Masters in Psychology

psyschology masters courses abroad

What do I need to know about psychology masters courses?

First of all, it is important to acknowledge that psychology is a respected career, and you will need a psychology masters degree to join the vast majority of the ranks of this profession.

In fact, psychology is one of the most popular subjects to study at undergraduate level. Indeed, a BA or BSc in Psychology is all that you need for many entry-level jobs, such as lab assistant, parole officers, mental health case managers and recreation specialists. It also gives you a competitive edge when applying for jobs in various allied fields like social sciences, economics, education and criminology. However, it does not provide you the qualifications needed to be a licensed or certified psychologist.

A career as a psychologist requires a PhD in Psychology. Therefore, pursuing a Masters in Psychology means one step further to this rewarding career. Even if you don’t end up being a psychologist, you could follow various alternative careers paths after taking a psychology masters course.

The good news is there are many types of psychology masters courses, which correspond to different fields of the professional and academic discipline. Programmes range from Masters in Clinical Psychology, Masters in Clinical Forensic Psychology to Masters in Child Psychology. Your choice of programme will tremendously affect your experiences in psychology graduate school, specialisations and careers options. Therefore, we strongly advise you to have a clear career plan before making the decision to do a postgraduate psychology course.

To facilitate your career planning, we will provide an overview of the main fields of psychology and their required education.

Counseling psychology

As a counselling psychologist, you will spend time helping clients who struggle to deal with personal issues and mental health problems. Applying psychological theory and research in therapeutic work, you will counsel people on a variety of daily living problems, including depression, relationship difficulties and eating disorders.

Typically, you will be based in hospitals, rehabilitation centres or probation services and work as a child psychotherapist, mental health nurse or occupational psychologist. You can also have a private practice.

You must hold a masters degree in psychology in order to practice as a counseling psychologist. If you are looking to earn a masters in counseling psychology at an European university, you can look for postgraduate psychology courses like Masters in Child Psychology, Masters in Developmental Psychology or Masters in Organisational Psychology.

Clinical Psychology

Most clinical psychologists have similar careers paths to those of counselling psychologists. However, they are trained to help clients with more severe problems. Their work hence involves not only diagnosing and treating psychological disorders, but also using research to evaluate treatments and develop new approaches in therapy. They may also have only one specialisation. This means the differences between graduate-level training in clinical psychology and counselling psychology are significant.

A Masters in Psychology is required if you would like launch your career as a clinical psychologist. Common degree titles of clinical psychology masters programmes at European universities include Masters in Clinical and Health Psychology, Clinical Neuropsychology and Masters in Developmental Psychopathology.

Research Psychology

Counselling psychology and clinical psychology can be categorised as “applied psychology”, as they mainly involve practitioners delivering healthcare services to clients. However, you might consider becoming a psychology researcher instead. This is a less common occupation, and you will conduct in depth research on human or animal behaviour at a business, a university or a public institution.

It is possible to enter this field with a BA or BSc in psychology, but the research you are allowed to conduct would be highly limited. You will require a Masters in Psychology, and even a PhD in Psychology, to progress in this occupation.

Organisational Psychology

Organisational psychology has grown rapidly in recent years to meet the demand of measuring business psychology and organisational behaviour. In general, organisational psychologists help improve employee well-being, workplace performance and retention.

Organisational psychologists focus on issues related to organisational structure, job satisfaction, consumer behaviour, personal development and human-machine interactions. A BA or BSc in Psychology qualifies you for many job positions of this profession, especially if you aim to work for businesses. However, if you would like to work as a free-lance consultant or work for major consulting firms, governments and universities, the chance is very slim without a postgraduate qualification in psychology.

English-taught psychology masters courses with a specialisation in organisational psychology are most easily found at Dutch universities. For example, Masters in Social and Organisational Psychology at Leiden University and Masters in Work and Organisational Psychology at Tilburg University.

Forensic Psychology

Forensic psychology is often not introduced in undergraduate study because it is very much a specialised area of research on the relationship between psychology and law. It is mainly concerned with the psychological aspect of legal issues. Working in this field, you will provide consultation for legal courts on matters such as jury selection.

As forensic psychology is mainly taught at a postgraduate level, you might find that studying a forensic psychology masters programme is an essential step to open doors to new professional opportunities in this field.

