MA in Applied/School Psychology

The Master of Arts in Psychology: Option in Applied Psychology/School Psychology (Pupil Personnel Services Credential)

School psychologists work with children from infancy through adolescence, and with their parents, teachers, and other professionals to enhance the quality of their educational experience and healthy development. In a typical day, a school psychologist might confer with teachers or parents about students, observe a student in a classroom, make a presentation in a classroom about social or study skills, meet with children individually for psychoeducational assessment or counseling, and handle a half dozen calls to parents and other professionals. School psychologists receive advanced education in child development, learning, mental health, and education. Professional skills include consultation, assessment, instruction, program development, counseling, and research.

Graduate-level work in Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) has a long and distinguished history at California State University, Chico. The program was founded by Dr. Hugh M. Bell and was the first graduate program offered by the Department of Psychology. Subsequent to that time, the department has been strengthened by the addition of graduate offerings in other areas of specialization.

School Psychology has consistently been included as one of the best careers by US News. Read these reports from 2009 and 2011.

General Nature of the Credential Program

The department offers the School Psychology Credential through their PPS program. In order to obtain this credential, the typical entering graduate student with an undergraduate background in psychology will require six graduate semesters. Required background includes a course in personality or abnormal psychology, a course in developmental psychology, a course in research methods and statistics, a course in learning, and a course in psychological tests and measurement. Students without this course work will need to obtain it prior to commencing the graduate course work outlined in this document.

Candidates receive the PPS credential in School Psychology at the end of the three-year program (one year in the MA, two in the credential program itself). Candidates must complete the MA in order to be recommended for the School Psychology Credential. The occasional student who already has an MA or MS should consult with the PPS program coordinators regarding the possible equivalence of their master's thesis in meeting the culminating activity requirement for the PPS Program.

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Competency-Based Program

The School Psychology Program is competency based. In each required course, a number of specific competencies must be mastered in order to obtain the credential. Each student is permitted a maximum of two attempts on any specific competency. Failure to satisfactorily complete any competency on the second attempt will result in the student being withdrawn from or denied admission to the PPS Program. Such action may not affect completion of graduate work for the MA.

Occasionally, a student may not complete all competencies for a course by the end of the semester. In such a case, competencies must be completed in a course which is prerequisite to another course before the succeeding course can be taken. Further, incomplete competencies must be completed within the following semester. Failure to complete competencies within the prescribed time limit will result in the student being withdrawn from or denied admission to the PPS Program.

Course grades and the completion of competencies are not always congruent. In most courses there will be requirements beyond the minimum competencies. Further, many instructors follow the practice of assigning grades on the basis of a student's first attempt at a competency. Records of student competencies are maintained in program files which are separate from the graduate student files.

At times there may be students who believe they possess the competencies required in certain courses. If they wish to have an official determination made, they must go through the procedure for challenging a course. This entails enrollment in the course and a decision by the instructor as to whether or not a student has the required competencies. If the instructor determines the course competencies have been met, a signed statement to that effect will be placed in the student's competency file, and the course will appear on the official transcript as having been completed. If the instructor determines that required competencies have not been met, several options may be utilized. Such options include permitting the student to continue in the course as a regularly enrolled student or the assignment of F, W (withdraw), or I (incomplete) grade. No student may challenge competencies more than once.

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Application and Admission to the Credential Program

Students planning to complete the credential program will need to first obtain acceptance to the MA program of the Department of Psychology, Option in Applied Psychology, by the previous spring application cycle. No student may enter the PPS program who has not regularly been admitted to the Graduate School of the University and to the MA program, Applied Psychology Option, of the Department of Psychology through established procedures and matriculated as an MA student in preparatory PPS courses during the preceding academic year. Therefore, the student's first application should be made to the Graduate School (including the Psychology Department application form). Application to the PPS program is ordinarily made the spring semester of the first graduate year.

Prior to receiving any California credential, a student must pass the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST). Registration booklets for this exam are available in the CSU, Chico Testing office. The exam is administered several times per year, and students are encouraged to schedule the exam during their first graduate year.

In order to be admitted to the PPS Program, applicants must additionally have satisfactorily completed the first year of coursework shown on the attached page by the end of the spring semester during which admission is sought. Satisfactory completion is defined as a grade of B or better and the satisfaction of all required competencies in the courses.

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Student Selection

Selection criteria used by the PPS committee include the academic records, faculty evaluations, and MAT or GRE scores. In addition, the committee will give specific consideration to performance in PPS-related courses and applied areas. In the final analysis, the committee will exercise its professional judgment with respect to whether or not applicants show general promise of becoming effective school psychologists.

The Pupil Personnel Services Program is costly to implement, and appropriate field placements are difficult to secure. For these reasons, a limited number of candidates are accepted each year. When there are more qualified applicants than openings, priority will be given to those students who best fulfill the criteria outlined above.

In developing its instructional goals, the Department of Psychology opted to emphasize the School Psychology credential. This decision ensures the most efficient use of instructor time, maximizes vocational opportunities for graduates, and coincides with judgments about where professional efforts in the public schools will bring the maximum returns.

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Maintaining a Place in the Program

Students who carry less than an eight-unit load in the credential sequence in any semester will lose their candidacy and will need to reapply to the program. At that time, their qualifications will be evaluated against others applying during that particular year. Hardship cases (e.g., illness, serious financial problems) will be considered on an individual basis by the PPS committee upon receipt of a written statement from the student.

In order to remain in good standing in the PPS program, students must meet all relevant criteria established by the Graduate School and Department of Psychology. In addition, students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.4 in required PPS courses. Students who do not meet this criterion will be reviewed by the PPS committee which, depending on the nature of the circumstances in specific cases, may either place them on probation or withdraw them from the program. In order to continue in the program, students placed on probation must raise their GPA in required PPS courses to the satisfactory (cum. 3.4) level by the end of the first semester following their placement on probation.

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Applicants with Advanced Professional Training

In instances when the PPS committee can clearly evaluate competencies demonstrated elsewhere through extensive coursework and experience, these factors will be considered. This is not undertaken on a routine basis, and acceptance into the program is also dependent on the availability of space in necessary courses and whether applicants meet basic admission criteria.

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Course Sequence

The following courses are required for those pursuing the school psychology credential. Variations from the sequence shown will result in a program that will take more than three years. It is strongly recommended that students follow precisely the Master Schedule of PPS courses. Days and times on that schedule may vary. It is mandatory that you consult the PPS coordinator before planning your program of courses for each semester.

Prior to enrollment in the first supervised fieldwork experience, it is required by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing that all students obtain a Certificate of Clearance. Students planning to enroll in PSY 688 should contact the Credentials Office at CSU, Chico, in the prior semester to obtain necessary materials.

Although every effort is made to secure paid internship placements for students completing school psychology requirements, paid placements cannot be guaranteed. To be eligible for a paid school psychology internship, the intern must obtain a school psychology internship credential valid in the State of California.

Please see the course catalog for admission requirements and procedures and faculty coordinators and advisors.

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Master Schedule of Required Courses

Apply to the Applied/School Psychology Program!
University Catalog
Class Schedule
Notice about application deadlines: The catalog incorrectly lists the application deadline as March 1. The deadline for applying is January 15.

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