How do I access the application for this program?
Go to the "Apply Now" tab of the Cratis D. Williams Graduate School web pages for prospective students and follow instructions there to initiate an application. PLEASE NOTE that the School Psychology program is considered a dual-degree program. Thus, when beginning the online application process, an applicant must reply 'YES' to the question "Do you want to apply for more than one program?" in order to have the option of selecting our School Psychology program.
In lieu of submitting a "Personal Statement" essay, applicants should compose thoughtful answers to the questions noted in this questionnaire [DOCX]. When prompted to do so, you will copy and paste your response to each question into the text box provided in the application (you will not upload the questionnaire document). NOTE: For each question, there is a 200-word limit.
How many applicants do you typically have each year? How many do you admit?
The number of completed applications typically ranges from 50 to 80, and the applicant pool is highly competitive. We typically admit 8 - 10 new students.
What is your admission deadline? Do you accept students at more than one time per year?
February 1 is the deadline for applicants wishing to receive priority consideration for required admissions interviews. Admissions decisions will be made immediately after those interview dates. Thus, an application, including all supporting documentation (e.g., transcripts, letters of references, etc.), should be submitted by February 1. Applicants submitting after the February 1 deadline are much less likely to be considered for our required interviews in March. Admissions decisions are generally finalized by the end of April. All MA + SSP students begin the program in the fall and progress through the program as part of a cohort. (Start dates and course sequences vary for Specialist-only admittees.)
Do you offer your program online, through distance learning, in the evenings, or part-time?
We have no provision for part-time enrollment, distance learning, or online classes, and very few of our classes are scheduled in the evenings. Training in this field requires, in our opinion, the kind of hands-on learning and face-to-face supervision that can be delivered best through an on-campus program. Students proceed through the program as a cohort, in a sequential fashion, on a full-time basis. Commuting to Boone to undertake a rigorous graduate program while remaining employed is strongly discouraged.
What are you looking for in applicants to your program?
We expect an applicant to have a solid undergraduate record, which generally means a GPA above 3.25 and evidence of success in upper-level Psychology classes, especially statistics, research methods, and tests & measurement, although we do not have firm requirements regarding prerequisite coursework. We also expect good GRE scores (i.e., percentile scores at or above the average range of 25th-75th percentile) and prior experiences that have allowed the applicant to gain knowledge and self-awareness pertinent to the field of school psychology. We look for answers to our application questionnaire that are well written and concise and reflect good understanding of the field of School Psychology and of the applicant's "match" with the field, as well as awareness of why Appalachian's program would be a good fit. We pay particular attention to the most recent and most relevant information in the applicant's file. Information gathered from personal, on-campus interviews supplements the data submitted by the applicant via the online application.
We examine all the available evidence to help us answer these fundamental questions:
- Can this applicant succeed in this highly rigorous program?
- Has this applicant made a careful, well-educated choice regarding this career, this University, and this Program?
- Can this applicant become an excellent School Psychologist, a credit to both the discipline and our program?
What are the typical GPAs and GREs of successful applicants to your program?
We have no minimum GPA or GRE cut-offs, per se. However, competitive applicants typically have undergraduate GPAs in the 3.25 to 4.0 range; GRE scores typically are at or above the 40th percentile.
For applicants who have taken the GRE more than once, we consider all submitted scores. For applicants who have a graduate degree, we consider both the graduate and the undergraduate GPA.
How should I prepare for graduate training in school psychology?
Preparation has three basic components: preparatory coursework, relevant experiential activities, and exploration of the career and its appropriateness for you. All three are essential to your preparation for graduate training in School Psychology.
You should aim for solid performance in your undergraduate coursework, especially in upper-level Psychology classes, including statistics, research methods, and tests and measurement. Coursework in related areas, such as Educational Foundations, Special Education, Communication Disorders, Social Work, etc., is appropriate.
Also recommended are relevant internships or employment experiences involving children, especially those with special needs, as well as research experience with one or more of your undergraduate professors. (Although these experiences are important, you are discouraged from sacrificing your undergraduate GPA to get them into your schedule.)
We strongly recommend that prospective applicants explore not only the field of School Psychology but also other related career options, including Professional School Counseling, School Social Work, etc. Here are some suggestions:
- You should thoroughly explore the website of the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) (www.nasponline.org), paying particular attention to the links about Becoming a School Psychologist. (It also would be a good idea to follow other links and gauge your interest in the content. If you are bored or disengaged, perhaps this is not the career for you.)
- For information about related careers, you might visit these sites:
- Interview at least one School Psychologist (and other professionals whose fields you are considering) to gain insight into day-to-day roles and both positive and negative aspects of the job. If possible, "shadow" one or more of these individuals as well. (Note: Shadowing requires considerable advance notice so that necessary arrangements can be made for your visit. Therefore, you should contact the individual well in advance, show appreciation for his/her effort in setting up the visit, and cancel only if you have an emergency.)
Is it possible to enter the program with an undergrad major other than Psychology?
Although it is technically possible to enter the program with a totally unrelated background, such an applicant would be at a distinct disadvantage for a number of reasons. For example, several of our core graduate psychology courses, particularly the Research Methods sequence would be very challenging for someone with no psychology background. We also require that students take the Praxis School Psychologist exam, which contains considerable basic psychology content. Therefore, an applicant with a non-psychology background would need to provide clear evidence that he or she could succeed in our program. Such evidence might include a high undergraduate GPA with rigorous coursework, strong GRE scores (including, perhaps, the GRE Subject Test in Psychology), and successful completion of rigorous post-baccalaureate Psychology classes, particularly in statistics and research methods. Such applicants also should demonstrate substantial understanding of what the field of School Psychology encompasses and obvious commitment to the field.
