on the Australian Health Board (AHPRA) to understand a bit more. I think the challenge is that there isn’t an equivalent of a ‘registered general psychologist’ in Malaysia. The only title that Malaysia has protected is that of ‘Clinical Psychologist’. So to be sure of getting full recognition in Malaysia then you may need to do an approved one year postgradaute bridging qualification to get an endorsement as a clinical psychologist (according to this site: https://www.psychologyboard.gov.au/Endorsement/Pathways-to-endorsement.aspx). That would also make your qualifications clearer to your future clients. However, Malaysia is not currently policing psychologists or stopping them working. So you should still be able to find some work as a psychologist (but it would be better to have the clinical pschologist endorsement).

  10. Hi Dr. Dan,

    I hope you are doing well. I have to say that I’m so glad to find your page with all these information. I have an MSc Psychological Studies (conversion) qualification, which I obtained in December 2020 from the University of Glasgow. I wish to eventually become a psychologist (still deciding either clinical or counseling psychologist) and I am well aware that I will have to finish a doctorate program if I want to be one. Most of the programs (in the UK) usually prefer candidates with experiences in psychology-related work. I’ve been looking for psychology jobs in Malaysia just to get some experiences but there are not many opportunities, sadly. Or I might have missed them by looking at the wrong places? I hope to hear from you on where can I look for experiences in Psychology work in Malaysia, either paid or voluntary.

    Looking forward to your reply. Take care.

    • Hi, you seem to be well informed on your options which is great. Yes it is difficult to find work experience at this time in Malaysia. I think most of the UK courses would understand that it’s difficult to get experience during a pandemic. They mainly want to know that you have an idea of what being a psychologist will be like. SOLS Health (now Thrive Well) used to have some internship options.

  11. Hi sir,

    I am currently applying for a Psychology (Conversion) in the UK. If I get accepted, I will be an international student there. After finishing my Conversion Masters will I be able to apply for Assistant Psychologist roles? Or should I do another masters?
    Looking forward to hear from you.

    • HI Himadri, I think you’d be eligible to apply because the UK has a new scheme which allows you to work for a couple of years after completing a Masters (although do check that with UK immigration – things change rapidly). However, getting an Assistant Psychologist post in the UK is extremely competitive. Most Assistant Psychology jobs have hundreds of applications. This is because many local aspiring clinical psychologists are trying to get work experience so that they can apply for the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. If you are an overseas applicant you won’t need the same level of experience or qualifications as the local applicants in order to secure a place on a DClinPsych course. The biggest challenge for an overseas applicant is paying for the tuition fees and living costs. So I doubt you would need to do a second Masters. But you will need some experience. You could get that by working as a Research Assistant on a project that is related to clinical psychology or you could work as a HealthCare Assistant on a mental health ward, dementia, brain injury rehabilitation or learning difficulties units.

  12. Hi Dr Dan,

    I’m currently in my 4th year of Psychology studies in the UK, and I plan to pursue a clinical psych further on to be able to work in Malaysia. Seeing it’s harder to get accepted for a PsyD in UK, I was actually considering studying locally in Malaysia but also applying to a few other countries!

    So the problem is that my first choice is UKM but their application date is rather late, April to June, so I will probably apply to a few other universities just in case. While looking at other countries, I’ve seen comments about doing Clinical Psych in Australia from above, was wondering if you have any other countries for recommendation that I could do a clinical psych in (which allows me to work in malaysia)? Was hoping to experience studying in other Asia countries but seems like there’re very less English course in this 🙁 with that said please do recommend me somewhere else (Asia or not it’s fine!) you’d know or heard of people studying clinical psych in, thank you!

    • Hi MoonChan, it shouldn’t be too difficult to get accepted onto a DClinPsych in the UK as long as you meet the basic requirements (Upper Second Class Honours Degree in Psychology, proficiency in English and some relevant work experience). The challenge is funding the cost of your course and the living costs for the 3 year doctorate. This page explains the process for studying in Australia: https://psychology.org.au/training-and-careers/careers-and-studying-psychology/studying-psychology/study-pathways. The USA is generally the most expensive option. Canada has a good doctoral training program but I don’t know much about it. In terms of training via the English language medium in Asia, Singapore has training in Clinical Psychology but if you’re investing in postgraduate training overseas it might be more beneficial to go to a country which have very well-established psychological services.

