School Psychology

Master of Arts and Psychology Specialist Degrees

Program Overview

The School Psychology specialization of the M.A. degree, in combination with the Psy.S. degree in School Psychology, comprise Cleveland State University’s nationally approved (National Association of School Psychologists) and accredited (CAEP) School Psychology Program.  The program views school psychologists as agents of change in children’s lives, focusing on children’s behavior and functioning within family, school, and community systems. Particular emphasis is placed on the development of consultative, behavior analytic, and intervention skills within urban school settings.

The curriculum includes a total of 51 semester credit hours of coursework for the Master of Arts degree, and 30 semester credit hours for the post-Master's Psychology Specialist (Psy.S., post-M.A.) degree.

The first two years of study in the M.A. program phase provides intensive preparation in psychological foundations (e.g., child development, social psychology, research design) and in assessment methods (e.g., interviewing, observation, testing).

The second year of study includes a year-long, intensive (15 clock hours per week) field practicum to which students are assigned at the close of their first year of study. The third-year Psy.S. phase focuses on functional assessment of academic problems (with an emphasis on reading), problem-solving consultation, the role and function of the School Psychologist, and legal and ethical issues, as well as a series of seminars offered during the internship year to address issues of timely significance.  The Psy.S. degree is awarded upon successful completion of the internship and related coursework.

The program of study comprises a "lockstep" sequence in which students are admitted and enroll in classes as members of an annual cohort. This provision allows students to develop interpersonal and collegial relationships supportive of their academic and professional development, and to complete requirements in a coherent sequence in which experiences build on skills and competencies learned earlier in the program. The program does not presently offer an option for part-time study.

Refer to our Applying for Graduate Admissions page for information about admissions criteria and procedures.


Program Requirements

The program requires a 3-year commitment to full-time study. Students who already hold a graduate degree in a related area are welcome to apply for admission, but they must complete the CSU program curriculum in its entirety. Transfer of relevant credit hours from NASP-approved programs will be considered by the School Psychology Program Committee.

Click here to download a copy of the Application for Graduate Admission

Typical course sequences recommended to students entering the program in recent years may be found in the program handbooks will be provided to students. An example is also provided here:

Year One

Fall Semester

  • PSY 536               3             Functional Assessment of Behavior
  • PSY 513               3             Tests and Measurement in School Psychology
  • PSY 591               2             Lifespan Development I
  • PSY 626               3             Role & Function of the School Psychologist I

Spring Semester

  • PSY 525               3             Social Psychology
  • PSY 528               4             Intellectual Assessment and Practicum
  • PSY 537               3             Child and Adolescent Assessment and Intervention
  • PSY 564               3             Functional Assessment of Academic Behavior

Year Two

Fall Semester

  • PSY 511               4             Univariate Statistics
  • PSY 690               4             Field Placement I
  • PSY 672               3             Multicultural Psychology and Diversity
  • ESE 500               3             Introduction to Special Education

Spring Semester

  • PSY 572               3             Therapeutic  Interventions
  • PSY 637               3             Family-School Collaboration
  • PSY 691               4             Field Placement II
  • CNS 709               3             Clinical Psychopharmacology

Award of Master of Arts (M.A.) Degree: 51 semester credit hours

Year Three

Summer Session

  • PSY 670               2             Crisis Intervention in the Schools
  • PSY 694               2             Directed Observation in Schools
  • PSY 726               3             Role and Function of the School Psychologist II
  • PSY 730               2             Reading Assessment and Intervention
  • PSY 735               3             System Consultation in School Psychology
  • PSY 736               2             Student-based Consultation in School Psychology

Year Three (Fall and Spring Semesters)

  • PSY 790/791    12           Supervised Experience in School Psychology I (6) and II (6)
  • PSY 795/796    4             Internship Seminar I (2) and II (2)

Award of Psychology Specialist (Psy.S.) Degree: 30 semester credit hours

For descriptions of course content, see the Cleveland State University Graduate Catalog


The School Psychology faculty are actively engaged in a variety of program-related activities, including research, supervision, professional development and service to local schools and educational personnel, service to professional associations, and consultation regarding program development and evaluation. Faculty are committed to the development of strong relationships with students as an important basis for professional growth, providing mentoring, research supervision, ongoing evaluation, and opportunities to contribute to faculty research endeavors.

