The School Psychology Program
Program Director: Dr. Jennifer Schroeder, LP, NCSP, LSSP
Specialist in School Psychology Student Handbook
Welcome to the School Psychology Program at Texas A&M - Commerce
The Department of Psychology and Special Education at Texas A&M University-Commerce offers a Specialist In School Psychology degree (SSP) as opposed to a traditional master's degree. The current specialist degree program is consistent with the requirements published by the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists for the Licensed Specialist in School Psychology (LSSP). Additionally, the program is approved by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).
Upon completion of the revised 67 hour degree program, graduates are eligible for licensure in the state of Texas as a LSSP and at the national level as a NCSP. The 67 hour degree program includes 6 hours of practicum and 6 hours of internship. The remaining 55 academic course hours are in the content areas of psychological foundations, research and statistics, educational foundations, assessment, intervention, and professional and legal issues. Students usually complete the specialist's program in 3-5 years (post-bachelor's) including internship requirements.
Currently, 38 students are enrolled in the program with approximately 7 new students admitted each semester. We meet the 12:1 student to faculty ratio recommended by National Association of School Psychologist. Departmental and Federal financial support is available to graduate students during their training. Financial Aid opportunities exist in the form of scholarships, fellowships, grants, and loans. (Link to Financial Aid)
A school psychology handbook is provided to students upon their admission into the program. The purpose of this handbook is to provide students with information that is relevant to the Texas A&M University-Commerce School Psychology Program. This handbook will likely be revised on a regular basis as changes occur in the program. Be sure to contact the School Psychology Program Coordinator (Jennifer.Schroeder@tamuc.edu) if you have any questions that are not addressed in the handbook.
Currently, applications are reviewed in early May and early December. Applicants are notified in writing of their status after the application review. Application to the degree program is a two step process. First, students should apply for admission to the Graduate School by completing the application form. On this form, you should indicate you are applying for a Specialist degree and the SSP program in School Psychology (SSP-SSP-School Psychology). Upon receiving your application, the Graduate School will send you information for completing your application (transcripts, GRE scores, recommendations, goal statement). After all your application materials have been received by the Graduate School, your application will be forwarded to the department for review by faculty. For students that have completed prior graduate coursework in psychology at another university, it is possible to transfer a maximum of 12 hours into the degree program, provided that they were taken within the time frame outlined by the Graduate School. Only courses that closely match a corresponding course in the curriculum of the School Psychology program will be considered for transfer credit.
The following information is required or recommended either by the Graduate School or the Department for consideration of admission:
1) Resume or vita
Although prior employment is not a requirement for application, attention will be given to successful employment experience, particularly in fields related to the degree program, such as general education, special education, and psychological services. Bilingualism, particularly in Spanish, and experience with linguistically and culturally diverse groups will be considered an asset.
2) Essay Questions
Each applicant is required to submit an answer to each of the
following essay questions. Please answer each question in 500 words or less.
- Please provide an autobiographical statement. (There is not a correct format for this question. Answer as if someone had asked you to tell them something about yourself. This is an opportunity for you to provide the program with some information about yourself.)
- Please describe your training and experience in working with diverse populations. Your discussion should describe the way in which diversity issues influence your interactions in the world.
- Please describe your research experience and interest.
- How do you envision the program meeting your training goals and interests.
- Describe your professional goals and aspirations for the future.
3) Transcripts, including undergraduate and graduate GPA and all completed coursework
Applicants are not required to have completed an undergraduate or graduate major in psychology, nor is any prerequisite graduate coursework required for admission. A cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or above is desirable, as is a cumulative graduate GPA of 3.5 or above.
4) GRE (verbal, quantitative)
There is no cut-off or minimum score. However, a Verbal score of 450 or above, and a Quantitative score of 450 or above is desirable. Scores must be sent directly to the Graduate School from ETS.
5) Letters of recommendation
Per Graduate School requirements, letters may be free-form or completed on standard forms supplied by the graduate school. Letters should be completed by individuals who know the employment capabilities of the applicant.
The Specialist's program in School Psychology trains individuals to become school-based practitioners. It is not required that these students acquire skills to conduct significant research investigations; although, a thesis option is available to those interested in research training. Individuals completing the program attain competencies making them eligible for careers in public or private school settings. The program results in both the degree and fulfillment of the requirement for Licensed Specialist in School Psychology (LSSP) in Texas, as well as eligibility for the NCSP credential awarded by NASP.
