How to become a Clinical Psychologist in Malaysia

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Malaysian flags at the 57th National Day celebrations at Independence Square in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia,

To become a Clinical Psychologist in Malaysia you need to:

  1. Obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology.
  2. Obtain a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology.

Until recently there were only two clinical psychology training courses based in Malaysia. This means it can be difficult to gain a place on one of the courses.

Some Clinical Psychologists in Malaysia have trained overseas. If you study overseas you may need to study a doctorate rather than a Masters degree. For more information about studying overseas please read my page on ‘How to become a Clinical Psychologist’. You will also find information about some of the courses available to international students on this website. The biggest challenge with training overseas is paying the high tuition fees. This means most Malaysians train in local universities.

Do I need to be registered to become a Clinical Psychologist in Malaysia?

A new law, the Allied Health Professions Act, 2016 made it illegal for someone to call themselves a ‘Clinical Psychologist’ unless they are registered. The law has not yet been enforced because the government needs time to decide how to run the register. It’s a difficult task because the register needs to cover many different professions. The list of professions ranges from Speech and Language Therapists to Nutritionists. We don’t know when the register will be ready.

Who accredits psychologists in Malaysia?

Although the register is not ready, employers and clients need to know that you are fully qualified. The Malaysian Society of Clinical Psychology (MSCP) is a professional society that accredits Clinical Psychology courses and Clinical Psychologists. Becoming a full member of the MSCP helps show that you are fully qualified. You can find out more about them on their website www.malaysiaclinicalpsychology.com/ or Facebook page.

Can I train to be a Clinical Psychologist in Malaysia if I am not Malaysian?

You should check with the authorities or potential employers in your home country to find out whether a Malaysian qualification will be recognised.

Which Universities currently offer places for students to study clinical psychology?

To view Clinical Psychology Courses in Malaysia click here.

61 COMMENTS

  1. Dear Dr. Can I ask if the BACHELOR OF SCIENCE (HONS) IN PSYCHOLOGY from International University Malaya Wales will be recognized if I intend to pursue a master’s in Clinical Psychology?

    • I think the Malaysian Clinical Psychology courses would probably accept a degree from the International University of Malaya Wales. You could check by contacting the courses and asking them for confirmation. If you were applying to courses in the UK you would need the UK’s Graduate Basis for Registration (GBR). I’m not sure if that course gives you it automatically.

  2. Dear Dr, May I ask you if I had Bachelor of Teaching Guidance and Counseling from Institut Pendidikan Guru (IPG) in Malaysia, do Australian Universities will recognize my degree if I intend to pursue a master’s in Clinical Psychology? And, can I pursue a master’s in Clinical Psychology if I’m not from a pure psychology students?

    • I’m not entirely sure so it would be best to check with the individual Australian universities. However, I think the universities will most likely require you to have done a Psychology degree or equivalent.

  3. Dear Dr.
    I need your guidance. My intention is to go for PhD in psychology. I have MS degree is clinical paychology but having difficulties in getting admission due to lack of publications. Currently I have been offered a place in research mode master in Universiti Sains Malaysia (lifestyle science) , my question is PhD from Malaysia having equal standard as most of developed countries offering? And being expat what are scopes of psychologist in Malaysia?

    • Hi, the situation for PhDs is a bit complex. In the USA you can do a PhD programme that allows you to become a practicing Clinical Psychologist. In many other countries, including the UK and Malaysia, a PhD only qualifies you for research. It does not allow you to work with clients as a Clinical Psychologist. If you already have a Masters in Clinical Psychology then you can already work as a Clinical Psychologist. If you further your studies by taking a PhD in Malaysia you would not be expanding your clinical skills. Instead you would be dedicating your time entirely to research. It’s important that you are genuinely interested in doing lots of research because a PhD requires a huge investment of time and effort in research. If you want your career to be focused on research then it probably does matter where you do your PhD. Academic employers will end to look at who your supervisor was and who you got to know during your PhD.

