can you do a phd in psychology

Last Updated on December 22, 2022

The School Psychology Program admits students to the EdS (Educational Specialist) and PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) on-campus graduate degree programs. The EdS and PhD degrees in school psychology prepare students for the direct school-based practice of school psychology and credentialing as school psychologists and, for PhD students, careers in academic and clinical settings as faculty members, researchers, and practitioners. The degree programs in school psychology focus on the provision of school psychology services that are based on a strong foundation of research and application related to learners and learning processes. The school psychology degree programs include an integrated and sequential program of study with comprehensive coursework and supervised field experiences. Students participate in courses and seminars in assessment and data collection; interventions and decision making, prevention and consultation, professional school psychology, sociocultural foundations, psychological foundations, human development, educational foundations, statistics and research, and other areas. Students are required to participate in extensive practicum, internship, and research experiences.

Program Training Model

The program adheres to a scientist practitioner model which assumes that the effective practice of school psychology is based on knowledge gained from established methods of scientific inquiry. Emphasis is on the preparation of competent practitioners who are also skilled and dedicated researchers who contribute to the knowledge base in school psychology. The program prepares students to integrate theory, research, and established methods of scientific inquiry into effective practice and to engage in research and evaluation activities that contribute to both the science and practice of psychology. The program strongly supports the belief that our science informs our practice and our practice informs our science, and emphasizes the need to provide training in the development and utilization of evidence-based practice.

The program seeks to support the development of scientist practitioners who are actively engaged in the promotion of social justice and equity for all students. Implicit in these aims is the recognition that existing systems result in unequal and disparate access to educational resources and psychological services. The program emphasizes the importance of school psychologists in bridging opportunity gaps and facilitating equal access so that all students can reach their potential.

Program Faculty

Dr. Daniel Cohen has extensive experience in addressing mental health within schools. He received his doctoral degree in school psychology from the University of Missouri and Masters of Public Health from Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Cohen completed his internship with the Boone County School Mental Health Coalition, an organization providing support, consultation, and services in mental health to local schools. Dr. Cohen was also the Director of Assessment for the coalition and was a postdoctoral fellow with the Missouri Prevention Center. His research examines the use of public health methods in schools to promote behavioral health and academic achievement. He also conducts research on the disparities in mental health and educational outcomes, school discipline, and access to services and resources. Additionally, Dr. Cohen studies screening, formative assessment, and the use of assessment technologies within a problem-solving model.

Dr. June Preast earned her doctoral degree in school psychology from the University of Missouri. She completed her masters and specialist work in school psychology at East Carolina University, where she also earned the Nationally Certified School Psychologist distinction. Prior to attending the University of Missouri, Dr. Preast practiced school psychology for two years in Eastern North Carolina. Dr. Preast focuses her research primarily on identifying and implementing systemic change to support the academic and behavioral needs of students. She uses a primary prevention, multi-tiered systems of support approach to educational decision-making and programming. As such, she has studied the attributes of effective teacher teams, the importance of using data to inform academic and behavioral intervention choices, and the impact of academic interventions to address behavioral issues.

Admission Requirements

Minimum criteria for admission are identified below. Additional criteria for exceptional circumstances are also described. Note that the information below only summarizes minimum. Not every applicant whose credentials meet the stated minimum standards is accepted for admission.

  • GPA requirement: The applicant must have an undergraduate grade point average, based on a 4.0 system, of at least 3.0 overall, 3.0 for the last 60 semester hours in a degree program, or 3.0 for a completed graduate degree program AND Entrance exam score requirement: The applicant must have a total score of at least 300 on the revised GRE General Test or a 1000 on the previous GRE general test, with the GRE taken within the past 5 years.

In addition to the above minimum quantitative criteria set by the Graduate School for admission, the School Psychology Program emphasizes the following criteria for additional admission components:

  • At least three references from undergraduate or graduate professors who support the applicant’s potential for academic success in a graduate program. The applicant may elect to obtain additional references from supervisors of employment experiences relevant to the program goals.
  • Goals noted in the applicant’s “Statement of Purpose” that are consistent with the program emphasis.
  • Experience and/or undergraduate or graduate education relevant to school psychology noted in the “Statement of Purpose” and a resume/vita.

