The WCU School Psychology program is recognized as an approved training program by
the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). Our program is based on a
child advocacy model in which the needs of the child are at the center of all activities
engaged in by the school psychologist. Our students are trained to facilitate growth
in the development, behavior, and learning of children of all ages through a wide
range of activities including assessment and intervention as well as consultation
with teachers and parents. This training is based on an ecological and systems-level
perspective in which multiple levels of environmental factors (e.g., family, school,
community) are considered in influencing the development of the child) and focuses
on a cognitive-behavioral orientation toward treatment. Additionally, an understanding
of diversity and individual differences in child development is emphasized.
Throughout this program, students are provided with many diverse opportunities to
apply the knowledge they acquire through coursework out in the field. This includes
involvement with school systems in the region including four Charter Schools. The
public schools in this region also provide a unique picture of rural Appalachian communities
but also reflect changes related to the increased diversity within these communities.
In addition, the Cherokee Indian Reservation is located close by and there are also
school systems in the nearby Asheville area that provide a more inner-city perspective. The
students in this program also complete service learning and shadowing activities in
the local community as part of their courses in which they gain a clearer picture
of direct service delivery to students and families throughout the region.
Students' practica experiences are divided into an internal clinic placement and an
external field-based placement. The internal placement involves working in the Psychological
Services Clinic housed within the psychology department. Students in this practicum
placement complete a minimum of 6 comprehensive assessments of children and famlies.
Clinic placements are closely supervised, including direct supervision of assessments
and feedback sessions with families as well as review of audio and/or videotaping
of interactions with clients (and their families).
The external field-based practicum placement involves working in a school system within
the local community. The requirements for the external placement are a minimum of
2 full days per week working in the agency. The external placement requires students
to complete a minimum of 4 assessment cases, 1 behavioral or academic consultation
case, and 2 counseling cases. In addition, practicum students present the cases they're
seeing to their fellow students and engage in discussions on various topics related
to school psychology practice with other practicum students.
As part of the SSP program, students must complete a research requirement. Our students
can choose between completing either a Thesis or Research Project option. The thesis
may involve original experimental research, a replication of previous research, or
applied/action research such as single-subject case studies, program reviews, qualitative
studies, etc. The research project provides a way to demonstrate both research competency
and content knowledge competency outside of the formal requirements of a Thesis. The
focus of the Research Project will be on more applied research typically completed
in the schools during the internship year. Further information assisting students
in deciding between these two options is provided in the SSP Program Handbook. The
proposal for the thesis (prospectus) or research project must be completed and approved
prior to enrollment in Thesis hours, which occurs during the student's third year
in the program. Any student who does not meet these requirements will be exited from
the program. The final thesis or research project defense must be completed before
the student can apply for graduation.
Students are required to complete a 1200-hour internship following the completion
of formal coursework and practica experiences. The internship occurs during a single
academic year. Of the 1200 hours, at least half must occur in a school setting. This
internship is a two-semester experience in which the student demonstrates and applies
skills acquired during formal coursework and practica experiences. Students must receive
2 hours per week of supervision from a credentialed school psychologist during their
Completion of the School Psychologist Praxis II exam with a score at or above the
North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) licensure exam criteria of 159
is also required for graduation from our program. Additionally, students achieving
a score of 165 or higher on the Praxis II Exam are eligible to apply for the Nationally
Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) certification through the National Association
of School Psychologists.
All applications and supporting materials are submitted online through the graduate school. When the Graduate School has received the completed online file, the Department
of Psychology is notified for action.
The Psychology Department is very aggressive at seeking out Graduate Assistantships
for students entering graduate programs. Every year the Graduate school also offers
a limited number of in-state and out-of-state tuition reimbursements that are distributed
based on GRE and undergraduate GPA scores. In the past few years, most of the out-of-state
graduate students in the psychology department have received some sort of tuition
reimbursement. Our students are also very competitive for scholarship funds available
through the Graduate School.