  4. Hello Dr, i would like to ask if I can become a clinical psychologist if i have a bachelor’s degree in Counselling? Can I pursue clinical psychology for my master’s?

    • Most university courses require a psychology degree in order to study clinical psychology. However, you could always try contacting the course that you were interested in to check if they would accept a counselling degree.

  5. Hi Dan!

    Am looking to do Masters in Psych in Malaysia. Do you have any recommendations on which are good unis and courses?

    • To become a clinical psychologist you need to do a psychology degree or a conversion course to turn your first degree into a psychology degree. If you are already a medical doctor then it might be better for you to train as a psychiatrist. Once you have become a psychiatrist you could do extra training in talking therapies. It would be great to have more psychiatrists trained in talking therapies!

  6. Hello doctor, I am interested in doing psychology degree and further my master in clinical psychology. For my degree, do I need any specific course in bachelor of psychology?
    Can you suggest the university that offer that degree? Thanks.

  7. Hi just to get my understanding right after finisn BA in psychology , we can pursue to master clinical psychology then can become a clinical psychologist. Am I right

    • You can certainly try – but the clinical psychology courses often prefer that you have done some relevant work experience before you apply. That should make it easier to get accepted onto the courses and it’s useful to have had such experience before you start the course.

    • Hi Wani, interesting question. I was always interested by the way people think and what motivates them. However, I explored other professions before I decided psychology was definitely for me. When I was 16 I was interested in working in the creative side of advertising. When I graduated I tried working as a management consultant. Fortunately, clinical psychology is a profession that really benefits from having a range of experience. So if you’re not sure what you want to do I’d encourage trying some other options. You can always come back to psychology (although you will need a psychology degree to be able to do clinical psychology courses).

  8. Hi Dr Dan. I wonder if the Masters of Clinical Psychology and Doctorate of Clinical Psychology offered by USM is recognized by the MSCP?

    • There are a few new courses starting up in Malaysia. I haven’t written them up on my site because some have started and then shut down a year or two later. You can email the MSCP to ask if the USM course is recognised by them (I’m not sure)

  9. Greetings dr,

    I am keen to make a career in clinical psychology however my undergrad and masters is in law and my PhD is in sociology. I have been in the academic for the past 25 years and have developed a keen interested in people and their behaviours and how they think. I understand that it’s possible route that I could undertake a post grad diploma in psychology. May I confirm this and once I have completed this may I then apply for a Masters to any other university offering an MSC in CP ?
    Many thanks
    Best regards
    Nika

  10. Hi Dr, I did Bach Industrial Psychology and now continuing my Masters in Psychological Medicine (Research), am i capable enough to be a psychologist ?

    • Research psychologists are still psychologists so if you continue with research then you could still call yourself a (research) psychologist. However, if you’re asking whether you can be a practicing psychologist then you’d need a post graduate qualification such as a Masters in Clinical Psychology. I think you should be eligible to apply for the courses in Malaysia.

  11. Hi doctor! im a malaysian student who plans to study in the uk from undergrad up till doctorate and train to become a clinical psychologist, what advice can you give me? i have heard that its almost impossible for foreign students to get jobs in the uk after graduating.. sshould i come back here to work right after or should i stay in the uk?

    • It’s really difficult to say what might happen in the UK in the near future. Brexit and the UK’s economic and political issues mean that everything is very unpredictable. It’s extremely difficult to get a working visa in the UK because the current government is strongly against immigration. However, it will take you at least 6 years to graduate as a Clinical Psychologist so things may have changed by then. Sorry I can’t give a more definitive answer -I’m not sure anyone knows what is going to happen in the UK at the moment!

  12. Hi Dr,
    I have completed my Bachelors in Psychology and I am intending to pursue my Masters in Clinical Psychology in India. How do I know if the course offered is “accredited” in Malaysia? For me to come back and work in Malaysia? Is there any board which I can refer to?

    • I don’t think any of the courses in India will be officially ‘accredited’ in Malaysia. You’d probably need to get the course assessed on an individual basis. You can speak to the Malaysian Society of Clinical Psychology (MSCP: http://malaysiaclinicalpsychology.com/) as they are likely to be the regulating body in the future (although this is not yet fully confirmed).

