Studying Educational Psychology

I’m interested in studying educational psychology. What can you tell me?

Educational psychology is the study of how people learn and develop and the factors that affect this growth and development. Careers in educational psychology combine child and family counseling with knowledge of cognitive development and the education system. A degree or certificate in educational psychology can apply to a variety of positions and settings. For example, you could guide and counsel students or consult with families and schools about special needs students. You could also design school programs, evaluate the success of school programs or conduct research about learning. If you are considering studying educational psychology, you will need to ask yourself if you want to pursue a graduate degree. Working as an educational psychologist generally requires a masters degree, specialist degree in education or a doctoral degree. Following this path means 2 to 7 years of graduate school, and often a 1- to 2-year internship. Jobs in educational psychology can offer decent salaries, regular hours and an average rate of job growth. Factors affecting salary and job availability include the level of degree earned, the type of position or career chosen and the setting in which you work. You may face considerable debt from the years of graduate education that the field requires, but it can be a personally rewarding career if you like helping others, especially children.

Let's hear some other perspectives

An Interview with Andrew Costigan

Andrew Costigan

Student, PhD in Educational Psychology with Specialization in Human Development, Culture and Learning Sciences,University of Texas, Austin

“If you don’t want the grad school experience to take over your whole life, you need to do things efficiently and learn to organize your time wisely. You have to know what is most important and prioritize your tasks accordingly.”Read the Full Interview

An Interview with Lisa Ann Smith

Lisa Ann Smith

Student, PhD in Educational Psychology with an emphasis in Special Education,Texas Tech University

“The best advice I would give to students for selecting a dissertation topic is to start early. In my opinion, students should know their topics and have preliminary research for them long before they start their dissertation proposals.”Read the Full Interview

An Interview with Dorothy Espelage

Dorothy Espelage

Professor of Educational Psychology with Specialization in Counseling Psychology,University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

“Many people want to practice psychology and have a personal life as well. For students who want a family, I recommend becoming a social worker, a clinical psychologist or a counselor. Those jobs offer regular work schedules with weekends off, and they allow for more personal time. Typically, people who pursue those careers need to earn a masters degree in clinical psychology or counseling.”Read the Full Interview

Educational Psychologist Overview

What exactly is an educational psychologist?

Educational psychologists work in a number of settings and vary in their roles and responsibilities. Some are college and university researchers and professors who study how people learn in educational settings and teach classes in their fields. Others work as program directors and design curricula or conduct evaluations for businesses, school districts or government agencies. School psychologists design programs for students with special needs and offer counseling within the schools. Other educational psychologists work in private practice and offer consultation for children, families and teachers.

Let's hear from other perspectives

An Interview with Bette Hyde

Bette Hyde

Director of Early Learning,State of Washington

“Some people seem to have the wrong impression of what an educational psychologist does. Often when I tell people what I do for a living, they think I will try to pry into their lives. Educational psychologists don’t read people’s minds and we don’t talk about dreams or boyfriend problems, like some may imagine. Those are silly stereotypes, and they certainly don’t apply to this field.”Read the Full Interview

Personality Quiz

How do I know if educational psychology would be a good fit for me?

Here is a quick quiz to help you decide if you have the personality it takes to succeed as an educational psychologist. Rate, on a scale from 1 to 5, how well each of the following statements describes you.

I am a people person and enjoy interacting with others.

Many educational psychologists spend hours working to understand and solve people’s needs. If you are considering a career in educational psychology, you will need to enjoy personal interaction.

I enjoy being with children.

Many educational psychologists work in schools or provide one-on-one consultation for children. If you like spending time with children, you may already have first-hand insights into child behavior that can inform your work as an educational psychologist.

I am patient.

It can be a slow process to counsel children and their families and it can often be frustrating, especially if the children have behavioral problems. As an educational psychologist, you will need to be patient as you interact with and make learning plans for students and families.

I handle conflict in a calm way.

An educational psychologist is often consulted when children, parents and teachers are upset. You will need to avoid getting upset yourself when you interact with people who are very emotional.

I enjoy helping my friends work through problems.

Many educational psychologists spend time counseling others. If you enjoy helping people resolve their personal issues, it will motivate you as an educational psychologist.

I enjoy interacting with people from different backgrounds.

Educational psychologists may work with students with learning disabilities, gifted students who need additional challenges or immigrants who are adjusting to a completely new language and culture. If you are already comfortable interacting with people who are very different than you, then you will be able to serve a diverse population of students.

I can keep a secret.

Psychologists must respect the confidentiality of their patients. If you are unable to keep a secret, psychology is not a good career choice for you.

I am observant.

Children often have difficulty expressing themselves directly, so educational psychologists must be sensitive to expressions, body language and indirect statements. If you are socially observant, you will be able to help the students who you work with.

I am good at understanding written information.

Educational psychologists may consult school records, compile and interpret test results and perform evaluations on programs or schools. If you have difficulty understanding written information, you may not be able to perform important tasks as an educational psychologist.

I can communicate ideas simply.

Educational psychologists who offer consultations or who work in schools must explain things to children, their families and their teachers. The ability to use simple language will help you communicate with people who don’t have a background in psychology.

Get My Score

*Note that this is not a scientific quiz. The result is simply my rough estimate of how well I believe your personality matches that of a successful educational psychologist.

By my assessment, a career as an educational psychologist is probably not a good fit for your personality. Please go to the Admissions Advisor homepage for a listing of other careers you may want to consider.

By my assessment, although a career as an educational psychologist may not be an ideal fit for your personality, if you are willing to adapt in a few areas, you can still find success in the field. Please see the list to the right for information on the areas that you may need to work on.

By my assessment, your personality is a good fit for a career as an educational psychologist. Scroll through our site to gain valuable insight into what it will take you to earn the necessary credentials.

Making the Right Choice

Is there anything else I should consider in deciding if educational psychology is the right choice for me?

To be an educational psychologist, you will need to pursue a masters degree, specialist degree in education or doctoral degree. You should consider whether you are willing and able to make this kind of commitment to entering a career. If you do not plan on attending graduate school, then educational psychology is not the right career choice for you. As a specialization within psychology, educational psychology is not available as a major at the bachelors degree level, although it may be possible to take some classes in the subject or select it as a minor.

Educational Psychology Professions

What educational psychologist professions can I choose from?

The most common professions for those with an educational psychology degree include:

Education Required:

Masters (2 – 3 years of graduate school)

Average Salary:

$57,000

Work Environment:

High schools

Job Description:

Guidance counselors advise students about their future paths in education and the workplace. They provide information on college majors, admissions requirements, entrance exams, financial aid, trade schools and job search skills. Guidance counselors also help students with educational, social and personal problems by providing counseling or crisis intervention when needed. Teachers may consult with guidance counselors about the developmental needs of their students and what resources are available to them.

Education Required:

Masters (2 – 3 years of graduate school) or specialist degree in education (2 – 4 years of graduate school), plus an internship or practicum

Average Salary:

$56,000

Work Environment:

Elementary schools, middle schools, high schools

Job Description:

School psychologists help students succeed in both their schoolwork and personal lives. They may provide counseling and determine a learning plan to address students’ learning or behavioral problems. Teachers may consult with school psychologists to improve classroom management and deal with barriers to learning. Families may consult with school psychologists to learn parenting approaches. School psychologists also evaluate students with special needs to determine what programs they may qualify for.

Education Required:

Masters (2 years of graduate school)

Average Salary:

$45,000

Work Environment:

Elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, school districts, government agencies (federal and state levels), non-profit organizations and corporations

Job Description:

A curriculum and instruction specialist, also called a learning specialist or program developer, works under the curriculum and instruction director. They are responsible for researching and creating new programs with effective learning and instructional strategies and materials.

