How to Become a Professional Parapsychologist

by BrendaReeves

If you want a career in parapsychology, firstly, you must understand what parapsychologists do. Secondly, a background or desire to study science is mandatory.

Webste'rs Dictionary defines parapsychology as a field of study concerned with the investigation of evidence for paranormal psychological phenomena such as telepathy, clairvoyance and psychokinesis. Dr. John Palmer, Ph.D., board member of the Rhine Research Center in Durham, North Carolina defines parapsychology as the application of scientific methods to the study of certain kinds of anomalous phenomena. He defines it further as a love of science.

Characteristics of a Parapsychologist

Many people attracted to this field developed an interest through their own psychic experiences, but that alone does not make a parapsychologist. Although the creative right-brained process is important in parapsychology, the right-brained person usually doesn't care for dealing with a lot of details like scores on tests. The ideal candidate for parapsychologist needs a little right-brain creativity and a lot of left-brained order. That's not to say that "right-brainers" can't make it as a parapsychologist. It just says that you might find the tedium of some of the required tasks boring. Ask yourself if any of the following characteristics are true for you:

  • A curiosity about the world
  • Love to solve puzzles
  • A bit on the obsessive compulsive side
  • Love for science
  • Skepticism
  • An open mind
  • A thick skin
  • A rebel

If you answered yes to most of those qualities, you are probably a good candidate for a career in parapsychology.

Parapsychology vs Metaphysics

Metaphysicians deal with the nature of reality. They only accept a materialistic world. To them, the mind is nothing more than the brain. Matter is all that exists in the world. In contrast, parapsychologists are open to a separate mind or soul that can survive death. Although a few parapsychologists are materialists, parapsychology doesn't view materialism as mandatory. As a result, scientists claim parapsychology isn't a science.

Epistemology, the philosophy of knowledge, or how we come to know things about the world around us, is where metaphysics and parapsychology meet. The basic methods used by scientists in other fields must be used as a standard of evidence. In other words, before a claim of reality or proof can be made, such as a near-death-experience (NDE), all the basic methods of science must be met.

Parapsychology as a Career

If you decide on a career in parapsychology, you take the road less traveled. The mainstream science community refuses to accept parapsychology as legitimate science, and they are openly hostile toward those involved. Academic institutions may reject you from employment and graduate school.

Careers in parapsychology are extremely limited; therefore, you may need to seek employment in mainstream disciplines. This is likely to remain the case until more funding becomes available to the field of parapsychology and the discipline becomes well integrated into mainstream universities and the discipline becomes well integrated into mainstream universities and research laboratories.

Education in Parapsychology

At the present time, there isn't one accredited academic program in parapsychology offered in the United States. The best undergraduate majors for those wanting a career in the paranormal field are psychology, physics, anthropology or other social or physical sciences. Choose a strong university that offers courses in parapsychology. The following universities offer degrees in psychology and anthropology and allow you to work on a concentration in parapsychology.

  • Franklin Pierce College in Rindge, New Hampshire
  • California of University Davis
  • Saybrook Institute
  • Institute for Transpersonal Psychology
  • University of virginia
  • JFK University in Pleasant Hill California
  • West Georgia College
  • Antioch University
  • California Institute of Integral Studies

Dr. John Palmer, Ph.D. suggests taking the following University courses if you want to prepare yourself for the field. The last three courses on the list are for those majoring in psychology:

  • psychology
  • experimental psychology
  • measurements and statistics
  • cognitive psychology
  • abnormal psychology
  • physiological psychology

At the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, you can get a doctorate in psychology with a specialization in parapsychology. There are other British universities offering the same, but Edinburgh remains the most prestigious among them.

If you are determined to seek out a career in parapsychology, expect to receive criticism from professionals in the science field. Accept that you may have to take a mainstream job at first. There is the possibility that you'll encounter rejection when hunting for a job based solely on your field of study.

Do your research on university programs and apply to the most prestigious school you can afford. If you can't find employment as a parapsychologist, volunteer for a paranormal research center such as the Rhine Research Center. Most importantly, major in one of the science disciplines.


Updated: 09/17/2012, BrendaReeves
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BrendaReeves on 10/31/2012

Thank you Roohi. The subject also fascinates me. I call myself an open minded skeptic.

Roohi on 10/30/2012

Very interesting article. I am very much interested in parapsychology. I do try to explain these phenomenon as much as possible with scientific reasons. However, since I have experienced a few things myself, I have to say the subject does indeed fascinate me. I hope one day we may have more scientific explanations for these things. However, I think there always will be certain things that science can never explain. Great suggestions about how to become a parapsychologist.

BrendaReeves on 10/02/2012

Thank you Mladen for the comment. I feel exactly as you do on this subject.

Mladen on 09/30/2012

A very interesting article, Brenda. Also the first one I read on Wizzley after long time (due to my other obligations).
I must say I am interested in these things that I am not really sure about. I am scientist, oriented toward things that have been proven, or that have strong basics. But also I (as most of us) had some experiences where my logic was questioned.
I do believe in something happening on the other side of this dimension (or call it the way you prefer). But that something is not fully accepted as truth due to some medium wannabes. I work with a man who has great deductive brain, and he can tell you about your family problems and disclose your private things after just 5 minutes of simple conversation. Those people can sometimes use that knowledge in wrong way, and thus creating disbelief toward things that might exist.
World is far greater than we are, and if something is not "logical" to us, doesn't mean it is not there. That is why I would like to know more about these things. That is why your article caught my eye.
I am open-minded, as every scientist should be (mostly not the case).

BrendaReeves on 09/23/2012

It's something that interests me also. Thanks for the comment.

JoHarrington on 09/23/2012

I really enjoyed reading this. It's a field that interests me greatly, so it was good to see the options laid out.

BrendaReeves on 09/23/2012

It is a fascinating topic. I need to see what is going on around here.

katiem2 on 09/23/2012

It is a fascinating topic. I went to a fall celebration last night and met a very interesting medium, she was so cool and had a great energy. As the evening played out she began to ask me about things I had shared with no one. She and I had a very interesting encounter. It is very amazing to meet such people. I'm going to the celebration of light with her and a group of friends this October, looking forward to it.

BrendaReeves on 09/18/2012

Yes it is Burntchestnut. Thank you for the comment.

AngelaJohnson on 09/18/2012

It's great that universities are expanding their curriculum to include non- traditional degrees.

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