Masters in School Psychology
Are you looking for Masters in School Psychology programs? Earning your master’s degree in school psychology may be a great way to enhance your career or jumpstart a new one. School psychologists play an important role in an educational community, responsible for identification and testing of students for learning disabilities and other exceptional needs, drawing up IEPs and behavioral plans, ensuring cooperation between educators and guardians, interventions, and other responsibilities related to ensuring a successful, productive learning environment. Many school psychologists may seek master’s degrees or higher distinctions.
Choosing Masters in School Psychology Programs: The Essentials
If you want to pursue a career as a school psychologist, depending on the state you live in and your intended career path, earning your master of school psychology may be a prerequisite for licensure or employment. Earning a master in school psychology may also benefit you in other ways, deepening your expertise in your field, adding breadth of knowledge and fluency with current research and research practices, and allowing you the opportunity to pursue a specific concentration of interest at a higher level.
Choosing the right school psychology graduate program to earn your master’s degree, however, may be a challenge. With the wide variety of program types and formats, not to mention the breadth of responsibility and knowledge covered by a school psychologist, how do you truly know you’ve chosen the right one?
Here are a few key questions to keep in mind when looking at any school psychology master’s program before you make your decision:
What is your preferred school psychology master’s program focus area or concentration?
School psychologist master’s programs may have a lot of potential ground to cover. You may, for example, be particularly interested in working with a certain age range, behavioral issues, disability type, or other areas of responsibility. If this is the case, knowing what aspect of school psychology you are most interested in studying and pursuing may help you to identify which programs may be a better fit for your needs, choosing programs already focused on your interests, working with faculty whose research aligns with what you want to do, or finding programs with sufficient flexibility and options to allow you to tailor your program according to your interests.
What is your perfect training model for studying school psychology?
Depending on your goals, interests, and learning style, you may find that you prefer to study in programs adhering to a specific training model. Sometimes referred to as scientist-practitioner, practitioner-scholar, etc., these program training models may inform the perspective and approach a program takes when covering relevant material, and may reflect the priorities of the program in question, such as being more clinical or academic and research-oriented in nature.
What are your goals in earning your school psychology master’s degree?
Keeping in mind your academic and professional goals as they relate to your master’s program may be a good way to identify any particular opportunities and needs you may wish to prioritize when evaluating program options. For example, do you want to later go on to earn your Ph.D. in school psychology? If so, choosing a masters in school psychology program that allows for hands-on guided research experience or includes a thesis element may be the best choice for you. If you are trying to jumpstart a new career as a school psychologist, observation and practicum experience may be perfect, giving you the opportunity to see and practice your acquired knowledge in a real-world setting.
Types of School Psychologist Master’s Programs
Once you have decided to pursue your masters in school psychology degree, you may find yourself choosing between any of several different master’s degree types. While many of these master’s degree types have elements in common, understanding what they share and how they are unique may help you to narrow down which choices may be perfect for you.
- M.A. and M.S. programs may be the most recognizable and frequently offered among school psychology master’s programs. These programs may have many similarities, and the differences between them are likely to vary by program and institution. If you are looking at a graduate school that offers both a school psychology M.A. and M.S., one good differentiation between the two may be the presence of a thesis requirement, which, if you plan to continue on to the Ph.D. level, may be beneficial to consider.
- M.Ed. school psychology programs may also have similarities to M.A. and M.S. programs. They may often be issued by schools of education, and as such, the program’s focus and perspective may be oriented toward the field of education, and the science behind learning.
In addition to typical master’s degrees above, frequently listed alongside and offered continuously with master’s degrees, specialty degrees may offer you the opportunity to earn and demonstrate expertise beyond the master’s level in a particular concentration area. Specialty degrees available include Ed.S. (Educational Specialist), Psy.S. (Psychology Specialist), and SSP (Specialist of School Psychology). While these programs may vary widely depending on the particular concentration area, in general, and Ed.S. may be more education-oriented, whereas the Psy.S. and SSP may be more focused on the practitioner of psychology.
One final consideration when choosing master’s degree types is continuity. If you are interested in pursuing doctoral education after completing your master’s in school psychology, a continuous program may be of interest to you. A continuous master’s to doctorate program may allow a candidate to earn their master’s and Ph.D. in school psychology in one unified program, rather than having to re-apply.
On-Campus vs. Online Masters in School Psychology
Depending on your preferred learning style, schedule, and other preferences, both on-campus and online school psychology master’s programs may be able to offer unique benefits.
If you value the community atmosphere of a traditional brick-and-mortar campus, or if you learn best in a physical classroom, campus-based master’s programs in school psychology may be the right choice for you. Studying on a traditional campus may allow you to take advantage of campus resources and facilities, such as the library, gym, technology labs, and academic and career planning services. You may have invaluable networking opportunities, interact and collaborate with fellow students, and interact with faculty one-on-one in and out of the classroom. Additionally, with the increasing role of technology in higher education, more campus based school psychology graduate programs may offer online courses alongside the typical classroom ones, increasing the flexibility of the campus program. Whether you prefer to study at a school a commutable distance from your home or work, or whether you want to find a campus in a new and interesting location, on-campus school psychology master’s programs may have a lot to offer.
If you are a working professional, work best independently, or otherwise value flexibility in your course schedule, an online master’s degree in school psychology may be right for you. Earning your master’s in school psychology online may allow you to consider programs outside the geographical radius of a commutable physical campus, and complete your work when and where is best for you.
Online school psychology programs may be either synchronous or asynchronous, or a blend of both. Synchronous programs would emulate the traditional classroom to a degree, bringing many of the same benefits with the added value of convenience. Students may be expected to log in and attend live-streamed lectures or participate in class discussions on an established schedule. Asynchronous programs, meanwhile, may be perfect if flexibility is a top priority for you. Asynchronous programs may generally allow students to log in and complete course requirements on their own schedule, rather than at a set time every week. These options may be perfect for those who prefer to work independently, or who need to work earning a school psychology graduate degree into a busy work and home life.
Whether you prefer the flexibility of an online program or the stability and community of a campus program, the right master’s program in school psychology is out there for you.
Find Your Perfect Master’s Programs in School Psychology
If you’re ready to get started, whether you want to earn your school psychology master’s online or on campus, GradSchools.com can help. If you want to narrow the results down further, you can do so by selecting your preferred format and location. Then begin reading up on programs, and reach out to them for more information or to get started. Don’t wait any longer to earn your school psychology master’s degree. Let GradSchools.com help you find a grad school today!
Indiana State University
University of Dayton