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Educational psychologist: Entry requirements

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Full details of the training required to become a registered educational psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) are available from the British Psychological Society (BPS) . You will need the following qualifications:

  • an undergraduate degree in psychology (see BPS Accredited Psychology Courses ). Alternatively, if you do not have a psychology degree you can complete a BPS accredited conversion course. You will then achieve the required Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC);
  • a BPS accredited Doctorate in educational psychology or, for Scotland only, an accredited Masters in educational psychology followed by the BPS Award in educational psychology.

To use the title 'educational psychologist', you will need to be registered with the HCPC. This involves completing a Doctorate in educational psychology (or equivalent) approved by the HCPC. Contact the HCPC for more information on the entry requirements for their register.

In Scotland, all psychologists employed by local authorities must be chartered and must also be full members of the:

For acceptance onto a postgraduate course, you will need to be able to demonstrate that you have relevant experience of working with children in educational, childcare, or community settings. Usually you will be required to provide evidence of at least one year's full-time experience and sometimes two years may be required.

Experience as a teacher is very relevant, although it is no longer a requirement. Teachers may be given exemptions from parts of the Doctorate. Contact course directors for exemption details.

Admissions tutors for Doctoral programmes will not normally accept graduates with a 2:2 degree without a higher qualification, such as an MSc or MPhil, ideally in an education-related area. However, candidates with a 2:2 and exceptional experience may be successful. Contact admissions tutors for further details.

In England, from April 2012, responsibility for managing applications for courses and funding passed from the Children's Workforce Development Council (CWDC) to the Teaching Agency, a new government executive agency supporting staff in schools, including educational psychologists.

Further details of the application process, accredited courses and closing dates can be found on the Department for Education - Educational psychology website.

Funding is only available to applicants who are UK residents and intend to seek a permanent position as an educational psychologist with a local authority in England after successful completion of the programme.

Funding is likely to cover fees for all three years and a bursary for the first year. Trainees will be required to seek employment in a trainee post with a local authority for their second and third years. Failure to undertake this may result in the recovery of all or part of the grant.

In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland applications are made directly to institutions. These are the:

  • Universities of Dundee and Strathclyde in Scotland;
  • Cardiff in Wales;
  • Queen's University Belfast School of Psychology in Northern Ireland.

Early application is advisable and funding options are available in Wales and Northern Ireland.

From 2012, the Scottish government no longer offers a training grant to support people doing the MSc. This has been replaced by a loan of up to £3,400 a year from the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) .

Competition for course places and funding is fierce, although the removal of the training grant in Scotland may affect future applications. There are approximately four times as many applicants for postgraduate courses as there are places.

In the current economic climate there are fewer permanent positions available on completion of training, and it may be necessary to take temporary positions or consider relocation.

Candidates need to show evidence of the following:

  • excellent communication skills;
  • sensitivity, tact and diplomacy;
  • ability to be assertive, persuasive and an effective facilitator;
  • strong negotiating, administration and time management skills.

For more information, see work experience and internships and search postgraduate courses.

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Written by Tom McAndrew, University of Exeter
April 2014

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