We offer two programs in school psychology:
- M.S. in school psychology with a Certificate of Advanced Studies Certificate (M.S. /CAS). In this three-year program, there are two years of coursework and one year of internship completed without a thesis. The M.S./CAS program is approved by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), allowing graduates to practice in schools anywhere in the United States.
- Ph.D. in school psychology. This program, accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) since 1987, aims to develop school psychologists trained as Health Service Provider Psychologists who work in a variety of settings including public schools, community mental health centers, private practice, psychological research centers and academia. They are trained in domain-specific knowledge and competencies in accordance with the APA.
Both programs provide training using the scientist-practitioner model. The scientist component is met through an integration of practice, theory and research in course content, readings, field experiences and research requirements for Ph.D. students and case studies for M.S./CAS students. The practitioner component is met through supervised field experience in assessment, intervention and consultation involving students, parents, teachers, school administrators and other professionals.
The NC State Ph.D. school psychology program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the American Psychological Association. Questions related to the program’s accredited status should be directed to:
Watch APA President Frank Worrell’s Q&A with faculty and students at NC State University.
School Psychology Social Justice Task Force
The School Psychology Social Justice Task Force aims to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion for all students within the School Psychology program by providing an environment conducive to the wellbeing and belongingness of students of diverse backgrounds.
The Task Force and the NC State School Psychology program aim is to facilitate the following goals for the benefit of our program’s social and academic climate for current and future students.
Goal 1: Increase diversity in the field of school psychology for adequate representation of individuals from historically underrepresented and minoritized groups.
Goal 2: Promote program faculty members’ and students’ cultural humility, awareness of implicit bias, and ability to engage in culturally responsive and socially just practices.
Goal 3: Through coursework and practica, promote equitable educational experiences and outcomes for birth to higher education students from historically underrepresented and minoritized groups, including empowerment of families and communities.
Goal 4: Use our knowledge and skills to actively promote anti-racist policies and practices in our immediate and broader community.
The School Psychology Social Justice Task Force regularly engages in the collection of data to monitor progress toward stated goals. Through the action of the School Psychology Social Justice Task Force and through all our collective action, the program will provide a welcoming, equitable, and inclusive space for all students as we all work towards achieving these goals.
Selecting a graduate program that leads to a career in school psychology is a difficult task. Many prospective graduate students are interested in helping public school children and adolescents achieve academic and social-emotional learning goals within public school settings. The master’s program with a certificate of advanced studies (M.S./CAS) provides the training necessary to accomplish these goals.
Other graduate students are interested in becoming private practice school psychologists, community mental health service providers, academics and/or researchers. Earning a Ph.D. is the way to position oneself for these occupations.
Our programs provide important aspects in your training that should be considered: (a) a small program with close working relationships with your adviser and other students, (b) specific clinic experiences with three licensed psychologists and an associate, (c) extensive clinical training experiences, and (d) a faculty with an extensive breadth of expertise.
Close Working Relationships with Faculty
With approximately 20 PhD students and about 10 master’s CAS students and 4 faculty members and 3 clinicians, graduate students receive considerable individual attention in all facets of their training. Faculty work closely with students to assure they develop the professional skills they need to work as scientist-practitioners in schools and other settings (e.g., universities, hospitals, or specialized treatment facilities for children).
On-campus Training Clinic
An on-campus training clinic is associated with NC State’s School Psychology Program. Students’ initial training takes place in the Psychoeducational Clinic where they work side-by-side with clinicians under close supervision. As students become more confident and skilled, they take on more clinical responsibilities. When students have developed basic skills in assessment, working with parents, and designing and implementing interventions, they further develop their applied skills training in school-based and/or clinic settings.
Range of Practicum Experiences
There are five required practica for the PhD students and four for the MS/CAS students. The practica provide guided experiences that are sequenced in skill development. The first two take place in the Psychoeducational Clinic. Later practica require students to work in schools and for PhD students with families. Both PhD and MS/CAS students engage in activities such as assessment, intervention, and consultation with teachers and parents. All students begin a full-year practicum in the schools their second-year after completing clinic cases. MS/CAS students apply for their internship the following year.
Additional Opportunities for Applied Experiences
In addition to the applied experiences that students receive during their required practica, PhD students have several opportunities to extend their applied experiences. For example, many students take advantage of advanced practica experiences in settings such as Wake Medical Center, Duke University Medical Center clinics, the Treatment and Education of Autistic and Communication related handicapped Children (TEACCH) program, the Central Regional Psychiatric Hospital and other settings.
