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Community Psychology

Community psychology as an applied social science encourages inter-disciplinary approaches to learning, including sociology, community development, education and the policy sciences. Community psychologists contribute their expertise in a number of health and social services to encourage healthy people and communities. They develop, support and evaluate interventions that enhance health outcomes for individuals, whānau and communities.

MAppPsy - Applications open on 14 September and close on 1 November each year.

PGDipPracPsych - Applications open September 14 and close November 1 each year.

Community psychology as an applied social science encourages inter-disciplinary approaches to learning, including sociology, community development, education and the policy sciences. Training involves awareness of the social and cultural positioning of the practitioner, critical perspectives on knowledge creation and the development of analytical skills in research and practice. Experiential knowledge is valued, along with knowledge derived from empirical studies.

Informed by an understanding of the Social Determinants of Health, community psychologists develop, support and evaluate interventions that will enhance health outcomes for individuals, whānau and communities in Aotearoa. With a focus on social justice, te Tiriti o Waitangi, and sustainability we are skilled in analysing how the complex array of policies, systems and structures in society are developed and organised and the impact they have on individuals and communities especially those who are oppressed, stigmatised or marginalised.

Community psychology is a specialty subject taught in several universities across Aotearoa. At the University of Waikato, we offer an accredited programme that leads to registration with the New Zealand Psychologists Board in the psychologist scope of practice.

The Postgraduate Diploma in the Practice of Psychology (Community) offered at Waikato is a programme of study that can be entered at the level of honours, masters or above. Students that complete a Community psychology programme will have a minimum of six years university education, be able to articulate and demonstrate a high standard of ethical practice. As part of their practice, Community Psychologists will participate in regular supervision and yearly audits of their practice as part of their registration requirements.

Community psychologists focus on the health and wellbeing of their communities

Community psychologists contribute their expertise in a number of health and social services to encourage healthy people and communities.  For example, they may be employed in the areas of research, policy, strategic planning, whānau ora, mental health, community development, and in public and population health. They value working with people across a range of sectors to initiate, develop and promote prevention and intervention strategies that improve the health outcomes for people and communities.

Community psychologists work across various sectors

Community psychologists work with health, education, justice, disability, iwi, environmental and social services providers, policy makers and funders. We offer knowledge and skills in a range of policy and evaluation research methods and approaches. We will set up and carry out policy analyses and the evaluation of programmes and initiatives across a wide range of organisations, including central and local Government, non-government and community based organisations and groups. Community psychologists employ a wide range of methodologies, the choice of method being determined by the particular context and issue being addressed. There is a focus on group, community and societal interventions which address the structural factors maintaining oppression and sub-optimal health. Community psychologists pay particular attention to process, valuing bottom-up, inclusive and collaborative ways of working.

This content is a modified version of that developed by practitioners and academic staff in cooperation with the New Zealand Psychological Society and the Institute of Community Psychology Aotearoa, August 2016.

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Key information

Entry Requirements: Master of Applied Psychology in Community Psychology (or equivalent qualification)
Area of Study:

Study Community Psychology as a specialisation of

Career opportunities

  • Community Psychologist
  • Community Programme Coordinator
  • Team leader for disabilities support agency
  • Kaiwhakahaere (Iwi Liaison Policy Analyst)
  • Consumer Participation Coordinator
  • Social Development Manager
  • Māori Research Advisor
  • Health Promoter
  • Social Development
  • Relationships Manager
  • Independent Researcher and Evaluator
  • Public Health Evaluation Support
  • Policy Analyst
  • Private Practitioner
  • Research Scientist
  • Experimental Psychologist
  • Child Protection
  • Case Manager
  • Education and Development
  • Human Factors Consultant
  • Addictions Counsellor
  • Service Planner

Students enrolled in the PGDipPracPsych(Comm) must, in addition to fulfilling the requirements set out in the appropriate University regulations, meet the School requirements for entry.

Criteria for approving entry includes academic ability, community related experience and/or interests, personal qualities, availability of suitable employment, and availability of suitable supervision. To be eligible for entry into the PGDipPracPsych(Comm), you must:

  1. Have successfully completed a Master's or Doctoral degree specialising in community psychology (or an equivalent qualification which includes sufficient research and taught papers in community psychology).
  2. Be in on-going employment (paid or unpaid) in an organisation which provides you with the opportunity to practise significantly in community psychology for a minimum of 1500 hours.
  3. Have appropriate supervision available, both University and in your employment setting.
  4. Have written agreement from your employer(s) which includes:
    1. Confirmation that the position(s) can be used as an internship;
    2. Agreement to appropriate placement supervision arrangements; and
    3. Agreement to your participation in the required coursework/supervision meetings.
  5. Be approved for admission into the programme by the Chairperson of the School of Psychology.
  6. Registered with the New Zealand Psychologists Board as an ‘Intern Psychologist’.

