Study Psychology Abroad

The need of professionals in Psychology is on arise not just in Malaysia, but across other countries.
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study psychology abroad

Psychology course is one of the most-liked courses by students of not only Malaysia, but all over the world. 

It goes beyond the study of human behaviour and personality, but this course has a wide range of career paths and growing field. 

People choose this course in university thinking that psychology will be mostly clinical psychology, which is a discussion of the approaches to therapy.

But then, it turns out to be a study of social psychology, cognitive science, basic neuroscience, research methods etc.

What is Psychology course all about?

Just like biology or geology, psychology is a science. Specifically, it’s the scientific study of the mind.

Psychology is a branch of Humanities and Social Sciences course. You will cover a wide range of topics within Psychology: modules on memory, developmental psychology, abnormal psychology and social psychology. You will also study other sciences as they relate to Psychology, such as evolution and genetics. 

Additionally, you will learn research methods, presentation skills and other skills required for the study of any science. 

Your compulsory modules will build on what you learned in the first year and progress to more challenging topics, such as cognitive neuroscience and advanced statistics. You will carry out more practical experiments in order to learn professional skills in Psychology.

What are the major fields in Psychology?

As mentioned before, Psychology course comprises a wide range of human studies. 

1. Clinical Psychology
This treatment-oriented branch of psychology deals with scientific ways of handling psychological problems. 

Also known as psychotherapy or counselling psychology, it focuses on the understanding, cure and prevention of psychological issues by way of psycho-therapeutic treatment.

2. Cognitive Psychology
The branch of psychology that deals with mental processes, such as thoughts, memory and problem solving, is called cognitive psychology. In essence, it is concerned with the perception and problem-solving capability of the brain.

3. Educational Psychology
It is the scientific study of human behaviour for an educational setting and, therefore, it deals with issues, like learning disorders, adolescence behaviours, and so on. 

4. Biopsychology
This branch of psychology looks at the role the brain and neurotransmitters play in influencing our thoughts, feelings and behaviours. It combines neuroscience and the study of psychology.

5. Social Psychology
Focussed on the psychological aspects of individuals within a community environment, community psychology explores characteristics such as interdependence, adaptation, diplomacy, empowerment, social justice, and so on. 

6. Forensic Psychology
The application of psychology to law-making, law enforcement, the examination of witnesses, and the treatment of the criminal is the job of the forensic psychologist. 

Also known as legal psychology, this branch of psychology is not the same with cognitive and clinical psychology but involves a thorough understanding of the law.

7. Industrial Psychology
This branch of psychology addresses practical problems in the workplace through the application of psychological principles. Industrial psychologists, also called organisational psychologists, are employed by companies to administer tests which measure employee aptitudes or skills in hiring and placement programmes.

8. Health Psychology
This observes how behaviour, biology and social context influence illness and health. Health psychologists generally work alongside other medical professionals in clinical settings.

9. Experimental Psychology
Experimental psychologists work to understand the underlying causes of behaviour by studying humans and animals. They work mainly in a laboratory environment, investigating the evolutionary significance of certain behaviours.

10. Developmental Psychology
Developmental psychology attempts to explain the development of humans over time, both in the micro sense, as they develop from babies to mature adults, and in the macro sense, as the culture itself evolves through the years and decades.

What kind of subjects are taught in Psychology course?

The subjects that you come across will vary, depending on the specialisation that you take in the major. 

A glimpse of subjects that are offered in Stanford University: 

Common Module

  • Introduction to Psychology
  • Introduction to Statistical Methods: Precalculus 
  • Introduction to Clinical Psychology
  • Intergroup Communication Facilitation
  • Introduction to Psycholinguistics
  • Cognitive Development
  • Experimental Methods
  • Behavioral Science and Design Thinking

Electives

  • Special Topics in Adolescent Mental Health 
  • Observation of Children
  • Mind, Culture, and Society
  • Questionnaire Design for Surveys and Laboratory Experiments
  • Psychometrics and automated experiment design

What are the skills and characteristics needed for Psychology course?

While it is rewarding and fun, Psychology can be a tough course to pursue. Check the following qualities before you decide on taking this course to ensure that you’re prepared:

1. Analytical
Having a deep interest in analysing something? Do you like to conduct your own mini-research or survey out of a single issue? 

This characteristic is suitable for a person who wants to pursue psychology as this course will exercise your skill in this. 

2. Critical Thinking
Critical thinking is important in all fields of study, including Psychology.

No matter which field you are in, critical thinking skills are important to help you analyze situations and make informed decisions.

In this field, you will need to be able to understand problems, think critically and devise solutions to problems related to different aspects and gain insights that can bring significant improvements in the individual’s processes. 

3. Observant
Be observant and able to interpret people's body language as well as what they say. This is the key to become a good psychologist as you will need to do analysis on people that you barely know about.

4. Communication Skills
If you convey information clearly, that is already an indication of having a good communication skill. You must be able to explain complex issues to people who have little or no specialist knowledge.

It is important that you and your internal and external audiences understand each other to prevent miscommunications.

5. Problem Solving
Since the occupations in Psychology essentially aims to solve psychological-related issues developed within individuals, you must like to explore possibilities on solving the problems based on what’s needed to be done. 

