Welcome to the School Psychology Program!
We are pleased that you are interested in learning more about this challenging professional experience. Students with whom you will be working mature, learn, and explore at different rates, seemingly in different directions during their P-12 experience. As a school psychologist engaged in working with young children, adolescents, and adults, you will make many discoveries about better ways to teach, to work with professional colleagues, and to help individuals learn. Our program draws educators from within the College of Education, faculty from the University community, professionals from the Bluegrass area, and advanced elementary education students. Our program faculty emphasizes a scientist-practitioner model wherein both students and faculty are dedicated to transferring research to practice. Our program newsletter highlights faculty and student research, practicum and internship placements, and other current news and spotlights of our program.
Two degree programs are offered in School Psychology: an Educational Specialist (EdS) program, approved by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) and a doctoral (PhD) program, accredited, on probation, by the American Psychological Association Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation (202-336-5979), 750 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242; accredited since February 18, 1986). Please note that accreditation status for the doctoral program is currently “Accredited, on probation” with decision effective December 16, 2012.
Overview and Philosophy
The programs are designed to prepare professional psychologists with educational expertise who can function in a variety of diverse educationally related settings. The “scientist practitioner” and “ecological systems”/”whole child” concepts guide the program. These views foster the conception of the school psychologist as broadly capable of conducting research and practicing effectively with clients, in addition to considering the ecological complex in which the child exists. The program faculty has a strong interest in the full service school model, which espouses a broad role for the school psychologist. The assessment of children and adolescents as well as planning for interventions necessitates this broader conceptualization of childhood problems. The programs emphasize a balance between psychological and educational theory and applied practice. Both programs also espouse a commitment to human welfare and service to others.
A Social Justice Approach to School Psychology
The school psychology program infuses a social justice perspective in our training by examining and challenging institutions that perpetuate educational inequalities on the basis of disability, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, religion, language, gender or gender expression. We believe every individual is deserving of respect and entitlement to resources, both within the school and within the community. Our program strives to optimize personal development and achievement across individuals from all backgrounds. We therefore have a commitment to psychological practices that contribute to child, family, and community well-being by advocating for individuals who may not have access to mainstream resources. With the integration of diversity and social justice throughout the program, our sequence of courses designed for the UK School Psychology Training Program provides a foundation of basic knowledge and skills in psychology and education, and a liberal component of individually designed coursework that facilitates the development of a broad range of scientific, interpersonal, and leadership competencies and perspectives.
The school psychology programs offer a breadth of classroom choices and a wealth of field experiences. The combination of these classroom and experiential activities result in graduates who are prepared for many of the professional challenges of a school psychologist. Students and faculty communicate by frequent classroom contact, advising sessions, and LISTSERVs. Sigma Psi, the student organization for students in school psychology, elects representatives to sit on the School Psychology Advisory Committee. Student representatives provide input to most programmatic policy decisions. Sigma Psi also plans social and professional activities for students and faculty.
Students in both degree programs take course work in general areas of psychology (learning, development, social bases), research and statistics, professional areas (assessment, consultation, intervention, counseling, legal and ethical issues), and education (special education, reading, cultural foundations). Specialist (EdS) students complete a project that can range from a review of the literature in a professional area to a formal research study. Doctoral (PhD) students complete an empirically based dissertation. Practicum courses are taken throughout the program. Students without prior field experiences typically take a yearlong practicum in the second year of their program that combines applied work in the program’s School Psychology Clinic and in the schools. Advanced practicum experiences are available in the School Psychology Clinic, schools, specialized educational settings, developmental disabilities settings, child/adolescent mental health settings, medical settings, and other agencies. At the completion of both programs, students complete yearlong (or equivalent) internships. Specialist students typically complete internships that are school-based, whereas doctoral students may combine school and agency internships. Doctoral students often complete their training in APA-approved internship settings. We take pride in our preparation for PRAXIS II testing, a standardized test that is recognized by the ESPB for teacher certification. Typically our students do very well on this measure of professional readiness. The program faculty continuously monitor how our program is relevant to the professional challenges so we can adjust our teaching and learning experiences to provide a dynamic preparation for our pre-professional, pre-certification, and pre-licensure students.
Career Opportunities for Program Graduates
Graduates of the programs are afforded a wide variety of opportunities. Specialist graduates are typically employed in public school positions, but opportunities also exist in educational cooperatives, specialized school settings, and agencies. Doctoral graduates have similar opportunities and also have opportunities for college and university teaching, research and program evaluation positions, and a broader array of positions in agencies providing mental health, health, and developmental services to children and adolescents. Placement in appropriate professional positions has been close to 100% in recent years. Our alumni work in P-12 schools, universities and agencies across the commonwealth and many of the 50 states.
Applying for a Degree in School Psychology
The school psychology program faculty admit highly-qualified individuals who will enrich the program’s commitment to a diverse student population. Students are selected on the basis of their compatibility with the overall goals of the school psychology program and to the profession. Our intention is to select students whose professional goals, interests, and expertise match the available resources within the school psychology program. Program completion rates are high. The program faculty are committed to offering a high quality program and makes every effort to facilitate student progress. For detailed information on how to apply, click our admissions link.
Students from minority and ethnically-diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply to the school psychology program. Because of the changing demographics of the United States, there is a dire need for persons from diverse backgrounds to select school psychology as a career. Moreover, a diverse environment provides an opportunity for everyone to develop an understanding of persons from differing backgrounds. Efforts are made annually to recruit students from ethnic and racial minority groups as the program benefits from diversity in the constituency of its students. A number of campus organizations aim to provide support and develop community. Special financial support is available for students from diverse backgrounds through the Graduate School and other offices on campus. The Graduate School offers non-service minority fellowships, which provide funds for partial tuition payment and a stipend. Also, the Office of Institutional Diversity administers a cultural center and offers specific cultural events during the year.