Master’s in School Psychology

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Students of a Masters in School Psychology Program study practices and theories related to the behavior and development of individuals in a school setting. They learn about evaluation techniques, problem-solving methods, and intervention strategies.

A Masters in School psychology applies principles like therapy and assessment to an education setting. Programs may also teach facilitation skills, counseling, and consulting. A student gains an understanding of foundations of education, ethical issues, and psychology perspectives. Studies in psychological evaluation, educational history, human behavior, and counseling and intervention services are part of the degree program. Other topics include:

  • Behavioral assessment
  • Learning disabilities
  • Multi-modal therapy
  • Play therapy
  • Social-emotional assessment

The focus of psychology graduate programs is learning and how it varies between students at different development stages. Classes teach how to identify behavioral, emotional, and learning disorders and how to test them. Information about the types of services students need after being identified and tested is presented. The programs cover the best intervention strategies. The impact of such things as cultural background and socioeconomic status have on students' emotional and psychological health, and learning success is covered. Some of the key responsibilities students are prepared for to work in schools and school systems include:

  • Helping students overcome learning barriers
  • Intervening and providing support to families, students, and teachers
  • Helping schools provide essential services

Some programs are designed for those wanting to jump start new psychology careers. Others are designed to help build more advanced expertise for experienced school psychologists. Science-Practitioner psychologist programs focus on scientific research. Students are exposed to current research. Scientist-Practitioner-Scholar models focus more on clinical applications. They have a relatively lighter research emphasis. Types of school psychology programs include:

  • Master of Education in School Psychology
  • Masters of Arts in School Psychology
  • Master of Science in School Psychology
  • Educational Specialist in School Psychology
  • Specialist in School Psychology
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Requirements to Obtain a Master's in School Psychology

Students applying for a Masters in School Psychology must have an undergraduate degree. Most programs require participation in field experiences or an internship. Prior coursework in psychology is also required. Common required topics include general psychology, research design, and statistics. It typically takes full-time students three years to graduate.

Requirements vary from school to school. The University of Louisiana at Lafayette clearly lays out the prerequisites and requirements for its Masters in School Psychology degree that is typical of most schools.

Admission requires completion of 18 hours of undergraduate psychology coursework. Courses in statistics and research are also required. Diversity in psychology coursework is preferred, such as social psychology, physiological psychology, cognition and learning, and developmental psychology. A specific research idea is not required for admission, but the candidate should have a general idea and several ways to pursue the research. An application is needed for acceptance into the graduate program by the school and the Department of Psychology's Committee on Acceptance and Retention. In addition to the application, expectations include:

  • A 3.0 pr better GPA as an undergraduate
  • Recommended verbal GRE score of 148 or higher, Quantitative score of 147 or higher, or Verbal & Quantitative score of 295
  • Three letters of recommendation from people able to speak to a student's preparation for advanced study and professional development
  • A personal statement about career goals and discussion of how the program will help

There are things one can do to guarantee acceptance into a Masters in School Psychology program. Fellowships and volunteering opportunities are excellent ways to rise above other applicants and gain valuable experience. Affiliate with professional organizations that are pertinent to a field of interest. Subscribe to relevant psychological journals and join academic associations as a way to grow as a professional and open doors. Identify, approach, and work with a mentor. It is an invaluable means for graduate Masters in School Psychology students to receive relevant and timely feedback about their opportunities, performance, and career goals.

Examples of Master’s in School Psychology Coursework

The early stages of the program have a lot to do with theory. Typical general psychology courses are

  • Abnormal development
  • Social and biological bases of behavior
  • Human development

Some schools adhere to the National Association of School Psychologists standards. The focus of psychology graduate programs is learning and how it varies between students at different development stages. Classes teach how to identify behavioral, emotional, and learning disorders and how to test them. Information about the types of services students need after being identified and tested is presented. The programs cover the best strategies. The impact of such things as cultural background and socioeconomic status that have on students’ emotional and psychological health and learning success. Some of the key responsibilities students are prepared for to work in schools and school systems include:

  • Helping students overcome learning barriers
  • Intervening and providing support to families, students, and teachers
  • Helping schools provide essential services

Some programs are designed for those wanting to jump start new school psychology careers. Others are designed to help build more advanced expertise for experienced school psychologists. Scientist-Practitioner psychologist programs focus on scientific research. Students are exposed to current research. They develop fluency with practices of research. Scientist-Practitioner-Scholar models focus more on clinical applications. They have a relatively lighter research emphasis.

