Master’s in School Psychology – Everything You Need to Know in 2024


A Master’s degree in School Psychology is a specialized program designed to train professionals who work within the educational system to support students’ psychological and academic well-being. This degree program combines elements of psychology and education to equip graduates with the skills and knowledge necessary to address the diverse needs of students, including those with learning disabilities, behavioral issues, or emotional challenges.

During the course of their studies, students in a Master’s program in School Psychology typically learn about various psychological theories, assessment methods, and intervention strategies that are relevant to the educational context. They gain expertise in conducting psychoeducational assessments to identify students’ strengths and challenges, and they learn to develop and implement appropriate interventions and support plans. Additionally, students often receive training in counseling techniques to provide individual and group counseling to students who may be experiencing emotional or social difficulties.

The goal of a Master’s degree in School Psychology is to prepare professionals who can contribute to creating a positive and inclusive learning environment, facilitate students’ academic progress, and promote their overall mental health and well-being.

Learn more about all master’s degrees in psychology.

Why get a master’s in school psychology?

Obtaining a Master’s degree in School Psychology is an excellent choice for individuals passionate about helping students succeed academically and emotionally. This advanced degree provides a solid foundation in both psychology and education, equipping professionals with the knowledge and skills necessary to address the diverse needs of students in a school setting. With specialized training in assessment, intervention, and counseling, school psychologists are uniquely positioned to support students with learning disabilities, behavioral challenges, and social-emotional issues. By pursuing a Master’s degree in School Psychology, individuals gain the expertise to make a positive impact on students’ lives, foster inclusive learning environments, and collaborate with educators and families to promote students’ overall well-being and academic success.
Dr. Rebecca Branstetter, a school psychologist, founder of the Thriving School Psychologist Collective and author

Diverse Career Opportunities

A Master’s degree in School Psychology opens up a range of career opportunities within the educational system. School psychologists can work in public or private schools, colleges and universities, or even in government agencies. They can engage in direct student support, such as conducting assessments, providing counseling, and designing intervention plans. They can also contribute to program development, policy implementation, and research. The versatility of this degree allows professionals to make a difference in the lives of students in various capacities, catering to their unique skills and interests.

Growing Demand for School Psychologists

The demand for school psychologists is on the rise, presenting promising career prospects. According to the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), there is a significant shortage of qualified school psychologists across the United States. It is estimated that the ratio of students to school psychologists is about 1,381 to 1, well above the recommended ratio of 500 to 700 students per school psychologist. This shortage indicates a strong demand for trained professionals in the field. By pursuing a Master’s degree in School Psychology, students position themselves to fill this critical gap and contribute to meeting the growing need for mental health support in schools.

Positive Impact on Student Outcomes

Research consistently demonstrates the positive impact school psychologists have on student outcomes. A meta-analysis published in the Journal of School Psychology examined 79 studies and found that the presence of school psychologists was associated with improved academic achievement, reduced behavioral problems, and increased social-emotional functioning among students. By obtaining a Master’s degree in School Psychology, students gain the knowledge and skills to effectively assess and address students’ needs, ultimately contributing to better educational outcomes.

Entry requirements for a master’s in school psychology

  • Bachelor’s Degree: Applicants are generally required to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. While the specific field of study may not be restricted, having a background in psychology, education, or a related field can be advantageous.
  • Minimum GPA: Most programs have a minimum undergraduate grade point average (GPA) requirement for admission. The required minimum GPA can vary but is typically around 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. However, competitive programs may have higher GPA expectations.
  • Prerequisite Coursework: Some programs may require applicants to have completed specific prerequisite courses in psychology, education, or related areas. Common prerequisites include introductory psychology, developmental psychology, statistics, and research methods.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Applicants are usually asked to submit letters of recommendation from individuals who can speak to their academic abilities, character, and potential for success in a graduate program. These letters are typically requested from professors, academic advisors, or professionals who can provide insight into the applicant’s qualifications.
  • Statement of Purpose: Applicants are often required to submit a statement of purpose or personal statement that outlines their reasons for pursuing a Master’s degree, their relevant experiences, and their future career goals.

What’s covered in a master’s in school psychology?

Imparting a comprehensive understanding of both psychology and education, a Master’s degree in School Psychology equips students with the knowledge and skills necessary to address the diverse needs of students in the educational setting. The curriculum typically covers various topics, including psychological assessment, behavioral interventions, counseling techniques, and ethical considerations. Students also gain practical experience through supervised fieldwork and internships, allowing them to apply theoretical knowledge in real-world settings. Graduates emerge well-prepared to conduct psychoeducational assessments, design and implement evidence-based interventions, collaborate with educators and families, and promote the overall well-being and academic success of students.
Dr. Elizabeth D. McCall, Licensed Psychologist and Professor of School Psychology at Duquesne University

A Master’s degree in School Psychology combines psychology and education to train professionals who support students’ psychological well-being, academic progress, and overall success within the educational system.

Here is an overview of the topics typically covered:

  1. Psychological Foundations: the fundamental principles of psychology, including theories of human development, cognitive processes, social and emotional development, and individual differences.
  2. Assessment and Evaluation: Students learn various assessment techniques and tools used in school psychology, including standardized tests, behavioral observations, and interviews. They develop skills in conducting comprehensive psychoeducational assessments to identify students’ strengths, weaknesses, and specific needs. Topics may include intellectual assessment, academic achievement assessment, and social-emotional assessment.
  3. Intervention and Prevention Strategies: This aspect focuses on evidence-based intervention techniques and strategies to support students’ academic, behavioral, and social-emotional needs. Students learn to design and implement individualized intervention plans, develop positive behavior support strategies, and promote inclusive practices within the school environment.
  4. Counseling and Consultation: This area covers the foundational principles and techniques of counseling and consultation. Students learn counseling skills to provide individual and group counseling to students facing academic, emotional, or behavioral challenges. They also gain knowledge in consultative approaches to collaborate effectively with teachers, parents, and other professionals to support students’ needs.
  5. Ethics and Professional Practice: This topic explores the ethical guidelines and standards of practice in school psychology. Students learn about legal and ethical considerations when working with students, families, and other stakeholders. They also examine issues of cultural competence, diversity, and advocacy to ensure ethical and equitable practices within educational settings.
  6. Research and Data Analysis: This component familiarizes students with research methodologies and data analysis techniques relevant to school psychology. They learn to critically analyze research literature, design and conduct research studies, and use data to inform decision-making and program evaluation.
  7. Fieldwork and Practicum: Many Master’s programs include supervised fieldwork experiences and practicum placements in schools or other educational settings. These practical experiences allow students to apply their knowledge and skills in real-world contexts, under the guidance of experienced professionals.

Here is a sample curriculum:


First Year

  1. Introduction to School Psychology
  2. Child and Adolescent Development
  3. Psychological Assessment
  4. Behavioral Interventions
  5. Learning Disabilities and Special Education

Second Year

  1. Counseling and Consultation
  2. Multicultural Perspectives in School Psychology
  3. Research Methods and Data Analysis
  4. School-Based Interventions for Academic Success
  5. Social-Emotional Assessment and Interventions

Both Years

  1. Consultation and Collaboration in Schools
  2. Professional Ethics and Legal Issues
  3. Practicum (ongoing throughout both years)
  4. Internship (typically in the second year)

How much does a master’s degree in school psychology cost?

The average cost of a master’s degree in school psychology in the US is around $30,000 to $60,000. The cost can vary depending on the school, the program, and the location. For example, a master’s degree in school psychology at a public university in California will typically cost less than a master’s degree in school psychology at a private university in New York City.

Here are some of the factors that can affect the cost of a master’s degree in school psychology:

  • School: The cost of a master’s degree in school psychology can vary depending on the school. Public schools are typically less expensive than private schools.
  • Program: The cost of a master’s degree in school psychology can also vary depending on the program. Some programs are more specialized than others, and these programs may be more expensive.
  • Location: The cost of a master’s degree in school psychology can also vary depending on the location. Schools in urban areas are typically more expensive than schools in rural areas.

In addition to tuition, there are other costs associated with earning a master’s degree in school psychology. These costs may include:

  • Books: The cost of textbooks can vary depending on the program.
  • Supplies: The cost of supplies, such as lab fees and materials, can also vary depending on the program.
  • Transportation: The cost of transportation to and from school can be a significant expense, especially if you live far from campus.
  • Living expenses: The cost of living, such as housing, food, and transportation, can also be a significant expense.

What to look for in a master’s degree

Accreditation Status

It is crucial for students to choose a program that is accredited by a recognized accrediting body. Accreditation ensures that the program meets specific quality standards and adheres to rigorous educational guidelines. According to data from the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), approximately 86% of employers prefer or require applicants from NASP-accredited programs. This statistic highlights the importance of selecting an accredited program to enhance career prospects and professional credibility. Accreditation also ensures that the program provides comprehensive and up-to-date training in the field.

Internship and Practicum Opportunities

Practical training experiences through internships and practicum placements are essential components of a School Psychology program. Students should consider the program’s reputation for providing robust and diverse opportunities for hands-on experience in real-world settings. According to a survey conducted by the NASP, 89% of school psychologists identified practical experience through internships and field placements as the most valuable aspect of their training. Programs with strong partnerships with local schools and agencies, offering a variety of placement options, can enhance students’ skill development and networking opportunities.

Job Placement and Licensure Exam Pass Rates

Assessing the program’s track record of job placement and licensure exam pass rates is vital in evaluating its effectiveness in preparing students for their careers. It is helpful to inquire about the program’s job placement rate within a specified time frame after graduation. Additionally, examining the program’s licensure exam pass rates provides insights into the preparedness of its graduates. While pass rates can vary, it is advisable to choose a program with a strong track record of high pass rates on licensure exams, such as the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). This data can indicate the program’s effectiveness in adequately preparing students for professional practice.

What jobs can you do with a master’s degree in school psychology?

  1. School Psychologist
  2. Counselor
  3. Social worker
  4. Professor
  5. Research Assistant
  6. Behavior Specialist/Interventionist
  7. Program Coordinator/Developer

How much can you earn with a master’s degree in school psychology?

The earning potential for individuals with a Master’s degree in School Psychology can vary depending on factors such as experience, geographic location, work setting, and job responsibilities. Here are some general salary figures for common jobs to provide an overview of the earning potential:

  1. School Psychologist: $60,000
  2. Counselor: $47,000
  3. Social worker: $47,000
  4. Professor: $80,370
  5. Behavior Specialist/Interventionist: $58,000