Graduate Program Requirements

Overview of coursework

The table below shows the typical program of study. Specific course descriptions can be found in the college catalog.

Semester One

   
Psy 509 Foundations of School Psy. 3 credits
Psy 516 Advanced Child Development 3 credits
Psy 544 Intellectual Assessment 3 credits
Psy 553 Information Technology Lab 1 credit
Psy 597 School Psych Practicum 2 credits
Psy 550 Consultation and Intervention I 3 credits
total   15 credits
     

Semester Two

   
Psy 501 Psychometrics 3 credits
Psy 520 Learning and Cognition 3 credits
Psy 545 Assessment Issues in School Psychology 3 credits
Psy 551 Consultation & Intervention II 3 credits
Psy 597 School Psych Practicum 2 credits
total   14 credits
     

Summer

   
Psy 552  Counseling and Crisis Intervention 3 credits
     

Semester Three

   
Psy 543 Learning Disabilities 3 credits
Psy 546 Special Populations and School Psychology 3 credits
Psy 503  Academic Inteventions 3 credits
Psy 581 Research Design 3 credits
Psy 597 School Psych Practicum 2 credits
total   14 credits
     

Semester Four

   
Elective   3 credits
Psy 531 Neuropsychology 3 credits
Psy 554 Advanced Counseling & Crisis Intervention 3 credits
Psy 589 Advanced School Psychology Practicum 3 credits
total   12 credits
     

Semester Five

   
Psy 504 Master's Thesis 3 credits
Psy 590 Internship 3 credits
  (Minimum Total Hours Logged = 400)  
total   6 credits
     

Semester Six

   
Psy 504 Master's Thesis IP
Psy 590 Internship 6 credits
  (Minimum Total Hours Logged = 800)  
     
 Total Credit Hours
70

Academic Coursework

Psychology content courses comprise the majority of the program’s credit hour requirements. Core courses in school psychology are taken along with courses covering topics in related fields of psychology. This balance ensures that students acquire substantial understanding in scientific and professional psychology. Students are required to take two graduate elective courses (6 hours total). Although there is flexibility in course selection, the Graduate Committee must approve all elective choices. Appropriate courses may be chosen from the Graduate Education Programs.

Grades

All students are expected to maintain an overall grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0. Students whose GPA falls below 3.0 will be placed on academic probation and they will be reviewed by the Graduate Review Committee to determine their eligibility for continuation in the program. Students will be notified in writing at mid-semester as to course progress, and are encouraged to meet with specific instructors if deficiencies are noted.

Grades for graduate courses shall be A/-, B/+/-, C/+/-, E, I, IP (in progress), W (withdrawn), or Pass-Fail. All thesis work will carry a Pass-Fail grade. Students who earn a grade of C in a course may retake that course in order to improve their grade. The second grade received will be recorded as the permanent course grade. Option to remain in the School Psychology graduate degree program by re-taking a required course in which a grade of E has been earned shall be dependent upon approval of the Graduate Review Committee, the student’s advisor, and the Psychology Department Chair. A student shall not be permitted to retake more than one such course. Any special considerations attached to retaking a course shall have the approval of the Graduate Review Committee. An overall graduate GPA of at least 3.0 is required for graduation.
Practica.

The practica are designed to provide opportunities to apply skills learned in other school psychology coursework. Students work individually and/or in teams in two settings: local schools and the Neuropsychological Clinic and Psycho-educational Services. In addition, students may choose to complete some practica hours in the Nexus Saturday program for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Upon completion of the fourth semester, all students will have some experience in a variety of capacities, including response to intervention (RTI), psycho-educational assessment/interventions, consultation, behavioral assessment/intervention, and counseling. Team collaboration, peer review and case conferences during weekly practicum supervision meetings are essential elements of this course. Actual caseloads are expected to vary from student to student depending on interest and availability of work, but all should carry approximately equivalent hours. Students are assigned caseloads that utilize skills currently developing or developed in accordance with the training program. Under no circumstances is a student allowed to participate in activities for which he/she has not received adequate preparation.