What if I took time off after completing my undergraduate degree?
Generally, waiting to enroll in graduate school is not seen as a disadvantage, especially if one has remained involved with children, youth, or schools in some way. In fact, the maturity and added experience and insights that often come with such a delay can produce distinct advantages for the applicant.
What if I already have a master's degree?
Applicants who have non-psychology graduate degrees rarely meet more than one or two of our course requirements through coursework in their previous graduate programs. For students with master's degrees in psychology, the program requires a minimum of 42 hours to attain the Specialist in School Psychology degree (SSP). A careful graduate transcript review by the School Psychology Program Director would be required to determine what additional coursework would be necessary to complete the SSP.
Technically, there is no set track for students completing the SSP only. Your program of study would be determined after we reviewed your entire graduate transcript and, perhaps, relevant graduate syllabi.
Students pursuing the SSP-only track typically must complete on-campus coursework spanning two semesters (including one school-based practicum each semester) plus a summer, followed by the year-long internship. The internship can be in any location of the student's choosing, as long as the site agrees to our internship requirements.
In addition to coursework, some SSP-only students must pass competency assessments of their skills in areas for which they have had prior training, such as counseling and assessment with children, particularly if their prior training was completed several years ago or focused primarily on working with adults.
Can I transfer graduate hours from another graduate program?
The graduate school's policy regarding transfer credit is as follows: A candidate may, with permission of the program director, request approval from the Graduate School to transfer up to 9 semester hours (6 hours for thesis students) of graduate coursework from an approved graduate school. Graduate work included in a previous degree from another institute may not be included on a Program of Study. Transfer credits are also subject to the 7-year time limit requirement.
An applicant/student must provide the Program Director with course descriptions and syllabi for the proposed transfer courses in order to determine whether courses from another university would be accepted for transfer credit. Even if graduate hours are deemed non-transferable, an applicant's performance in previous graduate classes would provide evidence about the applicant's ability to succeed in graduate-level work and, thereby, might strengthen his or her graduate application.
What types of financial assistance are available?
Over the past 15 years, virtually all of our admitted students who have requested them have received graduate assistantships. In the Department of Psychology, the typical 10-hour assistantship pays $5500 for the academic year, in exchange for 10 hours of work per week in the Department. (Occasionally, students have been offered 15-hour assistantships.) The work of a graduate assistant typically involves assisting a professor with teaching- and/or research-related tasks, and the pay rate is equivalent to more than $16 per hour. Assistantship funding is deposited directly to the graduate student's "Student Account" and is applied to University charges for tuition and fees. Applicants in need of financial assistance are urged to apply for assistantships during the online application process. Graduate assistants must carry at least a 9-hour academic load and maintain a 3.00 GPA.
NC Tuition Scholarships for out-of-state students are extremely limited. In recent years, the program has only had ONE NC Tuition Scholarship to offer an incoming student. Technically, it is the Graduate School that awards the NCTS, based on the applicant's GRE scores (Verbal + Quantitative) and undergraduate GPA. The NCTS is applied ONLY to the first year of enrollment; awardees are expected to begin establishing in-state residency immediately upon deciding to matriculate at AppState and are eligible to apply for in-state status after one full year of NC residency.
Several University-wide fellowships and scholarships also are available on a competitive basis through the Graduate School. These include three $3000 fellowships and twenty $1000 fellowships available to beginning graduate students, and six $2000 scholarships open to all graduate students. Applicants in need of financial assistance are urged to apply for scholarships during the application process. For more information and application forms for these awards, visit the Graduate School website (assistantships, scholarships, tuition and fees).
Do students in your program complete a master's thesis?
No, we do not have a thesis track. However, research is an important function of school psychologists, and so all of our students are actively engaged in research activities throughout their enrollment. During the third-year internship, each intern completes an applied research project that addresses research questions of interest to personnel at the internship site; this project is completed under the guidance of a faculty member.
Does your program require face-to-face interviews?
Yes, our program requires that applicants come to campus for personal interviews (or that they participate in online, virtual interviews if they are participating in study abroad experiences that preclude visiting campus). The interview allows us to evaluate further the applicant's "match" with the field and with our program, as well as his or her interpersonal skills. Interviews are critical to our admissions decisions. (NOTE: Being invited to interview should NOT be interpreted as an indication that an applicant will receive an offer of admission or be placed on our waitlist.)
Whom should I ask to write letters of reference for me?
The most effective letters come from professors and professional supervisors who know you very well and also know what it takes to succeed in graduate school. Much less useful are references from professors who don't know you well or from family friends or non-academic employers who are not familiar with graduate school demands. Our best advice regarding references is this: Well before applying to graduate school, you should work closely with at least one of your undergraduate professors in his or her research lab or clinic so s/he can write a strong letter of reference for you. Another good strategy is to complete a relevant internship and request a letter from your internship supervisor.
How should I send my transcripts and letters of recommendation?
All components of the application, except transcripts, should be submitted online. Additional application questions can be answered at this website:
How and where are practica and internships arranged for your students?
Practicum experiences are arranged for our students by the professor teaching the Practicum I and Practicum II classes. Typically, students are placed in two different kinds of school districts for the two, semester-long practica. For example, one placement might be in a rural setting, the other in a suburban or urban setting. One might be close to Boone, the other some distance away. Students sometimes assist in suggesting possible practicum sites, based on their own familiarity with certain school districts or a district's proximity to family who might provide the student with a night or two of housing per week during the practicum placement.
Students arrange their own internships, with guidance provided by the program faculty. Students may intern anywhere they choose, as long as the site is willing to abide by program requirements for the internship. Per NASP guidelines, internships comprise 1200 contact hours, 600 of which must be in a school setting, completed full-time over one year or part-time over two years.