How Long Does it Take To Become a School Psychologist

How Long Does it Take To Become a School Psychologist

If you view yourself as someone who is passionate about helping students achieve their academic and personal goals, a career as a school psychologist may be a perfect fit for you. As an integral part of the educational system, school psychologists work with students, parents, and educators to address mental health and behavioral concerns that may affect a student’s ability to learn.

Though the specific requirements vary depending on the state, becoming a school psychologist typically requires several steps. Firstly, you’ll need to earn a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as psychology or education. Throughout your undergraduate studies, it’s important to focus on courses that address mental health, intervention methods, and behavioral theories.

After receiving your bachelor’s degree, you’ll need to pursue a higher level of education to become licensed as a school psychologist. Most states require candidates to possess a master’s or doctoral degree in school psychology. These programs typically take around two to five years to complete, depending on whether you choose to pursue a full-time or part-time course load.

In addition to the educational requirements, aspiring school psychologists must also complete an approved internship or fieldwork experience. During this time, you will gain hands-on experience in a school setting and apply the theories and methods learned during your academic coursework. This practical experience is a crucial component of the licensure and certification process.

After completing your education and fieldwork, you’ll need to submit your application for licensure or certification to the appropriate state board. This typically involves providing transcripts, proof of degrees, and any required test scores. Some states may also require candidates to pass a state-specific exam.

In summary, the process of becoming a school psychologist can take several years. However, the reward of serving as a licensed professional in the field of school psychology and making a positive impact on the lives of students can make it all worthwhile.

Education and Training Requirements

If you’re interested in becoming a school psychologist, it’s important to understand the education and training requirements that are involved in this process.

The first step in becoming a school psychologist is to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field. This degree provides a foundation in the field of psychology and prepares you for further education.

After completing your bachelor’s degree, the next step is to earn a master’s degree in school psychology. This graduate program typically takes two to three years to complete. During this time, you’ll receive specialized training in assessing and addressing the mental health and educational needs of students.

One popular program for aspiring school psychologists is offered by Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). SNHU’s online Master of Education in School Psychology program provides the coursework needed to become a licensed educational psychologist (LEP) in California.

In addition to coursework, many states require practica or internships as part of the training process. These hands-on learning experiences allow you to apply the theories and research you’ve learned in a real-world setting.

Each state has different licensing requirements for school psychologists, so it’s important to research the specific requirements in your state. For example, in New York, you’ll need to complete 60 hours of graduate-level coursework and 1,200 hours of supervised fieldwork to become a licensed psychologist.

Once you’ve completed your education and fieldwork, the next step is to pass the licensing exam. The exam is typically administered by the state’s licensing board and assesses your knowledge and skills in the field of school psychology.

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It’s also important to consider any additional certifications or specializations you may want to pursue in your career. For example, if you’re interested in working in a bilingual setting, you may consider obtaining a certification in bilingual school psychology.

The career outlook for school psychologists is projected to be strong, with a 14% growth rate expected nationally from 2018 to 2028, according to

If becoming a school psychologist is a goal of yours, it’s important to find the right program and training that fits your needs and goals. Make sure to research different colleges and universities and select a program that aligns with your interests and philosophy.

To find out the specific licensing requirements in your state, you can visit the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) website at This site provides a list of each state’s certification requirements and contact information for their licensing board.

Becoming a school psychologist is a rewarding and challenging career choice. By completing the necessary education and training requirements, as well as obtaining the required licensure, you can make a difference in the lives of students and contribute to their academic and mental health success.

Undergraduate Education

Undergraduate education is the first step on the path to becoming a school psychologist. While there are no specific undergraduate degrees required for this career, it is best to select a program that provides a strong foundation in psychology and education. These programs typically offer a variety of courses that cover topics such as child development, behavioral psychology, and educational psychology.

During your undergraduate studies, it is important to gain experiences that will enhance your understanding of the field. This could include volunteering or working with children in educational or mental health settings. Bilingual individuals may also want to consider taking courses or seeking work opportunities that focus on language and cultural competency.

When selecting an undergraduate program, it is important to research the licensing requirements of the state in which you plan to practice. Each state has its own policies and requirements for becoming a certified school psychologist, so it is important to ensure that the program you choose will meet these standards.