  13. Hello!

    First off, thank you for your work in compiling this and clarifying in this comment section! It’s been really informative 🙂

    I’ve been looking at clinical programs in the Netherlands (particularly a clinical and health psych research MSC program) which allows me to take electives from the one year masters in clin psych program there.

    There are many practice and role playing sessions and the course mentions that it is a stepping stone to a PhD programme but also good if I’d like to scientist-practitioner – although it’s not entirely clear to me if the PhD is necessary for that :/

    It does however mention that it will prepare me for basic/junior entry level jobs – though I’m not sure what those would mean…

    Thus, I can’t tell if doing this course would allow me to practice in Malaysia. I’ve checked the MSCP website but it doesn’t seem to cover much beyond UK and while it mentions that there will be a list of international training programmes for Clin Psych on the website, I can’t seem to find it.- If you could direct me to that, it would be really, really great! Thank you 🙂

    Any clarification on this would be deeply appreciated and I hope that wasn’t too messy!

    Sorry for any inconveniences and thank you in advance!! 🙂

    • Thanks, I’m glad you like the site! I think the Dutch system works a little differently. Most systems tend to have the theory and practice linked together. So, for example, in the UK you may have two days a week at university learning theory and then you spend the remaining three days of that week working at a clinical placement where your work is supervised by an experienced clinician. In the Netherlands you do all the theory first and receive a Masters in Clinical Psychology. However, this does not allow you to work as a clinician. To apply for registration as a Clinical Psychologist you must find a supervisor to get you enough supervised hours. The challenge is that you could pay for the academic part of the course but it isn’t worth much unless you can find someone to supervise you. This is my understanding of the Dutch system having spoken to people who have been through the course and then got stuck with the supervision element. However, I may be missing some key information – so do double check it in case I’ve missed something!

      • Thanks so much for your input!! That was really helpful!

        Getting stuck with the supervision part sounds awful! I was speaking about that with my friends as well and thought about trying to find supervision back in Malaysia but couldn’t come up with reasons why someone would supervise a graduate from overseas LOL

        Thank you anyway!! 🙂

  14. I am a swimming teacher and a piano teacher. I am interested to understand children well to build their future. I would like to study child psychology. I don’t have any knowledge in this field, may I know how do I start? Which college offer child psychology. I know UCSI offers Master in Child Psychology. But I will need to do diploma first, before doing Master.

    • Hi Kent, it’s good to hear that you are looking to expand your knowledge. I don’t know much about the undergraduate courses in Malaysia so I’ll comment based on courses generally. Psychology undergraduate degrees are generally more theoretical and abstract (unless the university is specifically aiming at making the psychology course more practical). That means it can be harder to get knowledge that you can easily apply when teaching. You might find it better to look at teaching diplomas, degrees or short courses from education departments in universities. Those courses often include psychology but they are more likely to tell you how to put that knowledge into practice.

  15. Sir,i got offer from UMS(UNIVERSITY MALAYSIA SABAH) to study for degree in children and family psychology.after that can i continue doing master in clinical psychology to become a clinical psychologist.By the way i from Sabah and i don”t really know about psychology field in malaysia and i personally feel that to find job regarding psychology is really difficult in malaysia.

    • The Clinical Psychology training courses require that you do a psychology degree. I don’t know whether the UMS course on Children and Family Psychology has all the modules that the training courses are looking for. You could try contacting the clinical psychology training courses admissions teams and asking them whether the course would meet their requirements.

  16. Hi Dr. Dan.

    First of all, thank you for the above information. I’m glad I came across your website as it certainly made me more aware of what is the current status of psychology academically in Malaysia, prior pursuing career in psychology.

    Currently, I am working as a Quantity Surveyor so clearly I do not possess a degree in Psychology but with two degrees: one in Quantity Surveying and the latter in Construction Economics & Management.

    However, after years of working in the construction industry I realized that I would like to pursue in studying psychology. I have always been curious to find out why people act or react the way they do!

