Practicum Guidelines and Procedures

Preliminary Research Project

Portfolio Requirements


Waiver Procedures

Complaint Procedures

Evaluation of Student Progress

Student Employment Policy and Guidelines

Practicum Guidelines and Procedures

As an APA-accredited program, we endorse APA's Guidelines and Principles for Accreditation of Programs in Professional Psychology (2008).  The practicum and internship experiences have been designed to follow the Criteria for Accreditation for Doctoral Training Programs and Internships in Professional Psychology and Guidelines for Providers of Psychological Services to Ethnic and Culturally Diverse Populations as set forth by APA. These experiences can be individually designed as long as they adhere to the above guidelines and other program regulations in existence.

The practicum is a central component of the curriculum; successful completion of the practicum requirement is prerequisite to applying for internship and, of course, receiving the degree.  In addition to satisfactory performance in practicum courses, students have several responsibilities related to applying for practicum, documenting practicum activities, receiving supervision, and evaluating aspects of the practicum experience.  These guidelines are designed to orient students to the practicum sequence—including the requirements and the procedures for application and evaluation—and to specify respective student and staff responsibilities.  The guidelines are program policy; exceptions to them are made only with the approval of the school psychology faculty.

Questions about practicum should be directed to the Practicum Coordinator, Christine Novak, N326 LC, 319-335-5558.  Comments about the practicum sequence, sites, procedures, or supervisors— including issues requiring the consideration or action of the school psychology faculty—should also be addressed to the Practicum Coordinator (preferably) or to another core faculty member. 

Preliminary Research Project


All Ph.D. students must complete a Preliminary Research Project or its equivalency. The research project should be completed prior to the semester in which comprehensive exams are taken.  The faculty expects that students will complete the project by the end of the second year of full-time study and by no later than the end of the third year of full-time study.  The student must register for Research Project in School Psychology (7P:342) for 1 semester hour each semester until the project is complete. The student will choose a. research project committee in consultation with the major advisor.  This committee must be constituted as follows:

(1) Chair: major advisor or alternate school psychology faculty
(2) One member: School Psychology faculty
(3) One member: faculty member from the Division of Psychological and Quantitative Foundations (P & Q) or approved alternate

A committee of at least three members is required; this committee may include only one School Psychology faculty or may consist entirely of School Psychology faculty.  More graduate faculty members from any related department may be added at the discretion of the student and major advisor. 

Portfolio Requirements

Microsoft Office document iconPortfolio Requirements


Policies and procedures for dissertation are governed by the Graduate College and described in the Manual of Rules and Regulations of the Graduate College.

Composition of Dissertation Committee

Unless the student requests an alternate arrangement, his or her advisor serves as chair of the dissertation committee.  The advisor must be informed by the student if he or she wishes to have a different dissertation chair. 

The basic requirements include:

1) Two School Psychology faculty members, one of whom chairs or co-chairs the committee

2) One other member of the College of Education (statistician suggested for traditional experimental designs)

3) One faculty member from outside the P&Q Department

4) One other faculty member

According to Graduate College policy, when a clinical faculty is included in the committee, the clinical faculty may co-chair, but not chair the dissertation.  Further, when the committee consists of more than one clinical faculty person, students must add academic faculty to total four academic faculty persons.

Student Responsibilities

1) Setting up the Committee

    1. The student is responsible for asking faculty members if they wish to serve on the committee.
    2. Faculty members need to know the topic of the dissertation, when the student expects to have a proposal meeting, and when he or she expects to defend the dissertation.

2) Checking deadlines and conventions

    1. The Office of Student Services has a listing of deadlines specific to the dissertation.
    2. The Main Library has copies of previous students’ dissertations which may serve as a model.

3) Setting up the Proposal Meeting

    1. The student is expected to have the first three chapters of the dissertation written and approved by his or her advisor before scheduling a proposal meeting.
    2. Each committee member must be given the proposed dissertation to read
      at least two weeks before the scheduled meeting.
    3. The student may access the Dissertation manual from the University of Iowa website, under Graduate College.

4) Working on the Dissertation

    1. Once a dissertation proposal has been approved, the student is responsible for carrying out the work and completing the dissertation with the assistance of the chair or co-chairs of his or her committee.
    2. The student should be aware that other committee members may or may not be willing to review the dissertation before it is complete.
    3. A student must register every semester (except summer) until the dissertation is complete. Failure to register will require readmission.

5) Setting up the Dissertation Defense

    1. A final defense should not be scheduled without the approval of the chair or co-chairs.
    2. The student must complete all necessary forms; these are available in the Office of Student Services (N310 Lindquist Center).
    3. The committee members must be given a copy of the complete dissertation to read at least two weeks before the scheduled final examination date.

6) Preparing the final copy.

    1. The chair will note any recommendations made by the committee and work with the student to incorporate necessary changes.  In some cases, the committee may ask to see the final document before signing the approval form.
    2. The student must file the final, approved document with the Graduate College according to deadlines published.
    3. As a courtesy to the dissertation committee, the student should provide a final copy of the dissertation to each member unless the member requests otherwise.

