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Study Psychology abroad

Studying for a degree in Psychology can be a rewarding and mind-expanding experience.Read an introduction to a possible career choice for international students.

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Studying for a degree in psychology can be a rewarding and mind-expanding experience. The discipline teaches you a number of core skills and encourages a level of independent and analytical thought that is highly prized and sought after in many professions. In the following article Hotcourses’ student editor, Cansu Alemdar, provides an insight into the options available and helps you to decide whether psychology is the right subject for you.  

Psychology is a course that is rooted in research activities and, like other scientific programmes, it prioritises creative thinking and an interest in new findings in the field. Students are expected to research and study the available facts and then use their own initiative to relate hypothetical ideas to real life situations. Although the undergraduate psychology degree is highly popular, in order to be a clinical psychologist, you will need to have a master’s or a doctor’s degree- so these degrees are high in demand as well.


Why study Psychology in the US?

One of the main advantages of studying psychology in the US is that you will be at the very heart of psychological thinking. Many papers and contemporary theories are published in English, and the leading schools also expect a certain level of English proficiency. In such a fast-moving area of academia, to learn the material first hand is invaluable.

Psychology’s place in the public consciousness in the US has increased in recent years, thanks to several key media texts which have placed psychology at the centre. The Sopranos, In Treatment and Lie To Me are just a few television dramas which have brought the field into the homes of the nation on a weekly (even nightly) basis. Even many daytime TV shows reference psychological conditions and terms when discussing relationships, phobias etc. As a result, international students will find themselves interacting with American students who have a deep interest in the area already. You’re surrounded by psychology everywhere you go! Even when relaxing in front of the TV in the evening, you can stay sharp and take in knowledge to apply to your academic work.

Another big advantage of studying psychology abroad is that you will get a wide perspective on human behaviour; you will have the chance to live in a different culture and to study with people from all over the world. In America, which is so vast and diverse, this is especially true. This range of experience, cultures and customs will help to give you a broad and objective understanding of the key principles involved in philosophy.


Types of Psychology courses abroad

  • Vocational degree These programmes contain fewer modules than the full equivalent and are shorter in duration (usually less than a year). You need to be a high school graduate and need to provide a TOEFL score for admission.
  • Foundation degree - Usually offered in private colleges, this option gives the international student a chance to transfer to many universities upon the completion of the 1-year course. Modules in this first year form the basis of subsequent studies; an ideal way to introduce yourself to the subject without committing to the full four years in one location. Applicants must be a high school graduate with satisfactory TOEFL/IELTS score. Letters of reference may also be required.
  • Undergraduate degree - In order to apply for undergraduate courses you will need a grade point average of 3.00 or above. You will need to take ACT and TOEFL/IELTS exams. Psychology degrees vary in scope and structure. Some of the most popular undergraduate psychology degrees are in applied psychology, behavioural therapy, child psychology, clinical psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, organisational psychology and social psychology.
  • Graduate/Doctoral degree - For master’s degrees, you will need to have a bachelors’ or undergraduate degree with GPA of 3 or above. You will need to provide GRE and TOEFL/IELTS scores. To study for a PhD, you will need to complete an MA in psychology. You will need to provide GRE, TOEFL/IELTS scores and for PhD level courses; work experience in the field is also beneficial.


Admission requirements for Psychology programmes

  • Prior to your application, you should have at least some experience of psychology, statistics and research.
  • You will need a personal statement explaining your skills, goals, experiences etc.
  • It is highly important to have a good grade average; at least 3 out of 4
  • Reference letters from your teachers or previous employers will be essential
  • Many respected institutions require a GRE Subject Exam. This test is made of 3 sections with a little over 200 questions. The first section is experimental and science orientated and makes up 40% of the exam. It includes questions which are designed to test learning, language, memory, thinking etc... The second section is based on social science and makes up 43% of the exam. This section will focus on social psychology and personality. The final section is general and counted as 17% of the exam. This part has questions on the history of psychology, research methods and statistics. More information is available on our article about GRE.
  • Any internship or job experience in the field should be documented
  • You may be called for an interview from the institution you’ve applied for


Studying abroad is a great option for students who want to excel in the field of psychology. Depending on the country you want to study in, the level of the course that suits you and your specific interest in the field, you can narrow down the university list and decide on which programme to apply for.

As you are doing your research, make sure to look for some scholarships for international students too. You can find more information on scholarships available for international students in our scholarship section.


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