Creating Representative and Inclusive Graduate Programs

Designing robust and attractive graduate programs

  • Embed themes of multiculturalism, inclusion, equity, and social justice in all course content. School psychology programs should offer a course devoted to multiculturalism and social justice, and topics related to multiculturalism, inclusion, equity, and social justice should be infused throughout the curriculum as well (Newell et al., 2010; Malone & Ishmail, 2020).
  • Ensure that research related to multiculturalism, inclusion, equity, and social justice is represented in faculty scholarship. At least one faculty member should be actively conducting research related to multiculturalism, equity, and social justice. This research should be included on a faculty webpage. Encourage graduate student involvement in this research (Malone & Ishmail, 2020; Smith et al., 2016). Malone and Ishmail (2020) found that the percentage of racially and ethnically minoritized students in school psychology programs was positively correlated with the percentage of racially and ethnically minoritized faculty and the number of required multicultural courses. 
  • Address social justice issues throughout coursework and program requirements. Social justice issues may be addressed through coursework, service learning experiences, and community projects (Briggs et al., 2009; Proctor et al., 2020).
  • Create inclusive communities and program cultures. School psychology programs must foster a learning environment that clearly creates an inclusive program climate.  These values must be pervasive and authentic and must move beyond surface-level efforts (e.g., mission statements that are not backed by robust plans for implementation). Grapin, Lee, and Jaafar (2015) present a multilevel framework for supporting culturally and linguistically minoritized students in graduate programs. Recruitment materials (e.g., brochures and website content) should emphasize and reflect the program’s commitment to inclusion and equity. For example, program faculty may include a link to NASP’s Nondiscrimination and Equal Opportunity Policy as well as the School Psychology Unified Anti-Racism Statement and Call to Action on their program websites, or note that the program supports the policy.

    NASP also maintains a directory of Multicultural and Bilingual School Psychology Graduate Programs that demonstrate a commitment to inclusion and equity,
  • Incorporate field experiences that center on working with culturally and linguistically minoritized individuals. These opportunities should be available in both practica and internship (Rogers, 2006). Make this focus apparent on the program’s website, which often serves as an important recruitment tool (Smith et al., 2016).
  • Ensure that program faculty represent a range of culturally and linguistically minoritized backgrounds. Racially and ethnically minoritized students are represented in larger numbers in programs in which at least one racially and ethnically minoritized faculty member (Malone & Ishmail, 2020).

Recruiting racially and ethnically minoritized students

  • Foster relationships with institutions that traditionally serve racially and ethnically minoritized students (e.g., Historically Black colleges and universities and Hispanic-serving institutions). Outreach efforts should be provided at those institutions and graduate students from those institutions should be included in the recruitment efforts (Chandler, 2011; Graves & Wright, 2007; Rogers & Molina, 2006).
  • Make direct and personal contact with culturally and linguistically minoritized applicants.  Direct, personal contact should be made with applicants in order to assure them of program fit. Such direct contact is particularly important for racially and ethnically minoritized students who may have concerns about fitting into the program. Ideally, this personal contact should be made by a racially and ethincally minoritized faculty member or graduate student or involved in research on inclusion, equity, and social justice (Chandler, 2011).
  • Offer funding opportunities through the institution and through external grants.  For some racially and ethnically minoritized graduate students, funding opportunities may be critical for ensuring program completion. Hence, the potential for graduate funding is likely to increase the effectiveness of efforts to recruit more racially and ethnically minoritized students (Chandler, 2011).
  • Implement admissions procedures that yield a highly qualified and inclusive student body.These procedures may emphasize applicant interviews, review of personal statements, and letters of recommendation while de-emphasizing components such as Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores (Chandler, 2011).
  • Invite prospective students for on-campus visits. This may allow them to establish more personal connections with faculty and students. Interpersonal interaction with a school psychologist has been found to be a significant predictor of entering the profession (Bocanegra, Newell, & Gubi, 2016).
  • Acknowledge that all program faculty have a role in recruiting an inclusive student body. University faculty are often very busy with numerous competing obligations. Thus, program leaders should acknowledge recruitment of culturally and linguistically minoritized as a priority and afford adequate time and resources to contribute to recruitment efforts (Vasquez et al., 2016).
  • Reach out to racially and ethnically minoritized undergraduates within the institution. Due to school psychology being underrepresented in undergraduate education and students being generally unaware of the profession, presentations to student organizations and undergraduate courses are recommended (Bocanegra, Gubi, Fan, & Hansmann, 2016).
  • Specify objective and measurable goals for increasing enrollment of racially and ethincally minoritized students. These goals should be suited to the program’s individual characteristics. Specific and purposeful plans should be made to achieve these goals. Progress made towards these goals, along with data-informed modifications to recruitment plans, should be reviewed annually (Proctor & Romano, 2016).
  • Assist students in identifying programs with research interests related to multiculturalism, equity, and social justice. Recent notable efforts from APA Division 16 have been made to create a database of faculty with these research interests. Prospective students should be encouraged to access the National Directory of Graduate Faculty Addressing Cultural and Diversity Issues in School Psychology at http://www.d16cema.org/.