Some states, like Massachusetts, have specific educational and experience requirements that candidates must meet. For example, Massachusetts requires applicants to have completed a minimum of 60 graduate semester hours in a state-approved program.

In addition to completing the necessary coursework, it is also important to gain practical experience in the field. Most graduate programs require applicants to have completed a certain number of supervised practicum or internship hours. These experiences provide students with the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills in real-world settings, working with children and families.

While undergraduate education is an important step, it is not the end of the journey to becoming a school psychologist. Many graduates go on to pursue a master’s degree or doctorate in school psychology. These higher degrees provide additional training and skills to further enhance your abilities as a school psychologist.

To ensure that you are taking the right steps towards your goal, it is important to stay informed about the requirements, competencies, and certifications needed to become a school psychologist. The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) is a great resource for information on licensure, training programs, and professional development opportunities.

Furthermore, it is essential to maintain integrity and professionalism throughout your educational and pre-professional experiences. School psychologists play a vital role in the lives of children and their families, so it is important to have the necessary skills, knowledge, and ethical standards to provide the best possible support and assistance.

Graduate Education

Graduate education is an initial step towards becoming a school psychologist. To be eligible for graduate programs in school psychology, applicants typically need a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field. Some programs may also require specific prerequisites such as coursework in statistics, research methods, and child development.

Graduate programs in school psychology are usually full-time and take around 2-3 years to complete. These programs provide students with a comprehensive education in the mental health and educational needs of children, as well as the skills and intervention methods necessary to address these needs.

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Coursework and Training

During graduate education, students will typically take courses in psychoeducational assessment, counseling techniques, educational research, and behavioral analysis. They will also gain hands-on experience through supervised practica and internship placements in schools or other educational settings.

In some states, such as Massachusetts, a master’s degree in school psychology is sufficient for licensure as a school psychologist. However, many professionals in the field choose to pursue a doctoral degree for higher career goals or to become licensed psychologists.

Online Programs

Online graduate programs in school psychology are also available. Although these programs offer flexibility for students who may be working or have other commitments, they may have additional requirements, such as on-campus intensives or in-person internship experiences.

The career outlook for graduates of school psychology programs is projected to be strong, with a growing demand for professionals who can address the mental health and educational needs of children. The salaries for school psychologists can vary depending on factors such as location, education level, and years of experience.

Internship and Field Experience

Internship and field experience are crucial components of becoming a school psychologist. These opportunities provide pre-professional psychologists with the chance to apply their knowledge and skills in a real-world setting, while also receiving guidance and supervision from experienced professionals.

School psychology programs typically require a certain number of hours of intervention experience in schools or related settings. The exact requirements may differ between programs, so it’s important to research and understand what is needed for the specific program you are considering.

Some programs may also require an extension of internship or field experience for candidates who want to work with specific populations, such as bilingual or LEP (Limited English Proficiency) students. This additional experience helps to develop the necessary skills to address the unique needs of these populations.

During your internship or field experience, you will have the opportunity to work under the supervision of a licensed school psychologist or other qualified professional. This experience allows you to observe and participate in a variety of activities, such as conducting assessments, developing intervention plans, and providing counseling services.

Selecting an Internship

When selecting an internship, it is important to consider the specific goals and interests you have as a future school psychologist. Some students may prefer to work in a public school setting, while others may want to explore opportunities in private schools or other educational settings.

It is also important to consider the internship policies and requirements of the program you are enrolled in. Some programs may have specific criteria that must be met in order to qualify for internship opportunities.

Many school psychology programs have established partnerships with local schools or organizations, making it easier for students to identify and secure internship placements. It is recommended to reach out to the program to get more information about available internship options.

Applying for Internship

When applying for internships, you will typically need to submit an application that includes your transcripts, resume, and references. Some programs may also require a statement of purpose explaining your interest in the internship and how it aligns with your career goals.

It is important to submit your application on time and follow any specific instructions provided by the program. In some cases, you may also need to participate in interviews or background checks as part of the application process.

Remember that the requirements and processes for internships may vary depending on the program and the state or country where you are receiving your education. It is important to stay informed and address any questions or concerns you may have with your program advisor or the internship coordinator.

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Licensing and Certification

Obtaining the appropriate licensing and certification is a crucial step on the path to becoming a school psychologist. The requirements may vary depending on the state or country where you want to practice, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with the specific policies.

In the United States, for example, most states require school psychologists to hold at least a master’s degree in psychology or a related field. However, some states, such as Massachusetts, require a doctorate degree for licensure. It’s best to check with the licensing board in your state to determine the exact requirements.

In addition to fulfilling educational requirements, applicants for licensure typically need to complete supervised field experiences, such as a practicum or internship, to gain hands-on skills in a school setting. These experiences provide valuable opportunities to apply theoretical knowledge to real-life situations and develop practical skills in assessment, intervention, and consultation.

Once you have graduated from an accredited program and met the eligibility requirements, you can start the licensing process. This typically involves submitting an application to the licensing board, providing transcripts, and sometimes requesting letters of recommendation. Some states may also require passing scores on nationally recognized exams, such as the Praxis. It is helpful to consult the specific licensing requirements for the state you plan to practice in.

In addition to licensing, many school psychologists choose to pursue certification through professional organizations. The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) offers a nationally recognized certification, called the Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) credential. This certification may provide graduates with higher salaries and additional career opportunities. To earn the NCSP credential, applicants must meet certain requirements, including completion of a specialist-level or doctoral program in school psychology and passing a comprehensive exam.

Undergraduate studiesApproximately 4 years
Graduate program (master’s or doctorate)2 to 5+ years
Supervised field experiencesVaries
Licensing application processApproximately 3 to 6 months
Certification application processVaries

Online Psychology Programs

Online programs can be a flexible option for individuals who have other commitments, such as work or family, while pursuing their education. Many accredited universities, such as Capella University, offer online programs in school psychology that meet the necessary requirements for licensing and certification.

Bilingual and Culturally Responsive Practices

In today’s diverse educational settings, being bilingual or having knowledge of diverse cultures can be highly valuable. School psychologists who are proficient in multiple languages or have training in culturally responsive practices are better equipped to address the needs of students from different backgrounds. While not always required, these skills can greatly enhance a school psychologist’s ability to provide effective interventions and support.

Addressing Nondiscrimination and Equity in School Settings

School psychologists play a key role in promoting equity and addressing issues related to discrimination in schools. Having an understanding of social justice, anti-bias practices, and advocating for inclusive environments is essential for fostering positive change. Courses and training in these areas can help school psychologists develop the knowledge and skills needed to create safe and inclusive spaces for all students.


What is a school psychologist?

A school psychologist is a professional who works within a school setting to support the mental health and academic success of students. They assess and evaluate students’ psychological and educational needs, provide counseling and intervention services, and collaborate with teachers, parents, and administrators.

How long does it take to become a school psychologist?

The time it takes to become a school psychologist can vary depending on the educational path chosen. Typically, it requires a minimum of 6-7 years of education and training beyond high school. This includes completing a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree in school psychology, and a supervised internship or practicum experience.

What are the educational requirements to become a school psychologist?

To become a school psychologist, one needs to complete a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field, followed by a master’s degree in school psychology. Some states may also require a specialist-level degree (Ed.S.) or a doctoral degree (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) in school psychology. Additionally, students are typically required to complete a certain number of supervised practicum or internship hours.

Can I become a school psychologist with just a bachelor’s degree in psychology?

No, a bachelor’s degree in psychology is not sufficient to become a school psychologist. Most states require a minimum of a master’s degree in school psychology, along with additional supervised internship or practicum experience. Some states may also require a specialist-level or doctoral degree to meet certification or licensure requirements.

Dave Pennells

By Dave Pennells

Dave Pennells, MS, has contributed his expertise as a career consultant and training specialist across various fields for over 15 years. At City University of Seattle, he offers personal career counseling and conducts workshops focused on practical job search techniques, resume creation, and interview skills. With a Master of Science in Counseling, Pennells specializes in career consulting, conducting career assessments, guiding career transitions, and providing outplacement services. Her professional experience spans multiple sectors, including banking, retail, airlines, non-profit organizations, and the aerospace industry. Additionally, since 2001, he has been actively involved with the Career Development Association of Australia.