How To Become A Psychologist In Malaysia?

Study Psychology in Malaysia

Study Psychology in Malaysia

Education Pathway to Be a Professional Psychologist in Malaysia

To become a Psychologist in Malaysia, one needs to obtain at least a Masters Degree in Psychology. The Masters is the minimum requirement to enter the field of Psychology. You could pursue a PhD. In order to advance to the top of the industry or prepare for private practice, a PhD or PsychD is recommended. Internships and/or practicums are strongly advised for psychology students while completing their degree.

In addition, currently there is no regulatory body for licensing or professional body for certification. Find out how you can become a Psychologist in Malaysia after completing your SPM or IGCSE/O-Levels.

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What do Malaysian Students Need to do to Become a Psychologist?

What is the education pathway to Become a Psychologist in Malaysia?

Students after SPM or IGCSE/O-Levels will need at least 5 credits including Maths and 1 Science subject as well as passes in BM and Sejarah for SPM graduates. With these results you can enter a Foundation course or a Pre-University Programme such as A-Levels, SACEi, AUSMAT, etc.

Upon completion of the Pre-University Programme, students will enter into the Psychology degree programme for 3 years. When you graduate, you can then join a Masters Programme in Psychology.

What are the Psychology Degree Entry Requirements at Malaysia’s Private Universities

The entry requirements will vary from university to university. Below is just a guide on the minimum required.

  • A-Levels – 1 C, 1 D
  • STPM – 2 Cs
  • UEC – 5 Bs
  • South Australian Matriculation – ATAR 65
  • Canadian Pre-U – Average 65 (6 subjects)
  • Foundation Programmes – Pass all subjects (minimum 50% Credits)
  • Diploma Programmes – Pass all subjects (minimum 30% Credits)

*Pre-requisites – The standard entry requirement of 3 SPM/IGCSE/O-Level Credits (including credits in 1 Math subject & 1 Science subject) still applies to all students. Malaysian students also have to attain a Pass in SPM Bahasa Melayu & Sejarah.  Some universities may have additional English requirements.

What are the Entry Requirements for a Masters in Psychology?

Students interested to study a Masters in Psychology would need a Bachelor’s degree of at least 3 years’ study in Psychology from a recognised university with at least a 2nd Class Honours (Upper division), or a minimum CGPA of 3.0 or equivalent.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Psychologist In Malaysia?

The duration taken for students after secondary school to become a professional psychologist will take about 6 to 8 years. After secondary school, students will take a Pre-University Programme which will vary from 1 years to 1.5 years. Upon completion of the Pre-University Course, students will enter the Bachelor Degree in Psychology and study for 3 years.

When you graduate, you can either work for a few year before continuing on to the Masters or you can enter directly into the the Masters programme. The Masters programme will take about 2 years to complete.

Are Psychologists in Demand in Malaysia?

In 2021, Mental Health Promotion Advisory Council member Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said there was a need for the ministry to review its resources, including increasing the number of counsellors and collaborating with agencies under other ministries.

He said Befrienders KL received an average of 100 calls a day, with a 52 per cent increase recorded during the MCO 3.0 compared to the first MCO.

There is currently a severe shortage of clinical psychologist where the ratio of a clinical psychologist is only 1:980,000. Lack of clinical psychologists means long wait for patients. Clinical psychology is one of the most popular sub-fields within the discipline of psychology. It involves the application of psychological theories, principles and methods to the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders and other forms of abnormal behaviour.

Traditionally, clinical psychologists worked in the department of psychiatry in hospitals. Their role was to utilise their skills of administering and interpreting standardised psychological tests to help psychiatrists with their diagnoses as well as in treatment and psychotherapy.

Today, the field of clinical psychology has branched into a number of sub-specialisations in identifying and diagnosing psychological, emotional or behavioural issues, as following: administering and interpretation of standardised psychological tests, involve in treatment of psychological disorders, provide counselling, psychotherapy, and intervention, involve in health promotion, neuropsychological assessment and forensic, conduct lectures in the colleges, university or teaching hospitals, conduct research, publish research findings in industry journals.

