School Psychology Programs Comprehensive degree information, school rankings and resources
A school psychologist’s job is to create safe, healthy, and supportive learning environments that strengthen connections between home, school and the community. In addition to helping students with developmental disorders achieve in school, these professionals apply psychological principles to evaluate school performance, inform educational theory and counsel students and families. Those interested in becoming licensed school psychologists must first complete a master’s, specialist or doctorate program in the field. Read on to learn about your degree options, understand certification and licensure requirements and find your best-fit program.
The Best School Psychology Programs
While beginning the search for their ideal school psychology program, students may consider narrowing down prospective programs by their preferred expectations and criteria. Some common factors to consider are cost of tuition, enrollment and acceptance rates, student-to-teacher ratio and financial aid availability. Students can use this list of top school psychology programs that are ranked by these variables.
|Rank||School Name||Score||Tuition & Fees||Financial Aid %||Total Programs||Student-teacher Ratio||Grad Rate||Placement Services||Counseling Services||Credit for Experience||Program Breadth||Online Programs||Acceptance Rate|
|1||99.81||$$$$$||89%||6||21:1||88%||Yes||Yes||No||2||N/A||46%||Read More Read Less|
|2||98.31||$$$$$||83%||3||26:1||79%||Yes||Yes||No||1||N/A||55%||Read More Read Less|
|3||98.16||$$$$$||71%||1||18:1||79%||Yes||Yes||No||1||N/A||47%||Read More Read Less|
|4||97.97||$$$$$||93%||3||19:1||48%||Yes||Yes||No||2||N/A||45%||Read More Read Less|
|5||97.15||$$$$$||77%||2||17:1||46%||Yes||Yes||No||1||N/A||70%||Read More Read Less|
|6||96.99||$$$$$||78%||3||19:1||60%||Yes||Yes||Yes||1||N/A||71%||Read More Read Less|
|7||96.83||$$$$$||97%||2||13:1||71%||Yes||Yes||No||2||N/A||83%||Read More Read Less|
|8||96.69||$$$$$||74%||2||25:1||67%||Yes||Yes||No||1||N/A||53%||Read More Read Less|
|9||96.66||$$$$$||91%||4||14:1||66%||Yes||Yes||Yes||2||N/A||76%||Read More Read Less|
|10||96.66||$$$$$||78%||2||18:1||39%||Yes||Yes||No||1||N/A||76%||Read More Read Less|
|11||96.57||$$$$$||72%||1||31:1||70%||Yes||Yes||Yes||1||N/A||50%||Read More Read Less|
|12||96.56||$$$$$||73%||2||18:1||52%||No||Yes||Yes||2||N/A||48%||Read More Read Less|
|13||96.51||$$$$$||100%||1||12:1||74%||Yes||Yes||Yes||1||N/A||72%||Read More Read Less|
|14||96.48||$$$$$||75%||1||15:1||40%||Yes||Yes||Yes||1||N/A||49%||Read More Read Less|
|15||96.36||$$$$$||83%||3||18:1||85%||Yes||Yes||No||1||2||56%||Read More Read Less|
|16||96.33||$$$$$||75%||1||18:1||34%||Yes||Yes||Yes||1||1||85%||Read More Read Less|
|17||96.31||$$$$$||76%||4||14:1||44%||Yes||Yes||Yes||2||1||47%||Read More Read Less|
|18||96.30||$$$$$||66%||2||16:1||58%||Yes||Yes||Yes||1||N/A||43%||Read More Read Less|
|19||96.27||$$$$$||84%||4||18:1||61%||Yes||Yes||Yes||2||N/A||72%||Read More Read Less|
|20||96.19||$$$$$||82%||1||21:1||53%||Yes||Yes||Yes||1||N/A||74%||Read More Read Less|
|21||96.18||$$$$$||75%||4||17:1||69%||Yes||Yes||No||2||1||75%||Read More Read Less|
|22||96.13||$$$$$||73%||2||18:1||63%||Yes||Yes||Yes||1||N/A||48%||Read More Read Less|
|23||95.99||$$$$$||57%||4||16:1||70%||Yes||Yes||No||2||N/A||81%||Read More Read Less|
|24||95.99||$$$$$||69%||1||16:1||61%||Yes||Yes||Yes||1||N/A||48%||Read More Read Less|
|25||95.95||$$$$$||86%||3||9:1||59%||Yes||Yes||Yes||2||N/A||37%||Read More Read Less|
|26||95.90||$$$$$||95%||3||13:1||77%||Yes||Yes||Yes||1||N/A||73%||Read More Read Less|
|27||95.76||$$$$$||73%||2||20:1||61%||Yes||Yes||Yes||1||N/A||75%||Read More Read Less|
|28||95.76||$$$$$||91%||1||9:1||81%||Yes||Yes||No||1||N/A||48%||Read More Read Less|
|29||95.75||$$$$$||74%||5||14:1||69%||Yes||Yes||Yes||2||1||62%||Read More Read Less|
|30||95.74||$$$$$||79%||3||17:1||45%||Yes||Yes||No||1||N/A||94%||Read More Read Less|
|31||95.70||$$$$$||75%||1||22:1||43%||Yes||Yes||No||1||N/A||63%||Read More Read Less|