Timing Dissertation Defense Relative to Graduation

If the student has completed the dissertation before internship, he or she may sit for the dissertation defense during the spring or summer semester of that internship year.  The final deposit would then be made during the semester that the internship has officially ended.

A student may graduate if, and only if, the official ending date of the internship is before the graduation date.

The Internship Coordinator will release a student for graduation.  An internship completion form must be completed by both the student and the coordinator and placed in the student's permanent file prior to release for graduation.


Waiver Procedures


All requests for waivers of the policies or requirements set forth by the Program should be addressed in writing to the core faculty. The student must transmit the request through his or her advisor to the Program Director.  This letter should specify the nature of the request, supporting evidence, and alternative proposals.  The request will be considered at a convened meeting of the faculty and will be either approved or disapproved by majority vote.

All advisors maintain an unofficial advising folder for each of his or her advisees.  Records of the student's Plan of Study, requests for curriculum waivers (copies), and correspondence are kept in this folder.  If the student changes his or her advisor, the folder is passed on to the new advisor. (The official change form is available in the Division office.)

All official documents (i.e., waivers granted by either advisor or program-faculty action) will be forwarded to the Program Director to be placed in the student's official folder in the Office of Student Services, College of Education, N310 Lindquist Center

Complaint Procedures

The School Psychology Program provides each student with several avenues to question, clarify, or challenge policies and practices that affect the student.  No matter how the student proceeds, confidentiality—in keeping with ethical guidelines and practices—is maintained.  Four broad paths offer the student opportunities to resolve issues or questions:

  • The student is encouraged to talk with his or her advisor.  For example, a student may be unclear about how to satisfy specific program requirements or may seek to receive a waiver of a particular requirement.  The advisor can often help the student understand how policies and practices affect the student's choices.  The student and advisor may be unable to agree on resolving a question; at which point, the core School Psychology faculty can be approached.
  • The core School Psychology faculty meets monthly to plan and to consider an array of issues.  Each month during the fall and spring semesters, faculty members are available to consider petitions from students.  A student may ask the faculty for clarification or waiver of a policy, or the student could request the opportunity to address the faculty on any issue of concern to that student.  Decisions by the faculty are by majority vote.  The Student Association Co-presidents attend each meeting of the core faculty and thus can raise concerns from students during any monthly session.
  • Students in the College of Education may appeal any program decision that affects them.  The appeal procedure is spelled out in the College of Education's Complaint Procedures for Undergraduate and Graduate Students (see appendices).

Evaluation of Student Progress

Annual Portfolio Review

The Program Director will notify students of the date of the spring semester review meetings, so the student can prepare his or her portfolio and turn it into faculty members one week before the meeting date. The meetings usually occur during the last week of the spring semester.

The student and his or her advisor will meet in the fall and prior to the spring review meeting to discuss the student's progress in the program.  Specific criteria areas include the following:

  • progress in completion of required course work
  • progress in completion of required practica
  • progress in completion of research and comprehensive examinations (normal progress is presenting the Ed.S. Equivalency prospectus by the end of the second year, completing the Ed.S. Equivalency project by the end of the third year, and successfully completing comprehensive examinations by the end of the fourth year)
  • achievement in course work (minimum grade-point average of 3.0 across all courses; see The University of Iowa General Catalog)
  • achievement in practica
  • achievement in related areas (e.g., presenting a paper at a convention,
    obtaining a graduate assistantship)
  • when appropriate, meeting contract specifications

The advisor will present a summary of the student's progress at the review meeting.  If the student so desires, he or she may meet to discuss his or her progress with the core faculty, contingent upon prior notification to the Program Director.

The faculty will discuss the student's progress and development in academic and nonacademic (e.g., professionalism and relationships with peers/faculty) areas. The student will be present during this discussion, if he or she has chosen to meet with the core faculty.

In the student's absence, the faculty will decide on a rating of the student's progress.  While the faculty may discuss their rationale for this rating, no new information will be added at this time.  A final rating, decided by majority vote, will be given.

  • Excellent:
    The student is making excellent progress through the program; in addition to progressing at the normal rate through the courses, and completing research and comprehensive examinations at the normal rate, the student is excelling in practice or research.
  • Satisfactory:
    The student is making satisfactory progress through the program; the student has completed the normal requirements for that semester and is achieving at a satisfactory level in research, course work, and practica.
  • Unsatisfactory:
    The student's progress is unsatisfactory; the student has not completed the normal requirements for the semester or is not achieving at a desired level in course work and/or practicum or is not behaving in a professional or ethical manner within the practicum setting.
  • Probation:
    The student is on formal probation.

1) The Graduate College may put a student on probation if his or her grade-point average falls below the necessary minimum.  The School Psychology faculty may place a student on probation if he or she receives a designation of unsatisfactory progress for two sequential semesters.

2) When a student is put on probation, he or she receives a letter which clearly specifies the nature of the deficiencies, the criteria for removing or addressing the deficiencies, and the length of time of the probationary period.

