How to Become a Psychologist in Ontario

First: Obtain An Undergraduate Degree

To become a Psychologist in Ontario there are four different certificates to register under the The College of Psychologists of Ontario. These include a Psychologist with Supervised Practice, Psychological Associate with Supervised Practice, Psychologist Interim Autonomous Practice, and Psychological Associate Interim Autonomous Practice. Overall the minimum requirements is to have a Masters Degree in Psychology with at least four years of post-masters degree experience to register as a Psychological Associate with Supervised practice. So first things first; you need to earn an undergraduate degree in Psychology (or equivalent):

Below are some of the many Ontario schools with Undergraduate Psychology programs:

Undergraduate Schools With Psychology Degrees in Ontario:

York University
Wilfrid Laurier University
University of Windsor
University of Western Ontario
University of Waterloo
University of Toronto
University of Guelph
Trent University
Queens University
Nipissing University
McMaster University
Laurentian University of Sudbury
Lakehead University
Carleton University
Brock University
Ryerson University

Second: Obtain a Masters Degree or Higher

In Ontario you must have at minimum a Masters Degree in Psychology supplemented by four years of related experience after obtaining a Masters Degree in order to register as an Ontario Psychological Associate with a Supervised Practice. The difference between a Psychological Associate and Psychologist in Ontario is as follows:

Psychological Associate: Supervised Practice

  • Applying for a certificate as a Psychological Associated with Supervised Practice required a Psychology Masters Degree, and you must not have previously registered for the practice of psychology anywhere. Or you have a Masters degree, and have been registered elsewhere where the requirements to register are not comparable to Ontario’s registration requirements.

Psychologist: Supervised Practice

  • Applying for a certificate as a Psychologist with a Supervised Practice requires a Doctoral Degree in Psychology, and you must not have been previously registered as a Psychologist anywhere else. Or you have a Doctoral Degree in Psychology and have been registered as a Psychologist for less than five years elsewhere where the requirements are not comparable to Ontario’s registration requirements.

Psychological Associate: Interim Autonomous Practice

  • To register as a Psychological Associate Interim Autonomous Practice certificate you must have been registered on the basis of a Masters Degree for the independent practice of Psychology in a place other than Ontario continuously for five years preceding registration.

Psychologist: Interim Autonomous Practice

  • To register as a Psychologist  Interim Autonomous Practice certificate you must have been registered on the basis of a Doctoral Degree for the independent practice of Psychology in a place other than Ontario continuously for five years preceding registration.

As for Ontario goes, there is no shortage of Undergraduate, and Graduate education to be had. Below are many of the example of Graduate Psychology Programs:

Graduate School Programs in Ontario:

York University

Wilfrid Laurier University

University of Windsor

University of Western Ontario

University of Waterloo

University of Toronto

University of Guelph

Trent University

Queens University

Nipissing University

McMaster University

Lakehead University

Carleton University

Brock University

Ryerson University

Third: Where and How do I Register?

Where to register as a Psychological Associate or Psychologist in Ontario: The College of Psychologists of Ontario.

There is a page at the College’s website for prospective members to help determine which certificate for which you may be eligible to apply for (Psychological Associate, Psychologist etc.). You can find that page HERE. It is a pretty simple algorithmic like questionnaire, but can be used as a simple introduction if you are unaware of the requirements to register as a Psychological Associate or Psychologist in Ontario.

You can apply as a Candidate standing if you are currently completing your Masters degree for a Psychological Associate Candidates, or as a Psychologist Candidate if you are currently accepted into a Doctoral program. This is with the expectation that you are working towards completing your requirements.

Below I will give you a quick skim of what it takes to register in the various registered certificates. If you would like further information on the official registration information as outlined by the The College of Psychologists of Ontario then please visit the Prospective Members page and scroll down to the bottom where you can find out how to register under the following certificates:

Psychological Associate: Supervised Practice

The College of Psychologists of Ontario describes the Psychological Associate with Supervised Practice as a “temporary and transitional period during which the candidate actively prepared for autonomous practice”. The practice should be at least a year, and not more than two years. This is to further asses any danger against the public.

