Supervised Field Experience

Consistent with our ecosystems philosophy and the research supporting success of diverse students, we emphasize collaborative and field-based learning in culturally and linguistically diverse schools. We use 3 types of field experiences:

  1. Supervised field experiences (placement with a credentialed school psychologist as a supervisor).
  2. School-based courses (taught on-site by SDSU faculty).
  3. Field-based assignments for courses.

Supervised field experiences are graded in scope and intensity across all 4 years. Students complete a sequence of 3 years of formal field experience (practicum/fieldwork), accumulating at least 900 hours in the schools, prior to the 1200-hour culminating internship funded by school districts.

The breadth of field experiences allows for the candidate to observe and practice a full range of school psychology roles and functions prior to internship, usually across 2 school levels (e.g., elementary, middle, and high school).

Professional development seminars accompany each of these field experiences and provide critical analyses of best practices, group supervision of cases and activities, and discussion of legal and ethical issues.

Sequence of Supervised Field Experiences

  • 90-100 hours each semester, total 200 hours (minimum)
  • 1 day per week
  • Small group placement: 4-5 school psychology trainees
  • 3 sections at partnership schools
  • School psychologists supervising-instructors (i.e., part-time faculty members)

Practicum is a highly structured and guided introduction to the intersections of home, family, school and community systems (i.e., specific assignments to be orchestrated & completed on-site).

In the fall, trainees develop skills in ecosystemic assessment-intervention (including record reviews, interviewing, and observation) and counseling. In the spring, they continue to practice those skills while adding ecobehavioral assessment-intervention (i.e., functional behavior assessment, behavior support plans, behavioral interventions-consultation) and academic assessment-intervention (e.g., authentic assessment, curriculum-based measurement) to their repertoire.

Seminars, held at the school, have 3 purposes:

  1. Group supervision
  2. Introduction to the profession and professional ethics
  3. Discussions regarding cultural diversity in the schools
  • 150 hours each semester, total 300 hours (minimum)
  • 1.5 days per week (1.5 hrs supervision per week)
  • Paired placements
  • 7-9 collaborating credentialed school psychologists as supervisors (for 15 trainees)
  • Designated faculty member as university supervisor & liaison

Fieldwork continues to support trainee development as interventionists while increasing attention to assessment-intervention and special education evaluations.

Trainees continue to provide ecosystemic, ecobehavioral, and academic assessments-interventions while increasing their repertoire to include assessment of culturally and linguistically diverse students and special populations. They must contribute to special education evaluations to the limits of their documented competence (i.e., copies of test proficiency rubrics from instructors).

Trainees carry a small counseling (individual or group) caseload while developing their skills in formal special education evaluation and consultation (e.g., instructional, mental health). A year-long seminar sequence provides skills for trainees to evaluate the effectiveness of their interventions.

  • 200 hours each semester, total 400 hours (minimum)
  • 2 days per week (2 hrs supervision per week)
  • Individual placements under the supervision of a credentialed school psychologist
  • Designated faculty member as university supervisor & liaison

Fall semester begins with a focus on developing skills in integrative cross-battery assessment and evaluation processes with conceptual report writing.

Concurrently, trainees become familiar with their placement settings, participate in SSTs and IEPs, maintain a small counseling caseload, initiate consultative services, and contribute to special education evaluation procedures.

By spring semester, trainees are expected to manage a special education evaluation case from referral through IEP. By the end of the year, trainees should demonstrate their skills in providing a multifaceted, comprehensive model of service delivery including psychoeducational evaluations, behavioral assessment, and direct and indirect interventions.

  • 1200 hours (minimum)
  • Full-time with 20% dedicated to professional growth
  • Individual placements under the supervision of a credentialed school psychologist
  • Designated faculty member as university supervisor & liaison

Interns deliver the full range of services provided by school psychologists, and must include assessment-evaluation, consultation, counseling, and other direct and indirect interventions, under the supervision of a school psychologist.

They are expected to fulfill no more than 60% of the load of a beginning school psychologist. Internship is the culminating learning experience in the program; interns are recommended for the internship credential after a conference with the full-time faculty (held in the spring prior to internship).

Typically, interns are assigned to 1 school for the entire year and may engage in rotations at other sites or with special populations. Usually funded by the school district as a credentialed internship position.

Note: To ensure a breadth of experience, trainees must be in different placements and with different supervisors each year. It is the candidate's responsibility, in consultation with her/his advisor, to plan and document field experiences that will result in at least a minimum of 200 hours (through fieldwork, practicum, or field-based courses) in a setting other than the primary setting in which field experiences have been taken (i.e., elementary, middle, or high schools).

At the Internship Planning Conference, trainees must present documented hours at each setting level. In the rare instance when a trainee has not completed the 200 hours in a setting other than the primary setting, the candidate must fulfill this requirement during the internship year.

The following are common to each of these year-long experiences:

  • The field experience is accompanied by a professional development seminar (weekly for pre-internship experiences, intensive day-long monthly seminars during internship) that includes group supervision by a faculty member.
  • Placements in schools with approved supervisors are effected in a collaborative process among trainees, faculty members, field supervisors, and the program director.
  • The experience is governed by agreements with the participating school sites and supervisors.
  • Trainees, in collaboration with the field supervisor and the instructor, develop individual goals and activity plans to ensure attention to the program's 10 Practice Domains.
  • To receive credit for the course (graded credit/no credit), trainees must complete all requirements at a satisfactory level, as evaluated by field supervisor and instructor.
  • Trainees are expected to practice the skills learned in courses from the previous year(s).
  • Trainees are expected to integrate concurrent course assignments into their field placement activities.
  • Trainees are expected to integrate new skills as they develop and are cleared by the instructors associated with specific courses.
  • Trainees receive at least 1 hour of face-to-face supervision (from the field supervisor) for every day on site.
  • Interns receive at least 2 hours of face-to-face supervision (from the site supervisor) weekly, although much more may be required at the beginning of internship.
  • Trainees track their hours on site using the School Psychology Service Delivery Analyzer (SPSDA-R, an Excel-based accountability system).
  • Trainees must accrue the designated minimum number of hours each semester.
  • Trainees maintain reflective field experience logs which are reviewed by the faculty member.
  • The trainees' development of competence in each of the 10 Practice Domains is evaluated (by the candidate and by the field supervisor) each semester.
  • The trainees evaluate their field placement site and supervisor each semester.

What to call yourself?

Sweitzer & King use the term “intern” to refer to the learner in all field-based experiential learning situations. You may also find that school personnel will refer to you as an intern. It is important, however, to present yourself as you are — a student or trainee — until that time that you hold the official internship credential from the State of California. Only then, in our culminating field experience, may you refer to yourself or allow others to refer to you as an intern. And, at that time, the word intern — not psychologist — is the noun because you are not yet a school psychologist.


Throughout the first 3 years of the program, you are a:

  • School Psychology Trainee or School Psychology Student
  • Not an Intern (term regulated by California law)

During the culminating field experience (internship), you are a:

  • School Psychology Intern
  • Not "Intern School Psychologist"

Suggested Reading

Sweitzer, H. F., & King, M. A. (2004). The successful internship: Transformation and empowerment in experiential learning. (2nd ed). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole. [especially chapters 1-4]