|32||95.66||$$$$$||97%||1||13:1||63%||Yes||Yes||Yes||1||N/A||69%||Read More Read Less|
|33||95.64||$$$$$||55%||2||16:1||64%||Yes||Yes||No||2||N/A||78%||Read More Read Less|
|34||95.55||$$$$$||97%||1||11:1||69%||No||Yes||Yes||1||N/A||74%||Read More Read Less|
|35||95.50||$$$$$||73%||2||19:1||45%||Yes||Yes||Yes||1||N/A||77%||Read More Read Less|
|36||95.50||$$$$$||94%||1||13:1||64%||Yes||Yes||Yes||1||N/A||66%||Read More Read Less|
|37||95.47||$$$$$||75%||1||26:1||54%||Yes||Yes||No||1||N/A||53%||Read More Read Less|
|38||95.44||$$$$$||56%||2||13:1||90%||Yes||Yes||No||1||N/A||28%||Read More Read Less|
|39||95.43||$$$$$||53%||5||13:1||72%||Yes||Yes||No||2||N/A||58%||Read More Read Less|
|40||95.38||$$$$$||72%||2||15:1||34%||Yes||Yes||Yes||2||N/A||83%||Read More Read Less|
|41||95.35||$$$$$||95%||1||14:1||79%||Yes||Yes||No||1||N/A||67%||Read More Read Less|
|42||95.34||$$$$$||63%||5||15:1||60%||Yes||Yes||No||2||1||60%||Read More Read Less|
|43||95.30||$$$$$||81%||1||19:1||42%||Yes||Yes||No||1||N/A||N/A||Read More Read Less|
|44||95.24||$$$$$||90%||1||12:1||67%||Yes||Yes||No||1||N/A||82%||Read More Read Less|
|45||95.23||$$$$$||76%||1||15:1||42%||Yes||Yes||No||1||N/A||74%||Read More Read Less|
|46||95.18||$$$$$||84%||4||14:1||73%||Yes||Yes||Yes||2||1||63%||Read More Read Less|
|47||95.16||$$$$$||78%||4||16:1||78%||Yes||Yes||Yes||2||1||39%||Read More Read Less|
|48||95.13||$$$$$||64%||2||19:1||45%||Yes||Yes||Yes||2||N/A||53%||Read More Read Less|
|49||95.10||$$$$$||64%||4||17:1||46%||Yes||Yes||No||2||2||71%||Read More Read Less|
|50||95.09||$$$$$||89%||1||11:1||64%||Yes||Yes||Yes||1||N/A||72%||Read More Read Less|
Find School Psychology Programs Near You
Unless a student is completing a school psychology program online, the proximity of the school to their home is important. In addition to other characteristics, like those in the ranking tool above, prospective students may want to search programs based on location and other traits that are important to them. Students can search programs according to the factors they care about most with the following school comparison tool.
Understanding Degree Options in School Psychology
To become a school psychologist, students must typically complete a specialized graduate or doctoral school psychology degree in the field. Students can prepare for the advanced degrees by getting their associate and bachelor’s degree in general psychology since school psychology programs aren’t typically offered at the undergraduate level. Once a bachelor’s degree is concluded, students can apply for a master’s or doctorate program. Master’s degrees are the minimum-level for state and national licensing and can be the last-stop degree for specialty areas in school psychology. The doctorate-level degrees are based in clinical practicum and training throughout the program.
two years, 60 credits
Provide students with a basic understanding of the psychology field, how and why humans behave, and how to improve human relations. Students will finish with a clear idea of how to continue on an educational path to school psychology-specific degree programs.
four years, 120 credits
Bachelor’s degrees delve further into the field of psychology. Once core degree requirements are met, students can focus on exploring the psychology field. Schools likely won’t have a school psychology-specific bachelor’s program, so students can branch out and learn about other specialties while staying in the general psychology arena.
two years, 30-60 credits
Students who complete a master’s in school psychology may be eligible to teach at the community college level, or continue in other jobs that don’t have a specialty or doctorate requirement. Many students who complete this degree are on their way to a doctoral program for full licensure and practical experience.
Bachelor’s degree in the psychology field, often a good GPA is required as acceptance becomes more competitive, personal statement or essay expressing passion for the field and the work, resume with any work-related experience, references and a potential interview.