Unfortunately there are not many clinical forensic psychology masters programmes taught in English outside the UK. Maastricht University is the place to go if you are looking to earn your masters degree within the next two or three years.

Social Psychology

Social psychologists look at the way group dynamics influence our choices and behaviours. They also contribute to our understanding of public perceptions and leadership.

With a bachelors degree in social psychology, you can be employed in the private sector in roles such as consultants and technology designers. A Masters in Psychology, however, is often required for more senior level positions in governments and NGOs, where you assess policies or develop educational, social and political programmes.

Why should I study psychology at postgraduate level?

As explained above, there are many psychology job roles available to you from the outset of graduate life. The vast majority of psychological occupations actually require you to have a MA or MSc in Psychology to be qualified. Therefore, the decision of whether or not to opt for postgraduate study is something that almost every psychology bachelors degree holder must think about at some point in their careers.

However, it doesn't mean that enrolling in a postgraduate psychology course is a default option. After all, a masters degree in psychology requires lots of academic effort, time and financial resources.

Rushing into psychology graduate school wouldn’t be the best option if you just consider it as the next logical step after a bachelors degree, without being fully aware of the different specialisations within the discipline and an extremely high training volume involved.

A psychology masters is very challenging yet rewarding. At this stage, you receive intensive training and conduct your own research. These are very handful activities to advance your knowledge of the intricacies of human behaviour.

A psychology postgraduate qualification also gives you access to a wider range of professions. It enables you to register and practice as a chartered psychologist. It makes you eligible for a doctoral degree and prepares you for an educational career. It enables you to work as a freelance consultant or serve at regulatory bodies, both international and national. If you have strong motivation and commitment to achieve either of these goals, you should consider getting a masters degree in psychology.

Does it make sense to study psychology abroad?

There are many psychology masters courses taught in English around Europe. However, most British students still hesitate to study psychology abroad due to the consequences of an international qualification on their eligibility for the chartered membership of the British Psychological Society.

If you graduate from a postgraduate course accredited by the Society, you will easily meet the requirement for its chartered membership, which in turn entitles you to use the designation “CPsycho”.  Unfortunately, the Society currently does not accredit any international courses.

Nevertheless, if you complete a Masters in Psychology course from outside the UK, you could be eligible for the BPS chartered membership if your degree is equivalent to a UK masters degree. Therefore, you will never be at a disadvantage with a masters degree in psychology from a recognised international university.

Many BPS accredited postgraduate programmes are becoming increasingly competitive, so going abroad might be a smart move for you. Europe has some of the most established psychology departments which can help you afford a good qualification and career advancement.

Moreover, becoming a psychologist is not the only career path for masters degree holders. If you choose other tracks such as social psychology and organisational psychology, you will benefit from studying abroad experience in many ways. Working for multinational companies or NGOs requires you to understand individuals from different backgrounds to enhance communication at a cross-cultural level. You can gain such understanding from an oversea education. An example of a programme which highlights the theme of international dimension of psychology is the MSc in Cross-cultural Economic Psychology at Tilburg University.

Last but not least, studying abroad is perhaps a more cost-effective option for British student, especially if you head to the Netherlands where high quality education comes at the cost of less than EUR 2,000 per year. For example, you can study MSc in Psychology at University of Groningen, MSc in Economic Psychology and MSc Organisational Psychology at Tilburg University or MSc Forensic Psychology at Maastricht University. At British universities, those degrees would cost more than double.

Examples of postgraduate psychology courses taught in English abroad

Psychology masters courses in the Netherlands

MSc in Applied Social Psychology (double degree with Higher School of Economics), Tilburg University

MSc in Cross-Cultural Economic Psychology (double degree with University of Osnabruck), Tilburg Univeristy

MSc in Economic Psychology, Tilburg University

MSc in Psychology, University of Groningen

MSc (Research) in Clinical and Psychosocial Epidemiology, University of Groningen

MSc in Social Psychology, Tilburg University

MSc in Work and Organisational Psychology, Tilburg University

Browse a directory of English-taught psychology masters courses on

What grades do I need to get in a masters programme in psychology?

Normally you will need a Bachelors degree in a related field, such as Psychology, Public Health, Biomedical Science or Biology. Entry requirements vary from course to course due to the specialised nature of the field of psychology. You should contact your chosen university and carefully check if you are an eligible candidate.

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