Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about the School Psychology program. If you have any addition questions about the Master of Arts program in School Psychology, call or email us:

Dr. Melissa McGonnell
Associate Professor/Co-coordinator, School Psychology

Dr. Sara King
Associate Professor/Coordinator, School Psychology program

Why is an undergraduate degree in psychology or equivalent degree required?

An undergraduate degree in psychology is required because this is necessary for registration as a psychologist in most provinces. an undergraduate degree in psychology provides students with the foundational knowledge necessary to meet registration requirements. The Nova Scotia Board of Examiners in Psychology (NSBEP), the registration board for psychologists in Nova Scotia, only recognizes graduate degrees that require applicants to have an undergraduate degree, or equivalent, in psychology.

What does “equivalent” mean?

“Equivalent” means that the applicant has taken enough undergraduate psychology courses to meet the requirements for a degree, but a degree has not been conferred. Degrees in other areas which have some material in common with psychology (e.g., education, social work) are not considered to be equivalent to a degree in psychology.

Is a BEd required for admission to the School Psychology program?

A BEd is not required for admission to the School Psychology program. A BEd is not considered equivalent to an undergraduate degree in psychology.

What makes someone look good in an application to your program?

An undergraduate honours degree in psychology with a thesis makes applicants competitive. An honours degree prepares students to write a graduate-level thesis. Additionally, some experience working with children (either paid or volunteer) demonstrates a commitment to the field. A well-written statement of intent outlining your research interests and future career goals is helpful when the committee is making decisions about admission.

Do I apply to a specific supervisor or the program in general?

Students apply to the program and not to a specific supervisor.

Do students take classes during the summer?

Students do not take formal classes during the summer but are expected to be working on their research.

How many students do you typically admit?

Admission varies each year depending on number of qualified applicants, but 5-8 students are typically admitted.

What weight do you place on each of the letter of intent, practical experience, grades, and reference letters?

Equal weight is placed on each component of the application, after minimum GPA criteria are met.

Who would be a good reference?

The School Psychology program requires that two references come from academic sources. Ideally, these references should come from psychology professors who can comment knowledgeably about you. The third reference should be a professional reference. You should choose someone who can comment on your professionalism (e.g., punctuality, responsibility, organisation).

Can I do the program part-time?

The School Psychology program is a two-year, full-time, on-campus program. It is not possible to complete the program on a part-time basis.

Is the program offered online?

No courses in the School Psychology program are offered online.

How do you know if school psychology is right for you?

Before deciding on a career in psychology, you will probably find it helpful to speak with psychologists who are working in a variety of settings to find out more about what their jobs involve.

Can I transfer graduate-level course credits from another institution?

We do not assess courses for transfer until a student has been admitted to the School Psychology program. You should provide all transcripts when you apply for admission to the program. After you have been admitted, you can request that specific courses be evaluated for transfer.

Is a thesis required?

Yes, a thesis is required. The program adheres to a scholar-practitioner model and students are expected to develop competency in research over the course of their studies.

Should I contact professors with whom I’d like to do research?

Many graduate programs in psychology expect students to identify a thesis advisor before they apply and/or enter the program. This is not the case in the School Psychology program. Students are admitted to the program and then expected to find a thesis advisor by the end of their first year. This allows students to meet faculty members and develop their research ideas. However, applicants are welcome to contact potential advisors in advance to discuss research possibilities.

What kind of funding is available?

Students in the School Psychology program are eligible to apply for tri-council funding (SSHRC and CIHR) and many of our students have been successful. Applicants who do not already have a master’s degree are also considered for provincial graduate scholarships upon acceptance to a program. Information about other scholarships and bursaries is available from Graduate Studies.

Is an MEd stream offered?

The School Psychology program is part of the Faculty of Education at MSVU; however, there is no MEd degree option offered in the program. All students receive a MA upon completion of the program.

Is your program accredited?

The School Psychology program is not accredited because the Canadian Psychological Association only accredits doctoral programs.

How long is the program?

The MA in School Psychology is a two-year, full-time, on-campus program.

What is the process for registration as a psychologist? In Nova Scotia? In my home province?

After graduation, students apply to the Nova Scotia Board of Examiners in Psychology (NSBEP) to be placed on the Candidate Registrar. Additional information can be found on the NSBEP website. If you intend to practice elsewhere after graduation, you should check the registration requirements of that jurisdiction.

What are the career prospects for graduates of your program?

In recent years, all graduates of the program have obtained employment or continued on to graduate studies.

What is the primary role of a school psychologist?

The role of the school psychologist varies significantly from region to region, but they are typically involved in assessment of learning and behavioural difficulties, consultation with school personnel about learning, behavioural, and mental health difficulties, intervention and program planning for learning and behavioural difficulties, and, in some cases, liaising with other agencies and research.