Online School Psychology Degree Programs

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Helping students thrive
from preschool to college

School psychologists are in an ideal position to make a difference in the lives of students, meeting them in the environments where they spend much of their time. Armed with a solid understanding of youth’s developmental stages and the challenges they may face, school psychologists work not only with students themselves, but with parents, teacher and administrators, to help students succeed. Get started on the path to becoming a school psychologist by learning about the various online degrees available.

2017 Top Online Schools for School Psychology

School psychologists work with children in a school setting, helping them to work through challenges both at home and at school. Using their knowledge of child development and brain development, they can set plans of action so parents and teachers can help too. An online degree in the field is the first step in a career in school psychology and impacting the lives of children for the better.

RankUniversity Name Score Net Price Financial aid percent Online Programs Aavailable Student-Teacher RatioGrad RateUniversity Information Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services
1University of Northern Colorado Score99.53
Net Price
Financial aid %79%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate45%

The University of Northern Colorado offers two school psychology degree programs that have been approved by the National Association of School Psychologists: an Ed.S. and a Ph.D. Students who enroll in the Ed.S. program receive the training they need to become school psychologist practitioners. Coursework focuses on the emotional, social, and intellectual development of children; academic interventions; and programs that promote safe learning environments. The Ph.D. program is designed for students who want to conduct research or provide consulting services to schools and community organizations. Coursework covers topics such as interventions for students with low or severe disabilities, the biological bases of behavior, social cognitive neuroscience, school-based psychological consultation, and applied behavior analysis.

Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
2Eastern Michigan University Score95.16
Net Price
Financial aid %90%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate37%

Eastern Michigan University offers an educational psychology master’s degree program that trains students to apply psychological principles to school and non-school settings, conduct research, and create and administer assessments. Core coursework includes areas such as intelligence theory, motivation, gifted students, multicultural learning, and the sociology of education. People can also choose to concentrate their studies on how students develop academically or on research and assessment practices. In addition, the school requires a thesis and project that allow students to demonstrate their understanding of class material. Graduates from the program have gone on to work as teachers, assessment specialists, business trainers, and researchers.

Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
3University of Utah Score95.15
Net Price
Financial aid %41%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate59%

The University of Utah has a psychology department staffed with faculty members that have various interests including behavioral assessments, early childhood interventions, autism spectrum disorder, parent training, telehealth, and diversity issues. As a result, whether students want to work in schools or human services agencies, they can benefit from professionals that provide a comprehensive view of the educational psychology field. Those in the school’s master’s degree program are required to complete 73 semester hours of coursework and a supervised internship of 1,500 hours, while doctoral students must take 108 hours of classes and complete a 2,000 hour internship.

Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
4Temple University Score94.43
Net Price
Financial aid %76%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate66%

Based on the scientist-practitioner model, Temple University’s school psychology degree programs give students the psychological foundation they need to effectively handle the demands of this challenging profession. The school’s Ed.S. degree prepares students to apply evidence-based practices in school settings when using assessments, performing interventions, working with school administrators and parents, and teaching diverse student populations. Those who earn a Ph.D. in school psychology from Temple University learn how to conduct research and assessments, as well as provide consulting services. Course requirements include topics such as tests and measurements, applied behavioral analysis, cognitive assessments, personality and behavior, and psychotherapy.

Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
5Texas A & M University-College Station Score93.97
Net Price
Financial aid %54%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate80%

Texas A & M University’s school psychology degree program gives students the skills and knowledge they need to create and administer assessments, conduct research, and provide interventions to students. After completing the program, graduates can pursue jobs in public and private schools, hospitals, colleges and universities, health education organizations, and medical clinics. Required coursework includes classes about intelligence, emotional disturbances in children, advanced therapy techniques, and school behavioral problems. In addition, students receive extensive practical experience by working for two semesters in a community clinic and 600 hours in a school setting, as well as completing an assessment practicum and research apprenticeship.

Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
6Ball State University Score93.17
Net Price
Financial aid %47%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate57%

Offered through Teachers College, Ball State University’s school psychology degree program combines classroom and field work to give students the competencies they need to do interventions, assessments, and consultations in education settings. Required courses in the program explore topics such as psychological consultation, statistical research methods, personality assessments, and developmental pathology. In addition, students can take several electives in areas like exceptional children, counseling processes, abnormal psychology, measurement theory, psychopathology, and physiological psychology. In order to provide practical experience to students, Ball State University offers internships in regular and special education settings, as well as clinical practica.

Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
7University of Memphis Score92.44
Net Price
Financial aid %40%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate40%

Students who are interested in working in the school psychology field can enroll in the combined MA/EdS degree program at the University of Memphis, which can be completed in three years. After completing the program, students are qualified to receive credentials from the Tennessee State Board of Education, or from certification board in other states. The program focuses on several domains of the field, including data-based decision making, consultation, collaborations, research, ethical practice, and instructional support. The school also offers a doctoral degree that emphasizes research design and statistics. Students in this program take courses in research methodologies, behavioral neuroscience, psychoeducational assessments, and child psychopathology.

Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
9University of Georgia Score89.85
Net Price
Financial aid %20%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate81%

Through the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Georgia, students are able to complete their master’s degree in the field, which may prepare them to enter or advance a profession in educational psychology. The program is comprised of a sequence of courses that cover necessary information such as human development, learning and motivation strategies, and quantitative methods in various areas of focus. With a research-focused program, students can expect to graduate with strong research and analysis skills, which can help them become in a leader in their field.

Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
10Rutgers University-New Brunswick Score89.39
Net Price
Financial aid %47%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate79%

Students interested in studying a career in a school or educational psychology field may benefit from enrolling in the Learning, Cognition, & Development program at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. This program can be completed both online and on-campus, which gives students the flexibility to maintain other time commitments while pursuing their degree. Courses cover topics such as learning strategies and motivation, cognition and memory and educational psychology. Upon graduation, students will receive their Ed.M. degree, which may give them the necessary credentials to succeed in the field.

Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
11Northern Arizona University Score88.94
Net Price
Financial aid %66%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate49%

An Educational Specialist (EdS) program is offered at Northern Arizona University, helping to prepare students to work with youth in various academic settings from preschool through high school. This program covers important information such as learning behavior assessments, prevention and intervention. Students are able to graduate once they successfully complete 72 credit-hours of coursework and can typically be completed through three-years of full-time study and a one-academic-year of internship study. The program has received approval status from the National Association of School Psychologists.

Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
12University of North Texas Score87.95
Net Price
Financial aid %54%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
Grad Rate48%

Through the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of North Texas, students are able to pursue a degree in the field by choosing from over a dozen graduate specializations in educational psychology and/or special education. Areas of focus include emotional-behavioral disorders, family science and learning and development, including programs at the master’s and doctoral level. The school also offers four master’s degrees that can be completed online as well as three online certificate programs that may help students advance their understanding of the field.

Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less

School Psychologist: Milestone Map

Several educational paths are open to those who want to become school psychologists. The example below shows a possible path that turned a high school project into a career of helping students in need.

High School

Becomes interested in psychology during a project to do personality assessments

Bachelor’s Degree

Majors in psychology, with a minor in urban education

First Job

Becomes assistant director at an inner-city after-school program targeted to disadvantaged
children

Graduate School

Returned to school to complete an online Ed.S. (educational specialist) in school psychology

Back to Work

Takes job as staff psychologist at a high school and begins outreach program to LGBT students

Creates Website

Starts website where LGBT students can connect one-on-one with counselors

Online Learning for School Psychologists

Drawn to its convenience and flexibility, students are increasingly choosing online schooling to advance their education without neglecting their other commitments. In addition, as online education matures and becomes even more prevalent, students can be reassured that the quality of education provided is consistent with programs offered in a traditional campus environment.

While the format may cause some apprehension to students accustomed to a classroom setting, most programs are structured so that students can reap the benefits of both synchronous and asynchronous learning. Course materials and assignments are usually available for students to access and complete at their convenience, while a number of technologies facilitate interaction with professors and peers to create a collaborative environment. Discussion boards and wikis allow students to work on team projects with their classmates, for example, while live video streaming and chat functions mimic an in-person environment to allow real-time communication and participation.

A key component of any school psychology program is the ability to apply classroom knowledge and skills in real-life situations, and most online programs address the hands-on nature of school psychology by integrating internships and on-campus residencies into their curricula. These opportunities ensure that students are exposed to scenarios they will likely encounter in the future, allowing them to gain practical experience and develop their skills. Such components require in-person commitments, of course, so students should plan ahead to work them into their schedules.

Degree Options for Aspiring School Psychologists

Prospective school psychologists can choose from a number of online degree programs, from the baccalaureate through the graduate levels. Before enrolling, students would be wise to carefully examine the choices and compare them against their personal academic road maps to ensure a good fit. The following is a look at the various types of degree programs available online:

  • Bachelor’s
  • Ed.S. (Education Specialist)
  • Doctorate

Several bachelor’s degree majors are acceptable for entrance into a graduate program in school psychology—including child development, education and social work—but most future school psychologists pursue a BA or BS in general psychology. Generally speaking, a BA program prepares students for employment directly after graduation or for graduate programs in applied psychology, while BS programs are geared to students interested in pursuing graduate study in science-oriented specializations.

In either case, these programs offer a broad overview of the field, allowing students to explore a range of specializations before committing to one in graduate school. Degree requirements normally consist of 120 semester credits, including general education courses; mandatory core subject courses; and subject-related electives. Additional requirements, such as laboratory projects, internships or work experience, depend on the specific program.