  13. Hi Dr. Dan,

    I am currently applying for clinical psychology programs. I am planning on applying to UKM, but I was also thinking of applying to Korea University. I have read the requirements on applying to be a lisenced clinical psychology on the MSPC website and it stated that all programs have to be accredited by a regional accreditation body. I could not find information on whether or not Korea University or other korean universities is accredited to the body, which I assume is the Korea Psychology Association (KPA). I would just like to know if I could practice in Malaysia after completing my masters there? Thanks for your time!

    • Hi Tess, that’s a tough one. I don’t know that much about the Korean system. I don’t know anyone who has trained there as it would involve being fluent in Korean. You could try finding out what the Korean course involves; how much teaching, how many placement hours and how many supervision hours it provides. If that is more than or equivalent to the Malaysian courses there is a higher likelihood that it would be accepted by the Malaysian authorities if/when they instigate the regulatory system that is meant to be coming with the new Allied Health Professions Act. Once you have information on the Korean system you could also try contacting the MSCP directly.

  14. Hi Dr Dan, I am just graduated from bachelors of psychology in local uni. I am thinking to further my study whether in local uni (help university) or overseas(UK,USA,Australia,Canada,Ireland). However, i notice that MSCP doesn’t recognise the master holder from Uk and USA uni to become a clinical psychologist. So I am wondering does MSCP recognise the master holder from Australia,Canada and Ireland? Another concern for me is which pathway will be better for me to become a clinical psychologist in Malaysia with master holder (study in local uni, or pursue master program from the country that recognise by MSCP).

    Appreciate your answer and have a nice day!

    • Hi Jasmine, the MSCP will recognise a Masters of Clinical Psychology from Australia because in Australia studying a Masters does qualify you to be a Clinical Psychologist. In the UK, Canada and Ireland there are no Masters in Clinical Psychology courses that qualify you to work as a Clinical Psychologist. There are Masters Courses in Clinical Psychology but they are introduction courses that don’t teach you any clinical skills. In the UK, Canada, Ireland and the US you need to study at doctorate level to become a clinical psychologist.

      You should always check that the course that you are interested in would allow you to work as a Clinical Psychologist in that country once you graduate from the course. If it does not qualify to work in the country in which the course is based it is unlikely that the MSCP would recognise your qualification.

      The advantage of studying overseas in countries that have a longer established psychological profession is that the courses and placements often have more depth which improves the level of training. The disadvantage is that it is much more expensive!

  15. Hi Dr Dan. I just graduated from Bachelor (HONS) of Psychology in local uni and thinking to further my study in UK. I am abit confused with what I understood right now. At first I was thinking to take a Master in Australia as what you have mentioned above it will be recognised by MSCP right after graduate. And after some consultation with the local universities, I am being told that Master in Australia is not enough to certified as a clinical psychologist. And that leads to me exploring on the UK site. I knew that Master in UK is not enough to be qualified as a psychologist as it is just a conversion course. And not sure if I have mistaken, some of the universities in UK does offer Doctoral in Clinical Psychology with only undegraduate degree and a minumum 2:1 honours classification. And I am actually thinking whether I could straight away pursue the Doctoral in UK or not. My education agent that would helps me in the application then told me by studying a doctoral in UK, I must get a master of conversion first. But from the information that I got from the Clearing House for postgraduate website, the requirement stated an undergraduate degree is eligible to apply and some universities do require a minimum 1 year experience in clinical setting and some don’t. I am quite confused with all the information I got right now and not sure which pathway is best for me to go. Could you give me some advice and hope you would see this comment. Looking forward for you reply. Thank you!

    • Hi Sydnie, it’s correct that you can apply to the UK’s doctorate of clinical psychology with an undergraduate psychology degree. However, the UK courses require that your undergraduate degree is equivalent to a UK degree. The way that is determined is by applying for the Graduate Basis for Registration (GBR) with the British Psychological Society. You can try making an application to the BPS but if your degree does not give you GBR then you will need to do a Masters Conversion course that will give you GBR. There are a list of these courses on the British Psychological Society’s website.

      In regard to the Australian Masters of Clinical Psychology, I’m not sure why that wouldn’t allow you to be a certified Clinical Psychologist in Malaysia. If the qualification would allow you to work as a Clinical Psychologist in Australia then it would normally be accepted in Malaysia. The only issue I can think of is if the Australian qualification required less clinical hours than in Malaysia. If that was the case you’d just need to get some supervised hours in Malaysia.