3) If the end of the probationary period does not coincide with a semester review meeting, the faculty will review the student at the first regularly scheduled faculty meeting after the close of the probationary period.

4) At this meeting, the advisor—with the student if the student so chooses—will document the degree to which the student has fulfilled the stipulations.

5) In the student's absence, if the student has met with the faculty, the faculty by majority vote will decide to do one of the following

  • The student will be removed from probationary status.
  • The student will receive an extension of the probationary period (only one extension allowed).
  • The student will be terminated from the program.
  • Termination:
    A student may be terminated from the program without a probationary period for reasons that are both extremely serious and unusual in nature (e.g., serious violation of ethical codes). In this case, the faculty would hold a formal review of the student prior to the termination action that would follow the guidelines presented in Section I, parts C, D, and E.  Termination requires a majority vote of program faculty.

At the end of the spring semester evaluation, the advisor and Program Director will write each student to relay the progress rating and to summarize the faculty discussion of progress.

A student may disagree with the faculty evaluation.  He or she may address the faculty—through the Program Director—in writing, with regard to the points of disagreement.  The Director will then inform the faculty of the student's disagreement at the next regularly scheduled meeting (i.e., each month during the fall and spring semesters).  The student has the option of requesting, through his or her advisor, a special faculty meeting to discuss the points of disagreement.

The letter to the student—and the student's points of disagreement, if there are any—will be kept in the student's permanent file.

All information written or discussed about the student will remain confidential, except in those cases that involve disciplinary action affecting the student.  In such situations, appropriate University officials will be informed of the faculty's decisions and the implications for the student.

Supplementary Review Procedures

Before registering each semester, each student will meet with his or her advisor.  Together they will review the student's progress of the previous semester and discuss plans for the upcoming semester.  The advisor must approve all course work and endorse all extra course work experiences.  Unless the core program faculty members confirm an alternative arrangement in writing (see Waivers), students must register on a full-time or on a half-time basis—excluding summer semesters—for the first three years.  (Full time is 9-12 semester hours; half time is 6 semester hours.)

A student, his or her advisor, or any faculty member has the option of calling for a special review meeting at any time during the academic year.  This request must be in writing and submitted to the Program Director.  The format for such a meeting is the same as that of the semester review.

Graduation Contracting

Students not completing the School Psychology program by the end of their sixth year (excluding any approved leaves of absence) shall file a written plan for completion with the Program Director.  This plan will include both tasks and timeline for completion, and will be approved and signed by the student's advisor prior to submission.

The core faculty will review the plan.

Plans will be updated by student and advisor, and reviewed by the faculty on a semester basis.  The faculty may request a meeting with any student who is not meeting the timelines in the approved plan.

To maintain satisfactory progress in the program, students must meet the timelines in their approved plan.

After they have filed their fifth-year plan, students may request a leave of absence of no more than one year.  During this time, they are not required to work towards completion of their degree.  The faculty will approve only one such leave for each student.

Procedures for graduation contracting are as follows:

  • Plans will be filed by each current sixth- and seventh-year student and are subsequently reviewed by the faculty for approval.
  • During the semester review, the faculty will review updated plans.  At this time, the faculty also will review initial plans of current fifth-year students who will not graduate by August of the fifth year.
  • After the initial phase-in year, the written plans are to be submitted immediately before the spring semester review (normally in April), with formal updates submitted on December 1 of each year.
  • As well as the tasks to be completed, the plan must specify the process (i.e., correspondence and regular meetings) to be used in implementing the plan.
  • Continuous Registration -Students are required to register each semester after passing the doctoral comprehensive examination until the degree is awarded. If a student fails to register, he or she may not be readmitted to doctoral candidacy unless the readmission is approved by the advisor, the department executive, and the Graduate College dean. Doctoral Continuous Registration requires a 2 s. h. tuition and fees payment. This policy was implemented the fall of 2003.

Student Employment Policy and Guidelines

The student employment policy and procedures are intended to help students determine appropriate employment during their time in the program and to give students and their advisors a framework for discussing the various employment opportunities available to students.  As part of our evaluation policy, advisors must approve course work and endorse all extracurricular experiences.  The advisor is best qualified to work with the student in determining a position's appropriateness in contributing to the student's development as a professional psychologist.  Either the advisor or the student may choose, however, to ask the core faculty to serve in this capacity.

The following policies apply to student employment:

  1. The advisor must endorse all professional extracurricular experiences, both paid and unpaid.  (See the Employment Endorsement Form.)
  2. The advisor will evaluate the following aspects of professional employment:
    1. the agency, client population, responsibilities and tasks to be performed by the student
    2. the degree of independent functioning assumed by the student on the job
    3. the supervision provided to the student (who will be supervising, the supervision/ monitoring process, and the licensure status of the supervisor)
  3. If a student, is offering services to the general public of a psychological nature as part of his or her employment, he or she must
    1. be supervised by a licensed psychologist.
    2. demonstrate that appropriate malpractice insurance is available to the student through the supervisor.

A student's failure to follow this policy is grounds for dismissal from the program on the basis of ethical violations.