On September 1, 2006, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board granted TWU the authority to replace the Master's of Arts (MA) degree in School Psychology with the Specialist in School Psychology (SSP) degree. TWU became the first public institution in Texas to be granted the authority to award a specialist degree for any discipline. The SSP reflects the level of training that graduate students are receiving from the specialist-level school psychology program. Prior to 2006, TWU, like all other school psychology programs in the state, had to award a Master's degree to graduates of the 60+ hour school psychology program. Many Master's degrees are awarded to graduate programs of 36 hours of training, not 60+ hours of training. A specialist degree is a graduate degree half way between the Master's and Doctoral degrees. Most states in the country award some type of specialist degree to graduates of specialist-level training programs. The specialist degree names vary from state to state including Education Specialist (ED.S.), Certification of Advanced Graduate Study (CAGS), and the Specialist in School Psychology.
Because the SSP degree is new to Texas, it will take a few years for school districts in the state to understand how the SSP relates to a Master's degree. The important point for graduates of the program and employers to remember is that the SSP degree relates directly to the specialist-level of graduate training which is half way between the Master's and Doctoral degrees.