  16. Hi, Dr Dan. Thank you so much for the information! It actually gives me a lot of insight as I’m currently struggling to decide on how to progress with my pathway to become a clinical psychologist as well. Can you perhaps guide me on this? Let’s say, if I studied master’s of clinical psychology in Malaysia, does it means that I can only practice it in Malaysia and not other country? Then if I were to work abroad as a clinical psychologist, does it means that I’ll need to study a doctorate program? Would the master’s program in Malaysia be sufficient for me to progress to PhD in other countries? I studied Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience in University of Nottingham Malaysia and graduated with a upper second class. Would I still be eligible to progress right into PhD in UK or other countries if I plan to develop abroad after a few years working in Malaysia?

    • Hi Pei Ee, if you have a Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience degree from the University of Nottingham’s Malaysia Campus then that gives you the British Psychological Society’s Graduate Basis for Registration (GBR). GBR is a requirement to to apply for the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (DClinPsy) in the UK (in the UK only a DClinPsy qualifies you to work as a Clinical Psychologist because a PhD is a research qualification – it doesn’t teach clinical skills). Countries such as the UK tend not to view the Masters of Clinical Psychology from Malaysia as equivalent to their own qualification. If you want to work as a clinical psychologist in the uk you would probably need to obtain a qualification that is accepted by the uk’s regulatory body (the HCPC). You could get a Masters in Malaysia and then apply to do a DClinPsy in the UK but if you have the money to study in the UK you could just apply directly to the DClinPsy courses without doing the Masters.

  17. Hi Dr Tan,

    Thank you so much for the insightful article. I am a psychology PhD holder (research) and want to become a clinical psychologist. If i did my master of clin psych in Malaysia (Help University), is it possible for me to register and practice as a clin psychologist in Australia in the future? I saw the registration process on APHRA, but it is not clear to me how certain a Malaysian qualification could be converted to an Australian license.

  18. Dear Dr Dan,

    Hope you are doing fine. I’m Carson and have completed Bachelor of Psychology at HELP University and graduated with first class honours. I would like to have your advices regarding the different postgraduate studies pathway in clinical psychology (US, UK, Malaysia)

    Although I would like to pursue PhD in clinical psychology in UK or US (both are more well established), I currently haven’t secured any funding to these program yet. And I am not sure if it would be better that I study master in clinical psychology at Malaysia first, then proceed with completing my PhD in US or UK in the future. Could I have your advices on this?

    And if one have completed master in clinical psychology in Malaysia UKM, in terms of duration, will it be shorter for them to complete phd studies in UK or US compared with students who only completed psychology degree? Also, any foreseeable challenges if I do PhD in US or UK after finishing my master in Malaysia?

    Also, just to check, is it impossible to practice in UK or US with only master in clinical psychology from Malaysia?

    Thank you so much in advance for solving my doubts.

    • Hi Carson,

      I don’t know of any sources of funding for doing clinical psychology training in the UK or the USA as an international applicant from Malaysia. The only small hope would be finding a funded Phd in Clinical Psychology in the USA (unlike other countries in the USA a PhD in Clinical Psychology allows you to work as a clinical psychologist as long as the PhD did give you specific training in how to work clinically as a clinical psychologist). You would be looking for an academic linked to a university which has a clinical psychology training programme who also has funding or would be willing to apply for funding for a PhD place for you. This usually only happens as part of a large funded research project. In reality this would be extremely difficult to do as you would have to demonstrate why they should hire from overseas rather than from their own population. It might be possible if the project was multinational or required a specific language ability.

      If you are relying on saving enough money to fund your own studies overseas you would probably need to work in a profession outside of psychology. Due to the difficulties of securing funding for these courses if your primary aim was to become a clinical psychologist I would probably look at doing the training locally.

      The USA and UK don’t consider the Malaysian Masters of Clinical Psychology as equivalent to their qualifications so I don’t think you can work in the UK or US with a Malaysian Masters. The UK doctorate in clinical psychology is a fixed length so you can’t shorten it even if you have prior experience. The US doctorate is more dependent on how long your research takes rather than your previous clinical experience.

      Sorry I can’t give you better news! If you find any routes that I’m unaware of please let others know in the comments here. I think there are lots of people who would like to study overseas but are limited by funding.

  19. Hi Dr. Dan,

    Thank you so much for your information and advices. It really helps me to weigh among different study options.

    Yes I do agreed that it is difficult to find funding for overseas studies. And yes I did research on some US universities, e.g. Northwestern, Vermont, and they offer an almost fully funded place for their successfully admitted PhD student. But as you mentioned, it might be very difficult to get into. And as their official website mentioned, they are not likely to admit any student into PhD program with only degree qualification.

    So now I think I am perfectly okay with completing my studies in Malaysia. But still thank you so much for your input!

