The National Association of School Psychologists, or NASP, offers accreditation to degree programs that comply with their set standards and program review. If you wish to become a licensed school psychologist, explore NASP-accredited school psychology programs today to see how you can benefit from a degree from a reputable institution. Explore the key differences between accredited vs. non-accredited institutions, on-campus vs. online programs, and more as you search for the best program to help you move forward in your career.
What Is NASP Accreditation?
NASP accreditation helps promote programs that are rigorous and use the latest research in addressing educational and mental health interests in schools. An accredited school psychology degree program should use the latest research and best practice to promote positive change in students.
School psychologists require at least a master’s degree and specialized training to work at this level. In many cases, school psychologists have a doctoral degree in school psychology or a related field. Accreditation isn’t required for degree programs but offers a degree that is more competitive and widely accepted than one from an unaccredited institution.
National Association of School Psychologists
The National Association of School Psychologists is a worldwide community that represents over 25,000 school psychologists. Members come from over 25 countries and all share a vision of improved mental health, behavior, and learning for students. The association includes various assemblies, committees, task forces, and boards to offer accreditation and oversee other projects.
In order to become an accredited program for school psychology, a college must follow the state or national credential requirements, outlined by NASP, to qualify for accreditation. At the state credentialing level, here are some example requirements
Issued by NASP:
- Specialist-level program of study with at least three years of study, 60 semester hours, and documentation of program completion
- Completed training in the 10 domains of school psychology practice
- Commitment to students of all abilities
- Support through both preventative and responsive services
- Family-school collaboration
These are only a few areas that a college needs to focus on in order to qualify for accreditation. Before a program receives full accreditation, it must go through the entire process.
All NASP-accredited school psychology programs are required to go through the review process. It starts with a submitted application and report of the program. Programs are reviewed and then given full or conditional approval of the program.
The rubric for accreditation undergoes frequent changes to ensure compliance with the latest research and industry practices. Programs are expected to follow the 2020 Standards beginning in Fall 2021, so you can expect accredited institutions to promote modern solutions to behavioral, educational, and mental struggles.
A school psychology program is reviewed and must be approved by the Program Accreditation Board before it can claim accreditation. This process ensures that the program meets or exceeds acceptable standards. In most cases, accreditation is awarded for up to seven years before the program must undergo another review process.
If a program doesn’t meet the minimum requirements, there are two options: Conditional Approval and Not Approved. Conditional Approval means the college must submit a Response to Conditions report in at least two years for further evaluation. This typically means the program is missing one or more crucial elements of accreditation. A Not Approved judgment is reserved for programs that don’t meet the majority of standards.
What Is an Online NASP-Accredited School Psychology Program?
In order to become a school psychologist, you must complete some form of advanced graduate training. According to NASP, approximately 74% of current school psychologists have earned a specialist certificate or degree. Other school psychologists have a master’s or doctoral degree.
These certificates, master’s degrees, and doctoral degrees can all be pursued online. Unlike an on-campus degree program, these programs offer flexible environments and rigorous training without leaving your local community. Learn more about the unique features of an online accredited program compared with on-campus programs and school counselor training.
School Psychologist vs. School Counselor
Both school psychologists and school counselors play important roles in students’ emotional and educational lives. There are, however, key differences between these two roles. Explore these differences as you consider the next step in your career.
School psychologists work specifically with children and families in school settings and other educational settings. They focus primarily on comprehensive psychological services but can offer assessment and counseling as appropriate.
School counselors focus primarily on academic and social problems and make decisions in a school setting. Counselors provide critical support for students but aren’t qualified to provide psychological services in assessing and treating problems. Counselors typically guide students through everyday adversity and issues.
Flexible Online Learning Environment
An online program in school psychology gives you the flexibility you need to choose the best program at the best pace. Consider the amount of time and money you’re willing to invest, as well as your existing work schedule, as you compare your program options.
Whether you choose a master’s degree, Ph.D., or EdS degree, you can tailor your learning environment to your personal situation. Study part-time to continue working in a school or related setting. This allows you to gain relevant work experience in addition to accredited training.
Online learning environments are growing in popularity for students in a diverse range of educational settings. Because of this, your online NASP-accredited program gives you a unique perspective into remote learning. As a successful degree holder from an online school psychology program, you’ll be better positioned to provide guidance and support for students in remote learning environments.