  • Based on National Health and Morbidity Surveys, in 2015, 4.2 million ( 1 in 3 Malaysians) were affected by mental health problems. Yet, the country severely lacks clinical psychologists to treat such patients.
  • In the span of a decade, mental health problems increased from 10.7% in 1996 to 11.2% in 2006. And nearly a decade after (in 2015), it rose to 29.2%.
  • The 2019 National Health and Morbidity Survey showed that nearly half a million Malaysians were already feeling symptoms of depression.
  • In 2017, there were only 360 registered psychiatrists for both the country’s public and private sectors.
  • In 2019, the states of WP Putrajaya, Negeri Sembilan, Perlis, Sabah, and Melaka had the highest prevalence of adult depression in the country.
  • The Malaysia Communications and Multimedia Commissions reported that out of 14,000 students surveyed, 70% experienced online harassment in 2019.
  • A total of 1,081 suicide attempts in Malaysia were recorded in 2020 alone.
  • Only RM344.8 million was allocated for mental health care in 2020. This figure represents less than 2% of Malaysia’s total budget for healthcare for the year.
  • By 2030, mental health statistics in Malaysia are expected to impact the economy by US$6 trillion.
Which are the Top Private Universities Offering Psychology Degree Programmes in Malaysia?
Is there a Professional Body for Psychologists in Malaysia?

Graduates can join the MALAYSIAN SOCIETY OF CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY (Persatuan Psikologi Klinikal Malaysia) as a member.

The Malaysian Society of Clinical Psychology was established in 2010 by a group of clinical psychologists who were passionate about developing the field of clinical psychology in Malaysia while educating the Malaysian public about mental health and treatment. As an organisation comprised of professionals as well as student members, we hope to promote continuous education in clinical psychology.

The idea for a professional association for clinical psychologists began in the early 2000 with a handful of clinical psychologists working towards having a professional voice and registration to protect professional integrity as well as public interest. Due to the small number of available clinical psychologists then it took a number of years before more clinical psychologists became interested in setting up a professional organization. Issues that led to the need for a professional association included professional registration, representation, regulation, and indemnity. Meetings were held in Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Health Psychology Unit of UKM’s Kuala Lumpur campus, as well as at HELP University College in building up and refining objectives for a professional association.

By 2009, a committed group began working towards setting up a protem committee for what we now know as the Malaysian Society of Clinical Psychology. A meeting of around 40 clinical psychologists in Dec 2009 elected a protem committee that then worked on registering the Society with the Registrar of Societies.

“Clinical psychologist” is a person who has received postgraduate training in the field of clinical psychology; which specializes in the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. The MSCP membership is open to all clinical psychologists and postgraduate clinical psychology trainees; whose work and postgraduate are consistent with the objectives of MSCP

Do I need to be licensed or registered to practise as a psychologist in Malaysia?

Registration with the Malaysian Society of Clinical Psychology (MSCP) means that your training is acknowledged, and that the MSCP would be able to endorse you. At present, clinical psychologists in Malaysia need to abide by the Allied Health Professions Act 2016.

The Allied Health Professions Act (2016), that legally protects the term Clinical Psychologist. Prior to the law anyone could call themselves a Clinical Psychologist (and there are several untrained practitioners that do). The law is to prevent people claiming to be a Clinical Psychologist unless they are fully qualified.

What are the Requirements Recognised by the Malaysian Society of Clinical Psychology (MSCP) to Practice as Clinical Psychologists in Malaysia?

Minimum training requirements to be recognized as practicing Clinical Psychologist by MSCP includes:

  • Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology that is accredited by a regional accreditation body.
  • The Clinical Psychology program must include practicum component with the appropriate diagnostics, psychotherapeutic techniques, and psychological assessments.
  • Fulfilment of a minimum of 1500 supervised hours, with at least 700 direct client contact hours
How Many Clinical Psychologists are there in Malaysia?

In 2021, Malaysia recorded about 300 clinical psychologists registered as full members with the Malaysian Society of Clinical Psychology (MSCP), but only around 200 are actively seeing clients. We are at the ratio of clinical psychologist and Malaysian population of 1:980, 000, when the ideal ratio is 1:5, 000.

Top 10 Tips on How to Choose the Best University to Study Psychology in Malaysia

Here’s a list of Top 10 Tips on choosing a top private university or college in Malaysia to study your Psychology Degree course.

