How to Become a Psychologist


The minimum educational requirement to become a psychologist in Alberta is a master's degree in psychology. However, many positions require a doctoral degree, which is the minimum education requirement in most other provinces. Psychologists must be registered/licensed with their Canadian provincial regulatory body. For those  outside Canada, consult the professional regulatory body for your country/state. Typically, it will take four years to complete an undergraduate degree in psychology, one to three years for a master’s degree and, if required, another three to four years for a doctoral degree. In most provinces/territories, you must pass a written Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology and in some instances, successfully complete oral examinations in jurisprudence and ethics 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 resource is general in nature. Admission requirements for the various graduate psychology programs vary from university to university. It is your responsibility to ensure the AU courses or degree you complete meet the admission requirements of the university you wish to attend. The Canadian Psychological Association's Graduate Guide lists most of the graduate psychology programs in Canada. Research the licensing requirements in your province, and ensure you account for the necessary prerequisites in both your undergraduate and graduate program. You may need certain undergraduate and graduate courses to qualify for licensing.

Next Steps

1. Research career information

Decide what type of psychologist you would like to become as 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:

Psychologists’ Association of Alberta: Careers in Psychology

A Guide to Psychology and its Practice

Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS)

Canadian Psychological Association: A Career in Psychology

Working in Canada

Marky Lloyd’s Careers in Psychology Page

Psychology Career Centre

American Psychological Association

Portland State University: What Can I do With a Major in Psychology?

Possible Career Options for a BA: Psychology Major

2. Contact your provincial or national psychology boards for registration requirements.

To become a practicing psychologist in Canada, you typically 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

Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards

3. Research graduate program options.

Research program and admission requirements. For information about graduate degrees in psychology:

Athabasca University Faculty of Health Disciplines

Alberta Learning Information Service

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

Canadian Psychological Association (2017): Study of Psychology. Retrieved October 30, 2017 from

Psychologists' Association of Alberta: Career Information (2017) Retrieved October 30, 2017 from