To become a Clinical Psychologist in the UK you must complete a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (DClinPsych) which takes 3 years.
Important Note: Don’t apply for a Masters in Clinical Psychology in the UK!
There are many Masters courses in the UK with titles such as Masters in Clinical Psychology or Masters in Child Psychology. These courses are introductory courses. You will not be able to practice as a Clinical Psychologist in Malaysia or any other country if you complete one of these courses.
In the UK a PhD, even if it is in a clinical area, will not qualify you as a Clinical Psychologist (however, in other countries you can get a PhD which will allow you to practice as a Clinical Psychologist).
I’ve met quite a few good people who have mistakenly taken one of these courses. It is understandable as the courses often state they are accredited by the BPS and they sound clinical. However, they are accredited for their academic content in the same way as the BPS accredits undergraduate degrees. They are not accredited as clinical training courses.
The COVID-19 pandemic
In my opinion it would be advisable to wait until the COVID-19 pandemic is better under control before travelling overseas to study Clinical Psychology. The pandemic has restricted many of the learning opportunities that would otherwise be available to international students.
Until recently the UK’s National Health Service (the NHS) had paid for all the available doctoral training places. So there were no places available to foreign students. However, British Universities are opening a small number of training places to international students. The entry requirements for international students vary between universities. But in general they will require that you:
- Obtain a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Candidates often need to hold a British Psychological Society (BPS) accredited psychology degree with a degree classification of 2:1 or above. If your bachelors is not accredited, you can obtain Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) by sitting the BPS’ exam, taking an accredited conversion course or taking an accredited post-graduate course For more information you can view this page on the Clinical Psychology Clearing House Pages or view the BPS website for more information.
- If your first language is not English, you will need to demonstrate a good level of proficiency in both written and spoken English.
- Have some experience of the settings and people that Clinical Psychologists may work with.
Do I need to be licensed or registered to practice as a psychologist in the UK?
Yes. In the UK the title of ‘Clinical Psychologist’ is protected by law. You must be registered by the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) to use it.
The most common way of obtaining this is by completing the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (DClinPsych). However, you may not automatically be eligible for this as an international student – it is advisable to check with the course provider.
If you are a registered clinical psychologist in another country you can apply to the HCPC to see if your qualifications are recognised in the UK.
Who accredits psychologists in the UK?
Universities offering doctorate programmes in Clinical Psychology have Health & Care Professional Council approval, and British Psychological Society accreditation:
- HCPC Approval: Each programme is required to meet the standards of education and training required by the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC). HCPC is the statutory regulator for practitioner psychologists in the UK.
- BPS Accreditation: Each programme is required to obtain accreditation by the British Psychological Society (BPS). Graduates of the programme are able to apply for Chartered Membership and full membership of the Division of Clinical Psychology providing they also have the Graduate Basis for Registration.
If I train as a Clinical Psychologist in the UK 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 UK qualification will be recognised. The British Clinical Psychology qualification 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?
The fee for a 3 year Clinical Psychology course in the UK ranges between £20,000 and £35,000 per year. You will also need to be able to afford to live in the UK. The actual cost of living depends on the region in which you live. Universities based in London estimate that you will need £1,000 to £1,200 per month for living costs.
More rural Universities estimate that you will need £800 per month but you may need to access to a car to be able to get to your placements. Further estimates of living costs can be found on the Numbeo website.
It is not possible to work part-time to cover costs in the UK because the course itself is very demanding. Given the high costs involved the courses generally expect that you will have secured funding in your home country perhaps via your government or another funding organisation.
What are the VISA Requirements for the UK?
International students must obtain a Tier-4 student visa to study in the UK. For more information on visa requirements, please visit www.gov.uk/tier-4-general-visa.
Which Universities currently offer places for international students to study clinical psychology?
There are self-funded places available at the course centres listed below. Most of these courses require applicants to have overseas fees status (see the Entry Requirements of the UK‘s Clearing House) if you need more information about fees status.
|Course centre||How to apply||Fees status required|
|University of Birmingham||Apply directly to the university.||Overseas|
|University of East Anglia||Apply through the Clearing House to course 05 – X.||Overseas|
|University of Essex||Apply through the Clearing House to course 08 – X.||Any fees status|
|University of Exeter||Apply through the Clearing House to course 09 – X.||Overseas|
|University of Hertfordshire||Apply through the Clearing House to course 11 – X|
or directly to the university.
|Any fees status|
|Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience – King’s College London||Apply directly to the university.||Overseas|
|University of Manchester||Apply through the Clearing House to course 17 – X.||Overseas|
|Newcastle University||Apply through the Clearing House to course 18 – X.||Overseas|
|North Thames – University College London||Apply directly to the university.||Overseas|
|Royal Holloway – University of London||Apply through the Clearing House to course 22 – X.||Overseas|
|Salomons – Canterbury Christ Church University||Apply directly to the university.||Any fees status|
|University of Sheffield||Apply through the Clearing House to course 24 – X.||Overseas|
UK trainee clinical psychologists are employed by the UK’s National Health Service. So to apply for an NHS place you need to have the right to work in the UK without restriction. A student visa is not enough for an NHS place on clinical psychology training.
We are not qualified to tell you whether you have the right to work in the UK or not. If you are unsure of your status please:
- check the UK Visas and Immigration website or
- check the information provided by your local British Embassy
What’s it like to study Clinical Psychology in the UK as an international student?
We recommend this website which was written by a group of international trainees who studied or are currently studying Clinical Psychology in the UK. They describe their experiences and give advice about the process of applying to clinical psychology training in the UK.
The website’s URL is: https://www.dclinpsy-international.co.uk/
Any questions or comments about training as a Clinical Psychologist in the UK as an international applicant?
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