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About School Psychology

What is a School Psychologist?

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 understand school systems, effective teaching, and how students learn. Today's children face more challenges than ever before. School psychologists provide solutions for tomorrow's problems through thoughtful and positive actions today.

The training requirements to become a school psychologist are a minimum of 60 graduate semester hours, including a year-long internship.  Training emphasizes preparation in mental health, child development, school organization, learning, behavior, and motivation. To work as a school psychologist, one must be certified and/or licensed by the state in which services are provided. The National School Psychology Certification Board (NSPCB) also nationally certifies school psychologists. (Answer adapted from the NASP web site).

Why study School Psychology?

School Psychology was ranked 1st for Social Service jobs and 14th in general in 2013 by U.S. News & World Report

What is the Educational Specialist Degree (Ed.S.)?

The Educational Specialist Degree program (Ed.S.) in School Psychology is a 60 unit (plus 6 prerequisite units) course of study, including 4 units of practicum and 6 units of fieldwork,  that prepares individuals to receive a California Pupil Personnel Services credential in school psychology, and offers those who complete the program an Educational Specialist Degree. It is more advanced than a master's degree which is typically based on a minimum of 30 units.

What is the difference between School Psychology and School Counseling?

School Psychologists and School Counselors often worked closely together to meet the academic and social emotional needs of school-aged youth.

School Psychologists typically work more closely with students with disabilities, including conducting initial and three-year assessments of their needs. They also provide direct and indirect services such as consultation, counseling, crisis response preparation, and systems change. The CSULB School Psychology program awards the Educational Specialist degree (Ed.S.) and recommends candidates for the Pupil Personnel Services Credential in School Psychology from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. 

The School Counseling program prepares counselors to work in elementary, middle, and high school settings (K-12). Emphasis is placed on meeting the academic, social-emotional, and career readiness needs of all students. Typically, this is a school employee who provides direct services through individual and group counseling, classroom lessons, academic advising and crisis response. School counselors also provide indirect services on behalf of students through interactions with others including referrals for additional assistance, consultation and collaboration with parents, teachers, and other educators.  In addition to the MS in Counseling degree, candidates are recommended for the Pupil Personnel Services Credential in School Counseling from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. 

What is the difference between the CSULB Educational Specialist Degree in School Psychology and Education Specialist Credential?

The Education Specialist Credential prepares candidates to teach individuals in the areas of Mild/Moderate and Moderate/Severe disabilities. Completion of the program leads to the issuance of the Preliminary Education Specialist Instruction Credential from the Commission on Teacher Credentialing. For additional information, please visit the Teacher Preparation Advising Center.

The Educational Specialist Degree program (Ed.S.) is a graduate degree-granting program in School Psychology. In addition to receiving the Ed.S. degree, students who complete the program are recommended to receive the Pupil Personnel Services Credential in School Psychology from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Students completing this program are employed in PreK-12 education to provide direct and indirect psychological and academic support to students.

What is unique or special about the CSULB School Psychology program?


What are the requirements for applying to the school psychology program? What are the admissions procedures?

Please see the Application Process webpage.

Is the Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) credential offered without the degree?

No, the Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) credential in School Psychology is offered in conjunction with the Educational Specialist Degree in School Psychology. Individuals desiring the PPS credential in School Psychology must apply for admission to both the Educational Specialist Degree in School Psychology and PPS in School Psychology program in order to earn the credential. All of the coursework for both the degree and the PPS credential overlap.

Do I need to take the GRE?

Applicants to the Educational Specialist Degree in School Psychology must receive a minimum combined score (Verbal and Quantitative) of 300 on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or a master's degree in a related field.

Do I need to complete the prerequisite courses prior to being accepted into the School Psychology program?

No. Students typically complete the pre-requisites during the summer prior to their first fall in the program, or during their first year.

How many applications do you accept?

Admission to the Educational Specialist Degree in School Psychology is very competitive. The program typically admits less than 20% of applicants.

What is the School Psychology program looking for in a student?