The ultimate goal is to be able to practice autonomously which will in the end require all of the following:

  • Submission of application, three references, and transcripts
  • Masters Degree in Psychology from an acceptable institution
  • At least four years of relatable experience post Masters Degree.
  • Completed your period of ‘supervised practice’.
  • Pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP)
  • Pass the College’s Jurisprudence and Ethics Examination
  • Pass the College’s Oral Examination
  • Completed any further training that may be required by the College.

Psychologist: Supervised Practice

The certificate application requirements for the Psychologist with a Supervised Practice is very similar with a few exceptions, of which the largest is the possession of a Doctoral Degree in Psychology. And the required supervised practice hours must be a minimum of 3000 hours with at least 1500 hours (1 year) being post Doctoral.

Below are all the requirements you should fulfil for the autonomous practice as a Psychologist in Ontario:

  • Submission of application, three references, and transcripts
  • Doctoral Degree in Psychology from an acceptable institution
  • Completed your period of ‘supervised practice’.
  • Pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP)
  • Pass the College’s Jurisprudence and Ethics Examination
  • Pass the  College’s Oral Examination
  • Completed any further training that may be required by the College.

Psychological Associate: Interim Autonomous Practice

To register with a Psychological Associate Interim Autonomous Practice certificate there are essentially two guidelines you must follow:

  1. You have practiced Psychology continuously for five years just previous to applying for the certificate, and this must have been in a jurisdiction that the college has an written agreement with, or the requirements of both are very similar to the College’s.
  2. Be registered in a Canadian jurisdiction registered with the Canadian Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology (CRHSPP) or the National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology.

Psychologist: Interim Autonomous Practice

Registering as a Psychologist  Interim Autonomous Practice is very similar and follows these three generic steps:

  1. You have practiced Psychology continuously for five years just previous to applying for the certificate, and this must have been in a jurisdiction that the college has an written agreement with, or the requirements of both are very similar to the College’s.
  2. Have the current Certificate of Professional Qualification (CPQ) awarded by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) OR
  3. Be registered in a Canadian jurisdiction registered with the Canadian Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology (CRHSPP) or the National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology.

For more information on registering as a Psychological Associate or Psychologist in Ontario please visit the The College of Psychologists of Ontario website.

Further Information On How to Become A Psychologist in Ontario:

The College of Psychologists of Ontario

Canadian Psychological Association – @ CPA

Graduate Guide 2009-2010.PDF – @ Canadian Psychological Association

Ontario Psychological Association

Ontario Association of Psychological Associates

How to Become a Psychologist in Ontario

33 Responses to “How to Become a Psychologist in Ontario”

  1. Jennifer

    What if you have a master of science in sport psychology? I completed this degree at Michigan State University which was housed in the department of education- kinesiology.

    • Psychology Canada

      Hello Jennifer,

      Yes that would be deemed an acceptable degree for applying to become a Psychological Associate: Supervised Practice, but remember you must fulfill all of the requirements to apply which include:

       Have submitted a completed application form and transcripts;
       Have a masters degree in psychology acceptable to the College;
       Have at least four years of acceptable experience after completion of the masters degree;
       Have completed a period of authorized supervised practice;
       Pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP);
       Pass the College’s Jurisprudence and Ethics Examination;
       Pass the College’s Oral Examination;
       Have completed any further training, which may be required by the College.

      So you must complete some form of supervised training after your Masters Degree which amount to 1500 hours. More information can be found on this page here: http://www.cpo.on.ca/new-applicants/supervised-practice/index.aspx?id=356

      And in this Registration Guidelines PDF here: http://www.cpo.on.ca/WorkArea/showcontent.aspx?id=1436

  2. Annie

    I’m currently another senior in high school. I’ve been debating over whether I would like to take the path of a psychologist or go the extra mile and do psychiatry in med school. I know I’m interested in the behavioral and experimental stuff more than the biological aspects. I also know a psychiatrist’s job opportunities and salary is equivalent to a general practitioner, but I’m wondering about psychologist job opportunities and their salary. Friends say psychiatrists with Bcs’s are favored over psychologists with PsyD or BA’s. I’m looking for a professional to shed more light on this topic. Are there really opportunities in Canada for me to practice as a private psychologist and make a good amount of money (what would the salary look like?)? Do I require a BA and PsyD in order to do this?