The Ed.S. falls between the master’s and doctoral degree levels, and is ideal for school psychologists in that it incorporates both the classroom coursework associated with a master’s degree and a supervised internship program that is required for certification from the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).

Earning an Ed.S. in School Psychology normally requires three years of full-time study and practice, although there are a few two-year accelerated programs available. Most are formatted to comply with NASP certification requirements and consist of one to two years of classroom work and 1,200 internship hours, although specific requirements vary by program. Additionally, many schools offer a master’s degree (MA or MS) in combination with an Ed.S. degree, awarding a master’s in school psychology upon completion of coursework and prior to beginning the requisite internship. Some programs may require students to pass a state competency/licensure examination following the first year of the program, before moving on to the internship component.

Three doctoral-level degrees are offered in school psychology: the Ed.D., Psy.D. and Ph.D., each with its particular requirements and outcome goals. Students typically proceed from a bachelor’s degree to one of the doctorate options without earning a master’s or Ed.S. in the interim. Generally, the Ed.D. is focused more on theory and skills directly related to education; the Psy.D. is directed to those interested in clinical work; and the Ph.D. emphasizes theory, experimentation and research.

All three types can lead to becoming school psychologist; however, there are a limited number of online school psychology programs available at the doctoral level, and it will be key to find one that includes the requirements for obtaining national certification and state licensure. In all cases, students will need to complete an extensive internship as part of the program.

Common Online Courses: School Psychology

Below is a sample of the types of courses school psychology students typically take during a graduate-level online degree program:

Introduction to School Psychology

Acquaints students with the history and field of school psychology, as well as with contemporary trends and issues in the profession.

Advanced Counseling Theories and Methods

Examines major theories of individual counseling and their application for school counselors and psychologists, with a focus on both theoretical knowledge and practical skills. Issues of social and cultural diversity are discussed.

Consultation in the Schools

Introduction to collaborative consultation leadership techniques and models such as communication, diplomacy and interpersonal skills, which are necessary for effective consultation at the individual, group and system levels.

Human Brain-Behavior Relationships

Looks at human brain functions and their relationship to memory, intelligence, speech, spatial abilities, judgment, reasoning and more. Individual differences in brain functioning in both normal and brain-damaged persons is considered.

Social, Emotional and Behavioral Assessment of Children and Adolescents

Discusses assessment techniques with a problem-solving approach, emphasizing training in interviewing, observing and testing children and adolescents.

Choosing an Online School Psychology Program

Students can differ significantly when it comes to their lists of the most important qualities in an online degree program. When making the choice, a good starting point is to make a checklist of the most common considerations and compare them to the available options. The following are typical factors to consider:

  • Program Content and Structure: Determine which programs best suit your individual needs, interests and career goals, as well as which are formatted to accommodate your schedule.
  • Admission Requirements: Review the specific admission requirements for each online program. Some schools require a minimum GPA or specific course prerequisites, for example; it may also be necessary to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and possibly the GRE psychology subject test.
  • Cost: Be aware of all costs involved, including tuition, fees, books and course materials, as well as travel and related expenses that may arise due to in-person requirements.
  • Financial Aid: Determine what financial aid options are offered through the online school, such as grants or scholarships, as well as through federal funding.
  • Support Services: Check what school services are extended to online students, such as career and financial aid counseling, academic advising, technical support, library privileges and internship placement assistance.
  • Accreditation: Confirm that a program is fully accredited and includes all necessary requirements to obtain state licensure and national certification as a school psychologist. Learn more about accreditation for online school psychology programs below.

Accreditation: A Must for Online Programs

Proper accreditation is vital for programs at the postsecondary level. Accreditation ensures that programs are legitimate and meet rigorous academic standards set by an independent reviewing body. In the United States, the two main forms of accreditation are:

Institutional Accreditation:

Institutional accreditation is the responsibility of a system of regional accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Program Accreditation:

The American Psychological Association (APA) is a primary accreditor of doctoral degree programs in all areas of psychology; however, it should be noted that due to the practical experience required for these degrees, the organization does not accredit programs that are offered entirely online, although it does accredit hybrid programs with online and on-campus learning elements.

The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) also provides program accreditation, based in part on reviews provided by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).

Enrollment Timeline: Ed.S. in School Psychology

The necessary steps for enrolling in a school psychology program depend on the type of degree being sought, but students should expect to plan ahead to fulfill a number of requirements. Here’s a look at what’s typically required for entering an Ed.S. program:

Time Before Program Start Date
Step 1

Decide which programs you wish to apply to.

15 months
Step 2

Take the GRE, if required.

