Frequently Asked Questions
Common Applicant Questions
Why do most school psychology programs at the specialist level require three years of study?
National accreditation standards for school psychology programs require a minimum of three years of full time study or the equivalent, including a one-year internship, beyond the baccalaureate. This also is the minimum training required for certification as a school psychologist in the great majority of states and for national certification.
What if my undergraduate degree was not in psychology?
Although the majority of our students were psychology majors as undergraduates, some were education majors, and a few majored in other disciplines altogether (e.g., Art, Dance, Mass Communication, Business, etc). Those who majored in fields other than psychology, social science, or education must meet the same prerequisites as all other applicants, but it is probably even more important that such applicants show through their volunteer or work experience why they are suited to a field such as school psychology.
What if I have a graduate degree in a related area and am looking to "re-specialize?"
See separate information for those with prior graduate coursework or degrees.
What is the class design/schedule? Is it possible to work full-time and complete the program or to complete it on a part-time basis?
The Winthrop School Psychology Program is designed for full-time completion over three years (the length of training required for national accreditation and certification). Courses are typically offered during the day, with some evening classes. A typical first-semester schedule includes one evening class and three classes scheduled over two or three days. A typical second-year schedule includes all classes scheduled on Mondays and Tuesdays, leaving the remainder of the week for completing a 20-hour per week traineeship. In the third year, students complete a full-time internship and are back on-campus one evening a week for an advanced assessment class or seminar.
The highly structured, integrated, and sequential nature of preparation in our program, and our national accreditation status, makes it necessary for students to complete the program as designed. It is possible (with department permission) to take up to 12 credit hours on a non-degree basis prior to starting the program, or to use prior graduate coursework to meet some program requirements and thus reduce the number of courses taken in a given semester. Otherwise, students must complete the program as designed. It is usually not possible to do this AND work full-time, unless one's employer is flexible enough to provide release time to complete courses and then work with the individual to secure opportunities to complete the traineeship and internship. This would be extremely rare.
What are the program's prerequisites?
The program requires prior undergraduate or graduate courses in:
- General Psychology
- Developmental Psychology (Human Growth and Development or Child Psychology may be substituted)
- Psychological Statistics (another social science or educational statistics class may be substituted)
- Research or Experimental Psychology (another social science or educational research class may be substituted)
- Tests and Measurements (courses such as psychological testing or educational assessment may be substituted)
Could the fact that I have not completed some prerequisites hurt my chances of admission?
Lacking one prerequisite may not be a detriment, as you might be able to take a prerequisite in the summer prior to beginning the program should you be admitted (or in place of a first year course which you might have already had, such as health psychology or exceptional child). Additionally, applicants with a background in education who already have taken such courses as exceptional child or educational assessment at the undergraduate or graduate level may be able to substitute a prerequisite for a course normally taken during the first year in the program. But when applicants lack more than one prerequisite, especially if they have had no other graduate coursework that might satisfy first year requirements (thus giving them the flexibility to take a prerequisite in its place), the chances of admission are diminished.
What is the application deadline?
The program's application deadline is January 15th. Late applicants are considered only if there are openings after the usual review and acceptance period (for example, if a student who has accepted our admissions offer experiences some unexpected family or medical circumstance that prevents them from attending). Although rare, such events do occur.
How many students apply to the Winthrop program each year?
Typically, 50-80 students apply each year.
How many applicants will you interview?
Approximately 22-25 applicants are individually interviewed each year. Interviews usually are conducted in early March (for the exact dates in any given year, see the Winthrop School Psychology Program Calendar). Those not selected for interviews are notified by mail shortly after our application deadline and interviews.
What if I'm invited to Winthrop for an interview but cannot come due to the expense or a significant prior commitment?
Invited applicants are strongly encouraged to make arrangements to come for the interview, especially if they have never visited the campus and met the faculty. Plus, interviews include some opportunities to interact with current graduate students and other applicants. If it is impossible to come due to distance, cost, or similar factors, a Skype interview may be arranged. But it is our strong preference to meet prospective students in person.
How many students will you accept?
Typically, ten students are accepted for the fall semester. This provides for low student-faculty ratios and for the individual attention and supervision needed to assure an appropriate level of graduate preparation for the field of school psychology.
Do you accept applications for the spring semester?