  3. Psychology Canada

    Hello Annie,

    I know it must be tough being a senior and trying to plan out your career spectrum. As you are aware, there are differences in the ways of becoming a psychologist or psychiatrist, but you must also take into considerations the differences of their roles as well. I would ask yourself why you would like to become a psychology and or psychiatrist. Aside from your interests in experimentation etc. Do you like to help others? Do you have a strong sense of self?

    And yes, it would take “…the extra mile” as you put it to become a Psychiatrist, because in order to do so you must apply to medical school, which may or may not be an easy task for some individuals. Long story short though, you do not have to make a decision before going to University / College, because as long as you try hard enough and keep a high enough GPA you should be able to also make the choice as you grow throughout your Bachelors Degree.

    Of course there are opportunities to work as a Psychologist in Canada whether it be private practice or not, and it has actually been said that the need for Psychologists (or mental health related careers) is growing. Salary expectations as a Psychologist will however vary. This is because owning a private practice is like any other private business; you are selling a service for profit. If you are interested in some exact numbers check out this post at Psychology Canada here: http://www.psychology-canada.ca/careers-in-psychology/

    I hope this has helped you some in making your choices and I wish you luck.

  4. Michelle

    I live in Ontario and I am returning to school to do a honors specialization in Psychology. I already graduated from a double major in Political Science and Spanish modern languages. I am currently working two jobs to support my mother and father whom have lost their job in December. My mother also has alot of health problems so I will be returning to school part time. If my scores are excellent and I decide to apply for a masters in Psychology, do they consider the fact I did my undergrad part time? Also, is it better to do a specialization over a major? What if my marks are excellent? Would I still be able to apply for a masters at a majors level? I have also been working as a Settlement worker full time and have been working with clients adressing different needs. Would they take this into consideration when I aply for a masters in Psych? My aime is to be a Psychologist one day. Is there any tip you can give me to acheive my goal? Sincerely, Lissette

    • Psychology Canada

      Hello Michelle,

      Congratulations on already graduating with a double major. Generally going to school part time to complete an after degree (major in Psychology) will not effect how you are admitted. The biggest contributing factors will most likely be your GPA on a previous specified amount of courses and Graduate Application. In your Graduate Application you will generally also have to write a “Statement of Interest”; a sort of why do you want to pursue this path. There you could explain your desires to want to become a psychology, do a Masters and how you got to this point. As well, doing a Specialization in Psychology may give you an upper hand when applying to a Psychology Masters program, however getting good grades at a major level would suffice just as well, especially if you have other backing support (such as volunteer work and in your case working as a Settlement Worker) By being in a Specialization program this generally shows that you are able to dedicate yourself to that specific discipline, so any way you can show you have the capability to succeed works just as well.

      I would have to say that if you are currently working as a Settlement Worker that this could also aid in your application to a Psychology Graduate program. Graduate Programs like to see that not only are you able to achieve academic success, but also you do have a keen interest in the field of Psychology. It sounds like you try very hard and have a determined personality and this will get you far. Finally, if you already have scouted a few Psychology Graduate programs that interest you, try contacting them directly and asking these exact same questions, sometimes programs differ slightly in various requirements.

      I wish you luck in your journey to becoming a Psychologist and hope I have helped you some.

  5. Tim

    Just wondering whether there is a need to register with the college if I am intending to practice as an I/O psychologist, as the requirements for registration, exams, supervision etc.. required all seem to be more relevant to the clinical field.

    I obtained my I/O doctoral degree abroad and will be returning to Ontario to work soon.

    Thanks for the help, and great website.

    Keep it up :)

    Cheers,
    Tim

    • Psychology Canada

      Hey Tim,

      To be considered a registered Psychologist or Psychological Associate you would have to register with the college. Depending on how you plan to practice as an I/O Psychologist would ultimately determine whether you do this or not, such as you could work in the field but not necessarily be considered a practicing registered Psychologist (dealing with patients etc.) This is because the college itself is the governing body of all Psychologists ensuring everyone in the profession is practicing under competent and ethical psychological services. If you have any further questions try contacting the college itself and they can probably clear up any further confusion – The College of Psychologists of Ontario Contact Page.

      Thank you for your kind words and I wish you the best in your Psychology career!

