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Doctor of Psychology: School Psychology Degree Overview

A Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) program in school psychology teaches students to work in clinical settings, where their goal is helping children thrive in early childhood settings, elementary schools and secondary schools.

Essential Information

The curricular focus of a Psy.D. program is typically more on practical work, although research is also inherent to such programs. Most Psy.D. programs include supervised clinical experiences, and some programs may also require a dissertation. Some of these programs may prepare students to obtain licensure from their state education agency. Students will need at least a bachelor's degree, an preferably a master's degree.


School Psychology Doctorate Degree

Applicants to a school psychology doctoral program may not need a specific major for their bachelor's degree. However, prior completion of specific psychology courses may be necessary, including developmental psychology, abnormal psychology and general psychology. Doctoral students may focus on the educational importance of ethics, research design and analysis, assessment, consultation and intervention techniques. Common courses can include:

  • Cultural and ethnic diversity
  • Statistics and research design
  • Cognitive assessment
  • Academic and organizational interventions
  • Psychopharmacology

Employment Outlook and Salary information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a 20% increase in the employment of clinical, counseling and school psychologists is expected between 2014 and 2024. The BLS projects that an increasing number of students will help fuel this growth. Individuals with doctoral and specialist degrees, such as those with a doctorate in school psychology, should have the best opportunities.

As of May 2015, clinical, counseling and school psychologists earned an average salary of $76,040 per year. Those working in elementary and secondary schools earned an annual average of $74,130 at that time.

Licensure Information

According to the BLS, licensure to practice school psychology is required, but each state's psychology board regulates the requirements for that license. NASP offers the Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) credential to individuals who have completed an approved graduate program in school psychology and 1,200 hours of supervised experience as well as passed the National School Psychology Examination. Continuing education is generally necessary to keep credentials valid.

One of the best routes to a career as a school psychologist is a Psychology Doctorate (Psy.D) degree with a specialty in school psychology. Students enrolled in these programs will perform clinical research in specific areas of specialization, based on their specific preferences in this field.


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