1. Recognition & Reputation of the Psychology Courses in Malaysia
  • Is the Psychology course popular at that university or college?
  • What is the reputation or ranking of the private university in Malaysia? Global ranking by QS World University Rankings or locally by MQA in the SETARA
  • Is the Psychology course recognised and approved by the Ministry of Education Malaysia?
  • Is the Psychology Degree course accredited by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA)?
  • Awards won by the university, staff or students for the particular course of interest. The number of awards won would be a guide on how good the university is for the course.
  • Is the degree programme accredited by the relevant professional bodies?
2. Academic Quality of the Psychology Course at the University in Malaysia
  • Subjects offered in the Pscyhology course (Are they relevant, up-to-date, and help you to achieve your career goals)
  • Entry requirements for the Pscyhology Course at the university or college in Malaysia
  • Faculty contact/classes taught by full-time qualified & experienced faculty
  • Quality of lecturers. What are their qualifications? How many years of experience in teaching?
  • Ask your friends who have studied there or currently studying there for their opinion on the teaching quality, environment and facilities.
  • Do they have enough students to start a class?
  •  How many students do they have studying that course at the university?
  •  What is the duration of the course? When are the intake dates?

3. General Facilities at the University

  • When choosing a university or college in Malaysia, it is important for students to visit the campus and see the facilities and feel the culture of the students to see if it fits you.
  • Size of the university.
  • Campus resources (labs, library or resource centre, wifi, computer access, sports facilities, etc.)
4. Facilities for the SpeCific Field of Study at the University or College in Malaysia

It is important for the college or university to have the necessary facilities related to your field of study so that you can gain the necessary skills in your undergraduate education in Malaysia. The university doesn’t necessarily need to have all the facilities needed but should have the basic ones. Specialised labs will depend on the area of study. In addition, you will need to look at the subjects offered to see which one fits your career goals and area of specialisation that you want to pursue.

5. Cost for your Pscyhology Course Studies in Malaysia
  • How much money do I have to pay for the course and cost of living? Ask your parents. Note that you will need to have enough to pay the tuition fees as well as your cost of living. (Costs for university studies in Malaysia would include tuition, hostel, food, transportation, entertainment, etc.)
  • What are the Financial assistance available at the university? (Scholarships, PTPTN Loan, EPF withdrawal, etc)
  • Is the PTPTN loan available for the course at the university?
  • How much are the tuition fees? Does it include the exam and other fees?
  • How much is on-campus accommodation?
  • How much is off-campus accommodation? (Off-campus apartments, houses, condominiums) Note that it might be cheaper to find off campus accommodation on your own with friends. Is the accommodations near eateries, banks, entertainment, public transportation, safe & secure, etc.?
6. Student Environment at the University & College
  • What is the student culture at the university? (English-speaking environment, ambitious, serious about studies, lifestyle or party university, etc) The language spoken mostly at the college by the students may also matter if you don’t know Mandarin or BM or English. If most of the students speak Mandarin at that university then it will not help you to improve your English. Having a good command of the English language helps you to get good jobs and promotions.
  • Size of the university or college in Malaysia. Some students prefer a large campus with sports facilities and other resources while other students like small colleges with family-like environment. A small college may offer individualised attention, as well as a more intimate and personalised experience. for your studies You might even want to think about how far you want to walk to get from one class to another in a large university campus. Even those little details may affect your decision.
  • Make up of the student body (diversity, international students, gender, etc.) Universities with a good proportion of international students will help you to improve your English language skills since you would need to communicate with them in English. In addition, you will learn about their culture, behaviour and discover new ideas. These skills will be useful to you when you work overseas or in a multi-national company.
7. Internships for the Psychology Course in Malaysia
  • Does the university or college have a strong internship or Co-Op programme?
  • What are the companies partnered with the university?
  • How long is the internship programme? How is it carried out?
8. Safety of the Surrounding Area of the University or College
  • Is the university or college campus a safe area? Safety within the campus and outside.
  • Have there been many snatch thefts or robberies around the university or college?
9. Students Activities Available at the University
  • What are the Extra-curricular activities available? (Student organisations, clubs, sports, etc.)
  • What are the Student Support Services available?
10. Location of the University and Transportation
    • Location of the university or college. Is it in the city, suburbs or country side? You should also consider the ambience of your surroundings when choosing a university. If you can’t live without nightlife, think city! If you’re into the great outdoors, you might want to go rural. Some students prefer a city life while other students prefer a quieter university environment away from the city. On the other hand, if you’re used to shopping malls and cinemas and choose a university in a rural area, you might get bored.
    • Transportation. Is the university accessible to you? What are the public transportation available?
    • Does the university provide a free bus shuttle to link to other transportation hubs?
    • Is the university near bus stops or LRT station or MRT station?
    • If you drive, is there enough parking spots? How much is the parking rate for daily or monthly?


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