    I have taken a big turn by enrolling myself for a masters in psychology (conversion) via distance learning with a UK uni. The course is accredited by BPS but I am not too sure if that is necessary in Malaysia?

    But I was wondering if after graduated, what would be the next step for me to pursue my career change to becoming a psychologist?

    I would appreciate if you could assist me in finding my way in knowing how it is possible to do so.

    Thanks so much and apologies for this very lengthy comment! I just got too carried away to have been finally found a spot where I can direct my uncertainties! ?

    • Hi Najiha, I’m glad you liked the website. I think it’s a positive thing to have tried a different career before going into psychology or counselling – it gives you life experience and a different perspective that clients often appreciate. Many of the UK courses encourage this. On my clinical psychology training course we had trainees who had previously been police officers, accountants, actors and healthcare administrators (some were well into their forties when they started). The UK courses would definitely require you had a conversion course. The Malaysian clinical psychology training courses require that you have a psychology degree. I don’t know what their policy is towards conversion Masters but I hope they would be open to them. The undergraduate psychology degree doesn’t teach you anything that you can use practically (there’s rarely any teaching on therapy etc) but gives you really important background knowledge that helps you understand the therapeutic approaches that you will use in the future. Clinical Psychology programmes usually want you to have some experience of working with the sort of clients you might work with in the future. So that might be your next step once you’ve done the conversion course. Perhaps you could look into Befrienders or the Malaysian Mental Health Association (I don’t know the work of those organisations personally but I know others have worked there). If Clinical Psychology doesn’t work out for some reason, the other option open to you in Malaysia is to look into a good counselling course. This one at Monash (https://www.monash.edu.my/study/postgraduate-and-research/medicine-health-sciences/master-of-professional-counselling) gives you a counselling accreditation from Australia and should make you eligible to apply for accreditation in Malaysia. I’ve supervised a few of their trainees at the NGO I work at and they seem to be getting good teaching in therapeutic approaches.

      • Hi Dr. Dan,

        Thank you for your reply. Yes, sadly I could not find anywhere on the website about conversion course acceptance in Malaysia.

        And I also went through some information online where it stated that in order to practise, or to become a psychologist I have to take a doctorate course then only I will be able to practise in Malaysia.

        Does that means after completing conversion course, I need to do some practical trainings then enrol myself on a doctorate program?

        Yes, when looking into psychology: I’ve always been interested to pursue into Clinical Psychology. I have always thought that this would be my dream career. But when I was young and finished high school, there was not really options out there to study psychology from Malaysian uni. This was sometimes in 1998 when I finished high school. ?

        I am very glad when you pointed out that you had people trained with you who changed courses in their 40s. Because I am 38 this year and wonder if my action to jump into a different path is too late and worthless.

        Thanks Dr. Dan. And apologies for the asking too many questions but I really need to know what to do and if there is possibility to really doing it now.

        Thanks again and have a great weekend.

        • Hi Najiha, if you choose to study in the UK the only option is to take a doctorate in clinical psychology (DClinPsych). If you study in Malaysia you can qualify with a Masters in Clinical Psychology (usually a 2year programme). You can gain experience with relevant clients groups whilst you study. Keep in mind that it can be difficult to earn good money as a clinical psychologist – you might be taking quite a paycut from your current career. Good luck!

          • Hi, i am a medical doctor and i have MBBS. Im interested in becoming a clinical psychologist. Whats the next step? Thanks

          • HI Adibah, If you wanted to become a clinical psychologist you’d need to get a psychology degree and then get post graduate qualification in clinical psychology. That would be a long procedure so you might want to consider some other options. You could qualify as a psychiatrist and then do some training courses to develop your skills in talking therapies. It would be great to have more psychiatrists in Malaysia who are able to offer medication and talking therapies. You could also choose to do the Masters in Professional Counselling at Monash University in Malaysia. The trainees there study cognitive behavioural therapy to a similar level to clinical psychology trainees in Malaysia.

