Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions for the MA/CAGS in School Psychology
These are some of the top questions we receive from prospective students interested in the MA/CAGS in School Psychology program at William James College. If you have other questions, please reach out to Nicole Bruno, associate director of admissions, at email@example.com or sign-up for a 1/1 phone conversation through her online calendar.
Successful school psychologists tend to be intellectually capable and socially responsible, and enjoy working with both children and adults. School psychologists come from various fields and stages of life. The field is a desirable option for recent college graduates, mid-career educators, and human services professionals. You must have a four-year college degree to apply to this program and preferably, have prior coursework and/or work experience in psychology, education, or other related fields.
School psychologists apply advanced expertise in education, human development, and personal-social relationships to promote the healthy development of children in educational settings. To help foster the effective functioning of families, schools, and communities, school psychologists utilize a wide repertoire of skills and strategies, including:
- Assessment of, and educational planning for, children with special needs.
- Consultation with teachers and other school personnel.
- Individual and group counseling.
- Program development and evaluation.
- Collaboration with parents and community providers.
The School Psychology department is comprised of practitioner faculty who have worked in school psychology roles. They are able to integrate the evidence-based curriculum with real-world experiences, which helps you translate your in-classroom learning into practice.
Additionally, you will be working in schools right from your first year in the program. Your weekly practicum experience is directly intertwined with your program training, providing you with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to enter the field post-graduation.
The entry-level degree or credential to the school psychology field is a specialist-level credential, often known as a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies (CAGS) in School Psychology, or an Educational Specialist (Eds) credential. Once completing this program, you will qualify for licensure or certification as school psychologists through the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) in Massachusetts and in other states and be able to practice in the K-12 setting.
Field education is an integral part of the training in the school psychology program. The department has a dedicated faculty member who serves as the Associate Director of Field Education to work closely with both you as a student and the field placement sites.
In your first year in the MA/CAGS program, you will work in an elementary school one and a half days per week primarily focused on Primary Project, which involves working directly with students in a one-to-one setting, academic assessment, observation, and gaining an understanding of school culture. In your second year, you will be working at the middle or high school level for two and a half days per week focused more closely on clinical work, counseling, social-emotional and cognitive assessments, and consultation. In your third year, you will complete a 1200-hour internship at the grade level of your choice.
As a graduate of this program, you will qualify for licensure or certification as school psychologists through the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) in Massachusetts and in other states. After working as a school psychologist for two years and meeting other requirements, you can apply for Massachusetts licensure as an educational psychologist and practice privately. (Credentialing requirements for private practice vary from state to state.) Additionally, as our program is accredited by the National Association of School Psychologists, you will be eligible for National Certification.
As you enter the program with a four-year college degree, you first earn a Master of Arts (MA) in Professional Psychology after earning 30 or more credits. You then continue on to earn a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies (CAGS) in School Psychology. The CAGS is equivalent to what is called a “Educational Specialist (Eds)” in many states. The specialist level is the entry level for the profession, and qualifies you to be certified as a school psychologist in Massachusetts and other states.
There are several reasons for the multiple-degree progression through the program:
- The CAGS, or Educational Specialist (Eds), level of training exceeds that of master’s degrees in other fields and is required for entry into the profession.
- The MA degree, earned after one year of full-time study, enhances your status while you continue on in the program.
- Your progress is assessed in multiple ways over the course of the program. The transition from the MA to the CAGS segment of the program is a key point at which to review progress to date and assess preparedness for program completion.
- If you, for personal or academic reasons, do not complete the full program, you can exit with the master’s degree.
The standard progression through the MA/CAGS program requires three years: two years of full-time study and practicum field experience, plus one full-time (minimum 1200-hour) internship in the third year. Given the extensive amount of coursework and fieldwork, it is not practical to combine the MA/CAGS program with full-time employment.
The expectation is that we will enroll 15 or 16 students at the MA/CAGS entry level. This provides a faculty-to-student ratio that complies with training program standards established by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).