What are the top Universities Abroad for Psychology course?

The table below showcases the world’s top universities from the United States and the United Kingdom for their Psychology course, according to QS Universities:

University

Country

Harvard University

United States

Stanford University

United States

University of Cambridge

United Kingdom

University of Oxford

United Kingdom

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

United States

University of California, Berkeley (UCB)

United States

Yale University

United States

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

United States

University of Michigan

United States

UCL (University College London)

United Kingdom

Meanwhile, the top 10 universities in the region of Asia from Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are listed below:

University

Country

The University of Hong Kong

Hong Kong

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)

Hong Kong

Nanyang Technological University

Singapore

National University of Singapore (NUS)

Singapore

Peking University

China

The University of Tokyo

Japan

Beijing Normal University

China

City University of Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Seoul National University 

South Korea

National Taiwan University 

Taiwan

What is the career and salary outlook for Psychology graduates look like?

You can find various careers in Psychology or Counseling. 

Salaries and outlook for future job growth are dependent on the degree of Psychology you have, as well as the area, or type of psychology you pursue

So, what can you do with your Psychology degree? Check out the list below:

  • Clinical Psychologist
  • Industrial-Organizational Psychologist
  • Counselling Psychologist
  • School Psychologist
  • Forensic psychologist
  • Health psychologist
  • Sport and exercise psychologist
  • Life coach
  • Market researcher
  • Psychotherapist

Psychology majors are often ranked as some of the most underpaid and underemployed grads, but there is one key to keep in mind — most of these lists are referring to students who have graduated with only a bachelor's degree in psychology. 

Some of these occupations require a minimum of a Master’s and many even require a Doctoral degree. 

The below table showcases the different types of jobs within Psychology and the expected salary in Malaysia according to PayScale:

Occupation

Estimated Salary

Clinical Psychologist

MYR 84,000 - 145,000 per year

Organisational Psychologist

MYR 50,000 - 85,000 per year

Forensic Psychologist

MYR 38,000 - 80,000 per year

How long is the duration of studies for Psychology course abroad?

The duration of studies will depend on the level of studies and the country that is taken. 

Study Levels

Duration

Bachelor’s Degree

3-4 years

Master’s Degree

2-4 years

Doctoral Degree

3-8 years

What are the entry requirements for Psychology abroad?

Each university and country has different entry requirements and the list below does not generalise the entry requirement of universities overseas as a whole. 

Bachelor’s Degree 

A-Levels

3 passes, good standing (min. BBB)

International Baccalaureate

Min. 32-36 points

English

IELTS (minimum 5.5 - 7.0 overall), TOEFL (minimum 550 or 90)

Additional prerequisites

Pass interview and Personal Statement (for some universities)

How much is the tuition fee to study Psychology courses abroad?

There is a different variant to tuition fees abroad, depending on the university that is chosen. 

The estimated tuition fee per year for Psychology course in the top universities abroad can be seen here:

Programme

Region

Estimated Fees

Undergraduate

United Kingdom

GBP 19,000 - 26,000 per year

United States

USD 16,000 - 45,000 per year

Asia

USD 12,000 - 25,000 per year

Postgraduate 

United Kingdom

GBP 17,000 - 30,000 per year

United States

USD 9,000 - 45,000 per year

Asia

USD 8,000 - 30,000 per year

The fee above only covers the tuition fee and not other additional fees nor living expenses. 

Living expenses of students abroad depend on the location of the university and the city that you live in.


FAQ

1. What are the subjects that I must take to get into a Psychology course?

You don’t need all science subjects to meet the entry requirement of a Psychology course. Most universities, however, prefer at least one subject out of chemistry, biology, physics, mathematics.

A good balance of social science and science subjects is acceptable and a psychology subject is not necessary. Other preferred subjects include sociology, anthropology, economics, philosophy, literature.

2. What level of education must I possess to be a psychologist?

Completion of studies up to Doctoral degree is a must if you want to practise your psychology degree as a psychologist. This includes counselling, forensic, industrial and school psychologist.

The final step in preparing as a psychologist is obtaining a licence to practise, whether you’re going to be working independently or tied to another organisation/ institution.

3. How long does it take to be a Therapist/ Licensed Psychologist?

While there are several different types of therapists, psychologists, and counsellors, the path to each profession is similar.

Most of the time, becoming a therapist will take at least around 7-15 years following graduation from high school. 

  • 3-4 years of undergraduate studies 
  • 7-10 years of postgraduate studies

Formal education is followed by supervised clinical hours of direct experience before you can become licenced as a therapist. This means that once you have a bachelor’s degree, it is a matter of 4-10 years before they can be licenced as a therapist.

4. What is the difference between a Psychologist and Psychiatrist?

Simply put, psychiatrists are medical doctors, psychologists are not. Psychiatrists prescribe medication, psychologists can't. 

Most psychologists are specialists in clinical psychology, helping the mentally ill cope with the day to day problems of living in a society that doesn’t quite understand their needs. 

Psychiatrists work directly with patients to provide a variety of treatments, including hospitalization and even some direct counselling. They work closely with neurologists, surgeons and other medical practitioners to bridge the connection between the mind and the body.

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