Applications are accepted for the fall semester only.
How much emphasis is placed on GRE scores in the admissions process?
GRE scores are not among the most heavily weighted factors in our admissions decisions, although a score of less than 800 (Verbal and Quantitative combined) can be a detriment to selection. While GRE scores may not correlate highly with actual graduate school performance, they help to predict how people will perform on other standardized tests, such as national certification exams, and so cannot be ignored completely.
May other tests substitute for the GRE's?
All applicants are required to take the general GRE examination, although the results of other tests (e.g. GRE subject exam, MAT, NTE) will be considered if submitted.
What is emphasized in the selection process?
Undergraduate GPA, experience with children, and diversity of background and experience are very important factors. The person's academic background (e.g., institution attended; strength of courses taken, research experience) also is considered. References can be important, especially if they are particularly positive or somewhat negative or neutral. For those people selected for interviews, the outcome of the interview is very important.
Can you offer advice for selecting references?
It typically is best to obtain a balance between those familiar with your academic work (e.g., professors), and those familiar with your work with others (e.g., work supervisor or director of an agency where you did volunteer work with children). But it is most important that you provide references from the people who best know you and your work, and who will provide you with as positive a recommendation as possible. It also is very advisable to allow such references to be confidential by signing the statement on the reference form. Be sure to give your references the form enough in advance for them to complete and return it by the deadline (they may return them directly to Winthrop, or provide them to you in sealed envelopes with a signature across the back which you can then mail in a larger envelope with other application materials).
I'm concerned about financial aid for graduate studies. What are my prospects for financial aid at Winthrop?
Prospects for financial aid at Winthrop are quite good. Although no guarantees can be given until budgets are finalized for each academic year, we typically provide assistantships and corresponding tuition waivers to most incoming students who desire them. Second and third year students are supported by traineeship and internship stipends that also carry tuition waivers. Tuition waivers typically cover six-nine credit hours per semester. Outstanding students may also apply for graduate scholarships/fellowships, including fellowships for minority students who are residents of South Carolina.
Graduate students also are eligible to apply for unsubsidized federal Stafford loans of up to around $18,000 per year. For more information about such financial aid, contact Winthrop's Financial Aid office.
If I am applying for a scholarship or assistantship, do I need to submit separate references?
No, you can use the same references and letters as you did for your program application.
What are the average GRE scores for admitted students?
Typically, the average combined verbal and quantitative score is 950 – 1050 (old scale), although the overall range is greater.
What is the average undergraduate GPA for admitted students?
The average undergraduate GPA is 3.5 - 3.7 but the range is greater.
What are the chances that I'll get a paid internship through the Winthrop program?
Although guarantees cannot be made about future funding, all Winthrop interns since at least 1980 have received paid internships. The program negotiates these internships in our immediate region in upper South Carolina and the greater Charlotte region. The typical internship stipend is $10,000, plus a tuition waiver that covers all but one class each semester of internship.
What percent of students complete the Winthrop program in three years?
Over 90% of admitted students complete the Winthrop program, and virtually all of them do so in three years.
What are the chances that I can get nationally certified and certified as a school psychologist in other states if I complete Winthrop's program?
Winthrop's program is approved by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) and the State of South Carolina. The University is accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). In addition to being an indicator of program quality, this makes it easier for individual graduates to obtain the credentials needed to practice school psychology. Upon passing the Praxis II exam in school psychology, Winthrop graduates qualify for both national certification and certification in almost all states.
What is Winthrop's pass rate on the Praxis exam in school psychology?
Over the past five years, all graduates of the Winthrop School Psychology Program have passed the Praxis II in School Psychology at the level needed for national certification on their first attempt! Since 1988, all but one Winthrop graduate has passed the Praxis. Over that time, a few took the exam more than once.
How do Winthrop graduates fare in the job market?
Over the past 30 years, over 95% of our graduates seeking employment in the field have attained positions within three or four months of graduation. During recent, economically difficult times, that figure has been closer to 90%. Recent graduates have found employment in states as distant as Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, although most prefer to remain in the Carolinas. Public schools are by far the most common employers of graduates although other settings (e.g., mental health centers, rehabilitation and mental retardation agencies, etc.) are possible. Some of our graduates also pursue doctorates (usually after getting some experience) and have had excellent success in getting admitted to strong programs.