Can You Earn a Degree in Paranormal Studies?

Sally Painter
University of Indiana at Bloomington

You can earn a degree in paranormal studies from several non-accredited schools and possibly from a few accredited institutes. This would more accurately be a degree in parapsychology. While there are several alternate universities and schools offering degrees in parapsychology and other metaphysical topics, those degrees aren't typically recognized by accredited colleges and universities.

Accredited Universities Plan Your Own Degree

There is no accredited paranormal university, but some accredited universities and colleges have shifted staunch degree programs to allow students to create their own majors. This can be a valuable opportunity if you're interested in an accredited degree in parapsychology. Most likely, you would earn a traditional degree, such as psychology with a parapsychology major. It's best to explore the possibility of this type of non-traditional major from the beginning of your explorations and discussions about attending any college or university, so you have a clear idea and path to achieve the degree you want.

Indiana University Bloomington

Indiana University Bloomington offers a unique opportunity for Individualized Major Programs. New students are admitted in spring and fall. Admission to these programs is non-competitive. The process for applying for an Individualized Major Program (IMP) takes a full semester. This drawn-out process is designed to assist you in thoroughly considering your goals and to allow you to design your personalized curriculum with the help of your faculty sponsor and the program staff.

  • General education requirements for a BA must be met.
  • You are required to complete one semester at IU Bloomington and have a minimum GPA 2.5.
  • Most Indiana University (IU) students apply when they are sophomores or juniors.
  • You must complete at least three semesters of your IMP.

Clark University

Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts offers 30 majors and minors. In addition, the University offers the opportunity to create your own majors and minors. A typical path for pursuing a parapsychology degree would be to choose the psychology degree program and work with your assigned faculty advisor to plan out your program and coursework. This can often include internships and studies abroad.

Cornell University

Cornell University in Mount Vernon, Iowa also offers students Individualized Majors. If you want to pursue parapsychology, you can choose a minor in psychology with your major in parapsychology or perhaps a different arena that you prefer within the paranormal research field. There are specific requirements for creating your own major, such as:

  • You need to put together a faculty committee with professors from two different disciplines.
  • You and your committee will plan your coursework for completing your major. This includes the capstone experience (culmination project).
  • You must still complete the general requirements for the Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Special Studies degree.
  • You can also add a second major if you wish.
  • You can change your mind mid-semester and go in a different direction thanks to the University's One Course At A Time curriculum.

Atlantic University

Atlantic University in Virginia is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) and offers online degrees and certificates. You may be interested in their Master of Arts in Transpersonal Psychology.

  • The degree is designed to augment other careers, such as psychology.
  • Students are encouraged to use the course for personal growth.
  • This is a non-clinical degree and won't certify you to counsel patients or qualify for a counseling licensure.

University of Edinburgh

This is the top school for degrees in parapsychology. The Koestler Parapsychology Unit (KPU) is the research and education area for the study of the paranormal. KPU offers many courses. Some are non-credit offered to the public. Others are offered to current students enrolled in the Honours psychology degree programs. These students have the option of taking honors courses in parapsychology. Postgraduates can take these parapsychology courses as part of their MSC and Ph.D. degrees. An online certificate program is also offered through KPU

Goldsmith's College London

Main Building, Goldsmiths College

Goldsmith's has an Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit. The website explanation about the unit states it studies extraordinary phenomena of behavior and experience. This includes what's known as paranormal. The undergraduate psychology degrees in clinical, management, forensic and cognitive neuroscience. The degrees in psychology allow for a broader career path than parapsychology alone. Tuition varies depending on where you normally live and will change yearly.

Non-Accredited Schools

Non-accredited schools are not recognized by a valid accreditation agency. Degrees are not recognized and are generally not transferable. Accreditation agencies can be a peer-reviewed agency or government agency. The requirement is different for each country.

Rhine Research Center, Durham North Carolina

Duke Parapsychology Laboratory was founded and led by JB Rhine professor at Duke University and remained at the university until Rhine's retirement in 1965. It was probably the closest way to achieving a degree in paranormal psychology had one been possible. Rhine founded an independent non-profit organization that he named the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man (FRNM) that organization is known today as Rhine Research Center and is not affiliated with Duke University. The center offers academically parapsychology certificate programs at its Rhine Education Center. (It may be possible for the certificates to be transferable to an if you're able to obtain permission from the institution.)

