Preparing Educators as School Psychologists in Northern Illinois (PESP-NI)

Receive free training to become a school psychologist.

School psychologists make a positive, lasting difference in students’ lives. U.S. News ranks school psychologists No. 3 in Best Social Service Jobs, No. 18 in Best STEM Jobs and No. 40 in 100 Best Jobs. Right now, there’s a shortage of school psychologists in northern Illinois. We’re helping meet this need by providing free school psychologist training to educators from high-need districts.

Our new program is designed around your working life as an educator. You’ll pay nothing for tuition and fees, and you’ll receive a laptop and stipend for materials and conference travel. If selected to participate, you’ll take courses, participate in a practicum and complete an internship. After just three years, you’ll be able to get your school psychologist license.

The first group of eight participants will begin the program in summer 2023. Additional cohorts will start in 2024 and 2025. For more information, contact Christine Malecki at


District partners and NIU faculty will select students for the program. In order to be eligible, you must:

  • Have a bachelor's degree and Professional Educator License
  • Work in one of these districts: DeKalb, Harlem, Belvidere or a district in the Northwest Special Education Cooperative (applicants from other high-need districts may be considered)
  • Agree to work as a school psychologist in your district for five years after program completion

Program Outline

You’ll take two classes each summer and two or three classes each semester. Classes take place online and are mostly synchronous (taking place at a set time) on evenings or weekends, or during the summer. There are some required asynchronous activities and materials.

In your second year in the program, you’ll complete a school psychology practicum one day a week in the fall and spring semesters. You’ll have support from your district, and the grant will cover the cost of your substitute.

In your third year, you’ll complete a full-time school psychology internship in the fall and spring semesters. Your district and the grant will cover your typical educator salary during the internship.

Program Outcome

At the program completion, you will earn the Specialist in School Psychology degree (an advanced graduate degree that is beyond a master’s) and Professional Educator License, with a school psychologist endorsement in Illinois.

This program is supported with a five year grant from the U.S. Department of Education, #S184X220145. Cohorts beginning in Summers 2023, 2024, and 2025 will be supported on the grant.