HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The following is a news release from The University of Southern Mississippi
A University of Southern Mississippi graduate program accredited for more than three decades has received an extension of that status for its continued success at meeting a variety of quality benchmarks.
The USM Ph.D. program in School Psychology recently earned reaccreditation for seven more years from the American Psychological Association (APA). Housed in the College of Education and Psychology's Department of Psychology, it is just one of 60 accredited school psychology doctoral programs in the country.
The accreditation process included an evaluation of student performance and placement for internships and jobs; faculty research; diversity; resources and facilities; and institutional support, among other factors.
"Our program is as strong now as it has been over my 30 years here, and the seven years of reaccreditation by the APA is a testament to its quality," said Dr. Dan Tingstrom, director of the program. "Based on various outcomes in terms of student achievements and internship and job placement, as well as the quality of our teaching and research, I believe it rivals similar ones nationally."
The program's objective is preparing behavioral scientists who use their training to solve a broad range of problems encountered by students related to schooling, including those involving behavior and learning challenges. After four years of coursework and a fifth year of internship, graduates of the program go on to serve in various settings that include hospitals, clinics, developmental centers, school districts and at universities and colleges as faculty members.
Students are actively involved in research with mentor professors. The School Psychology program's faculty have been ranked in the top 10 or 20 since the early 1990s in publication and research productivity. The program's School Psychology Service Center/Clinic also offers practical, hands-on experience for its students, taking on cases managed by the clinic that involve young clients undergoing assessment and intervention services for such issues as learning, behavior or emotional problems.
In addition to Tingstrom, program faculty members include Dr. Joe Olmi (chair of the Department of Psychology); Dr. Evan Dart; Dr. Brad Dufrene (director of the School Psychology Service Center); Dr. Jim Moore (director of the master's program in applied behavior analysis and Applied Behavior Analysis Laboratory); and Dr. Keith Radley (director of the Autism Research and Treatment Laboratory).
Program's strength, reputation attracts students
Zach Labrot of Troy, Ill. and Allison Battaglia Kenner, La. are students in the program and have secured internships at the Munroe-Meyer Institute in Omaha, Neb. in behavioral pediatrics. Both say the program's accreditation opens doors for them that will not only benefit their careers, but the children and young adults they serve.
Labrot said the Munroe-Myer Institute was his first choice for an internship placement, made possible with the support of his program's faculty and many quality opportunities it provides. After graduation he plans to work in academia training the next generation of school psychologists, and conduct research related to applied practice in early childhood that supports not only students, but also families and school personnel.
"I've always known the USM School Psychology program was impressive," said Labrot, who was on hand for the APA site evaluation of the program. "In fact, its reputation for offering many practicum experiences and producing a great deal of quality research was what drew me to the program in the first place.
"Without a doubt, the collaborative nature of the program and the faculty's attentiveness to students' training needs is what I believe earned it reaccreditation by the APA."
Battaglia plans to continue working in a clinical setting with children who have autism spectrum disorder after completing her doctorate and acquiring licensure as a school psychologist. She is also considering a future in academia.
"One of the first things that attracted me to this program was the opportunity to work with its amazing faculty, and the chance to learn and develop my professional skills through such a strong, accredited program," she said.
For more information about the USM School Psychology doctoral program, visit https://www.usm.edu/school-psychology.