Rigorous Training in Your Local Community
Choose the institution that offers the best training opportunity for your career. When you choose an online school psychology program, you can compare the nation’s leading colleges and universities.
Don’t settle for the colleges available in your city or local community. As an online student, you can compare master’s, doctoral, and specialty degrees based on their cost, program length, areas of focus, accreditation, and other factors. As an accredited program, you can expect your online school psychology degree to include courses in these areas:
- Mental and behavioral health
- Assessment practices
- Data collection and analysis
- Crisis response and preparedness
- Diversity in learning and development
- Instructional support
- Consultation and collaboration
Once you find the best program for your career goals, you can enjoy rigorous training using the latest teaching methodologies. Online education uses virtual classrooms and other features to help you communicate with your professors and fellow students. You don’t have to sacrifice an interactive classroom to enjoy the freedom and flexibility of an online course.
What Are the Benefits of an NASP-Accredited School Psychology Program?
NASP accreditation offers distinct benefits for you as a prospective student, for employers, and for the public. If you’re still not sure which program is right for you, consider the following benefits of choosing one of the highly rated online NASP-accredited school psychology programs.
One of the greatest benefits of choosing an accredited institution is peace of mind. As new research emerges and educational theories change, you need to choose a program that’s committed to providing the latest educational opportunities. Study school psychology in a modern format that promotes diversity, social support, state-of-the-art assessment practices, and more.
Connect With a Leading Institution
An accredited institution must undergo continuous improvement, self-evaluation, and accountability reviews. These steps can help improve the overall support and training of the program. You can find NASP-accredited institutions around the country, but they may not be in your immediate area. Instead of turning to an alternative program, enroll in your favorite university as an online student.
Personalize Your Schedule and Coursework
Many online programs offer flexible scheduling for school psychology students. Instead of scheduling specific class times where you must be on campus, you can attend virtual classes or stream lectures at your own convenience. A personalized schedule is ideal if you’re a busy professional or caring for children at home while you attend school.
The breadth of curriculum options allows you to find a program that fits your interests. Even accredited programs vary in available classes and concentrations, so consider an online program that offers the electives and required courses that fit your passions and interests.
Support Student Academic Achievement and Mental Health
Online programs in school psychology prepare students to succeed as school psychologists in a variety of educational situations. When you compare programs, look for one that offers courses and hands-on experience in these areas:
- Monitoring student progress
- Managing student behaviors
- Promoting motivation and engagement
- Analyzing student behavior and mental health
- Assessing learning needs
- Promoting positive family-school connections
How Long Does it Take to Earn an Online School Psychology Degree?
Earning an online degree in school psychology can take anywhere from three to five years, depending on the program’s specific requirements. Generally speaking, most students will need to complete at least ~120 credits for a bachelor’s and ~60 credits of coursework to qualify for graduation with a graduate degree. This can include classes in areas such as developmental psychology, special education law and assessments, counseling techniques, and intervention strategies.
These courses may be taken independently or in cohorts with other students. It’s also important to note that most online programs require students to complete a final capstone project or thesis before graduating.
In terms of the time frame associated with an online masters in psychology program, many schools offer accelerated options that allow students to earn their degrees faster. Depending on the institution, these can range from 6-18 months for completion or an “accelerated master’s” option, which permits students to pursue the degree in two or three years.
Of course, the length of time required also depends on a student’s prior academic experience and how quickly they wish to progress through the program. Committed students can often receive their degrees at a much quicker pace than those who attend traditional programs.
How Much Does an Online School Psychology Program Cost?
The cost of an online school psychology program varies depending on the institution and the specific program. Generally, full-time students’ tuition fees can range from ~$38,000 to $60,000+ per year. Additional costs may include enrollment fees, book and materials fees, technology fees, and other administrative fees. Students may need to purchase their own computers and other technology depending on the program’s requirements.
It’s essential to research individual institutions to determine current costs and any additional fees that apply.
Financial aid in the form of grants, loans, and scholarships may be available to help cover some of the tuition costs, and it’s always best to contact the financial aid department at each institution to find out what options are available.
For those who are already employed in a school setting, some employers may provide tuition reimbursement for individuals pursuing a degree in school psychology.