Faculty with a Breadth of Expertise
As a group, the NC State School Psychology faculty represent a broad range of research and practice areas. Interest areas include reading interventions, community engagement, effective school practices for supporting students in multi-tiered systems of support, the effects of discipline practices on students, social dynamics of elementary and middle school students, the impact of students’ classroom social dynamics on their social, behavioral, and academic functioning, support and advocacy for children in foster care, interventions to promote positive parenting practices and strengthen the parent/child relationship, protective factors for children’s social-emotional health, and advocacy for young children who have experienced maltreatment and homelessness.
All School Psychology faculty actively conduct research, giving students the opportunity to learn research by doing it. By being actively involved with research, students also regularly publish and present at conferences with faculty. Although each student who is admitted to doctoral study has a specific advisor, and he/she is expected to complete their thesis and dissertation with his/her advisor, all students are also welcome to work with other faculty, if they would like to broaden their research experiences.
Location of NC State
In addition to the benefits of living in a culturally rich and constantly growing metropolitan area that has excellent opportunities for enjoying the arts, dining, music, outdoor recreational activities, and other types of entertainment, there are also many professional advantages of living and working in Raleigh, NC. For example, as part of the research triangle, Raleigh provides students with opportunities to connect with the many education and research-related organizations in the area. Also, because Raleigh is the capital of NC, students can take advantage of observing legislative action in the areas of education and psychology. For students interested in knowing more about Raleigh and the surrounding area, the following links may serve as a starting point:
Research Labs and Facilities
Family Studies Lab
Find out more about the Family Studies Lab’s research and people.
Find out more about the Psychoeducational Clinic’s research and people.
Student Initiated Research Lab
Dr. Stage’s research laboratory was started through student-initiated research interests that included a wide range of topics pertinent to school-aged children and adolescents at-risk for exposure to excessive disciplinary practices, social alienation, segregated school education, unreliable or invalid assessment practices, and academic and/or behavioral interventions for students with disabilities.
What the students have studied:
- The effect of accommodations for students with disabilities on grades and state-mandated tests
- Racial disparities in exclusionary discipline and college readiness at the school level
- What determines the time spent in an alternative school for students with disabilities?
- The validity of office discipline referrals using Poisson-based data analysis
- The treatment mechanism of the Check, Connect & Expect school-wide behavior intervention
- Peers’ cognitive attributions and empathy towards students with an autistic spectrum disorder
- The construct validity of some typical measures of autism; or, “I know it, when I see it”
Social and Academic Well-Being and Family Alliance Lab
Dr. Norwalk is currently working on two primary areas of research. The first focuses on ways in which teachers can support their students’ social and academic well-being through knowledge of classroom social dynamics. This includes being knowledgeable about students’ social roles (e.g., bully, victim) and social status (e.g., rejected, isolated, popular), and understanding how to use this information to create a more inclusive classroom environment. The second area focuses on improving educational outcomes for children and youth in foster care, particularly those that have disabilities. This work has been supported by the Center for Family and Community Engagement at NC State, the NC Department of Social Services, and the Foster Family Alliance of NC.
The main facilities of the NC State School Psychology Program are located in Rooms 634 and 612 of Poe Hall. Poe 634 serves multiple functions for faculty and students associated with the program. It serves as a common classroom and location for core school psychology faculty meetings, and where graduate students meet for research meetings.
Poe 612 is where the Psychoeducational Clinic is housed and is composed of a waiting room for parents and clients, a front office for clinic teaching assistants who provide scheduling and intake services as well as clinical services. There is also a family therapy room with a large play space and a table to meet with families. There are two clinicians’ rooms for assessment and therapy and three offices where the licensed psychologists or associates provide services and supervision.
Is it possible for me to enter the Ph.D. program right after finishing my undergraduate?
Yes. We have two graduate programs in school psychology. One can enter the Ph.D. immediately after completing their undergraduate degree. The second program is a three-year master’s degree program, which leads to state licensure as a public school psychologist. Decisions about which program to apply to should be based on your desired goal.
May I pursue my degree on a part-time basis?
Our program is designed for full-time students. We do not admit part-time students and discourage enrolled students from working full-time.
Is financial aid available?
For M.S./CAS students, the primary source of financial support is the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority. For Ph.D. students, the Department of Psychology offers two teaching assistantships for school psychology students with the Graduate Student Support Plan (GSSP). For more advanced Ph.D. school psychology students, there are two Psychoeducational Clinic assistantships similar to the GSSP. Other positions for Ph.D. students are in the department’s advising office or the Dean’s Office.
