Overview

The School Psychology Program admits students to the EdS (Educational Specialist) and PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) on-campus graduate degree programs. The EdS and PhD degrees in school psychology prepare students for the direct school-based practice of school psychology and credentialing as school psychologists and, for PhD students, careers in academic and clinical settings as faculty members, researchers, and practitioners. The degree programs in school psychology focus on the provision of school psychology services that are based on a strong foundation of research and application related to learners and learning processes. The school psychology degree programs include an integrated and sequential program of study with comprehensive coursework and supervised field experiences. Students participate in courses and seminars in assessment and data collection; interventions and decision making, prevention and consultation, professional school psychology, sociocultural foundations, psychological foundations, human development, educational foundations, statistics and research, and other areas. Students are required to participate in extensive practicum, internship, and research experiences.

Program Training Model

The program adheres to a scientist practitioner model which assumes that the effective practice of school psychology is based on knowledge gained from established methods of scientific inquiry. Emphasis is on the preparation of competent practitioners who are also skilled and dedicated researchers who contribute to the knowledge base in school psychology. The program prepares students to integrate theory, research, and established methods of scientific inquiry into effective practice and to engage in research and evaluation activities that contribute to both the science and practice of psychology. The program strongly supports the belief that our science informs our practice and our practice informs our science, and emphasizes the need to provide training in the development and utilization of evidence-based practice.

The program seeks to support the development of scientist practitioners who are actively engaged in the promotion of social justice and equity for all students. Implicit in these aims is the recognition that existing systems result in unequal and disparate access to educational resources and psychological services. The program emphasizes the importance of school psychologists in bridging opportunity gaps and facilitating equal access so that all students can reach their potential.

Program Faculty

Michael L. Sulkowski, PhD, NCSP is an Associate Professor in the School Psychology program at the University of Alabama. He obtained his doctoral degree in school psychology from the University of Florida where he also completed his masters and specialist work. Dr. Sulkowski completed his predoctoral internship at the Louisiana School Psychology Internship Consortium (LASPIC), an APA-accredited and APPIC-member internship. While at LASPIC, Dr. Sulkowski worked in the East Feliciana Parish School District where he provided rural behavioral health services. After his internship, Dr. Sulkowski completed a postdoctoral fellowship at All Children’s Hospital, an affiliate of Johns Hopkins Hospital and the University of South Florida where he predominantly worked with children and families afflicted by anxiety and related disorders. Prior to coming to Alabama, Dr. Sulkowski was appointed to the school psychology faculty of the University of Arizona in 2012 and has held a conjoint appointment in Psychiatry and affiliate appointment in Family Studies. To date, Dr. Sulkowski has published over 50 peer reviewed journal articles and he engages in interdisciplinary research that focuses on school safety, violence prevention, reducing the impact of inequity, and on reducing risk while promoting protective factors for marginalized populations of students.

June L. Preast, PhD, NCSP is an Assistant Professor in the School Psychology program at the University of Alabama. Dr. Preast obtained her doctoral degree in school psychology from the University of Missouri. She completed her masters and specialist work in school psychology at East Carolina University, where she also earned the Nationally Certified School Psychologist distinction. Prior to attending the University of Missouri, Dr. Preast practiced school psychology for two years in Eastern North Carolina. During her tenure at Mizzou, she worked in the research labs of Drs. Matthew Burns and Chad Rose. Dr. Preast has co-authored over a dozen peer-reviewed journal articles, two book chapters, and two practitioner journal articles. Dr. Preast focuses her research primarily on identifying and implementing systemic change to support the academic and behavioral needs of students. She uses a primary prevention, multi-tiered systems of support approach to educational decision-making and programming. As such, she has studied the impact of academic interventions to address behavioral issues, the influence of psycho-social factors related to bullying and victimization, the importance of using data to inform academic and behavioral intervention choices, and the attributes of effective teacher teams.

Laurel A. Snider, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the School Psychology program at the University of Alabama. Dr. Snider received her doctoral degree in Child, Family, and School Psychology from the University of Denver. She has extensive clinical experience with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) ranging from pre-K to adulthood, and across a wide array of contexts in school, clinical, and community settings. Dr. Snider completed her doctoral internship with the Center for Mental health at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine and Postdoctoral training in Education and Transition Services at the Emory Autism Center. As a graduate student in Denver, Colorado, Dr. Snider received clinical training as a LEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities) Fellow at JFK Partners and as a Clinical Child Psychology extern at Children’s Hospital of Colorado’s Pediatric Mental Health Institute. She has co-authored three peer-reviewed articles and two book chapters. Her research is primarily focused on identifying opportunities for collaboration between school psychology practitioners, community members, educators, and families to improve service delivery to students with IDD. Her research has explored how assessment and feedback can foster self-insight and family-school partnerships, themes in IDD-specific training reported by school psychology graduate students, frameworks for adapting school-based interventions to support students with IDD, and the role that schools play when the families of students with IDD navigate complex systems of care.

Admission Requirements

Minimum criteria for admission are identified below. Additional criteria for exceptional circumstances are also described. Note that the information below only summarizes minimum. Not every applicant whose credentials meet the stated minimum standards is accepted for admission.

