School Psychology Program Mission and Primary Aim

The mission of the University of Washington’s School Psychology Program is to prepare scientist-practitioners whose practice of psychology is grounded in scientific knowledge and focused on enhancing the socio-emotional and educational competence of school-age children.

The primary aim of the UW School Psychology Ph.D. program is to prepare health service psychologists who use culturally-responsive, evidence-based approaches to assessment, intervention, and consultation for effectively serving individuals from all cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds

What is a health service psychologist?

The role of a health service psychologist with a specialty in school psychology is to assess, consult, and provide prevention and direct intervention services that focus on learning, behavior and mental health problems. The graduate program in School Psychology at the University of Washington stresses the expanded role of the school psychologist beyond testing for special education and offers formal course work and practica in assessment, consultation and intervention/counseling. In addition, the program philosophy is grounded in the scientist practitioner model and offers a strong background in the scientific foundations for the practice of school psychology as well as training in applying current research knowledge and theory to educational services.

School Psychology Program Overview

The School Psychology Doctoral degree program (Ph.D.) is APA-accredited (1992-present)  and NASP-approved (1995-present) and meets requirements for state level licensure as a psychologist and  prepares graduates for college teaching, clinical, and research positions. The School Psychology PhD program is a “specialist inclusive” program.  This means that the three years of the specialist degree program are embedded into the 6 years of the PhD.  Thus, those who enter the program without Masters or Specialist degree’s in school psychology will follow the Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) program course sequence until the third year of the program.  During the third year,  PhD students may begin their doctoral course of study and simultaneously complete their Educational Specialist level internship. The PhD Program in school psychology at the University of Washington builds upon and extends the training offered in the 3-year sequence of the Educational Specialist certification program, which is the first three years of the doctoral program. For additional information on the Ed.S program, click here.

The School Psychology PhD Program is structured so students completing it will be at the forefront of the field as leaders in the field of research and practice within school psychology.  Our scientist-practitioner framework allows for two prominent areas of focus: the scientist/scholar (focusing on research, measurement, efficacy, statistical design) and the practitioner (focusing on implementing evidence-based assessment and interventions).  

The primary aim of the UW School Psychology Program is to prepare health service psychologists who use culturally-responsive, evidence-based approaches to assessment, intervention, and consultation for effectively serving individuals from all cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds.  In keeping with the primary aim, students are expected to achieve competencies as both practitioners and consumers of science or scientists.  Recent graduates apply their competencies in multicultural assessment, consultation, and intervention in school, mental health, hospital, and private practice settings.  In these settings, they continue to keep abreast of new developments in the scientific foundations for the practice of school psychology and apply this knowledge base to their field of expertise.  Others are employed in university settings as trainers of school psychologists and continue to generate new knowledge for the practice of psychology.

What does a doctoral level school psychologist do?

The Ph.D. program in School Psychology is designed to prepare school psychologists for leadership roles in:

  • school settings
  • graduate training programs in school psychology
  • teaching hospitals and other health agencies providing outpatient services for patients with school-related problems
  • research settings where investigations are conducted related to learning, development, and behavior of school-aged children.

Learn more about courses and program requirements»

Click here to learn about outcomes»

Altogether the program takes approximately six years to complete: three years for the Ed.S. degree, two years of Ph.D. coursework, and a predoctoral internship year. It is possible for a student to complete the PhD in five years if the student opts to begin their doctoral course of study while they complete the third year Specialist level internship.  Those who enter the program with a masters or specialist degree take a minimum of three years to finish their Ph.D. The Ph.D. requirements consist of:

  • Coursework in the history of psychology, individual and cultural differences, biological aspects of behavior, the cognitive/affective aspects of behavior, social aspects of behavior, statistical methods and research design, measurement/ psychometrics, psychopathology, advanced clinical interventions and supervision
  • Research and inquiry seminars and formal presentations
  • General examination in the area of specialization, two cognates (area of interest to the individual student), and an area of specialization outside education
  • Continuous conduct of research and scholarly inquiry, culminating in a dissertation
  • One year internship in a school, hospital, or mental health setting

Each student works under the close supervision of a committee chaired by a faculty advisor who is a Core or Associated Faculty member in School Psychology. A Core Faculty member serves on all committees chaired by an Associated Faculty member. Core Faculty teach professional preparation courses in assessment, consultation, and intervention for school psychologists. Associated Faculty teach courses in the scientific foundations of school psychology. Clinical faculty teach professional preparation courses and provide supervision to both EdS and PhD students in the program.  

Click here to learn about School Psychology Ph.D. Admission Requirements»

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