Areas of faculty research interest include:

  • Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS)
  • School-based service delivery models
  • Intervention consultation with teachers and parents
  • Grade retention practices
  • Professional issues in school psychology

More detailed information on faculty interests can be found in the faculty's CVs and faculty profile pages, which can be accessed below.

Faculty Profile Title Email
Colleen McMahon Associate Professor
Kathy McNamara Professor
Patrick Frato College Lecturer


Next Steps for School Psychology Graduates and FAQ

Numerous career opportunities are available to graduates of the program, both immediately upon graduation and following subsequent additional training:

Immediate opportunities

Successful completion of the Psy.S. program in School Psychology confers immediate eligibility for School Psychologist credentials from the Ohio Department of Education (educator licensure), authorizing employment by schools throughout Ohio. Graduates are also eligible to receive the Nationally Certified School Psychologist designation.


A platform for subsequent opportunities:

The Ohio State Board of Psychology School Psychologist license can be obtained upon completion of additional post-degree requirements, including several years of professional practice and successful performance on a Board-administered examination.

Recent graduates of the School Psychology program have been employed in public school districts, early childhood programs, day treatment centers for youth with serious emotional disturbances, and nonpublic schools.


Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How do I apply to the program?

To apply to the CSU School Psychology Program, you will need to submit (a) GRE scores, (b) a personal statement addressing the two questions on the application, (c) transcripts, and (d) two letters of recommendation, one of which should be from a former or current instructor. Directions for applying to our graduate program are available on the CSU College of Graduate Studies web page ( The CSU School Psychology program faculty  review all applications which include (a) GRE scores (b) official undergraduate and graduate transcripts (c) two letters of recommendation, and (d) completion of a personal statement.  We review the entire application and then invite highly rated applicants for an on-campus group interview.  Following the group interview(s), we send offers of admissions.


  1. What kinds of experience and skills are you looking for in a successful application?

Applications that provide evidence of academic achievement, particularly in psychology, interpersonal competence, familiarity with the profession of school psychology, and experience with children are preferred.  The personal statement, academic record (i.e., transcript(s) and GRE), and the recommendation letters should highlight the applicant’s strengths in these areas. Most of our students possess a BA or BS in Psychology, a few hold a BA in Education, and occasionally, students with other majors (e.g., Business, History, Communications) and a Psychology minor have been admitted. 

For letters of recommendation, two letters which speak to the applicant's academic skills, work ethic, career goals, and interpersonal competence are sufficient. It is not necessary that both letters come from faculty; one letter from a professor or instructor and one from a work supervisor is fine. We recommend three letters only if the third letter provides unique information about the applicant, different than what is described above. For example, a supervisor from a volunteer experience may add different information that a work supervisor or a faculty member. 

It is important that applicants know that a career in school psychology is different than a career in counseling or clinical psychology. The personal statement is the primary source faculty use to determine an applicant’s knowledge regarding school psychology. Also, make sure that your references know that you are seeking admission to a school psychology, not counseling or clinical psychology graduate program.


  1. I am trying to decide between a career in school psychology and counseling. What is the difference between the professions?

If you have general questions about school psychology training and careers, you can learn more at the National Association of School Psychologists’ web site (at the following link: We advise potential applicants that school psychologists engage in many professional activities and services including consultation with teachers and parents, prevention, assessment of student performance, systems change, and direct interventions with students. Counselors spend more of their time working directly with students and less time in the type of indirect service delivery that school psychologists provide.


  1. I read online that there is a Master of Art’s (M.A.) and Psychology Specialist (Psy.S.) degree programs at Cleveland State. To which program should I apply?

The CSU School Psychology Program includes two degree phases: Master’s of Art (M.A.) and Psychology Specialist (Psy.S.). Both degrees are required to obtain licensure as a school psychologist in Ohio. Applicants to the CSU School Psychology program, including those with previous master’s degrees, must apply to the M.A. degree phase of the program. Students who complete the M.A. degree phase are then eligible to apply for the Psy.S. phase.


  1. Are students admitted in the Fall, Spring, or Summer? How many applications do you receive and how many students are admitted each year?

