• School psychologists collaborate with educators to enhance student learning
  • Psychology faculty research interests include child development, cognitive neuroscience
  • Grads can seek national certification and state licensure after dual degrees
  • MTSU’s Dyslexia Center offers direct experience with assessment and intervention

Psychology, School, M.A.-Ed.S.

MTSU's combined M.A and Ed.S. program in School Psychology is field-based with a research-based thesis required. The National Association of School Psychologists first approved the program in 1991, and graduates are eligible for national certification until the next review cycle in approximately 2020. The program also seeks to prepare Ed.S.-level school psychologists for licensure by the Tennessee Board of Education. The school psychologist must be prepared to understand and deal with the child's three major social systems: society in general, the family situation, and the school system. MTSU uses a psychosocial model and promotes a multicultural perspective. Students also get training in assessment and intervention with school pupils who have dyslexia, through the Center for the Study and Treatment of Dyslexia and neighboring education districts. Graduate and research assistantships are among financial aid possibilities.

Grads placed immediately after completing program

Grads placed immediately after completing program

MTSU school psychology Ed.S. graduates in 2013 had 100 percent placement in Williamson County (four positions), Knoxville City, Dickson County, and suburban Seattle districts. The Vancouver, Wash., system hired California native Alexis Sales-Paragola during her internship to cover for school psychologists on leave and then created a position to keep her. "When going to national conferences each year, I was able to keep in touch with people that went to other programs I had considered; each time I spoke with them I was reassured about my choice to attend MTSU," Sales-Paragola says. She got lots of hands-on training even before entering her internship year, opening doors nationally for intern options. "Very quickly I was receiving compliments from many different professionals I collaborated with that my training and readiness to handle the job was leaps and bounds beyond most interns," she says.

School psychology alum take leadership roles

School psychology alum take leadership roles

Alumni are active in statewide leadership with education departments and organizations. Theresa Nicholls and Nathan Travis are among those responsible for the rollout of Tennessee’s RTI2 (Response to Instruction and Intervention) initiative. Nicholls said she helped to develop the final manual and part of the implementation guide; hire and train 14 consultants who are giving technical assistance and training to local systems and school psychologists; and plan statewide training and develop training materials. Dr. Mark Sigler (1987), Lewis County Schools, was elected Tennessee representative as a delegate and liaison to the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), helping improve the mental health and education of children. He also serves as state credentialing specialist and was the 2013 Stokes Award winner. Rita Phillips, who works for Cave City School District and NAESC, has served on the Arkansas School Psychology Association board for 13 years and is currently legislative chair.

MTSU graduates are employed in education as either school psychologists or behavioral analysts. A school psychologist may work in a variety of different environments including public schools, clinics and hospitals, private schools, school health clinics, universities, community agencies, and in private practice. 

Employers of MTSU alumni include

  • Bedford County Schools
  • Cartersville (Ga.) Schools
  • Cave City (Ark.) School District
  • Coffee County Schools
  • Dickson County Schools
  • Knoxville City Schools
  • Lewis County Schools
  • McMinn County Schools
  • Metro-Nashville Public Schools
  • Murfreesboro City Schools
  • Rutherford County School
  • Sumner County Schools
  • Tennessee Department of Education
  • Vancouver (Wash.) Public Schools
  • Warren County Schools
  • Williamson County Schools
  • Wilson County Schools


MTSU offers two related graduate programs in school psychology: a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Psychology with a Pre-Specialist in Education: School Psychology concentration, and a Specialist in Education (Ed.S.) in Curriculum and Instruction with a School Psychology concentration.

Students typically earn the M.A. degree at the end of their second year of study and the Ed.S. at the end of their third year.

Applicants for unconditional admission must have a bachelor's degree; undergraduate GPA of 3.00; and a GRE score of 291 (current scale) or 900 (former scale) on Verbal and Quantitative combined. Students are selected from a pool of qualified applicants, with the number of students admitted based on the availability of adequate faculty supervision.

Acceptance admits students into the M.A. portion of the school psychology program, and paperwork is required later in the program for admission into the Ed.S. program.

School psychology students may add an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) specialization.

An Ed.S. is required to be eligible for state licensure or National Certification as a School Psychologist (NCSP).

Students with a master's degree already in psychology or counseling may apply for the Ed.S. in order to re-specialize but will be required to complete deficiencies.

The M.A. in Psychology is also available with concentrations in Clinical, Experimental, Industrial/Organizational, and Quantitative Psychology. The department also offers a minor at the graduate level.

For complete curriculum details, click on the REQUIREMENTS tab above.


Three undergraduate majors lead to a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Psychology, Pre-Graduate Psychology, and Industrial/Organizational Psychology. The department also offers an online psychology degree in conjunction with the University College.

Undergraduates can earn a minor in one of five psychology fields: Psychology, Life Span Development, Mental Health Services, Industrial/Organizational, and Neuroscience. The department participates in an interdisciplinary minor in Behavioral Research.

School Psychology, M.A. School Psychology, Ed.S.

