School Psychology Ph.D.

Our doctoral graduates become school psychologists or, with postdoctoral training, pursue professional licensure in health-service psychology. The program’s practice and research paradigm is ecologically oriented, prevention focused, and evidence-based. Students critically appraise the history, foundations, methods, and applications of psychological principles to the field of health-service psychology (broadly) and school psychology (specifically), and consume and contribute to research in school psychology. They are proficient in assessment and interventions methods and best practices for consultation and collaboration. Our objective is to foster psychologists who understand and respect individual differences and whose work is grounded in ethical approaches to practice. The Ph.D. program is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA).

View our student admissions, outcomes, and other data. 

Course of Study

Program Handbook

Students in our APA-accredited Ph.D. program complete a minimum of 117 graduate credits. Students who enter the program directly from the baccalaureate degree earn a master's of education (M.Ed.) in education en route to completing the doctoral program requirements. Students who enter the program with previously earned graduate credits may apply up to 12 of those credits toward the doctoral plan of study. Students are not required to retake courses that apply to the doctoral plan of study in school psychology; rather, courses and credits in excess of the 12 that are transferred in are waived from the doctoral plan of study and replacement courses are selected in areas mutually agreed upon by the student and advisor. In these instances, students often elect to take additional course work in areas of psychology and neuroscience, and measurement and statistics. Typically, students are awarded their Ph.D. degree after 5 or 6 years of graduate work – 3 or 4 years of coursework (including practicum requirements), 1-year full-time doctoral internship, and dissertation work (which usually bridges the 4 years on campus and the year of internship).

Course Description Credits
  First Year Fall  
EDUC 708 School Psychology Cognitive Assessment 3
EDUC 741 Principles and Practices of School Psychology 3
EDUC 677 Foundations in Bilingual and Multicultural Education 3
EDUC 632 Principles of Educational and Psychological Testing 3
EDUC 594M Child and Adolescent Development for the Helping Profession 3
EDUC 698A Practicum in School Psychology Assessment 1
  First Year Spring  
EDUC 775 Historical Foundations and Contemporary Theories of Psychology and Education 3
EDUC 685 Developmental Psychopathology 3
EDUC 694A Practicum in School Psychology: Educational Assessment 3
EDUC 532 Applied Behavior Analysis in Applied Settings 3
  Second Year Fall  
EDUC 698Q School Psychology Practicum  
EDUC 794I Prevention and Intervention for Achievement Problems in Schools 3
EDUC 762 School Psychology Social and Behavioral Assessment 3
EDUC 694A Practicum in School Psychology Assessment   
  Second Year Spring  
EDUC 698Q School Psychology Practicum  
EDUC 628 Prevention and Intervention for Mental Health Problems in Schools 3
EDUC 702 School Based Consultation 3
EDUC 871 Design and Evaluation of Educational Programs 3
EDUC 715SP Physiological Bases of Human Behavior, Affect, and Learning 3
  Third Year Fall   
EDUC 698RR Advanced Practicum in School Psychology  
PSYCH 660 Social Psychology 3
EDUC 664 Research Methods: Quasi-experimental and Group Designs 3
  Third Year Spring  
EDUC 698RR Advanced Practicum in School Psychology  
EDUC 656 Introduction to Statistics and Computers II 3
  Fourth Year Fall  
PSYCH 617 Cognitive Psychology 3
EDUC 698RR Advanced Practicum in School Psychology  
EDUC 899 Dissertation Credits  
  Fourth Year Spring  
EDUC 802 Professional Development: Supervision for School Psychologists  
EDUC 698RR Advanced Practicum in School Psychology  
EDUC 899  Dissertation Credits  
  Fifth+ Year Fall  
EDUC 830 Pre-Doctoral Internship in School Psychology 1500 hours total for the year
EDUC 899 Dissertation Credits  
  Fifth+ Year Spring  
EDUC 830 Pre-Doctoral Internship in School Psychology 1500 hours total for the year
EDUC 899 Dissertation Credits  

**In addition to the courses listed above, students are required to take EDUC 697M (research credits) during any semester in which they participate in a research project (e.g. faculty research, dissertation support) or participate in regularly scheduled faculty research team meetings. 

