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How to Become a Parapsychologist

Judi likes to write about trending topics from history to animal care to travel.

Learn about studying and working in the field of parapsychology.

Learn about studying and working in the field of parapsychology.

What Is Parapsychology?

Parapsychology is the branch of psychology that studies seemingly paranormal phenomena such as telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, and near-death experiences. Originally, parapsychology was known as psychical research, and the two terms are often used interchangeably. Parapsychology has its roots in the nineteenth century when early forays into psychical research attracted scientists, scholars, philosophers, and even politicians.

Not all scientists accept that parapsychology is a legitimate science. Some view it as a pseudoscience, pointing to its lack of success in demonstrating any conclusive evidence of the phenomena it examines.

A subject participating in a Ganzfeld experiment investigating telepathy

A subject participating in a Ganzfeld experiment investigating telepathy

What Do Parapsychologists Research?

Parapsychologists research various phenomena, including:

  • ESP (extra-sensory perception)
  • Clairvoyance
  • Telepathy
  • Precognition/premonition
  • Reincarnation
  • Out-of-body experiences
  • Near-death experiences
  • Poltergeist activity

Characteristics of a Parapsychologist

If you are interested in becoming a parapsychologist, what characteristics should you have? A belief in the paranormal might lead you to think that you are the ideal candidate—but it might actually hinder your credibility. A love of science would stand you in better stead. Ideally, a parapsychologist will have:

  • a methodical approach;
  • an open mind;
  • scepticism (to temper the open mind);
  • curiosity;
  • resilience.

Resilience Is Essential

Don't take the resilience part lightly. There may be a huge appetite for the paranormal amongst the general public, but the scientific community isn't so partial. Parapsychology really is on the fringes of science, so if you choose to pursue a career in this field, you may well run up against ridicule and hostility. What you won't run into is generous funding. So, a great deal of resilience is needed to remain in an underfunded, often derided, career.

Still interested? Great! Here's how and where to study.

Courses and Training

There are very few accredited parapsychology courses worldwide. You can find a few online, but these are not accredited by any recognised educational establishments. You cannot take an undergraduate degree in parapsychology anywhere. The best you can hope for is to take parapsychology as a minor with a psychology major.

This may seem disappointing, but actually, in light of the scarcity of jobs in this field, it's probably a good thing; at least you will have a useful first degree, even if you go on to study for a master's degree or a PhD in parapsychology.

Societies and Organisations

If you have an interest in parapsychology, a good starting point to widen your expertise is to join a reputable organisation.

Degree Programs

Although you can't study for a major in parapsychology at the undergraduate level, there are opportunities to study at the graduate level and to do so through distance learning. The UK leads the way in parapsychology courses, but you can find some courses in the USA too.

Universities Offering Parapsychology Courses

This list is not exhaustive and courses may change.

UniversityType of Degree/CourseMode of Learning

Franklin Pierce University, New Hampshire

Has offered Parapsychology as a minor in the past and may do so again


Koestler Parapsychology Unit, University of Edinburgh

Introductory Course

Online Distance Learning

Koestler Parapsychology Unit, University of Edinburgh



Koestler Parapsychology Unit, University of Edinburgh



Coventry University


Online Distance Learning

Goldsmiths, University of London

BSc - Psychology with an Anomalistic Psychology module


University of Northampton

BSc - Psychology with Parapsychology emphasis


Jobs in the Field

Finding a parapsychology course is difficult, but finding a job is almost impossible. The parapsychology field is small and select. If you are going to find a job, it will most likely be in one of the universities doing academic research or with one of the few private research facilities. Funding for parapsychology has dwindled over the past few decades. It peaked in the USA in the 1970s, at which time the establishment became disillusioned with the lack of progress and funds were diverted elsewhere.

The chances are that you might have to take a job in a mainstream scientific area and use this to finance your parapsychology research on a part-time basis. Your best chance for success is to get a good degree bolstered by a post-graduate degree from a recognised institute. If you can build up a network of contacts, so much the better. If you are lucky, you will have a fascinating career!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


Shawna Phd on September 09, 2016:

I am interested because someone whom is a Parapsychologist is working on me. I am a Psychologist and Psychotherapist. Now, I could become a Parapsychologist, since I was born with it as well. Very insightful, Thank You.