  6. Allie

    I am currently a grade 11 student in Ontario and I want to become a counseling psychologist. I was wondering what the best/quickest route there is to get to a rewarding job. Also, when I was looking at psychology programs there are Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts, which would be more beneficial or would a program, if I could get into it, specific to counselling psychology be better. What schools in Ontario would you recommend to be the best?

    Thank you,
    Allie

  7. Sarah

    I am currently doing a distance M.C. (Master of Counselling) through the University of Calgary. We do coursework online throughout the fall and winter, and attend school in person in the summer.
    Is this an acceptable degree to apply for the Psychological Associate, even though its not an M.A. or M.Ed? (I have checked with the degree requirements, and it does satisfy them all).
    Also, what are your thoughts (for job prospects) on the idea of registering as a CCC vs. the time and money factor of registering as a psych associate. Is it worth it?
    Thanks!

    • Psychology Canada

      Hello Sarah,

      Congrats on your work doing the Master of Counselling Psychology at the University of Calgary. With regards to your question I would say that if you do satisfy all of the requirements, then you probably can apply as a Psychological Associate. Your best bet however, would be to check directly with The College of Ontario Psychologists (here is the contact page).

      From the Master of Counselling Student Handbook – That you may already be familiar with.

      “The Master of Counselling program is designed to provide students with the graduate academic background required to begin the licensing process through the College of AlbertaPsychologists. However, the academic qualifications include required areas of study from both undergraduate and graduate programs and students are recommended to consult with the College about these requirements (College of Alberta Psychologists). Students from other jurisdictions are encouraged to check out the local registration criteria to ensure that their coursework conforms to those requirements.”

      Thanks and I wish you the best of luck!

  8. Bo

    I received my Masters degree in Clinical Psychology in Alabama. I am now back in Ontario and would like to be able to see clients and utilize my full potential in helping others help themselves. Hence, be able to work in a hospital or in private practice. I have been working in EAP for a year now doing assessments, intakes, and brief therapy over the phone. I would like to branch out and start with some sort of private practice and/or another dimension related to psychology and so forth. I was wondering if there is a difference between a psychological associate and a psychotherapist (I am sure there is..)? I don’t know which association or governing body to join? Which one(s) are recognized and accepted in Ontario? I was told of the transitional Council of the College of Registered Psychotherapists and Registered Mental Health Therapists. Could you send me some information regarding the steps and procedures one must take to become a therapist/counselor in Ontario?

    Thanks a Ton,
    Bo

    • Psychology Canada

      Hey Bo,

      To answer your first question, yes there is a difference between a Psychological Associate and Psychotherapist / Psychologist. The differences lye within how the College of Psychologists of Ontario defines each. In the broad sense –

      Psychological Associate = Masters Degree holders
      Psychologist = Doctoral degree holders

      In your case since you have never registered as a “Psychologist” or “Psychological Associate” anywhere then you would register as a Psychological Associate with a Supervised Practice. This is where you have achieved a Masters Degree and need to acquire 1500 hours of supervised practice to move forward and do autonomous practice as a Psychological Associate.

      You can view all of the information on how to register here – http://www.cpo.on.ca/new-applicants/index.aspx?id=92&ekmensel=14_submenu_0_link_1

      Hope this helps!

  9. Elizabeth Jennings

    I am serious about a career change and interested in becoming a psychotherapist. It has been a while since I graduated with a MA in Political Science and i would be returning to university as a mature student. Would I have start all over again with a BA? Or can I apply to a program that will consider my education and work experience as an asset? ultimately, I would like some advice and insight on what do I need to do follow my calling to help people as a licensed therapist in Ontario.
    I hope you can help with my questions!
    Thanks,
    Elizabeth

    • Psychology Canada

      Hello Elizabeth,

      I apologize for the delay in response and hope this has not hindered your journey / career change in any way. No you would not have to start over again with a BA. Most programs will require an undergraduate degree of some sorts along with some credit in specific courses and of course they would take into account your education and work experience. In fact, becoming a therapist with real life experience would make you a much more suitable candiate. I would phone or visit the websites of any institutions near you and read over all the requirements and if you have any hesitations give them a call. Include everything you can in your application package, compile your best references and include all previous school transcripts. And if you have any hesitations in applying, do not worry as what is the worst that could happen?

