Overview

The School Psychology Program provides exemplary graduate training in research and practice related to the learning, development, and mental health of children and youth. The program is committed to preparing graduate students in the provision of effective school psychology services for children with diverse backgrounds and experiences and recognizes the important contributions of both families and schools in the lives of children. The program trains its graduate students in a “family-school collaboration” approach for at-risk learners and focuses on comprehensive early intervention and prevention in economically disadvantaged and/or rural settings. By preparing graduate students to follow databased decision-making and research in their careers, graduates are equipped to pursue and excel in professional practice and research. The campus Ed.S. and Ph.D. programs are approved by the National Association of the School Psychologists (NASP).

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 AND 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.

Although our program also includes the MA degree (titled the MA in Educational Psychology-School Psychometry), EdS and Ph. D. candidates receive the MA along the way during their programs. Thus, applicants should select either EdS or PhD for the degree in their graduate application; the MA will be recorded later as a secondary degree for accepted EdS and PhD applicants. The exception is that applicants interested in using the Alabama “state-approved program route” AND who hold a prior educator certificate must first apply to the MA degree in Educational Psychology-School Psychometry, and complete the MA before proceeding on to the EdS or PhD program. We generally admit applicants who are interested in pursuing only our MA degree with prior approval and IN SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES ONLY. If you are interested in applying for the MA alone, as your one and only degree, please contact us for more information.

Applicants should follow the instructions on the UA Graduate School’s website. Applications, statements of purpose, and resumes/vitas must be submitted online on the Graduate School website. Application fees may be submitted online or through a check mailed to the Graduate School. On the online graduate application, applicants should follow the instructions to provide emails for references, so that they may submit their letters of reference online. 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). Campus interviews generally are not required but campus visits are encouraged for applicants to the School Psychology Program. Potential applicants are encouraged to visit the University of Alabama campus and meet with faculty and current graduate students, if possible, in order to obtain information about the program and campus. Potential applicants are urged to contact the program coordinator for information about campus visits. In some circumstances, some applicants in the final pool of candidates may be invited for an on-campus or telephone interview before a final decision about admission is made.

The “first round” deadline for completed applications is the January 15 before the fall semester in which the applicant plans to begin graduate study. HOWEVER, we review and accept later applications, if slots remain available. Occasionally, our program will have a few remaining open slots for applicants who complete their applications by May or June prior to the intended fall term of enrollment.

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. (The MA degree includes 33 graduate credit hours, which are completed as part of the credit hours required for the EdS and PhD degrees and typically are completed during the first 1 ½ years in the EdS and PhD programs.) The coursework requirements for the EdS degree include the MA degree requirements, plus additional requirements specific to the EdS degree. The PhD degree includes the MA and EdS degree requirements, plus additional requirements specific to the PhD degree. 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.

Coursework in the School Psychology Program covers the following: a) the scientific, methodological, and theoretical foundations of practice in the area of school psychology; b) foundations of scientific psychology and education, including history of thought and development, research methods, and applications; c) data-based decision making and accountability, including psychological assessment and measurement; d) formulation and implementation of intervention strategies delivered directly to clients and through consultation and collaboration with parents, teachers, and other professionals; e) multicultural and individual diversity important for the practice of school psychology and work with children, families, and schools; f) foundations of education including history, techniques, multicultural components, and academic instruction and social-emotional development of all children, including those with learning and behavior challenges; and g) professional emphasis on life-long learning, scholarly inquiry, and problem-solving by school psychologists, in the context of an evolving body of scientific and professional knowledge.

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 (2010), 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 candidates must complete an internship at or near the end of formal training. Candidates 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 may be 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) or, with special permission, on a half-time, continuous basis over two consecutive academic years. EdS internships are not offered during summer terms. At least 600 internship hours must be in a school setting, although almost all of our EdS students complete all 1200+ hours of internship in a school setting.

The doctoral internship requires a minimum of 1800 clock hours (2000 hours is recommended for doctoral psychologist licensure purposes) and may be 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), or, with special permission, on the basis of half-time week, continuous period over two consecutive calendar years. Doctoral internships, because they are conducted throughout an entire calendar year, or three semesters, are completed in consecutive fall, spring, and summer (or another fall) terms. At least 600 internship hours must be in a school setting, although many of our PhD students complete all 1800+ hours of internship in a school setting.

All degree candidates in the School Psychology Program are required to successfully complete written comprehensive examinations before any degrees will be granted. The examinations are completed independently on a “take-home” basis, and require candidates to integrate knowledge and skills obtained during coursework and other graduate education activities. Successful completion of the program requires that a candidate pass the exams. Further, no candidate will be allowed to enroll in EdS or PhD internship until exams are passed.

All candidates (EdS and PhD) take comprehensive exams during the fall and spring semesters of their second year of full-time study in the program (or the equivalent for part-time candidates). The exam results are reported to the Graduate School to meet university requirements. Questions 1 and 2 must be passed for the MA degree, typically taken fall semester, 2nd year in the program. In addition to Questions 1 and 3, Question 3 must be passed for the EdS and PhD degrees, with Question 3 typically taken spring semester, 2nd year in the program). Thus, comprehensive exam Questions 1, 2, and 3 must be passed for the EdS and PhD degrees, typically in the second year in the program.

After passing Questions 1, 2, and 3, PhD candidates take an additional comprehensive exam (Question 4) in Year 3 or later, during completion of the remaining doctoral coursework in the program, and results are reported to the Graduate School. Doctoral students must pass all comprehensive exams and must successfully complete and present the dissertation prospectus prior to their internships (completion of dissertation proposal and admission to candidacy also is recommended prior to doctoral internship).

Student Testimonials

“Exchanging ideas with professors and UA students is always exciting. The greatest thing about coming to UA is having so many people who are passionate about similar things coming together. Each day I am learning something new, and each day I am better prepared to be a school psychologist.” – Qingzhou Shi (PhD on-campus student)

“As a single mother with a full-time job, going back to graduate school seemed like an unobtainable dream. University of Alabama’s online masters and specialist school psychology program has been an excellent fit for my life situation. The faculty members of the school psychology program are always available with a quick response to any questions or concerns that may present, and they are eager to help the students succeed. My online cohort communicates well and allows for teamwork mastery as we progress through each semester. My internship experience has provided me with an excellent opportunity to practice the principles that have been taught throughout the program. I feel that the University of Alabama’s graduate school psychology program is preparing me to embrace an exceptional career as a school psychologist.” – Emily Phillips (Distance Learning student)

“My time at UA has taught me to collaborate and communicate with others effectively – a vital skill in school psychology. I have also had great practicum experiences and have thoroughly enjoyed working with peers and faculty. I am grateful for my time at UA!” – Camilla Fenger (PhD on-campus student)

“Choosing to pursue my PhD in school psychology at The University of Alabama has been the best decision. Here at UA, I have been given the opportunity to be taught and trained by well-known experts and professionals within the field, as well as be exposed to superior emerging research. It is evident that professors care about their students’ learning and strive to provide the best education possible.” – Morgan Lane (PhD on-campus student)