School Psychology EdD Degrees: Everything You Need to Know
If you want a job that makes a lasting impact on the lives of children and their families, you may want to consider a career as school psychologist. In this role, you’ll have a chance to support students with the mental, emotional, and educational support they need to thrive both now and in the future.
School psychologists can assist students with a variety of common issues, from bullying to social anxiety to learning disabilities. What’s more, many different educational settings need school psychologists, including K–12 schools, colleges and universities, and school district administration offices.
Read on to learn the ins and outs of this unique career path, and get answers to common questions regarding education requirements, employment opportunities, and salary potential.
School Psychologist Job Overview
While partnering with other educators and interdisciplinary teams, school psychologists work to address academic, social, emotional, and behavior problems. School psychologists not only provide individual counseling to students, they also take part in school-wide mental health programs and crisis prevention services.
What does a school psychologist do?
School psychologists take on a broad range of tasks to help improve the lives of their students. Depending on who the psychologist is working with, responsibilities may include:
|Students||Administer psychological and academic assessments|
Manage behavior and provide instructions and interventions
Collect and interpret student data
Prevent bullying and promote positive disciplinary action
Monitor student progress
|Teachers/Administrators||Educate staff on diverse cultures and backgrounds|
Bridge the gap between the staff and the student’s family
Adjust classroom facilities and routines when necessary
|Parents||Connect families to community service providers|
Communicate the student’s learning and mental health needs
Communicate student progress
School psychologist vs. school counselor
According to the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), the role of a school psychologist is often focused on helping at-risk students and those with disabilities. In fact, their jobs are often funded by budgets allocated to special education.
Compared to school counselors, school psychologists often have more specific training in mental health screening and behavioral assessments. They’re called on to assess challenging situations with students and lead counseling and skill training in conjunction with other staff members.
In contrast, school counselors work with a broader array of students on a wide variety of issues such as course schedules and family and academic concerns. School counselors may also help with crisis intervention and mental health counseling, but they’re often responsible for other tasks such as promoting college readiness and assisting with career planning.
School psychologist vs. educational psychologist
Although educational psychologists and school psychologists sound similar, they have different roles.
Educational psychologists study how people learn in order to create better instructional processes, evaluate teaching methods, and help students achieve their educational goals.
For example, an educational psychologist might study how culture influences how people absorb and retain new knowledge, or how different types of technology can help remote students develop specific skills.
Educational psychologists study human cognitive development across the lifespan, from children to adult learners. The work of educational psychologists can apply to a variety of settings beyond the classroom, including government research institutions, testing companies, state-level education departments, and universities.
Where do school psychologists work?
The large majority school psychologists work in K–12 public schools, but they may also find employment in other settings such as:
- Preschools and early childhood learning centers
- Private schools and charter schools
- Colleges and universities
- School district administration offices
- Independent private practice
- Juvenile justice programs
- Residential clinics and hospitals
School psychologist requirements
Specific requirements for becoming a school psychologist vary state by state, and there are a range of degrees available at the master’s, specialist, and doctoral levels.
To gain your credential as a school psychologist, the majority of states require students to complete specialist-level education, which sits between a master’s and a doctorate. This usually involves 60 graduate semester credits with a 1,200-hour internship.
If you wish to work in a high-level role within administration or research, you should consider earning your doctorate. This typically includes a 1,500-hour internship and a dissertation. Earning a doctorate can also be helpful if you want to transition into private practice or teach psychology in the future.
What’s an EdD Degree in School Psychology?
Of the doctoral degrees available, one of your options is the Doctor of Education. Some EdD programs are designed to prepare students for careers as psychologists in school settings. Others help current school psychologists advance their learning in order to take on more of a leadership role and think systematically about big-picture issues.
Learning how to interpret data and implement evidence-based practices is often a key component of these programs.
EdD vs. PhD vs. PsyD
Other doctoral-level degrees in the field include the PhD and PsyD. So, what’s the difference?
PhDs are primarily designed for students who want to pursue scientific research or teaching, whereas PsyDs are intended for students who want to apply existing research and deliver psychological services directly to individuals or groups.
A PhD typically takes 5–8 years to complete and includes a dissertation. With less of an emphasis on conducting extensive research, PsyDs usually take 4–6 years and may or may not include a dissertation or equivalent project.
An EdD in school psychology is less common than PhDs and PsyDs. However, if you do enter into one of these degree program, you’ll learn how to apply problem-solving skills and make data-based decisions in order to create positive changes within school systems. This type of program may also allow school psychologists to learn more about mental health in order to obtain a licensed professional counselor credential.
Admission Requirements for EdD School Psychology Programs
EdD programs designed for current school psychologists require applicants to hold a valid Professional Educator License for School Psychologist. To hold this type of license, you must have attended an NASP-approved specialist-level program already or attended a program that has similar coursework.
Other requirements are likely to include official transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and a resume. Applicants may also be asked to interview as well.
Is there a GPA requirement?
These programs often have GPA requirements of at least 3.0, though some may require a 3.3 or higher. Those with lower GPAs may still be considered if they have exceptional qualifications in other areas.
Do you need to take the GRE?
The GRE is not typically an admissions requirement for an EdD in school psychology program.
