The Masters and Specialist Degree in School Psychology is offered under the auspices of the Department of Psychology. Eastern is located in Charleston, Illinois, a city with a population of about 20,000. For those interested in a quiet setting, a wide variety of university activities, and close academic support, Eastern is an excellent choice. The Department of Psychology has 15 full-time faculty, about 400 undergraduate majors, and about 45 graduate students. The Department has a diverse faculty, reflecting many different viewpoints and orientations. Eastern's Department of Psychology offers Masters and Specialist Degree in School Psychology and a Master of Arts Degree in Clinical Psychology.
The School Psychology program is designed to provide high quality education and training to prepare competent school psychologists for meeting the educational and personal adjustment of children and adolescents in public and private schools. Based on the scientist-practitioner model, students develop skills in research, assessment, prevention, academic, psychological, and behavioral intervention, consultation with school professionals and parents, program development, and staff training.
Although the primary thrust of the program is to license school psychologists in the State of Illinois, many current graduates migrate to other states where they also qualify for state licensing.
Our graduates have had no difficulty finding employment. In fact, since the passing of federal legislation mandating psychological services for children with special needs, the employment market in school psychology has been very favorable. For those who wish to pursue a Specialist degree and work with school age children, school psychology is an excellent career choice. Further, salaries are very competitive, and many school psychologists work a nine or ten-month contract, which allows time to pursue other interests. School psychologists continue to be in high demand; according to the U.S. News and World Report (2015), the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) expects employment growth of nearly 22 percent in School Psychology by 2020 (http://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/school-psychologist).
The program is approved by the Illinois State Board of Education (http://www.isbe.net/profprep/pdfs/directory.pdf) and the National Association of School Psychologists (http://www.nasponline.org/standards-and-certification/graduate-program-approval/nasp-approved-programs) and recognized by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (http://www.ncate.org/NationallyRecognizedPrograms/tabid/165/Default.aspx). Such a recognition indicates the quality and rigor of the program.
For those students pursuing careers in School Psychology, the Specialist in School Psychology (S.S.P.) degree is granted en route to meeting state licensing requirements in the State of Illinois, although our graduates have no difficulty getting licensed in other states. Graduates of specialist level programs in school psychology are eligible to apply for the Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) upon fulfilling the internship requirements and passing the national school psychology examination (PRAXIS II). The specialist degree is generally considered to be the equivalent of a master's degree plus an additional thirty hours. Thus, our students earn a Masters degree en route to the Specialist Degree. The licensing requirements include that students take a minimum of 60 semester hours of coursework/practicum and internship.
Following successful completion of the Study Plan presented under Course Requirements, students are recommended for internship by the School Psychology Program Committee. The internship in school psychology is taken at a public school site under the supervision of a full-time practicing school psychologist. The paid internship is a full time academic experience. At Eastern, students are awarded the Specialist in School Psychology degree following successful completion of all program requirements including the internship and the thesis.