Master's degrees in school psychology and related doctoral programs in educational psychology are available online, but they are not widely offered. While you'll take most of your classes online, both program levels generally include an in-person residency requirement that may involve several days on campus. Some observation and lab courses may only be offered on campus as well. Most programs also have a required internship that you cannot complete online. When researching programs, look into this requirement and see if the school will help set up an internship that is convenient to you.
If you earned an unrelated undergraduate degree, you will need to complete certain prerequisite psychology courses before being admitted to a master's or doctoral degree program in school psychology.
School Psychology Master's Degree Programs
An online master's degree program in school psychology prepares students to become certified or licensed to work as psychologists in the educational field. Students gain skills in assisting children with behavioral, social, academic and emotional issues. The availability of online school psychology graduate degree programs is extremely limited, and this degree may be offered occasionally by for-profit schools and schools not approved by the National Association of School Psychologists or other professional organizations.
To gain admittance into an online master's degree program, students must have an undergraduate degree, and some schools additionally require a specified grade point average. Students can study related curriculum in a general psychology degree program.
An online master's degree program in school psychology can typically be completed in three years of full-time study. Because the last year usually entails a required clinical internship or practicum, this degree cannot be earned completely online. Additional observation and lab courses may also require in-person attendance. A number of classes are self paced, but many are on a semester schedule and students are required to adhere to assignment and test deadlines. In available online courses, students typically log onto an Internet platform to access course materials and lectures.
Some schools require students to complete basic psychology courses if their undergraduate degree was not related to psychology. Students in this degree program explore behaviors and needs in an educational environment and discuss appropriate intervention techniques and processes.
Students learn the method of selecting school children for evaluation and are taught how to administer, score and interpret the results of the tests. Additional assessment courses expand on communicating the results to others and creating intervention plans.
Ethics and Professional Conduct
The various legal and ethical issues that exist in schools are among the topics analyzed. Students are versed in the role of the school psychologist, what his or her responsibilities are, and what codes of conduct exist.
Child and Adolescent Counseling
Students study popular theories on counseling children and discover ways to utilize teachers, parents and mental health professionals in helping the children. Some hands-on work applying these skills in real-life situations may occur in class.
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- Educational Psychology
School Psychology Doctoral Degree Programs
Doctoral degree programs in school psychology generally do not have online learning options available. However, related Ph.D. in Educational Psychology programs are offered through distance learning at several schools. Graduates of these programs are prepared to teach education and psychology coursework at the college level, work as psychologists or administrators in public and private school districts, or conduct research activities exploring psychological factors in an educational environment.
In this field of study, students are taught various methods of research analysis and gain an understanding of the different ways that students learn. Coursework may overlap with doctoral degree programs in psychology, special education and quantitative research. Students who want to enter a educational psychology online hybrid program must hold at least a bachelor's degree, and non-related fields of study are acceptable. Additionally, a letter stating academic goals and reasons for pursuing the degree may be required.
While educational psychology doctoral degree programs are offered online by a limited number of schools, all of these programs are presented in a hybrid format, where some courses require on-campus attendance. The degree may take 4-5 years to complete and requires a dissertation. Course materials and exams are available through electronic methods, such as teleconferencing, the Internet, DVDs, e-mail and other technology.
Core courses in a doctoral program focus on research and educational psychology theories, in addition to seminars on the processes of learning. Electives and areas of emphasis are available in topics such as technology and learning, personal development, emotional development and classroom management.
Theories of Learning
Students explore the factors that contribute to how learning takes place, including gender and race, socioeconomic circumstances, language and culture. Techniques of motivation and study methods are explored.
Qualitative Research Methods
Processes of gathering data, including interviews, observations and using focus groups, are taught. Students learn how to compile data and produce a well-written analysis of their findings.
Students discover effective procedures of evaluating teachers and curriculum through the use of classroom observations and student performance data. Legal and ethical issues, licensing and program planning are among the additional topics analyzed.
Career Information for Graduates
Graduates of a master's degree program in school psychology could become school psychologists after completing state certification requirements. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of clinical, counseling and school psychologists is projected to increase by 20% during the 2014-2024 decade (www.bls.gov). As of May 2015, 105,600 of these professionals worked in the U.S. and earned an average yearly salary of $76,040, based on figures from the BLS.
After earning a doctorate in educational psychology, graduates might decide to teach the theories and methods of psychology to students at a college or university. The BLS has projected that the employment of postsecondary psychology teachers may grow by 16% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). Estimates from the BLS stated that the average annual salary received by postsecondary psychology teachers in May 2015 was $79,370.
Licensing and Continuing Education Information
The BLS states that school psychologists must become licensed or certified by the state in which they work. State requirements vary, but a master's or doctorate in psychology is usually required, and applicants must pass an examination.
Professionals who seek career advancement can pursue a graduate certificate in school psychology or obtain the Nationally Certified School Psychologist certification from the National Association of School Psychologists. Graduate certificate programs may have an online component, but usually require additional on-campus and clinical coursework.
Master's degree programs in school psychology are typically completed in three years and include a combination of online coursework and a clinical practicum. Doctoral degree programs are generally not found online, except for related doctoral degrees, like a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology.