Grad Program: School Psychology
As if puberty and gym class aren’t hard enough on a kid, students today are finding themselves faced with problems that their parents never had to deal with at their age. School psychology graduates look to help students maintain positive mental health in both their lives and their studies, not only through contact with the students as individuals, but also by helping teachers to design effective programs and techniques.
Upon graduation and depending upon the level of degree and work experience, there is a range of possible job opportunities beyond school psychologist, although most do go on to practice educational psychology in one setting or another. Graduates can also work in schools in an administrative capacity, or within hospitals, prisons, and private clinics. In 2001, the ratio of school psychologists to students was at a low 1:1000, so the need for school psychologists is greater than ever. Evaluation, consultation, prevention, and intervention are all important parts of the practice of educational psychology, particularly as the school system continues to grow and resources must be spread thin.
Each state has different certification requirements, but the minimum-required degree tends to be a master’s from a state-approved, two-year school psychology program with at least one year of internship experience. Many states require a more research-heavy Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) degree, and a good number of school psychologists also hold doctorate degrees. As with most professions, the higher you go, the more careers open up to you. If you intend to work in schools in a non-administrative capacity, a doctorate degree is not normally necessary, but if private practice is in your future, then it’s a near-certainty. Internships are mandatory at all levels, and depending on the degree, dissertations are also likely.
- Do I want to work in private practice, or would I prefer to stay within public systems?
- Does one particular aspect of school psychology interest me—counseling, research, developmental disabilities?
- Depending on what I want to do, what level of degree should I get, and how much internship experience am I willing to undertake?
- Where do I want to live? What are that state’s licensing and certification requirements?