UCR school psychology students and faculty

School Psychology

School Psychology Ph.D. Program

UCR school psychology students and faculty

UC Riverside's  School of Education School Psychology program is the only American Psychological Association-accredited* doctoral program in Southern California. Students in our APA-accredited and National Association of School Psychologists-approved program benefit from our nationally recognized rigorous course of study and desirable location in the heart of the economically vibrant and demographically diverse Inland Empire region of Southern California.

We train students as scientist-practitioners who contribute to the body of accumulated knowledge in the field as well as address problems affecting K-12 pupils’ learning, behavior, and cognition. The School Psychology program promotes an eco-behavioral theoretical model emphasizing skill development using evidence-based practice derived from applied behavior analytic, cognitive-behavioral, and social learning theory and research.

Graduates have in-demand skills that create ample opportunity for employment mainly as practitioners in the public K-12 education sector or as faculty at postsecondary institutions. Students graduate having earned the Ph.D. and the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing credential in School Psychology, and also have the opportunity to become Nationally Certified School Psychologists, Licensed Educational Psychologists (a California credential), and, upon completion of post-doctoral requirements (which vary by state), licensed psychologists.

*Questions related to the program's accredited status should be directed to the Commission on Accreditation:

Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation
American Psychological Association
750 1st Street, NE,
Washington, DC 20002
Phone: (202) 336-5979

Specialization Overview


  • Start Term: Fall only
  • Program Length: Approximately 5 years
  • Units: 60 minimum
  • Format: In-person instruction on Riverside campus
  • Schedule: Each class meets once a week(Monday-Thursday); time of day varies
  • 94% of students receive multi-year fellowships

Steps to Degree Completion

  1. Complete coursework
  2. Written qualifying exam
  3. Oral qualifying exam/pre-proposal
  4. Proposal approved by dissertation committee
  5. Dissertation and final defense

Students admitted to the Ph.D. program are often offered a multi-year fellowship which covers tuition and health insurance and provides a stipend and/or paycheck during the academic year. It is recommended that students complete the program full time to meet the fellowship requirements working as a Teaching Assistant (TA) or Graduate Student Researcher (GSR). These duties require students to be available Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for 15-20 hours per week.

Quarterly costs may be viewed here

School Psychology Learning Objectives

  • Engage in data-based decision making and problem solving to provide effective psychological services at all tiers of service delivery.
  • Demonstrate knowledge and skills to promote positive academic growth and the social-emotional and behavioral well-being of all children and families.
  • Use varied consultation, collaboration, and communication methods as members of multidisciplinary teams to meet the needs of children, families, and systems.
  • Value diversity, demonstrate awareness and respect for all cultures, and strive towards culturally sensitive practice in all professional activities.
  • Demonstrate strong knowledge in research methods and the ability to apply this knowledge within the diverse school context.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the legal, ethical, and professional standards and the skills to implement these standards to enhance the quality of services and protect the rights of all parties.

The UCR School Psychology Program engages students in practica for four full years prior to the fifth year predoctoral internship. Students complete practica in diverse settings that include elementary school, middle/junior high school, and high school. Additionally, some students choose to complete advanced practica in clinic and/or nonpublic school settings. Many prospective interns participate in the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) match and have been placed in desirable settings located throughout the U.S. *Since 2018-19, 100% of our students who chose to participate in the APPIC match have matched in Round 1.

The Commission on Accreditation of the American Psychological Association requires APA-accredited programs to update key outcomes of training on an annual basis. Current outcomes may be found here.


University of California programs for professions that require licensure or certification are intended to prepare the student for California licensure and certification requirements. Admission into programs for professions that require licensure and certification does not guarantee that students will obtain a license or certificate. Licensure and certification requirements are set by agencies that are not controlled by or affiliated with the University of California and licensure and certification requirements can change at any time.

The University of California has not determined whether its programs meet other states’ educational or professional requirements for licensure and certification. Students planning to pursue licensure or certification in other states are responsible for determining whether, if they complete a University of California program, they will meet their state’s requirements for licensure or certification. This disclosure is made pursuant to 34 CFR §668.43(a)(5)(v)(C).

Frequently Asked Questions about the School Psychology program

Is it possible to enter the School Psychology PhD program after only completing my undergraduate degree?

Yes! Many students are accepted who have recently completed their undergraduate degrees. Most admitted students have degrees in psychology or a psychology-related field.

What type of financial aid is available?

The School Psychology Program at UC Riverside makes it a priority to offer financial support to its students. Multiple forms of financial assistance are offered to students and include stipends, fellowships, loans, graduate student research (GSR) assignments, and teaching assistant (TA) assignments. For the most part, students who need and request financial assistance will receive it in some form.

