Plan of Study

Doctorate in School Psychology > Plan of Study

Based on the comprehensive nature of the doctoral program and the level of training provided, graduate students are referred to as doctoral trainees. Trainees have eight years to complete the doctorate degree starting with the first semester of enrollment in the doctoral program. Applicants admitted to the doctoral program with a specialist degree in school psychology or a master's degree may receive a maximum of 60 credits towards the doctorate in School Psychology.

Advanced graduate admission is determined on an individual basis after the School Psychology Coordinating Committee reviews the trainee's transcript(s). If the full 60 credits are approved, trainees enter the doctoral program in the third year of graduate study. With advanced graduate admission, the doctorate can be completed in three years with a 12-month internship and after completing the dissertation defense. At least two years of full-time graduate study must be completed at Illinois State.

The School Psychology Coordinating Committee assigns a program advisor for each doctoral trainee. Program advisors are responsible for guiding trainees through the graduate curriculum, conducting annual evaluations, and providing feedback to each trainee. Trainees may request a change in their program advisor, but only under unusual circumstances. To request a different program advisor, trainees should submit a written petition to the School Psychology Coordinating Committee that explains the circumstances for the change. The Coordinating Committee will notify the trainee, in writing, of its decision.

Program advisors also assist trainees in the development of the Degree Audit Worksheet, which is available on the Doctoral Forms & Agreements website . Trainees must have an approved Degree Audit Worksheet by the end of the spring semester of their second year in the doctoral program. Without an approved Worksheet, trainees cannot register for 500-level courses and are not eligible to take the comprehensive examination.

Residency Requirement

The Doctoral Program’s residency policy requires trainees to enroll for at least nine graduate credits for both the fall and spring semesters for the first four years of graduate study. Trainees have time to assume duties associated with assistantships, attend monthly program-sponsored meetings and thesis and dissertation proposal and defenses, and participating in colloquia or symposia at the University and in surrounding communities. Trainees also have time to work collaboratively with faculty members on research projects.

Program Aims and Competencies

The Doctoral Program strives to educate health service psychologists within the specialty of school psychology who demonstrate discipline specific knowledge pertinent to the field of psychology and professional competencies necessary to deliver high quality services in a range of settings.

Aim I: To prepare competent entry-level school psychologists who possess foundational and integrated knowledge across the basic areas of the discipline of psychology, which will demonstrated by using basic psychological principles to understand and explain human behavior


Aim II: To educate school psychologists with the necessary profession-wide entry-level competencies to deliver effective psychological health services to children, adolescents, and families These services include assessment, intervention, consultation, prevention, and clinical and administrative supervision. The competencies in these areas are exhibited in settings chosen by the graduate, which may include schools, hospitals, university-based clinics, mental health settings or independent practice.

Research Competencies Demonstrate a substantially independent ability to formulate research or other scholarly activities (e.g., critical literature reviews, dissertation, efficacy studies, clinical case studies, theoretical papers, program evaluation projects, program development projects) that are of sufficient quality and rigor to have the potential to contribute to the scientific, psychological, or professional knowledge base: a. Conduct research or other scholarly activities, and b. Critically evaluate and disseminate research or other scholarly activity via professional publication and presentation at the local, regional, or national level.

Ethical and Legal Standards Competencies

Individual and Cultural Diversity Competencies

Professional Values, Attitudes, and Behaviors Competencies

Communication and Interpersonal Skill Competencies

Assessment Competencies

Intervention Competencies

Supervision Competencies

Consultation and Interprofessional/Interdisciplinary Skill Competencies

Program Curriculum

All program requirements are at the graduate level and a minimum of 113 credits are required for the doctorate degree. Graduate credit is not awarded for remedial courses. Prerequisite courses, usually taken as an undergraduate student, cannot be taken for graduate credit. Trainees must consult with their program advisor before registering for any PSY 590 Advance Practicum course. Internship sites are selected by trainees with their program advisor's approval.


The courses listed below are usually taken as an undergraduate student. If not completed as an undergraduate, doctoral trainees will be required to complete these courses, which cannot count toward graduate credit.

Suggested 5-Year Course Sequence

Graduate courses are required in the following areas: biological, cognitive, social, and affective bases of behavior, scientific and professional ethics and standards, and measurements, statistics and research. Courses in cultural, ethnic, and sex role bases of behavior, individual differences, etiology of learning, and behavior disorders are also included. A suggested five-year course schedule is identified below. The schedule may change based on the availability of instructors and course scheduling. All courses are for three credits unless otherwise noted.