The Baylor School of Education’s PhD program in School Psychology has earned accreditation on contingency from the American Psychological Association (APA), with the contingency based on the program’s relative newness. Baylor anticipates its first program finishers in 2023 and will be eligible for full accreditation in 2025.
The professional preparation provided by the Baylor School Psychology Ph.D., through the Department of Educational Psychology, is founded on the ethical codes and professional standards of the APA and the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), as well as the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists rules of practice.
PhD program director Dr. Nicholas Benson, associate professor, said the new designation will bring well-deserved recognition to the program.
“Being listed among accredited programs on the APA’s accreditation web pages will increase the visibility of the program, which in turn will enhance the quantity, diversity, and quality of applicants,” Benson said. Benson acknowledged the outstanding quality of the current PhD students. “We have been fortunate to have high achieving students enter our PhD program and it’s a tribute to Baylor’s reputation as a university.”
He noted that the designation has concrete meaning to applicants and students. “Initial accreditation provides assurance to current and aspirant students that they will receive an organized, sequential training curriculum with supervised clinical practica delivered by qualified faculty,” he explained.
The initial accreditation also sends an important signal to potential employers of program participants and graduates. “Students who complete an APA-accredited program are eligible to apply for an APA-accredited internship, completion of which eases the path to psychology licensure,” Benson said. “Moreover, graduating from an APA-accredited program opens doors for post-doctoral residencies and faculty positions. The program believes that accreditation has many important benefits for both students and faculty, and we are excited about the future of the program.”
Baylor’s PhD in School Psychology is a five-year program, and the final year of study consists of a paid internship. Benson said the first three students who have finished the fourth year have received APA-accredited internships — High Plains Psychology Internship Consortium, a multi-state training network; Cypress Fairbanks ISD, a highly rated district near Houston, Texas; and the Avondale Elementary School Internship in Avondale Elementary School District, west of Phoenix, Arizona.
Seeking accreditation is a voluntary process, Benson noted. The School of Education, Department of Educational Psychology, and the program faculty chose that pathway because “seeking and attaining accreditation conveys the program’s commitment to the interests of students, and more broadly, to those whom our students will serve,” he said.
Benson acknowledged the school psychology faculty worked diligently to accomplish this goal in a short time. “Drs. Kelsey Ragan, Eric Robinson, Tamara Hodges, Julie Ivey, and I worked tirelessly on the application and are happy with the outcomes.” Benson said, “The program faculty extends its gratitude to all who supported this accomplishment, including, but not limited to, faculty from within and outside of the Department of Educational Psychology, SOE Dean Shanna Hagan-Burke, Provost Nancy Brickhouse, and President Linda Livingstone.”
Benson is a Texas licensed psychologist, licensed specialist in school psychology, a nationally certified School Psychologist, and a member of the prestigious Society for the Study of School Psychology. He teaches courses in intellectual assessment, academic assessment, evaluation, and academic intervention. Benson’s research interests focus broadly on psychological and educational assessment, with emphasis on examining the validity of interpretations and uses of test scores. He is an associate editor for Journal of School Psychology, serves on the editorial boards for several other research journals, and has published research in leading journals.
For more than 100 years, the School of Education has advanced Baylor’s mission across the globe while preparing students for a range of careers focused on education, leadership, and human development. With more than 60 full-time faculty members, the school’s growing research portfolio complements its long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentoring. Baylor’s undergraduate program in teacher education has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers deep clinical preparation. Likewise, the School of Education’s graduate programs have attained national recognition for their exemplary preparation of research scholars, educational leaders, innovators, and clinicians. Visit www.baylor.edu/SOE to learn more.
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.