*Students who undertake an internship through the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) complete 6 credits of SPSY 9885, while those who complete a non-APPIC internship must take 9 credits of SPSY 9885.
An internship with a minimum of 1,500 hours must be completed in an approved setting. A minimum of 600 hours must be in a school setting. The internship can be full-time for a year or half-time over two years. Students who undertake an internship through the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) complete 6 credits of SPSY 9885, while those who complete a non-APPIC internship must take 9 credits of SPSY 9885. The internship experience is evaluated for successful completion.
The doctoral dissertation is an original piece of scholarship that makes a significant contribution to the field of School Psychology. A majority of the dissertations in the program are empirical, typically using statistical analysis as the means of completing the data collection process. Other types of scholarship (e.g., those utilizing more qualitative approaches or those employing theoretical or philosophical analysis of educational issues) may be acceptable. A successful dissertation will be publishable in a refereed journal.
Students shall complete a combination of 6 credit hours of dissertation-related coursework (2 of which must be EDUC 9999).
Dissertation Coursework (6 credits)
General Track OR Optional Concentration
In order to complete the doctor of philosphy degree requirements and the requirements for PDE certification as a School Psychologist (PK-12), students must complete the 93-96 credits of post-baccalaureate required coursework as listed above. Students who are pursuing board certification in Pennsylvania as a behavioral analysts (BCBA) should elect to complete the additional 12 credits of coursework in the optional concentration in Applied Behavior Analysis. Students who elect not to pursue BCBA board certification must follow the general track and complete an additional 6 credits of approved electives to complete the doctor of philosophy degree requirements.
Total Credit Hours Required for Degree Completion with General Track: 99-102 credits
Total Credit Hours Required For Degree Completion with Optional Concentration in Applied Behavior Analysis: 105-108 credits
During the internship year, students must submit a portfolio of professional work for review by the advisor.
The preliminary examination is an essay examination that covers key areas of Psychology and School Psychology to determine the student's competence and ability to explain key concepts. Four areas are covered:
- Scientific Psychology;
- Consultation and Intervention;
- Diagnosis and Remediation; and
- Role/Function and Ethical/Legal Considerations.
The preliminary examination is taken after completion of all academic subjects except for the internship. It is offered over two days, with each section of the examination requiring three hours. The exam is administered and proctored at a time determined by the College of Education and Human Development.
All School Psychology faculty participate in writing the exam by submitting questions and by evaluating the written exam. A passing grade in all four areas is required to pass the exam.
Proposal with Oral Defense:
The dissertation proposal demonstrates the student's knowledge of and ability to conduct the proposed research. Minimally, the proposal should contain the context and background surrounding a particular research problem; a survey and review of the literature to a sufficient degree to provide the reader with enough information to understand why the research is being conducted; a detailed methodological plan for investigating the problem; and a proposed timeline for completing the dissertation. The Doctoral Advisory Committee must approve the student's proposal, which is presented at a formal proposal defense.
Dissertation with Oral Defense:
The Doctoral Advisory Committee oversees all aspects of the student's dissertation from the proposal to the oral defense. It is composed of three members of the Graduate Faculty. A member of the School Psychology faculty typically chairs the committee. At least one faculty member from outside the program must be on the committee. The student chooses her/his committee in consultation with the selected chair. A student may petition for a change of chairperson or member of the Doctoral Advisory Committee. This petition must be approved by the Department Chair and by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Graduate Studies. Complete details about the dissertation process are available in the College of Education and Human Development Dissertation Handbook, which is available from the Dean's office.
The Dissertation Examining Committee evaluates the student's dissertation and oral defense. It is composed of the three members of the Doctoral Advisory Committee plus one additional faculty member, i.e., an outside examiner. One member may be assigned by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Graduate Studies. The Dissertation Examining Committee evaluates the dissertation and the student's ability to defend it. The committee votes to pass or fail the dissertation. The outcome of the defense is determined by majority vote.
Students who are preparing to defend their dissertation must confirm a date and time with the Dissertation Examining Committee. Notification of the date and time must then be submitted on the appropriate College form to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Graduate Studies no less than 3 weeks prior to the oral defense. The announcement of the oral defense is sent by the Associate Dean to the Graduate School no less than 10 days prior to the defense. A copy of the announcement is also sent to each member of the Dissertation Examining Committee and is posted on the bulletin board in the Office of Student Services of the College of Education and Human Development.
Clearances Required for Graduate Program
State and federal criminal background checks, a TB test and a child abuse clearance are required to be eligible to complete the program. Applicants must complete and upload documentation of clearances prior to the start of their program. See Required Clearances for Working in Pennsylvania Schools for more information.