Dear Charis & Yvonne,
I came upon your website and I commend on both of your efforts in promoting psychology/counseling in Malaysia.
I currently hold a BSc in Microbiology but I wish to embark on the field of clinical psychology. I understand that in order to become a clinical psychologist, I need to complete my Masters. Unfortunately, it seems that the requirement to enter into Masters in Clinical Psychology requires a Bachelor in Psychology (which I don’t have). Do you have any advice on how I can transition into this field without doing a Bachelor in Psychology from scratch?
I obtained my degree in Law and was working in the legal profession for several years before I decided to do psychology, so I can understand you position! In fact, when I was doing my research for graduate school, most of the psychology/counseling graduate schools in UK and USA required a bachelor in psychology or a related field. Finally, I decided to go to HELP to do my second undergraduate degree in Psychology. With that, I was able to apply to do my graduate studies in Counseling Psychology in USA.
So, what you have stated is basically true, Joseph. if you want to gain entrance to a graduate-level psychology program, you would need a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Since you already have a bachelor’s degree, you can proceed to get your second degree in Psychology (just like me!) by doing the chore psychology courses. In HELP, I took 12 psychology courses (36 credits all in) to get my degree in Psychology. It took me two years of part-time studies and 6 hours of classes per week (continuous) to complete my degree. If you do this full time, it would take you about 1 1/2 years.
Some psychology schools, however may allow you entry into their clinical psychology program without a bachelor’s degree in psychology if you to do the core psychology undergraduate courses to meet their requirements for applying to graduate school. You may want to research on this and to find out whether this is a shorter path compared to getting your second degree in psychology. How many credits of undergraduate psychology courses, and, what psychology courses you need to take, would depend on the respective graduate schools.
Finally, Joseph, you will need to consider where you want to further your studies in psychology. Masters-level clinical psychology programs are getting less and less popular in the Western countries. In US, most clinical psychology programs are now doctoral-level programs. This is because to be a clinical psychologist in US, you need to have a PhD in clinical psychology. The same does not apply in Malaysia. Having said that, if you are a clinical psychologist in Malaysia with a “Dr” title in front of your name, it would definitely lend you more credibility. If you go to our page “For the Public” and click on “Where to find services”, you will find that the psychologists listed under the category, psychological assessments either have a Masters or a PhD in psychology.
The local universities in Malaysia may still offer Masters-level clinical psychology programs. I think UKM offers a Masters in Clinical Psychology, but I am not able to find information on this from their website.
On the other hand, the same does not apply for a person without a background in psychology to pursue a Masters in Counseling. As long as you have a bachelors degree in any field, you would be able to apply to do graduate studies in Counseling. Don’t get confused, however, between “Counseling” and “Counseling Psychology”. Both Counseling Psychology and Clinical Psychology require a Bachelors in Psychology, or at least, a minimum amount of credits in chore undergraduate Psychology courses.
I hope that you find this information helpful, Joseph! It will be a long journey for you, but it would definitely be worthwhile if this is what you are interested in! I hope to do my PhD in Clinical Psychology one day, so who knows, we may meet someday 😉
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