Students delve into the methods of applying psychology in an academic setting. Common course topics may include applied school psychology, educational theory and practice along with individual assessment, intervention, consultation and evaluation. Many school psychology programs will require clinical training through an internship and clinical practicum.
two to three years, 60 credits, plus a 1200-hour internship
Graduates of specialty programs in the field may be eligible to enter careers in schools. Individuals who earn this degree are graduates of bachelor’s programs, as well as master’s program graduates who are able to combine their program with a specialty program that culminates in a terminal specialty degree.
Bachelor’s degree in a psychology field, completion of varying hours of master’s degree, educational and school psychology-specific coursework, or completion of full school psychology master’s degree program.
A specialist in school psychology program may include topics such as Introduction to Principles of Learning, Educational Institutional Structures and History, Research Trends, Urban Education, Challenges to Equity, Cognitive Development, Adolescent Development, and Deaf Culture. A thesis or dissertation and internship may be required for successful program completion.
five years, 100 credits
Students who want to perform educational psychology research, instruction, or clinic practice in schools, who want the most out of their education and are able to commit to ten years or more of schooling.
Work experience through a 1200-1500-hour clinical practicum, completion of bachelor’s and master’s programs in psychology in good academic standing, resume, personal statement, interview and professional references.
Before beginning a doctoral school psychology program, students will already have professional experience and may likely already be working in the field. A doctorate program may be four to five years long, with eight semesters of coursework and three-semesters of research or internships. Coursework topics may include behavior therapy, interviewing skills and research methods.
Explore Coursework in School Psychology
Once a student has completed a bachelor’s program in the general psychology, it’s time to narrow the focus to school psychology as one begins a master’s, specialist or doctorate program. Graduate-level school psychology programs will help students better support a safe and learning-conducive learning environment while better understanding how various environments an impact individuals’ behavior and learning abilities. In addition, school psychology students will learn strategies to become proficient in research theory, data analysis and behavior evaluation.
|Applied Behavior Analysis||Topics include principles of learning theory, applying interventions based on those theories to improve social behaviors and proving that behavior improvements are produced through those interventions and theories|
|Child and Adolescent Development||Topics include learning how children grow and develop physically and mentally, which stages they go through, and which environmental factors influence this growth and development|
|Counseling Theory||Topics include counseling theory and theoretical approaches to counseling along with psychoanalytic, cognitive-behavioral and solution-focused theories. Students will begin to learn how to select interventions and research standards.|
|Mindfulness and Mental Health||Students learn how to bring awareness to themselves and to lead improvements to their well being. These ideas are then put in context to the school setting.|
|Morality in Childhood||Students will discuss where people come to know right and wrong, and what cultural factors influence this sense in a person. Morality is defined and considered from a scientific point of view.|
|Social and Cultural Foundations||Students learn about the cultural context of trends in a multicultural society to better work with children from varied cultural, racial and class backgrounds with meaningful clinical services.|
|Theories of Counseling and Psychopathology||Students will learn about the history, identification, and treatment strategies of mental health disorders that children may have, and will learn to diagnose as well as address them in a school setting.|
Licenses & Certifications for School Psychologists
In addition to completing a master’s, specialist or doctorate degree, school psychologists must also become licensed or certified. There are two primary governing boards for certification, the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) and the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP). Many states and school districts base their hiring and credentialing requirements on these two organizations. Those searching school psychology programs will want to understand the required credentials to enter a career in the field.
Becoming a Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP)
The NCSP credential is gained through the NASP governing body. While an NCSP certification isn’t required for jobs in every state, it is recognized by all of them, and is the most efficient way to become certified. Students should note that a state board exam or certification may still be required, depending on the state.
Applicants must complete an official “school psychology”-titled program that is 60 semester or 90 quarter hours. It must include 54 semester or 81 quarter hours of a supervised internship.
Official transcripts noting the completion of the above coursework and internship hours must be sent to NASP electronically or in a sealed envelope.
Outside of an internship, applicants must complete their practicum, or a sequence of supervised experiences conducted in a laboratory or in the field.
The internship must be 1,200 hours long, and 600 of them must be completed in a school setting. For programs that don’t offer a 1,200 hour option, applicants can complete a field-based internship and can look at NCSP’s Internship Verification Form.
The Praxis School Psychology test is required by many state education agencies, in addition to the NCSP certification requirements. Applicants for NCSP must pass with a score of 147, which is valid for ten years.
Those who graduate from a NASP-approved program have ten years to apply for NCSP.
American Board of Professional Psychology: School Psychology Certification
Certification through ABPP, like that of NASP, is not required; however, it makes coordinating with state educational boards easier and lends to big professional benefits. If a psychologist has the American Board of School Psychology certification through the ABPP, it means that his or her educational and professional background meet national standards, not just state standards.
