College of Education and Allied Professions

School Psychology

Psychology Student working with a child in the clinic

 

The School Psychology Graduate Program at Western Carolina University is proud to be recognized as an approved program by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).  The program has a long history of providing strong educational experiences leading to graduates performing at high levels in the field of school psychology. 

Important Program Information:

  • 72-semester hour program including practicum, internship and research requirements
  • Program centered on the standards set by the NASP Practice Model. 
  • Program guided by the National Association of School Psychologists Nondiscrimination Policy
  • Degree earned is the Specialist in School Psychology (SSP) and no Master’s degree is earned on the way to the SSP. 
  • Graduates are eligible for Level II Licensure at the state level and National Certification as a School Psychologist after completing program requirements including passing the Praxis II exam. 

The WCU Graduate School provides more information about the School Psychology graduate program and how to get information from and apply to the WCU Graduate School.

Deadline for application to the program is February 1st

The School Psychology Application Committee accepts applications from students with a variety of different undergraduate degrees including psychology and education. The Committee looks for applicants who show strong potential for success in the program both academically and behaviorally. While GRE scores and undergraduate GPA are both very important, they are not the only criteria considered. An applicant's personal statement stating interest in the program as well as letters of reference are also important aspects of the application. Approximately twenty of the top applicants are invited to interview with the Committee and from that group, approximately 8 to 10 are invited to enroll in the program. The deadline to apply is February 1st.

Students are selected for admittance to the program based on a review of all application data available including:

  • GRE scores
  • Undergraduate GPA
  • Letters of Reference (at least three)
  • Personal Statement
  • Faculty Interviews

All students accepted into the program must have:

  • GPA of at least 3.0 for the last 30 hours of coursework
  • For GRE tests completed prior to August 1, 2011 combined Verbal and Quantitativescores are preferred to be 1000 or higher.  For GRE tests completed after August 1, 2011 combined Verbal and Quantitative scores are preferred to be 300 or higher (students with lower combined scores are accepted on a provisional basis if other evidence of potential for high level academic performance is evident)
  • Personal and professional traits consistent with WCU School Psychology program standards as evidenced by the applicant’s Letters of Reference, Personal Statement, and Faculty Interviews.

School Psychology Course Schedule

Fall 1st Year

PSY 651 - Advanced Research Methods and Statistics I

PSY 661 - Psychological Assessment I

PSY 674 - Advanced Child Psychopathology

PSY 673 - Professional Issues

Spring 1st Year

PSY 697 - Seminar: Behavioral/Emotional Evaluation of Children & Adolescents

PSY 622 - Academic Interventions & Settings

PSY 652 - Advanced Research Methods and Statistics II

PSY 664 - Psychological Assessment II

PSY 653 - Research as a Professional School Practice

Fall 2nd Year

PSY 623 - School-Based Consultation

PSY 648 - Applied Child Neuropsychology

PSY 675 - Cognitive Behavioral Interventions

PSY 686 - Practicum in Psychology I (Clinic or School-Based)

Spring 2nd Year

PSY 686 - Practicum in Psychology II (Clinic or School-Based)

PSY 678 - Family Systems

PSY 663 - Assessment and Intervention with Preschool Children

PSY 624 - Child and Adolescent Development

Fall 3rd Year

PSY 683 - Internship in Psychology

PSY 699/PSY 680 - Thesis/Research Project

Spring 3rd Year

PSY 684 - Internship in Psychology

PSY 699/PSY 680 - Thesis/Research Project

The School Psychology Program Handbookprovides more detailed information about program requirements including practicum/internship experiences and research opportunities.

School Psychology Faculty

Dr. Lori Unruh - Program Director
Courses Taught: Psychological Assessment I, Academic Settings and Interventions, Research as a Professional School Practice, Practicum Supervision, Internship Supervision

Research/Professional Interests: Factors related to student learning including academic instruction/interventions and classroom management/discipline; support to teachers especially beginning teachers; and social justice issues related to education including minority disproportionality in special education, the impact of poverty on children, etc.

Dr. Candace Boan-Lenzo

Courses Taught: Advanced Child Psychopathology, Psychological Assessment II, Behavioral/Emotional Evaluation of Children & Adolescents, Practicum Supervision

Research/Professional Interests: Educational reform; empirically validated practices and interventions in educational settings; and asexuality.

Dr. Mickey Randolph
Courses Taught: Family Systems, School Based Consultation.

