School Psychologists help schools by improving academic achievement; promoting positive behavior and mental health; supporting diverse learning; creating safe, positive climates; strengthening family-school partnerships; and improving school-wide assessment and accountability.
School Psychologists training emphasizes using research-based methods, understanding both individual and environmental factors influencing learning and behavior, and individual and systems level interventions. More specifically, school psychologists develop knowledge and skills in areas such as, data collection and analysis, resilience and risk factors, consultation and collaboration, academic/learning interventions, mental and behavioral health, instructional support, prevention and intervention services, special education services, crisis preparedness, crisis response and recovery, family-school-community collaboration, diversity in development and learning, research and program evaluation, and professional ethics and school law.
School psychologists typically complete either a specialist-level degree program (at least 60 graduate semester hours and usually three years) or a doctoral degree (at least 90 graduate semester hours and often five to six years). Both degrees culminate in a year-long 1,200- to 1,500-hour supervised internship. The specialist-level degree is the national standard for entry into the field and allows for comprehensive practice and career advancement in schools. A doctoral degree is also appropriate for practicing in schools and is essential to working in academia and pursuing certain research interests. Some universities offer both degrees, allowing students in the specialist-level program to transfer to the doctoral program within the first two years of coursework.
One must hold the proper state-issued credential to practice as a school psychologist in any given state or territory. Specific requirements vary across states. Be sure to check credentialing requirements for the states where you want to work, and use NASP’s resource for state credentialing information: http://www.nasponline.org/standards-and-certification/state-school-psychology-credentialing-requirements.
Applicants should apply to programs specifically titled “school psychology.” There are over 300 such programs in the United States. Some factors to consider include: