School Psychology

Overview

Two women talking in classThe University of Southern Maine (USM) School Psychology programs integrate coursework, field experiences, and applied research opportunities to ensure graduates meet the practice competencies established by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) and the standards of the American Psychological Association (APA).

As the only school psychology training program in the state, we offer a Master of Science (MS) in Educational Psychology with a concentration in School Psychology and a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) in School Psychology. Our course of study meets the educational requirements to apply for Maine certification as a school psychologist.

Program Benefits

  • Flexible schedule: Our programs can be completed on a part-time or full-time basis.
    • Master’s program: All courses are held in the late afternoon and evening, to accommodate working professionals. Half of the courses are offered online.
    • Doctoral program: Most courses are held in the late afternoon and evening. Several advanced doctoral seminars are held during the day on Tuesdays.
  • Transfer your graduate credits: We allow students with prior graduate-level coursework to transfer eligible credits into our programs, which may reduce program completion time.
  • Career advancement: There is a nationwide demand for school psychologists at both the specialist and doctoral level.
  • Gain diverse field experience: You’ll complete 600 practicum hours and 1500 internship hours, and gain experience in multiple settings to meet your individualized learning and career goals.
  • Expert faculty: Our faculty are dually credentialed in school psychology and applied behavior analysis. Many are also licensed psychologists.
  • Qualify for state and national credentialing: Both degree programs qualify graduates to apply for certification through the Maine Department of Education and the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).
    • Doctoral students may qualify to apply for licensure as a psychologist after completing a postdoctoral internship.
  • Gain additional training in applied behavioral analysis (ABA): Our curriculum has a unique emphasis on ABA. You also have the option to take additional courses and seek qualifying supervised experience, which leads to eligibility to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) Examination®.

Program Delivery

Master of Science in Educational Psychology with a concentration in School Psychology (MS)

  • Degree completion timeframe:
    • Study on a part-time or full-time basis.
    • Full-time students complete the program within 4 years. This includes:
      • 3 years of courses and practicum: 9 credits in the Fall and Spring semesters, and 6 credits in the Summer.
      • 1 year of internship.
    • You may complete up to 6 credits at the University before enrolling in the program.
  • Transfer credits: You may transfer up to 30 graduate credits, which may reduce program completion time. Transfer credits must meet specific criteria.
  • Course schedule: All courses are held in the late afternoon and evening to accommodate working professionals.  
  • Course format:
    • Half of our courses are held on campus, and half are held online.
    • Some online courses are streamed in real-time (synchronous), offering you the opportunity to connect remotely with faculty and classmates at the same time each week.
    • Some online courses are asynchronous, providing you the flexibility to choose when and where to complete your coursework each week.

Doctor of Psychology in School Psychology (PsyD)

  • Degree completion timeframe:
    • Study on a part-time or full-time basis.
    • Full-time students complete the program within 5 years. This includes:
      • 4 years of courses and practicum: 9 credits in the Fall and Spring semesters, and 6 credits in the Summer.
      • 1 year of internship.
    • You may complete up to 6 credits at the University before enrolling in the program.
    • Transfer credits: You may transfer up to 45 graduate credits, which may reduce program completion time. Transfer credits must meet specific criteria.
  • Course schedule: Most courses are held on weekday afternoons and evenings to accommodate working professionals. Several advanced doctoral seminars are held during the day on Tuesdays
  • Course format: Per professional licensing standards, the majority of our courses are held on campus to allow face-to-face connection with faculty.

Career Advancement

Our graduates from the past 5 years have a 100% job placement rate. According to the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), the demand for school psychologists in Maine and throughout the US continues to increase.

  • Graduates with a master’s degree typically work as school psychologists in K-12 public or private schools.
  • Graduates with a doctoral degree pursue diverse careers in K-12 public and private schools, residential clinics and hospitals, higher education, juvenile justice programs, and private practice.      

