Stephen F. Austin State University

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SFA offers new doctorate program in school and behavioral psychology

December 7, 2009 - Nicole Newby
Andrea Goodwin, a 2005 graduate of Hallsville High School, is enrolled in Stephen F. Austin State University's new graduate program in school and behavioral psychology. The program prepares students to become educators, researchers and practitioners in a variety of settings, including schools, hospitals and mental health facilities.

For one student in the new graduate program in school and behavioral psychology at Stephen F. Austin State University, earning a doctorate degree is about more than having an acronym to place behind her name, it's about saving lives. It's a program she thinks might have helped save the life of her brother.

"My brother had a horrible experience in the public school system," said Andrea Goodwin, a White Oak graduate student in the Ph.D. program. "He had learning disabilities that were not fully addressed by the school system and ended up committing suicide in one of his high school classrooms in 2001."

SFA's graduate program in school and behavioral psychology prepares students to become educators, researchers and practitioners in a variety of settings, including schools, hospitals and mental health facilities.

Motivated by her brother's tragedy, Goodwin is studying to become a licensed specialist in school psychology and work in the public school system. "I hope that everything I learn in this program I will be able to apply in my career and help me make a difference," she said.

Through the program, which has been fully accredited by the National Association of School Psychologists and the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists, students are trained to work with a diverse special needs population, with a primary focus on children and families.

"I really want to be able to make a difference in students' lives," said Goodwin, "and get them the help they deserve before it's too late."

The school and behavioral psychology curriculum requires that students conduct research and complete independent projects, as well as participate in clinical learning. They must also fulfill internship and practicum requirements.

"It has been a rough start so far, considering this is my first semester in graduate school," said Goodwin. "However, I do believe it is going to get better. I am learning a lot and ready to get more involved in the program."

In order to be accepted into the program, students must meet certain criteria. A master's degree in school psychology or a similar discipline with at least a 3.5 graduate grade-point average is required. The admissions committee also takes into account letters of recommendation, GRE scores, application essays and relevant experience.