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How to Become a Parapsychologist

Updated on February 10, 2017
A subject participating in a Ganzfeld experiment, investigating telepathy.
A subject participating in a Ganzfeld experiment, investigating telepathy. | Source

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.

What Do Parapsychologists Research?

Parapscychologists 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 actually it might hinder your credibility. A love of science would stand you in better stead. Ideally, a parapsychologist will have:

  • a methodical approach;
  • an open mind, but tempered with
  • scepticism;
  • curiosity;
  • resilience.

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.

Parapsychology 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 Masters degree or a PhD in parapsychology.

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.

Parapsychology Degrees

Although you can't study for a major in parapsychology at undergraduate level, there are opportunities to study at 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

Type of Degree/Course
Mode 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
This list is not exhaustive and courses may change.

Parapsychology Jobs

Finding a parapscychology 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!


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  • CrisSp profile image

    CrisSp 5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

    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!

  • Judi Bee profile image

    Judith Hancock 5 years ago from UK

    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 :-)

  • profile image

    markbennis 5 years ago

    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 Bee profile image

    Judith Hancock 5 years ago from UK

    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 :-)

  • sofs profile image

    sofs 5 years ago

    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.

  • profile image

    markbennis 5 years ago

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

  • theraggededge profile image

    Bev 5 years ago from Wales

    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.

  • GoodLady profile image

    Penelope Hart 5 years ago from Rome, Italy

    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.

  • Judi Bee profile image

    Judith Hancock 5 years ago from UK

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

    Thanks for your comments, really appreciated :-)

  • Judi Bee profile image

    Judith Hancock 5 years ago from UK

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

  • Judi Bee profile image

    Judith Hancock 5 years ago from UK

    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 Bee profile image

    Judith Hancock 5 years ago from UK

    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 :-)

  • profile image

    Rohini 22 months ago

    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 Bee profile image

    Judith Hancock 22 months ago from UK

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

  • profile image

    Erin 21 months ago

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

  • Judi Bee profile image

    Judith Hancock 21 months ago from UK

    No, sorry - best of luck though.

  • profile image

    Shawna Phd 9 months ago

    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.

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