What is International Psychology?

International psychology has roots in the late 19th century when the inter-connectedness of people across vast distances was becoming more common. The profession seeks to promote and improve psychological practices globally through networking and communication across cultural groups and national boundaries. Some of its main goals are to:

psychology around the world

  • Investigate how cross-cultural, multinational, political and social influences affect mental and behavioral health.
  • Increase global, public awareness about societal issues that influence the psychological well-being of people.
  • Adapt prevention techniques and treatment practices to accommodate international societal norms.
  • Advance teaching methods that consider and reflect multicultural and national protocols.
  • Promote collaboration among psychologists internationally.
  • Provide scholarships for aspiring international psychologists to practice worldwide.

By examining the ways that social, cultural and national influences affect human interactions, international psychologists hope to improve the quality of mental and behavioral health for people everywhere.

Professional Governing Associations

Many international organizations contribute to the ongoing development of this branch of psychology. These groups collaborate among themselves to oversee, organize, develop and promote standardized international protocols for educational, therapeutic, and professional programs within their countries. Some of the most recognized institutions include the:

  • International Union of Psychology Science
  • International Council of Psychologists
  • International Association of Cross-Cultural Psychology
  • International Association of Applied Psychology
  • Institute for International and Cross-Cultural Psychology
  • Interamerican Society of Psychology
  • European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations
  • American Psychological Association,International Psychology, Division 52


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Educational Pathway for International Psychologists

International psychologist majors may study at all degree levels. Undergraduates usually earn a degree in psychology with a concentration in global psychology. Master’s and doctoral candidates study advanced principles about multicultural psychology and conduct associated research. Degree completion time varies by institution, but master’s programs generally run 18-24 months and doctorates may take up to five years to finish. All degrees also incorporate internship experiences and cover information about:

  • Impacts of cultural, societal, gender and political norms on behavior and acceptance.
  • Negotiation techniques and conflict resolution strategies across cultural groups.
  • Management of globally diverse organizations.
  • Social psychology of multicultural communities.
  • Value systems, sterotypes and cultural attitudes.
  • Factors pertaining to acculturation and assimilation.
  • Global incorporation of therapeutic interventions for mental health conditions.
  • Multicultural mental health awareness and prevention campaigns
  • Professional ethics, communication standards and collaboration skills.


Careers for International Psychologists

With an international specialization, psychologists in this growing field find job opportunities across diverse occupational platforms. International psychologists often work as consultants, researchers, teachers or managers in global settings for: universities, corporations, mental health organizations, government agencies, human resources’ departments, public health clinics, private therapy offices, non-profit groups and crisis intervention teams. In the U.S., the career outlook for this specialization area is on par with other psychology careers, though job prospects in certain sectors of the profession are expected to rise as the demand for specialized services increases.

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As advances in technology over the past century opened up collaborative interactions with people worldwide, the psychology profession responded by increasing its scope of care. To that end, international psychology creates opportunities for practitioners to improve everyone’s quality of life by promoting behavioral wellness across global and cultural boundaries.