Education Required:

PhD (4-7 years of graduate school)

Average Salary:

$59,000

Work Environment:

A curriculum and instruction director, also referred to as program coordinator, is in charge of the academic material for a school or a school district.

Job Description:

The curriculum and instruction director develops, implements, evaluates and improves instructional programs. This work can include deciding what textbooks schools will use and providing training to teachers about programs and instructional strategies. An important part of this job is to present information to school administrators, professional staff, members of the community and school boards.

Education Required:

PhD, PsyD or EdD (4 – 7 years of graduate school)

Average Salary:

$62,050

Work Environment:

2- and 4-year colleges and universities

Job Description:

Professors with degrees in educational psychology can work in a university or college setting, usually in the school of education or in the psychology department. Professors teach courses in areas including educational psychology, learning, motivation, lifespan development, child development, assessment, classroom environment, student behavior and student issues, counseling, research, instructional strategies, intelligence and theories and models of education. Additionally, many professors conduct research on their own and write peer-reviewed articles; some serve as consultants to school districts, organizations or government agencies.

Education Required:

PhD (4-7 years of graduate school)

Average Salary:

$69,000

Work Environment:

Colleges, universities, school districts, government agencies, non-profit organizations and corporations

Job Description:

Educational assessment directors assess and report on the status of students as a group. The information they use includes test results to measure academic achievement, but also information about student age, ethnicity and health. State and federal agencies as well as district administrators use this information to maintain funding and make long-term decisions. Educational assessment directors present their reports at school board meetings and meetings of school principals.

Education Required:

Doctorate (4 – 7 years of graduate school)

Average Salary:

$87,000

Work Environment:

Colleges, universities, government agencies, school districts

Job Description:

Educational psychology researchers design studies, collect data and analyze data. They apply for grants and write research publications. Their research answers questions about how students learn and how effective certain types of programs and interventions are. Some research methods involve observation of classrooms, conducting interviews or inviting students or teachers to fill out surveys. Other research methods involve mathematical analysis of test scores and other assessment data.

Job Outlook

What is the job outlook for educational psychologists?

The job outlook for educational psychologists is about the same as the average for all occupations. In 2008 there were 170,200 jobs for clinical, counseling and school psychologists. By 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts there will be an additional 19,700 jobs. Psychologists with doctoral degrees have the best job prospects. For school psychologists, job prospects are best for people with specialist degrees in education or doctoral degrees.
Profession Employment Projected Average Growth

Average Salary Growth 2006 - 2011

Profession 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011

Salary By Percentile

Profession 10th 25th 50th 75th 90th

Educational Requirements

How long would it take me to become an educational psychologist?

It typically takes 2 to 7 years of graduate study after earning a 4-year bachelors degree to become an educational psychologist. Depending on their interests and career goals, students can earn a masters degree, specialist degree in education or doctoral degree. The specialist in education degree (EdS) is a degree in between the masters degree and the doctoral degree level. In addition to completing graduate education, most educational psychologists also complete a 1 to 2-year internship and take an exam to become licensed as a practicing psychologist or school psychologist.

Areas of Study

What can I expect to learn while pursuing educational psychology?

While studying educational psychology, you can expect to learn specialized knowledge and skills. Many masters degree programs and doctoral degree programs offered by educational psychology departments require that you specialize in 1 of the following knowledge areas.

KNOWLEDGE

Counseling Psychology

Counseling psychology is the applied study of providing mental healthcare. Counseling psychology includes psychopathology, counseling skills and procedures, multicultural counseling, group counseling, theories of counseling and ethics in counseling. In counseling psychology classes, students usually learn counseling techniques in the classroom first before completing a practicum. A practicum allows students to apply their skills by counseling people on a part-time basis in a school or child counseling center. Applications of counseling psychology in educational psychology include counseling students one-on-one and in groups, counseling families and offering consultations to teachers.

