How to train to be a Clinical Psychologist in New Zealand as an International Applicant

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We at Share Resolve don’t have any direct experience of training in New Zealand so the information below is collated from information we have found on the New Zealand Psychology Society’s website, the Psychologist’s Board (regulator), the New Zealand College for Clinical Psychologists and university websites.

We’ve tried to link to the sources of information that we have found so you can check the details for yourself and so you know where to look for updates. Please let us know if there are inaccuracies or if we have missed any relevant information.

New Zealand has a shortage of Clinical Psychologists. This is probably because there is a lack of places on Clinical Psychology training programmes. We think this is why some clinical psychology training courses are not open to international students.

We could not find a clinical psychology programme that was actively inviting applications from overseas. So we don’t know whether it is possible for international applicants to train in New Zealand.

Qualifying as a Clinical Psychologist in New Zealand

To qualify as a registered Clinical Psychologist in New Zealand it is necessary to have at least a Master’s degree in Psychology and a Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Psychology.

If you apply for a Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Psychology the university will require that you study a masters or a PhD in a related subject alongside the diploma.

The Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Psychology is usually a three-year programme. The Diploma is comprised of academic coursework and supervised clinical practice. There is a gradual transition from an emphasis on didactic teaching and observation in the first year, to mainly supervised clinical experience (internships) in the third year. In all years, substantial independent work is required, such as accessing and reading journal articles and writing clinical reports and case studies. The first two years of the programme are often taken concurrently with the Masters or PhD.

The University of Auckland and Massey University offer a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology rather than the Postgraduate Diploma but neither are open to international students.

The Psychologist’s Board of New Zealand lists the training courses that it accredits on it’s website. The available clinical psychology training courses are:

To be eligible to register as a clinical psychologist the regulator, the Psychologists Board, requires approved practicum or internship involving 1,500 hours of supervised practice.

The information above was correct as of July 2022. It is advisable to check with each university course as to their availability. Given the shortage of clinical psychologists in New Zealand the courses may close entry to international students.

Do I need to be licensed or registered to practice as a psychologist in New Zealand?

Only practitioners who are currently registered by the New Zealand Psychologist’s Board can lawfully use the title ’Psychologist’ or any other names, words, titles, initials, abbreviations, or descriptions stating or implying that they are a Psychologist.

Also, no one can claim to be practising psychology as a psychologist or say or do anything that would suggest that they practise psychology unless they are registered by the Psychologists Board and hold a current practising certificate.

If I train as a Clinical Psychologist in New Zealand will I be able to practice in my home country?

You should check with the authorities or potential employers in your home country to determine whether a qualification from New Zealand will be recognised. The qualification from New Zealand is usually accepted internationally but some countries, for example the USA, may require that you take extra examinations before you can work.

How much will it cost?

We could only find one clinical psychology course, the University of Canterbury’s Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Psychology, that gave the fees for international students. Their fees were 88,000 New Zealand Dollars per year (approximately 54,000 USD). You will also need to be able to afford to live in the New Zealand. The actual cost of living depends on the region in which you live but New Zealand is known for a relatively high cost of living.

It is unlikely that you will be able to work part-time to cover costs because the course itself is very demanding.

Any questions or comments about training as a Clinical Psychologist in New Zealand as an international applicant?

Did you find this article helpful? If you have any questions on training in New Zealand as a Clinical Psychologist please write them in the comments section at the bottom of this page. We will reply to you as soon as possible.

We would also be happy to receive any comments or opinions you may have on this article.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. I have 500 hrs of supervised practice and a master in Psychology. I have been working as a Counsellor for 1 year in Nz with external and internal supervisor. Can I use my hours at work to complete 1500 in supervised practice? Thanks

    • Hi Karina, according to the New Zealand Psychology Board’s website (they are the organisation that would make the decision on whether you can be registered as a clinical psychologist in New Zealand) they say “The Board reminds applicants that they must provide conclusive, clear, and reliable evidence that they have successfully completed a structured, supervised, and formally evaluated professional practice programme of at least 1500 hours as part of their qualification that has been approved by the New Zealand Psychologists Board or by an equivalent competent registering authority for psychologists.” So I think that means that you can’t use your work hours. However, I’d suggest checking in with the Board itself as they should be able to give better direction (I’ve never lived or worked in New Zealand so I can only go by their website). The boards website is https://psychologistsboard.org.nz/looking-to-register/registration-information/

  2. I studied Psychology (Bachelors and Masters) in Germany and I am currently doing a 5 year formation to become a psychological psychotherapist (1800 hours of supervised clinical hours, at least 600 hours of theoretical classes, and additional 600 hours at an outpatient clinic). Do you have any information if this degree qualifies to work as a psychologist in New Zealand / to be approved by the board?

    Thank you in advance
    Anna

    • Hi Anna, that sounds like a good comprehensive training course. I don’t know enough about qualifications in Germany and New Zealand to know whether they would be considered equivalent. I think it’s unlikely that the New Zealand board would approve you as a clinical psychologist unless you had a Masters or Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. Clinical Psychology training programs usually have some components that you would not get in training course to be a psychotherapist (for example, neuropsychological assessment). However, the New Zealand board also accredits ‘Counselling Psychologists’ which your qualification might match. I’d advise getting in touch with the board directly so they can evaluate your qualification.

  3. I have completed my Master’s in Psychology (M.Sc Psychology) from India. How can I become a clinical psychology in New Zealand? What are the study pathways which are available to me as an International student? As most of the universities do not offer doctorate course to international students? Will doing a diploma in clinical psychology fulfill the requirement of practicing as a clinical psychologist in New Zealand

    • Hi Sajal, as mentioned in the article above. If you do the diploma in clinical psychology at one of the universities that accepts international applicants then you also take a masters or PhD alongside it in another related subject. That would make you eligible to be a clinical psychologist in New Zealand. However, I understand there’s a lot of competition for places on the course so it may be difficult to get on the training course.

  4. Hi, I have completed my B.A (Hons) in Psychology from UCSI University Malaysia. I was looking to apply for a masters degree in Clinical Psychology in New Zealand. However, it seems that the program is not available to international students. In this case how should I proceed or which degree should I apply to, because my goal is to become a registered clinical psychologist and work in New Zealand.

    • Hi Wamia, it’s possible that courses have closed off entry to overseas students since I wrote this article. I’ve looked online and some of the courses still seem to be open to international students but I’d suggest contacting them and asking directly. There is a significant shortage of clinical psychologists in New Zealand so they may be focussing on training locals to be clinical psychologists. Given that skills shortage you might be able to get into New Zealand if you trained and qualified as a clinical psychologist in a country that New Zealand would regard highly (such as Australia, the US or the UK). However, it’s always difficult to predict immigration policy as governments can change quickly.

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