What’s the difference between a B Degree and a BPsych?

Following the widespread distribution of our post – Things I wish I was told before my Undergraduate Degree in Psychology? – Cognition & Co has been inundated with questions regarding the differences in studying a B Degree in Psychology and a BPsych. We have since created the following flow chart to explain and describe the routes available to anyone wanting to study further and gain a professional registration from the HPCSA;

B Degree

A B Degree in Psychology provides training for students who want to develop psychological knowledge and people skills for use in people-oriented careers. It also provides the foundation for building a professional qualification in psychology. These B Degrees are usually a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Social Science, or Bachelor of Human Science, etc.

A B Degree should extend over a period of at least 3 years of full-time study. In order to meet the regulations of the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) as part of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF), students are required to accumulate 360 credits over the period of 3 years to exit with a recognized Bachelor’s degree with an NQF level 7.

These Psychology Bachelor’s degrees are usually purely academic and do not include any practical aspects such as internships. An undergraduate BA in Psychology does not qualify an individual for any professional registrations in South Africa. Graduates may not practice as a Psychologist or Registered Counsellor, nor may they legally generate an income from consulting clients. According the Health Professions Act No. 56 of 1974, one needs to be a registered member of the HPCSA in order to practice in any healthcare field in South Africa.

BPsych Degree

As an alternative to the BA in Psychology, some higher education institutions have introduced a degree that allows for professional registration upon completion; the Professional Bachelor of Psychology (BPsych). The BPsych Degree is basically a BA in Psychology, combined with an Honours degree in Psychology, as well as a 6 month practical internship. What this means is that when a student has completed this degree through an HPCSA accredited institution, they are eligible for Professional Registration as a Registered Counsellor or Psychometrist after successfully passing the board examination.

A BPsych Degree should extend over a period of at least 4 years of full-time study. Students are required to accumulate 480 credits over the period of 4 years to exit with a recognized BPsych degree with an NQF level 8 – on the same level as a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree according to the SAQA. The degree also includes a supervised practicum consisting of 720 hours that is completed during the fourth year of study.

BPsych Equivalent

A BPsych Equivalent is an additional qualification that is available to B Degree and B Honours Degree graduates that allows them to gain a Professional Registration from the HPCSA upon completion. These qualifications are practically orientated and require students to complete the 720 hour supervised practicum which makes the students previous degree the equivalent to a BPsych. It is for this reason that there are no online BPsych or BPsych Equivalent programmes available. There are two types of BPsych Equivalent programmes; Registered Counsellor and Psychometrist.

Registered Counsellor;

The Registered Counsellor BPsych Equivalent is an 18 month practical programme that can be done after completing a B Degree in Psychology. These full-time programmes cover the necessary course content that would give graduates the ability to legally and ethically counsel clients within a limited Scope of Practice as described and regulated by the HPCSA. To find out more about the roles and responsibilities of a Registered Counsellor, click here.


The Psychometric BPsych Equivalent is a 6 month practical programme that can only be done after completing a B Honours Degree or BPsych Equivalent (Registered Counsellor). These are also full-time programmes that cover a wide range of Psychometric Assessments that graduates will be allowed to administer upon completion of the programme and registration with the HPCSA. For more information on the roles and responsibilities of an HPCSA registered Psychometrist, click here.

Should anyone have any questions or queries regarding the information provided above, please feel free to contact Cognition & Co here.

HPCSA Resources:

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