Department of Psychology at Illinois State University

Philosophy and Training Model

The doctoral program in School Psychology at Illinois State is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) and approved by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), the Council for the ccreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)(formerly National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education), and the Illinois State Board of Education. Accreditation by APA and approval by NASP and CAEP provide recognition for graduate programs meeting national standards for the education of professional service providers in school psychology. Program accreditation and approval suggests high quality training, comprehensive curricula, and properly supervised field experiences. Our alumni are eligible to sit for the examinations leading to the credentials of Nationally Licensed School Psychologist, licensed school psychologist in Illinois, and (with the appropriate post-doctoral experience) licensed clinical psychologist in Illinois. Accreditation and approval also allow graduates of the doctoral program the ability to transfer credentials for employment in other states.

The values and principles that underlie the doctoral program include socializing doctoral-level trainees to the full time study of the science and practice of school psychology and preparing professional school psychologists to:

  • significantly improve the lives of children, adolescents, and their families;
  • be aware of and sensitive to the needs of children and families from diverse racial, ethnic, social-economic, and sexual orientation backgrounds;
  • provide the highest quality educational and mental health services for children and families while functioning as change agents in the systems in which they work;
  • integrate science and practice while providing evidence-based professional services and conducting clinically relevant research;
  • understand the legal and ethical responsibilities of their practice; and
  • be life-long learners while maintaining competencies as a professional psychologist.

Compared to the specialist program, the doctoral program provides more advanced training to address generalist competencies, albeit with greater emphasis on scientific inquiry. A minimum of 113 credit hours are required to receive a doctoral degree. Doctoral trainees are prepared to function effectively in a broader variety of settings as school psychologists, including schools, mental health centers, hospitals, colleges and universities, and independent practice.

Scientist-Practitioner Model

The doctoral program emphasizes the scientist-practitioner training model, in which the science of psychology is used as a framework for the practicing school psychologist to help children, adolescents, and their families from an evidence-based perspective. The scientist-practitioner model requires field-based work with children and adolescents. In this model, research and practice are mutually beneficial. Many graduate courses offer real-world experiences with clients, parents, and teachers in which trainees apply theories and evidence-based practice learned in the classroom. While research questions arise from the experience of working with clients, conducting research improves the quality of help provided to clients. School psychology faculty serve as research colleagues with trainees. Research opportunities include assisting with faculty research, graduate assistantships, a research apprenticeship (or completing a masterís thesis), and completing a dissertation. Doctoral trainees receive training in research that helps answer both applied and theoretical questions.

As scientist-practitioners, our graduates are able to distinguish fact from opinion in the application of psychological principles to human behavior, use existing theory and supportable techniques to develop innovative practice in the field of school psychology, and develop research to address practical and applied issues. Our emphasis on the value of evidence-based training is designed to ensure that our graduates will function as change agents and become leaders in the field.