School Psychology Ph.D.

Program Aims

Our Ph.D. program in School Psychology is aligned with the Standards of Accreditation for Health Service Psychology approved by the American Psychological Association. Our students are prepared for practice as school psychologists or for further post-doctoral training that will enable professional licensure in health-service psychology, which graduates will be eligible for once they have completed this program. Through this degree program, which is accredited by the Massachusetts Department of Education and meets the certification requirements of most other states, students gain licensure through the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). Our aims are grounded in our theoretical approach and are illuminated in our course and practicum sequence that is sequential, cumulative, and graded in complexity. The aims of our doctoral program are as follows:

  • To train psychologists in the critical appraisal of history, foundations, methods and applications of psychological principles to the field of health-service psychology (broadly) and school psychology (specifically).
  • To train psychologists within an ecologically-oriented, prevention-focused, and evidence-based practice and research paradigm.
  • To train psychologists to be proficient consumers and contributors to research in school psychology.
  • To train psychologists who understand and respect individual differences and are grounded in ethical approaches to practice.

View our student admissions, outcomes, and other data. 

Profession-Wide Competencies and Discipline Specific Knowledge

Health service psychology (broadly) and school psychology (specifically) is grounded in what the Standards of Accreditation term discipline-specific knowledge. Students in our doctoral program have access to learning experiences in which they develop a graduate level of understanding in core areas of psychology such as:

  • History and Systems of Psychology
  • Affective Aspects of Behavior
  • Biological Aspects of Behavior
  • Cognitive Aspects of Behavior
  • Developmental Aspects of Behavior
  • Social Aspects of Behavior
  • **Advanced Integrative Knowledge of 2 domains listed above
  • Research Methods
  • Statistical Analysis
  • Psychometrics

Throughout their experiences within the Ph.D. program in school psychology, students will be given opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge and achievement of particular profession-wide competencies. These competencies are as follows:

  • Research
  • Ethical and Legal Standards
  • Individual and Cultural Diversity
  • Professional Values, Attitudes, and Behaviors
  • Communication and Interpersonal Skills
  • Assessment
  • Intervention
  • Supervision
  • Consultation and Interprofessional/Interdisciplinary Skills


Doctoral Program Requirements

Students in our APA-accredited Ph.D. program complete a minimum of 117 graduate credits. 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). In line with our program’s provision of a broad, in-depth, and intensive professional training experience, full-time participation is required of students in the school psychology program. Full time status includes:

  • 9 credits minimum per semester or a letter from an advisor or program coordinator indicating the full-time nature of program expectations like an internship;
  • Participation in required practicum experiences in public school settings during school hours;
  • Involvement in faculty directed research in an ongoing fashion;
  • At least 3 (and often 4) years of on-campus course work; the 5th year is spent in a full-time pre-doctoral internship;
  • Dissertation work.

Students who enter the program directly from the baccalaureate degree earn a Masters of Education (M.Ed.) en route to completing the doctoral program requirements. Students who enter the program with previously earned graduate credits may apply up to 9 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 9 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.

Our Program Handbook includes detailed information about the School Psychology Doctoral Program. 

Doctoral Program Course Sequence

Course Description Credits
  First Year Fall  
EDUC 708  School Psychology Cognitive Assessment  3
EDUC 694A Practicum in School Psychology: Cognitive Assessment 1
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
  First Year Spring  
EDUC 775 Historical Foundations and Contemporary Theories of Psychology and Education 3
EDUC 685 Developmental Psychopathology 3
EDUC 790S Physiological Bases of Human Behavior, Affect, and Learning 3
EDUC 705  Assessment in School Psychology: Educational Assessment & 1-credit Practicum 3
EDUC 694A Practicum in School Psychology: Educational Assessment 1
EDUC 532 Applied Behavior Analysis in Applied Settings 3
  Second Year Fall  
EDUC 663 Experimental Single Case Research Designs for Educators and Helping Professionals 3
EDUC 762 School Psychology Social & Behavioral Assessment 3
EDUC 694A Practicum in School Psychology: Behavioral Assessment 1
EDUC 794I Prevention and Intervention for Achievement Problems in Schools 3
EDUC 669 Policy & Legal Perspectives in Special Education 3
EDUC 698Q School Psychology Practicum  
  Second Year Spring  
EDUC 698Q School Psychology Practicum 3
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
  Third Year Fall   
EDUC 698RR Advanced Practicum in School Psychology 3
PSYCH 617 Cognitive Psychology 3
PSYCH 660 Social Psychology 3
EDUC 664 Research Methods: Quasi-experimental and Group Designs 3
EDUC 697M* Research Team 1-3
  Third Year Spring  
EDUC 698RR Advanced Practicum in School Psychology 3
EDUC 656 Introduction to Statistics and Computers II 3
EDUC 697M* Research Team 1-3
  Fourth Year Fall  
EDUC 697M* Research Team 3
EDUC 698RR Advanced Practicum in School Psychology 3
SCHPSYCH 899 Dissertation Credits 3
  Fourth Year Spring  
EDUC 802 Professional Development: Supervision for School Psychologists 3
EDUC 698RR Advanced Practicum in School Psychology 3
EDUC 697M* Research Team 1-3
SCHPSYCH 899  Dissertation Credits 3
  Fifth+ Year Fall  
EDUC 830 Pre-Doctoral Internship in School Psychology 1500 hours total for the year
SCHPSYCH 899 Dissertation Credits 3
  Fifth+ Year Spring  
EDUC 830 Pre-Doctoral Internship in School Psychology 1500 hours total for the year
SCHPSYCH 899 Dissertation Credits 3

**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. 


Applications to the School Psychology doctoral program can be submitted through the Graduate School online application and detailed information about the application process can be found on their How to Apply page..  A complete application to the School Psychology doctoral program consists of (a) personal statement, (b) CV, (c) official transcript, and (d) three letters of recommendation. Additional information can be provided by applicants with the most common being GRE test results (although these are not required of the School Psychology program), or a professional writing sample.  Applications are due January 2 each year for fall admission. Our program does not accept applications for spring enrollment.

Application Timeline

The School Psychology Program has a once-a-year admissions policy.  Applications are due January 2 each year for fall admission.

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, waitlisted, or rejected. Accepted applicants have until April 15 to make a decision about attendance.

Program Costs and Funding

Detailed information on University tuition rates and fees is available through the Bursar's office.

  • Check with the Graduate School for assistantship listings, financial aid information, and grant and fellowship awards. 
  • Follow the College of Education’s newsletter, which sometimes contains assistantship postings.
  • Consult the UMass at a Glance and Organizational Chart - which lists all offices and departments within UMass Amherst. If one is in your area of interest, check with them directly about possible assistantships.
  • Visit Financial Aid Services for information about applying for financial aid. 
  • Review your employee benefits and rights with the Graduate Employee Organization.
  • Apply for scholarships through the College of Education.


This program leads to initial teacher licensure in Massachusetts through the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). Because of reciprocity agreements between states, you may be able to transfer your license to another state. However, the College of Education at UMass Amherst makes no guarantees that this program meets teacher licensure requirements in any state other than Massachusetts. If you are seeking licensure in another state, click on the link below for the program of your choice for more information, take a look at the Teacher Licensure Agency Directory.  We recommend that you contact the teacher licensure certification offices of the state in which you hope to gain licensure in order to find out if our program will meet their requirements.


Inquires about the school psychology programs should be sent to You can also contact the program advisor: Sarah Fefer.

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