The Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (DClinPsy)
To become a Clinical Psychologist in the UK you must complete a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (DClinPsy) which takes 3 years. In the UK this is the only way you can become a qualified clinical psychologist.
In other countries, such as the USA, taking the right type of PhD will qualify you as a Clinical Psychologist. However, this is not the case in the UK. If you take a PhD, even if it is focussed on topics closely related to clinical psychology, it will not allow you to work as a clinical psychologist.
Similarly, in some countries such as Australia and Malaysia, it is possible to qualify as a clinical psychologist with a Masters Degree. This is not possible in the UK. Unfortunately, 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.
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. So we recommend that you do not take a Masters of Clinical Psychology in the UK.
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 need to hold (or hold the equivalent of) a British Psychological Society (BPS) accredited psychology degree with a degree classification of 2:1 or above. If your degree is not from the UK you can apply to the BPS to determine if your degree is equivalent to a UK degree. You can do that by applying for the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC). For more details you can check this page on the BPS website. If your degree is not equivalent you can take an accredited conversion course. These courses are listed on the BPS website here (select conversion course in the ‘Course Type’ Drop down box). For more information on the GBR you can view this page on the Clinical Psychology Clearing House Pages.
- 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.
Who accredits clinical psychology programmes 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.
Do I need to be licensed or registered to practice as a psychologist in the UK?
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.
Any UK student who completes the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (DClinPsy) course in the UK would automatically be eligible for registration with the HCPC and the BPS. Most overseas students taking a DClinPsy should also be automatically be eligible unless the university has decided to give overseas students different types of placement and training. It would be a good idea to check with the university that you would be eligible for HCPC registration.
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.
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?
The ‘Clearing House for Postgraduate Courses in Clinical Psychology’ lists which courses have self-funded places which are open to international students here.
British students cannot apply to most of the self-funded places. The table below was retrieved from the Clearing House website in June 2022. Please check the Clearing House website for the most up-to-date information.
|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 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 through the Clearing House to course 19 – X.||Overseas|
|Royal Holloway – University of London||Apply through the Clearing House to course 22 – 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/
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 will be helpful if you are planning to work in Malaysia.
If you obtain a qualification in the UK you will have the option of working in the UK. A new Graduate Visa is now being offered. It gives graduates from doctorate degrees permission to work in the UK for three years. As a skilled professional there is also a higher chance that you will be able to get permission to continue working in the UK after the three years. With some experience you may also be able to apply to live and work in other countries.
Any questions or comments about training as a Clinical Psychologist in the UK as an international applicant?
Did you find this article helpful? If you have any questions on training in the UK 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.