  • The current certificate programs offered include Introduction to Parapsychology, Academic Parapsychology, Advanced Academic, Research and Knowledge of Psi Phenomena.
  • The Center offers many accredited academic courses, many are part of the certificate programs.
  • There are also online, continuing education and seminar courses offered by the Center.
  • Members of the Rhine Research Center have access to one of the largest parapsychology and paranormal libraries in the United States.

University of Sedona/University of Metaphysics Sedona Arizona

The University of Sedona offers degrees in metaphysics. The degrees are religious in nature and are through the International Metaphysical Ministry (IMM). Degrees here may allow you to become an ordained minister. Each state and country have their own requirements for being able to use your degree for this career choice.

  • You can choose a Metaphysical Science degree, such as a Bachelors, Masters or Doctorate degree.
  • All students are eligible for a non-qualifying, no-interest scholarship program.
  • The university has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
  • For your Ph.D., you can select s Metaphysical Parapsychology option or another speciality.

IMHS Metaphysics Institute Online

IMHS Metaphysics Institute Online allows you to earn all three degrees in less time than a normal undergraduate degree. You may want to question the qualifications you would receive.

  • You can earn a bachelor, masters, and doctorate in 13 months.
  • Degrees are religious in nature and backed by the International Church of Metaphysical Humanism (ICMH)
  • Tuition $1,825 USD includes all three degrees with a limited number of scholarships available.
  • Not BBB accredited

Real World Experience of Similarities and Differences

Photo of Gina Dianne-Harding from University of Washington
Gina-Dianne Harding, MHP, M Div.

Gina-Dianne Harding MHP (Masters of Public Health, University of Washington), M.Div (Beloved Community Seminary) has degrees from both a traditional school and a non-traditional school. She shares her impressions about the similarities and differences between a traditional school and a non-traditional school.

Primary Differences

Gina-Dianne, who plans to pursue a doctorate at an alternative university at some point, notes that the primary differences between the two types of schools include:

  • Traditional university is science and business administration focused while the theological degree was less focused on science.
  • The traditional university published a thesis project, the theological institution did not.
  • The traditional university degree was instantly recognizable and credible, while the theological degree was not instantly recognizable and necessitated proving oneself in the field, and the credentials are regularly questioned.

Similarities

According to Gina-Dianne, some similarities existed between the two programs, including:

  • Both required submission of homework projects
  • Both were distance learning programs with a requirement to attend in person several times
  • Both required advisor approval of the thesis topic

Paranormal Careers

Although it is a niche market, some careers in paranormal research do exist. The schools mentioned have occasional positions.

  • The Koestler Parapsychology Unit of the University of Edinburgh may have occasional vacancies.
  • Goldsmith's College Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit may occasionally have openings for researchers.

In addition to these school units, there are other research facilities that sometimes have positions available.

The non-accredited schools allow you to earn a degree and sometimes have career info available.

Other Career Paths

The career paths available for the traditional schools are much broader than for the religious and metaphysical degrees. With a metaphysical or religious degree, the job opportunities sound better than they actually are. Some choices are:

  • Energy healer - someone who works with energy fields to help bring about healing
  • Psychic medium - a person who communicates with spirits of the deceased psychically and provides readings for people
  • Life coach - a person who uses metaphysics to help others along their life's path
  • Crystal worker - someone who works with crystals to help bring about healing
  • Ordained minister - a person who leads a church and provides counseling and other clerical services

All of these careers mean:

  • You will need to set up a business for yourself.
  • There are a limited number of locations where you can practice.
  • The competition in the healer, psychic medium, and life coach areas is fierce.
  • There is no requirement for education in any of these areas, and you'll compete with people that have no training.
  • There are some businesses established with a client base, but it can take years to gain a reputation in any of these fields.

Crystal workers have less competition, for now, but the number of people calling themselves crystal workers that have nothing more than an interest in crystals is growing.

Ordained ministers must follow the rules of whatever area they practice. For example, in British Columbia, you must be affiliated with a church or start your own in order to perform weddings or funerals or other ceremonies.

Another option for a career would be as a paranormal investigator. Paranormal investigators have become fairly well-known thanks to the reality show craze. You will need to go online to find paranormal investigation groups near you. These groups are mainly made up of volunteers and rarely pay. They also require a lot of capital to buy equipment.

Which Way to Go

Ultimately, the choice is up to you. If you are passionate about parapsychology and the paranormal, you may want to put the time and money into a formal education. With this education, you can look into all career options. If you are studying metaphysics for interest, there are some interesting schools available. If you are hoping to have a career in metaphysics, there are very few paying jobs in the field.

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Can You Earn a Degree in Paranormal Studies?