CWU News

CWU Graduates to Fill 17 High-Demand School Psychologist Positions This Fall

A record number of Psychology graduate students from Central Washington University will be assisting school districts across the state next fall when they complete the school psychology Educational Specialist program this summer.

Graduate program director Heath Marrs reports that 17 graduates will soon be using their CWU and internship training to help K-12 students from the Tri-Cities to Moses Lake, and Yakima to Bellingham. 

“We’ve been very encouraged to see our grads going to local school districts because there is such a need right now,” Marrs said. “We’re glad we can help ease the shortage this year, and it’s also nice that they will be spread out around the state.”

Marrs pointed to the success of the school psychology summer cohort as the primary reason for the increase. Introduced in 2017, the four-summer-long program gives current school district employees a chance to pursue a post-graduate degree without having to fulfill the traditional two-year, in-person commitment.

Seven of this spring’s 17 graduates make up CWU’s first-ever summer cohort, and another group of six got started in 2020. Marrs said most participants have indicated they intend to return to their communities to put their new training into practice.

“The advantage is the people who enroll in the summer program are really committed to their districts and they are most likely going to stay,” he said. “But the students also like it because they don’t have to take two years off for the traditional graduate program, and they can complete the requirements when school isn’t in session.”

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that demand is high for school psychologists across the country, and the profession is expected to grow by 14% between now and 2028. An estimated 99% of school psychology graduates find a job within the first year, and the average salary is about $71,000 per year.

The National Association of School Psychologists says shortages in school psychology, like shortages in related education and mental health professions, have the potential to significantly undermine the availability of high-quality services to students, families, and schools. 

With initiatives like the summer school psychology program, Marrs believes CWU can help bridge the gap. He encourages all K-12 educators to consider this highly sought-after career option.

“We’ve been training school psychologists for many years, but what’s nice for us is that we can train even more people now because of the summer program,” he said. “We’re hoping more people consider going into this field when they realize there are other options.” 

Media contact: David Leder, Department of Public Affairs,, 509-963-1518.