University of Connecticut University of UC Title Fallback Connecticut

Doctoral Program Overview

The program requires a minimum of 120 semester hours of coursework beyond the baccalaureate degree including the practica and internship, and 15 hours of dissertation research. It is designed so that students can complete all doctoral program requirements after 5 years of full-time graduate study. The typical student usually takes 5-6 years (5 = median; 6 = average) to complete all program requirements. It is a policy of the program that all courses, seminars, and other learning experiences are restricted exclusively to graduate students. Students are allowed to transfer graduate credit based on a syllabus review completed by faculty advisor. Program requirements exclude credit for undergraduate study, study that is remedial, or study which is designed to remove deficiencies in meeting admission standards. In order to obtain a doctoral degree, the student must be enrolled in the UConn program for at least three years, even if he/she already has a MA/6th year degree.

The doctoral program adheres to the scientist-practitioner model of graduate education in psychology. Students are involved in a systematic and reasoned sequential plan of study of integrated didactic and applied courses. The sequential plan of study is designed to aid students’ attainment of a knowledge base and the expertise to enhance the practice of school psychology through the employment of the scientific method.

During the first year of the doctoral program, students are enrolled in several foundation courses designed to provide expertise in the use of the scientific method and a knowledge base in psychology and education. Students are also involved in coursework dealing with ethics, individual differences, and intellectual and behavioral assessment. Students are involved in practicum during the spring semester.

The second year of the doctoral program builds on the student’s knowledge base in psychology and education, multicultural aspects, their expertise in assessment, research methodology, and consultation. Students take courses that deal with the design and implementation of interventions, as well as courses that deal with technical writing and research ethics. In addition, students are involved throughout their second year of study in practicum.

The third year of the doctoral program focuses on the cognitive and developmental aspects of psychology, and on aspects of the professional practice of school psychology. During the spring semester, students take a course that introduces them to developing their dissertation proposal. Throughout the third year of study, students continue to be involved in practicum.

During the fourth year of the doctoral program, students take courses about social psychology and the history of psychology. Students are also expected to complete their doctoral dissertation research during their fourth year of study. In addition, students continue to be involved in practicum throughout the fourth year of study.

The fifth year of the doctoral program involves the culminating experience of a full-time supervised internship in school psychology.


Ph.D. Examinations

General Examination. Doctoral students in school psychology should take their general examinations near the end of their third year of study and no later than within 5 years after beginning their doctoral study. The examination is under the sole jurisdiction of the student’s faculty advisory committee that is selected by the student. At least five faculty, including the student’s advisory committee, must participate in the examination. The general examination is comprised of two components: a standardized examination, and an applied, research-related,
examination that may include both written and oral components.

The standardized examination, the Praxis Series – School Psychologist (code 0401; 2008) is administered by the Educational Testing Service. Students take the examination (1) after admission to the sixth-year program; (2) after completing approximately 69 hours of their coursework. The standardized examination provides an assessment of content in concert with national standards, and allows for the evaluation of our students relative to a nation-wide reference group. Beginning in September 2014, a new version of the Praxis will be administered. It is designed to align with the NASP 2010 Standards. The examination involves multiple-choice questions covering the following four content areas:

(1) Professional Practices, Practices that Permeate All Aspects of Service and Delivery
(2) Direct and Indirect Services for Children, Families, and Schools (Student-Level Services)
(3) System-Level Services
(4) Foundations of School Psychological Service Delivery

The applied, research-related component of the general examination involves the design and oral defense of a research study that may result in the conduction of a pilot study, and/or serve as the student’s dissertation proposal (prior to preparing the dissertation proposal or the conduction of a pilot study, the student must pass the Course in the Protection of Human Research Subjects (CITI) which is comprised of 17 required, and 7 optional modules).

Dissertation Proposal

All dissertation research must be directed by a member of the core faculty as the major advisor. Preparation and acceptance of the dissertation proposal should follow current Department and University guidelines. This includes the submission of a written document outlining the intended scope of the dissertation. Approval must be initially obtained by the student’s major advisor, subsequent to reviews by the student’s associate advisors, plus two additional faculty who serve as outside readers. The student will then orally present and defend the proposal to his/her advisory committee. Note: Specific guidelines regarding dissertation procedures can be obtained from the Department of Educational Psychology main office. They are also posted on the EPSY website and are referred to in the timeline.

Final Examination

After being admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree, and completing the dissertation, the final oral examination or dissertation defense is conducted. The content of the final examination is primarily related to the student’s dissertation. At least five faculty members, including all of the student’s advisory committee, must participate in the final examination. However, the decision regarding the student’s performance
rests solely with the advisory committee.

The course requirements, timetable for the completion of Ph.D. program requirements, and the recommended sequence of coursework are appended. The course sequence included in this handbook is intended for students who are entering the program in the fall of 2014. Current students may follow the course sequence in the handbook that they received as incoming students.

