School Psychology Degree Overview

Updated August 11, 2022 · 3 Min Read

Earning a school psychology degree prepares you for careers in schools and private practice. Learn what degree you need to become a school psychologist. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Students increasingly face more challenges in their daily lives, but schools do not have enough school psychologists to help with behavioral, mental health, and academic issues. The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) recommends that schools have a psychologist-to-student ratio of 1-to-500. However, U.S. schools have a current ratio of only 1-to-1,211.

School psychologists with specialized training in pedagogy and psychology have never been more in demand. Explore this page to learn how you can make a difference in the lives of students by earning a school psychology degree.

Degrees in School Psychology

School psychologists need a graduate degree to work with children and young adults. School psychologists need certification and a state license to practice. Specific requirements vary by state. Public schools require that school psychologists get certification through the State Department of Education.

Many students complete school psychology degrees with specialized tracks in child and adolescent development, mental health, forensic psychology, or special education. Specializing in a subfield takes place at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Graduate programs offer the chance to focus on early childhood, bilingual education, or multicultural education.

Bachelor's Degrees in School Psychology

A bachelor's degree serves as the first step to becoming a school psychologist. However, most schools do not offer bachelor of school psychology degrees. Instead, students earn bachelor of psychology degrees with the option to specialize in mental health, child and adolescent development, applied psychology, or social psychology.

Online bachelor's in psychology degrees offer mostly remote learning with mandatory in-person experiences, such as internships. Core courses for online bachelor of psychology degrees may include human lifespan development, learning and cognition, research methods, statistical literacy, and abnormal psychology. The foundational cores in an undergraduate program prepare graduates for a master's in school psychology degree.

Master's Degree in School Psychology

Most states require school psychologists to hold an advanced specialized degree or at least 60 graduate credits. School psychologists may hold a master's in psychology, master's in educational psychology, or master's in school psychology. Most coursework in an online master's in school psychology degree takes place remotely. However, graduate students must complete internships and clinical experiences in person.

Graduate programs usually meet the requirements for state certification or licensure of school psychologists. Curriculum often follows recommendations by the National Association of School Psychologists.

Students take classes that include consultation and collaboration, effective instruction, student diversity in development and learning, crisis intervention and mental health interventions, and home-school collaboration.

Enrolling in a master's in school psychology degree usually requires submitting GRE or MAT scores.

Doctorates in School Psychology

Doctoral programs prepare students to practice in schools, clinics, hospitals, and private practice. The research-based curriculum also readies students for careers as teachers and researchers. Learners engage in a curriculum that covers psychotherapy with children and adolescents, social and emotional assessment of children and adolescents, and helping English language learners. Students earn a Ph.D. in school psychology or a doctor of psychology degree.

Candidates enrolled in a doctorate in school psychology degree complete a dissertation or capstone project. The research and writing either occur concurrently or after students complete core requirements.

Online Psychology Bachelor's Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

Frequently Asked Questions About School Psychology

How much do school psychologists earn?

School psychologists make a mean annual wage of $89,290, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Wages vary by experience, state, and industry. Elementary and secondary psychologists earn an annual mean of $80,960, while professionals working in outpatient care centers earn $109,100 a year.

What is the training for a school psychologist?

Training for a school psychologist follows recommendations by the NASP. After earning a bachelor's degree, prospective school psychologists complete 2-3 years of graduate studies or 90 graduate-level credits in a specialist degree. They also complete a one-year internship that includes 1,200 supervised work experience hours.

Does the job outlook for school psychologists look promising?

Employment for psychologists should grow by 8% from 2020-2030, the BLS reports. Employers may add about 13,400 jobs for psychologists every year during that decade.

What Does a School Psychologist Do?

Psychologists hold 178,900 positions in the U.S. as of 2020, with 118,800 of these working as clinical, counseling, and school psychologists. About 17% of psychologists operate as self-employed workers, and another 25% work for elementary and secondary schools, according to BLS data.

School psychologists foster positive behavior and mental health by helping students improve their communication and social skills. Professionals provide individual and group counseling, conflict resolution, and positive coping skills. In their role, school psychologists support diverse learners, often helping students with learning disabilities or behavioral issues.

A school psychologist collaborates with students, parents, and teachers to improve academic outcomes. They use motivational techniques and psychological and academic assessments to improve classroom behavior.

What Else Can I Do With a School Psychology Degree?

About 44,970 clinical, counseling, and school psychologists practice in elementary and secondary schools. While most school psychologists work in educational institutions, earning a school psychology degree also translates to other industries, including physician offices, individual and family services, and outpatient care centers. They also work in child daycare centers, home healthcare services, and colleges.

Many students complete the school psychology and applied behavior analysis coursework to help students with autism or other disorders. Specialization training allows school psychologists to assess and treat individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, and learning disabilities. They can also secure careers as consultants in special education literacy support.

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