PhD students working together

The aim of the PhD Program in School Psychology at Ball State is to prepare students for entry to practice in health service psychology. The PhD Program in School Psychology is a pathway toward eligibility to pursue a career as a licensed psychologist. 

The PhD in School Psychology program prepares all students who have completed a bachelor's degree by the time of program start. The MA degree is not required for admission and may be earned during the PhD in School Psychology program. 

This program provides students with training experiences to become proficient in the following profession-wide competencies in health service psychology: psychological assessment, consultation, prevention, intervention, ethical and legal issues, research, and individual and cultural diversity. Professionalism, communication skills, interdisciplinary collaboration, and advocacy is also emphasized.

Our graduates are best defined by their skills—those necessary to perform the professional role asked of them across settings and within the ethical bounds of their education, training, and supervised experience. Graduates often work in schools, private practice, academia, community mental health clinics, and hospitals.

What You Will Learn

The program’s aim is to prepare graduates for entry to practice in health service psychology based on the profession-wide competencies endorsed by APA. This program’s training model is consistent with the scientist-practitioner model and includes additional elements of advocacy, which is consistent with the NASP training model in School Psychology.

Specifically, the program provides training for students in the following competencies:

certificate iconAccreditation

The program is accredited by the American Psychological Association. For questions about accreditation, please contact the Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation. Learn more.
  • Assessment  Demonstrate knowledge and skills concerning fundamentals of measurement and assessment, and the use of assessment measures in a non-biased, reliable, and valid manner.
  • Consultation Demonstrate the ability to apply theoretical knowledge and skills when consulting with teachers, parents, and other professionals.
  • Prevention/Intervention Demonstrate knowledge and skills concerning the theories and tactics used to guide the design and implementation of effective interventions for children and adolescents.
  • Research and Evaluation Demonstrate knowledge and skills pertaining to research design, statistical analysis, and the communication of research results
  • Professional Practice Demonstrate skills required for appropriate professional practice, legal and ethical decision-making, and sensitivity to individual and cultural differences.

Program Benefits

Our professors have extensive and varied real-world experiences in providing direct psychological services, neuropsychological and comprehensive psychological assessment, community or school-based professional consultation, and research with an applied focus. They also regularly participate in professional activities emphasizing advocacy, social justice, and diversity.

Core Faculty 

Andrew Davis, PhD (Neuropsychology)

Maria Hernández Finch, PhD, Director of the MA/EdS programs in School Psychology (Equity and Social Justice in Prevention/Intervention, Assessment, & Methods; Autism Spectrum Disorder; Gifted)

Katie Maki, PhD (Academic Interventions and Specific Learning Disability Identification)

David McIntosh, PhD (Autism Spectrum Disorder; Assessment)

Renee Nevins, PhD (Clinical Practice; Psychoeducational and Neuropsychological Evaluation)

Eric Pierson, PhD (Personality; Gifted; Clinical & Ethical Practice Issues)

Janay B. Sander, PhD, Director of the PhD in School Psychology Program (Juvenile Justice; Evidence-Based Psychosocial Interventions; Culturally Relevant & Responsive Consultation)

Dr. Janay B. Sander is the current director of the PhD in School Psychology program and is available to answer questions about the program.

The American Psychological Association has continuously accredited the PhD Program in School Psychology since 1985. It is also approved by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).

Our students complete sequential supervised applied training experiences in real world settings, including a year-long 2nd year school-based and clinic-based practicum, followed by school-based externship, and ending with doctoral level internship experiences in a variety of health service psychology settings (typically clinics, hospitals, residential treatment centers, or schools). This program has a partially affiliated doctoral-level internship consortium comprised of several sites, including schools, neuropsychology practice, community medical centers, and private practice. The Ball State University Internship Consortium participates in the National Match.

Program Requirements

The program requires a minimum of 130 credits (five academic years) of full-time study beyond a bachelor's degree. This includes four years of full-time coursework (including summer courses) and a one-year internship.

Credits Required



Internship Consortium

This program has a partially affiliated doctoral-level internship, the Ball State University School Psychology Doctoral Internship Consortium. Learn more.

The department offers several doctoral cognates (a formally recognized concentration of study, which includes specific courses and/or practica) including:

  • neuropsychology
  • developmental psychology
  • educational psychology
  • assessment
  • research methodology

Other common cognates include: counseling psychology, clinical psychology, social psychology, sociology, and special education (applied behavior analysis and/or autism).

Flexibility is allowed in the development of skills and knowledge within the candidate’s interest area(s).

Students will select one cognate field consisting of a minimum of 15 credits (nine credits must be taken at Ball State). Any master’s degree offered at Ball State is permitted as a cognate selection. Some cognates require more than 15 credits to ensure competency, and it is not uncommon for students to complete a 24-credit cognate based on the student’s career goals.

A faculty member from that concentration area must supervise the choice of courses in the cognate and sit as a member of the student’s doctoral dissertation committee.


For a complete list of all the courses you will take and their descriptions, consult our course catalog.

View Catalog

What Can You Do with a PhD in School Psychology?

The program’s curriculum focuses on candidates and developing competencies in assessment, consultation, prevention, research, and professional practice. Professional practice includes gaining knowledge of legal, ethical, and quality assurance expectations as they related to the practice of psychology. You’ll be qualified for a career in:

  • school settings
  • hospitals
  • community mental health
  • private practice

Paying for Your Education

Department Graduate Assistantships

A graduate assistantship is an excellent opportunity to gain meaningful professional experience while helping cover the costs of your degree. Learn more.

Apply to the Program

Admission to this program involves a preliminary screening by the Graduate School and a final review by the Department.

The application deadline for all materials received is December 1 for U.S. students (November 1 for International applicants). It is recommended that materials be submitted through the application portal at least two weeks ahead of the deadline.

Note: $60 application fee* (updated fall 2017)
*Note: McNair Scholars may waive the application fee 

U.S. Applicants

Within the applications portal, indicate program selection of School Psychology (PhD) as your program. Select the next term available for submission (only Fall admissions). If you are currently enrolled as a graduate student at Ball State University, you must still submit an application to this program through the portal.

Materials to Include

  • Official transcripts – Include transcripts from every institution attended, including transcripts from schools in which courses were transferred to another institution. If you are currently attending Ball State University or have attended in the past, the Graduate School will obtain transcripts that are already on file for you.
  • Results of the general Graduate Record Examination General Test (GRE) – Results must from an exam taken within the last five years. Average scores on the GRE tend to be approximately the 50th percentile, but there is no specific minimum performance set. Official results should be sent directly to Ball State University. Use the code for Ball State (R1051).
  • Letter of Intent/Professional Goals and Self-Assessment Statement: An autobiography including pertinent childhood, academic, and vocational experiences, reason for wanting to enter school psychology, and a personal philosophy statement should be included. Applicants should also outline their previous diversity-related experiences. Suggested word limit: 1000 words
  • Three references who will submit letters of recommendation – We strongly urge you to follow up with your references to remind them of the deadline.
  • CV or Resume
  • Writing sample(s) (optional, but encouraged) Examples include class papers submitted, undergraduate thesis or research project; any topic is acceptable (psychology-related is encouraged).

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Rinker Center's Deadline: November 1

If you are not a United States citizen, your application must be evaluated and approved by Ball State’s Rinker Center for International Programs. The center prefers to receive applications by Nov. 1 so that there is plenty of time to review your application prior to the departmental deadline of Dec. 1.

The Office of International Admissions will receive the application materials from the same admissions portal hosted on the Graduate School’s admissions page. A separate application to the International Programs office is not required.

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School Psychology Graduate Programs