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What is School Psychology?
School psychology is the field of study and practice that deals with the application of psychological principles to students in school settings. Individuals working in this field must be able to understand and relate to students, identifying learning or mental issues and how they relate to the learning process. School psychologists will employ various methods for gauging and identifying mental health and learning levels among individuals students, then use various methodologies and techniques to help assist in the treatment of those issues. Additionally, psychologists may be responsible for identifying exceptional or talented students and assisting in their proper educational placement.
A school psychologist will work with staff, administration, and students to foster & enhance learning and stability. School psychologists invest time with teaching staff, guardians, and parents to unpack student-related questions and concerns. Issues may include behavioral, developmental, and/or clinical in nature. Through analysis and data collection, psychologists work to create treatment plans to support student learning, growth, safety, health, and overall well-being.
School Psychology Degrees
For prospective students seeking to earn an online psychology degree or classroom based degree, there are myriad options. The range of programs include undergraduate degrees through graduate degrees. With the advent of distance learning, students now have virtually twice as many options as the previous generation. To learn more about online colleges and online degrees, simply utilize our matching portal or request information from top schools listed below to learn more about their programs.
Bachelor Degree in School Psychology
Online degrees in school psychology can be conferred as a Bachelor of Science (BS) of Bachelor of Arts (BA). Bachelor degrees are 4-year programs that blend liberal arts education with core psychology courses. General education courses often found in a school’s course catalog include communications, history, statistics, philosophy, sociology, and creative writing. Core curriculum in school psychology will vary by school and program type. Classes will include a variety of psychology-based courses from general to abnormal and developmental to disorders with an emphasis on students and their support individual systems. School psychologist will learn to work with students and parent’s one-on-one and as part of an interdisciplinary team. Professionals in the field will learn about theories and real-world cases of challenging behaviors and emotional difficulties of students. A school psychologist will provide a vital link from school to home and school to community for students and families.
Master Degree in School Psychology
Master’s degree programs in school psychology will take a student 3-years to complete in most cases with part-time students taking longer. Upper-level courses found in a master’s degree program will often include behavior management, cognitive assessment, diversity, learning principles, assessments, learning problems, counseling children & adolescents, statistics, research methods, social psychology, and a cognitive psychology. Most master degree program will require students to complete a practicum, internship, and a thesis. Make sure to check with the school’s individual requirements as some colleges offer a non-thesis option which is offset by additional course work. Students earning a master’s degree in school psychology or school counseling can launch a career as a school psychologist, teacher at a college or university, research analyst, program director, child/adolescent program manager, human resources specialist, or on pace to complete a PhD program in the field.
Doctorate Degree in School Psychology
Doctorate degrees in school psychology is the highest degree conferred in the field of study. As a result, the doctorate degrees is known as a terminal degree. Degrees are conferred as either a PhD or PsyD depending on the program emphasis. The PsyD emphasizes clinical training often without the requirement of a dissertation. A PhD degree, on the other hand, is a research-based degree with a standard dissertation required prior to completion of the program. In either case, the doctoral degrees will take 4-6 years to complete as a function of pace and course load. Areas of specialty in a PhD or PsyD program can include clinical psychology, counseling, developmental psychology, forensic, behavioral, leadership, and organizational degree tracks.
Though some programs at the bachelor level may offer a specific education in school psychology, a majority of students will earn a general psychology degree followed by entry into a master's program to continue their education and pursue their specialization. Doctoral graduates will have a more in depth study of their specialization, greater employment opportunities, and may conduct research related to school psychology.
A curriculum in school psychology may include:
- Research Methodology
- Education and Psychology
- Psychological Theory
- Behavioral Science
- Learning Disorders
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Employment Opportunities and Job Growth
School psychologists will be able to find positions in public and private educational institutions in order to apply psychological principles to specific learning environments and helping school administrators adjust curriculum based on information and research relating to education in their specific school. Additionally, individuals will work with students to identify issues and problems, or assist in their development as part of their job to provide care and assistance. As more individuals become interested in how education affects their children, the field of school psychology and the role of school psychologists is expected to grow. Due to the high level of education typically required to secure a position, opportunities should be available to those who complete a program.
Salary and Related Fields
School psychologists can expect to earn between $32,000 and $96,000 per year. Individuals in this field will see increased salary based on location, experience and employer, with larger institutions typically offering higher pay due to increased work and responsibility. Additionally, private institutions tend to offer higher pay than public institutions on average, though this can once again vary based on size. Research positions may also have higher pay, though can be limited in availability as grants and positions are highly competitive.
For more information, check out our Career Guide in Psychology on the MatchCollege blog. Further research is available by reading our blog that illustrate the Top Jobs in Psychology by degree type, industry, and specialty.