  • GPA requirement: The applicant must have an undergraduate grade point average, based on a 4.0 system, of at least 3.0 overall, 3.0 for the last 60 semester hours in a degree program, or 3.0 for a completed graduate degree program OR Entrance exam score requirement: The applicant must have a total score of at least 300 on the revised GRE General Test or a 1000 on the previous GRE general test, with the GRE taken within the past 5 years.

In addition to the above minimum quantitative criteria set by the Graduate School for admission, the School Psychology Program emphasizes the following criteria for additional admission components:

  • At least three references from undergraduate or graduate professors who support the applicant’s potential for academic success in a graduate program. The applicant may elect to obtain additional references from supervisors of employment experiences relevant to the program goals.
  • Goals noted in the applicant’s “Statement of Purpose” that are consistent with the program emphasis.
  • Experience and/or undergraduate or graduate education relevant to school psychology noted in the “Statement of Purpose” and a resume/vita.

Application Process

All components of the graduate application must be submitted to the UA Graduate School, the UA division that handles all graduate applications on campus. Applicants must use the online application (http://graduate.ua.edu/application/) available from the Graduate School. Do not send application materials directly to the School Psychology Program. Applicants should select “main campus” for the on-campus program. Applicants should select one of the following two school psychology degrees when submitting application materials to the on-campus program: EdS in Educational Psychology-School Psychology OR PhD in School Psychology. Applications, statements of purpose, resumes/vitas, and letters of reference must be submitted online on the Graduate School website. Applicants should request that their admission test scores be sent to the UA Graduate School, using the institution code of 1830 for UA. (The department/major field code is 3406 for School Psychology).

The priority deadline for completed applications is the January 3rd before the fall semester in which the applicant plans to begin graduate study. However, applications will continue to be reviewed on a rolling basis until the cohort is filled. Applicants to the program must correctly select their degree objective (PhD in School Psychology) on the application forms. We review applications by mid January. Following review of applications, the faculty will notify applicants of interest in the interview day occurring in late January. Applicants may request to participate in our interview virtually if they are unable to attend in person. EdS applicants may request to interview remotely using videoconferencing. Applicants selected for admission will be notified around February or March.

(International applicants should note that earlier deadlines are required by the UA Graduate School. See http://graduate.ua.edu/prospects/international/ for more information and specific requirements for international applicants).

Program Requirements

The on-campus EdS degree in Educational Psychology-School Psychology requires a minimum of 3 years of full-time study or the equivalent beyond the baccalaureate degree. Fall, spring, and summer semester enrollment is necessary to achieve these timelines. The on-campus PhD degree in School Psychology requires a minimum of 4 years of full-time graduate study, or the equivalent, beyond the baccalaureate degree. However, the PhD typically requires 5-6 years or the equivalent due to the extensive requirements for coursework, practicum, dissertation, and internship. Fall and spring semester (and, for some years, summer) enrollment is necessary to achieve these timelines.

A major part of a graduate program is successful participation in courses and field experiences taken for academic credit. Our EdS degree requires a total of 69 graduate credit hours, which include courses, practica, and internship. Our PhD degree typically requires a total of 120 or more graduate credit hours, which include courses, practica, internship, and dissertation. Finally, we require that PhD students receive their EdS degrees after 1200 hours of the doctoral internship (with at least 600 hours in a school setting). At this point, PhD students have surpassed our EdS requirements and the awarding of the EdS degree may allow them to obtain the NCSP and a state credential, while finishing the doctoral dissertation.

School psychology coursework, clinical experiences, internship, and other requirements are designed to address the domains of knowledge and expertise specified by the National Association of School Psychologists (2020), as well as the Alabama Department of Education. These domains are as follows:

  • Data-Based Decision Making and Accountability
  • Consultation and Collaboration
  • Interventions and Instructional Support to Develop Academic Skills
  • Interventions and Mental Health Services to Develop Social and Life Skills
  • School-Wide Practices to Promote Learning
  • Preventive and Responsive Services
  • Family–School Collaboration Services
  • Diversity in Development and Learning
  • Research and Program Evaluation
  • Legal, Ethical, and Professional Practice

All students must complete an internship at or near the end of formal training. Students must be approved by the program to begin planning for internship and before an internship placement begins. With program approval, internships may occur in qualified settings across the country. The EdS internship requires a minimum of 1200 clock hours and is completed on a full-time basis in one academic year (600+ clock hours over a continuous 15+ week period in each of a consecutive fall and spring semester).

The doctoral internship requires a minimum of 2000 clock hours and is completed on a full-time basis in one calendar year (600+ clock hours over a continuous 15+ week period in each of a consecutive fall, spring, and summer/fall semester). At least 600 internship hours must be in a school setting, although many of our PhD students complete all 2000+ hours of internship in a school setting.

Accreditation and Credentialing

The on-campus EdS and PhD degree programs hold full approval status from NASP and national recognition status from NCATE. Questions related to the program’s NASP-approval status should be directed to the NASP Program Approval Review Board.

As both programs are NASP-approved, graduates are eligible for certification with the Alabama State Department of Education using the Nationally Certified School Psychologist route. Please note that our doctoral program does not currently hold APA accreditation. However, the program is moving towards APA accreditation for the future.

National Association of School Psychologists Program Approval

www.nasponline.org/standards-and-certification/graduate-program-approval-and-accreditation/program-approval/approved-programs