Psychology, Pre-Specialist in Education: School Psychology Concentration, M.A.

James O. Rust, Coordinator
(615) 898-2319

The Department of Psychology offers programs which lead to two graduate degrees: the Master of Arts with a major in Psychology and concentrations in Clinical, Experimental, Industrial/Organizational, Quantitative Psychology, and Pre-Specialist in Education: School Psychology and the Specialist in Education with a major in Curriculum and Instruction and concentration in School Psychology. The department also offers a minor at the graduate level.

The School Psychology program includes two degrees. Program completion and endorsement for a State Department of Education license require successful completion of both degrees. The M.A. portion of the program comes first. The Ed.S. is an advanced degree. It is only available to students who have master's degrees in School Psychology. Respecializing students from other master's programs in Psychology or Counseling may apply, but they will be required to complete deficiencies.

The School Psychology program is field-based. As such, a student is required to be continuously enrolled in at least one field-based course every semester from the completion of PSY 6140 until the completion of the program. PSY 6960PSY 6980PSY 7080, and PSY 7810 are field-based courses. The policy excludes summer sessions.

Tennessee teacher licensing in school psychology is obtained through MTSU's program. Licensing requires (1) completion of the Ed.S. with a concentration in School Psychology, (2) 1,200 hours of internship in school psychology, (3) acceptable scores on the School Psychology Praxis II Test, and (4) verification of readiness for independent practice by an internship supervisor. The School Psychology PRAXIS II test assesses the following areas: a) diagnosis and fact finding; b) prevention and intervention; c) applied psychological foundations; and d) ethics and legal considerations.

Please see undergraduate catalog for information regarding undergraduate programs.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the Master of Arts in Psychology with Pre-Specialist in Education: School Psychology concentration requires

  1. an earned bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college. Most applicants have completed 15 semester hours of psychology classes prior to admission to their graduate programs. Those applicants without 15 semester hours of undergraduate psychology may be admitted to the programs but must complete those credits in addition to their graduate programs.
  2. an acceptable grade point average in all college work taken (at least 3.00).
  3. completion of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) with acceptable scores.

NOTE: Students who do not meet admission requirements may be admitted conditionally to a specific concentration. Students admitted conditionally must maintain a 3.25 GPA in their first semester (9 hours minimum) of required graduate courses in their concentration areas.

Application Procedures

All application materials are to be submitted to the College of Graduate Studies.

Application Deadlines: Applications for Summer/Fall admission must be complete by March 1, and applications for Spring admission must be complete by October 1. Late applicants who meet the admission criteria may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Applicant must

  1. submit application with the appropriate application fee (online at www.mtsu.edu/graduate/apply.php).
  2. submit official scores on the GRE-a minimum of 291 (current scale) or 900 (former scale) on the combined Verbal and Quantitative sections is expected.
  3. submit official transcripts of all previous college work.
  4. submit the supplemental School Psychology program application.
  5. submit three (3) reference forms (found online). It is recommended that at least two references should be completed by faculty who can attest to the applicant's academic abilities.
  6. submit a current curriculum vita that includes education and employment history, research involvement, volunteer activities, references, and awards/scholarships.
  7. submit a statement of purpose, including reasons for interest in the field of School Psychology and the program at MTSU, and a description of professional goals. (Typically two to three [2-3] pages in length).

NOTE 1: Admission to graduate study is competitive and not automatic for students meeting minimal admission requirements. Students are selected from a pool of qualified applicants. Each year the number of students admitted to the program depends on the availability of adequate faculty supervision.

NOTE 2: Applicants to the School Psychology programs should contact the department for a special application and reference forms.

NOTE 3: To be considered for a graduate assistantship, students must submit additional materials. Information about the application procedure is available at www.mtsu.edu/psychology/grad/assistantship.php.

Degree Requirements

Candidates for the Master of Arts degree in Psychology with a concentration in Pre-Specialist in Education: School Psychology must

  1. be able to meet the demands required for professional work in psychology. Therefore, students may be subject to dismissal from the Psychology Department if they (a) commit a serious breach of ethics or gross pro­fessional negligence or (b) present evidence of impaired psychological functioning that would present a danger to themselves or others in a professional role. Students who are dismissed may reapply and will be considered for readmission on a competitive basis. Students who reapply may be asked to provide evidence of improved ability to meet performance requirements. See each area coordinator and program handbook for readmission policy.
  2. be continuously enrolled in at least one field-based course every semester from the completion of PSY 6140 until the completion of the program, with the exception of summer sessions.
  3. demonstrate knowledge of the core areas of psychology by completing the following courses prior to entering the School Psychology program or during enrollment in the program (relevant courses offered at MTSU are listed in parentheses):
    1. testing (PSY 6100 and PSY 6101; PSY 4260 or equivalent is a prerequisite);
    2. abnormal psychology (PSY 6400);
    3. learning (PSY 6440);
    4. developmental (PSY 6120PSY 6130, or PSY 6410);
    5. research methods (PSY 6640 [3 hours], PSY 6615 [3 hours]).
  4. complete a total of 38 semester hours (see Curriculum section below for specifics). Only 30 percent of the total number of hours may be dually listed (5000-level meeting in conjunction with 4000- or 3000-level) courses; students without at least an undergraduate minor in psychology (at least 15 hours) will be required to complete up to 15 hours of additional psychology coursework that will not count toward the M.A. degree.
  5. complete PSY 6280 or PSY 6290.
  6. successfully write and orally present a written thesis evaluated by a committee of Psychology faculty in conjunction with PSY 6640.
  7. pass a written comprehensive examination prepared by the faculty in the student's concentration (may be taken no more than twice).
  8. maintain professional liability insurance (coverage amount at the student's discretion) throughout enrollment in the program, with a current insurance binder filed with the department at all times.


