Doctoral-level training is based on the scientist-practitioner model. To complete this training, you must fulfill a set of core courses in theoretical and scientific foundations of psychology as identified by the Task Force on the Revision of the Accreditation Criteria in Psychology (coordinated by the APA) and complete additional course work that applies the theoretical and scientific contributions of psychology to practical problems. Examples of the latter category are courses in diagnosis and treatment and required practicum and internship experiences.
You will be trained to think and act as both a social scientist and applied psychologist. As a social scientist, you are expected to be involved in educational program planning and policy formation. You serve as a resource person to school personnel and parents in order to promote programs for problem prevention and the facilitation of learning. As a practitioner, you must have the training to render diagnostic and remedial services. Those two basic elements of the school psychology program have been emphasized in Specialty Guidelines for the Delivery of Services by School Psychologists (APA, 1981).
The doctoral track has a strong theoretical base in human development, learning, individual differences, and research methods and statistics. This base is enhanced by the professional and practical courses that emphasize familiarity with cultural diversity, both regular and special education classrooms, and the development and application of both individual and group measurement skills in the cognitive, learning, and socio-emotional domains. In addition, you receive intensive applied training during the practicum and internship experiences. Within this context, you begin to share your expertise by consulting and collaborating with parents, teachers, and other school professionals.
To achieve the scientist-practitioner orientation, specific program objectives ensure that you will be competent to perform a range of professional functions. As a graduate of the program, you should be able to:
- Consult effectively with teaching staff and other personnel on issues of group assessment.
- Apply research findings to the solution of problems relating to discipline, behavior modification, in-service training, learning strategies, special class placement, etc.
- Identify educationally, psychologically, and socially exceptional children using a variety of approved diagnostic techniques and assist in the development of appropriate intervention programs.
- Function as team leaders in school-based multidisciplinary teams and as liaisons to local mental health clinics and residential treatment centers.
- Supervise school psychologists during their internship training and function as chief psychologists in schools, agencies, and other institutions.
- Function as private practice psychologists after receiving state licensure (Note: This professional role may require supervised training beyond that offered by the program's internship experience.)
- Serve as court-appointed specialists in due-process cases or as consultants to parents or school districts in disputed cases.
- Serve as university faculty members.
- Serve as school psychologists in diverse settings.
Regardless of the professional setting, school psychologists are fully recognized as psychologists. The standards and ethical responsibilities of the profession apply to them also.