What Is NASP?
The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) is the largest organization for school psychologists in the world. The goal of the NASP is to support current and future school psychologists and to ensure that students receive the best possible mental health support. As part of this mission, the NASP also acts as an accrediting body that assesses the quality of graduate programs in school psychology.
Why Accreditation Matters
When school psychology master's programs apply for accreditation by the NASP, they must prove that they meet a strict set of standards. This allows the NASP to determine whether a program is offering a high-quality curriculum that will properly prepare students for their future careers. This is important because it:
- Increases the quality of services being offered to children in school systems
- Standardizes the practices of professionals throughout the field
- Helps employers select the most qualified job candidates
- Offers school psychology master's programs feedback and opportunities for improvement
Only the best school psychologist master's programs receive accreditation, which makes it easier for students to identify the programs that will be most valuable to them.
Benefits of Completing a NASP Accredited School Psychology Program
Graduating from a school psychology program that is accredited by the NASP has academic and professional benefits for students. If you attend a NASP accredited program, it may help ensure that you have:
- Greater confidence in the quality of your education
- Knowledge of the most up-to-date techniques and theories in the field
- Strong credentials to add to your resume
- An increased pool of potential employers
In some cases, NASP accreditation may be more a matter of necessity than preference. Many school systems will not employ school psychologists who completed an unaccredited program.
What Can You Do With a Master’s in School Psychology?
While earning a degree in a subject you’re interested in can be fulfilling on its own, you should also make sure you can use the degree in a career with long-term potential. Exploring real-world career opportunities for graduates with a master's in school psychology is a good first step.
A master's in school psychology differs from many degree programs in that it prepares students specifically for a career as a school psychologist. In this job, your day-to-day tasks will involve talking to students, their families, and their teachers. Your primary purpose would be to create a safe, healthy atmosphere for students through tasks like:
- Conducting threat assessments
- Contributing to individualized education plans
- Counseling students struggling with their mental health
- Offering parents guidance so they can better support their children
- Helping to resolve behavioral issues
- Building a plan for academic improvement
Overall, a school psychologist focuses on monitoring students' emotional and psychological well-being and ensuring that their needs are met.
In addition to being a rewarding career, working as a school psychologist also offers a degree of job security. Employment of school psychologists is projected to grow by 6 percent between 2021 and 2031, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This is as fast as average for other careers, indicating that the need for school psychologists is expected to be steady.
Furthermore, as of May 2021, the median annual wage for school psychologists was $78,780—which is higher than the median annual wage for other careers. If you are interested in helping people but also want to ensure that you will have financial stability, a school psychology master’s degree may be a good option.
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Can You Complete School Psychology Master’s Programs Online?
If you’re thinking about becoming a school psychologist, but you can’t fit traditional on-campus classes into your schedule right now, you’ll be glad to know that you can earn a master’s in school psychology online. This offers many advantages for students with busy lives.
Online degree programs are extremely flexible in terms of scheduling. Many courses are asynchronous, which means that you can watch lectures, complete coursework, and read materials at the time that works best for you. As long as you submit assignments and take quizzes, tests, and exams before the deadline, you have the opportunity to do your work as your schedule allows.
The ability to complete a master’s in school psychology online means people who have full-time jobs and family obligations can still pursue their dreams. Even if you don’t work or take care of your family during the day, you might consider looking at school psychology master’s programs online just to avoid commuting to college—especially if you live far away from any schools offering this degree.
When you don’t have to drive to campus every day, you save a lot of time that you can then spend studying your course materials. You can also save money on gas and eliminate the need to pay for parking, which makes getting a master’s in school psychology online a good way to reduce the cost of your education.
Though you can typically do all your coursework, essays, and tests online with this type of program, you might need to complete clinical hours in person so you get field experience before you graduate. In most cases, the college you pick for this degree will help you find a nearby school where you can practice under the supervision of experienced psychologists. You may be able to complete some fieldwork remotely by video, but in most cases, you should expect this part of the program to be in person.
How To Get Into a School Psychology Program
You’ll find many school psychology master’s programs online, and while there are some differences between them, most have a similar admissions process. You will need to demonstrate that you meet the school’s requirements and provide documentation when submitting your application.
As with any master’s program, you need to first get a bachelor’s degree. Ideally, you’ll have your bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field. If you have a degree in a different field, you may have to take a few required courses—such as biology and social sciences— before you can get into a school psychology program.
Most school psychology master’s programs online look at your grade point average (GPA) from the undergraduate years you spent earning your bachelor’s degree. In general, you’ll have the best chance of getting in with a GPA of 3.5 and above, though some programs might consider applicants with a GPA of 3.0.
Many school psychology master’s programs online also require you to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). If the school you’re considering requires this, make sure you have high scores on the GRE General Test, as well as the GRE Psychology Subject test. If you didn’t take the GRE or you don’t want to submit your scores from this exam, look for a school psychology program that doesn’t require the GRE, as is the case with some programs.
