Department of Psychology logo
School Psychology Program Graduate Programs

Doctoral students are expected to achieve the masters goals and to achieve greater competence in practice areas, but particularly in the areas of research, interventions, and supervision.

Areas of Competency

1. Professional Competencies

  • Roles, Functions, Settings: develop knowledge and skills related to the range of roles and settings in which school psychologists practice at the individual, group, and system level
  • Standards: acquire knowledge and use of recognized standards of practice for the profession
  • Ethics: develop the knowledge and skills needed to implement the ethical guidelines related to the practice of the profession
  • Legal Issues: become familiar with the local, state, and federal rules and regulations associated with the practice of school psychology
  • History: acquire knowledge of the major historical developments, events, persons, and issues in the development of the profession of school psychology
  • Regulation: acquire knowledge of the major regulatory factors of the profession and become familiar with accountability methods in the delivery of school psychological services
  • Professional Organizations: become familiar with the professional associations and literature of school psychology
  • Research: understand and comply with the professional guidelines regarding the legal and ethical responsibilities of conducting psychological research
  • Supervision Skills: oversee the supervision of other providers of school psychological services, including direct and indirect intervention services

2. Assessment Competencies

  • Case Conceptualization: understand the unique nature of each psychoeducational referral and determine appropriate assessment approaches, procedures, and instruments to answer referral questions and guide remediation
  • Clinical Skills: develop the necessary interpersonal skills to establish and maintain rapport, interview, motivate, observe, and manage the behavior of examinees
  • Communication Skills: acquire basic skills needed to disseminate assessment results to clients and other relevant persons
  • Measurement Knowledge: develop requisite psychometric knowledge to select, use, and evaluate available instrumentation and conduct within- and cross-instrument interpretation
  • Construct Knowledge: develop an understanding of common theories related to the constructs assessed (e.g., intelligence, achievement, personality)
  • Test Administration: develop an ability to administer, score, and interpret tests, write psychological reports, and orally communicate results when using standardized and alternative assessment strategies
  • Appreciation of Current Issues: develop an understanding of current issues in assessment, including those related to test use and interpretation, political/social issues, and new developments in psychoeducational assessment
  • Understanding of Developmental Issues: develop an understanding of the manner in which individuals differ on a wide variety of psychological and biological variables across the age-span, especially as assessment relates to students' educational abilities, behavioral characteristics and the psychological constructs under consideration

3. Intervention Competencies

  • Theory Related to Consultation and Counseling: understand the major theories of counseling/consultation and how theory relates to practice
  • Prevention and Wellness: acquire knowledge regarding life competencies, healthy school environments, and effective teaching and apply psychology to create healthy systems and individuals
  • Case Conceptualization: use theory and data to create and support hypotheses regarding client's current psychological functioning; set goals related to the client's academic, emotional, and social needs and establish a linkage between assessment and intervention
  • Consultation and Collaboration Skills: develop the knowledge and skills needed to implement an ecological, problem-centered model of consultation; become an effective multidisciplinary team member; and understand factors related to successful home-school-community collaboration
  • Clinical Skills: develop the necessary interpersonal skills to establish and maintain rapport and conduct individual, group, family, and crisis interventions
  • Communication Skills: develop effective written and oral communication skills and use appropriate technologies in the dissemination of information related to school psychological services
  • Social-Emotional Interventions: acquire a knowledge-base regarding the research on the social and emotional needs of children and create empirically-supported interventions addressing mental health issues that influence academic performance
  • Academic Interventions: acquire a knowledge-base regarding the research on learning and teaching, the development of basic academic skills, classroom behavior management, academic engaged time, and assessment of instructional environments and create empirically-supported academic interventions

4. School/Organization Ecology

  • Organizational Dynamics: acquire knowledge regarding the organizational dynamics of schools, communities, and mental health settings
  • Assessment: acquire knowledge regarding the appropriate assessment of district, school, and classroom structure and structure within community agency/clinical settings
  • Personnel Development: assist in the continuing education of school personnel regarding psychological issues
  • Healthy School Climate: promote effective teaching and professional collaboration, using psychological literature to create schools that are safe and nurturing
  • Collegial Relationships: acquire skills needed to develop collegial relationships with other professionals within a school or other organizational structure
  • Leadership Roles: acquire the skills needed to act in a leadership role within both school and clinical settings

5. Diversity and Individual Differences

  • Standards: knowledge of the importance of cultural, linguistic, ethnic, gender, sexual, socioeconomic, and geographic diversity in the practice of school psychology, including cross-cultural perspectives
  • Interventions: implementation of appropriate interventions that address the characteristics of the child (e.g., cultural background, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status) and understanding of the influence of individual characteristics on the effectiveness of interventions.
  • Assessment: develop an appreciation for and knowledge of issues related to fairness and bias in testing

6. Research

  • Consume Scholarly Literature: maintain current understanding of the scientific foundation for the field by regularly reading professional literature
  • Research Design: understand and implement the research process, including design selection, threats to validity and reliability, and operationalization of the different types of variables (e.g., independent, dependent, moderating, and mediating)
  • Computer Applications: acquire skill needed to organize, enter, manage, manipulate, and analyze data using common statistical software packages (e.g., SPSS, SAS)
  • Statistical Applications: select and employ the appropriate statistical procedures given the nature of the data, the research design, and the question or hypothesis presented
  • Measurement Tools: acquire knowledge needed to select measurement devises of the highest quality when used for research purposes
  • Produce Scholarly Literature: conduct independent research that adds to the scientific base of the field
  • Treatment Effectiveness: develop knowledge and skills related to progress monitoring and program evaluation, the scientist-practitioner model, and the use of technologies to make data-based intervention decisions
  • APA Style: understand and write research reports according to the Style Manual of the American Psychological Association

Developing a Plan of Study

Each student meets with an advisor to develop a plan of studies prior to beginning the first semester. The initial plan identifies the work of the first one or two semesters and the plan is updated during each semester in the program. The plan of studies is retained by the advisor and the student. The PhD requirements are designed in accordance with the expectations for state and national program approval and for achieving state and national credentialing. Therefore, electives or alternate courses for requirements must be chosen only with the approval of the advisor. Following advising, the student must request that the advisor or the main office secretary clear the student for registration in the university system. Doctoral students must develop a subspecialty area around a minimum of 18 semester hours of course work and experiences. The subspecialty is to be chosen and developed in consultation with an advisor. Although the PhD curriculum incorporates the MA/EdS curriculum, the sequence of work differs.

Summary of Degree Areas

Hours Required

Major Field Core






M.S. Thesis


Comprehensive Exams


Practicum & Internship




Total Hours


All students on assistantship must be enrolled for 12 hrs. each semester except in summer session. First year students enroll for PSYC 7621: Research Practicum (3 hrs.) for fall and spring semesters.

Text Only | Print | Got a Question? Ask TOM | Contact Us | Memphis, TN 38152 | 901/678-2000 | Copyright 2015 University of Memphis | Important Notice | Last Updated: 
Last Updated: 1/23/12