The primary aim of the UW School Psychology Program is to prepare health service psychologists who use culturally-responsive, evidence-based approaches to assessment, intervention, and consultation for effectively serving individuals from all cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds.  In keeping with the primary aim, students are expected to achieve competencies as both practitioners and consumers of science or scientists.  Recent graduates apply their competencies in multicultural assessment, consultation, and intervention in school, mental health, hospital, and private practice settings.  In these settings they continue to keep abreast of new developments in the scientific foundations for the practice of school psychology and apply this knowledge base to their field of expertise.  Others are employed in university settings as trainers of school psychologists and continue to generate new knowledge for the practice of psychology.

Competencies and Objectives of the PhD Program [1]

Throughout the PhD/EdS inclusive training program, the learning experiences are guided by the Discipline Specific Knowledge areas of APA and by the Profession-Wide Competencies in the APA Standards of Accreditation.  The following are the nine profession-wide competencies and the specific objectives for UW School Psychology Program graduates:


Program Objective: To prepare health service psychologists to be critical consumers of research, to have the knowledge and skills to conduct scientific inquiry, and to disseminate research. 

Ethical and Legal Standards

Program Objective: To prepare health service psychologists to be competent in navigating and legal and ethical challenges and engaging in best practices associated with the APA Ethical Principles for Psychologists and Code of Conduct.

Individual and Cultural Diversity

Program Objective: To prepare health service psychologist to integrate self-awareness, cultural knowledge, and culturally responsive skills in all professional activities including research, teaching, and clinical service.

Professional Values, Attitudes and Behaviors

Program Objective: To prepare health service psychologists to reflect the values and attitudes of psychology through integrity, professional identity alignment, professional behavior, and responsiveness to supervision and feedback.

Communication and Interpersonal Skills

Program Objective: To prepare health service psychologists to maintain effective relationships with colleagues, communities, organizations, supervisors, supervisees, and clients.


Program Objective: to prepare health service psychologists to incorporate the diversity characteristics of clients in psychological assessments and to present findings in an effective manner that is appropriate for audiences outside the discipline of psychology.  


Program Objective: To prepare health service psychologists to implement evidence-based interventions with fidelity to empirical models along with the flexibility to adapt the interventions to the cultural and linguistic context of the clients


Program Objective: To prepare health service psychologists to provide effective supervised supervision to less advanced students and peers appropriate for the service setting.

Consultation and Interprofessional Interdisciplinary Skills

Program Objective: To prepare health service psychologists to demonstrate the ability to effectively collaborate in interdisciplinary contexts and integrated healthcare settings.

Curriculum Model

To accomplish the aim and competencies of the program, the PhD curriculum expands upon the EdS degree program and covers additional topics in professional psychology. Building upon the discipline-specific knowledge domains, students gain more in-depth knowledge and competence during the 4th and 5th year in the following areas:  History of psychology and systems of thought, individual and cultural differences, statistical methods and research design, measurement/psychometrics, psychopathology, advanced clinical interventions, and supervision.

The Ph.D. in School Psychology at the UW requires a minimum of 90 credit hours.  Students must have completed an Educational Specialist Degree or must be in the process of completing an Educational Specialist Degree in School Psychology in order to be considered for the Ph.D. program of study.  Students who apply to the Ph.D. program after they have obtained their Educational Specialist Degree in School Psychology at the UW use their coursework from the Ed.S program as their specialty area. Students who have completed an Educational Specialist degree in school psychology from another institution will have their transcripts reviewed to determine course credit that may be applied to their Ph.D. program of study (maximum of 30 credits can be applied). 

With the support of their advisors, doctoral students design an individualized program of study that is guided by a supervisory committee and chaired by a core School Psychology Faculty Member. The requirements for the individualized program of study are based on the supervisory committee recommendations; along with the parameters that each student must follow in the process of obtaining their Ph.D in the College of Education.  For example, each PhD student’s program of study must include an area of specialization, two supporting cognates (a cluster of courses around a common topic of interest), and an out of area specialization (one that is outside of the College of Education). 


Each doctoral student is required to select two supportive cognate fields. One of these cognates can be chosen within the same broad area as your specialization; however one must be outside the broad area of your specialization. Students may wish to choose both cognates outside of their specialization field which is perfectly acceptable. Depending upon your academic background, the range of credits required for each supportive cognate is between 3 and 15. The breadth and depth of each cognate is normally defined by the graduate faculty member selected to represent the cognate area. (Courses from a field of study that are utilized to fulfill the supportive cognate requirements must not be included in the area of specialization).

Specialization outside of the College of Education

The College requires that each student forms a specialization from a unit outside of the College of Education.  The specialization outside the College will normally be in a single department (e.g., Social Work, Public Health). In exceptional cases, it may be a series of courses from different departments containing a common thread (e.g., Ethnic Studies, which may draw upon courses based in several departments). The breadth and depth of the specialization outside the College is normally defined by the graduate faculty representative from that specialization serving on your Supervisory Committee. Students may complete one of the recommended "strands" to fulfill this requirement.

As doctoral students are completing the individualized program of study requirements, they must also complete the PhD degree milestones (research and inquiry, general exam, dissertation proposal, dissertation defense). These procedures are described in the program handbook sections under “PhD degree milestones”.  The culminating experience for the PhD degree is a predoctoral internship, which includes advanced, integrative, supervised experiences in applying science to practice. The predoctoral internship must be completed after the general exam is passed and the dissertation proposal has been approved. Students take a required 27 dissertation credits after passing the oral general examination and complete the writing of the dissertation either before or during the predoctoral internship.

Predoctoral Internship

As the culminating experience for the PhD program, the predoctoral internship must provide training at a more advanced level than the pre-certification internship. The predoctoral internship requires an additional 1500 hours of experience and can be completed in a school or non-school setting. Students are strongly encouraged to apply to APA-accredited predoctoral internship programs through the Association of Postdoctoral Psychology and Internship Centers (APPIC) Match process; however, those who do not have the ability to complete APA accredited internships complete local predoctoral internships that are CDSPP compliant.  

The APA Commission on Accreditation (750 First St, NE, Washington, DC 20002; phone (202) 336-5500) monitors the programs compliance with APA standards.

The University of Washington reaffirms its policy of equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disability, or status as a disabled veteran or Vietnam era veteran in accordance with University policy and applicable federal and state statutes and regulations.

[1] For details on how these competencies are defined, see the program handbook Appendix F: UW School Psychology Program profession-wide competencies

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