15 months to 1 year
Step 3

Submit requests for undergraduate transcripts to be sent to prospective programs. Request letters of recommendation from professors and colleagues.

9 to 1 months
Step 4

Submit applications and any other requested documentation.

9 months to 1 year

Step 5

File the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application and other required documents.

9 months to 1 year
Step 6

Accept offer of your choice. Decline all others.

6 months

Admissions committees consider more than an applicant’s grades when making their choices, and students can take several additional steps to make themselves stand out in a field of candidates. The list below offers several suggestions for ways students can improve their application packages:

  • Establish relationships Get to know undergraduate professors who can write strong, personalized letters of recommendation to send to graduate programs.
  • Do research Find opportunities to be a research assistant. It’s ideal to get exposure to multiple areas of psychology to gain an overall perspective, but also to find a specialty area to demonstrate specific interest to an admissions committee.
  • Do fieldwork Work for or volunteer with an organization, preferably one that serves children, to gain valuable experience.
  • Network Join a student group dedicated to psychology students; this shows commitment to the field and is key to begin to establish professional connections.

School Psychology: Career Opportunities

School psychologists can be found in schools of all types, from private preschools to the largest public universities. They work with students and their parents to help with academic, social and emotional issues, and consult with school administrators to devise and implement programs that promote mental health and positive behaviors in the student community.

The overall field of psychology is growing, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting a 19 percent increase between 2014 and 2024, substantially higher than the national average for all occupations. In part due to this increasing demand, earning a degree in school psychology does not limit graduates strictly to jobs in school environments. These graduates may also be able to find employment in other fields such as youth counseling, private consulting, developmental psychology, and in research and academia. Here are a few specific examples:

Career Description National Median Annual Salary (2014) Minimum Education
School Psychologist (in Elementary and Secondary Schools) Provides academic, emotional, and mental support for students, teachers, and administrators in elementary and secondary schools. $72,710* Master’s or Doctorate and state licensure, certification recommended
School Psychologist (in Individual and Family Services) Promotes the mental, emotional, and psychological health for clients in family and individual settings. $67,360* Master’s or Doctorate and state licensure, certification recommended
Elementary, Middle or High School Principal Manages daily school operations, coordinates curricula and oversees faculty and staff. $89,540 Master’s degree
Postsecondary Education Administrator Oversees student services, faculty and staff members on college and university campuses. $88,390 Master’s or doctoral degree in a related discipline is common, but bachelor’s degree may suffice.
Postsecondary Teacher Teaches school psychology and related subjects on the college/university level. $70,790 Doctoral degree, master’s may suffice for community colleges.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2014)
*National mean salary for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists in this industry

School Psychologist Licenses & Certifications

In addition to state licensure, which is required of all school psychologists, there are a variety of professional certifications they can obtain to further demonstrate their skills and experience.

  • State Licensure:

    Every state requires licensure of some form for the professional practice of school psychology. In many cases, state credentialing requirements closely follow those for the NCSP national certification. Specific qualifications vary from state to state, however, so candidates should familiarize themselves with individual standards before enrolling in a school psychology degree program.

    For more information, visit the National Association of Schools Psychologists website for state credentialing requirements.

  • Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP):

    Awarded by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), the NCSP is arguably the most important of all certifications in the profession, as many states model their licensure requirements to correspond with NCSP certification standards. Additionally, most Ed.S. and Ed.D. degree program internships are designed to satisfy NCSP internship requirements and, in turn, state licensure requirements.

    To learn more, visit the National Association of Schools Psychologists page on NCSP eligibility.

  • School Psychology Specialist:

    The School Psychology Specialist certification is administered by the American Board of School Psychology (ABSP), a division of the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP). Requirements for this certification include completion of a doctoral program in the field, extensive internship and postdoctoral practice experience, and passing the certification examination.

    More information is available at the ABPP page on the School Psychology specialty.

Similar Online Psychology Programs

Those interested in school psychology may wish to consider careers and degree programs in a related psychology specialization. Following are three similar degree programs that can be taken online:

Online Clinical Psychology
Degrees:

Clinical psychology refers to the broad practice of assessing and treating mental illness, abnormal behavior, and psychiatric problems of patients individually and in relation to their families and communities. Clinical psychology degree programs are available on all degree levels, with numerous online options.

Online Child Psychology
Degrees:

Similar to school psychology, child psychology focuses on the overall psychological needs of children and adolescents in relation to family and other social contexts. Online programs offer degrees in child psychology, developmental psychology, infant and early childhood development, and clinical psychology with concentrations in child psychology.

Online Forensic Psychology
Degrees:

Forensic psychology is the practice of psychology within the legal field. Forensic psychology is growing in popularity, resulting in an explosion of postsecondary degree programs, including several online. Forensic psychology may be offered as its own major, or as a concentration within a more general psychology degree.

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