Psychology conversion courses

Rachel Swain, Editorial manager
February, 2023

To work as a psychologist in the UK you need an accredited qualification. If you didn't study the subject at undergraduate level, your best option is a psychology conversion course

These intense courses, lasting up to one year full time, bring you to the same point in the pathway towards becoming a psychologist as those who studied an approved undergraduate psychology degree.

Why do a psychology conversion course?

On your way to becoming a psychologist you need to gain Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) of the British Psychological Society (BPS). This ensures that you have the right level of understanding to move on to the next stage of training. If you studied psychology at undergraduate level on a BPS-recognised course, then you’ll already have this membership if not you'll need a psychology conversion course.

An accredited conversion course can be your stating point to a career in psychology. This may be towards training and qualification as a chartered psychologist, or to provide a better understanding of the human brain for use in other roles either psychological or elsewhere.

Take a look at psychologist job profiles to learn more about qualification routes.

How do I choose a programme?

The first thing to ensure is that the course you're considering is accredited by the BPS, you can do this by searching the list of accredited courses on their website.

There are different types of psychology conversion course available:

  • MSc Psychology - a full Masters degree, taking one year to complete. You'll typically need a good degree (2:2 or above) in any subject to be eligible. As well as exams and coursework, you'll be assessed on a personal project or dissertation. Most psychology conversion courses are in the form of an MSc.
  • Postgraduate diploma (PGDip) or graduate diploma in psychology - these are shorter courses, involving nine months of full-time study. PGDips involve less independent research than Masters degrees. The entry requirements usually include having a certain number of psychology credits from previous study.

To see what's on offer, search psychology conversion courses.

Always check university websites to find the most up-to-date entry criteria for your chosen course. You can find psychology conversion courses at universities throughout the UK, and many programmes are available in part-time or online learning formats.

Most conversion courses are general and will have a title such as MSc Psychology or PGDip Psychology, as their purpose is to provide the core subject knowledge that BPS accreditation requires. A small number allow you to specialise at this stage, for example in educational psychology, developmental psychology or business.

An MSc conversion course will usually cost somewhere between £6,000 and £10,000 in tuition fees, while diplomas are less expensive. However, one thing to consider as you make your decision is that in England, postgraduate loans are available for Masters courses - but not for PGDips or graduate diplomas.

Where will my qualification lead?

Once you've achieved GBC through your accredited degree or conversion course, you're ready to make the next step towards becoming a psychologist.

In many cases this will be Doctorate-level training approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), the body that all psychologists must be registered with in order to practise professionally.

There are different roles and branches of psychology so try to keep an open mind. Do voluntary work and experience as many areas of possible. To find out more about each role, visit the job profile that matches your career ambitions:

Find out more

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