Prerequisite Criminal History Check

Pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes § 10-221d , all admitted students must have a criminal background check (fingerprinting) 30 days prior to being involved in any school-based clinical experience, or placed in a practicum or internship setting. Students who have been convicted of a crime may experience difficulty obtaining a placement in practica or internship. Some convictions will result in automatic disqualification of the student’s placement, or ultimately denial of professional certification by the Connecticut State Department of
Education (CSDE). The Neag School of Education (NSE) is required, at the time the student applies to the CSDE for certification as a school psychologist, to attest to whether or not the student “has the qualities of character and personal fitness” to be certified; consequently, the NSE will review the circumstances involved in the student receiving a negative background check. Although there is a review by NSE, the school districts will ultimately decide whether or not the student can fulfill their required practicum and internship requirements in their districts, and CSDE will ultimately decide whether or not the student will be certified in the State of Connecticut as a school psychologist, even after successful completion of all program requirements.

Practica Requirements

The practica sequence was developed in accordance with APA and NASP guidelines that require planned supervised experiences that include direct service and formally scheduled supervision. The primary focus of the practicum is to adequately prepare students for their internships. The practica experiences are designed to have a direct relationship to the objectives of the practicum as outlined in the document entitled Description of Practicum (2014). Further, the practicum experiences are provided under conditions of appropriate supervision and are distinct from and occur prior to the internship. The practicum is designed to provide students with planned, supervised experiences of directed observations and participation in educational settings with emphasis on empirically supported practices. In addition, the practicum is designed to ensure the student has sufficient supervised experiences to provide an early exposure and identification with the professional practice of school psychology. The field experiences are coordinated with coursework to allow students ample opportunity to combine their theoretical and practical knowledge in a supervised situation. Students are required to spend time in the public schools and may spend additional time in other approved school-related agencies or clinics. A student’s practicum placement will have implications for internship possibilities. Practicum settings are selected on the basis of their support of the program’s training objectives. Prior to, and during the practicum, students must complete specified practicum related coursework, as well as enroll in EPSY 5092 – Practicum in School Psychology, or EPSY 6494 – Doctoral Practicum in School Psychology. The practicum is the joint responsibility of the school psychology faculty at the
University and the participating school districts and mental health agencies, supervision is provided both on-site and within the University structure.

Practicum experiences in a school or related educational setting are a required component of program completion and graduation. Students must meet all standards and requirements necessary to complete required practicum including, but not limited to fingerprinting and/or criminal background checks. Failure to do so will result in an inability to complete the program.

It is important to note that the results of a student’s criminal background check may prevent a student from completing a practicum placement. The practicum placement will make the determination whether a student can receive experiences within that site. The School cannot guarantee that a student will be accepted into any required practicum placement sites. Failure to complete all required practicum activities will prevent a student from graduating from the program.


Internship Requirements

The internship in school psychology complies with APA and NASP standards. The full description of the internship is outlined in the document entitled Description of Internship (Syllabus). The internship occurs at or near the end of the student’s formal training. The internship is the joint responsibility of the School Psychology Program and the participating school districts and internship field placements. The internship settings are selected on the basis of their appropriateness relative to the specific training objectives of the program and with sensitivity to the student’s professional background and goals. The daily supervision of interns is conducted by approved field
supervisors in concert with School Psychology Program faculty.

The field-based internship supervisors are either certified school psychologists, or in non-school settings, licensed psychologists. The field-based internship supervisors are responsible for no more than two interns at any given time. The University of Connecticut internship supervisor is responsible for no more than 12 interns at any given time. Further, the University-based supervisor maintains an on-going relationship with the field-based internship supervisors. In addition, interns are required to attend bi-weekly, on-campus meetings throughout the period of their internships.

The internship is designed to enhance the development of competencies and professionalism and to be the culminating experience of the student’s program. As such, the internship allows the student to participate in educational settings and the opportunity to integrate coursework, research, theory, and practical experiences in a supervised, applied setting. To be eligible for internship, the student must have: (1) completed a master’s degree program in School Psychology; (2) completed all practica requirements; (3) successfully passed the master’s
Qualifying Examination and the National School Psychology Examination (Praxis Series 0401); and (4) for doctoral students, the dissertation proposal must have been approved. While on internship, students must enroll in a minimum of 3 credit hours per semester.

The internship occurs on a full-time basis over a period of one academic year, or on a half-time basis over a period of two consecutive years. This amounts to approximately 1500 clock hours of supervised experiences relevant to the practice of school psychology of which a minimum of 600 hours must be in a school setting.

Doctoral students with prior, appropriately supervised, experience in school settings are not necessarily required to complete their 1500-hour internships in schools. These students may be placed in other supervised settings that are both appropriate to the professional practice of school psychology and compliment the student’s professional interests and goals.