School psychologists handle students' unique challenges every day to help make a lasting impact and improve the quality of life for these children. School psychologists often work with a variety of ages, individually or in groups, helping students cope with emotional issues, disabilities, and behavioral problems. As you can imagine working as a school psychologist requires a certain set of skills and knowledge that is obtainable through a graduate program.
Deciding on a Psychology Program
The first step in becoming a school psychologist is receiving your Bachelor's Degree in Psychology before you apply to a graduate or doctorate program. When deciding which school to receive your degree at, you first need to determine what is important to you for a program to have. For example, some students prefer large schools over small schools. Some students might not think the cost of tuition is as important as the student to teacher ratios. Private schools generally offer a more prestigious level of learning, however, they come at a cost. Look to public schools and in-state tuition if you are on a budget. There are a plethora of factors that make each school unique, so make sure to do your research to find the best fit.
Best colleges for School Psychology
Currently, there are over 200 universities that offer either a master's or doctorate in school psychology. If you are interested in becoming a school psychologist, it is important to remember that some of the best college psychology programs are not recognized by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). For example, Stanford and the University of California - Berkeley are tied for first for having the best college psychology programs in the country according to the U.S. News and World Report. However, Stanford is not recognized by NASP and Berkeley is.
You can see the same trend throughout the U.S. News and World Report survey. Harvard and the University of California - Los Angeles are tied for second, but only UCLA is recognized by NASP. Many reputable state schools are NASP accredited such as the University of North Carolina, Pennsylvania State, and the University of Florida. These schools are going to be more affordable, especially if you live in the state, and offer an excellent education that helps you stand out in your job search. That is why if you are set on becoming a school psychologist, it is important to do your research and find programs that have been approved and/or nationally-recognized by NASP.