School Psychology Master of Arts (MA) and Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies (CAGS)

School psychology is a challenging and rewarding specialty for which there is unprecedented need and demand. School psychologists apply advanced expertise in education, human development, and personal-social relationships-along with sensitivity and respect for others-in serving children, families, schools and communities.

Program Overview

This program prepares practitioners to enter the school psychology field with advanced level competencies that effectively meet the needs of today's schools, students, and parents. The three-year program is focused on developing skills and professional behaviors that promote healthy development and reduce barriers to learning. Students receive a Master of Arts after earning 30 or more credits, and continue on to earn a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in the final two years.

A school psychologist’s day is never boring.  We have many different responsibilities, including assessment, consultation, and counseling.  We get to take care of the whole system by shaping school climate and prevention efforts, and also respond to individual student, family, and teacher needs.  We really get a broad range of experiences, and our services are in demand.  I think that makes for a dynamic, rewarding, and lasting career.

 Arlene Silva, PhD, NCSP 
Chair, School Psychology Department 
Program Philosophy

William James College integrates rigorous academic instruction with extensive field education and professional development assistance. We believe that the best learning comes from blending classroom knowledge with hands-on experience. While this happens throughout the program, first-year students receive a unique and particularly valuable introduction to clinical work as "Child Associates" in the Primary Project, an empirically-validated preventative mental health program. Students work with primary grade students who are at risk for adjustment problems.

"I came to William James College because I felt that I would be around a group of faculty who were committed to their students- something that is often missing at larger institutes. I can't tell you how happy I am that not only have the faculty met and exceeded my expectations, so has the entire William James College community. It's truly a family atmosphere when you enter the doors and that feeling has obviously stuck with alumni who still rave about their experiences when I meet them."

Jeff Forti, School Psychology MA/CAGS Alumnus

Program Goals

The MA/CAGS Program in School Psychology prepares future practitioners to develop proficiency in a comprehensive range of essential skills and professional behaviors that promote healthy development and reduce barriers to learning, and to confidently practice a comprehensive model of school psychology.

In its 2015 Best Jobs Report, US News & World Report rated school psychology as the top social service job, and the 17th best job overall. "Schools aiming to address the learning and emotional needs of students are on the hunt for school psychologists, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an 11.3 percent uptick in the occupation by 2022."

Program goals and objectives are as follows:

  1. Trainees learn essential knowledge and skills that impact lifelong psychoeducational outcomes, broadly defined-including academic competence, personal-social well-being, success in the workplace, and healthy development.
  2. Trainees develop proficiency in the skills introduced in coursework through supervised practice in the field.
  3. Trainees work effectively and respectfully with diverse types of students and families, school personnel, other professionals, and members of the community.
  4. Trainees develop the skills and inclination to assume leadership roles in the field.
  5. Trainees, graduates, and the local professional community are supported as they engage in school and community improvement and lifelong professional development.
Letter from the Department Chair

Graduate study at William James College is grounded in an integrative philosophy of training and education, with ongoing application of classroom instruction in structured, closely supervised field experiences.  Underlying this approach to professional training is a sustained focus on the development of the personal and professional self, an orientation towards community service, and respect for colleagues and clients.  Our competency-based curriculum and experienced faculty provide the future school psychologist with the strongest possible foundation for a career in applied psychological human services. 

We are proud to offer exceptional training in an environment for learning and growth that will reward students throughout life.

Arlene Silva, PhD, NCSP
Chair, School Psychology Department

Who This Program Is For

 School psychologists come from various fields and stages of life. Successful school psychologists tend to be intellectually capable and socially responsible, and enjoy working with both children and adults. School psychology is a desirable option for recent college graduates, mid-career educators, and human services professionals. Applicants must have a four-year college degree. Preferably, they should have prior coursework and/or work experience in psychology, education, or a related field.

Career Outlook

Career Opportunities

Our School Psychology Program prepares graduates to work as school psychologists. School psychology is a challenging and rewarding profession for which there has been and-it is projected, will be-high demand. The number of school psychologists in the U.S. has increased steadily over the past 30 years. Program graduates will be fully qualified for certification or licensure as school psychologists in Massachusetts and in other states. After working as a school psychologist for two years and meeting other requirements, graduates can apply for Massachusetts licensure as an educational psychologist and practice privately. (Credentialing requirements for private practice vary from state to state.)

Additional information about the field of school psychology and training options is available on the NASP website, at:

U.S. News & World Report identifies School Psychology as the best social service career.

IIn its 2015 Best Jobs Report, US News & World Report rated school psychology as the top social service job, and the 17th best job overall.

"School psychology is always changing. That's what makes this field so challenging and rewarding - there is always room to grow. To keep up with this fast-paced field means that school psychologists have to seek out the best possible pre-service and in-service training they can find. Lifelong learning is a necessity in this profession. For me, it has also been one of its pleasures."

John Desrochers, PhD
2007 NASP School Psychologist of the Year
Adjunct Faculty, William James College School Psychology Department

Dr. Desrochers, who was quoted at length in the U.S. News and World Report article, was a co-instructor for our professional development institute, "Meeting the Challenge of Scientific, Research-Based Intervention." He recently participated in a panel convened by the House and Senate Education Committees. Dr. Desrochers told congressional staff about how behavioral and mental health issues impose barriers upon learning. "Behavioral and mental health issues are the 600-pound gorilla in the middle of our classrooms. They exert tremendous influence on our teachers' ability to teach and our students' ability to learn, yet our laws pay relatively little attention to them."

Advantages of a Graduate School Education at William James College

Job Outlook: Percent (%) Change in Employment for 2014-2024 Bureau of Labor Statistics
Marriage and Family Therapist Up 15%
Mental Health Counselor Up 20%
Clinical, Counseling & School Psychologists Up 19%

US News & World Report Best Social Service Jobs US News Best Jobs Logo
School Psychologist No. 2
Marriage and Family Therapist No. 16
Mental Health Counselor No. 33

Median Salaries* Data from 2009 APA Salary Survey and US News & World Report

American Psychological Association Logo
US News Best Jobs Logo
Clinical Psychologist $87,015
School Psychologist $67,760
Mental Health Counselor $40,850
* Licensed mental health professionals have the opportunity for additional income through private practice.

Podcast Series: School Climate

Podcast 2 Nadja Reilly

NASP Convention 2015

NASP Convention 2015