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.

  • Methodology

    Best Colleges for Online School Psychology Degrees
    To find the best colleges for earning an online degree in school psychology, our researchers and higher education experts collected and analyzed data from every accredited postsecondary institution in the United States. The goal? To see which colleges offer the most notable balances of academic rigor, student support and affordability for online learning. The specific criteria and scoring metrics for the ranking are as follows:
    General criteria:
    *Must be an accredited public or private not-for-profit institution
    *Must offer at least 1 online graduate degree in school psychology
    *Annual in-state net price below $20,000
    Scoring metrics:
    *Average net price for in-state undergraduate students
    *Pass rate on Examination for the Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP)
    *Count and breadth of online programs available
    *Student-to-faculty ratio
    *6-year graduation rate
    *Percentage of beginning, full-time undergrads receiving scholarship/grant aid from the college
    *Average amount of scholarship/grant aid students receive from the college
    *Availability of academic/career counseling services
    *Availability of job placement services for students and graduates
    3-year loan default rate
    *AC Online Peer-Based Value (PBV)*
    *PBV is a proprietary metric that compares the cost of a program to the cost of other programs with the same (or a similar) qualitative score. It also compares the qualitative score of the program to the score of other programs with the same (or similar) cost. In short, the PBV calculation denotes the overall value – or “bang for your buck” – of an online degree.

The Top Online Programs 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.

The number of schools offering online school psychology programs is growing. The top five online colleges for school psychology in 2019-2020 are:

Top 10 Online Programs for School Psychology

Rank School Location
1 University of Northern Colorado Greeley, CO
2 Eastern Michigan University Ypsilanti, MI
3 University of Utah Salt Lake City, UT
4 Temple University Philadelphia, PA
5 Texas A&M University-College Station College Station, TX
6 Ball State University Muncie, IN
7 University of Memphis Memphis, TN
8 University of Georgia Athens, GA
9 Rutgers University-New Brunswick New Brunswick, NJ
10 Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ
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Featured Online Programs

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

  1. University of Northern Colorado

    Greeley, CO

    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.

  2. Eastern Michigan University

    Ypsilanti, MI

    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.

  3. University of Utah

    Salt Lake City, UT

    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.

  4. Temple University

    Philadelphia, PA

    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.

  5. Texas A&M University-College Station

    College Station, TX

    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.

  6. Ball State University

    Muncie, IN

    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.

  7. University of Memphis

    Memphis, TN

    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.

  8. University of Georgia

    Athens, GA

    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.

  9. Rutgers University-New Brunswick

    New Brunswick, NJ

    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.

  10. Northern Arizona University

    Flagstaff, AZ

    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.

School Psychology: Career Opportunities & Salaries

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. Here are a few specific examples of where school psychologists can work, and the salaries they bring in:

School Psychologist (in Elementary and Secondary Schools)Provides academic, emotional, and mental support for students, teachers, and administrators in elementary and secondary schools.$76,990Master’s or Doctorate and state licensure, certification recommended
Elementary, Middle or High School PrincipalManages daily school operations, coordinates curricula and oversees faculty and staff.$95,310Master’s degree
Postsecondary Education AdministratorOversees student services, faculty and staff members on college and university campuses.$94,340Master’s or doctoral degree in a related discipline is common, but bachelor’s degree may suffice.
Postsecondary TeacherTeaches school psychology and related subjects on the college/university level.$78,470Doctoral degree, master’s may suffice for community colleges.
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Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2014)
*National mean salary for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists in this industry

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

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

Many online school psychology programs prepare students for licensure. Licensure requirements vary by state, so online learners should research the requirements in the state where they plan to practice. To earn licensure, most states require a degree from a program accredited by the American Psychological Association and/or the National Association of School Psychologists.

Some online school psychology programs allow students to complete all requirements entirely from a distance. However, many programs — particularly those leading to licensure — require a supervised practicum or internship during the second year of the program. Online learners can typically complete this experience at an approved site near their home.

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:

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  • Bachelor’s

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.

  • Ed.S. (Education Specialist)

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.

  • Doctorate

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 requirements and time to completion for online school psychology programs vary by school, but the following information outlines common requirements that students must fulfill to earn an Ed.S. in school psychology.

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 relationshipsGet to know undergraduate professors who can write strong, personalized letters of recommendation to send to graduate programs.
  • Do researchFind 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 fieldworkWork for or volunteer with an organization, preferably one that serves children, to gain valuable experience.
  • NetworkJoin a student group dedicated to psychology students; this shows commitment to the field and is key to begin to establish professional connections.

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.

Additional Resources

  • National Association of School Psychologists: This association accredits school psychology programs and offers a searchable database of accredited programs. The website also offers up-to-date information on research in the field, and members enjoy access to a mentorship program.
  • American Psychological Association: APA is the primary programmatic accrediting body for school psychology programs. Its website offers a searchable database of accredited programs, along with educational and professional development resources.
  • American Psychological Association – School Psychology: A subset of APA, this page offers detailed information on the practice of school psychology. The website includes an overview of the practice area, including recognized specializations and proficiencies for professionals.
  • International School Psychology Association: This international organization brings together school psychologists to further the field through scholarship and research. The organization offers a yearly conference, and members enjoy access to scholarly journals and reduced conference fees.
  • School Psychology Podcasts: Offered by the National Association of School Psychologists, this resource includes a list of podcasts that might interest school psychologists. Topics cover all areas of practice, and users can search for topics relevant to their profession.

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