About the Program
The School Psychology area focuses on psychological and educational principles that influence the adjustment of individuals from birth to 21 years.
The program leads to a PhD or EdS in Educational Psychology and prepares professional psychologists to use the knowledge of the behavioral sciences in ways that enhance the learning and adjustment of children, their families, and their teachers. The graduate program strongly emphasizes the preparation of psychologists for academic and scholarly careers, along with a sound and comprehensive focus on the practice of psychology in the schools and related applied settings.
View our faculty directory here.
Special Note: new applicants to the School Psychology program, must also fill out a questionnaire found here.
- Academic Residency and Length of Program
- Goals & Objectives
- Course Work
- Clinical Training
- Professional Training Model
- Focus on Diversity
- History & Reputation
The School Psychology Doctoral Program is accredited by the American Psychological Association Commission on Accreditation, with the most recent re-accreditation in August 2020. 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, D.C. 20002
The School Psychology Doctoral Program is also approved by the National Association of School Psychologists.
National Association of School Psychologists
4340 East West Highway, Suite 4022
Bethesda, MD 20814
Phone: (301) 657-0270
To provide sufficient opportunities and time for faculty, training staff, supervisors, and administrators to execute their professional, ethical, and potentially legal obligations to promote student development, socialization and peer interaction, as well as faculty role modeling and the development and assessment of student competencies, the doctoral program is designed to consist of a minimum of four full-time academic training years (i.e., course work and applied experiences) or the equivalent thereof, as well as completion of a 12-month (2000 hour) pre-doctoral internship.
For students who transfer from another university or from another academic unit on the UW–Madison campus, at least two full-time academic years or the equivalent thereof must be completed within the UW–Madison School Psychology Doctoral Program. Additionally, the completion of a 12-month (2000 hour) pre-doctoral internship is required.
Academic residency provides students with mentoring and supervision regarding their development and socialization into the profession, as well as continuous monitoring and assessment of student development through live face-to-face, in-person interaction with faculty and students. These obligations cannot be met in programs that are substantially or completely online. Consequently, at least one of the four academic years (not including internship) must be in full-time residence within the UW–Madison School Psychology Doctoral Program and on the UW–Madison campus.
The School Psychology Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison embraces a scientist-scholar-practitioner model of graduate education. Faculty embrace evidence-based practices (e.g., diagnosis, assessment, intervention, consultation, evaluation), and they have allegiance to a broad-based behavioral orientation in research and practice including, for example, applied behavior analysis, cognitive-behavior therapy, social-learning theory, and ecological-behavioral-systems theory. The program emphasizes a problem-solving approach to service delivery including direct intervention and consultation at the individual, family, and system levels. The graduate program strongly emphasizes the preparation of psychologists for academic and scholarly careers, along with a sound and comprehensive focus on the practice of psychology in the schools and related applied settings.
The primary aim of the Program is to develop health-service psychologists whose activities support the educational and psychological well-being of children and youth. To accomplish this, the Program has three specific aims:
- To prepare health service psychologists who are competent in the foundations of individual and cultural diversity; professional behaviors, interpersonal skills, communication, and reflective practice; and ethical, legal, and professional standards.
- To prepare health service psychologists who are competent in assessment, evidence-based prevention and intervention, indirect service delivery and collaboration, and supervision.
- To prepare health service psychologists who are competent in the science of psychology, including research, measurement, and evaluation; the basic content areas in scientific psychology; and scientific psychology in schools and schooling.
The training curriculum of the School Psychology Program reflects a specific set of project objectives (referred to as competencies) that are subsumed under the following 10 domains of knowledge and skills, which reflect the program’s goals:
- Individual and Cultural Diversity: Effectiveness in health service psychology requires that trainees develop the ability to conduct all professional activities with sensitivity to human diversity, including the ability to deliver high quality services to an increasingly diverse population.
- Research, Measurement, and Evaluation: Science serves as the foundation of health service psychology. Consequently, health service psychologists should integrate science and practice, which requires knowledge, skills, and competence sufficient to produce new knowledge, critically evaluate and use existing knowledge to solve problems, and to disseminate research.