  20. Hi Dr. Dan,

    I’m a student currently doing my bachelor’s degree in Paris. I plan on completing my studies overseas and am considering going back to Malaysia to practice after a few years or so. In France, a master’s degree suffices to get the title as ‘clinical psychologist’. Would this allow me to practice in Malaysia? Or would I need to obtain another degree from a malaysian uni?
    Could I have some advice on how to proceed?

    Thank you,
    Faith

    • Hi Faith, studying in France as a Malaysian sounds very interesting! I don’t know much about the French system but generally the rule in Malaysia is that if you are qualified to work as a clinical psychologist in a country which has a strong psychology system (like France) then you should be able to practice in Malaysia. By the time that you will be deciding where to do your post graduate study the government should have launched the allied health practitioners register. You could check with them whether they would accept the French qualification. At the moment the Malaysian Society of Clinical Psychology guides the requirements of the register so you could also check with them on how they would view a French qualification.

  21. Hi Dr. Dan. I am 16 and am considering to pursue my undergrad degree in Psychology. May I know what is the difference between BA vs BSc in Psychology if I would like to be a Clinical Psychologist in the future?

    • Hi Sylvia, good to hear you’re already interested in clinical psychology! It’s been a while since I’ve looked into the difference between courses with BA and BSc. At least in the past, there wasn’t a huge difference between the two. The BSc courses may have a few more science focussed subjects compared to the BA (Bachelor of Arts) but there’s a lot of overlap. Some Psychology BSc (Bachelor of Science) courses require that you have done more science subjects in order to get onto the course. So if you’re choosing your school subjects it may be a good idea to look at which university courses you are interested in to ensure that you’ve chosen subjects that will get you onto that university course. Some employers prefer a Bsc to a BA but as long as the degree is accredited by the relevant boards it shouldn’t make much of a difference to getting onto a clinical psychology training course. Once you have your clinical psychology qualification it won’t matter whether you did a BA or BSc. Clinical Psychology is a science and to become a clinical psychologist you’ll need to do a research project, understand basic statistics and be able to read journal articles etc. So learning and understanding science is a good idea but we also need to be able to write reports and express ourselves easily so there’s a place for the arts too!

  22. Dear Dr Seal,

    Thank you for the wonderful article. It has given me a lot to think about my ambition to become a clinical psychologist in Malaysia.

    If I may, I would like to ask for your advice, please.

    Currently, I am 25 years old and working at an admin position in an SME located in Petaling Jaya. My highest qualification is a foundations in arts. I tried to pursue a full-time degree in psychology but had to drop out mid-way due to finances (and a little bit due to my poor mental health, made worse by the lockdown periods during the pandemic).

    One of my plans is to find a job as an HR executive, work a part-time degree in psychology, and pursue a career in HR for a while in order to get to a financially stable position before pursuing a masters in clinical psychology.

    Would you consider this a wise move? What are your thoughts?

    Thank you for reading.

    • Hi Jo Ping, sorry to hear that you trouble with finances and lockdown during your psychology degree. I think it’s very helpful to have spent time doing another role before becoming a clinical psychologist. It makes it easier to understand others if you’ve had more life experience. Your plan sounds challenging but if you’d really like to be a clinical psychologist it’s well worth the effort (although it may not offer the best pay). If you completed some of the psychology degree you may be able to negotiate some extra credit with your future university so you don’t have to do the same subjects again. Good luck!

  23. Hi Dr Dan!
    I would like to ask if I plan to study for my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Japan in the future, with the aim of obtaining clinical psychologist qualifications recognized by Japan. I plan to work there for a while and then return.

    In this scenario, would I be able to apply to register for the MSCP when I return to Malaysia?

    Hope to hear from you, thank you.

    • Hi, I don’t know the answer to this one because I don’t know of anyone who has tried that route! I’m not sure whether you are Japanese or have the right to work in Japan. If you’ll be a foreigner in Japan then you’d need to find out if Japan allows foreigners on clinical psychology courses. Then you’d need to consider whether you were fluent enough in Japanese to be able to understand and express yourself to Japanese clients when emotions are high. This is because training courses usually have placements where you work with clients under the supervision of an experienced clincial psychologist. You’d also have to consider how Japanese clients might respond to you if you’re from a different culture (my understanding is that this can be a greater concern in Japan that in other countries). If you can manage all that I’d suggest looking at the MSCP requirements for clinical psychology training and then comparing them with the syllabus at the university in Japan that you are planning to attend to see if the Japanese course matches the MSCP requirements.

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