Can you get in without a master’s or specialist degree?
Some EdD school psychologist programs require you to already have a specialist degree if they’re geared toward current practitioners who are looking to advance their knowledge. However, certain types of doctoral programs may accept those without these degrees if they apply for a master’s and earn that degree on the way to completing their doctorate.
Can you get in if you have a master’s in a different field?
A master’s degree in a different field may not allow you to be admitted to an EdD in school psychology program. You’ll likely need to have completed a body of coursework in a related discipline to qualify.
How Long Does It Take to Get a School Psychology EdD Degree?
According to the NASP, school psychology doctoral programs consist of a minimum of 90 semester hours and typically take 5–6 years, though programs only need to have 60 semester hours to be accredited.
EdD in School Psychology Curriculum
The curriculum for school psychology EdD programs can vary, but most programs will place a strong emphasis on research and using statistical methods and evidence-based interventions to boost learning outcomes.
In addition, they frequently offer classes on diversity and multiculturalism in schools and teach students how to foster positive collaboration among families, schools, and communities.
Core classes for EdD school psychology programs may include:
- Introduction to Statistics and Research in Applied Settings
- Action Research to Improve Teaching and Learning
- Assessment of Culturally & Linguistically Diverse Populations
- Studies in Family-School Partnerships and Relationship Building
- Fundamentals in Supervision
- Multi-Tiered Systems of Support in Mental Health
Although school psychology already has a fairly specialized focus, EdD programs in school psychology may offer different tracks to help you focus on specific areas of interest, such as a data-based decision-making or mental health.
Besides the EdD, other types of school psychology degree programs may offer other concentrations as well, such as K–12, learning and technology, or childhood development.
Other types of EdD degrees
In addition to school psychology, there are a variety of other EdD degrees that may interest those who wish to work with children and families in an educational setting.
With an emphasis on evidence-based research methods, a Doctor of Educational Psychology can be useful for counselors, administrators, and curriculum specialists. In this program, students study how to improve learning outcomes in higher education or K–12 schools.
Early childhood education
A Doctor of Education in Early Childhood Education includes coursework related to program administration and curriculum and assessment. Students learn how to conduct applied research and evaluate school programs—skills that can be helpful for those seeking jobs as researchers, professors, administrators, and child development specialists.
Another related degree is a Doctor of Special Education, which is intended for professionals who wish to pursue positions in school district administration or universities. The curriculum in these programs gives students a background in the law and ethics related to special education, including student placement, family rights, and due process hearings.
An EdD for counseling psychology is designed for individuals who work in counseling and are looking to build their expertise in leadership, training, and teaching. Programs often focus on applying research to the practice of counseling, and applicants usually have a master’s degree in a related field such as school counseling or family therapy.
Is an Internship Required?
Yes, an internship is required by most states to become a school psychologist. Specialist-level programs typically require a 1,200-hour full-time internship, while doctorate programs include a 1,200–1,500-hour internship. These hours can be completed full-time over the course of a year, or part-time over the course of 2 years. At least 600 of these hours must be completed in a school setting.
Are There Online EdD Programs for School Psychology?
There are many options available for online school psychology programs, but keep in mind that a full-time internship is still required.
You may also find options for hybrid programs, which combine both online and in-classroom coursework. These typically involve the majority of classes being offered online, letting you only have to attend classes on campus 1 or 2 times a week.
How to Choose a School Psychology Program
When considering a school psychology program, it’s important to think about what skills you want to learn in graduate school and how you’ll apply them to your career. For example, PhDs tend to focus more on teaching and research, while PsyDs emphasize hands-on application.
Another factor to consider is that a doctoral degree may prepare you for a wider range of career options, including private practice. While a master’s or specialist degree might be sufficient, they limit you to school settings specifically depending on the licensing requirements of your state.
In addition, ask yourself if you have a specific area of interest. Certain programs could allow you to focus more in-depth on subfields such as early childhood or developmental disabilities.
Financial Aid for School Psychology Students
When figuring out how to fund your education, you may want to consider a combination of financial aid, scholarships, private loans, PLUS loans, GRAD PLUS loans, grants, and work-study programs. To get started, you’ll need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
One notable scholarship is the NASP-ERT Minority Scholarship Program. This scholarship encourages the training of minority students to support cultural diversity within the field of school psychology.
Does School Psychology Qualify for Student Loan Forgiveness?
According to the NASP, school psychologists may qualify for loan forgiveness due to several pieces of legislation. Both the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act-Title V and the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 allow mental health professionals, including school psychologists, to be eligible for loan forgiveness.
The College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 also features a loan forgiveness program for public employees, which include school psychologists. Under this act, individuals with Federal Direct Plus Loans can have the remainder of their loans forgiven if they pay their loans consistently for 10 years while employed in the public sector.
Professional Organizations for School Psychologists
For networking and professional development opportunities, check out these organizations for school psychologists:
- National Association of School Psychologists
- American Psychological Association Division of School Psychology
- Student Affiliates in School Psychology
Ready to Get Started?
Whether you want to pursue a school psychologist degree or attend a related program in counseling or school administration, there’s a variety of programs to choose from. To take the first step, use the Find Schools button to explore options for your education.
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