State Credentialing FAQs

What is the difference between a certification, a license, and a credential?

While the terms certification, license, and credential are sometimes used interchangeably, a "credential" is a broad term referring to an indicator that an individual has met a certain set of criteria related to graduate preparation, experience, and knowledge or skill, whereas an educator license or certification refers specifically to the legal authority to provide services within a jurisdiction. The type of credentials required to provide school psychological services typically are referred to as a certification, license, or endorsement. Check NASP’s list of state credentialing requirements to identify the terminology used for your state.

For the purposes of this FAQ, we will use the term "credential" to refer generally to a state certification, license, or endorsement required to provide services.

Which agencies issue credentials for school psychologists?

In most states, the State Education Agency (SEA) credentials school psychologists for practice in the schools, with the exceptions of Texas and Hawaii. State psychology boards (which may go by different names in each state) also offer credentials for school psychologists in some states. The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) offers a national credential (Nationally Certified School Psychologist; NCSP) that may facilitate the process of obtaining a state credential to practice school psychology, along with offering a range of additional professional benefits. Notably, the NCSP is an example of a non-practice credential insomuch as holding the NCSP does not make one eligible to provide services without first meeting the state requirements to work as a school psychologist. 

For the purposes of this FAQ, we will use the term "credentialing agency" to refer generally to any organization or agency that issues a professional credential in school psychology.

What credentials do I need to work as a school psychologist?

Each State Education Agency (SEA), except for Texas and Hawaii, specifies the requirements to practice as a school psychologist in that state, along with identifying the professional title (e.g., "school psychologist"), and the settings and scope of services that the individual can provide. Hawaii does not have a state agency that maintains oversight of school psychology credentialing, making that process a local function; and the Texas psychology board oversees the credentialing of school psychologists (Texas uses the professional title of "Licensed Specialists in School Psychology").

While NASP provides a list of state credentialing requirements by state, we encourage all practitioners to check with your State Education Agency (SEA) or other relevant credentialing agency to identify the most up-to-date credentialing requirements for your state.

What degree do I need to work as a school psychologist?

Most states require a minimum of a specialist-level degree in school psychology (i.e., minimum of 60 graduate semester hours, including a full-time internship year). No state requires a doctoral degree to practice as a school psychologist. Check with your State Education Agency (SEA) or other relevant credentialing agency to identify the degree requirement for your state. NASP’S "Overview of Differences Among Degrees in School Psychology" (PDF) may also provide a useful resource.

What exams do I need to take in order to work as a school psychologist?

Approximately half of state school psychology credentials, as well as the NCSP credential, require a passing score on the Praxis #5402. The NCSP requires a minimum score of 147, though some states may set a lower minimum score. Some states also require passage of state specific exams. No states or territories currently require the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) for the school psychology credential. Check with your State Education Agency (SEA) or other relevant credentialing agency to identify the requirements for your state, along with NASP’s list of state credentialing requirements.

Can I call myself a School Psychologist?

In most states, if appropriately credentialed by the State Education Agency, you can call yourself a school psychologist. However, Texas and Arkansas prohibit the use of the title "school psychologist" without an independent practice credential. In those states, school psychologists use the titles Licensed Specialist in School Psychology (Texas; LSSP) and School Psychology Specialist (Arkansas; SPS).

Are there nationally recognized credentials within school psychology?

The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) offers a Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) This is a non-practice credential, meaning that it does not, in itself, permit you to practice school psychology in any state. However, by carrying the NCSP you demonstrate that you meet the NASP standards for graduate preparation of school psychologists and for continuing education. Most states recognize the NCSP as part of their credentialing regulations and offer a more efficient path to state licensure or certification for those applicants that have their NCSP.

Is the NCSP credential an automatic path to licensure or certification in each state?

The NCSP does not necessarily provide an automatic path to state licensure or certification. However, the majority of states recognize or acknowledge the NCSP within their credentialing regulations.

Do I need to have gone to a NASP-approved/accredited graduate program to work as a school psychologist?

This varies by state. Some states require graduation from a NASP-approved/accredited program; however, most states do not. Check with your State Education Agency (SEA) or other relevant credentialing agency to identify the requirements for your state, along with NASP’s list of state credentialing requirements.

Is it easy to move from one state to another as a school psychologist?

The credentialing of school psychologists is regulated by individual states and official reciprocity between states does not exist. However, some states have alternate processes for credentialing incoming professionals with credentials from another state. Maintaining the NCSP credential often helps improve the ease of professional transition across states.

What services can I provide?

The scope of practice is determined by the practice credential that you hold. State Education Agencies (SEA) rarely limit the range of services that can be provided by school psychologists, as long as you are working within approved settings (e.g., schools) and within your area of competency as a school psychologist. Consult your SEA or other relevant credentialing agency for guidance specific to your state, along with NASP’s list of state credentialing requirements.

What settings can I work in?

In most cases, State Education Agency (SEA) credentials limit the scope of practice to the school setting (i.e, PK-12), which generally includes contractual work and private schools. Some states may explicitly include early childhood centers or post-secondary settings. Consult your SEA or other relevant credentialing agency for guidance specific to your state, along with NASP’s list of state credentialing requirements.

Can I work in a private school?

Generally, the scope of practice of a school psychologist can be assumed to extend to the private school setting, though few state agencies specify this explicitly. Consult your State Education Agency (SEA) or other relevant credentialing agency for guidance specific to your state, along with NASP’s list of state credentialing requirements.

Am I eligible for private/independent practice?

In most states, the State Education Agency (SEA) school psychology credentials do not permit private/independent practice. Some school psychologists may qualify for different certification or licensure, however, through the psychology board or other related credentialing agencies in the state that permit private/independent practice. Some states also allow for private or independent practice under supervision.

Can I provide contract services with my SEA issued school psychology credential?

Consider reading Considerations for Contract Services in School Psychology. Most State Education Agencies (SEA) do not address this directly, including whether one could provide contract services when hired by a third party. Consult your SEA or other relevant credentialing agency for guidance specific to your state, along with NASP’s list of state credentialing requirements.

I’m moving. How soon do I need to get my certification or licensure in the new state?

In most states, one must obtain an official credential from the state prior to formal employment or providing any services. Some states may allow for a temporary assignment under certain conditions, such as demonstrating an active credential in another state while the candidate completes the paperwork to earn the appropriate credential in the new state.

Do I need a credential to work as an intern?

Approximately half of all states maintain some provisional or temporary credential designed for current graduate students or school psychology interns. These credentials often provide increased state-level accountability for interns in the state, though do not necessarily modify the role during internship. In some cases, such credentials allow for interns to obtain a salary during the internship year.

Is there an emergency, temporary, or provisional credential?

Some states offer emergency, temporary, or provisional credentials that allow related professionals to practice school psychology while finalizing the remaining requirements to become credentialed. Consult your State Education Agency (SEA) or other relevant credentialing agency for guidance specific to your state, along with NASP’s list of state credentialing requirements.

My degree is not in school psychology. Can I be credentialed as a school psychologist?

Most states explicitly require a degree in "school psychology." Some states may provide alternative pathways, though in most states, that individual may need to go back to school to fill any gaps. Consult your State Education Agency (SEA) or other relevant credentialing agency for guidance specific to your state, along with NASP’s list of state credentialing requirements.