Educational Psychology

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Frequently asked questions:
school psychology

Program fit and eligibility

How can I learn more about the program?

Learn more about the program, requirements, and our application process. We encourage prospective students to review the applicable degree information (MA+specialist certificate or PhD) in our student handbook. It includes required coursework and other activities.

Prospective PhD students are also encouraged to review Faculty profiles and recent research of our program faculty, Drs. Faith Miller and Amanda Sullivan. PhD students are expected to work closely with a faculty advisor during their time in the program, both on their required research projects and ongoing collaborative work within the program. This makes alignment between faculty and student interests very important.

How can I tell if this program is a good fit for me?

We encourage applicants to explore the program handbook and faculty profiles.

Am I eligible for this program if I don’t have an undergraduate or master’s degree in psychology?

Yes. We consider applicants from all academic backgrounds. Most applicants do have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in psychology, but our graduates have also come from areas of study spanning education, social sciences, law, liberal arts, and the sciences. We don’t have psychology prerequisites for applicants or admitted students, but students may benefit from coursework or independent study related to introductory psychology, educational psychology, or basic statistics and research methods in the social sciences if these are not areas to which they were exposed in their undergraduate studies.

How can I learn more about the faculty's research?

We encourage applicants to review the profiles of our faculty, their CVs, and publications. Google Scholar can be a great way to access the most recent information on their publications, or you can use your university’s library website.

What if my research interests aren’t related to any of the work being done by the program’s faculty?

For prospective applicants for the MA+specialist certificate track, this is not an issue as long as the applicants’ broader professional interests and goals are consistent with the program orientation and goals. You can learn more about the program orientation in the program handbook which also includes descriptions of student projects in the appendix.

For PhD students, advisor fit is an important aspect of our admissions decisions, so prospective applicants are encouraged to review faculty CVs and publications, and contact faculty with whom they may be interested in working. If you don’t see any potential links of your research interests to program faculty, this program may not be a great fit for you.

What if I’m not really interested in research?

Our program emphasizes research in all aspects of graduate preparation. All students in the PhD and MA+specialist certificate tracks will complete original research projects under advisement of program faculty. Our coursework and fieldwork heavily emphasize evidence-based practice and feature seminal and contemporary school psychology research. As such, most classes draw primarily on published research articles rather than textbooks. Most importantly, we focus on preparing all students in our program to be scientist-practitioners who will be engaged with research in one or more capacities; consumption, application, and creation throughout their careers.

I’m interested in admission to the school psychology program PhD track, but I’d like to work with an advisor outside of the program. Is that permitted?

No. All PhD students are advised by the program’s core, tenure-track faculty. We do not admit students to work with advisors outside of the core school psychology faculty.

What is the program's advising model?

For the MA+specialist certificate, each cohort will be advised by the specialist coordinator, who will provide primary academic advising and support. This program faculty member also provides some support for students’ completion of the research project required for the MA degree, with primary support for the project provided within the required course, EPSY 8822: Research in School Psychology. Most MA+specialist certificate students will complete a systematic review project to meet this requirement. The full process is described in the program handbook.

For the PhD, each student is advised by the program’s core, tenure-track faculty member with whom they had the best research fit, and participates in the advisor’s research lab/team. The program’s advising model and expectations for student success and completion of required research projects is described in the program handbook.

I’m not sure if I am interested in the MA+Specialist Certificate or PhD. Can I apply to both?

Yes. In this case, you should prepare your personal statement following the directions for PhD applicants and indicate your interest in both tracks in your application materials. If you are invited for interviews, we will indicate whether you are being considered for the MA+specialist certificate or both, and this can be discussed further during the interview process to help you decide your best route.

How are the practicum and internship experiences determined for students?

Practicum and internship are increasingly individualized as students progress through the program. We have a ‘vertical team model’ for the introductory and intermediate practica students complete in years 1 and 2, respectively, as well as third year practica for PhD students. These placements are linked to students’ required program coursework in years 1 and 2 in sites where students have the opportunities to practice the skills introduced in the coursework. Doctoral students’ fourth year practica and internships are often more tailored to their interests, and may include non-school settings under special circumstances. That said, most students complete all of their fieldwork in school settings.

I have a master’s degree. Can it be applied toward this program?

Probably. If you have a master’s degree, you may be eligible for transfer credits, but those are determined by our department’s course instructor for each course based on the comparability of syllabi. These decisions are often made after admissions, but students invited for interviews may query potential transfer credits during that process. Most often, students are able to transfer in some credits (approximately three to eighteen) for core courses that meet department requirements, described here, but not much toward the program’s school psychology coursework unless the previous degree was in school psychology. Many students with previous masters also complete a predissertation project because their previous MA theses did not meet department or program requirements for method, scope, or topic. As such, most PhD students can anticipate four to five total years in the program for coursework, exams, research, and internship requirements unless the previous degree was in school psychology, in which case three to four years of study are possible. That said, every students’ degree plan can be individualized according to their past educational and research experience, so this is something to discuss with the program coordinator.

