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Frequently Asked Questions


Why are three separate degrees offered in School Psychology?
The three following degrees are offered as options for both terminal degrees and advancement along the trajectory of the school psychology field. The progression along this trajectory is:



Master of Science in School Psychology

The Master of Science (MS) in School Psychology program at PCOM, which is taught by world-renowned faculty who are leaders in the field, provides a strong foundation in school psychology, with an applied behavior analysis emphasis.  The MS program is designed to develop professionals who possess the personal characteristics and academic competencies necessary to provide mental health, behavioral and educational services to children, adolescents and families.

The master of science degree is geared toward working professionals. The MS degree can be completed in 14 months and requires 33 credits beyond the bachelor's degree. While the program is full-time, it is conveniently structured for full-time professionals, with all classes meeting in the evening hours and occasionally on weekends.

Students follow an established sequence of required courses, which includes fieldwork through an approved practicum. Upon completion of the MS degree, students have fulfilled the required coursework to continue progress towards school psychology certification via the Educational Specialist (EdS) degree and/or have the required coursework to continue to accrue supervised experience towards Behavior Analysis Certification (BCBA). Students who would like to continue working toward becoming a certified school psychologist can apply to the Educational Specialist in School Psychology Program.

Learn more about the Master of Science program.      

Educational Specialist Degree in School Psychology

PCOM's NASP-approved Educational Specialist Degree in School Psychology (EdS) is an innovative, applied professional psychology program designed for students with a master's degree in school psychology or a related field (e.g., education, counseling, social work, etc.) who are seeking certification in the field of school psychology. In combination with the MS program, the EdS program prepares candidates for a career in School Psychology.   The EdS program offers a progressive curriculum designed to prepare practitioners in various aspects of school psychology including assessment, consultation, academic and behavioral intervention, counseling, and crisis intervention and prevention.  The program trains students from a cognitive-behavioral framework to conceptualize issues and to develop a coordinated system of service that promotes and integrates wellness and learning for all children.   Completion of this certification fulfills the requirements for certification as a school psychologist in Pennsylvania and other states and for eligibility to apply to the National Certified School Psychologists (NCSP) credential. For more information on the credential, visit www.nasponline.org.

Doctor of Psychology

PCOM's NASP-approved and Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB)-designated doctoral program in School Psychology is a state-of-the-art professional school psychology curriculum that is designed especially for working professionals.  It builds upon the advanced training and experience of the certified school psychologist in multiple ways, including skills in cognitive behavioral therapy and interventions, advanced assessment, health promotion, program development and evaluation services and research.

There is a special focus on the multi-cultural context of schools, families and other systems. Graduates will be prepared to service children in schools, hospitals or other mental health settings and to demonstrate leadership as a professional.

Learn more about the Doctor of Psychology program.

What is a school psychologist?
School psychologists use their training in both psychology and education to help children and youth succeed academically, socially and emotionally. They collaborate with educators, parents, the community and other professionals to create safe, healthy and supportive learning environments for all students.

For more information about the profession, visit the National Association of School Psychologists.

Where do school psychologists work?
The majority of school psychologists work in the public school setting. Others work in private schools, community agencies, charter schools, hospitals and clinics or universities. School psychologists generally work as practitioners, administrators and faculty/researchers.

What is the difference between a school psychologist and a school counselor?
Training as a school psychologist will provide broader options both within and outside of school settings. In addition to working in schools, school psychologists are often employed by other agencies such as community mental health centers, pediatric departments of hospitals, corrections facilities, etc.

Within school settings, opportunities for school psychologists continue to broaden as districts secure funding from a greater variety of sources including grants, prevention and early intervention projects, etc.

PCOM’s MS program provides the foundational knowledge to continue into the EdS program, which prepares the student to become a certified school psychologist.

What is the significance of National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) approval?
The MS/ EdS program in school psychology, completed in sequence at PCOM, are NASP approved. Approval by the NASP is significant because of its link to Nationally Certified School Psychologists (NCSP).

NASP program approval/national recognition is an important indicator of quality graduate education in school psychology, comprehensive content and extensive and properly-supervised field experiences and internships, as judged by trained national reviewers.

In addition, programs obtaining NASP approval allow for a streamlined process for program graduates to obtain the Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) credential. Thus, NASP approval/national recognition confers multiple advantages to programs, program graduates and the school psychology profession.

Learn more about NASP-Approved Programs on the NASP website. 