The CSULB school psychology program is committed to diversity. There is no single prototypical student. Rather, faculty seek a diverse group of students whose unique experiences add to the curriculum and instruction of the program. Public school experience, bilingualism, and/or experience with cultural and language minority youth are a definite asset to an applicant. A strong academic record such as good grades and GRE scores, and experience conducting research in educational settings will also increase your chances of being admitted to the program.

Degree Requirements


Will the coursework I completed at another university count towards completing the School Psychology program?

If you have earned a master’s degree in behavioral science from an accredited university, you may be able to utilize 9 units as a specialization. All students, regardless of having previously earned a master’s degree, are required to complete a culminating activity (e.g., thesis or comprehensive exam).

To obtain a general idea of courses that may be equivalent to our prerequisite and/or core courses, please review the official catalog description of the course you took at another university and compare it to the CSULB official catalog description of the course you wish to waive. If the descriptions are similar, it may be equivalent. Please note, however, that there is no guarantee that a course taken at another university will meet our course requirement.

Students offered admission to the program will meet with an advisor who will advise regarding potential course equivalencies and how to start the course equivalency process. 

How long will it take me to complete the School Psychology program?

The program is designed to be completed in 3 years. Upon admission, an advisor will provide each student a program plan.

What is the difference between Fieldwork and Internship?

Our program and the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) require students to complete a minimum of 1,200 hours of school psychology fieldwork. In their last year in the program, students may be eligible to apply for an internship credential. The internship credential is awarded by CTC and is generally required by districts who are offering a paid internship. In short, all graduates of the program complete a fieldwork experience; some hold internship credentials and others do not.

What other requirements should I know about for the Ed.S. in School Psychology?

Basic Skills Requirement/CBEST

Per the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC)  licensing requirements all California Prepared Educators must complete the Basic Skills Requirement by passage of the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) or meet the requirement using an approved alternative prior to recommendation of the Pupil Personnel Services Credential.  If a student admitted to the program fails to pass the CBEST, candidates will receive appropriate academic assistance necessary to pass the examination. Reference: Education Code Sections 44252 (f) and 44225 (n). For additional information about the Basic Skills Requirement and ways to satisfy the requirement, please visit For additional information, please see Basic Skills Requirement for School Psychology.

Certificate of Clearance

Students must obtain a Certificate of Clearance prior to completing any fieldwork assignments. Certificates of Clearance are issued by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) to credential program candidates. Title 5 regulations require that an application for Certificate of Clearance be filed to determine whether or not a candidate meets the state standards for character and fitness to be an educator in California's public schools. Students who currently hold a credential in California are exempt from this requirement. However, proof of holding a current credential is required.

NCSP Praxis Exam

All School Psychology students must take the National School Psychology Examination (Praxis Test from ETS) prior to completing the program. Students must ensure that their scores (Overall Score and Test Category Scores) are forwarded by ETS to program faculty and the Credential Center.

Students who opt to take comprehensive exams as their culminating degree activity must obtain a passing score of 147 on the Praxis exam to successfully meet the requirements of the culminating activity. Students who opt to complete a thesis as their culminating degree activity must sit for the Praxis, but are not required to obtain a passing score of 147 to successfully meet the requirements of the culminating activity.

A passing score on the Praxis allows candidates to obtain certification as a Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP). For additional information regarding the National School Psychology Examination, please go to Recommendations, references, and study tips may be found on the National Association of School Psychologists’ website at


Students must maintain a 3.0 GPA to remain in good standing in the program. Failure to do so may place the student on academic probation. Students must earn passing grades in all courses.

Other Inquiries


What if I move out of state after completing the program? Will I be eligible for a School Psychology credential in another state?

Generally, yes. Each state has its own licensure requirements, but most graduates of the CSULB program meet the requirements of other states. Students are encouraged to pursue the Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) credential through the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). This credential can facilitate obtaining licensure in other states.

Whom do I contact for more information about the School Psychology program?

E-mail questions to the College of Education Graduate Studies Office at