What to Look For in a NASP-Accredited School Psychology Program
Earning your school psychologist degree from a NASP-accredited program is absolutely essential if you want to work in this profession, so it’s important to do your research to determine which program best fits your needs and career goals.
This section will discuss what to look for in a National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) accredited school psychology program, including admission requirements, costs and financial aid, staff-to-student ratios, and job placement resources so you can make an informed decision about which school psychology program is the right fit for you.
It’s paramount that you look into the admission requirements of any NASP-accredited school psychology program, as they can vary greatly between programs. Knowing the necessary academic qualifications and standard test scores, as well as any additional application requirements and guidelines, can help give you an idea of which program is the right fit for you.
Cost and Financial Aid
Along with meeting admission requirements, cost and financial questions are some of the most important things to consider when applying to a school psychology program. Check for tuition costs and available scholarships and loans to help you pay for the program.
A low student-to-staff ratio can indicate quality educational opportunities, meaning instructors will be able to give more individual attention to each student. Research the staff-to-student ratio of your desired program, and make sure it falls within acceptable levels that match the type of learning environment you’re looking for.
While completing your degree, research job placement rates for the program to get an idea of the success rate of the program’s alumni. You’ll want to know how many graduates from the program are able to find a career in their desired field (school psychology) after completion.
Online School Psychology Curriculum
School psychology is an essential part of the educational experience for many students. By combining research with classroom practice, school psychologists lead interventions and initiatives designed to promote a healthy learning environment and ensure that all students have equitable access to resources and support services.
With the rise in online education, school psychology curriculums are now available in virtual formats, offering students the opportunity to gain the skills necessary to become successful school psychologists.
In the section below, we highlight the different classes and coursework available to students.
- Educational Psychology: Introduces students to the basic principles of educational psychology, including concepts and theories related to learner motivation and development, learning theory and practices, cognitive approaches to learning, assessment and evaluation, and educational interventions.
- Psychopathology: Covers the major categories of mental health disorders and the characteristics associated with them. Students gain an understanding of the diagnostic criteria for different mental health conditions, including those in childhood and adolescence.
- Applied Behavior Analysis: Provides an introduction to the principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA). Students will learn how to analyze behavior, design and implement effective reinforcement strategies, and implement interventions to change behavior.
- School Refusal: Covers theories of school refusal, assessment techniques, and evidence-based interventions for managing children who have difficulty attending school. Topics include the distinguishing between truancy and school refusal, legal issues associated with attendance problems, family resources, and environmental interventions.
- Exceptional Populations: A special topics course about working with students with special needs. Students will gain an understanding of different exceptional populations and the strategies used to support unique access to education rights and services.
- Crisis Intervention: Students will learn how to recognize, assess, and respond to crisis situations in school settings. They’ll also address how to access mental health services in crisis situations and develop processes for helping families through the crisis.
- Neuropsychology: This course examines the relationship between the brain and behavior. Students will learn about different types of neurological disorders and how they affect behavior and learning.
- Research Methods: Provides an introduction to qualitative and quantitative research methods used by school psychologists. Students will learn how to apply these methods to their own research projects.
Master’s in School Psychology vs. Psychology: Which Degree is Right for You?
When choosing between a master’s in school psychology and a standard psychology degree, it’s important to understand the differences and similarities between the two. While they both focus on understanding and addressing human behavior, the routes and goals of each discipline are often quite different.
At the most basic level, a master’s in school psychology is focused on intervening in mental health difficulties within a school setting. You’ll learn how to work with school staff and students to assess, diagnose, and treat their mental health and behavioral issues. In contrast, a regular psychology degree is more general and looks at the study of people in all contexts, such as work, home, and family.
In terms of qualifications, a master’s in school psychology is specifically designed to prepare graduates to be credentialed to practice school psychology, while a regular psychology degree wouldn’t qualify you in the same way. Beyond preparing graduates for specific credentials, a master’s in school psychology offers more specialized courses that focus solely on topics relevant to the field. Courses like educational psychology, neuropsychology of learning, or developmental disabilities are unavailable within most standard psychology programs.
With a master’s in school psychology, the goal is to be able to practice school psychology or pursue specialized research or educational goals within the domain of school psychology. With a regular psychology degree, however, graduates may pursue research and clinical positions such as administration or community services.
