School Psychology Major
School psychologists work with youth, helping them develop their academic and personal goals and providing crisis interventions. This field is studied at the graduate level. Read on to find out about the classes covered,whether programs are offered online and what career options are available.
What Degree Do I Need to Work as a School Psychologist?
School psychologists help students by fostering their academic, social and emotional growth. If you're planning on becoming a school psychologist, you'll need to complete at least a master's degree in order to meet your state's licensing and certification requirements.
Doctoral degrees in school psychology are also available from several universities. These include a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) in School Psychology and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Psychology with an educational psychology specialization. Some dual-degree programs allow you to earn your Master of Arts (M.A.) and Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) in School Psychology simultaneously.
The minimum prerequisite for a graduate program in school psychology is a bachelor's degree from an accredited school. Your undergraduate degree doesn't necessarily need to be in psychology or education, although they may be beneficial or preferred majors.
|Degree Levels||Master's and doctoral|
|Common Courses||Counseling techniques, classroom behavior management, social development|
|Online Availability||Some programs available online; may have in-person components|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)||14% growth (for clinical, counseling and school psychologists)*|
|Median Salary (2018)||$76,990 (for clinical, counseling and school psychologists)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Courses Will I Take?
Courses in a graduate degree program in school psychology combine topics in psychology and education. Coursework is designed to prepare you to provide counseling and interventions, assess students and promote well-being. You'll also need to complete an internship or research project to earn your degree. Some of the courses you may take include:
- Counseling techniques
- Emotional and social development
- Developmental psychopathology
- Classroom behavior management
- Intervention techniques
Are Programs Available Online?
Mostly online graduate programs in school psychology are available at both the master's and doctoral degree level. However, please note that some online programs don't meet the qualifications for licensure. If you're interested in becoming a school psychologist, it is recommended that you check the licensing requirements for your desired state of practice before selecting a degree program. Largely online programs in this field often have in-person requirements, such as internships or other practical experiences. In some cases, additional supervised experiences may be necessary after graduation in order to qualify for licensure or certification.
Online programs offer you more flexibility than campus-based programs. As an online student, you'll be able to complete your coursework at your convenience, while still being able to work with instructors and network with other students using e-mail and message boards. You'll also have access to educational resources, such as online libraries. You'll be able to work with your program's faculty to complete your research or thesis remotely.
What Can I Do with My Degree?
Once you graduate and receive your license and certification, you can pursue a career as a school psychologist. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many school psychologists work in schools, but the majority is self-employed, working as independent consultants or in private practice (www.bls.gov).
Employment for all psychologists is expected to increase at an average rate of 14% between 2016 and 2026, according to the BLS. The BLS notes that there is an increased understanding of how issues like bullying can affect students' mental health, behavior and ability to learn. This is expected to drive the demand for professionals in this field, but competition for those positions are still expected to be intense.
National certification for school psychologists is available from the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), which offers the designation of Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP). This certification is recognized in 33 states as of 2019, and you can transfer this credential among these states without retaking the national exam. As of July 2019, salaries for school psychologists ranged from $43,000 at the 10th percentile to $90,000 at the 90th percentile, according to Payscale.com.