University supervision is provided individually and during group weekly meetings. Site supervision is also provided, and input regarding performance from site supervisors will be collected. Students are expected to keep a log of all activities completed for the practicum course, including a daily activity log during the 4th semester of work in the school setting. Each student uses this log to create a portfolio, or sampling, of work completed in each area (e.g., 1-2 assessment reports and intervention cases, counseling description). It is expected that the portfolio will be revised and expanded as the student gains more experience. At least once per semester, supervisors meet individually with students to discuss progress. Students present information regarding work completed for the course, supplementing the presentation with information from the portfolio. By the end of each semester, university supervisors provide a brief written summary of progress to date. It is expected that each student demonstrates competency in each area relevant to the school psychologist upon completion of the fourth semester.

For the first three semesters of practica, students are required to attend practicum activities for 120 hours. Students will be evaluated by their on-site supervisor based on the content and class objectives of the coursework of their current semester (see Appendix D through F).

During the fourth semester practica, the required hours needed to fulfill practicum requirements increases to 240. See Appendix G to view site supervisor evaluation. In addition, students must complete the following workshops for New York State Requirements for School Psychologist Certification: School Violence Intervention and Prevention, and Child Abuse Identification.

Praxis

Students are required to receive a passing score (165) on the National School Psychology Test, administered by the Educational Testing Service, prior to beginning their internship. The School Psychologist Praxis test code is 10401. More information regarding test content, testing locations, etc. can be found at www.ets.org.

Thesis

Although the thesis is the capstone experience of the MA/CAS degree, it should neither be the first or the final experience in conducting and writing research. Each student in the School Psychology program prepares a thesis on a topic relevant to the profession of School Psychology. The thesis project is viewed as applied research and a practical problem solving activity rather than simply a research activity. Although experimental and descriptive research studies are conducted to meet this requirement, the purpose is to have an applied practical emphasis to this project compatible with the student's professional goals. A broad range of appropriate activities can be used to fulfill this thesis requirement.

A thesis consists of the following components: a) an introduction, b) a review of the literature, c) a methods section, d) a results section, and e) a discussion. The introduction outlines the research problem and the strategy being used to address it. Some discussion of why the research is important and what the implications of the study are should be included.

The review of the literature must be comprehensive enough to inform the reader of the background theoretical information necessary to understand the research under consideration. The thesis must also be placed within the body of existing knowledge and ongoing research through this review. The history of the constructs being examined should be outlined.

The methods section is a detailed description of the thesis research. This section allows the reader to determine the validity of the results based on the soundness of the research design. It must be sufficiently clear and thorough as to enable an interested researcher to replicate the study if desired. The instruments being used must be described and their psychometric properties supported and discussed.

The results section is where the data that are collected is displayed. Any statistical or other data analysis is described and displayed. The data presented in this section must be sufficient to support the conclusions and recommendations in subsequent sections.

The discussion section is where the results of the study are evaluated and the implications explored. The limits and flaws of the study must be articulated and future research recommended.

Students register for thesis credits during the 3rd year in the program. Thesis credit carries grades of Pass (P), In Progress (IP), or E. The Pass (P) is given when the thesis has been successfully defended. The In Progress (IP) is carried for up to two years following completion of the internship requirements.

Although students do not receive credit for thesis work in the third semester of coursework, in order to have her or his final grade in Research Methods (PSY 581) recorded, each student must submit an affidavit from her or his Master's Thesis Committee Chair which affirms his or her completion of an acceptable draft of a Master's Thesis proposal. By the end of the fourth semester, in order to receive a final grade in Advanced School Psychology Practicum (PSY 589), students must submit an affidavit of a completed Master’s Thesis proposal. Additionally, in order to maintain an IP grade (for PSY 504-Thesis), students must submit a written progress report to each member of the Thesis Committee at the end of each semester of the third year. After two years, the grade is automatically changed to E. In order to change a grade of E, the student must appeal to the Thesis Committee and re-register for the course.

