Frequently Asked Questions

Below are frequently asked questions about the School Psychology program.

In this section we cover topics including:

About the Profession

School psychologists have specialized training in both psychology and education. They use their training and skills to team with educators, parents, and other mental health professionals to ensure that every child learns in a safe, healthy, and supportive environment. School psychologists understand school systems, effective teaching, and successful learning. Today's children face more challenges than ever before. School psychologists can provide solutions for tomorrow's problems through thoughtful and positive actions today. The graduate-level training of school psychologists emphasizes preparation in mental health, child development, school organization, learning, behavior, and motivation.

To work as a school psychologist, one must be certified and/or licensed by the state in which services are provided. School psychologists also may be nationally certified by the National School Psychology Certification Board (NSPCB). 

School psychologists tailor their services to the particular needs of each child and each situation. School psychologists use many different approaches, but most provide these core services:


  • give healthy and effective alternatives to teachers, parents, and administrators about problems in learning and behavior.
  • help others understand child development and how it affects learning and behavior.
  • strengthen working relationships between educators, parents, and community services.


Use a wide variety of techniques at an individual, group, and systems level to evaluate:

  • academic skills
  • learning aptitudes
  • personality and emotional development
  • social skills
  • learning environments and school climate
  • eligibility for special education


  • work face-to-face with children and families
  • help solve conflicts and problems in learning and adjustment
  • provide psychological counseling for children and families
  • provide social skills training, behavior management, and other strategies
  • help families and schools deal with crises, such as separation and loss


  • identify potential learning difficulties
  • design programs for children at risk of failure
  • provide parents and teachers with the skills to cope with disruptive behavior
  • help foster tolerance, understanding, and appreciation of diversity in the school community
  • develop school-wide initiatives to make schools safer and more effective


Develop programs on topics such as:

  • identify potential learning difficulties
  • design programs for children at risk of failure
  • provide parents and teachers with the skills to cope with disruptive behavior
  • help foster tolerance, understanding, and appreciation of diversity in the school community
  • develop school-wide initiatives to make schools safer and more effective

Research and Planning

  • evaluate the effectiveness of academic programs, behavior management systems, and other services
  • generate new knowledge about learning and behavior
  • contribute to planning and evaluating school-wide reform and restructuring

Health Care Provision

  • collaborate with school and community-based personnel to provide a comprehensive model of school-linked health services
  • work with children and families to provide integrated community services focusing on psychosocial wellness and health-related issues
  • developing partnerships with parents and teachers to create healthy school environments

The majority of school psychologists are employed in public and private school systems. However, school psychologists practice in a variety of settings including:

  • public and private schools
  • school-based health centers
  • clinics and hospitals
  • private practice
  • university, community and state agencies, and other institutions

Growing Up Isn’t Easy

All children and adolescents face problems from time to time. They may:

  • have fears about starting school
  • manage their time poorly
  • fall behind in school work
  • be upset about family events such as divorce and death
  • feel depressed
  • lack self-discipline
  • experiment with drugs or alcohol
  • think about suicide
  • lack study skills
  • worry about their sexuality
  • face a tough decision about college or work
  • consider dropping out of school
  • not be aware of their aptitudes and abilities

School psychologists are there to help parents, educators, and the community understand and solve these problems. School psychologists:

  • understand how schools work and how children learn
  • provide easily accessible, cost-effective mental health services to children
  • promote positive mental health and a safe and effective learning environment

Example Situations

The following example situations show you how school psychologists typically approach a problem so you will know what to expect.

A Slow Reader

Tommy's parents were concerned about his slow reading. They worried he might fall behind and lose confidence. At school the teacher noticed that Tommy understood the work when it was presented orally but he relied on classmates to help him do written work. The school psychologist worked with Tommy's parents and teachers to develop a plan to improve his reading and writing. The plan worked and Tommy's reading and confidence improved. By dealing with learning problems early on, school psychologists can help prevent further difficulties.

A Family Problem

The teacher noticed that Cara, an able student, stopped participating in class discussions and had trouble paying attention. The school psychologist was asked to explore why Cara's behavior had changed so much. After learning that her parents were getting a divorce, the school psychologist provided counseling for Cara and offered recommendations to her parents during this difficult period. Cara's behavior and self-esteem improved, and she felt more confident about her continuing relationship with her parents. School psychologists can be trusted to deal in confidence with sensitive personal and family matters.

A Potential Dropout

David was a high school sophomore who frequently skipped classes. He was disruptive in class and had been suspended several times for fighting. After building a relationship with David, the school psychologist helped him learn simple relaxation and anger control techniques. David's mother and teacher worked together on a plan developed by the school psychologist to provide consistent limits and open communication. Changes in school and home environments can improve the quality of life for children and family members.

Source: National Association of School Psychologists

Learn More About the Profession

Continue to explore and learn more about the school psychology profession on the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) website.

About the Program

The program takes 3 years to complete. The first year includes primarily classroom-based courses. The second year includes some classroom-based courses and practicum, which requires about 10 hours/week in a field placement. The final year is a full-time internship. Because of the field schedule, the program cannot be completed in less than 3 years, although students can choose to go part-time and finish in 4-6 years.

The program includes a combination of in person, hybrid, and online courses. In-person courses are offered starting at 4:15pm, lasting 3 to 4 hours. Students typically take three courses in the fall, winter, and spring terms, and four courses in the summer. A typical term might include one online course, one in person course, and one hybrid course, which meets in person and online. Thus, students are on campus about two evenings per week for the first two years of study. During their third year, students will be working full-time in a school district. Most School Psychology students complete their internships at schools in the greater Seattle area. Some of our current interns are working at districts such as Bellevue, Edmonds, Bainbridge, Renton, and Lakewood. Opportunities to intern at a school outside the state of Washington exist for interested students. 

Although students do take summer courses, there is a 6-week break between summer and fall quarters. There is also a 3-week break between fall and winter quarters. You can review the academic calendar here for more information.

No. Applicants from any academic or professional background are welcome. We do require that all applicants have at least one year of work experience, paid or volunteer, with kids ages preschool to early college. This builds a skill set that is crucial in the program, and also demonstrates a commitment and interest in working with kids.

We accept applications at any time; however, decisions are not made until after the deadline passes. Learn more on our How to Apply page.

See our list of courses in the Graduate Catalog. 

Program Requirements

If you already have a related master's degree, you are eligible to have up to 30 credits waived from the program. If you would like an estimate of how many credits may be waived for you, please contact one of the School Psychology faculty members and they will respond to you with an unofficial estimate of how many credits may be waived. The official review would occur following admission.

No, we do not require the GRE.

Cost information is updated each year and can be found here.

Get in Touch

If you have any questions about the program or application, we’re here to help!

Ashley Miller

Senior Admissions Counselor

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