We provide various options for class attendance. Courses can be taken on our main campus in Commerce, Texas, Mesquite Metroplex Center in Mesquite, Texas, and online. We understand that many of you, because of work and/or family obligations; find it difficult to access courses that are offered during the day. The majority of our graduate courses are offered after 4 pm.
PSY 503. Abnormal Psychology and Developmental Psychopathology.
PSY 506. Professional School Psychology.
PSY 508. Theory and Techniques of Applied Psychology.
PSY 515. Neuromechanisms/Biological Bases of Behavior.
PSY 518. Thesis.
PSY 521. Research Design.
PSY 527. Social and Cultural Bases of Behavior.
PSY 535. Applied Behavior Analysis.
PSY 545. Developmental Psychology.
PSY 572. Psychological Assessment and Measurement.
PSY 573. Intellectual Assessment I.
PSY 575. Personality Assessment II.
PSY 605. Single Subject Design.
PSY 612. Psychological and Educational Statistics.
PSY 615. Psychological Principles of Consultation.
PSY 620. Human Learning and Cognition.
PSY 635. Advanced Behavioral Assessment and Intervention.
PSY 691. Clinic Practicum in Psychology.
PSY 790. Internship in School Psychology.
SPED 520. Introduction to Exceptional Children.
SPED 586. Inclusion: Strategies and Accommodations.
SPED 595. Research Literature and Techniques.
The School Psychology Program at Texas A&M-Commerce provides a pleasant learning community and supportive environment for education. Courses can be taken on our main campus in Commerce, Texas, the Mesquite Metroplex Center in Mesquite, Texas, and online. We understand that many of you, because of work and/or family obligations; find it difficult to access courses that are offered during the day. The majority of our graduate courses are offered after 4 pm.
School Psychology Resource Center
School psychology students have access to the School Psychology Resource Center. The resource center is housed in 215 and 217 Binnion Hall on the Commerce, TX campus. The center is technologically equipped (e.g., computers, software, printer, television, video camera, projector, and fax machine), contains a small resource library, serves as a meeting space, and a location for students to study and socialize.
School Psychology Research Team
All students are encouraged to join the school psychology research team and to pursue research interests of their own. The purpose of the research team is to allow students the opportunity to participate in research (i.e., idea formulation, methodological design, data collection, analysis, etc.), present studies and findings at local and national conferences, and co-author articles in peer-reviewed journals.
During the second year of coursework, students enroll in PSY691 - Practicum in Psychology. In accordance with the requirements for licensure as a Licensed Specialist in School Psychology by the State Board of Examiners of Psychologists in Texas (TSBEP) students are provided 320 clock hours of supervised experience, of which 160 occurs as a part of experiences within the Community Counseling and Psychology Clinic, the campus clinic, and 160 as a part of experiences within a local school district. Supervision of the student practitioners is conducted by an appropriately credentialed site supervisor and the school psychology practicum supervisor.
Upon successful completion of coursework, practicum experiences, and qualifying examinations, students may enroll in PSY790 - Internship in School Psychology. Students register for six (6) semester hours in two three-hour blocks. A total of 1200 hours of internship is required, and typically takes 2-3 semesters to complete. Internship placements vary by student needs and interests, but at least 600 internship hours must be done in a school setting. Throughout the internship experience, supervision is provided to students by both a university supervisor (administrative supervision) and a site-based supervisor (clinical supervisor with three years as an LSSP), both of who are LSSPs. Successful completion of the internship and all other requirements of the program enables a student to apply for graduation from the specialist's program.
Texas Association of School Psychologists
Students in School Psychology are strongly urged to join the Texas Association for School Psychologists (TASP) as a student member and become an active participant in the organization. TASP has a significant bearing on the role and function of school psychologists in Texas, job opportunities and professional development. Membership application forms and other relevant information about the profession of school psychology in Texas are located at TASP's website.
National Association of School Psychologists
The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) is a primary organization with which the student should become familiar. This organization is nationally representative of school psychology and professional interests. The NASP journal is the School Psychology Review. Student membership is available. Membership application forms and other relevant information about the profession of school psychology are located at NASP's website.