A doctorate degree in professional psychology is required to meet ABSP standards.
Applicants must be licensed in the United States or Canadian territory in which they practice or are planning to practice.
A 1,500-hour doctoral internship in school psychology is required, along with a minimum of one hour-per week supervision with a certified psychologist. American Psychology Association internship accepted.
Two or more years or qualifying experience is required, including supervision that allows for good standing with the state’s licensing board.
The applicant must be in good standing with the community in which they work and with the profession and specialty of school psychology. This points to awareness of professional issues at all levels, and participation in professional agencies and organizations.
Spotlight On: Program Accreditation
Accreditation is the process by which programs are reviewed and deemed acceptable within the overall community. School psychology programs must meet specific criteria that aligns them with national and state best-practice standards. Many school psychology programs around the country are accredited through the two main bodies, the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) and the American Psychological Association (APA).
The NASP is a large governing body that has been reviewing programs since 1988. It allows for a streamlined process with the NCSP credential. The NASP reviews specialist level (60+ graduate level courses) and doctoral-level programs. Programs are either given full national recognition, national recognition with approval, or are not approved. One can find a full list of programs with NASP approval here, listed by state.
The APA began to evaluate psychology programs in December 1945 when veterans were returning from World War II. Initially, 22 programs were identified as qualifying in care they offered. Now 370 doctoral programs are accredited, as well as 475 internship programs. According to the APA, “the accreditation process is intended to promote consistent quality and excellence in education and training in professional psychology.”
Featured Career: School Psychologist
What do they do?: School psychologists support students’ ability to learn and teachers’ ability to teach. They work within the school structure and with other support staff to identify students who may need help in social and academic functioning. They work to ensure that children can succeed academically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally.
Annual Salary (2015): $70,580
Projected Job Growth (201-2024): 20 percent, much higher than average job growth
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2015)
Similar Degree Programs in Psychology
Psychology has many different fields of focus with career opportunities including research, teaching and clinical practice. Many of these careers involve helping others function at their highest level socially, behaviorally and emotionally. The table below outlines some potential other programs and academic requirements in the field that may be good options compared to school psychology programs.
Counseling Psychology Programs
Counseling focuses on helping personal and interpersonal function. Emotional, social, vocational, educational, health, and developmental concerns are all considered.Read More
Clinical Psychology Programs
The branch within the field that specifically considered mental illness and mental disability, clinical psychologists see patients in private practice, in hospitals, and in other venues.Read More
Master’s in Psychology (General)
Involving two to three years after a bachelor’s program, a master’s in psychology can be given as a Master of Arts (MA) or a Master of Science (MS) degree. Career outcomes include teaching, research, and psychologist, depending on state requirements.Read More
PhD/PsyD in Psychology (General)
The differences between a PhD and a PsyD are distinguished by research versus practice; the PhD is research-based, and the PsyD is practice-based. Those who wish to teach in the field should follow a PhD path, while those wishing to practice should follow a PsyD path.Read More
Additional Resources for School Psychology
As students research school psychology programs and the psychology field at large, there are some additional resources that may be helpful in their search. Professional organizations, internship pages, and other links may give insight into prospective students’ questions.
American Board of Professional Psychology
This is a key certification body that school psychologists may get information on certifications, career advancement, continuing education and mentorship opportunities.
American Psychological Association
The America Psychological Association is one of the primary sources for information on general psychology education, professional leadership, and research. Individual links are provided below.
The education page provides breakdown for planning out K-12, undergraduate, graduate and doctorate education.
APA has a comprehensive membership program that provides benefits like networking, continuing professional education, and updates on research and policy.
Updated Accreditation Guidelines
Starting in 2017 there will be updated guidelines for reviewing and accrediting programs. This PDF outlines the purposes and strategies of the organization’s new accreditation processes.
International School Psychology Association
As a member-based organization, ISPA offers discounts on industry publications and annual conference attendance. The group is recognized as an NGO by the United Nations for the work that its members does with children and families around the world.
National Association of School Psychologists
NASP is a national organization and resource hub specifically for school psychologists. It’s a member-based group that provides benefits, as well as key certification information and research opportunities and updates.
The best school psychology programs in the U.S. are:
- University of Florida
- Florida State University
- Brigham Young University, Provo
- University of New Mexico
- New Mexico State University
- See Full List
There are two major licenses students who want to become nationally certified school psychologists can obtain: an NCSP (Nationally Certified School Psychologist) credential and an ABPP (American Board of Professional Psychology) certification. The ABPP requires a doctoral degree in professional psychology, while the NCSP requires students to complete an official "school psychology" titled program that is at least 60 semester hours, which will mean a graduate level degree. Here's a breakdown of the timeline and requirements for each.