Reached that point in your undergraduate degree where you start to contemplate what comes next? For me this happened at the end of my second year of university; everything began to matter that much more.
After a summer of contemplating counselling, health, clinical, forensic, graduate jobs or even working my way up in the supermarket I was working in; I reapplied for my disabled student’s allowance and that really got me thinking… Apart from diagnosing my dyslexia and other students learning disabilities
What do educational psychologists actually do?
To answer this question I did the thing all students do… I googled it… This did not really help a lot of subjective information and a discussion of the lack of Educational Psychologists in the UK.
Next, I went to the BPS Website to see what they could tell me about educational psychology. Practitioners generally work with young people and children aged 0-25.
The work itself is incredibly versatile, working with learning needs, emotional and behavioural needs, physical disabilities, sensory needs, social skills difficulties and concentration difficulties.
This can be through psychological assessments such as that which most people know of educational psychologists through. Although it can also be part of the educational psychologist’s role to do consultations, one to one and group interventions, supporting staff development, supporting parents, research and evaluation, multi-agency work and strategic work.
It is worth mentioning that most educational psychologists do not spend a great amount of time working solely with individuals but take a more managerial role in ensuring that procedures are put in place to help the young person in day to day life as a result of their findings.
Essentially, it is an educational psychologists job to take all learning needs which a young person may have and work to improve their learning environment in order to improve on their learning experience in any way possible.
Sound like something you might want to do?
How to become an educational psychologist
First things first! Psychology degree accredited by the BPS with a 2:1 or above! Without the 2:1 it is very unlikely that you will be able to proceed straight onto a postgraduate in educational psychology. Although masters and undergraduate students can both apply for educational psychology postgraduates.
In Scotland, it is possible to become accredited by the BPS after a Masters followed by a stage 2 conversion course, which is explained on the BPS website (Although only Strathclyde and Dundee currently offer this). However, in the rest of the UK, it requires a 3-year doctorate, there are 16 universities offering these in the UK.
All educational psychology postgraduates require at least a year of work experience before applying, some are more strict than others in the type of experience although one year of full time paid work experience is required by most doctorate courses.
It might feel like you’re progressing quickly enough but I like to think of it as a reason to relax! This is a full year for you to decide what you want to do while also working towards the goal of becoming an educational psychologist.
A year out of university to learn about education and if you decide to go another way then you haven’t embarked on a doctorate or masters which wasn’t right for you. Not to mention the money!
I have been advised that the module selection in your undergraduate will not affect your chances of successfully applying for a postgraduate so breathe out, the marks matter more than whether child psychology was an option.
As with many postgraduate courses, the competition over places doing educational psychology is pretty high! Of the universities I have spoken to there is around 15 applications for every place on an educational psychology doctorate so it’s common to have to apply a few times before successfully getting a place.
Advice which I would give is to enjoy your undergraduate degree and don’t apply for postgraduate in anything until you’re absolutely sure that this is what you want to do.
As part of my own journey toward becoming an educational psychologist, I am currently researching the student adjustment to university for students with a diagnosed learning disability. If this applies to you- especially if you enjoyed this article please participate by clicking this link.