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School Psychology Certification in Massachusetts: Become a School Psychologist in MA

In Massachusetts, school counselors are licensed by the Department of Elementary & Secondary Education; the credential is referred to as a school support personnel license. Candidates receive initial licensing after completing a graduate degree and passing an examination. They receive professional licensing after completing additional requirements including successful employment and a second examination.

School psychologists who want to expand their scope of practice may be licensed as educational psychologists after a period of supervised practice. Educational psychology licensing is granted by the Massachusetts Board of Allied Mental Health Professionals. This license, unlike the one issued by the Department of Education, allows for independent practice.

The two licenses are closely entwined: Earning licensing as an educational psychologist is one pathway a school psychologist can use to achieve professional level school licensing; a professional who works under supervision acceptable to the Board becomes eligible for the educational psychology license at a slightly earlier stage.

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.

Select a Massachusetts School Psychologist topic below...

Initial Licensing as a School Psychologist

A prospective psychologist must complete a degree at at least the master's level. Generally speaking, programs must be approved by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), but Massachusetts does grant temporary approval to programs pursuing this status (http://www.doe.mass.edu/lawsregs/603cmr7.html?section=11). A list of NASP-approved programs is available online (http://www.nasponline.org/certification/naspapproved.aspx).

The school psychology student will need at least 1,200 hours of total internship; at least 600 of them are to be accrued in a school setting.

The examination at the initial level is the Communication and Literacy Test. This is an assessment of reading and writing skills; it includes open-ended composition (http://www.mtel.nesinc.com/MA16_overview.asp). The examination is offered via computer. Registration information is found on the site of the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure, or MTEL (http://www.mtel.nesinc.com/MA16_overview.asp).

Test results are sent straight to the licensing agency as well as to the college that the student requests that they be sent to (http://www.mtel.nesinc.com/MA16_releaseofscores.asp). MTEL notes that scores sent to the student are for their information and not intended to be sent with application materials.

A professional can be hired as a school psychologist with initial licensing but will need three years of experience to become eligible for professional level licensing.

The Application Process

Application packets are available online. The process may be initiated before all requirements have been met (http://www.doe.mass.edu/educators/app/packet.pdf).

Official transcripts may be enclosed or forwarded. Required experience is to be documented on official letterhead. Supplementary documents (including bank checks or money orders) are to include appropriate identifying information; this can be a social security number if a license number does not yet exist. Candidates who have had name changes will need to send documentation.

The application fee is $100. Personal checks are not accepted, but there is a credit card authorization form in the application packet. The application packet includes a checklist to make sure that all steps have been carried out.

It is also possible to apply online through the ESE Security Portal; the Department notes that online application and payment can expedite the process (https://gateway.edu.state.ma.us/elar/common/EducatorWelcomePagePageControl.ser).

An applicant will be able to check application status online; there is also a 24-hour information line.

Internationally Educated Candidates

Internationally educated candidates will need a detailed report to establish equivalency. Massachusetts has provided a list of agencies that are able to provide this service (http://www.doe.mass.edu/educators/foreignequivalence.html).

Professional License

A school psychologist may qualify for professional level licensing through the Board of Education after three years of employment, successful examination performance, and acquisition of a credential through a third party.

Passing the National School Psychology Examination (Praxis II) is one requirement. The candidate will take the examination before pursuing national school psychology certification or educational psychologist licensing; either credential requires it. The examination is administered through Educational Testing Service, or ETS.

The school psychologist may opt for voluntary national certification through the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). In order to become certified, a professional will need to have completed a graduate program of at least 60 semester hours. Certification is dependent on meeting NASP professional and ethical standards. Candidates who are not graduates of NASP-approved programs are required to submit case studies and portfolios.

Licensure through the Massachusetts Board of Allied Mental Health Professionals is another option for meeting requirements for the professional license.

Educational Psychologist License

An individual may be eligible for licensing as an educational psychologist with a master’s degree, a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies (CAGS), or a doctoral degree. The school must hold state licensing or accreditation; the program must comprise at least 60 graduate semester hours, though some coursework may be completed outside the degree (http://www.mass.gov/ocabr/licensee/dpl-boards/mh/regulations/rules-and-regs/262-cmr-500.html).

The graduate will need two years of experience delivering school psychology services under an approved supervisor. The approved supervisor must be someone with five years of experience as a school psychologist who is either licensed as an educational psychologist or meets the qualifications to be licensed (http://www.mass.gov/ocabr/licensee/dpl-boards/mh/regulations/rules-and-regs/262-cmr-500.html).

The prospective educational psychologist will need 60 hours of supervision during the post-graduate period; the Board allows supervision sessions to take place in a small group setting. While accruing experience, the individual must hold school psychologist credentialing.

Application materials for educational psychologist are available on the site of the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Allied Mental Health and Human Service Professionals (http://www.mass.gov/ocabr/docs/dpl/boards/mh/ednewapp.pdf). Upon application to the Board, the candidate will provide two references from recent supervisors. The application fee for this credential is $117. The application form must be notarized; a passport-style photograph is to be attached.

Provisional Licensing as a School Psychologist

Provisional licensing is granted at the request of a school superintendent (http://www.nasponline.org/certification/state_info_list.aspx). This is a temporary status; individuals will need to meet educational requirements.

Renewal

Renewal of professional school psychology licenses is based on earning Individual Professional Development Points (PDPs) under a professional development plan.

Additional Information

Additional materials can be accessed on the site of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (http://www.doe.mass.edu). The Licensure Call Center can be reached at 781-338-6600 on weekdays between 2:00 PM and 5:00 PM; hours may be extended during certain critical time periods.

The Massachusetts School Psychologists Association is an additional resource (http://www.mspa-online.com). This organization does not handle licensing.