What Classes Are Needed to Become a School Psychologist?
Most school psychologists hold at least a master's degree, and classes typically cover psychological assessment, ethics and crisis prevention. For more information about classes at the undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as certification, read on.
The first step towards becoming a school psychologist is completing a bachelor's degree program. Many graduate schools accept applicants with a bachelor's degree in any field as long as certain psychology prerequisites have been met. Some graduate schools only require general psychology and statistics be taken at the undergraduate level (often requiring a grade of C or better). Other graduate schools require as many as 18 credit hours of courses in psychology. These may include classes such as tests and measurements, experimental psychology, abnormal psychology, child development, and personality theories.
Important Facts About School Psychology Programs
|Concentrations||Bilingual school psychology, neuropsychology, autism training, applied behavior analysis|
|Online Availability||Fully online and hybrid master's degree and Ed.S. programs are available|
|Possible Careers||School psychologists in educational facilities, mental health agencies, clinics, independent practices, or hospitals|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)||14% growth (all psychologists)|
|Median Salary (2018)||$76,990 (for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists)|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
You'll need a graduate degree to become a school psychologist, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). Many states require you to receive an Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) degree, but some allow you to obtain a license with a master's degree. The Ed.S. degree program combines an advanced study of psychology with the educational training needed to help foster students' mental, social, and educational development. Some schools format these programs so that you can earn the Ed.S. degree and a concurrent master's degree upon completion.
Graduate degree programs in school psychology consist of 60-78 course credits. The curricula often features courses from the psychology and education departments, covering psychological foundations, psychological assessment, counseling delivery, special education, and research methods. Extensive field experience in the form of an internship or externship is generally required. Some courses may include:
- Child and adolescent assessment methods
- Biological influence on behavior
- Psychological basis of education
- Child and adolescent psychopathology
- Instructing the exceptional child
- Legal and ethical aspects of school psychology
- Crisis prevention and intervention
Certification and Continuing Education
Once you've completed a graduate degree program in school psychology, you must seek certification before working professionally, according to the BLS. You can become a Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) through the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), which is a designation recognized by many states.
To maintain your NCSP status, you must complete at least 75 hours of continuing education credits every three years. Continuing education credits are available through commercial and nonprofit organizations, state associations, schools, and universities. You can choose from a wide range of continuing education topics meant to expand your knowledge base and improve your advancement opportunities, such as:
- Autism studies
- Child abuse assessment
- Alcohol and substance dependency