What separates this program from others?

UCR’s program is the only doctoral-level school psychology program in Southern California proper that is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA)*and approved by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). UCR is considered the most diverse campus in the entire 10 campus University of California system, with students of color representing more than 83% of the undergraduate population. Southern California offers a rich atmosphere in which students can obtain valuable field experiences and conduct meaningful research with diverse populations. Along with being a recognized program with diverse surroundings, the faculty are dedicated to equipping students with extensive knowledge that will allow them to become leaders in the field. The experiences and knowledge gained by graduates allow for a multitude of career options, centering mainly on practitioner and academic/researcher roles. Overall, UCR’s doctoral program in School Psychology offers a challenging yet enjoyable experience for scholars passionate about making a difference in lives of children, youth, families, and schools.

What types of certification or licensure will this program prepare me for?

Upon course, practica, and internship completion, along with a passing score on the Praxis II Exam, all requirements to become a Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) will be fulfilled. Graduates also qualify for the Pupil Personnel Services credential (PPS; the California credential to practice school psychology) and California’s Licensed Educational Psychologist credential. Graduates also are eligible to apply for licensure by a state board of psychology, pending completion of post-doctoral requirements (which vary by state). State licensure allows one to independently practice psychology in a variety of settings.

What happens after my application is submitted?

The admissions committee begins to review applications following the application deadline of December 15. All applicants are carefully considered across multiple domains to assess their qualifications and match for the program. Highly qualified applicants will be invited to our Interview Day, which is usually held on the last Friday in January. This is a day-long event during which applicants interview with current faculty, talk with current students, learn about the program and the Graduate School of Education, and tour the university. If an applicant cannot attend Interview Day, other forms of interviews may be arranged. After all interviews are completed, decision letters are sent out via email.

Can I just apply to the MA program in School Psychology?

No. The program at UCR only offers admission at the PhD level. Only those applicants who are interested in pursuing the PhD degree will be considered for admission. Students admitted to the UCR doctoral program typically earn an MA in the process but they are expected to finish the PhD.

Does this program follow a cohort model?

Yes. A student will enroll in courses with the rest of the students accepted in the same year. Moreover, it is expected that students within a cohort will progress through the program at a similar rate. The majority of students complete training in about 5.5 years.

Does this program accept candidates with Ed.S./MS/MA in School Psychology for advanced standing?

Applicants are welcome to apply as entering students and proceed through the entire program. Primarily due to our cohort training model and the need to operate in line with APA’s Standards of Accreditation, as a general practice we do not accept students with advanced standing. We also do not waive supervised field experience hours for students who have completed similar training elsewhere. Some course waivers/equivalencies are possible but are granted conservatively in accordance with APA standards.

Can I work full-time while completing the program?

It is not recommended that students attempt to dedicate a significant amount of time to outside employment. Upon accepting a fellowship, students agree to guidelines that specify how many hours they may work outside of the program, and only with approval from the Graduate Dean. The program is designed for full-time students and dedicating a significant amount of time to outside employment will likely hinder performance.

I’m getting my degree from another university and wish to complete my internship in Southern California. Would UCR recommend me for a California internship credential and/or supervise my hours for licensure?

No. Due to the responsibilities involved, we are unable to recommend prospective interns for the California internship credential or supervise students we have not trained. 


*Questions related to the program's accredited status should be directed to the Commission on Accreditation:

Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation American Psychological Association
750 1st Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002
Phone: (202) 336-5979




The UCR School Psychology Program is a traditional, full-time doctoral program. Students must complete a minimum of three full-time academic years of graduate study plus internship prior to receiving the Ph.D. At least two of the three years must be at UCR. The program is designed for completion of all program requirements, including internship and dissertation within five years, but about 30% take an additional year. Continuous enrollment is required.

Career Opportunities

Graduates of the UCR School Psychology Program are well prepared and have in-demand skills to promote positive outcomes for students, their families, educators, and school systems. Approximately 75% of graduates work in various applied settings and the remainder work as faculty in postsecondary institutions. Upon graduation, students earn their Ph.D. as well as the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing credential in School Psychology (PPS credential). Graduates also are eligible to become Nationally Certified School Psychologists, Licensed Educational Psychologists (a California credential), and, upon completion of post-doctoral requirements (which vary by state), licensed psychologists. Once licensed by a state-level psychology board, an individual has the option to seek other credentials such as board certification in psychology (ABPP) or listing in the National Register of Health Service Psychologists.

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