  10. Catherine

    I am a Canadian and completed a BA in psychology with upper second class honours at the University of the West Indies in Barbados last year. I volunteered in an orphanage in Ghana,Africa and also worked in Barbados after graduation. Are there any universities in Canada allowing students to register for a Masters degree in psychology commencing September 2012 or January 2013? Have I missed all deadlines? Looking forward to your reply?

    • Psychology Canada

      Hello Catherine,

      I am sorry as well for the delay in response as the site has not been punctually maintained. In reply to your question, yes at this moment in time it would be too late for a Fall intake, however there still may be some institutions with open applications for Winter 2013 depending on where you want to study and what you want to study. For example the University of Athabasca in Alberta will give you until October for a winter semester start – http://gcap.athabascau.ca/application-information/program-application/deadlines

      Otherwise I would look at any institutions around you to see their deadlines as they vary a lot!

  11. Kina

    I am 26 years old and have decided that I’m finally going to follow my passion and pursue psychology. I love helping others by hearing their thoughts and what may be troubling them, while helping them come to their own conclusions and not imparting them with my “opinion.” With that being said, I have enrolled into the 3-year Bachelor of Arts: Psychology program at Athabasca University in Alberta. I would like to attain full psychologist accreditation once I have completed the program there. I am interested in the social/psychological aspect of the program. Human behaviour as opposed to the scientifics behind it.

    Do I need to obtain my Masters and Doctorate separately or can I complete them at the same time? I have read a few confusing pieces on this and would like some clarification. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

    • Psychology Canada

      Hello Kina,

      Congratulations on your enrolment at Athabasca University. To clarify, in Alberta to become a fully licensed Psychologist you need a minimum of a Masters Degree. In order to get a Masters Degree you first need to obtain you Bachelors. Athabasca University also has Masters programs for counselling psychology which will allow you to do this and no you cannot do it at the same time. Also, you generally need a 4 year bachelors degree to apply to a Psychological Masters, however Athabasca does not necessarily require this, which you can see through reading this page on their website – http://gcap.athabascau.ca/master-counselling/admission-requirements/4-year-academic-degree

      Best of luck!

  12. Bella

    I graduated with a BA in Criminal Justice & Political Science in 2009 from an American University, with the intentions to go to Law school after. After working in a law firm, my plans have now changed and I would now like to go back to school and pursue my initial dreams of being a Psychologist, particularily a school Psychologist. I’m living in Ontario now and was wondering if I have to start over again and get an BA in Psychology or if I can just take some required courses that would qualify me to do my Masters.

  13. Abigail

    I currently hold a BSc Honours in Psychology and am about to finish my MPH in Epidemiology. I am thinking about continuing school and doing a master’s and most likely a PhD in psychology as well. My question is do I need to apply and obtain a degree in Clinical Psychology in order to register as a practicing psychologist with the College of Psychologists of Ontario? Or can I get a non-clinical psychology PhD degree? For example, I’m interested in pursuing a graduate degree in Health Psychology? Is this an acceptable program to become registered?

    Thank you

  14. bill

    I have 2 random questions.
    1. Who would most likely deal with a patient who has severe mental health issues? Psychologist or psychiatrist? i always held the notion physiatrists deal with more severe cases than psychologists. maybe you can debunk this myth for me.

    2. If you were to obtain all the requirements to become a psychologist are you considered a doctor? Does it give you legal authorization to put DR. before your surname?

    Thanks

  15. zoey

    hey im still a high school student starting uni this year, if i get a BA degree and get my masters do i have to get my 4 years experience in graduate school or in uni?

  16. Faith

    Hi. Thank you for the wonderful information.

    I am currently residing in the Philippines and is exploring the option of moving to Canada to practice psychology. I am finishing my thesis to complete my Masters level of education in a reputable PH university. In the requirements, it says that I must obtain a 4-year post-masters relevant work experience, should I do this in the Philippines or can I apply for a relevant employment in Canada already to complete this requirement?

    Another question is, what is the thing to do if I discover that my educational credentials are not equivalent (or I have some units lacking) to those that are required?

    I hope you can shed some light on the matter. Thank you in advance.