The CSU School Psychology program admits students once per year; students are admitted in the spring for admission into the fall cohort. We receive an average of 63 completed applications and admit  10-12 students per year.


  1. I do not have a Psychology degree (or a Psychology minor). Am I still eligible to apply for admission to the School Psychology Program?

A psychology degree is not required for admittance to the CSU School Psychology Program, however, students need a solid foundation in psychology to succeed in the program. If applicants do not have a minor in psychology we require successful completion (i.e., grade of B or higher) of undergraduate coursework in introduction to psychology, measurement and statistics, development, and abnormal psychology. The courses do not have to be taken at CSU nor do applicants need to complete them prior to application. If you have questions about which specific courses we require, please contact Colleen McMahon ( or Patrick Frato ( We do require that courses be completed by the start of your graduate program in the fall.  


  1. I have a master’s degree in another field. Do I have to retake the GRE’s?

No, you do not need to retake the GRE’s if you have a master’s degree.


  1. Do I need to take the subject (Psychology) GRE?

No, you do not need to take the subject GRE to be considered for admission to the program.


  1. I completed related graduate courses at another university. Will I be able to transfer these credits toward a School Psychology degree at CSU?

We frequently admit students who have previous graduate training.  Applicants with previous graduate coursework may submit transcripts and syllabi for an estimate of the number and type of courses which would be acceptable for transfer or credit-by-exam. Once an applicant has been admitted to the program, the committee will conduct a formal review of the previous transcript and work experience for possible transfer credits, credit by exam, and/or reduction in practicum requirements. The College of Graduate Studies limits transfer credits to courses with earned grades of B or higher and courses no older than 6 years.  It is important to note that that transfer and other credits do not reduce the time it takes to complete the program (i.e., three years).  


  1. I am worried that my GRE scores will hurt my admission chances. How do GRE scores influence admission decisions?

Program faculty members review the entire application and the GRE score is just one factor that we consider.  On average, successful applicants average a GRE score at around the 50th percentile. The GRE scores are used as evidence of academic achievement and ability to handle the academic rigor of the graduate program.  Grades and evidence provided in the recommendation letters are also used to determine academic readiness for graduate training. In summary, we look at the entire application, not a single variable in our admission decisions.


  1. When are courses offered?

The CSU School Psychology Program is full-time only. Most courses are offered during the day, Mondays through Thursdays, with one evening course scheduled per semester.                


  1. Can the program be completed online?

No, the CSU School Psychology program is an on-campus, full-time graduate program.


  1. Can I work and attend the program?

Most graduate students work part-time and complete the program. It is not realistic to maintain a full-time job and complete the program.


  1. Is there an admission interview?

Yes. Invitations to come to campus for a group interview are offered to those applicants whose application file was rated highly by program faculty.


  1. How should I prepare for the group admission interview?

Applicants are divided into groups of 6-8 and asked several questions about their interest and knowledge about school psychology, views about child learning and behavior, and plans after graduate school. The interview does not require special preparation beyond that to complete the admission application.


  1. How much does it cost to complete the school psychology program at CSU?

Tuition for graduate students is currently $531 per credit hour. We currently require completion of is approximately 80 credit hours.


  1. Are graduate assistantships and tuition grants available?

Graduate assistantships are available throughout campus. Once admitted to a graduate program, students are eligible to apply. More information is available at . The Psychology Department offers the opportunity for new graduate students to apply for tuition grants in the Spring semester of their first year and Fall semester of their second year of graduate training.

Ohio has a school psychology internship program which has been funded by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE).  Contingent upon continued funding, third year school psychology students (interns) receive state funding during the internship year.


  1. What financial aid is available to graduate students?

Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Further information about financial aid, loans, scholarships, and grants may be found at .


  1. Do students find their own practicum and internship sites? Are placements all in the Cleveland area?

Field practicum placement and internship placements are assigned by program faculty.  Students may request a non-NE Ohio placement assignment for either practicum or internship, but not both.


  1. When will I hear from the program once I have completed my application?

The application deadline is January 10, 2015. Invitations for group interviews will likely be sent in late January. Group interviews will be held in early February, 2015. Admission offers will be sent via email in mid to late February and will continue until we have a full cohort (10-12 students) for August, 2015.