School Psychology Graduate Program
Frequently Asked Questions
A: School psychology might be the right career path for you if you are interested in how to apply psychology to a school setting, are passionate about improving school environments and helping students succeed, enjoy spending time in K-12 schools, want to collaborate with teachers, parents, and administrators, and would like to learn how to conduct psychological and academic assessments.
The information below is from the National Association of School Psychologists which faculty encourage you to look at for more detailed information and examples of a school psychologist’s activities.
“School psychologists provide direct support and interventions to students, consult with teachers, families, and other school-employed mental health professionals to improve support strategies, work with school administrators to improve school-wide practices and policies, and collaborate with community providers to coordinate needed services. They help schools successfully:
- Improve Academic Achievement
- Promote Positive Behavior and Mental Health
- Support Diverse Learners
- Create Safe, Positive School Climates
- Strengthen Family-School Partnerships
- Improve School-Wide Assessment and Accountability
- Monitor individual student progress in academics and behavior"
A: The majority of school psychologists work in K-12 public schools. Depending on the level and type of training received, some school psychologists work in private schools, preschools, school district administration offices, universities, school-based health and mental health centers, community-based day treatment or residential clinics, hospitals, juvenile justice programs, and independent private practices.
A: School psychologist continues to be ranked on the best social services job list by U.S. News and World Report. In Michigan, there is currently a critical shortage of school psychologists. At the start of the each school year, there are often 20+ open school psychologist positions in Michigan without people to fill them. This shortage of school psychologists is also occurring nationally as many school psychologists reach retirement age. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that school psychologists will have expanding job opportunities through 2029.
A: The MI Department of Education (DOE) makes the rules regarding school psychologist certification. You can read the detailed MI school psychologist certificate rules online. The GVSU program will provide more information about how to apply for the preliminary certificate. Here is some basic information about the two levels of school psychologist certification in MI:
Preliminary Certificate: In order to get your preliminary school psychologist certificate, you must have completed a minimum of 45 graduate credit hours from a MI DOE-approved program and no less than 600 hours (at least 300 of which must be in a school setting) under the supervision of someone with a MI school psychology certificate. Grand Valley’s program is approved by MI DOE. This preliminary certificate is valid for 3 years. Under this certification, you must be supervised by someone with a full school psychologist certificate for a minimum of 2 hours per week. If you complete 600 hours in the second year practicum at Grand Valley, you will likely be eligible for the preliminary certificate prior to beginning internship.
Full Certificate: In order to get your full school psychologist certificate, you must currently hold the preliminary certificate. You must have completed an additional 15 graduate credit hours (on top of the 45 credit hours required for the preliminary certificate) for a total of 60 graduate credit hours as well as additional 600 hours in a supervised internship (at least 300 hours must be in a school setting) in addition to the 600 hours already completed for the preliminary certificate. You also must have been successfully employed for a full year as a school psychologist and have received the minimum 2 hours a week of supervision as required by the preliminary certificate. This certificate is valid for 5 years and can be renewed through the completion of additional credit hours or approved continuing education credits.
In order to become a Nationally Certified School Psychologist, (NCSP), you must meet the requirements outlined by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). You can read the detailed rules online. Currently 33 states acknowledge, recognize, or accept the NCSP as either meeting or partially meeting the requirements for the state school psychologist credential/certification. The application and deadlines for the NCSP differ whether you are applying from a NASP-approved or non-NASP-approved program. The GVSU program will provide more information about how to apply for this certification. The requirements for the NCSP credential include:
- 60 graduate credit hours
- Completion of sequence of supervised practica
- 1200-hour internship (600 hours must be completed in a school setting)
- Passing score (147) on the Praxis School Psychologist test taken within the past 10 years
A: There is very little difference between a Psy.S. degree and an Ed.S. degree. Both types of degrees typically take three years to complete. Usually the degree type is dependent on the department/college that the school psychology program is based out of. For example, if the school psychology program is based out of a Psychology department (like at GVSU), students earn a Psy.S. degree. If the school psychology program is based out of a College of Education or Education department, students earn an Ed.S. degree. You can become certified to practice as a school psychologist with either a Psy.S. or and Ed.S..
Typically a Master’s degree does not provide the number of credits needed to be a practicing school psychologist. For example, in order to hold a full school psychologist certificate in MI, candidates must have completed at total of 60 graduate credit hours. Many Master’s programs are between 30-40 graduate credit hours and take approximately two years to complete. Therefore, in order to be a practicing school psychologist in MI, you must complete a specialist-level program. It is important to note that some states have different types of school psychology certification requirements and universities have different degree types with varying numbers of credit hours.
A: As part of the GVSU School Psychology Program, students receive an ABA Graduate Certificate from GVSU by taking seven courses. These courses also fulfill the coursework requirements to become a BCBA, as this course sequence has been approved by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, but there are additional requirements that students must meet to obtain this certificate. The primary requirements to become a BCBA include: 1) completing an approved course sequence, such as the GVSU ABA Graduate Certificate, 2) completing supervised experience hours, and 3) passing the BCBA exam. To learn more about becoming a BCBA, visit the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) website and review the requirements.
All students entering the GVSU School Psychology Specialist program will automatically complete the ABA Graduate Certificate since all courses are embedded in the school psychology program. Beyond completing the coursework, it is up to students to decide whether to pursue other requirements to become a BCBA.
A: Each class is different so it is difficult to estimate the exact number of hours you will spend on coursework. Graduate courses are more intensive than undergraduate courses and typically require 3-4 hours of additional work outside of class for each credit hour. In addition to large amounts of reading to prepare for class, graduate students will also spend a significant amount of hours writing assignments, working on projects with classmates, and administering practice assessments. Students are highly encouraged to take advantage of additional opportunities to engage in the field outside of coursework expectations. Among other things, this might include volunteering to do benchmark assessments in local schools, attending workshops or conferences, assisting with prospective student interview days, and participating in the school psychology student organization (SASP) events.