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2018 APS Congress

The 2018 APS Congress will be held in Sydney from Thursday 27 to Sunday 30 September 2018

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Studying psychology

Unlocking the secrets of the human mind, the study of human behaviour and understanding why we do what we do is unique to psychology.

These powerful insights have a wide range of applications, and can complement a wide range of interests. This is why psychology is a popular higher education study option. The rewarding and diverse studies of this discipline appeal to students fresh out of high school as well as students transitioning to a new career.

Focusing on the complexities of human behaviour and the factors that contribute to individual and group processes and wellbeing, psychology students learn about how psychological, social and personality factors influence thinking and behaviour as well as how interventions can be applied to help people lead more satisfying and meaningful lives.

In addition to this detailed understanding of human behaviour, psychology students also graduate with other critical and in-demand skills that can be applied in a variety of fields. These include advanced communication, design insights, the ability to conduct and analyse research, and the use of high-level problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

It's important when choosing a psychology degree to ensure that the course is accredited by the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC), as only graduates of APAC-accredited courses are eligible to register to practise as a psychologist.

Before being eligible to practise as a psychologist, students must first complete a minimum of six years education and training. There are several pathways students can follow to achieve this.

More on study pathways

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The APS can help students and graduates get their career started on the right foot by delivering insights from leaders in the profession, opening doors to enable valuable contacts to be made, and by providing access to practical resources to supplement academic education.

By joining the APS you can make use of the expertise of psychologists already established in the fields that interest you. You will also be demonstrating your commitment to the discipline and profession of psychology, a step that will be highly regarded when you apply for postgraduate placements, internships, supervised placements and employment.

APS membership also provides exclusive benefits that can support you throughout study, internships and as you begin building a successful career, including:

  • Networking and knowledge-sharing opportunities within a 23,000-strong community of APS members, including those in the local area in which you live
  • An insider's view into the latest developments in the discipline and practice of psychology
  • Accurate and timely updates on changes to education, training and registration requirements - all in one place
  • Representation by a politically-active professional organisation that can help influence the future direction of psychology
  • Insights from leaders across this diverse profession
  • Access to practical resources to supplement your academic education
  • Access to guidance and support during internships and paid employment

For more information, see:

There are several ways for members to engage and participate with the APS, including:

The APS is the leading organisation for psychologists in Australia, representing more than 22,000 members, and is the largest of all non-medical health professionals organisations in Australia. The APS strongly advocates for the discipline and profession of psychology, supports high standards for the profession, promotes psychological knowledge to enhance community wellbeing, and is dedicated to providing benefits to support members’ professional lives. Read more about the APS.

In Australia the psychology profession is regulated by the Psychology Board of Australia (PsyBA). It was established in 2010 and is responsible for the registration of psychologists in Australia. The PsyBA operates under the umbrella of the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and is responsible for registering psychologists, developing standards, handling notifications etc. You can read more about the functions of the PsyBA on their website.

Psychology is taught in a range of settings across Australia. Visit the APAC website for a listing of more than 420 accredited courses across 40 higher education providers in Australia, Malaysia and Singapore.

Psychologists throughout Australia are required to complete a minimum of six years of education and training before being eligible for general registration to practise as a psychologist.

This can be achieved via a number of pathways, each of which requires as the first step a three-year undergraduate degree in psychology plus an accredited fourth (honours or equivalent) year, both of which must be accredited by the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC).

These qualifications can be followed by a number of options listed under step 3 in our training pathways diagram:

  • an accredited and approved postgraduate professional masters or doctoral degree, or
  • an accredited and approved 5th year such as Graduate Diploma/Masters in professional psychology plus one year of PsyBA-approved supervised experience, or
  • a two year PsyBA-approved internship.

View the training pathways diagram for more informaton.

Studies in psychology open up a world of opportunity. As well as a thorough understanding of human behaviour, and the factors that shape it, undergraduate psychology students will graduate with a set of skills and attributes that are highly regarded by employers and will give them the edge in a range of careers.

These graduate attributes can be applied in many settings, according to an individual's interests and strengths. Many graduates of psychology find employment or continue their studies in fields such as community services and counselling, business, education and health services.

