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Specialist Degree School Psychology | Office | Website


The Specialist-level Program in School Psychology is part of the Department of Psychology, within the College of Liberal Arts & Education. The Specialist Degree (Psy.S.) is a three year, 64 credit hour program of full-time study. This includes a two-semester practicum during the second year, and a 9-month, full-time (minimum 1200 hours) internship in a school setting completed during the third year.

The UDM program accepts full-time students only, in cohorts of 8-12. The cohort system enables students to progress through the program as a unit, during which time a supportive "community" often develops. The smaller class size ensures a student-to-faculty ratio of no greater than 10:1, allowing more persona interaction with the faculty.

Program Objectives

The Program is designed to provide a strong and broad-based knowledge of both psychology and education, and to prepare students to apply that knowledge within school settings. Objectives are as follows:

  • 1. Graduates recognize the dignity and intrinsic worth of all individuals, and demonstrate respect for human diversity and individual differences.
  • 2. Graduates are able to deliver a full range of school psychological services, including:
  • Assessment of individuals as well as systems,
  • Intervention design, and
  • Provision of both direct and indirect services.
  • 3. Graduates are advocates for children on both the individual and the group levels.
  • 4. Graduates communicate clearly and effectively and demonstrate appropriate, respectful conduct in their professional interactions with others.
  • 5. Graduates adhere to legal and ethical standards in their professional practice.

Program Philosophical Models
The program philosophy may be conceptualized as a foundation of several important but complementary concepts, embedded within an overall scientist-practitioner orientation.

  • 1. Evidence-based practices
  • 2. Consultation-based services
  • 3. Behavior analytic intervention design
  • 4. Social-cognitive/eco-behavioral orientation

Core Content
The core content for the program is based upon the nationally recognized standards for training and practice established by the National Association of School Psychologists. The 11 domains are:

  • Data-Based Decision-Making and Accountability
  • Consultation and Collaboration
  • Effective Instruction and Development of Cognitive/Academic Skills
  • Socialization and Development of Life Skills
  • Student Diversity in Development and Learning
  • School and Systems Organization, Policy Development, and Climate
  • Prevention, Crisis Intervention, and Mental Health
  • Home/School/Community Collaboration
  • Research and Program Evaluation
  • School Psychology Practice and Development
  • Information Technology

Field Experiences
Students will document actual time spent in field activities as part of the training program. The field experiences are aligned with coursework and scaffolded in intensity so that trainees are not required to perform many new skills at once. Field experiences progress along a continuum from minimal/passive, to active/independent. Field activities may be observation, assistance, supervised, or independent.

During Year 1, students must log a minimum of 100 hours. These experiences involve mostly observation, but may occasionally include assisting the supervisor in minor tasks, depending upon the trainee’s level of training. Specific activities are required during the Y1 field experience, including shadowing a school psychologist, observing school special classrooms and meetings, and assisting with systemic activities

The Year 2 Practicum is a two-semester, closely supervised experience in the school setting. Students are required to log a minimum of 600 hours over the two semesters, and will spend considerable time (estimated 15-20 hours weekly) in their assigned school(s). Experiences are more active than the first year, and generally range from assistive to supervised. At the conclusion of the Practica, students will apply for the Preliminary School Psychologist certificate through the Michigan Department of Education, which will allow them to obtain a paid position for the Internship.

The Internship experience is one school year (fall through spring); however, when translated to the University academic year, it may start slightly before the Fall term & continue through Summer 1. Trainees must nominate sites/supervisors for their Internship experiences. Holding the Preliminary Certification allows the student to obtain a paid position during the Internship, however, UDM does not guarantee the availability of such positions.

Admissions Requirements

The UDM program accepts full-time only students. During the Years 1 & 2 field experiences, some daytime hours in the public schools will be required; these hours may not be regular. In addition, some courses are offered during the daytime. Finally, the Internship itself is a full-school-year commitment (usually paid by the district).

Each prospective student must meet the admission requirements of the College of Liberal Arts and Education, which requires an overall grade point average of 2.7 for the last two years of undergraduate work and 3.0 for graduate work. The program preference is for a minimum GPA of 3.0, and minimum GRE of 1000 (V & Q combined). An undergraduate degree in psychology is not required; however, any student who does not have undergraduate coursework in child development and statistics will be required to take compensatory coursework prior to enrollment or within the first semester, as directed by the advisor.

