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School Psychology

The School Psychology program leads to a PhD and is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA)* and approved by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). In addition, the program is accredited or approved by the Tennessee State Department of Education and National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

We generally have 24 to 30 students in the PhD program. Almost all are full-time students who work together in a collaborative environment to advance their skills, critical thinking, and the field.

School Psychology offers advanced graded, sequential, and hierarchical training in psychological and educational foundation, research, assessment, consultation, and intervention. The program prepares professionals who work collaboratively with educators, administrators, parents, and children to promote learning and development in general education students and students with special needs. Students learn to use a Data-Based, Problem-Solving approach to aid with difficulties in learning and/or challenging behavior in field-based sites including urban, suburban, and rural schools. Research is an integral part of training. Students participate in on-going research each semester.

Students who graduate from the University of Tennessee’s School Psychology PhD program can be licensed as psychologists and nationally certified as school psychologists. Prospective students should consult the licensure requirements of the states in which they are interested in being licensed or certified to determine if this program meets their goals. In many instances, APA accreditation and NASP approval are accepted standards.

About School Psychology

School Psychology Brochure

The School Psychology program trains students by providing a solid foundation of core knowledge and skills across psychology, education, and research. Students receive applied field-based training in assessment, consultation, intervention, and research. Our training model is a Data-Based, Problem-Solving Model, a variant of the Scientist-Practitioner Model. Students are encouraged to view practice and science as similar endeavors and apply the same general problem-solving steps. The similarities and relationship between practice and research, as traditionally characterized, are emphasized.

The curriculum requirements for PhD School Psychology students are described later on this page. A “typical track” requires approximately 124-128 semester hours above the BA or BS degree, including an internship (1 full year, 2000 hours, completed in the last year of training, with a minimum of 600 hours in school settings) and a dissertation. The program is designed for full-time students, includes summer courses, and is designed to be completed in 5 years, with the last year allocated for internship. Full-time enrollment is a minimum of 9 credit hours. The program is not designed for part-time students; however, in exceptional circumstances, part-time students may successfully complete the PhD program.

Every student is expected to meet the School Psychology program’s knowledge and skill requirements. Opportunities for students to meet these requirements will occur in the classroom and during field experiences. The School Psychology faculty, along with current and previous students, practica and internship supervisors, and various other groups who help ensure quality control within our training programs have contributed to the development of our curricula. Various accrediting and curricula oversight agencies (e.g., APA, NASP, SDE-Tennessee; and the University of Tennessee) have their own specific goals and objectives. The School Psychology Handbook, published by the Educational Psychology and Counseling Department, describes how the School Psychology training programs meet the goals and objectives of these various training groups. The program is designed to provide graded, sequential, and hierarchical training across the following areas: professional school psychology, consultation and intervention, assessment, research and statistics, psychoeducational core, and field experience and professional practice.

The UT School Psychology program has four goals in the area of professional behavior, assessment, consultation/intervention, and research. These goals are expanded below and objectives are provided.

Goal 1

Student will demonstrate professional behavior in School Psychology


  1. Relationships & Communication – ability to effectively communicate in a professional way and develop functional working relationships
  2. Reliability & Timeliness – ability to manage one’s workload and appointments effectively and consistently
  3. Accountability – ability to maintain records of one’s activities and professional development
  4. Commitment to the Profession – willingness to contribute to and identify oneself with the profession of school psychology
  5. Cultural Awareness – demonstrable knowledge and application of knowledge of cultural diversity and how it affects client outcomes and one’s practice as a school psychologist
  6. Ethics – knowledge and application of ethical principles

Goal 2

Students will demonstrate knowledge and skills in assessment


  1. Select & Administer – ability to select appropriate test instruments and administer them correctly
  2. Score & Interpret – ability to accurately score major test instruments and interpret results meaningfully and appropriately
  3. Report Writing – ability to write reports effectively and accurately conveying relevant information to appropriate others

Goal 3

Students will demonstrate knowledge and skills in consultation and intervention


  1. Problem Identification – ability to use theory and research to identify and conceptualize academic and behavioral problems
  2. Problem Analysis – ability to apply knowledge and data to select appropriate interventions
  3. Plan Evaluation – ability to collect and analyze data to evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention plan

Goal 4

Students will conduct, interpret, and disseminate research


  1. Research Design – ability to identify and implement best practices in research design (i.e., hypothesis development and testing)
  2. Statistical Analysis – ability to perform and interpret statistical procedures commonly used in psychological research
  3. Research Production – ability to present research results as articles and conference presentations
  1.  PhD program is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA), NASP/NCATE and Tennessee State Department of Education.
  2. All current PhD students have assistantships that include cost of tuition and a monthly stipend.
  3. Our PhD program is designed to be completed in 5 years and most of our students complete the program within that time frame.
  4. Since 2000, most of our students applying for internship were accepted by their first choice.
  5. We use the Data-Based Problem-Solving model, a variant of the Scientist-Practitioner model for training.
  6. Students participate in faculty-led research groups each semester.
  7. Faculty productivity (peer review journal article per faculty) ranked 3rd from 1995-1999 (Carper & Williams, 2004); 2nd from 2000-2005 (Wagner, Lail, & Viglietta, 2006); and third from 2005-2009 (Kranzler, Grapin, & Daley, 2011).
  8. Many faculty-student research collaborations leading to publications, and while faculty work with students they do not take credit for students’ work.
  9. School-based training, supported by network of schools, provides for diverse training experiences.
  10. Training for a wide variety of jobs (e.g., schools system, university faculty, mental health clinics).
  11. Applied training center: The KLASS Center was funded by a $2,000,000 gift from local residents (Pam and Tom Korn) to provided training, support, and research related to the identification, prevention, and remediation of academic and social/emotional/behavioral problems.
  12. Wonderful peers: Our students consistently report that the relationships with their fellow students, especially their cohort group, enhance their learning and their experience in graduate school and after. You will build professional/personal relationships that last a lifetime.

Application Requirements

Complete applications are due each year on December 1 for fall admissions.

Financial Aid Information

Includes EPC GA Application form, departmental fellowships/scholarships, and links to other funding sources around UT Knoxville.

Core Faculty

Steve McCallum

R. Steve McCallum

Merliee McCurdy

Merilee McCurdy

Chris Skinner

Christopher H. Skinner

Robert Williams

Robert L. Williams

Affiliated Faculty

Ron Carlini
Clinical Assistant Professor

Karee Dunn
Associate Professor

Robert D. Richardson
Clinical Associate Professor

Brian Wilhoit

Brian Wilhoit
Clinical Professor

New EdS Program

The University of Tennessee School Psychology program has added an Education Specialist (EdS) degree program in school psychology, in addition to the current doctoral program. The EdS degree in school psychology is a three-year, on campus program designed to prepare qualified school psychologists who can provide evidence-based assessment, consultation, and interventions in K-12 settings. The third year of the EdS program is a year-long internship. The first cohort of EdS students enrolled in fall of 2020. While the program cannot be NASP approved at this point, the program is approved by the TN State Department of Education.  The application deadline is February 1. Contact Merilee McCurdy at for more information about the EdS program. (

Student Admissions, Outcomes & Other Data

*Questions related to accreditation of the program 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


Updated 09/23/2020

Educational Psychology & Counseling Department
College of Education, Health & Human Sciences

535 Bailey Education Complex
1122 Volunteer Boulevard
Knoxville, TN 37996-3452
Phone: 865-974-8145 Fax: 865-974-0135