American Psychological Association
The American Psychological Association (APA) is a national organization representing all of the disciplines of psychology (e.g. clinical, school, counseling, etc.). Division 16 of APA represents School Psychology. The APA journal is the School Psychology Quarterly. Student affiliate membership is less expensive than professional membership and strongly recommended. Check out more information at their website.
I am a full time student in the School Psychology program here at Texas A&M-Commerce. I also work part-time on campus as a graduate assistant. It is a challenge at times to be a full-time student, work, live on my own and support myself through graduate school; yet, I know this is what I am meant to do and I love knowing that in just a couple years I will be out practicing in this exciting field!
I believe that this program is truly helping to shape me into the student and future professional I want to be. It may sound cliché but the faculty really believes in us as students and constantly pushes us to strive to be the best professionals in our field. Our program welcomes and encourages diversity in their students. I love knowing that we all bring something different to our ever-growing program. I transferred here as an undergrad from a much larger school, and the intimacy of our smaller classes and program made all the difference in shaping me into the student I've become. This is my second semester in the program and already I've had the chance to join a research group where we, as students, are given much of the responsibility of leading it in the direction we want it to go. Our school and students have made such a great community for me that I have really enjoyed living here in Commerce. It makes it really convenient for me because I've been able to take all of my classes here, except for one in Mesquite. Our department and program may be smaller but they really do a great job of trying to offer classes that are convenient to their students who live here and in the Metroplex. These are just a few of the reasons why I have no doubt that this school and program are the perfect fit for me!
I am currently a full time student, working full time also as a Family Advocate for a non-profit organization called the Child Care Group. So far my experience at TAMU-Commerce, where I attend most of my classes at a satellite location for convenience in Mesquite, has instilled in me a sense of confidence in my future in terms of being prepared to practice in my field and having a strong knowledge base. The program is also always looking for ways to improve to make the students more competitive and marketable to employers. Student's opinions are valued and have an influence in the program. Professors are all friendly and supportive beyond the specified classroom material in ways such as what you can do with your degree, how to navigate through the program successfully and they keep students informed of the programs direction.
I am a full-time student from Brazil in the first year of the School Psychology program. I am married but I have no kids yet. I live on campus because family housing is extremely affordable and practical as I only take classes at Commerce and work on campus. I work 20 hours a week as a graduate assistant in the Marketing and Management Department. Despite what many people say, Commerce is enough for me. I rarely need go to Greenville or Dallas for anything I want. The town is small but it has its charm. Studying or playing checkers at CowHill Coffee Shop at the Square sipping their fantastic hot chocolate is something everyone has to experience!
Deciding on staying in Commerce after graduating from Texas A&M - Commerce and joining the School Psychology program was not a big deal for me at all. I knew it was the right direction to take in my academic career. I knew most of the professors and I was certain of the good quality education I would be getting here. I also knew that the "small" school atmosphere would be essential to help me with doing research and attending conferences, and ultimately - getting published! If you are a hard worker, research is highly encouraged here and unlike what happens in bigger schools, faculty members are always welcome to help you individually throughout the process. Right now an exciting feature we have is the School Psychology Program Research Group. Professors and students in the group meet every Tuesday afternoons for on hour. The goal is to learn how to do research by DOING it! It is clear the department wants to prepare us to be the best professionals we can be.
The clinic where we work during our practicum is another very positive element in the program. There, when ready to start practicing what we have learned in class, we deal with clients from the community coming for "real" consultations. As such, we get a taste of how important it is to have a good theoretical foundation and how rewarding it is to get to help clients even before being out in the field.
TAMU-C is also appealing when it comes to opportunities to give back to the community. I am involved in four different projects sponsored by the school, two on a yearly basis, Relay for Life and the Big Event (when we help make the city of Commerce and the campus more beautiful), and two on a weekly schedule, as a volunteer feeder for the Cat Feral Program and a member of the Commerce Ultimate Buddy System, C.U.B.S., mentoring youth attending Commerce schools.
I am very happy to be attending Texas A&M - Commerce and to be part of their School Psychology program. I am comforted and reassured by the fact that this is a place where people know you by name and care for your individual success. Our institutional motto right now is "Passionate about learning? You belong here." Here at Texas A&M - Commerce I feel they practice what they say.
