Popular Accredited School Psychology Programs in California [2024 Guide]

School psychology, a growing field in California, is focused on helping students in K-12 schools with their learning, social, and emotional needs. School psychologists create positive learning environments, contributing significantly to children’s success and growth.

To become a school psychologist in California, you need to complete the required education and meet the state’s certification standards. After that, you can join the community of educators working in K-12 schools.

With the increasing need for skilled school counselors and psychologists, many colleges and universities in California provide comprehensive school psychology programs. These programs aim to prepare future school psychologists for fulfilling careers by offering them the necessary education and training.

School Psychology Graduate Programs in California

Listed below are some of the popular schools offering school psychology programs in California:

  • University of Southern California
  • Capella University
  • California State University, Long Beach
  • San Diego State University
  • University of California, Riverside
  • California State University, San Bernardino
  • University of California, Berkeley

University of Southern California

Online Master of Education in School Counseling

The University of Southern California (USC) has an online Master of Education in School Counseling program for individuals who want to be school counselors in K-12 schools. This program explores issues that schools face today and focuses on helping students with their social, emotional, and academic needs.

In USC’s online school counseling program, you will learn how to:

  • Give academic and guidance counseling to K-12 students
  • Help children in all aspects of their lives: social, emotional, and academic
  • Plan school counseling goals to meet students’ and the school’s needs
  • Make decisions and solve problems for putting plans into action and checking how well they work
  • Create ways to help students get ready for college

USC’s program is officially approved as a training program that prepares students for the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing’s School Counseling (PPS-SC) Credential. You need this credential to be a school counselor in California.

The courses in the master’s program are based on professional skills and standards from the American School Counselor Association’s National Model for School Counseling, as well as important research from different fields like counselor education, sociology, philosophy, education, and counseling and community psychology.

Besides taking courses, you will do fieldwork in K–12 schools close to where you live. This will let you use what you learn in real situations with children, families, and school staff.

You will also need to finish a 100-hour practicum and a 700-hour internship during the program. You will take courses such as:

  • Introduction to School Counseling
  • Theories in Counseling
  • Group Counseling
  • Career and College Readiness Counseling
  • Family Counseling
  • Legal & Ethical Issues in Counseling

Capella University

Online EdS – School Psychology

The Education Specialist (EdS) in School Psychology program offers training for students planning to get a state license or certification as a school psychologist.

When you complete both Capella’s MS in School Psychology and EdS in School Psychology, you will be prepared to work toward getting your license as a school psychologist in California. Capella University has accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

The program’s curriculum focuses on using data for decision-making, as well as considering diversity and social justice. This helps learners get ready to offer services in constantly changing and diverse communities.

The Education Specialist (EdS) in School Psychology program consists of 7 core courses, 2 residency courses, 1 practicum course and 3 internship courses.

During the program, you will take courses such as:

  • Organization and Operation of the School
  • Exceptional Children in the Classroom
  • Consultation and Collaboration in the School
  • Child and Adolescent Development for School Psychologists
  • School Psychology Practicum
  • Legal and Ethical Issues in the School

California State University, Long Beach

EdS – School Psychology

The EdS – School Psychology program at California State University (CSULB), Long Beach prepares students to work in PreK-12 schools, offering social-emotional, behavioral, and academic help to children and teens. The program takes 3 years to finish, with 2-3 years of full-time coursework (9-12 units per semester), 450 hours of practicum, and a 1200-hour internship.

After finishing the program successfully, graduates get an Educational Specialist degree (Ed.S.) and qualify for the California Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) credential in School Psychology from the Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

Program goals include:

  • Learning and using methods for decision-making, consultation, and teamwork in all parts of their work.
  • Giving services to students for academics and mental and behavioral health.
  • Offering services at the school level to encourage learning, safety, support, and cooperation between families, schools, and communities.
  • Understanding important ideas for giving services, like fairness, diversity, using evidence, ethical principles, and legal rules.

The program also covers current legal and ethical guidelines because school psychology is becoming more involved with legal issues. Students learn in a scientist-practitioner model, using evidence-based practices, legal rules, and ethical standards to make decisions about assessing, helping, and preventing problems for students with and without disabilities.