- Ethical and Legal Standards: being knowledgeable of and acting in accordance with codes of conduct, ethical standards and principles, and relevant laws, regulations, rules and policies governing health service psychology is essential.
- Professional Values, Communication, and Interpersonal Skills: Professional values, communication, and interpersonal skills are foundational to education, training, and practice in health service psychology.
- Assessment: Having the knowledge and skills concerning fundamentals of measurement and assessment, and the use of assessment tools in a non-biased, reliable, and valid manner are critical skills within health service psychology.
- Intervention: Having the knowledge and skills concerning the theories and tactics used to guide the design and implementation of effective interventions for children, adolescents, and families are essential for professionals within health service psychology.
- Indirect Service Delivery and Collaboration: Indirect service delivery (e.g., consultation) and collaboration are integral to the activities of health service psychology.
- Supervision: Supervision is grounded in science and integral to the activities of health service psychology.
- Scientific Psychology in Schools and Schooling: Scientific psychology (i.e., discipline specific knowledge) serves as a cornerstone of identity as a psychologists and orientation to health service psychology. Individuals practicing within health service psychology must be knowledgeable in the history and systems of psychology, basic knowledge in scientific psychology, integrative knowledge in scientific psychology, and methods of inquiry and research.
- Schools and Schooling: Having knowledge of effective educational practices and the skills necessary to deliver psychological services in school settings are critical for those who practice school psychology as part of health service psychology.
The program embraces the view that a school psychologist is a scientist-scholar-practitioner who works in a variety of settings and assumes diverse roles as a doctoral-level professional. The integration of scientist, scholar, and practitioner roles provides a basis for graduates to assume leadership responsibilities in the field of school psychology.
Faculty embrace evidence-based practices (e.g., diagnosis, assessment, intervention, consultation, evaluation), and they have allegiance to a broad-based behavioral orientation in research and practice including, for example, applied behavior analysis, cognitive-behavior therapy, social-learning theory, and ecological-behavioral-systems theory.
The program emphasizes a problem-solving approach to service delivery including direct intervention and consultation at the individual, family, and system levels.
The graduate program strongly emphasizes the preparation of psychologists for academic and scholarly careers, along with a sound and comprehensive focus on the practice of psychology in the schools and related applied settings.
Because the program’s emphasis is on the application of psychology in education, students are required to demonstrate competence in the substantive content areas of psychological and educational theory and practice.
The School Psychology curriculum is structured to include course work in areas related to the practice of school psychology (assessment, intervention, consultation, evaluation, professional issues), as well as courses addressing broader content domains (basic and applied) in psychology and educational psychology.
Because the program’s emphasis is on the application of psychology in education, students are required to demonstrate competence in the substantive content areas of psychological and educational theory and practice.
Other related areas outside the department from which course work may be drawn include: clinical, counseling, and rehabilitative psychology, special education, curriculum and instruction, and educational administration. There is a strong emphasis on developing research competencies through course work (research design and methodology), participation in research projects, and completion of an empirical thesis and doctoral dissertation.
Finally, students receive supervised clinical training through the clinical practicum, field work, and internship sequence.
View the PhD Program Handbook 2020-2021
View the EdS Program Handbook 2020-2021
At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, graduate training in School Psychology integrates two complementary training components: academic instruction and supervised practicum experiences. Academic instruction consists of lecture, discussion and reading and is an effective means for teaching the issues, attitudes, knowledge, and writing skills necessary for the professional practice of school psychology. Practicum experiences are considered to be equally important, consisting of actual practice of skills closely related in time and content to ongoing academic instruction. Practicum experiences are an effective means of instruction in these clinical skills and serve to illustrate the issues, theories, and principles defined in academic instruction. It is the philosophy of the School Psychology Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that effective preparation demands both types of training. The sequence of practicum training in the program is illustrated in Figures 1 and 2.
Description of Practicum and Internship(s):
Year 1 (Beginning Practicum): Students complete a two-semester Beginning Practicum (1 cr/semester) that includes applied experiences and field-based observations that are linked to specific courses in School Psychology. Experiences have included administration of school-based benchmark assessment, small group academic intervention, psychoeducational counseling at the Dane County Juvenile Detention Center, and observation in the department training clinic.
Year 2 (Clinic Practicum): Students participate in a structured two-semester Clinic Practicum (3 cr./semester/ 300 hours) in which students work with school-age clients referred by parents, local school staff members, and other community sources. Clients present with emotional, behavioral, social, and academic challenges. Through the practicum, graduate students in school psychology are trained in procedures of psychoeducational assessment, consultation, intervention, and progress monitoring. Students are trained to conduct child and parent interviews; assess intellectual, social-emotional and academic functioning; and conduct observations in clinical and school settings. Student clinicians also obtain experience in the use of intervention techniques and procedures for a wide range of academic and social/emotional problems. Clinicians are expected to develop skills in counseling and consulting with parents, school personnel and other professionals concerned with the care, management, guidance and education of the child. Students are taught progress monitoring and outcome evaluation tools. Students are directly supervised during all client interactions and are given frequent and detailed feedback about their clinical skills by the Clinic Practicum Coordinator.
Year 3 (Field Practicum): Students complete a two-semester Field Practicum (6 cr/semester; 600 hours), two days a week in local elementary, middle, and/or high schools. The Field Practicum in school psychology is required as part of the third-year curriculum. In the Field Practicum students are assigned to schools in the community and receive supervision from practicing school psychologists on-site in their schools and weekly supervision from a doctoral-level licensed psychologist from the Program (Field Practicum Coordinator). Although close supervision continues to be necessary, it is possible for this supervision to be less direct as the student displays skill mastery. The Field Practicum allows students to adopt an authentic, professional role, to work in multi-disciplinary settings, and to work in school sites where referral problems are first identified and usually addressed.
Non-Required Practicum: Non-required practicum experiences may be arranged for students in their fourth year or earlier, including opportunities to supervise clinic and field casework. All practica are viewed as preparatory to the internship experience which completes the professional preparation as a school psychologist. Students in the School Psychology Program may have opportunities to gain supervised experience in activities related to the practice of school psychology, such as assessment, intervention, or consultation outside of courses and required practicum courses. These experiences may occur as part of the student’s employment on a training grant or through other funded or unfunded positions. These experiences may be a significant component of the student’s portfolio of professional competencies. Students must obtain program approval prior to including hours accrued in these experiences in their internship applications and other professional documents.
Summer Clinic Practicum: Students have the option of registering for the Summer Clinic Practicum any summer after the completion of the two semester sequence of 840-001 (Clinic Practicum). During the summer clinic practicum, students have the opportunity to engage in a wide range of psychological services in the SPTC and SAS clinic, with a particular focus on the design, delivery, and evaluation of group-based intervention. Students will have assistance from supervisors while planning client sessions and will have direct or video supervision during all client contacts. Students are required to attend a series of didactic training seminars, weekly group supervision (2 hours each week), and individual supervision sessions. This is a 1-credit 9-week course and students aim to complete 100 practicum hours over a two-month period.
Year 5: Students complete a full-time 12-month (or part-time 24-month) internship (2000 clock hours total).
The School Psychology program embraces a scientist-scholar-practitioner model of training. The primary mission of the program is to develop professionals whose activities increase the educational and psychological well-being of children and youth. The program prepares professional psychologists to use knowledge of the behavioral sciences in ways that enhance the learning and adjustment of children, families, and teachers.
The doctoral-level school psychologist is expected to have competencies underlying three interrelated roles – scientist, scholar, and practitioner. The program is dedicated to training graduates who are competent in each of these areas:
- Scientist: To understand and advance basic knowledge in School Psychology, students must have a firm foundation in scientific methodology. Students are educated to be highly skilled consumers of research, as well as researchers capable of examining relevant problems of both an applied and basic nature.