Application Process

ALL components of the graduate application must be submitted to the UA Graduate School, the UA division that handles all graduate applications on campus. Applicants must use the online application ( available from the Graduate School. Do not send application materials directly to the School Psychology Program. Applicants should select “main campus” for the on-campus program. Applicants should select one of the following two school psychology degrees when submitting application materials to the on-campus program: EdS in Educational Psychology-School Psychology OR PhD in School Psychology. Applications, statements of purpose, resumes/vitas, and letters of reference must be submitted online on the Graduate School website. Applicants should request that their admission test scores be sent to the UA Graduate School, using the institution code of 1830 for UA. (The department/major field code is 3406 for School Psychology).

The deadline for completed applications is the December 15 before the fall semester in which the applicant plans to begin graduate study. Applicants to the program must correctly select their degree objective (EdS in Educational Psychology-School Psychology or PhD in School Psychology) on the application forms. We review applications by mid January. Following review of applications, the faculty will notify applicants of interest in the interview day occurring in mid to late February. EdS applicants may request to interview remotely using videoconferencing. It is highly recommended that applicants to the PhD program plan to come to the on-campus interview day. Applicants selected for admission will be notified around mid March.

(International applicants should note that earlier deadlines are required by the UA Graduate School. See for more information and specific requirements for international applicants).

Program Requirements

The on-campus EdS degree in Educational Psychology-School Psychology requires a minimum of 3 years of full-time study or the equivalent beyond the baccalaureate degree. Fall, spring, and summer semester enrollment is necessary to achieve these timelines. The on-campus PhD degree in School Psychology requires a minimum of 4 years of full-time graduate study, or the equivalent, beyond the baccalaureate degree. However, the PhD typically requires 5-6 years or the equivalent due to the extensive requirements for coursework, practicum, dissertation, and internship. Fall and spring semester (and, for some years, summer) enrollment is necessary to achieve these timelines.

A major part of a graduate program is successful participation in courses and field experiences taken for academic credit. Our EdS degree requires a total of 69 graduate credit hours, which include courses, practica, and internship. Our PhD degree typically requires a total of 120 or more graduate credit hours, which include courses, practica, internship, and dissertation. Finally, we require that PhD students receive their EdS degrees after 1200 hours of the doctoral internship (with at least 600 hours in a school setting). At this point, PhD students have surpassed our EdS requirements and the awarding of the EdS degree may allow them to obtain the NCSP and a state credential, while finishing the doctoral dissertation.

School psychology coursework, clinical experiences, internship, and other requirements are designed to address the domains of knowledge and expertise specified by the National Association of School Psychologists (2020), as well as the Alabama Department of Education. These domains are as follows:

  • Data-Based Decision Making and Accountability
  • Consultation and Collaboration
  • Interventions and Instructional Support to Develop Academic Skills
  • Interventions and Mental Health Services to Develop Social and Life Skills
  • School-Wide Practices to Promote Learning
  • Preventive and Responsive Services
  • Family–School Collaboration Services
  • Diversity in Development and Learning
  • Research and Program Evaluation
  • Legal, Ethical, and Professional Practice

All students must complete an internship at or near the end of formal training. Students must be approved by the program to begin planning for internship and before an internship placement begins. With program approval, internships may occur in qualified settings across the country. The EdS internship requires a minimum of 1200 clock hours and is completed on a full-time basis in one academic year (600+ clock hours over a continuous 15+ week period in each of a consecutive fall and spring semester).

The doctoral internship requires a minimum of 2000 clock hours and is completed on a full-time basis in one calendar year (600+ clock hours over a continuous 15+ week period in each of a consecutive fall, spring, and summer/fall semester). At least 600 internship hours must be in a school setting, although many of our PhD students complete all 2000+ hours of internship in a school setting.

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