  17. Hello dr. I have a BSC in psychology with health psychology from the UK (Bangor University). I was just wondering if I could qualify for any of the masters in clinical psychology which are accredited by BPS that you know. I hope to train as a clinical psychologist in Malaysia. Thank you dr:)

    • Hi Shini, there are no Masters in Clinical Psychology in the UK that qualify you to work clinically. There are some introductory courses that are accredited by the BPS but they are accredited as introductory academic courses. They won’t let you work clinically in the UK or Malaysia. You need to do a Doctorate of Clinical Psychology in the UK in order to be qualified. You can do a Masters of Clinical Psychology and be qualified if you study in Malaysia.

  18. Hi Dr. Dan Seal,

    I’m now currently studying A levels. I’m not sure what to do next if I want to become a clinical psychology. If I take masters in UK or in US, does it mean I can work in Malaysia as a clinical psychologist? I’m also actually having a hard time to decide what I really want to study in the future. Please give me some pointers.

    • It’s good that you’re already planning for your future. At this stage you don’t have to make any firm decisions on where you should do a masters or doctorate. However, if you do want to be a clinical psychologist you will need to take psychology at undergraduate level. Once you have your degree then you will proably need a to get some work experience before deciding on your post-graduate training. If you stay in Malaysia you will need to do a Masters in Clinical Psychology. If you go to the US or UK you will need to get a doctorate in clinical psychology to be qualified to work as a clinical psychologist in Malaysia. If you go to Australia then you can do a Masters qualification that will allow you to work as a clinical psychologist.

      • I have a undergraduate degree in psychology with clinical and health psychology from the UK. I have also have a masters degree locally from malaysia in educational psychology. If I happen to go to Australia to further my studies on a masters qualification, what masters should i pursue in order to be a clinical psychologist? Can i practice with my present qualification in Australia? Thank you Dr Dan. have a good day.

  19. Hi, I have Bachelor Degree in Industrial Psychology, and now continuing my Master’s in Psychological Medicine ( Research) , however i wanted to be a Clinical Psychologist. Do i need to do another Master’s in Clinical Psychology or can continue PhD in Clinical Psychology ?

    • Hi Suga, you’ll need a qualification that trains you to be a clinician. In Malaysia that’s usually a Masters of Clinical Psychology. The research masters is a good thing to have but it doesn’t reduce the time you need to train to be a clinical psychologist.

  20. Greetings Dr Dan,

    I am wondering if this is possible. I graduated with a Distinction in my Bachelors of Psychology. Is it possible for me to move into a PsyD straight ? Malaysia allows for one to skip their Masters and move straight to their Phd if the have earned a Distinction. Does this also extend to PsyD?

    • Hi Joanne, in most countries it is not necessary to do a Masters before doing a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. In Malaysia completing a Masters in Clinical Psychology is all you need to become a qualified Clinical Psychologist. So you could apply with the academic qualifications that you have but you’re likely to need some work experience.

  21. Hello Dr. Dan Seal,

    Firstly, thank you for the insightful and practical perspectives you have given in the comments, I truly benefited a lot from that, as before I discovered your articles I did not know what are the questions I want to ask. And furthermore I would like to apologize for the long comment, because I could really use some valuable input of yours.

    I’m currently a second year BA (Hons) Psych student, and I’m having a hard time on deciding on my postgraduate path. I’m interested in child psychology as I think that due to changes in parenting trends, technology exposure etcetera, children in this generation would need more attention and care on their emotional development, however, I do not see myself as someone who have the capacity to deal with children in long term thus I explored my interests in other psychology fields, particularly counselling and clinical psychology. I have some experiences in research (the academic journal is not published yet) and interned at a local NGO for a few months last year.

    As I wish to work in Malaysia after I obtain my Masters, I am currently going back and forth between a few options: If I wish to pursue Clinical Psych, I could go on with HELP University’s Flinders Joint Degree, then directly apply for Masters or PhD in Clinical Psychology at Australian universities; or continue with my current degree then do my Masters locally. But for counselling path I am not too sure, as there are quite a variety of courses available in Malaysia. I also thought of proceeding with my current degree then work for a few years after I graduate before applying for my postgraduate studies but my parents are not too fond of the idea.

