How to Become a Psychologist
The minimum educational requirement to become a psychologist in Alberta is a master's degree in psychology or educational psychology; however, many positions require a doctoral (PhD) degree, which is the minimum education requirement in most other provinces. Psychologists must be registered/licensed with their Canadian provincial regulatory body or the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards. Typically, it will take four years to complete an undergraduate degree in psychology, one to two years for a master’s degree and, if required, another three to four years for a PhD. In most provinces/territories, you must pass a written Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology and in some instances, successfully complete oral examinations and/or board interviews. You will also need to complete a period of supervised practical experience. Psychology is a diverse discipline. If you wish to specialize in a specific area of psychology, you may need additional training and experience. You will need to first complete a four-year undergraduate degree in psychology followed by graduate studies. Most university graduate programs require a four-year undergraduate degree as an entrance requirement. See the Athabasca University Bachelor of Arts Major in Psychology.
The next step would be to enter a graduate program in psychology. According to the Canadian Psychological Association Study of Psychology the most common graduate programs are in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Experimental Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Counselling Psychology, Neuropsychology, Forensic or Correctional Psychology, Developmental or Child Psychology.
Athabasca University offers a Master of Counselling degree with specializations in Art Therapy, Counselling Psychology, and School Counselling. See the AU Faculty of Health Disciplines’ website for more information on AU’s Graduate Counselling programs.
Additional resources can also be found in our article Exploring Career Paths in Psychology.
*NOTE: Information in this tip sheet is general in nature. Admission requirements to the various graduate programs in psychology differ from university to university. It is your responsibility to ensure that the courses or degree you take at AU will be accepted at the university you wish to attend. The Canadian Psychological Association's Graduate Guide lists most of the graduate programs in psychology in Canada. Also, it is your responsibility to inquire about the licensing requirements in your province and make sure you have all the necessary prerequisites in both your undergraduate degree and graduate degree. You may need certain undergraduate and graduate courses to qualify for licensing.
1. Research career information
Decide what type of psychologist you would like to become because there are several subfields in psychology:
- clinical psychologist
- counselling psychologist
- developmental psychologist
- educational psychologist
- forensic psychologist
- health psychologist
- industrial/organizational psychologist
- neuropsychologist research and experimental psychologist
- school psychologist
- social psychologist
- sports psychologist
See the following links for information regarding duties, working conditions, skills, education, salary, employment prospects, and more:
- Group Home Co-ordinator
- Behavioural Therapist
- Crisis Intervention Counsellor
- Mental Health Worker
- Family Service Worker
- Rehabilitation Advisor
- Residential Youth Counsellor
- Addictions Counsellor
- Employment Counsellor
- Child Welfare Worker
- Program Coordinator
- Education Coordinator
- Fundraising Consultant
- Training and Technical Assistance Specialist
- Life Skills Worker
- Events Coordinator
- English as a Second Language (ESL) Teacher
2. Contact your provincial or national psychology boards for registration requirements.
To become a practicing psychologist in Canada, you usually need to be registered or chartered. The educational requirements for registration may vary from province to province. A doctoral degree in psychology is required in Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. A master's degree in psychology is required in Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Quebec, Alberta and the Northwest Territories.
For Alberta: College of Alberta Psychologists
For those elsewhere: Provincial/Territorial Licensing Requirements for Psychologists
3. Research graduate program options.
Research program and admission requirements. For information about graduate degrees in psychology:
CPA Graduate Guide: Description of Graduate Psychology Programs in Canadian Universities
4. Contact an AU Counsellor
If you have further questions regarding this career path or wish to book a telephone appointment to speak with a counsellor, please contact us.
5. Become an AU Student
Once you complete these steps, you are ready to become an AU Student.
6. Contact an Academic Advisor
Once you have applied to AU and selected a program of study, contact an Academic Advisor if you need help selecting courses for your program.
Alberta Learning Information Services (2017). Alberta Occupational Profiles. Retrieved October 30, 2017 from http://www.alis.gov.ab.ca/occinfo/
Canadian Psychological Association (2017): Study of Psychology. Retrieved October 30, 2017 from http://www.cpa.ca/education/studyofpsychology/
Psychologists' Association of Alberta: Career Information(2017) Retrieved October 30, 2017 fromhttps://www.psychologistsassociation.ab.ca/site/careers_in_psychology
Helpful Links & Resources:
Related AU Services
Updated February 28 2019 by Student & Academic Services