Ultimately, choosing between a master’s in school psychology and a regular psychology degree comes down to career goals and credentials desired. For those interested in intervening in educationally related issues in schools, a master’s in school psychology may be the right choice. For those interested in pursuing research or general counseling roles, a regular psychology degree may be more appropriate.
School Psychologist Required Licensure
School psychologists require a specialist master’s degree or higher and 1200 hours of internships to meet minimum requirements. When looking at specialist master’s or other online school psychology programs, they must have a minimum of 60 graduate credits to meet state requirements.
Most states will accept the following school psychology licensure:
- Master’s degree (60 credits+)
- Ed.S. (60 credits+)
Most states also have a licensing requirement. Contact your state licensing board to find out the process you’ll need to undergo. If you pursue school psychology programs online accredited by NASP, they can help you with this too.
Master’s Degree, Ed.S. or Ph.D. in School Psychology?
When choosing which educational path to take toward becoming a school psychologist, you have a few options available. We will discuss the fundamental differences between pursuing a master’s degree, an education specialist degree (Ed.S,) and a postgraduate doctorate (Ph.D.) so you can be confident in your school psychology course decision.
What is the difference between a Master’s, Ed. S. and Ph.D. in School Psychology?
A specialist master’s degree is the minimum educational requirement you’ll need to qualify for a position as a school psychologist. It can take anywhere between one to three years to complete. Most states will require that your specialist master’s degree be a minimum of 60 graduate credits, so make sure your course offers this option. If you’re looking for online learning options, school psychology programs online accredited by NASP will meet your educational requirements.
An education specialist degree is similar to a master’s but offers a more tailormade curriculum for working on the skills and theory necessary for educational practice. They take three to four years to complete and usually include 1200 hours of internship and practicum time.
Most Ed.S. school psychology degrees offer 60 credits, which will allow you to apply for school psychologist positions upon completion. Again, it’s important to check with your provider to ensure they offer 60 graduate credits.
A doctoral degree takes five to seven years to complete and is the highest level of online school psychology program you can get. While it takes longer to complete, it gives you better opportunities to use your school psychology knowledge outside of the school, and there may be financial incentives for school psychologists with doctorates in some states. If you know you want to go into school psychology but don’t see yourself working in a school setting (maybe you’d rather work in an advisory role instead), this may be a better option.
What Does a School Psychologist Do?
School psychologists are in charge of looking after the mental health of students at their school or educational institution.
They work alongside educators, family members, and students to help make school accessible and to make sure there are plans in place to meet each student’s mental health needs.
What Is the Role of a School Psychologist in a School or Educational Environment?
School psychologists help ensure that all students have equitable access to education. To do so they work closely with the student to assess challenges and find potential solutions to help them maximize their classroom time and educational opportunities.
They also work with teachers to curate curriculum adjustments and classroom differentiation that a student may need to get the best out of their learning. There is also frequent communication with the family to ensure the child is supported at home and to help parents and caregivers with any concerns they may have.
In some cases, school psychologists may be able to diagnose some mental health disorders such as dyspraxia, dyslexia, and ADHD, though this will depend on the individual school policy and level of training.
Being a school psychologist in an educational environment means working collaboratively to support every child under your care.
School Psychologist Salary and Career Outlook
School psychologists earn a median salary of $78,780 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Job opportunities for school psychologists are expected to grow in the next decade. This is partly due to an increasing focus on mental health issues in schools and an aging population that is expected to need more psychological services in the coming years.
School psychologists provide mental health counseling and support to students in K-12 schools and postsecondary institutions. In addition to providing direct services, they also work with parents, teachers, and staff to address problems that arise in educational settings.
School Psychologist Careers and Average Salary Ranges:
- School Psychologist – provides mental health, academic, and social-emotional services to students, ranging from $50-90K depending on region and experience.
- Clinical Therapist – provide individual and family counseling services to students and families, ranging from $40-85K depending on region and experience.
- Education Consultant – help teachers create and implement classrooms that are conducive to learning and emotional development, ranging from $50-90K depending on region and experience.
- Assessment Specialist – provide intellectual, psychological, and educational assessments to help assess a child’s learning needs, ranging from $45-80K depending on region and experience.