    May I know which pathway would you recommend? Other than that, I would also like to ask what are some of the personal qualities that you think a good clinical psychologist/counsellor should have, and if you don’t mind, what are your perspective on the future prospects of both professions in Malaysia.

    • HI Leia, sorry for the slow reply. I think it got lost in my messages at the beginning of the MCO lockdown period. I’m glad you found my articles helpful. In Malaysia you train as a general Clinical Psychologist which qualifies you to work with both children and adults. You could always choose to specialise in children or adults at a later date if your interests change. The pathways you mention make sense. You could stay in Malaysia all the way through. You could also do your undergraduate here or in Australia and then do post graduate training in clinical psychology in Australia before coming back to Malaysia. The Masters in Professional Counselling at Monash University is quite a good course and gives you a qualification that’s valid in Australia. There’s no rush to train as a clinical psychologist or counsellor. Most people appreciate it when their therapist has some work experience in other areas.

  22. Can a certified clinical psychologist from any foreign country work in Malaysia without obtaining local certification? Also, is it legal for a certified clinical psychologist from foreign country to advice Malaysian patients over online website or App?

    • Hi Kamaruz, there is a law, the Allied Health Professions Act 2016, that made it illegal for someone to call themselves a ‘Clinical Psychologist’ unless they are registered. However, the law has not yet been enforced because the government needs time to decide how to run the register. We don’t know when the register will be ready or when the law will be enforced. That means there is no law blocking anyone from claiming to be a clinical psychologist in Malaysia. There is also no law blocking foreign psychologists based overseas advising Malaysian clients. At the moment the public needs to check if the psychologist is licensed for themselves. You can go to MSCP.my to check the Malaysian Society of Clinical Psychologists register.

  23. Hi Dr. Dan,

    I am planning to start my Bsc Psychology in the UK. I would like to understand about what is the different of BPS and Malaysia Psychological Association (PSIMA) membership?

    Do I need to become a full member before I can apply a job.

    If I hold BPS membership, do I still need to apply for PSIMA membership if I would like to be a lecturer back in Malaysia as my career?

    • Hi Jay, PSIMA is a relatively new organisation so I’m not sure what their policies are. However, if you needed PSIMA membership when you returned from the UK it should be easy enough to apply if you already have a BPS accredited Psychology degree. You could always check with them directly if you want to be fully prepared.

  24. Hi Doc,
    I am from India, had my under-graduation in psychology (B.sc Psychology) and Post Graduate diploma in Clinical Social Work and counselling practice. Is it possible for me to work in Malaysia as a counsellor or a social worker? Or any jobs related to mental health ?

    • Hi Deepthi, Malaysia discourages companies from employing foreigners and it’s hard to get a working visa. I think it would be very difficult to find a job because you’ll be competing against local Malaysians.

  25. Dear Dr Dan,

    I have a undergraduate (BSoSC of Psychology) degree and would like to study to become a qualified clinical psychologist.

    1. What are your opinions that ones should further their studies in government university or private university is better?

    2. And what top or best university do you recommend to study a clinical psychology degree in Malaysia?

    3. If let say I would like to work in Singapore, does there recognize Malaysia degree qualifiacation?

    4. Also what university do you recommend If I would like to further my studies to Doctorate of Clinical Psychology.

    5. What is the difference that ones should study a Master degree or Doctorate degree?

    • Hi Calvin,
      There are lots of new clinical psychology courses starting up in Malaysia. This is likely to cause some problems as there won’t be enough supervisors (experienced clinical psychologists) to train trainees on work placements. Older courses such as HELP or UKM tend to have better connections and placements. Most of the courses in Malaysia are Masters. I think some of the newer courses are offering doctorates but that doesn’t necessarily mean the training is superior to that offered by the masters courses. I’m not sure whether Singapore recognises any or all of the clinical psychology qualifications from Malaysia.

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