Can I attend this program as an evening/weekend student while continuing to work full-time?

Generally, no. Most courses are offered during standard business hours, and students complete 1-3 days of fieldwork in schools, making it impractical to have full-time, daytime employment. In addition, completing the program in the 3 or 5 years recommended for the MA+Specialist or PhD programs, respectively, assumes typical enrollment of 14 credits/semester, which is not generally compatible with full-time employment. That said, we provide sample 4 and 6 year plans for students interested in lighter course loads.

I might be interested in pursuing a PhD later. Could I transfer within the program if I am admitted to the MA+specialist certificate track?

Yes. Students in the MA+specialist certificate track can apply for admission to the PhD program while in the program. Most MA+specialist certificate students interested in this route apply during the fall of their second year in the program, but should discuss this option as early as possible with the track coordinators and their advisor to identify potential implications for course selection and required research activities. Admission to the PhD track is not automatic, and is instead based on the same considerations applied to new applicants. Research interests and commitment to scholarship are the key distinctions from the MA+specialist certificate track. For this reason, it is important for PhD applicants to clearly articulate advisor match.

I am an international student. Am I eligible to apply to the school psychology program?

Yes. Post-graduation employment opportunities in the field vary by country. Some graduates eventually stay in the US; others eventually return to the their home countries, and may be employed in a range of positions including, but not limited to: school psychologist, researcher, professors, administrators in various offices of educational agencies or government. The International School Psychology Association may have more information on the development of school psychology outside of the US.

Do I need research experience to apply to this program?

No. Past research experience (e.g., honors theses, undergraduate research experience, independent project, research assistantships, etc.) can be valuable, but is not required. What we value most is a passion for developing one’s research skills and commitment to engaging in research-based practices.

Will volunteering or completing an undergraduate research credit in one of your faculty’s research labs give me an advantage in the admission process?

Maybe, but only to the extent that such experience provides an opportunity for you to demonstrate your fit with the program, faculty interests, and expected competencies and professionalism. Volunteering doesn’t necessarily boost likelihood of admission if the student isn’t interested in the research being conducted or poorly completes assigned tasks.

I really want to be a counselor/therapist. Is this a good program for me?

Probably not. Our program is designed to prepare school psychologists with an emphasis on consultation and research-based school-based interventions to address K12 students’ diverse academic, behavioral, and social-emotional needs. Counseling is not an emphasis in our curriculum or fieldwork. You might want to check out the department’s counseling program instead.

I really want to have a clinical/private practice after I complete a PhD. Is this a good program for me?

Probably not. Although our program is APA-accredited and prepares PhD graduates for licensure to practice psychology, our program is designed to prepare school psychologists with an emphasis on consultation and research-based school-based interventions to address K12 students’ diverse academic, behavioral, and social-emotional needs. Clinical psychology is not an emphasis. Coursework and fieldwork are structured such that students wouldn’t have an opportunity to pursue clinical psychology electives until 3rd year or clinical psychology fieldwork until 4th year. In addition, because we are also NASP accredited, it’s generally required that internship include at least 600 hours in a school setting, making a clinical psychology emphasis impractical.

I am interested in neuropsychology. Is this a good program for me?

Probably not. Our program is designed to prepare school psychologists with an emphasis on consultation and research-based school-based interventions to address K12 students’ diverse academic, behavioral, and social-emotional needs. We offer no coursework or fieldwork in neuropsychology. Coursework and fieldwork are structured such that students wouldn’t have an opportunity to pursue neuropsychology electives until 3rd year or neuropsychology fieldwork until 4th year. What’s more, because we are also NASP accredited, it’s generally required that internship include at least 600 hours in a school setting, making a neuropsychology emphasis impractical.

I am interested in a faculty career, but don’t want to practice. Is this a good program for me?

Probably! In our PhD track, we emphasize faculty development for individuals interested in pursuing a career as a faculty member in school psychology, particular, but not exclusively, at research-intensive universities. Our curriculum features rigorous preparation not only in research methods and statistics, but higher education instruction, assessment, mentoring, and supervision as well. All PhD students complete supervised teaching and supervision experiences and develop a teaching portfolio. There are numerous opportunities to learn about faculty roles, publishing, and other relevant aspects of future faculty preparation. Most of our PhD students graduate with multiple research publications and several professional presentations.

Where are graduates employed?