- Scholar: The scholar is able to draw from many different theories and knowledge bases and apply this information to the issues and problems with which he/she is presented.
- Practitioner: The practitioner is expected to demonstrate a high level of expertise in the professional practice of School Psychology. This expertise includes consulting with educators and parents, conducting comprehensive assessments, designing appropriate treatments, monitoring client progress, and evaluating treatment efficacy.
The mission of the program is to work actively toward inculcating issues of diversity in every aspect of its training program. The students and faculty in the program recognize an obligation to be aware of, sensitive to, and responsive to forms of diversity in professional activities. We work toward meeting this obligation by integrating and increasing attention given to diversity through several activities and mechanisms, including:
- Active recruitment of students and faculty with diverse backgrounds.
- Commitment to conducting research that generates new knowledge reflecting a diverse society.
- Integration of diversity issues into assessment and intervention courses.
- Encouragement and facilitation of students’ participation in practicum, field work, and/or internship experiences with diverse populations.
- Development of a School Psychology colloquium series that focuses on issues of diversity.
- Maintaining an active School Psychology Diversity Committee including faculty, staff, and student members.
- Participation by faculty and students in an ongoing diversity book group.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School Psychology Program supports the Nondiscrimination and Equal Opportunity Policy developed by the National Association of School Psychologists.
The School Psychology program has developed since 1940 when Samuel A. Kirk identified a need for a Wisconsin university to focus on training individuals in school psychological service delivery. In 1958, Wisconsin established licensing requirements for school psychologists and psychometrists, and the number of school psychologists in the state rose steadily from 1965 to 1978.
The following table summarizes key events in the program’s history:
|1939||UW-Madison Psychoeducational Clinic founded by T.L. Torgerson to provide services for children experiencing school-related problems.|
|1940-1949||Clinic developed as a training facility initially for school psychometrists, and later for school psychologists.|
|1950-1959||Several students received masters degrees with specializations in school psychology. In the late 1950s, two students identified as school psychologists received PhDs from UW-Madison.|
|1960-1969||Formal School Psychology Program was established in 1960, and P. Whiteman hired as Director. In 1965, the Department of Educational Psychology assumed administrative responsibility for the program, and additional faculty joined the program.|
|1970-1979||By 1970, the program included five faculty and approximately 50 graduate students. The program considered APA accreditation and underwent informal evaluation. In 1975, the program forged a partnership with Madison schools, which allowed for coordination and supervision of field work practicum.|
|1980-1989||Several new faculty joined the program in the early 1980s, including current faculty members Maribeth Gettinger (1980) and Thomas Kratochwill (1984). In 1986, the program received APA accreditation.|
|1990-2000||In 1990, Julia McGivern joined the program as a Clinical Professor. The program received approval from NASP (1992); awarded Alfred M. Wellner Award (1994); named best school psychology program in the nation by U.S. News and World Report (1995). In 1995, Psychoeducational Clinic was expanded and restructured as the Educational and Psychological Training Center. In 1996, Stephen Quintana joined the faculty.|
|2001-2005||Craig Albers joined the program as an Assistant Professor in Aug. 2004; Jennifer Asmus joined the program as an Associate Professor in Aug. 2005. In 2005, the program received APA accreditation.|
SCHOOL PSYCH LAUNCHES NEW EdS DEGREE PROGRAM
In Fall 2019, the department’s School Psychology program launched a new Educational Specialist (EdS) degree program.
For the Educational Specialist School Psychology degree, students complete the program in 3 years (which includes 2 years of coursework and a 1-year internship), as opposed to the 5 years required in the PhD program.
Graduates of the Educational Specialist (EdS) program will be prepared to work in schools and related educational settings as school psychologist practitioners and will be eligible for licensure as a school psychologist by the Wisconsin Dept. of Public Instruction. Employment prospects for school psychologist practitioners are accelerating. Of all psychologist specializations, job prospects for school psychologists are among the best.
For more information about the EdS program and program application instructions, click here.