Educational Psychology & Counseling Department

School Psychology



Program Coordinator

Merilee McCurdy, PhD
Associate Professor & Program Coordinator
520 Bailey Education Complex
1122 Volunteer Blvd.
Knoxville, TN 37996-3452

Program Secretary

Synthia Clark
Administrative Specialist I
535 Bailey Education Complex
1122 Volunteer Blvd.
Knoxville, TN 37996-3452

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 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 PhD program in school psychology 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

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 under the next tab (Curriculum Requirements). A “typical track” requires approximately 124-128 semester hours above the BA or BS degree, including an internship (a 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 School Psychology 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.

Application Requirements

Application deadline is December 1.

Quick Facts about UT School Psychology PhD Program
  1.  PhD Program is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA), NASP/NCATE and Tennessee State Department of Ed.  
  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. Training model – Data-Based Problem-Solving model, a variant of the Scientist-Practitioner model.
  6. Four tenured school psychology professors: Merilee McCurdy, Steve McCallum, Chris Skinner, and Robert Williams plus one Center Director, Brian Wilhoit (see item 12).
  7. Students participate in faculty-led research groups each semester.
  8. 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).
  9. Many faculty-student research collaborations leading to publications and while faculty work with students they do not take credit for students’ work (see other documents).
  10. School-based training, supported by network of schools, provides for diverse training experiences.
  11. Training for a wide variety of jobs (e.g., schools system, University faculty, mental health clinics).
  12. New Applied Training Center: The KLASS Center was funded by a $2,000,000 gift from local residence (Pam and Tom Korn) to provided training, support, and research related to the identification, prevention, and remediation of academic and social/emotional/behavioral problems. Currently our Center is operating a Clinic where, under Brian Wilhoit’s supervision, our Graduate students see clients 3 days per week.
  13. 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.

Applications due by December 1. One-time admissions.

Knoxville is a wonderful place to attend school and an excellent place to live. Beware: once students arrive in “the shade under the mountain” often they never want to leave.

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

Core Faculty


R. Steve McCallum

Merliee McCurdy

Merilee McCurdy
associate professor


Christopher H. Skinner


Robert L. Williams

Affiliated Faculty

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Ron Carlini
clinical assistant professor

Karee Dunn

Karee Dunn
associate professor


Brian Wilhoit
clinical professor

*Questions related to the programs 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 / E-mail:

 Updated 10/15/2018

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