Psychology Department

MA in Applied/School Psychology

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

Interested in applying to the Applied / School Psychology MA program?

We have prepared a separate page with complete application instructions(opens in new window).

Graduate-level work in school psychology 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. The department offers the Master of Arts in Psychology: Option in Applied Psychology/ School Psychology in combination with the coursework required to earn the Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) School Psychology credential through their program. In order to obtain the MA and the credential, both of which are required to practice as a school psychologist in California, the typical entering graduate student with an undergraduate background in psychology will require six graduate semesters. The School Psychology Program is competency based. In each required course, a number of specific competencies must be mastered in order to successfully complete the program and obtain the credential.

School psychologists work with children from infancy through young adulthood, 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. Professional skills include consultation, instruction, program development, assessment, counseling, and research.

Please see the topics below for specific details about our program.

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School Psychology as a Profession

  • 1. What does a school psychologist do?

    Today's children face more challenges than ever before. School psychologists have specialized training in both psychology and education. They use their training and skills to collaborate with educators, parents, and other mental health professionals to ensure that every child learns in a safe, healthy, and supportive environment. School psychologists provide direct support and interventions to students to improve academic achievement, promote positive behavior and mental health, strengthen family-school partnerships, and improve school-wide assessment and accountability. School psychologists provide solutions for tomorrow's problems through thoughtful and positive actions today.

  • 2. What is the career outlook for school psychologists?

    School Psychology was ranked 2nd for Social Service jobs and 14th in general in 2018 by U.S. News & World Report. There is a 100% job placement rate for Chico State graduates, meaning that everyone is employed in the field after finishing the program.

  • 3. How is the role of a school psychologist different from a school counselor or a school social worker?

    School psychologists, school counselors, and school social workers work closely together to meet the academic, behavioral, and social emotional needs of school-aged youth.

    School psychologists work to improve academic, behavioral, and social emotional outcomes for all students. Typically, they provide indirect services to students through consultation and systems change work. They also provide direct services to students such as academic, behavioral, and social emotional interventions; counseling; and crisis response. In addition, they work with students by conducting individual assessments to determine a student’s eligibility for special education services.

    The Chico State School Psychology program awards a Master of Arts in Psychology: Applied Option/School Psychology and recommends candidates for the Pupil Personnel Services Credential in School Psychology (PPS School Psychology) from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

    The role of school counselors emphasizes the social-emotional, career readiness, and academic needs of all students. Typically, school counselors provide direct services through classroom lessons, group counseling, and some individual counseling. Academic advising is often a large part of the school counselor’s job. To be a school counselor in California, you must earn the Pupil Personnel Services Credential (PPS) in School Counseling. Chico State does not offer a program that leads to the PPS Credential in School Counseling.

    The role of school social workers also emphasizes the social and emotional well-being of all students. Typically, school social workers provide case management and coordinate family, school, and community resources to support student attendance and success at school. They may also provide counseling services and crisis intervention. To be a school social worker in California, you must earn the Pupil Personnel Services Credential (PPS) in School Social Work. Chico State does not currently offer a program that leads to the PPS Credential in School Social Work.

  • 4. What is a PPS Credential and how can I get one?

    The Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) Credential is a requirement for school psychology, school counseling, or school social work employment in California preK – 12 public schools. The credential is available through the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC), and includes three areas of specialization: PPS School Psychology, PPS School Counseling, and PPS School Social Work. An Authorization in Child Welfare and Attendance is also offered by CTC as an add-on for those who complete additional requirements. The CTC maintains a webpage you may use to search for institutions and programs approved to offer the various PPS Credentials.

    Currently, Chico State only offers the PPS School Psychology Credential. The credential program is only offered as part of the MA in Applied/ School Psychology course of study.

Admissions to Chico State’s School Psychology Program

  • 5. How do I apply to the program?

    We have a separate page where you can find detailed application instructions.

  • 6. Are there prerequisites for the program?

    Yes, we require an upper-division course in each of the five areas listed below. Since course names may vary, a short description of the course content has also been included. You may contact Dr. Dave Hibbard ( before admission to get an idea of what courses might be considered equivalent, but no formal approvals will occur until after you have been admitted to the school psychology program.

    • Psychology of Learning – An examination of the principles of learning and the environmental determinants of behavior change, emphasizing fundamental mechanisms such as habituation, sensitization, classical conditioning, and operant conditioning.
    • Statistics for Psychology – The analysis of research data in psychology using inferential statistical methods, with an emphasis on relevant statistical designs, understanding statistical conclusions in published research, and professional report writing. Descriptive statistics, graphing, hypothesis testing, correlation and regression, chi-square, t-tests, and analysis of variance. Single factor designs and ANOVA, post-hoc comparisons, repeated measures ANOVA, and simple factorial designs. Professional reporting of research. Laboratory provides examples, applications, and development of research data analysis and statistical evaluation skills.
    • Child Psychology - Physical, mental, social, and emotional factors of human growth and development from infancy through adolescence.
    • Cognitive Psychology - An in-depth examination of current research and theory in cognition. Topics include attention, memory models, language, problem solving, creativity, reasoning, decision making, human and artificial intelligence, and cognitive development.
    • Tests and Measurements – Basic psychological measurement theory and principles of test construction.
  • 7. Do all prerequisites need to be completed before beginning the program?

    The purpose of the prerequisites is to help ensure success in coursework specific to the school psychology program. Therefore, all prerequisites are to be completed prior to beginning program coursework. Having a plan for completing all prerequisites when you apply will increase the competitiveness of your application.

  • 8. Is the GRE required?

    No, we require neither the GRE General Test nor the Psychology Subject Test.

  • 9. What if my GPA score is lower than the required 3.0?

    Your GPA is only one consideration in the larger picture of your application package. You may have other aspects of your application packet that are outstanding and compensate for the low GPA.

  • 10. What should I consider when choosing someone to provide a letter of recommendation?

    Recommendations should be of a professional nature and obtained from professors, supervisors, and colleagues. Recommendations should address your ability to work with others, persevere to complete a 3-year graduate program, your attention-to-detail, and your ability to follow directions.

  • 11. I already have a master’s degree in a related field (e.g., social work, school counseling, special education). Do I still have to take the master’s coursework?

    Graduate courses in related fields do apply, and up to three courses may be waived. You must apply to the program in the standard application cycle. If you are admitted to the program, then the faculty will work with you to create an individual learning plan. This will include a thorough review of all your prior graduate training records.

  • 12. I want to gain experience in the field to strengthen my application. What are some of the jobs of current students?

    Students typically obtain related experience working as: behavioral technicians, counselors for at-risk populations, substitute teachers, and teachers’ assistants.

  • 13. How do I pay for my graduate program?

    Students often apply for financial aid to complete graduate work. The first step is completing the FASFA. The state of California also has a new grant program for aspiring school professionals called the Golden State Teacher Grant Program. The grant program awards funding to aspiring school psychologists as well as teachers and school service professionals. Some students also choose to work part time during the program, and work study positions are available on campus for those who qualify—a few are directly related to school psychology.

    Golden State Teacher Grant flyer

Specific Details About our Program

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