Hennie Nel

PsySSA Student Division

Vice Chair Gauteng


As a third year student getting closer to completing my degree, I often sit and wonder about life after the degree. Will I get into honours, will I from Honours get into Masters? What do I need in order to work in the field of Psychology?

After a brief reflection and quick Google search for employment with BA degree in Psychology, this only returns results for opportunities outside of mental health. Looking further into this, I found that some places require an honours degree and variable amounts of practical experience such as research or working in psychometrics. Where would I gain experience when there are no internships and the B Psyche has been discontinued at many universities?

To practice as a Registered Counsellor a four year accredited B Psych or a B Psych equivalent in Psychology (Accredited by the Board) is required, with an approved 6 month/ 720 hour face-to-face practicum of no more than 12 months part time is required. Further registration for Psychometrics requires an honours and to register as a Psychologist, a Master’s Degree is required, before writing a board exam. (http://www.hpcsa.co.za/PBPsychology/Registration).

Masters selection is another stressor, even if you did great in your honours year or completed your B Psyche with flying colours. Factors concerning the selection criteria are vague and uncertain but final marks, community service, maturity and experience are generally considered very important. A common concern that we have found while discussing this selection, is that the undergrad, honours and even B Psych programmes available does not sufficiently prepare candidates for Master’s selection, in terms of practical experience and emotional maturity, even if the theory is top level. A range of extra-curricular activities may increase your chances but even that is not guaranteed. However, what these activities might bring you is the opportunity to make a connection with Psychologists who can complete a referee report, of which 2-3 are required for applications at most Universities for selection.

Masters selection criteria briefly summarised:

  • Academic abilities
  • Community experience
  • Counselling experience
  • Self-awareness and self-reflection
  • Personality functioning
  • Referees
  • Incomplete applications
  • Personal Motivation

When considering your chances for selection, you soon realise that this is a very competitive field. Of an estimated 200 applications per University, only around 12 are selected at almost every Tertiary institution. Why is this? Because training psychologists are resource intensive, requires hands-on mentoring and supervision, not to mention internship availability.

This may seem daunting, but affecting real change is hardly ever anything else but a struggle, at first. The student division is systematically deconstructing the problem and have already had extensive discussions with peers and professionals on the issue, which has been coming for a long time. The next step we are taking is garnering support for the identified issues, by requesting signatories on our petition that we will present to the PsySSA Presidency for their feedback and support on the issue. Please sign the petition here: Student Petition

Lastly, one of our goals have been establishing psychology societies in campuses around South Africa, that are interconnected with each other, their respective faculties, professionals and policy makers. These societies will hopefully play a vital role in the reconstruction of the academic roots of the discipline to collaboratively assist their students and departments with practical experience, mentorship and other opportunities that are student driven and responsive to current issues.

These societies will also be the dissemination point of information pertaining to possible student-professional ventures, inter-disciplinary collaboration, research opportunities and other practical experiences that will assist in purposeful employment post-academia. Only together can we bridge the gap of what is available to us and what is required by creating our own opportunities and challenging the systems in place constructively and systematically.

I wish you all the best.

Additional Resources:

For further reading, please follow the Facebook link below for reflections on the Master’s selection process by Annindita Hoque – Former PsySSA Student Division Chairperson (April-September ’14).
Current Clinical Psychology Master’s student at UJ:


SA short of psychologists: POLITICS / 13 Nov ’14, 11:23am


Applying for your Psychology Masters? – (Article)


Rhodes University Masters in Psychology:


Stellenbosch Masters selection criteria:


UNISA Masters selection criteria:


HPCSA Scope of Practice:


HPCSA Professional Boards:


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