Judi Brown (author) from UK on September 19, 2015:

No, sorry - best of luck though.

Erin on September 19, 2015:

Hi, I am trying to become a parapsychologist w/ a specialty in trinitarian wicca. Can you help?

Judi Brown (author) from UK on August 31, 2015:

Hi Rohini - you need to contact the organisations and colleges mentioned to find out what their current requirements are. Thanks for commenting.

Rohini on August 30, 2015:

Hi....I'm a 10th pass student and I want to join parapsychology.I'm really really interested in this field.......Please suggest me something what course should I do after 10th to take admission in this course and how much percentage is required for this.

Judi Brown (author) from UK on May 15, 2012:

Hi GoodLady - I wish I could have added the links to the sites from the table, but I couldn't within a table capsule. I think that I will add another capsule so that people can link to those courses and find out info like the HoD etc. It is all very interesting, but I think it needs to be useful too if they are going to continue getting funding.

Once again, thanks for your comments, I really appreciate them :-)

Judi Brown (author) from UK on May 15, 2012:

Hi theraggededge - yes, I guess you could get a media job, will add that in - thanks for the suggestion.

Thanks for taking the time to comment, much appreciated :-)

Judi Brown (author) from UK on May 15, 2012:

Hi Mark - no worries, hope you something interesting :-)

Judi Brown (author) from UK on May 15, 2012:

Hi sofs - how interesting to work on a project like that. Must have been fascinating.

Thanks for your comments, really appreciated :-)

Penelope Hart from Rome, Italy on May 15, 2012:

Goldsmiths offers a Bsc? Wonder who the head of the department is? Wonder where they get their funding from? I did my MA there. What was wrong with it was that there were no connections to the workplace which was weird since some of the courses were very select. (As we can see here with this interesting module).

Interesting topic, very.

Bev G from Wales, UK on May 15, 2012:

How about media jobs? Journalist or presenter? There seems to be no shortage of TV shows for this topic. Great hub as usual, Judi B.

markbennis on May 15, 2012:

Thanks Judi I will check those parapsychology societies out, sounds very interesting, TC.

Sophie on May 14, 2012:

I do agree with you, though the common public finds such information interesting the scientific community does look kindly upon this field of knowledge.. I had worked in a project of near death experience years ago and found it hugely interesting.. but as you say.. making a living off it is difficult. Great information provided in a clear and concise manner.

Judi Brown (author) from UK on May 14, 2012:

Hi markbennis - I don't blame you for wanting a job like this, it would be absolutely fascinating. Shame there isn't more funding, but apparently the results (or lack of them) don't warrant it.

Interesting idea about brain activity - I have no idea, but I bet if you follow the links to the parapsychology societies there will be more information there - some of them publish quarterly journals too.

Thanks very much for taking the time to comment, much appreciated :-)

markbennis on May 14, 2012:

Great hub and a fascinating subject to be able to work in, I would love a job like this, investigating these phenomenon’s, I think there is so much to discover. You know I have had a suspicion that most of the paranormal activities occur within a set frequency range.

I have an idea but its just random but could there be more findings if we were to really know what frequency levels our thoughts are ranged on. I know they can use EEG machines, but they are more to do with electrical signature picked up from the brains activity.

But has anyone or is there data out their which has found out what frequency our thoughts are ranged within?

Because tests that are carried out within these ranges could really or possibly open the doors to some new findings, just a hunch though.

Anyway love the subject matter, and voted up!

Judi Brown (author) from UK on May 14, 2012:

Hi CrisSp - the lack of jobs is a serious downer, but I guess it means that only the very best are involved in this field. And of course it could make a fascinating hobby anyway - there's tonnes of information on the societies' websites.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting, I appreciate it :-)

CrisSp from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on May 14, 2012:

What a very interesting hub except for the fact that job opportunity is kind of scarce in this field! At any rate, it makes me want to read and Google more about it. Cheers!