Overview of the Thesis Process

The first step in the thesis process is to develop a research proposal. The student articulates an area of research interest and a general notion of research questions to address in the thesis. These questions need to be further clarified by a thorough review of the literature.

The thesis advisor and committee should be selected prior to completing the proposal. The committee is composed of at least 3 members, including the Chair. Two of the members must be faculty members within the Psychology Department. First drafts and revisions to the thesis proposal are first produced with and approved by the Chair. The committee then reads the proposal, suggests changes, and either approves or rejects the proposal. The student should note that this process of reviewing drafts of the thesis is continual, and may require several meetings with the members of the Committee. Thus the student should plan for this process to take a significant amount of time. The accepted proposal is, in effect, the "contract" of what will be done for the thesis. The thesis proposal must be completed and approved prior to beginning the internship (by the end of the fourth semester).

Following committee approval of the proposal, students whose projects involve the use of human participants MUST submit their proposal for review by the Human Subjects Research Committee and take and pass the PSU Human Subjects Certification Program. Approval of the proposed research by this Committee is necessary prior to conducting the research. Forms can be obtained from the Chair of the Human Subjects' Committee or the Psychology Department office. All research will adhere to APA and NASP ethical guidelines.

After obtaining the appropriate approvals, the student conducts the research and writes the full thesis, under the direction of the thesis Chair. All writing will be strictly APA style, and the thesis will include an introduction, method, results and discussion of the implications of the project for the professional practice of school psychology.

After the full thesis is written, the thesis advisor provides editorial consultation prior to submitting the thesis to the full committee for revisions. Because of the time required to read a manuscript thoughtfully and critically, the committee members have three weeks from the date of receipt to review and return it with comments. The student should note that this process of reviewing drafts of the thesis is continual, and may require several meetings with the members of the Committee. Thus the student should plan for this process to take a significant amount of time.

When the Committee believes the thesis is ready to be defended, a date will be scheduled for the final defense. Thesis defenses are open to the College Community. The student summarizes his or her research procedures and findings in a brief oral statement, followed by questioning by the faculty members in attendance. Unanimous committee approval is required for the satisfaction of this program requirement. It is the student’s obligation to schedule a defense at a time convenient to all committee members. No committee shall feel obliged to meet simply because a semester is ending or a graduation deadline is approaching. Unanimous thesis committee approval of the final written version of the thesis is required prior to a student’s graduation.

Note: All theses must be completed within 2 years of the completion of the internship requirement. Theses completed after that time may not be accepted. Students must re-negotiate a ‘contract’ with the thesis committee. Theses committees and individual members can at that time remove themselves from the committee and its obligations.

Internship

The internship is completed during the third year of the program, beginning in September and ending in June. The primary purpose of the internship is to continue developing the school psychology intern into a competent and adaptive scientist practitioner of school psychology. Although it is expected that interns develop and accomplish personal goals and objectives, there are specific academic and professional objectives of the internship. These goals are the program objectives found in NASP guidelines.

Internship Plan

The site supervisor and intern develop a written internship plan, with approval from the university supervisor. The plan must include goals and objectives, specific means for accomplishing the goals or objectives, and realistic means of evaluating the intern’s progress and effectiveness of the plan. Once an agreement with a school site has been made, the intern must adhere to the same schedule and calendar as the school. Whether or not a paid internship is secured, the internship should be considered a job, and as such, interns must at all times be professionals. Both the site supervisor and university supervisor routinely conduct supervision and evaluation of the intern’s progress.

Students are required to secure their own internship placement, although help in finding a suitable site is provided by the university supervisor. Appropriate sites provide interns with a variety of professional experiences with students of differing ages.

An internship plan must be developed for each intern incorporating the skills and knowledge the intern brings to the internship.

Questions, Comments, Suggestions?

If you would like more information about the school psychology graduate program at SUNY Plattsburgh, please contact

Dr. Laci Charette
Phone: (518) 564-3385
Toll-free Phone: (800) 441-7215
Fax: (518) 564-3397
Email: laci.charette@plattsburgh.edu