Psychology Education in Australia

Wilson, Peter
Provost, Stephen
Southern Cross University,

Australia has 38 Departments or Schools of Psychology in its 39 Universities. Psychology departments are generally large organizational units within each University in terms of staff numbers? Student enrolments and budgets. Psychology departments cater for undergraduate students who either wish to pursue Psychology as a career or wish to study components of Psychology within other degree programs. A recent trend has been towards the development of 4-years degrees in Psychology with entry at year 1, in contrast to the more traditional model which requires students to complete a 3-year degree and apply for a place in a fourth year (Honours) program. Psychology departments generally attract students with high academic performance levels. The minimum academic criterion for registration as a Psychologist in Australia is four-year sequence of study in approved Psychology course. The Australian Psychological Society is responsible for a comprehensive system of course accreditation, and has developed guidelines for accreditation based on the scientific-professional model. The accreditation guidelines cover areas such the broad curriculum, degree nomenclature, staffing and resources. The process of accreditation, which requires a site visit, ensures that a high standard of education is achieved throughout the country. Specialization in particular areas of Psychology are not permitted at the undergraduate level. Professional training and education takes place at the post-graduate levels (i.e., Masters, PhD, and Dpsych) over a period of 2 to 4 years depending on the level of the degree. The PhD degree is heavily based around a research program, although additional coursework components are available in some Universities and are currently being encouraged by the federal government as part of lots plans for change in research training in Universities. There is a strong focus within Australian universities on the scientific basis of Psychology. The research culture is particularly strong within Australian Psychology departments, and fourth year (Honours) students are expected to undertake a substantial research project under close supervision. Empirical enquiry is highly valued, and students are thoroughly educated in research methods and statistics at the undergraduate level. There has been considerable growth of Universities in the regional/rural areas of Australia in recent years, and this trend has coincided with the development of education by distance-education/flexible delivery methods. Some Australian Universities also offer their degree to international students in their home countries, particularly within Asia.