- Research Consultant – design and implement research projects for school districts, local or state agencies, or universities, ranging from $60-100K depending on region and experience.
- Curriculum Specialist – help assess and design curriculum materials that are suitable for specific school districts or classrooms, ranging from $50-80K depending on region and experience.
- Behavioral Health Consultant – work with inner city or school settings to provide coaching and intervention service to support the mental health of students or their families, ranging from $60-90K depending on region and experience.
School Psychology Education Requirements
To become a school psychologist, individuals must complete an education program that is approved by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) and meet the requirements for state certification or licensure. This means completing accredited online school psychology programs.
Professionals in this field typically earn a master’s in school psychology from an accredited college or university. Core courses within the program focus on topics such as psychological assessment and testing, educational interventions, human development, learning disabilities, ethics, and professional standards, consultation for families and teachers, preventative practices, and legal issues. Additionally, students must participate in field experiences to gain practical knowledge working with children in various settings.
To be successful at becoming a school psychologist, it’s important that individuals possess excellent interpersonal skills, communication skills, and organizational skills. You should have a deep understanding of psychological theories and assessment techniques, as well as an understanding of the research process.
How to Become a School Psychologist
First, you’ll need to get your bachelor’s degree in psychology, followed by a specialist master’s or doctorate degree administered by accredited online school psychology programs to qualify for and meet the requirements of the job.
You’ll then need to apply for NASP certification, which is fairly easy. NASP-approved online school psychology programs will help you with the process at the end of your program.
With your NASP certificate and educational degrees, you can apply for a license to practice in your state (contact your state board for specifics on how to do so).
Finally, with your certificates and license in place, you’ll be able to apply for jobs. Consider the age range and school type you want to work in. Are you better with younger or older students? Do you want to work in private schools or public schools? This will help you concentrate your search efforts.
And don’t forget, even though you have completed your education, you still need to do continuous professional development (CPD) to ensure you’re up to date on the latest practices and advances in school psychology.
NASP-Accredited Online School Psychology Programs FAQ
Are online school psychology programs hard to get into?
Generally, online school psychology programs are no more difficult to get into than traditional in-person programs. The admissions process for online programs may vary slightly, but most typically require an online application, transcripts, a personal statement or essay, and letters of recommendation. The admissions criteria for both online and in-person programs are similar in that applicants typically need to have completed some prerequisite coursework, have adequate grades and standardized test scores, and demonstrate a commitment to the field of school psychology.
Do school psychology programs require a dissertation?
Most accredited school psychology programs require doctoral students to write and defend a dissertation to receive their degree. A dissertation is a longer research project that helps doctoral candidates become better prepared to be professional practitioners in the field. The dissertation process involves selecting a research topic, developing a research plan, collecting and analyzing data, and writing up the findings.
Do online school psychology programs require internships or practicums?
Most school psychology programs require practicums and internships to prepare you for working with students in an educational setting. Likewise, most states require you to have done a minimum internship (typically 1200 hours) to be considered for a school psychologist position. You should check with each curriculum provider to see if practicum work experience is required for the course and the state you hope to practice in. NASP-approved online school psychology programs will typically require internships as part of your learning.
While you may be worried about the time constraints of doing an internship for your school psychology program, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) finds that 81% of graduates found their internships vital for preparing them for their careers.
Can I earn my school psychology degree entirely online?
Some schools offer online doctoral degree programs in school psychology, while others may offer hybrid programs that combine online courses with an on-campus residency requirement. Online courses vary in terms of structure, content, and requirements, so it’s important to research each school’s program thoroughly before enrolling.
Is a school psychologist a doctor?
School psychologists who hold a doctoral degree in school psychology are often referred to as “doctors.” This signifies that the individual has completed a rigorous academic program beyond a master’s degree and has demonstrated mastery of the core knowledge and skills required of those in the field.
Are school psychologists the same as educational psychologists?
While the two roles share some characteristics, they have distinct purposes. School psychologists focus on looking after, diagnosing, and maintaining the social, emotional, and mental health (SEMH) of students (and sometimes school staff). They are primarily concerned with the people under their charge. Educational psychologists, on the other hand, specialize in understanding the cognitive brain processes during learning to help enhance curriculums and learning processes in schools.