How to Become a School Psychologist in Massachusetts [2024 Certification Guide]

School Psychology in Massachusetts

Massachusetts offers many opportunities to build your career as a school psychologist. The state has multiple pathways to licensure that enables you to pursue a career whether you are just out of college, moving from another state, or have expanded your education and training to qualify for a higher level of licensure.

Importantly, the licenses you can get in Massachusetts allow you to work in a wide range of settings, which gives you an even larger pool of potential jobs to pursue.

Becoming a school psychologist is generally straightforward, yet it can be a little confusing with many detailed steps. Use this guide to learn exactly what you need to do to get the appropriate license in Massachusetts.

What are the Requirements to Become a School Psychologist in Massachusetts?

Below is a quick breakdown of requirements to become a licensed school psychologist in Massachusetts:

  • Obtain a master’s degree program in school psychology
  • Complete 1,200 hours of advanced practicum
  • Pass the MTEL Communication and Literacy Skills Test
  • Apply for an Initial License
  • Complete three of experience working as a school psychologist
  • Pass the Praxis II School Psychology Examination
  • Apply for a Professional License

There are three distinct pathways to becoming a school psychologist in Massachusetts: an Initial license, a Professional License, or a Provisional License. The differences between each and the specific steps required to obtain each type of license are outlined below.

Initial License in Massachusetts

An Initial License is generally sought by recent graduates of school psychology programs. This license requires that you complete a master’s degree program (or higher) in school psychology from a program approved by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).

Furthermore, the program from which you graduate must include 1,200 hours or more of advanced practicum experiences. At least 600 of these hours must be in direct contact with students in a school setting.

Qualification for an initial license is also contingent upon achieving a passing score on the MTEL Communication and Literacy Skills Test.

Professional License in Massachusetts

A Professional License is a more common pathway for experienced school psychologists. To qualify, you must already have an Initial License plus three (3) or more years of experience working as a school psychologist.

Additionally, you must either pass the Praxis II School Psychology Examination or have an active license. The active license can either be from the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) or from NASP as a school psychologist.

Provisional License in Massachusetts

In certain circumstances, a school district superintendent can petition the state for a waiver for a school psychologist candidate. Once the waiver is requested, the state’s Alternative Licensure Panel reviews the case and evaluates whether or not the candidate meets the required areas of competency for a Provisional License.

If approved, a provisional license is good for five years, during which time the candidate can complete an approved school psychology graduate program. At that point, the candidate can then apply for an Initial License

Continuing Education (CE) and License Renewal Requirements in Massachusetts

Massachusetts requires holders of a Professional License to have a formal professional development plan. If you work in a public school, your professional development plan must be aligned with the school’s educational improvement goals. Furthermore, the plan must be approved by a supervisor.

This plan must include 150 or more professional development points or PDPs. Of these, 90 or more must be in school psychology. PDPs must be earned in groups of 10 or more points per topic to count toward renewal. State-level continuing education and NASP-approved continuing education credits are both accepted toward licensure renewal.

Alternate Pathway as an Educational Psychologist

Massachusetts Initial and Professionals License allow you to work in public schools. If you want to opt for private practice, you will need to obtain a licensure for Educational Psychologist through the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Allied Mental Health and Human Service Professionals.

This pathway stipulates that you have a master’s degree or Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in school psychology.

Your credential must be from a licensed and accredited institution and consist of 60 or more credit hours (though you may still qualify if your program was less than 60 credits by completing additional graduate coursework).

A practicum or internship of 1,200 hours or more is also required. This field experience must be supervised and include direct contact time with students in an educational setting.

If you have not completed at least 1,200 hours of supervised practice, you must make arrangements to do so prior to applying for an educational psychologist license.

You must also possess a current certification as a school psychologist from the Department of Education (the one mentioned above). Certification of equal rigor from another state may also be considered. Two or more years of full-time or equivalent part-time experience working as a  school psychologist is also required.

Lastly, licensure as an educational psychologist requires you to complete a 60-hour Supervised Clinical Experience and pass the Praxis National School Psychology Examination, which is administrated by ETS..

What is the School Psychologist Scope of Practice in Massachusetts?

As a school psychologist in Massachusetts, you can provide relevant services to students in public schools, either as an employee of that school or on a contract basis. The scope of practice is limited to public school settings – you cannot engage in private practice with any type of school psychology license.

School psychologists in Massachusetts provide an array of services to students. This includes counseling, psychological testing and assessment, and skills training. For example, a school psychologist might work with developmentally delayed students to help them develop appropriate social skills.

Additionally, school psychologists provide services to classroom teachers and administrators in the form of expertise in child development, psychopathology, educational psychology, and more. This expertise might be offered as a tool for curriculum development, instructional design, or school improvement plans.

In some cases, you might work with parents and guardians in a school setting. For example, you might provide basic training to parents or guardians whose child is struggling academically. This training might focus on strategies that can be used to encourage the child to study and to help the child deal with stress and anxiety from school in an appropriate manner.

Massachusetts also allows school psychologists to be licensed as educational psychologists. You must first have two years of experience as a school psychologist in a public school setting. Once you fulfill that requirement and the requirements outlined in the “alternative pathway” section above, you can work in school settings and private practice.

How Long Does It Take to Become a School Psychologist in Massachusetts?

You must complete a bachelor’s degree program and a master’s degree program to become a school psychologist in Massachusetts. Typical undergraduate programs require four years of full-time study. A school psychology graduate program usually lasts about two to three years of full-time study. Provided you get these degrees back-to-back, you can become a school psychologist in about seven years.

If, however, you decide to continue your education and get a doctoral degree, the timeline for becoming a school psychologist is extended. Most doctoral programs in this field require five years of study after completing the bachelor’s degree. If you study full-time, you’ll need about nine years to complete your bachelor’s and doctorate degrees.

Do You Need a Doctorate to be a School Psychologist in Massachusetts?

No, a doctorate is not required. Massachusetts only requires school psychologists to complete a 60-credit (or more) master’s program in school psychology to qualify for an Initial License.

Are School Psychologists in High Demand in Massachusetts?

The projected job growth for school psychologists in Massachusetts in the coming decade is about average at six percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Some areas of Massachusetts might see an even greater need for school psychologists in the coming years. One such example is the Boston area, which has the largest public school system in the state. With so many pupils attending so many different schools in the city, it stands to reason that the district needs highly qualified school psychologists to provide services.

The highest concentration of school psychology jobs in Massachusetts isn’t in Boston, though. As the BLS notes, most jobs are available in the nonmetropolitan areas of the state. In fact, the less-populated areas of Massachusetts rank third in the nation regarding the highest concentration of jobs.

If you are set to graduate from a school psychology program and want to work in Massachusetts, your best bet for a career might be in the central and western portions of the state.

Copyright © 2024 All Rights Reserved. Program outcomes can vary according to each institution's curriculum and job opportunities are not guaranteed. This site is for informational purposes and is not a substitute for professional help.