How do I become a psychologist?

Psychology is a field chosen by students with differing interests and personalities. Some psychologists are reflective introverts who can listen very well; others are warm extroverts who are genuinely interested in their clients. So, whether you are curious, intellectual, empathetic, serving, analytical, or playful, you may be suited for this career. Of course, a crucial first step is to complete a career assessment with a registered psychologist to ensure that you are a good match to the profession. An important factor to take into account in choosing Psychology as a career is that it takes at least seven years of studying before you can register as a psychologist.

Psychology is not offered as an independent degree. Most students study either a B Soc Sc or a BA degree and combine Psychology with various other subjects. The degree that you enroll for would depend on your specific interests. After completing your undergraduate degree (which ideally takes three years), you can apply for an Honours in Psychology. Since you need to be selected for this degree, you will have to work hard and perform well in your undergraduate studies. The Honours degree takes one year for full-time students and two years for part-time students.

After completing the Honours degree, you can apply for the Applied Master’s Programme (clinical or counselling psychology). You also need to be selected for this course. Selection for the applied master’s degree is quite strict and depends on a number of factors, such as academic performance, emotional stability, maturity and empathy. Usually the selection process involves various activities, including panel interviews. The Applied Master’s degree consists of course work, a research (mini-) dissertation, and an internship year. After completing the internship, students in the clinical category will have to complete a community service year. Only students who successfully complete the master’s degree can write the Board examination (offered by the Health Professions Council of South Africa) to register as psychologists.

However, there are alternative routes available to students in Psychology. For example, you can enroll for a research master’s in Psychology to complete a full dissertation, instead of doing an applied master’s degree.

It would be best to consult with the Department of Psychology to obtain more information on alternative career choices.

Please click on the link below to get more information about our procedures and guidelines.

2023 Guide to Psychology


T: +27 51 401 2240 or

Marizanne Cloete: +27 51 401 2592

Neliswa Emeni-Tientcheu: +27 51 401 2536
Juanita Hlongwane: +27 51 401 3269

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