Note that your internship will not begin until your registration as an intern psychologist is confirmed by the New Zealand Psychologists Board. The Board process can take up to 3 months, so you are advised to submit your registration application as soon as practicable. See details on registering as an ‘Intern Psychologist’.

Applications to enrol in the PGDipPracPsych(Comm) must be made to the Programme Administrator by 1 November. Ideally, you should have identified your proposed internship before you complete your application. However, if that is not possible, you may apply anyway: in that case, any acceptance into the programme will be conditional on obtaining an approved internship.

Before you apply, you are strongly advised to:

  • Thoroughly read the information in the Community Psychology Intern Handbook to ensure you are familiar with the requirements of the PGDipPracPsych(Comm); and
  • Discuss with the Programme Convenor the application requirements, particularly the nature of your employment and its suitability for the PGDipPracPsych(Comm).

Scholarships and prizes

New to Waikato? The International Excellence Scholarship is worth up to $10,000.

Visit our Scholarship Finder for information about possible scholarships

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Graduate study in Community Psychology can be undertaken in the form of the Master of Applied Psychology or a Postgraduate Diploma.

Master of Applied Psychology in Community Psychology

To complete a MAppPsy in Community Psychology, students must pass the equivalent of 240 points comprising:

Optional papers should be discussed with Community Psychology staff.

Postgraduate Diploma in the Practice of Community Psychology

The PGDipPracPsych is a one-year full-time or two-year part-time postgraduate diploma worth 120 points that leads to registration as a Psychologist. A PGDipPracPsych in Community Psychology is available to suitably qualified graduates and is designed to meet the requirements for registration as a psychologist under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003. The programme includes three courses that are normally taken simultaneously to complete the diploma.

  • PSYC541 Case Study Analysis in Applied Psychology (40 points)
  • PSYC542 Professional Issues in Psychology (20 points)
  • PSYCH543 The Practice of Community Psychology (60 points)

Read more information about the PGDipPracPsych(Comm) in the handbook.

To be considered for the PGDipPracPsych(Comm), applications must be received by 1 November in the year preceding study.

Subject links

Community Psychology

Undergraduate papers taught within the School of Psychology that will provide potential community psychology students with a strong theoretical basis for moving into graduate study in this field include:

  • PSYCH101 Social Psychology, Health and Wellbeing
  • PSYCH202 Mauri Ora: Social Psychology of Human Flourishing
  • PSYCH211 Understanding Psychological Research
  • PSYCH302 Community, Culture and Diversity
  • PSYCH307 Psychological Research Methods

Community Psychology Programme Associates are experienced practitioners of community psychology who are willing and able to contribute to the training and mentoring of graduate students and, in a general sense, to represent the profession's interest in decision-making within the programme.

Current programme associates are:

  • Danielle Diamond, MAppPsy(Comm) Waik, PGDipPracPsych(Comm) Waik, Clinical Audit and Evaluation Leader, CMH DHB Mental Health and Addictions
  • Debbie Goodwin, MSW Massey, PGDipPracPsych(Comm) Waik, Independent Researcher / Evaluator, DBZ Consultancy Ltd
    Email: [email protected]
  • P. Ruth Buckingham, BA Massey. MSocSc. PGDipPsych(Com) Waik. JP, Manager, Social and Economic Science, Waikato Regional Council.  Registered Community Psychologist.
    Email: [email protected]
  • Jacqueline Henry, MSocSc(Hons), PGDipPsych(Com) Waik. Social Scientist, Social and Economic Science, Waikato Regional Council.
    Email: [email protected]
  • Ingrid Huygens, MA Auck. DipPsych(Com), PhD Waik. Director, Workwise Associates, National Coordinator, Tangata Tiriti Treaty People Education Project, Registered Community Psychologist.
    Email: [email protected]
  • Patricia Te Wairere Ahiahi Young, BSocSc, MSocSc, PGDipPsych(Com) Waik. PhD Vic. Independent Research-Evaluation, Rotorua.  Registered Community Psychologist.
    Email: [email protected]
  • Janelle Fisher BSocSc, MSocSc, PGDipPracPsych(Comm), Waik. Quality Practice Leader, Interactionz, Registered Community Psychologist.
    Email: [email protected]
  • Roxahn Hanes BSc South Carolina MSocSc PGDipPsych(Com) Waik. Manager Psychology & Counselling Service, St Peter's School.
    Email: [email protected]
  • Sherida Davy, MSocSc Waik, PGDipPracPsych(Comm) Waik, Consumer Participation Coordinator, BOP DHB Mental Health and Addiction Service
  • Hayley Lord, MHSM Massey, PGDipPracPsych(Comm) Waik, Quality Improvement Consultant, Kawakawa Group Hamilton.
    Email: [email protected]

Roles and expectations of CP Programme Associates

Academic Staff


Community Psychology Postgraduate Handbook
Community Psychology Intern Handbook


Programme Administrator
Phone: +64 7 838 4032
Email: [email protected]