Types of psycholgy masters programs include:

  • Master of Education in School Psychology
  • Master of Arts in School Psychology
  • Master of Science in School Psychology
  • Educational Specialist in School Psychology
  • Specialist in School Psychology

How Might a Masters in School Psychology Help One’s Career?

Job opportunities available to those with a Masters in School Psychology play an essential role in the educational community. Holders of the degree are responsible for identifying and testing students with exceptional needs, such as learning disabilities. Other responsibilities include drawing up behavioral plans and IEPs, ensure cooperation between guardians and educators, conduct interventions, and other duties that provide a productive, thriving learning environment.

Earning a Masters in School Psychology deepens expertise in the field. It adds fluency with current research practices and breadth of knowledge. The degree allows the individual the opportunity to pursue a specific concentration of interest in a higher realm. Often people enter the field of psychology because they want to help people. The field of psychology is exhilarating, inspiring, daunting, and challenging. It is a respected career. Individuals with a Masters in School Psychology expect to work hard. They can expect many rewards, as well. The Masters option can also be a stepping stone toward a doctorate. It offers job options on its own. Understanding what is available gives the person a greater chance of landing employment ina specialty area. Most majors benefit the recipient. Psychology has positive life changes with surprising benefits such as:

  • Communication Skills
  • Critical Thinking
  • Insight inot the Behavior of People
  • Research
  • Understanding
  • Psychology Opens the Mind to Possibilities

Careers related to a Masters in School Psychology include:

  • School Psychologist
  • Social Workers
  • Educational ResearchersSchool and Career Counselors
  • Mental Health, Behavioral Disorders, and Substance Abuse Counselors

The school psychologist plays a key role in the identification and correction of behavioral and learning issues. As a social worker, the psychologist helps in difficult circumstances such as a child being diagnosed with a terminal illness. He or seh helps in crisis situations to make positive changes in people’s lives. Researchers help determine areas of instruction that are successful and those needing revision.

What Is It Like to Get a Masters in School Psychology Online?

The process starts by completing the information page on a school’s website and an interview with an Admissions Adviser. The convenience of education online makes it an attractive option. A great deal of self-discipline is required for online learning. Students must have skills in managing time and prioritizing projects effectively, or the student is likely to struggle. Students have to be active learners. Online classes are not all about taking tests and writing papers. An online Masters in School Psychology program includes lectures, discussions, and activities that require student participation. The coursework lengths are typically six or ten-week courses. Students can expect to spend 15 to 18 hours per week on the ten-week terms. The time includes the time spent online and studying offline. Some courses required additional time.

Some interaction with professors and fellow classmates takes place in live seminars that are available through an internet connection. All students in a section have access to the seminars in real-time. Professors also hold optional office hours at prescribed times. Courses are usually divided into one-week units. Students participate in class discussions, submit papers, and take quizzes during each unit. When selecting a school psychologist program, consider the student with whom you aspire to work.

Some programs focus on what is needed to know so that a specific student population can be helped. It may be an age group or a learning, physical, or behavioral disability. There are programs for those interested in a specific role, like research or testing. Opportunities offered along with a program are contributing factors. Those who wish to move on to a Ph.D. program will find master-level hands-on research opportunities to be a valuable component. Observing in the field and obtaining guided, hands-on experience that applies knowledge in real-world settings is a consideration for those aiming to jump start their careers.

Example Online Programs

Online school psychology programs are flexible and efficient. These are two to the most affordable. They are accredited institutions that offer master level degrees where most of the curriculum is available online.

Fort Hays State University – Hays, Kansas is the cheaper of the two. The university offers an online Masters in Psychology for students who cannot attend an on-campus program. It takes four full-time study semesters. During the second year of their program, students complete a practicum experience in a school district where they live. The program is completed in 66 credits. The first 30 credit-hours complete a Master’s degree. The other 36 credit-hours go toward a Education Specialist degree.

Texas A&M University – College Station, Texas offers an Educational Psychology Masters degree with an emphasis on School Counseling. It features both synchronous and asynchronous courses. There is no residency requirement. The program is a 36 credit-hour program. It takes two years of study for full-time students to complete the program. There is not a required thesis. Students complete a practicum experience in the second year of study. Courses include:

  • Career Counseling in Schools
  • Issues of Child and Adolescent Development
  • Multicultural Counseling in Schools
  • School Counseling Theories and Technologies
  • Techniques in Research