Under APAC Rules & Accreditation Standards (Section 5.3.1), students/applicants who have successfully completed their fourth year have up to 10 years to apply for entry into a Master's degree unless they hold general registration as a psychologist. You can view the guidelines under the Standards and Guidelines section of the APAC website.

Please note that these standards are currently under review with potential notable changes to this 10 year rule. 

Yes, there are APAC-accredited psychology courses that can be completed online and by distance education, which can be found on the APAC website. Courses are listed by state, and those that have the option of distance education are indicated by a '1' next to the course name.

The easiest and quickest way to find out if your course is APAC-accredited is to search the accredited course listings on the APAC website.

If you are still unsure APAC requries that you first contact the APAC liason officer at your university to obtain some clarity. If you are still unable to ascertain the status of your degree then contact APAC directly. 

Typically the minimum training requirement to become a registered psychologist in Australia is 6 years full-time equivalent. View the training pathways diagram

What you will notice in the pathways diagram is that all students must first complete a three-year APAC accredited bachelor degree, followed by a further fourth year in an Honours (or equivalent) program before moving to the 5th and 6th year level training.  If you have already completed an undergraduate degree you may be eligible to reduce step one from 3 years to 1-2 years by completing a Graduate Diploma in Psychology (3 years full-time equivalent). You can identify these courses on the APAC (Australian Psychology Accreditation Council) website.

Effectively your previous study will only reduce the time required to complete step one of the training pathway. Once you have completed step one you can move on to step two of the training sequence. 

No. The title 'psychologist' is protected by National Law. Only those individuals who have obtained General registration with the Psychology Board of Australia can use the title 'psychologist'. You can read more about the National Law on the Psychology Board of Australia website.

The Psychology Board of Australia recognises nine fields of psychology, called areas of practice endorsement. Psychologists with General registration that have a recognised higher degree and advanced supervised practice (via Masters or Professional Doctorate pathway) in a particular area of practice can apply for an area of practice endorsement on their General registration.

The nine areas of practice endorsement are:

  • Clinical neuropsychology
  • Clinical psychology
  • Community psychology
  • Counselling psychology
  • Educational and developmental psychology
  • Forensic psychology
  • Health psychology
  • Organisational psychology
  • Sport and exercise psychology

For more information, see:

Students have a choice about the accredited and approved degree they can undertake to complete step one of the training pathway in psychology. You can view the study pathways diagram. It is important that you complete a course that is accredited by the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council, referred to as APAC, otherwise you may not progress to step two on the training pathway. 

This means that you have many options for the degree you need to complete such as a Bachelor of Psychology, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science and others, as long as they appear on the APAC website as being accredited. 

Therefore the prerequisite subjects you need to complete during your senior years will depend upon your choice of degree. I recommend consulting your state tertiary course manual and speaking to your school careers advisor for more specific information about subject decisions. 

The APS National Office has developed Student HQ to help students, and prospective students, understand the various study pathways and career options available in the psychology profession. This resource is based on the training pathways recognised in Australia. Student HQ has information about study and career paths, psychology areas of specialty, registration requirements, and psychologists stories. While the APS is unable to provide specific advice regarding psychology career options, or recommend particular universities or psychology courses, you may find the following information useful:

  • Click here for detailed information regarding psychology study pathways available at the Student HQ section of the APS website.
  • The Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC) accredits Australasian psychology courses leading to registration with the Psychology Board of Australia (PsyBA). Click here to be redirected to the APAC website where you can search for APAC accredited psychology courses in each state of Australia.
  • All psychologists practising in Australia must be registered with the PsyBA, which operates under the umbrella of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). Click here to be redirected to the PsyBA website where you can find information about registration and internship requirements, area of practice endorsement, and a searchable database of registered practitioners and supervisors. 
Choosing your degree

With 40 higher education providers around Australia offering accredited and approved psychology degrees, students can select from a large range of programs, each with distinct approaches to study and areas of specialist interest

Study pathways

A minimum six-year sequence of education and training in psychology is required for an individual to become eligible for general registration as a psychologist in Australia. This six-year sequence can be broken down into three steps

Undergraduate study

Undergraduate study

Postgraduate study

Postgraduate study in psychology usually builds on foundational knowledge in psychology obtained during the four years of undergraduate study and becomes explicitly focussed on the skills and requirements needed by professional practitioners

Studying psychology FAQs

Find frequently asked questions prospective and current psychology students ask the APS