Candidate must complete 38 hours in the following course of study:

Required Courses (20 hours)

  • PSY 6060 - School Psychology: Ethics and Practice

    3 credit hours

    An introduction with particular emphasis on the ethical perspective. Adaptive instruction of behavior measures included, as are observations of classrooms and teacher interviews.

  • PSY 6080 - Interventions with Children and Adolescents

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisite: PSY 5250 or PSY 6400 or permission of instructor. Theoretical and practical issues related to interventions with children and adolescents exhibiting behavioral and emotional problems. Intervention strategies for specific problems. Experience designing and evaluating intervention plans. Legal, ethical, and practical issues.

  • PSY 6100 - Intellectual Assessment

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisite: PSY 4260/PSY 5260 or PSY 6050. Practical didactic instruction in theory and practice of cognitive assessment. Practical supervised experience in rapport, administration, scoring, and interpretation of individual intelligence tests for all age levels. Liability insurance required.

  • PSY 6101 - Laboratory in Intellectual Assessment

    1 credit hours

    Skill development in completing intellectual assessments, calculating scores, and conducting conferences in a laboratory setting.

  • PSY 6750 - Psychology and Assessment of Learning Disabilities

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisite: PSY 6100; corequisite: PSY 6760. Characteristics and biological bases of learning disabilities. Assessment methods including normative measures and CBMs, RTI, evidence-based interventions, as well as consultation strategies related to working with children with learning disabilities.

  • PSY 6760 - Educational Assessment

    1 credit hours

    Prerequisite: PSY 6100; corequisite: PSY 6750. Skills in conducting educational assessment for completing evaluations of children suspected of having learning disabilities. Liability insurance required prior to enrollment.

Abnormal Psychology (3 hours)


  • PSY 6400 - Psychological Disorders of Children

    3 credit hours

    Current research and theory of behavioral, cognitive, and emotional disorders in childhood and adolescence.

Learning or Cognition (3 hours)


  • PSY 6440 - Advanced Applied Behavioral Analysis

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisite: PSY 4400 or permission of instructor. Intensive presentation of methods used in behavioral assessment and interventions. Application of various behavioral techniques.

Developmental Psychology (3 hours)

Select one from the following:

  • PSY 6120 - Developmental Psychology: Child

    3 credit hours

    Reviews the major areas of child development. These areas include cognitive, emotional, and social development. Primary attention  will be devoted to the period of infancy through early adolescence. Covers both developmental theory and research.

  • PSY 6130 - Developmental Psychology: Adolescent

    3 credit hours

    Survey of research on adolescence from a biopsychosocial perspective. Student observation and study of developing adolescents from cognitive, biological, social, and psychological frameworks.

Research Methods (6 hours)

  • PSY 6615 - Basic and Applied Research Methods in Psychology

    3 credit hours

    Survey of experimental and quasi-experimental research designs employed in mental health fields. Theoretical and practical knowledge of various research designs and data analysis procedures explored through class lectures and lab assignments. Offers preparation for those training to become mental health practitioners to understand and critically evaluate psychological research.

  • PSY 6640 - Thesis Research  1 to 6 credit hours  (3 credit hours required) 

    PSY 6640 - Thesis Research

    1 to 6 credit hours

    Selection of a research problem, review of pertinent literature, collection and analysis of data, and composition of thesis. Once enrolled, student should register for at least one credit hour of master's research each semester until completion. S/U grading.

Statistics (3 hours)

Choose one:

  • PSY 6280 - Psychological Statistics: Regression

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisite: PSY 3020 or equivalent or admission to Psychology graduate program. Corequisite: PSY 6281. Review of basic statistics; various correlation coefficients; multiple and partial correlation; simple and multiple regression. Laboratory included.


  • PSY 6290 - Psychological Statistics: ANOVA

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisite: PSY 3020 or equivalent or admission to Psychology graduate program. Corequisite: PSY 6291. Review of basic statistics. Scientific quantification, research design, and statistical analysis from the perspective of analysis of variance: one-way, factorial, repeated measures, and mixed designs. Laboratory included.

Program Notes

Candidate must

  1. file a degree plan in the College of Graduate Studies prior to entry into the program;
  2. file a Notice of Intent to Graduate form in the College of Graduate Studies within the first two weeks of the term in which candidate intends to graduate.