Goals and Objectives of Doctoral Program

Goal #1: Foundations of Psychology

  • Objectives
    • 1.1: Students will demonstrate understanding of critical biological, cognitive, affective, and social factors influencing human behavior.
    • 1.2: Students will demonstrate understanding of critical aspects of human development including factors that contribute to individual differences and atypical development.
    • 1.3: Program graduates will demonstrate understanding of ecobehavioral models of person-environment interaction and how this influences behavior.
  • Competencies Expected for these Objectives: Students will gain a broad and general understanding of the foundational elements of psychology including those that may affect the professional practice of psychology with a specialty in school psychology.
  • How Outcomes are Measured and Minimum Levels for Achievement for these Objectives/Competencies: Coursework (EDUC 775, EDUC 692K, PSY 660, EDUC 691E, EDUC 697M, EDUC 594M, EDUC 685) competencies, assignments, and evaluations with minimum grades of B- in each course. Proximal, distal, and process assessments including practicum and internship evaluations,   Doctoral comprehensive examination. Annual faculty assessment of student progress toward program goals and objectives.

Goal #2: Professional Assessment

  • Objectives 
    • 2.1: Students will demonstrate knowledge and use of a variety of psychoeducational assessment practices and techniques to measure student learning, growth, and development.
    • 2.2: Students will be able to analyze data from assessments, draw conclusions, and communicate and share results appropriately.
    • 2.3: Students will be able to develop intervention support plans from assessment results and methods of assessing clinical response to intervention implementation.
  • Competencies Expected for these Objectives: Students will gain a broad and general understanding of the foundational elements of psychological assessment, including those that may affect the professional practice of psychology with a specialty in school psychology.
  • How Outcomes are Measured and Minimum Levels for Achievement for these Objectives/Competencies: Coursework (EDUC 632, EDUC 705, EDUC 708, EDUC 762) competencies, assignments, and evaluations with minimum grades of B- in each course. Proximal, distal, and process assessments including practicum and internship evaluations, Doctoral comprehensive examination. Annual faculty assessment of student progress toward program goals and objectives.

Goal #3: Professional Intervention

  • Objectives 
    • 3.1: Students will demonstrate knowledge of empirically supported clinical practices that engage all populations and can be individualized to accommodate diverse cognitive/learning aptitudes, needs, interests, and levels of readiness.
    • 3.2: Students will demonstrate the ability to plan and implement empirically supported clinical interventions and treatments that are accessible for all students.
    • 3.3: Students will demonstrate knowledge of group and system-level change processes and be able to take an active role in school improvement efforts.
  • Competencies Expected for these Objectives: Students will gain a broad and general understanding of the foundational elements of psychological intervention, including those that may affect the professional practice of psychology with a specialty in school psychology.
  • How Outcomes are Measured and Minimum Levels for Achievement for these Objectives/Competencies: Coursework (EDUC 732, EDUC 794I, EDUC 628) competencies, assignments, and evaluations with grades of B- in each course. Proximal, distal, and process assessments including practicum and internship evaluations, Doctoral comprehensive examination. Annual faculty assessment of student progress toward program.

Goal #4: Professional Consultation and Collaboration

  • Objectives 
    • 4.1: Students will engage effectively in two-way communication with professionals and parents about student learning, behavior, and wellness.
    • 4.2: Students will be able to promote the learning, growth, and development of all students through effective consultative and collaborative partnerships with families, caregivers, community members, and educational organizations.
  • Competencies Expected for these Objectives: Students will gain a broad and general understanding of the foundational elements of psychological consultation, including those that may affect the professional practice of psychology with a specialty in school psychology.
  • How Outcomes are Measured and Minimum Levels for Achievement for these Objectives/Competencies: Coursework (EDUC 702) competencies, assignments, and evaluations with minimum grades of B- in each course. Proximal, distal, and process assessments including practicum and internship evaluations, Doctoral comprehensive examination. Annual faculty assessment of student progress toward program.