  17. Unknown

    so basically ;
    1. I need to get an undergraduate degree from University of Toronto (I wanna study here).
    2. Get a masters degree from the department of psychology, UoT.
    3. Register and “complete” as a Psychological Associate or Psychologist in Ontario.

    Ok so I have some questions:
    1. To get an undergraduate degree, do I have to study 4 years in that university or can I do the 2+2 (2 years of college and 2 years of university)?
    2. How do I get a masters degree? How many years of university/college do I have to do?
    3. How long does it take to register and OFFICIALLY be a psychologist? Like years between finishing high school and officially being a psychologist in Ontario?

  18. Aimee

    Hi! First of all, thanks a lot for your information! After reading all the info and comments, I still have some questions about practicing in Ontario as my background is a bit complicated, hope you can help me with it.

    I had a BSc in Kiensiology from U of Waterloo, then earned a MSc and a MSocSc in Applied Psychology in Hong Kong. I haven’t got any practical experience in being a psychologist yet, so I am wondering am I eligible right now to apply for Psychological Associate in Ontario? If my ultimate goal is to get a PhD in Clinical Psychology or PsyD, do you think its feasible while working as a psychological assoicate and studying the PhD at the same time in Ontario?

    Thanks a lot for your help and look forward to your reply!

  19. Nisa

    Hello,

    I am a Toronto high school student, who is planning to be a child psychologist who works in a hospital or so not self employed, in the future. I love kids especially those with disabilities like autism or other condition. Do you think it is a good choice? What do I need to do in university to be successful child psychologist in Toronto.

    Thank you for reading my comment

  20. Shanelle Banfield

    Hi I am currently out of high school, but I have 3 more optional courses to complete online in order to get my high school diploma. I am interested in attending college or university in the fall of 2014. I want to become a Consumer Psychologist but from what I understand you must get a Bachelor’s degree in University and then complete a Master’s degree in graduate school. This intimidates me because I don’t really have the “university level” grades for it. I am wondering if it is possible to get a Bachelor’s degree in COLLEGE and then get a Masters degree after theat. or is it only offered in University? Also, should I focus my last three high school classes in Psychology and Sciences? Will this make a difference if I had to go to university? Thank you!

  21. Mark Peart

    HI,
    I am a C.Y.W with a certification in addictions and counselling from Centennial Collage. I have been working in the field for over 10 years. I would like to open my own practice some day and I am considering going back to school to become a psychologist. What steps could you recommend I take?

  22. zahra

    Hi,
    I am about to finish my master degree in clinical psychology in Iran and my B.S was in midwifery.I would like to apply for Phd degree in psychology and as a registerd psychology in ontario since I am immigratig to canada.My questions are is it better first to apply for Phd or registration?If i dont have much job experience,only about 700 hours in iran can i apply for registration and Phd ?even that 700 is acceptable as experience in canada?

  23. Nicole

    Hello

    I am a Canadian student who just finished my undergraduate degree in Psychology at the University of Ottawa. For my Masters and PhD, I would like to move to England to pursue my graduate studies. I want to ensure that if I choose to return to live in Ontario once again, my degree would be equivalent to that of a Canadian university and I can practice as a psychologist in Canada. I have tried to do research on this topic already, but have not been able to get a clear answer because I do not yet have the specific details of the degree. Can you give me any more information on this topic?

    Thanks

  24. Meredith

    Does it matter whether I do a BA or BSc in psychology? Can I get a phD or psyD with a BA and a BSc? And if I wanted to go down the path of psychiatry do I have to do a BSc or can I get away with a BA?

  25. Christina

    Hello,

    I recently graduated law school and am completing my articling. I have determined that being a lawyer is not for me and would like to return to my passion for psychology (which I did an undergraduate in). As I love the client interactions, advice giving and client meetings, I would like to become a counselling psychologist or therapist (perhaps in the area of law enforcement personnel ect.). I know I must begin by obtaining a masters in the area of counselling. However, when researching MA of counselling, most require a education or social bachelor. Is there a way around this? or must I complete a bachelor in one of those topics first? In addition, I do not have much experience in the area of counselling in order to submit my application and references. Is there a way around this? My worry is that I already spent 4 years of my life per suing the wrong degree and profession. I also cannot afford to pay for another 6 years of school.