School Psychology Graduate Programs & Degrees
What are School Psychology Graduate Programs?
School psychology graduate programs focus on the psychology of learning and how it may vary between students and at different stages of development. Classes may teach how to identify and test for learning, emotional, and behavioral disorders as well as the top types of services those students might need as a result.
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School psychologist programs may also cover intervention strategies and how socioeconomic status and cultural background can impact the student’s psychological and emotional health and learning success.
What does a school psychologist do?
School psychology programs often prepare students to work within schools and school systems and to hold a few key responsibilities:
- Help students in that school overcome barriers to learning
- Intervene and provide support to teachers, students, and families
- Help schools provide essential services
Some programs are perfect for students looking for further opportunities in their career. Meanwhile, other programs exist for experienced school psychologists, helping them to build more advanced expertise.
How do I choose a School Psychology Graduate Program?
One key aspect in choosing a program is making sure that it focuses on an area appropriate to your goals. For example, you may look forward to performing psychology and education research. In that case they might look for a program that is more theoretical.
School psychologists also work directly with students. In that case, someone who is people-oriented might be a better fit.
These types of orientations are also referred to as:
- Scientist Practitioner: These school psychologist programs focus on grounding the practice of psychology in a body of scientific research. Programs may expose students to current research and develop fluency with research practices. The goal is that practicing school psychologists can use this fluency to inform their clinical practice.
- Scientist Practitioner Scholar: Also called the “practitioner scholar” model. These types of school psychology programs focus on clinical applications with a comparatively lighter emphasis on research practices.
An important consideration is the type of student you aspire to work with. Many programs may focus on what you might need to know to help a specific student population. This could be a specific age group or students with behavioral, physical, or learning disabilities. You may be able to find a tailored program that focuses on specific roles such as testing or research.
The opportunities offered in conjunction with a program may be important contributing factors. For example, research experience at the masters level may be a valuable component for someone looking to complete a PhD program. It is possible to find a program that offer hands-on experience for people aiming to jump-start a new career.
What are Potential Career Paths for School Psychology Graduate Degrees?
One of the popular career paths for students with a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) in school psychology is to practice as a licensed school psychologist.
Graduate schools with school psychology graduate programs
Contact individual school psychology schools to learn what opportunities and concentrations may be available.
School Psychologist Master's Programs
Some school psychology masters programs may also be able to help students enhance an existing career. Other programs support students new to the field.
Types of school psychology masters programs you might consider include the following.
Master of Education in School Psychology (MEd)
A master of education degree is generally offered through a school of education. As such, school psychology programs in this category tend to emphasize topics like how students learn, and a school psychologist’s role in facilitating learning.
Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MS) in School Psychology
These types of degrees may be highly variable and could range in focus from practical to research oriented, depending on the school in question.
Educational Specialist (EdS) in School Psychology
Specialist degrees are a step between masters and doctorate. However, the programs can also exist alongside or even offered continuously with masters degrees. EdS programs, just like MEd programs, tend to be offered by schools of education and their curriculum priorities tend to align with that.
Psychology Specialist (PsyS) in School Psychology
You may find this specialist degree in a school of psychology unlike the EdS degree. As such, these programs can be clinical in nature where the practice of psychology is critical.
Specialist in School Psychology (SSP)
This is a specialist degree unique to school psychology. In many cases these programs have a lot in common with EdS programs. However, they might be offered within psychology programs and emphasize clinical practice like PsyS programs do.
School psychologist graduate degree programs may vary on an individual basis. Not all schools may offer every option. As such, make sure you follow up with your chosen school for more specific information.
One consideration when choosing potential programs is the thesis requirement. If you are planning to go on and earn your doctorate, a masters in school psychology program that includes a thesis may be an advantage. A program focused on applying your knowledge in the field and gaining practical experience may be a preferable if you are not interested in continuing higher education.
Most school psychology masters programs are likely to include some kind of field experience requirement. This entails specific sub programs such as a practicum or a required internship. The essential difference is that a practicum is field experience offered in conjunction with a course and specific academic expectations that might include a project. Meanwhile, an internship will focus on the day-to-day reality of working as a school psychologist in a professional capacity.
Each school may handle these experiences a little differently, so make sure you follow up with your programs with any questions.
School Psychology Doctoral Programs
For those who wish to earn a doctorate in school psychology, several school psychologist degree types are available, with similarities and subtle distinctions between each. These include the following.
What is a school psychology doctorate degree?
A doctorate in school psychology is the highest award and may include the PhD, Doctor of Education (EdD) and Doctor of Psychology (PsyD). To enter any of these programs you may need both a bachelor’s and master’s degree along with school specific application material.
PhD School Psychology Programs
PhD programs tend to be academic, and might focus on research practices within school psychology, either with the objective of increasing the body of research, or putting it into practice in the field. However, programs may vary.