Goal #5: Professional Research

  • Objectives 
    • 5.1: Students will demonstrate knowledge and understanding of diverse research methodologies and methods of data analysis.
    • 5.2: Students will conduct independent research in a manner that is congruent with both ethical and legal standards for professional conduct.
  • Competencies Expected for these Objectives: Students will gain a broad and general understanding of the foundational elements of psychological and social science research methodology, including the dissemination of findings to professional audiences and those with a specialty in school psychology.
  • How Outcomes are Measured and Minimum Levels for Achievement for these Objectives/Competencies: Coursework (EDUC 663, EDUC 664, EDUC 656, EDUC 871, EDUC 899) competencies, assignments, and evaluations with minimum grades of B- in each course. Proximal, distal, and process assessments including practicum and internship evaluations, Doctoral comprehensive examination. Annual faculty assessment of student progress toward program.

Goal #6: Professional Knowledge in School Psychology

  • Objectives 
    • 6.1: Students will demonstrate professional knowledge specific to the professional practice of school psychology.
  • Competencies Expected for these Objectives: Students will gain specific knowledge and skills related to the professional practice of school psychology.
  • How Outcomes are Measured and Minimum Levels for Achievement for these Objectives/Competencies: Coursework (EDUC 741, EDUC 669, EDUC 802) competencies, assignments, and evaluations with minimum grades of B- in each course. Proximal, distal, and process assessments including practicum and internship evaluations, Doctoral comprehensive examination. Annual faculty assessment of student progress toward program.

Goal #7: Professional Growth and Development 

  • Objectives 
    • 7.1: Students will actively pursue professional development and learning opportunities to improve the quality of practice or build expertise and/or experience in a variety of professional roles.
    • 7.2: Students will demonstrate the capacity to reflect on and improve their own clinical practice and set personal/professional goals that are congruent with effective practice.
  • Competencies Expected for these Objectives: Students will gain the skills and knowledge necessary to be able to guide their own professional growth and development across the time of their professional practice careers.
  • How Outcomes are Measured and Minimum Levels for Achievement for these Objectives/Competencies: Coursework (EDUC 698Q, EDUC 698RR, EDUC 830) competencies, assignments, and evaluations with minimum grades of B- in each course. Proximal, distal, and process assessments including practicum and internship evaluations, Doctoral comprehensive examination. Annual faculty assessment of student progress toward program.

Admissions

Applications to the School Psychology doctoral program can be submitted through the Graduate School.  

Application Timeline

School Psychology faculty take the admissions process very seriously. Each application is thoroughly reviewed by faculty members following the January 2 submission deadline. By early February, applicants will be contacted regarding their application status and whether or not they will be invited to a campus interview in late February/early March. Applicants are requested to attend one of two interview days. On these days, faculty will provide an orientation to the program and applicants will interview with at least two faculty members. Applicants will also be given ample opportunity to meet with current students. Following interviews, applicants will be informed that they are either accepted, wait-listed, or rejected. Accepted applicants have until April 15 to make a decision about attendance.

Prerequisites 

  • A bachelor's degree in any field
  • Previous experience working with children, can be a practicum experience

Required Materials 

  • Three letters of reference
  • Writing sample
  • Personal statement
  • Résumé/CV
  • Transcripts
  • GRE scores
  • Online application 

Candidates for admission will be evaluated on GPA, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, previous related experience, fit with the School Psychology program, and a well-written personal statement. We strongly encourage you to read all program materials and to visit the campus to meet with program faculty and students.

Contact

Inquires about the school psychology programs should be sent to schoolpsychology@umass.edu.

Questions about our APA-accreditation should be directed to the Commission on Accreditation:

Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation
American Psychological Association
750 1st Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002
Phone: (202) 336-5979
apaacred@apa.org
www.apa.org/ed/accreditation