Department of Psychology at Illinois State University
The Graduate Programs in School Psychology include a doctoral degree and specialist degree. Prospective students can read first-hand accounts from our current students and our school psychology alumni. For more information about visiting campus, including dates and times, contact Dr. Mark Swerdlik by e-mail or call (309) 438-5720.
A Career That Makes a Difference (2008 NASP PowerPoint presentation)
School psychologists are identified as one of the best 50 social services careers by U.S. News and World Report (2011). According to U.S. News:
In 2010, there were 154,300 school psychologists employed. But in the coming years, classrooms will swell and educate more students who have special needs, learning disabilities, and behavioral issues. Schools tending to their needs will increase demand for school psychologists. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) expects employment growth of nearly 22 percent in the occupation by 2020. Best Social Services Jobs
School psychology is the application of psychology to children's academic and social-emotional development. School psychologists draw from the knowledge bases of psychology, education, law, and professional school psychology.
School psychology is a general practice and health service provider specialty of professional psychology concerned with the science and practice of psychology with children, youth, families, and the educational process. The basic education and training prepares school psychologists to provide psychological assessment, intervention, prevention, health promotion, and program development and evaluation services with a special focus on the developmental processes of children and youth within the context of schools, families, and other systems.
School psychologists are prepared to intervene at the individual and system-level, and develop, implement, and evaluate preventive programs. School psychologists conduct assessments and intervene to promote positive learning environments where children and youth from diverse backgrounds have an equal access to effective educational and psychological services to promote development. School psychologists may counsel a child whose parents recently divorced, collaborate with a teacher to help a deaf child read, assess a child for learning disabilities, develop a drop-out prevention program, teach parents skills to work with their child more effectively, show a class of third graders how to solve problems without violence, or collaborate with other school personnel to design a special educational program for a child with autism.
Although most school psychologists work in elementary and secondary schools, many—especially those with doctoral degrees—are employed in universities, clinics, hospitals, mental health centers, state departments of education, or in independent practice. Many go on to administrative positions, such as special education administrator or coordinator of school psychological services, building principal, or director of community or hospital based mental health services.
The graduate programs in School Psychology have received both national and state accreditation and program approval, from the American Psychological Association (APA), National Council of Accreditation of Teacher Education, National Association of School Psychologists, and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).
Illinois State has one of the largest school psychology faculties in the nation with seven full-time school psychology faculty resulting in individualized attention due to a low student-faculty ratio. Students have access to psychology faculty with expertise in several subfields of psychology—developmental, clinical, counseling, cognitive and behavioral sciences, industrial/organizational, social and quantitative.
Graduating with a specialist or doctorate degree leads to automatic certification as a school psychologist from the ISBE, which allows the graduate to work as a school psychologist in Illinois public schools. The graduate is also eligible to sit for the exam leading to the credential of Nationally Certified School Psychologist. Graduating from an APA-accredited doctoral program allows our students, with appropriate post-doctoral experience, to sit for the exam leading to the state credential of Licensed Clinical Psychologists, which is the credential for an independent practice in psychology.