Doctor of Education in School Psychology (EdD)
As with the Master of Education and EdS, this doctorate is generally associated with a school of education. As such, it may focus on using school psychology expertise in a leadership or decision making role at the administrative level (such as within a school district), or on advanced practice of school psychology within an individual school.
PsyD in School Psychology (Doctor of Psychology)
A PsyD in School Psychology may tend to be more practice-oriented with particular focus on clinical psychology skills and applying research findings to identify, test, and help students. PsyD programs may place greater emphasis on being a practitioner of psychology than the education aspect of school psychology, Unlike the EdD.
Different types of school psychology doctoral programs may culminate in different types of projects. Generally, this could be a dissertation, a capstone, or sometimes a practicum.
Essentially, a dissertation is an advanced research paper that students need to propose and defend before faculty as a condition before graduation. A capstone is similar. However, generally, capstone projects tend to be more professionally oriented, focusing on demonstrating specific skills and knowledge as it might be applied in the field.
Meanwhile, a practicum would require field experience under the guidance of a faculty mentor and experienced professionals. A practicum is often associated with a project based on the experience. The project for graduation could reflect the goals of that school's program and the types of skills the program aims to foster.
For more specific information reach out to the school psychologist programs you’re considering.
Graduate Certificates in School Psychology
Graduate certificates in school psychology are another, often briefer, avenue to pursue advanced school psychology education. They allow students to demonstrate expertise in a specific area without enrolling in a full school psychologist degree program.
This could be an advantage for those who have already completed school psychology graduate programs and are looking to enhance a specific skill set. It could also be suitable for educators interested in school psychology who want to enhance their knowledge for their current roles.
School psychologist graduate certificates may be available at either the masters or post masters level. Masters level graduate certificates may typically require at least a bachelor’s degree as a prerequisite, whereas a post masters certificate would be oriented toward those who already hold a masters degree. Contact schools for details.
School Psychology Program Formats
School psychology graduate programs may be offered in a variety of formats, to accommodate students of diverse learning and scheduling needs. Whether you’re a busy school psychologist trying to balance the needs of each of your students with your educational goals, or want to dedicate yourself full time to your studies, the right format could enable you to do so.
Listed below are three options you might consider when choosing potential school psychologist graduate programs.
Earn Your School Psychology Degree at a Graduate School
In a graduate program anchored on a local campus you may have access to a variety of valuable program resources. For example, the program might offer simulated work areas designed to emulate the school environment. You might also be able to get hands on experience using the type of equipment and software needed once you graduate. Best of all, you might study under professors with concrete experience working as school psychologists in your community!
Online School Psychology Programs
Studying school psychology online could be a more flexible option, appealing to students with busier schedules, or who just prefer a little more independence. By bringing the study of psychology to your laptop, these programs could enable you to be there for your own students every day, while working on developing your expertise to help them more effectively.
Hybrid School Psychologist Programs
Caught between the benefits of both graduate school and online programs? Hybrid school psychology graduate programs - also known as blended programs - could be the compromise you are looking for. These programs are based in-campus with all the benefits that may entail as with graduate programs. This brings an added element of flexibility to the program.
School psychology graduate programs may vary from school to school. Additionally, each program may have unique factors like options for customization, supportive services - like tutoring and library services.
Program format may also impact other parts of the academic program. This could include the organization of field experience, project requirements design and other factors. For more information reach out to your school of choice.
How to Become a School Psychologist
School psychologists apply psychological principles and techniques to education and developmental disorders according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). They work in schools and school districts to apply their scientific expertise to help students of all levels learn in ways that are effective for them. For example, they might work with teachers to identify and test students with exceptional learning needs.
School psychologists may also help to develop IEPs and serve on IEP teams. They may also work to foster a positive school culture, carry out interventions and ensure a positive collaboration between teachers and caretakers.
The requirements to become a school psychologists vary by state. However, people usually become a school psychologist by completing three key steps:
- Earn an advanced degree in school psychology
- Complete supervised field experience (such as a 1,200 hour supervised internship)
- Attain state licensure or certification
|State||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|Metro Area||Annual Mean Salary||Employment|
|Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA||$110,010||230|
|San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA||$106,160||240|
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA||$102,260||660|
Most often, school psychologists earn a masters degree or specialist degree such as the education specialist degree (Ed.S.). However, some school psychologists may have a doctoral degree in school psychology. For more information reach out to your selected graduate school or the organization responsible for licensing school psychologists in your state.
GradSchools offers 153 Graduate Schools with School Psychology Graduate Programs
University of Oregon
Middle Tennessee State University
Lewis & Clark College
Mount Saint Vincent University
St. Mary's College Of California
Nicholls State University
Southern Connecticut State University