School Psychology


Welcome to the School Psychology Program

USM offers a Psy.D. degree (Doctor of Psychology) in school psychology. The Psy.D. Program content includes comprehensive studies that integrate general psychological content, methodology, and research with educational principles and practitioner skills.

The USM Psy.D. Program is based on principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA). Our program philosophy includes a focus on ABA, data-based decision-making, and problem solving practices. Together these three areas form the foundation of the knowledge and skills that graduates will learn.

The Psy.D. Program Sheet details the program of study (see Resources). Students complete a total of 111 graduate credit hours. Psy.D. students demonstrate competency for school psychology practice through coursework, dissertation, and a 2,000 clock hour internship, working under the supervision of a licensed psychologist. Internships may be completed outside of Maine, pending the approval of program faculty.

The USM School Psychology Program conforms to the training standards specified by the American Psychological Association (APA), the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB), the Maine Department of Education, and the Maine Board of Examiners of Psychologists. Graduates may choose to sit for the examination leading to licensure by the Maine Board of Examiners of Psychologists. Individuals graduating from this program are also eligible for certification as a Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP), and for certification by the Maine Department of Education as a School Psychologist-Doctoral.

Program Philosophy

The USM Psy.D. in School Psychology program has a core philosophy
based on principles and methods of applied behavior analysis (ABA). The Psy.D. Program is based on three fundamental conceptual models. The first is data-based decision-making and accountability. This is the organizing theme that permeates the training of school psychology practitioners and defines a best practices approach to service delivery.

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Within this model, school psychology practitioners utilize assessment methods and interventions that are empirically-based. This means that assessments have been demonstrated to be reliable, valid and accurate. Moreover, school psychology practitioners use and endorse only those interventions that have been subjected to scientific analysis and have yielded socially meaningful outcomes. In short, the program prepares graduates who will be practitioner-scientists.

The second conceptual foundation is a problem solving model. Within this model, school psychologists utilize a collaborative problem solving approach in offering a continuum of services that include assessment, interventions (e.g., instructional planning, social skills training, positive behavioral supports) and consultation. While norm-referenced diagnostic assessment may be a part of this process, an emphasis is placed on the use of criterion-referenced, curriculum-based, and functional behavior assessments to address academic, social-emotional, and behavioral issues of referred students.

The final conceptual framework is based on a Stimulus-Organism-Response-Consequence (S-O-R-C) model of human behavior (Nelson & Hayes, 1985; Shapiro & Kratochwill, 2000). Within this model, human behavior is viewed as a complex interaction of external and internal variables. The primary purpose of assessment is to identify and accurately measure those variables that interfere with and/or contribute to a person's acquisition of academic, social, and behavioral skills. The results of assessments are used as the basis for designing individually tailored interventions that promote the development of socially meaningful behaviors.

Based on these models and professional standards, students in the USM School Psychology program receive training in the following areas prior to and during the practicum/internship phases of the program:


  • norm-referenced cognitive assessment (e.g., the Wechsler and
  • Woodcock-Johnson series)norm-reference-behavioral assessment, including self-report measures (e.g., the Achenbach, Conner's, and BASC series)
  • functional behavior assessment (e.g., indirect, direct, and analogue)
  • curriculum-based assessment (academic, social and adaptive living skills)
  • clinical interviews


  • multi-tier systems of support, including positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) and response to intervention
  • academic improvement
  • social skills training
  • individual and group counseling


  • applied research and evaluating the effectiveness of interventions
  • single case experimental design

Consistent with APA, ASPPB, and NASP ethical standards, graduates of the program are expected to maintain a rigorous course of professional development throughout their careers and are bound to limit their practice to competencies and populations in which they are trained.