Parapsychology is the application of the scientific method to the study of psychic phenomena. Parapsychologists apply qualitative and quantitative methods to obtain and examine data about psychic phenomena within structured, or laboratory-like, parameters. Some phenomena assessed in parapsychology include extra-sensory perception, telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, near-death experience, out-of-body experience, reincarnation and other psychic phenomena. Educational opportunities in parapsychology are limited; however, a few options are available in the United States and the United Kingdom.
There are two universities that offer graduate degrees with a focus in parapsychology. The University of Edinburgh’s Koestler Parapsychology Unit allows students to conduct research in pursuit of a Ph.D. in the areas of ESP, psychokinesis, the psychology of paranormal beliefs and the history of parapsychology. The Goldsmiths University of London’s Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit also provides students the opportunity to pursue a degree in psychology with a research focus in anomalistic psychology, which focuses on paranormal experiences in psychology. Current student researchers at the APRU are focused on telepathy, extrasensory perception and sleep paralysis. Both of these programs provide students with faculty mentors with extensive expertise in the field of parapsychology.
Most educational opportunities in parapsychology lie in university-based research groups. While these groups do not offer specific degrees in parapsychology, they provide a limited number of students with the opportunity to conduct parapsychology research that may be used to meet research requirements for other degree programs. For example, at the University of Virginia’s Division of Perceptual Studies, interns may assist staff in conducting research in the areas of near-death experiences and past lives. Also, at Princeton University’s Engineering Anomalies Research, interns may assist in research on human-machine anomalies and remote perception.
The University of Edinburgh offers an introductory course in parapsychology via distance learning as well as two undergraduate, on-campus courses in the history of parapsychology and general parapsychology. The University of Derby offers an online module in anomalistic psychology and parapsychology. Additionally, the Rhine Research Center in Durham, N.C. offers certificate programs in parapsychology including certificates in introductory parapsychology, academic parapsychology, parapsychology research, the history of parapsychology, and knowledge of psychic phenomena.
Ian Baker, Ph.D., a senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Derby details some educational steps that students can take to become a parapsychologist such as speaking to professional parapsychologists, obtaining an undergraduate degree in anomalistic psychology, and pursuing a graduate degree and research in parapsychology. Carlos Alvarado, Ph.D. of the Parapsychology Association also explains how you can begin a career in parapsychology. Some of the steps he details include researching the field to solidify your interest, selecting a degree program in psychology, conducting graduate research in parapsychology and completing self-education through the review of multiple publications, research studies and scholarly contributions to the field.