Applicants who have already completed graduate programs in related areas may apply; application procedures and requirements are the same as for other candidates. Respecialization applicants who are accepted into the program may be eligible for a modified program. Transcripts and documentation from previous coursework will be reviewed to determine if some courses may be transferred. Such courses must be comparable and completed with at least a “B.” It is unlikely that a substantial number of courses will meet this criteria. Additionally, it is the position of this program that the practice of school psychology is a specialization requiring intensive school-based field experiences; therefore, it is the policy of this program not to waive field experience requirements.

The application deadline for the program is January 15th. Applicants are strongly advised to submit materials to the Graduate School by November 30th to ensure their complete file has been forwarded to the Department by the January 15th deadline. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that all materials have been received. Incomplete applications will not be considered. In order to be considered for the school psychology program, applicants must submit the following materials:

  • 1. Transcripts documenting a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.7 (for admission to Graduate School) and for the School Psychology program, a preferred GPA of 3.0.;
  • 2. Official GRE score report (current within 5 years): Minimum combine score (V & Q) of 800; 1000 or greater preferred;
  • 3. Graduate school application for the Specialist degree in School Psychology;
  • 4. Three (3) letters of recommendation, at least two of which must address the applicant's academic potential (i.e., from a University faculty member);
  • 5. Statement of purpose, which should be 2-3 pages, explaining the applicant's interest in school psychology as a career. The statement of purpose should be typed and submitted separately to admissions as a Word document;
  • 6. Gradate transcripts (if applicable); and
  • 7. Professional Resume.

These application materials should be submitted to:

  • Theresa Carson
  • Graduate Admissions Counselor
  • University of Detroit Mercy
  • Admissions Office
  • 4001 W. McNichols, FAC 100
  • Detroit, MI 48221

When an applicant’s file is complete, it is forwarded to the Program Screening Committee for consideration. Those who do not meet minimum College requirements are eliminated from the pool of candidates. To maintain program quality and be consistent with NASP standards, space is limited and admission is competitive. Applicants are considered based on 7 qualities associated with successful candidates:

  • 1. Child Advocacy
  • 2. Understanding of/commitment to the profession of school psychology
  • 3. Written communication skills
  • 4. Oral communication skills
  • 5. Academic ability/test-taking skills
  • 6. Professional behavior skills
  • 7. Relevant background experiences

The Screening Committee will select those applicants most likely to be successful in the program; those applicants will be invited for an on-campus interview in early February. The purpose of this interview is to determine the applicant’s match with the training program & profession, and potential for successful completion of the program. to be demonstrated. A student entering with some applicable graduate work but without an appropriate master’s degree may be given a maximum of nine credit hours advanced standing toward the specialist degree. Recommendation for certification from the State Department of Education to work as a school psychologist is contingent upon completing the specialist degree.

Degree Requirements


Please note: The list of courses required for the Specialist program is under revision at this time. Expect that the course requirements will change during the academic year 2009-2010.
EDU 5130 Learning, Development, Adjustment 3
PYC 5030 Statistical Methods I 3
PYC 5420 Child & Adolescent Development 3
PYC 6030 Developmental Psychopathology 3
PYC 6400 Applied Behavior Analysis 3
PYC 6120 Counseling for the School Psychologist 3
PYC 6121 Counseling Lab 1
PYC 6150 School Psychology Consultation I 3
PYC 6160 School Psychology Consultation II 3
PYC 6200 School Psychology Assessment & Intervention I 3
PYC 6201 Field Experience for 6200 1
PYC 6210 School Psychology Assessment & Intervention II 3
PYC 6211 Field Experience for 6210 1
PYC 6220 School Psychology Assessment & Intervention III 3
PYC 6230 School Psychology Practicum I 3
PYC 6240 School Psychology Practicum II 3
PYC 6250 School Psychology Internship I 4
PYC 6260 School Psychology Internship II 4
PYC 6270 School Psychology Internship III 4
PYC 6300 Psychological Services in Schools 3
PYC 6330 Legal & Ethical Issues for the School Psychologist 3
PYC 6490 Specialist Project 3
PYC 6510 Physiological Psychology, or 3
PYC 7950 Psychopharmacology 3

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