Other admissions requirements for a typical school psychology program include letters of recommendation, a personal essay and an interview with the admissions team. For better chances of acceptance, ensure you’re prepared to meet these requirements before you apply to school psychology master’s programs online.
What Courses Can You Expect To Take During a School Psychology Master’s Program?
It’s a good idea to know what kind of courses you’ll need to take as part of the curriculum in your school psychology program. In general, you can expect to examine how students learn, as this will make you more effective in your role as a school psychologist. You’ll likely delve into the different needs of students in all different grades at school—including those who are gifted and those with developmental disabilities.
Overall, your coursework will go over various types of psychology, including developmental, social, and clinical. It will also focus on improving your research skills, critical thinking abilities, and communication style. Some of the most common courses you’ll take in a school psychology program include:
- Behavioral disorders in youth
- Classroom discipline
- Cognitive assessment
- Child development
- Issues in school psychology
- Basics of creating supportive learning environments
- Education research
- Theories of psychological interventions at school
- Social and emotional assessment
Note that on average, it takes about two years to earn a master’s in school psychology. However, some programs let you go at your own pace, so it could take one to three years, depending on your schedule. In addition, you’ll typically need to complete a supervised internship in this field before you graduate, usually during your second year of studies.
How Can You Start Your Career Once You Graduate With Your Master’s in School Psychology?
After you graduate from a school psychology program, you might be excited to get your career started. But to start working in this field, you’ll likely need to get licensed, as most states require this step before you can officially become a school psychologist. You’ll need to check with your state’s requirements to find out exactly what process to follow.
In most cases, you can expect to take a test—most often the Praxis II exam—and will need to show proof of your school psychology master’s degree and completed internship. The required internship usually takes about one year and 1,200 hours of supervised work to complete. The school you attend for your master’s degree typically helps you schedule it.
Many school psychology master’s programs online help recent graduates get any required licensing and certifications to start their careers. They often also help with the job search, as many colleges have partnerships with local elementary and high schools that will hire school psychologists who have recently graduated.
How Can You Choose From School Psychology Masters Programs Online?
Now that you’ve learned what to expect from the typical school psychology master’s program—from the skills you’ll learn to the type of career you can start with this degree—you might feel ready to start applying to schools. But as you start looking at school psychology master’s programs online, you’ll notice a wide variety of options, making it hard to find the right choice for you.
To choose the best program for your needs, you should look closely at certain details. First, make sure the school you choose has the proper accreditation for this field. The main accrediting agencies include the NASP and the American Psychological Association (APA). These agencies make sure all programs that offer a master’s in school psychology adhere to the same guidelines when it comes to coursework, fieldwork and overall quality of education.
If you don’t choose a school that’s accredited by the NASP or APA, there’s a chance you’ll have difficulty getting any licenses or certifications you need to start your career in school psychology. You’ll also find that most employers only look at applicants who attend accredited schools. To find an accredited school, you can go to the NASP or APA websites to see which school psychology master’s programs are listed. If you already have a school in mind, check its website to see if either accrediting agency is mentioned.
Once you’ve narrowed down your search to accredited programs, you should decide whether you want an online or in-person program. If you can make it to school several days per week and like the idea of meeting your professors and fellow students in person, going to campus for your master’s in school psychology may be the right move. But if you have work and other commitments and need a flexible schedule, you should look into school psychology master’s programs online only.
Another way to choose the right school psychology program for your needs is to check the admissions requirements. For example, if you don’t want to take the GRE, you should find a school psychology master’s program that does not require this exam. You should also look at other requirements, such as a certain GPA, volunteer hours, or undergraduate courses you’re expected to have completed. Some colleges have stricter requirements than others, so if you don’t meet all of them, you can look at other schools to see if they’d be a better fit for you.
Before you choose the best school psychology program, take a look at what benefits each one offers students. For instance, consider the available financial aid packages. If you’re going to need to rely on scholarships, grants or loans, you should find a program that offers a financial aid package that’s generous enough to make the school affordable for you. Note that NASP, APA, and other organizations in the psychology field often have scholarships and grants available, so you can also check with them to help pay for college.
Finally, take a look at how different school psychology master’s programs online help recent graduates. The most popular schools offer job placement help for graduates. This might include assistance making a resume and practicing interview skills or it could mean setting up an entry-level position with a local school so you’re guaranteed a job once you graduate. If you want the best chance of finding employment after graduation from a school psychology master’s program, you should ask what each school offers as far as assistance with job placement. The schools that pride themselves on this offering tend to mention it on their website, so look for this feature as you check out school psychology master’s programs online.
Now that you know what you can do with a school psychology master’s degree—and you have some ideas on how to find the best program to suit your needs—it’s time to start looking at all your options. Feel free to take a look at our resources to see a wide range of colleges that offer a master’s in school psychology online and then get ready to start training for your new career!