The doctoral program in school psychology includes a five-year course of study with a year-long internship. Time to degree completion varies (see program outcome data). Typical time to completion without a master’s degree is 6 to 7 years. Applicants who have earned bachelor’s, master’s, and specialist levels are considered for the program. The first two years of the PhD program roughly parallel the specialist program. Students without an advanced degree also typically earn a MS degree after the first year of the program. The doctoral program also yields school psychology certification and is designed to qualify graduates for licensure as a psychologist.
Program Philosophy and Social Justice Statement
The program is designed to prepare professional psychologists with educational expertise who can function in a variety of diverse, educationally-related settings. The program’s training model and philosophy espouse commitments to (a) diversity and social justice, (b) evidence-based practice, and (c) school-based practice. These views foster the conception of the school psychologist as broadly capable of conducting research and practicing effectively with clients, in addition to considering the ecological complexity in which the child exists. The assessment of children and adolescents as well as planning for interventions necessitates this broader conceptualization of childhood problems. The program integrates social justice perspectives throughout its training sequence and focuses on evidence-based practices in working with school-aged youth. The program emphasizes a balance between psychological and educational theory as well as applied practice.
To prepare effective practitioners to work with children, families, schools, and other systems, the faculty has organized doctoral training around three main aims.
- To train socially just school psychologists who a) work to ensure the protection of the educational rights, opportunities, and well-being of all children, especially those from marginalized groups, b) promote non-discriminatory practices, empower families and communities, and enact social justice through culturally-responsive professional practice and advocacy to create schools, communities, and systems that ensure equity and fairness for all children and youth.
- To develop practitioners who are grounded in a.) an evidence-based approach to practice with a foundational knowledge of efficacious treatments and practices for children and families from all backgrounds and b.) an ability to implement evidence-based practices through an ecological and scientist-practitioner approach, whether as scholars or practitioners in the field.
- To equip students to become researchers who a.) are able to critically discern methodological strengths and weaknesses of the empirical literature and thus become effective consumers of scientific literature and b.) contribute to the empirical literature base of psychology and education as scholars in the field of school psychology.
These aims guide nine competencies described below and are evaluated by a number of student skills or outcomes. These competencies are measured regularly via multiple methods, including but not limited to: annual feedback throughout student’s doctoral training, master’s exam, program of studies, Praxis exam, preliminary exam, practicum evaluations, research portfolio, qualifying exam, dissertation proposal, and the dissertation defense. These evaluative components assure that students are meeting competency benchmarks expected of them at their various stages of training; inform student advisement, provide on-going feedback, and extend the faculty-student relationship that will help the student make progress and succeed in the program; and provide data for the faculty as to whether the training students receive in the doctoral program is effective in achieving these competencies and to use this information as formative feedback for program monitoring and continual improvement.
The PhD program handbook provides a complete description of doctoral program aims and competencies, as well as student evaluation measures. Program documents and forms are linked on the right of this page.
Our training model, pictured graphically here, consists of three Aims that inform our nine Competencies of training. These competencies are interrelated and fully grounded in: (a) a commitment to social justice, (b) understanding that various systems affect children’s functioning (e.g., home; school; community), and (c) an advocacy role for psychologists working on behalf of children. For more information on what each competency entails, select the respective competency below.
Student Performance and Feedback
The program handbook describes the formal feedback, sequence, competency benchmarks, and timeline for completion for doctoral students’ successful completion of the school psychology PhD program. The handbook also provides the written policies and procedures of the program and institution. Students receive, at least annually, written feedback on the extent to which they are meeting the program’s requirements and performance expectations via multiple modes of assessment.
The Doctor of Philosophy program in School Psychology is fully accredited by the American Psychological Association (202-336-5979, 750 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242; accredited since February 18, 1986) with decision effective April 27, 2020–the next accreditation review will occur in 2029. The program is fully approved by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) with the next accreditation report due in 2027.
Questions related to the program’s accredited status should be directed to the Commission on Accreditation:
Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation
American Psychological Association
750 1st Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002
Phone: (202) 336-5979 / E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
For specific questions about the Program, please contact:
Alicia Fedewa, PhD, NCSP
Associate Professor and School Psychology Program Chair
170H Taylor Education Building
University of Kentucky
Lexington, Kentucky 40506-0017
Phone: (859) 257-9338