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School Psychology Certification in California: Become a School Psychologist in CA

California’s school psychology candidates apply to the Commission on Teacher Credentialing. A Pupil Personnel Services Credential in Psychology authorizes a professional to provide school psychology services at 12th grade level and below; the Commission notes that preschool is included (http://www.ctc.ca.gov/credentials/CREDS/pupil-personnel-svcs.html).

The credential is dependent on earning a graduate degree and completing an internship or other supervised experience. Procedures may be slightly different depending on whether the qualifying education was completed in California or another jurisdiction.

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is offering several Online Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral programs in Psychology including Educational Psychology, Counseling Psychology and Clinical Psychology. Capella University, is also offering three online CACREP - accredited master's programs: School Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy. Click here to request information about the Capella University programs.

New York University Steinhardt Department of Applied Psychology offers a Master of Arts in School Counseling (Counseling and Guidance: School and Bilingual School Counseling). The program is accredited by the Master's in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC). Click Here to contact NYU Steinhardt Department of Applied Psychology about this program.

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Education and Experience: Candidates Educated in California

California sets minimum requirements for education at both the baccalaureate and graduate level. The foundation is a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited school. The candidate must also complete 60 semester hours of graduate education in a Commission-approved school psychology program. The program must include a practicum with school-aged children. A list of Commission-approved programs appears on the site of the California Commission. The school will make a recommendation for certification, utilizing the state's online system (http://www.ctc.ca.gov/credentials/leaflets/cl606c.pdf).

Education and Experience: Candidates Educated Outside of California

A student educated outside California must also have a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited school and 60 semester hours of appropriate baccalaureate-level study. The Commission notes that programs approved by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) meet requirements.

If the education is not clearly recognizable as equivalent, the candidate will need to have a California-approved program review their education and make a recommendation (http://www.ctc.ca.gov/credentials/leaflets/cl606.pdf).

NASP lists the following as minimum program standards for out-of-state students seeking California school psychologist licensing: 450 hours of practicum and 1,200 hours of field experience. At least 300 of the practicum hours must be with children from preschool to twelfth grade level, but a portion of the 300 may be in community agency settings. At least 800 of the field experience hours must be in a school setting unless the program was before July 1, 2004 (http://www.nasponline.org/certification/state_info_list.aspx).

An out-of-state candidate must also confirm that they are eligible for the school psychology credential in their own state.

Internationally Educated Applicants

Candidates educated outside the United States must have a formal transcript evaluation (http://www.ctc.ca.gov/credentials/leaflets/cl635.pdf). The Commission notes that internationally obtained credential-qualifying coursework must be evaluated by one of the approved agencies even if a U.S. institution has accepted it for credit. Rush services are available for an additional fee.

Basic Skills Requirement

Certification candidates must meet a basic skills requirement (http://www.ctc.ca.gov/credentials/leaflets/cl667.pdf). However, candidates who passed an acceptable examination as a requirement for program admission will not be required to do again.

If a candidate has passed the California State University (CSU) Early Assessment Program in English and math or the CSU English Placement Test and the Entry Level Mathematics assessment, this is deemed sufficient. Otherwise, the candidate may submit scores from the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET) Multiple Subject Plus Writing Skills Examination or the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST).

California will also accept basic skills examinations administered by other states.

Background Clearance

Certification is dependent on clearing a background check through the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI. The Commission notes that background checks completed for other agencies or employers are not accepted.

In-state candidates must use LiveScan fingerprint capture. They should download three LiveScan forms from the Commission site and bring them to the LiveScan operator (http://www.ctc.ca.gov/credentials/fee-and-fingerprint.html). Those who visit the Commission website can also find a list of fingerprint locations organized by county (along with their hours of operation and fees charged). Some locations accept walk-ins; others require appointments.

Out-of-state candidates can have their fingerprints made the traditional way. They may email credentials at ctc.ca.gove to request fingerprint cards.

The Application Process

Application forms are available on the Commission site (http://www.ctc.ca.gov/credentials/how-to-apply.html). Some supporting documents will be needed.

Individuals who are filing their applications directly with the Commission (and not through a sponsor) are to submit score reports in their application packets. (Those who are filing online or through an employing agency may have other options.)

Score reports for the EAP tests may be obtained through Educational Testing Service (ETS). The Commission has provided contact information for those needing duplicate copies of EAP score reports but notes that requests may take seven to ten business days. Score reports for EPT and ELM tests taken after March of 2007 can be accessed online. In the case of older examination records, the candidate will contact CSU EPT/ELM Processing.

In-state applicants should include evidence that the fingerprinting/ background check process has been initiated (http://www.ctc.ca.gov/credentials/leaflets/41-LS.pdf). Out-of-state candidates will instead include their fingerprint cards.

The application fee is currently $70 http://www.ctc.ca.gov/credentials/leaflets/cl659.pdf. Checks or money orders will be accepted; they should be made out to the Commission on Teacher Credentialing or CTC. Fees may be waived for out-of-state military spouses who are relocating to California due to military orders.

The Commission has provided estimated processing times for some types of application. Online pupil personnel service applications are typically processed in ten business days if submitted by an approved sponsor (http://cig.ctc.ca.gov/cig/CTC_processing_times/times.php). The Commission notes that applications with manual fingerprint cards may take longer.

Candidates will receive an email after background clearance has been granted.

Educational Psychologist Licenses

California school psychologists may also want to pursue Licensed Educational Psychologist (LEP) credentials through the Board of Behavioral Sciences (http://www.bbs.ca.gov/app-reg/lep.shtml). The foundational requirements are the same as for the school psychology license; however, candidates must also meet experience and examination requirements.

LEPs will need two years of recent experience (not necessarily supervised) in addition to a year of supervised or directed experience. It is acceptable for the supervised experience to have been done as internship through an accredited program; a year of experience in a public school setting under the direction of a licensed educational psychologist or licensed psychologist will also suffice.

Applicants who are deemed eligible to take the LEP examination will receive candidate handbooks.

Additional Information

The Commission of Teacher Credentialing posts online resources for general information (http://www.ctc.ca.gov/credentials/default-educators.html). The credential staff accepts correspondence by email (http://www.ctc.ca.gov/contact.html). "Credential chat' is offered weekdays between 12:30 and 4:30 Pacific Time.

California has multiple professional organizations for those in the school psychology profession. The California Association of School Psychologists, a NASP affiliate, serves as a professional resource (http://www.casponline.org). The California Association of Licensed Educational Psychologists is a resource for the state’s LEPs and those who are preparing for LEP licensing (http://www.calep.com).