During the program, you will take courses such as:

  • Educational Statistics
  • Introduction to School Psychology
  • Counseling and Mental Health in School
  • School Crisis Response
  • Advanced Assessment for Intervention
  • Curriculum-Based Assessments and Academic Interventions

San Diego State University

EdS – School Psychology

San Diego State University offers a 4-year school psychology program that leads to an Education Specialist (Ed.S.) degree in School Psychology and the California PPS credential in school psychology.

This full-time program is designed as a 4-year course sequence. Students usually work part-time (up to 10-12 hours per week). Any changes to the 4-year plan must be discussed with an advisor and approved by the program director.

Degree learning goals include:

  • Using a holistic approach to understand and address problems involving students, schools, families, and systems.
  • Carrying out research and using data-driven decisions for assessment at school, classroom, and student/family levels.
  • Providing culturally sensitive, evidence-based support for academics, behavior, and mental health.
  • Working with others to promote equal educational opportunities for students in diverse schools.
  • Becoming leaders and advocates in schools, sharing knowledge of innovative psychological and educational services.

Supervised field experiences, which is a core part of the program, increase in scope and intensity over the 4 years. Students complete 3 years of practicum/fieldwork, gaining at least 900 hours of experience in schools before a 1200-hour internship funded by school districts.

These experiences allow students to observe and practice various school psychology roles and functions, typically across 2 school levels (e.g., elementary, middle, and high school).

During the internship, students provide a wide range of services under the supervision of a school psychologist, including assessment, consultation, counseling, and other direct and indirect interventions.

During the program, you will take courses such as:

  • Foundations in School Psychology
  • Counseling Interventions with Children and Adolescents
  • School Psychology Models and Practices for Family
  • Theory and Process of Consultation
  • School-Based Mental Health Interventions
  • Advanced Consultation in Diverse Schools

University of California, Riverside

School Psychology Ph.D. Program

UC Riverside offers a unique doctoral program in school psychology, accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). This prestigious program is the only one of its kind in Southern California. Students enjoy a challenging course of study in a lively and diverse region known as the Inland Empire.

The program trains students as scientist-practitioners, helping them to contribute to the field’s knowledge base and address issues affecting K-12 students’ learning, behavior, and thinking.

The school psychology program follows an eco-behavioral approach, emphasizing skill development using evidence-based practices derived from applied behavior analysis, cognitive-behavioral, and social learning theories.

Graduates will be well-equipped for careers as practitioners in public K-12 education or as faculty at higher education institutions. They earn a Ph.D. and a credential in school psychology from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. They can also become Nationally Certified School Psychologists and, after completing post-doctoral requirements, licensed psychologists.

Ph.D. program learning goals include:

  • Using data-driven decisions and problem-solving to deliver effective psychological services.
  • Promoting academic growth and social-emotional and behavioral well-being for all children and families.
  • Collaborating with multidisciplinary teams to address children’s and families’ needs using various consultation and communication methods.
  • Respecting and valuing diversity and working towards culturally sensitive practices in all professional activities.
  • Applying strong research knowledge within diverse school contexts.
  • Understanding and adhering to legal, ethical, and professional standards to enhance service quality and protect everyone’s rights.

Students in the program participate in four years of practicum placements before a fifth-year pre-doctoral internship. These practicum experiences take place in diverse settings, including elementary, middle, and high schools, with some students opting for advanced practicum placements in clinics or nonpublic schools.

California State University, San Bernardino

EdS – School Psychology

California State University, San Bernardino offers an Education Specialist (Ed.S.) in School Psychology, a 63-semester unit program designed for those seeking a career in the field of school psychology. The program includes two years of coursework covering various topics like consulting theories, evidence-based interventions, multicultural counseling, legal and ethical concerns, advanced child development, and cognitive assessment.

Students must also complete 450 hours of hands-on practicum experience. A 1,200-hour internship in a school setting takes place during the third year.

The Ed.S. program meets all the coursework requirements for the PPS credential and additional advanced courses that align with California state standards for school psychology specialization.

Students in the program take the Praxis exam for school psychologists, which is conducted by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). This exam measures their knowledge compared to other school psychology programs nationwide. Students can take the Praxis exam after advancing to candidacy, with a passing score being one-half standard deviation below the national mean of 147.

To graduate from the program, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Complete all courses with a minimum grade of 3.0 or better
  • Finish 44 units of coursework at this university
  • Complete a 1,200-hour supervised fieldwork/internship
  • Pass the Praxis exam, which serves as the comprehensive examination
  • Complete a graduation requirement check.
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