What are the prerequisite courses and/or qualifications required for acceptance into the EdS Degree Program?
The MS program in school psychology provides the content knowledge that is needed to meet state and national certification requirements. Specifically, it is expected that students entering the EdS program will have prior graduate-level coursework in the following areas: developmental psychology, personality theory, psychometrics, learning theory, physiological psychology, curriculum development, introductory counseling procedures, and educational law and professional ethics. It is possible to take some of these prerequisite courses simultaneously with the EdS program.

Do students have field experiences? If so, where?
During the second year of the EdS program, students complete a full-year practicum experience, usually in a public school setting. The practicum is done under the supervision of a certified school psychologist, and provides the student with opportunities to apply assessment, consultation, and intervention skills. Typically, the practicum activities require the equivalent of about 4-6 hours per week, which can be scheduled in a flexible manner during regular school hours.

Upon successful completion of all required courses and the EdS practicum, students are eligible for the internship in school psychology. The internship is a full-time, full-year field engagement, which provides supervised experience with all aspects of school psychology practice. Although it is possible to maintain day-time employment during the first two years of coursework and practicum for the EdS program, the internship does require availability during daytime school hours.

For more information on fieldwork experiences, please visit the Fieldwork Experiences page.     

Will PCOM assist me in identifying and securing either my practica and/or internship placements?
In most cases students will complete practia/internship experiences that are geographically convenient. Planning for the fieldwork experiences begin at least 10 months in advance of when the placement will begin. Faculty will assist and guide students in finding the appropriate placements. Students may also receive assistance from our Career Services Program run by the Office of Student Affairs.

How long does it take to complete the EdS program?
The EdS program in School Psychology is three years in duration (two years of coursework and a one year internship) and requires 45 credits beyond the master's degree.

What is the cost of the program?
The EdS in School Psychology program is a 45-credit program that costs $799 per credit for the 2012-2013 academic year. More information is available on the Bursar's Office website.

Can I attend the program part-time?
Typically, since we run on the cohort model.  We do not allow students to take “off track” sequence.

Is it possible to work full- or part-time during the program?
Yes, during the first two years of course work. Our programs are designed for working professionals with all classes meeting in the evening hours. Classes are generally held one - two nights per week. However, once students reach the third year it will not be possible to maintain daytime employment as the required internship experience must be completed during typical school hours. View the course sequence.

Who will teach my courses?
Courses in the EdS in School Psychology program are taught by both core faculty and adjunct faculty members. Each core faculty member has achieved a doctoral degree (i.e., EdD, PsyD, PhD) and most are certified school psychologists at some point throughout his or her professional career.

Furthermore, some core faculty members have completed additional certifications and post-doctoral work. Many core faculty members continue to work in school environments in a variety of capacities—for example, conducting neuropsychological assessments, functional behavior assessments and consultations—which keeps core faculty members apprised of current, up-to-date practices in student development and educational environments. Our accomplished adjunct faculty members are also directly engaged in school psychology services on a regular basis. Learn more about the school psychology program faculty.

What is the quality of the student/faculty relationship?
The EdS in School Psychology program typically consists of about 20 students per class year, which allows faculty mentors to provide individualized attention to their students. The majority of the program faculty are also working in the field and can provide excellent clinical examples in relation to coursework, as well as employment referrals. The Assessment course sequence and the practicum/internship seminars are taught with no more than a one-to-ten faculty-to-student ratio.

Many of our students enjoy collaborative relationships with faculty who actively participate in and contribute to the overall professional development of their students.

How many students are enrolled in the program?
Twenty (20) students are enrolled in the program each year and the program is based on the cohort model. In the cohort model, a group of students progresses through all classes and phases of the program together, which promotes cohesiveness among the group and provides the following benefits:

  • Mutual academic, emotional and logistical support for program success and timely completion;
  • Camaraderie and collaborative learning with experienced colleagues; and
  • Lasting personal ties and professional networks that aid in career development, ongoing professional growth and reform initiatives across schools, districts or college.

If I earn my MS degree at PCOM, would I automatically be accepted into the EdS program?
PCOM gives currently enrolled students or graduates of the PCOM MS program in School Psychology priority consideration. However, all candidates must submit an official application with corresponding documents in order to be considered for admission into the EdS program.   For more information on the admissions process, please visit the What Do I Need to Apply page.

Whom should I contact for more information?
For general program questions, please contact Tanya Ray, MS, coordinator for school psychology programs, at 215-871-6439 or tanyara@pcom.edu.

For admissions questions, please contact Kevin Zajac at 215-871-6700 or kevinzaj@pcom.edu.               

Last Updated: 11/3/14