Research/Professional Interests: Cultural literacy; tattoos – perceptions or others
and behavioral impacts; gender issues; asexuality.

Dr. Ethan Schilling
Courses Taught: Professional Issues, Applied Child Neuropsychology, Assessment and Intervention with Preschool Children, Practicum Supervision

Research/Professional Interests: Pediatric school psychology; the school functioning of students with chronic health difficulties; advocacy and policy-related issues relevant to the schooling of students with chronic health problems; school neuropsychology particularly related to students with traumatic brain injuries; issues related to the recruitment and retention of school psychologists.

FAQ

What is a Specialist in School Psychology degree (SSP)?

The SSP degree clearly reflects the fact that the requirements for graduation from the School Psychology Program at WCU are more intensive than would be required for a Masters degree. The program consists of 72 credit hours and requires 3 years of course work as well as practicum and internship experiences. The SSP is a terminal degree which means that students do not earn a Masters degree on the way to getting the SSP.

How is the WCU School Psychology Graduate Program accredited?

The WCU School Psychology Graduate Program is accredited by NCATE and by the NC Department of Public Instruction. In addition, the program has received Full Approval by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) through the year 2018.

How difficult is it to get into the program?

The School Psychology Application Committee accepts applications from students with a variety of different undergraduate degrees including psychology and education. The Committee looks for applicants who show strong potential for success in the program both academically and behaviorally. While GRE scores and undergraduate GPA are both very important, they are not the only criteria considered. An applicant's personal statement stating interest in the program as well as letters of reference are also important aspects of the application. New cohorts of students enter the program in the Fall semester each year. The deadline to apply is February 1st.

What financial assistance is available for students?

The Psychology Department is very aggressive at seeking out Graduate Assistantships for students entering our graduate programs. As a result, for the last 5 years at least, 100% of the graduate students who were eligible through full acceptance into the program have been provided with an Assistantship. Every year, the Graduate school also offers a limited number of in-state and out-of-state tuition waivers that are distributed based on GRE and undergraduate GPA scores.  In the past few years, most of the out-of-state graduate students in the psychology department have received some sort of tuition waiver. Our students are also typically very competitive for scholarship funds available through the WCU Graduate School.

What unique experiences can the students in this program expect?

Students in the WCU School Psychology Program are given many opportunities for diverse community experiences. This includes involvement with school systems in the region including four Charter Schools. The public schools in this region provide a unique picture of rural Appalachian communities but also reflect changes related to the increase in Hispanic populations within these communities. In addition, the Cherokee Indian Reservation is located close by and there is one school system that provides a more inner city perspective.  Our students also complete service learning activities as part of their courses taken while enrolled in the program.

What are the research requirements?

All students accepted into this program are expected to complete either a Thesis project (pdf) or Research project as part of their graduation requirements. The research project is a more applied school-based project whereas the thesis project is typically more theoretical and experimental in nature.  Students are encouraged to choose projects that are consistent with the types of research conducted by School Psychologists in the field. See the SSP Program Handbook for further guidance in choosing between these two research requirement options. A high degree of support from psychology faculty is provided in the completion of these projects.

What Practicum experiences can a student expect?

Two different Practicum experiences are provided for each student during their second year in the program.  Each student spends one semester working two days a week in one of the local schools under the supervision of a school psychologist. In that setting, students complete psychological assessments, counseling projects, and intervention case studies. The other semester is spent working in the WCU Psychological Services Clinic. Here, students are supervised by University faculty and provide comprehensive assessments for children referred by various community agencies, parents, and four Charter Schools.

What are the Internship expectations?

Students spend their third year in the program working full time under the supervision of a school psychologist. They are allowed to work anywhere in the United States as long as the school system or other setting chosen can meet the internship requirements established by the program. The students engage in activities similar to those required for the practicum but at a higher level of expectation. University supervision is provided virtually through various means and there is no requirement for face-to-face, on-campus supervision during the internship year.

How are School Psychology Graduate students provided with feedback?

Each student who enters the WCU School Psychology Graduate Program is provided with a TaskStream account. This is an electronic portfolio system that allows students to maintain a portfolio of required activities as well as yearly goals and reflections. The assessment process was developed to not only provide the program with student performance data but also to provide the student with consistent ongoing feedback to assist them in evaluating and improving their own skills and professional progress as a developing school psychologist.

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