Opportunities After Graduation
The School Psychology Program at Texas A&M-Commerce graduates have high rates of job placement. One hundred percent of the school psychology graduates seeking employment are typically employed within six months of graduation or are accepted to pursue further education. Most of our graduates seek employment in school districts.
Employment of psychologists is expected to grow faster than average for all occupations through 2014, because of increased demand for psychological services in schools, hospitals, social service agencies, mental health centers, substance abuse treatment clinics, consulting firms, and private companies. Among the specialties in this field, school psychologists may enjoy the best job opportunities. Growing awareness of how students' mental health and behavioral problems, such as bullying, affect learning is increasing demand for school psychologists to offer student counseling and mental health services (Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2007).
U.S. News & World Reports listed school psychology as one of the best careers of 2008. A school psychology career is appealing for a variety of reasons including satisfying work, flexible hours and good pay-with the average national salary listed around $78,000 for school psychology subfields, according to an article on CNNMoney.com. That figure coincides with the APA Research Office's most recent salary data for the average 2003 earnings of school psychology subfields (gradPSYCH, 2006).
More Student Testimonies
I was hired as the behavior consultant and LSSPi for Sulphur Springs ISD, in Sulphur Springs, Texas shortly after graduating with a master's degree in psychology from Texas A&M-Commerce. SSISD has a population of 4000 plus students ages 3 to 21, housed on eight different campuses. As I am the only person in this position, my duties include consulting with administrators, teachers, students, and parents concerning behavior issues; designing and implementing student interventions; assessment and re-evaluation of students for special education; counseling; and staff training. Additionally, I am a member of the Autism Assessment and Intervention Team, and work closely with our diagnosticians, speech therapists, and family services coordinator to provide various types of service to students and families in our district - including serving as a liaison between students and MHMR service providers, and community counseling service providers.
The School Psychology Program at TAMU-Commerce provided me with academic knowledge, as well as real-life experiences in both clinic and school settings, which enabled me to transition from student to working professional with little difficulty. Professionally, I have been treated with respect, and within a short time of being employed was called upon to give behavior presentations for Region 8 Parent Day, as well as for teacher in-service days - which is, in part, an indication of the degree of preparation provided by the program.
I have been witness to the hard-work and dedication of the faculty of the School Psychology Program, who wish to ensure that the program continues on its course to gain recognition through research and student training; and I am excited about changes that are currently underway in the program. I encourage you to make an appointment to visit with an advisor, I am sure that like me, you will find the program to be "user friendly," and faculty support to be exceptional.
What is a school psychologist? (NASP, 2003)
School psychologists help children and youth succeed academically, socially, and emotionally. They collaborate with educators, parents, and other professionals to create safe, healthy, and supportive learning environments for all students that strengthen connections between home and school.
School psychologists work with students individually and in groups. They also develop programs to train teachers and parents regarding effective teaching and learning strategies, effective techniques to manage behavior at home and in the classroom, working with students with disabilities or with special talents, abuse of drugs and other substances, and preventing and managing crises. In addition, most school psychologists provide the following services.
- Collaborate with teachers, parents, and administrators to find effective solutions to learning and behavior problems.
- Help others understand child development and how it affects learning and behavior.
- Strengthen working relationships between teachers, parents, and service providers in the community.
- Evaluate eligibility for special services.
- Assess academic skills and aptitude for learning.
- Determine social-emotional development and mental health status.
- Evaluate learning environments.
- Provide psychological counseling to help resolve interpersonal or family problems that interfere with school performance.
- Work directly with children and their families to help resolve problems in adjustment and learning.
- Provide training in social skills and anger management.
- Help families and schools manage crises, such as death, illness, or community trauma.
- Design programs for children at risk of failing at school.
- Promote tolerance, understanding, and appreciation of diversity within the school community.
- Develop programs to make schools safer and more effective learning environments.
- Collaborate with school staff and community agencies to provide services directed at improving psychological and physical health.
- Develop partnerships with parents and teachers to promote healthy school environments.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of academic and behavior management programs.
- Identify and implement programs and strategies to improve schools.
- Use evidence-based research to develop and/or recommend effective interventions.