May I enter the program at different times during the year?
No. Students are only admitted for matriculation in the fall of each academic year.
I have a graduate degree in psychology already, and I’m not sure I want to earn another one to enter the field of school psychology. Is it possible to just take the courses from your program that the state education agency requires for licensure and not enter your degree program?
No. The program does not offer a non-degree, certification/licensure-only training track or re-specialization for a different psychology specialization.
If I have a previous graduate degree, can I apply the credit hours to my degree?
Yes, in most cases. The Graduate School allows for 18 credits from a previous graduate degree to be applied toward a Ph.D. at NC State. The program director tries to recognize prior equivalent graduate coursework when warranted. In general, courses taken within the past eight years and passed with a grade of “B” or better are candidates for transfer or certain course requirements waived.
What is the student-to-faculty ratio?
The faculty has a close working relationship with students. Currently, there is a 5:1 ratio between students and faculty.
What research opportunities are available for students?
The School Psychology Program endorses the scientist-practitioner model. For M.S./CAS students, training and understanding of research is how one is trained as a scientist-practitioner. Research opportunities are available but not expected. All Ph.D. students are expected to develop research expertise while in the program by completing a minimum of 9 credits of statistics/research methods, working with their faculty research mentor, and completing a research-based thesis and dissertation. Students receive hands-on research training by working on research teams with their faculty research mentor to complete a variety of student- and faculty-led research projects. Many students author or co-author papers for presentation or publication as part of their work on faculty research teams.
How long will it take to complete my degree?
The Masters of Science/Certificate of Advanced Studies program requires three years to complete. The median for the PhD program is five years. For students who enter the PhD program with a MS/CAS in School Psychology, the difference in time to completion is, on average, not significant.
Are the school psychology programs accredited?
The PhD program has been accredited by the American Psychological Association since April 10, 1987, and by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) since 1989. The MC/CAS has been NASP-approved since 2022.
Can I be licensed as a school psychologist or psychologist with a degree from the NC State School Psychology Program?
Graduates from both the PhD and MS/CAS programs are eligible for licensure as School Psychologists by any public school in the United States. PhD graduates also meet all pre-doctoral requirements for licensure as a psychologist by the North Carolina Psychology Board, and in most states as an independent psychologist.
What do you mean “licensure as a school psychologist” and “licensure as a psychologist?” Is there a difference?
In North Carolina, one must be licensed by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction to be employed as a school psychologist in a public school district which requires an M.S./CAS degree. However, one must be licensed by the North Carolina Psychology Board to practice as a school psychologist in a private setting which requires a Ph.D.
What career opportunities exist for graduates of the North Carolina State University School Psychology Program?
Graduates from the M.S./CAS program are eligible to work in the public school setting in North Carolina. Graduates from the Ph.D. program are eligible to work in any appropriate setting for licensed Ph.D.-level psychologists such as universities, mental health agencies, hospitals, or private practices.
Before I apply, I really need to speak to a faculty member in person about the Program. Can this be arranged?
Yes, contact the director, Scott Stage by email and set up a time to talk or often he can answer your questions via email.
What information do you consider when I apply to your program?
We consider your grade point average (GPA), letters of recommendation, and the personal statement you submit with your application. In addition, the most important factor considered for potential admission to the PhD program is the match of your research interests and career goals with potential advisors in our program. The most important factor for admission to the MS/CAS program is your knowledge of, and commitment to, public schools.
When is the deadline for applications?
The deadline for receipt of applications and supporting material is Dec. 1. It is important that you start the application process sufficiently early to assure that all materials arrive on time. An incomplete application will not be considered, as we make our decisions and offers for admission as soon as possible. Please be sure that the people who write your letters of recommendation are aware of the deadline.
What happens after I submit my application?
The school psychology faculty review your application, and by the second week in January, invite about 20 applicants, who appear to be good candidates for admission, to visit campus and be interviewed as part of the final assessment. Usually, the week following your interview, the faculty make recommendations for admission, but many students are waitlisted and final decisions might not be settled until the end of April.
How competitive is your program?
In a typical year, the NC State School Psychology concentration receives 50-60 applications and invites 20 applicants for interviews. Usually, about three MS/CAS students and two to six PhD students are admitted and attend.
What happens if I have low test scores or GPA?
The School Psychology concentration does not consider GRE scores of any kind. We seriously consider applicants’ personal statements submitted with their applications, which can include your reasons for choosing School Psychology, any personal adversity or obstacles you have worked to overcome, and any other personal information that expresses your desire to contribute to the field of School Psychology.