For our MA+Specialist Certificate track, most alumni are working as credentialed school psychologists in K12 educational settings. For our PhD track, our graduates are split relatively evenly across (1) school psychology positions in K12 educational settings; (2) university positions including faculty and researchers; and (3) other settings (e.g., district administration, nonprofit agencies, private clinics, hospitals). Our curriculum, field training, and other graduate preparation emphasizes options 1 and 2.

Application process

Do you require any GRE scores?

No, you are not required to submit any GRE test scores for application and admission to our program.

When are application materials due?

Applications are due November 15. We only admit students to start in the fall semester of the following year. Interviews take place in early January and initial admissions offers are made by mid-January.

When are admissions decisions made?

We review applications by early December and notify candidates invited for interviews. Interviews take place in early January and initial admissions offers are made by mid-January.

How can I make my application stand out?

There are several parts to the application package, so be sure to follow the directions. Beyond the information provided on your past educational experiences and accomplishments, and your letters of recommendation, the essays are really important. The essays allow students the opportunity to articulate their interests in school psychology and this program in particular. For applicants to the PhD track, the essays provide the applicant opportunities to articulate fit with the program and potential advisor match. The essay directions are specific for the content and structure expected, so be sure to follow the directions as you describe your interests and goals. When you solicit letters of recommendation, we encourage you to seek letters from people who are familiar with your academic, scholarly, or professional work and can speak to your potential to be successful in the program and as a school psychologist.

Do I need to meet with the program faculty before applying?

No. We encourage prospective applicants to review the following materials in depth and then to contact us if they have questions not answered in our materials.

Interviews and admissions decisions

Do I have to attend on-campus interviews?

No. We can accommodate video conferencing in place of campus visits. We encourage students to interview in person since it provides an opportunity to meet our faculty, staff, and students; tour our building and campus; and learn more about the program, college, and community. That said, we appreciate that campus visits are not feasible for some applicants and are happy to coordinate distance meetings with faculty and introductions with current students who can provide more information about the student experience in our program.

Does your program select new students based on how each student fits into a specific lab or does the program select new students based on general fit?

Both. For MA+specialist certificate applicants, admissions decisions are made based on fit with the program. For PhD applicants, we consider both: first, fit with program and second, fit with advisors’ research programs. The program handbook provides a detailed description of the program orientation. We are very intentional in selecting students for whom the program is a good match to their professional orientation and goals since students have many varied options for graduate programs.

What should I bring to applicant day?

Come prepared with any questions you may have for our faculty and students. It’s not necessary to bring any additional materials to share with faculty. In particular, it’s unnecessary to bring copies of your CV or other application materials.

If I am not invited for interviews or admitted, will someone be able to tell me why?

No. We have a general policy against providing specific feedback. We make decisions based on the strength of each applicant’s previous educational and employment experience, recommendations, and fit with the program as articulated in their essays and other materials. Because admissions are limited by faculty and staff capacity, most cohorts are between 5-10 students. Admission is a competitive process with a rejection rate as high as 80% in some years. We encourage students interested in reapplying to revisit the program information and consider whether they are a good fit. You might also find it helpful to ask a trusted mentor or friend to review your materials for strengths and weaknesses.

If I am not invited for interviews or admitted, can I reapply next year?

Yes. We encourage students interested in reapplying to revisit the program information and consider whether they are a good fit. You might also find it helpful to ask a trusted mentor or friend to review your materials for strengths and weaknesses.

If I am not invited for interviews or admitted, can I appeal the decision?

No.

Student funding

What funding is available to students?

Most of our students are supported by graduate assistantships that might entail research duties, teaching assistance, or some combination thereof. Graduate assistantships generally provide instate tuition waivers, health insurance, and a stipend equivalent to approximately $20-25/hour for 20 hours/week appointments (rate dependent on duties). Some of these appointments are on projects with school psychology program faculty, but our students may also work for other faculty and researchers in our home department, Educational Psychology; other departments in the college or university; or in one of the many research or outreach centers affiliated with the college.

Do you guarantee funding for admitted students?

No. We match as many students as possible to funding at the point of admissions offers, but most students secure assistantships in the interim between admission and the start of the school year. We do not guarantee funding for students, but historically all doctoral students in the program have been supported by graduate fellowships or assistantships that provide instate tuition waivers, health insurance, and a stipend equivalent to approximately $19/hour for 20 hours/week appointments. Some of these appointments are on projects with school psychology program faculty, but our students may also work for other faculty and researchers in the department, or in one of the many research or outreach centers affiliated with the college. In addition, graduate fellowships range from a few thousand dollars to packages commensurate with full-time graduate assistantships (or higher).

How do I find out about funding opportunities?

Once accepted, our students are subscribed to program, department, and college listservs through which position announcements are distributed, and we try to match students to available opportunities. All of our doc students are currently fully supported by fellowships or assistantships.