Beyond the Classroom: Practicum and Internship

Students in both degree programs complete 600 practicum hours and 1500 internship hours. Our faculty work individually with students to place them in field settings that align with their location, professional experience, and career goals. Our students gain experience in multiple settings over the course of their studies.

Learn more.

Expert Faculty

Our faculty are experienced clinicians who hold professional credentials in both school psychology and applied behavior analysis (ABA). Several are also licensed psychologists. As practitioners in the field, our faculty have extensive experience providing school psychology and behavior-analytic services to school-aged children.

Our core faculty members are frequently published; they co-authored the 2019 Guilford Press publication Conducting School-Based Functional Behavioral Assessments.

A Supportive and Collaborative Culture

Each student works individually with a faculty advisor who assists with developing an individualized plan of study and provides one-on-one mentorship throughout the dissertation process. Faculty also facilitate practicum and internship field-placements that meet each student’s unique professional development needs.

A Broad Curriculum

With a focus on clinical practice, our curriculum reflects a philosophical commitment to evidence-based practice, collaborative problem-solving, data-based decision-making, and behavior analysis.

Coursework addresses broad content areas such as:

  • Academic, cognitive, and behavioral assessment
  • Academic, social-emotional, and behavioral intervention
  • Consultation and family-school-community collaboration
  • Progress monitoring and applied research
  • School-wide practices to promote learning, mental health, and safety
  • Diversity in development and learning
  • Ethical and legal standards in education and psychology

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

In addition to a focus on behavior analysis in our curriculum, our students have the option to take additional courses, which can lead to credentialing in behavior analysis.

  • Master’s Program: Our master’s students can qualify to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) Examination® by completing 2-3 additional USM courses and completing qualifying supervised practice outside of the program.
  • Doctoral Program: Students may enter the PsyD program with either a bachelor’s or a master’s degree. There is an option to earn a Master’s in Educational Psychology with a concentration in Applied Behavior Analysis during your studies. Students who earn this “master’s along the way” and complete qualifying supervised practice outside of the program are eligible to apply to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) Examination®.

Our Program Philosophy

The School Psychology program endorses four primary practice models and philosophical approaches:             

  1. Evidence-based practice. This is the organizing theme that permeates the training program and defines a best practices approach to service delivery. Within this model, school psychologists utilize assessment methods and interventions that are empirically-based. This means that school psychologists (a) rely exclusively on assessment methods that have been demonstrated to be reliable, valid, and accurate, and (b) endorse and apply only those interventions that have been subjected to scientific analysis and have yielded socially meaningful outcomes.     
                                                                                                                             
  2. Problem solving. School psychologists utilize a collaborative problem-solving approach as the basis for all professional activities. The problem-solving framework is applied to a continuum of services that include assessment, intervention (e.g., consultation, counseling, social skills training, positive behavioral supports), and program evaluation.

  3. Data-based decision making. School psychologists utilize reliable and valid assessment data to (a) determine students’ eligibility for services, (b) design student and systems-level interventions, and (c) monitor students’ progress and evaluate program outcomes. Emphasis is placed on the use of criterion-referenced, curriculum-based, and behavioral assessments to address the academic, social, emotional, and behavioral needs of referred students.

  4. Applied behavior analysis. School psychologists conduct functional assessments to inform the design of individually-tailored, behavior-analytic interventions that promote meaningful improvements in students’ academic, social, emotional, and behavioral functioning. School psychologists collaborate with families and school-based teams to design, implement, and evaluate the effectiveness of these interventions.

School of Education and Human Development

The Department of Educational and School Psychology offers the Educational Psychology and School Psychology programs within the School of Education and Human Development.

The School is part of a rich history dating back to the University’s original predecessor institution, the Gorham Normal School, established by the state of Maine in 1878. Today, the School of Education and Human Development has a mission of preparing educators and human development professionals for responsible service that is as relevant to society today as it was more than a century ago.