Human Development

Human development, which is also known as developmental psychology, is the study of how people’s mental abilities develop over the course of their lives. Topics within human development include social psychology, family relationships, adulthood and aging, cognitive and social development in children and the influence of culture and personality on behavior. Human development applies to educational psychology in many ways. For example, knowledge of what cognitive and social abilities typically develop at what ages in children can be applied to promptly detect conditions like autism. Or knowledge of the social development of teenage and preteen girls can be applied to design a preventive program for eating disorders.

Learning Sciences

Learning sciences is the study of factors that influence learning, motivation and instruction. This subject area includes research techniques and design of learning environments, including classrooms in schools, professional training programs in companies, and informal learning opportunities such as video games. In learning sciences, students’ learning is measured through observation and experiments. To explain the results, theories are put forward about how information is perceived and processed by students.

School Psychology

School psychology is the study of the academic, social and emotional well being of children in schools. Some topics within school psychology are school consultation theory, crisis intervention in schools, educational disabilities, and assessment of children academically, socially and emotionally. School psychology is an applied subject area. Students learn theories and skills in the classroom and then learn to apply their knowledge under professional supervision with practicums and internships.

Quantitative Methods in Education

Quantitative methods in education cover statistics, evaluation and psychological measurement techniques. This subject area includes test design, evaluation methods for educational programs, measurements for academic achievement and comparison interpretations. Quantitative research and analysis can answer questions such as what percentage of high school graduates are of a particular gender or ethnicity and whether student achievement in a subject has improved in a school district.

SKILLS

Student Assessment

As a student of educational psychology, you will learn how to assess an individual child’s needs and potential. Many sources of information will be relevant, such as direct observation, school records and consultations with parents and teachers. Your expertise may be needed to diagnose psychological conditions or learning disabilities, and to determine whether a student is eligible for special services.

Curriculum Development and Training

In studying educational psychology, you will learn not only how to design classes and programs to address educational needs, but also how to implement and train teachers on new programs and instructional strategies. Curriculum development is a complex activity that involves setting curriculum goals and determining student needs according to unique communities and populations. Areas where an educational psychologist’s expertise may be important is designing programs for gifted students, students with learning disabilities and students for whom English is a second language (ESL students).

Academic Evaluation

Your studies in educational psychology will introduce you to methods of evaluating the effectiveness of educational programs. You will learn to develop tests and surveys, determine the most appropriate methods to use, collect and interpret data, read evaluation reports and write your own evaluation reports. This skill requires some knowledge of statistics.

Counseling

As you progress through your studies in educational psychology, you will learn how to apply different counseling methods in a variety of situations. Counseling can take place one-on-one, in small groups or in a classroom. Appropriate counseling methods depend on the student’s age, psychological condition and culture. Counseling high school students will include guidance for career and college choices. You will also learn counseling for families and teachers.

Crisis Intervention

While you study educational psychology, you can expect to learn how to intervene when a student is in crisis. In psychology, a crisis is a person’s response to a traumatic event. Students can experience trauma in situations that range from natural disasters to personal violence. You will learn appropriate intervention techniques based on the type of crisis, the student’s age and other factors such as culture.

Academic Degrees

What academic levels are available in the field of educational psychology?

In educational psychology you can get a graduate certificate, a masters degree, a specialist degree in education or a doctoral degree. A doctoral degree opens the most doors for you as an educational psychologist. With a doctoral degree, you can become licensed to practice psychology and offer counseling, open a private practice, teach at the university level or conduct research.

A specialist degree in education (EdS) is a slightly less advanced degree than the doctorate. At this level, students can also earn the Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study (CAGS), which is equivalent to a specialist degree. The EdS and CAGS will allow you to become licensed as a school psychologist or to work as a school administrator.

With a masters degree you can work as a school administrator, or you may be able to apply for a license as a school psychologist, depending on the requirements of your state.

Select the degree level you are interested in:

  • Certificate
  • Master’s
  • Doctorate

Certificate

Graduate certificates are a way for professionals in educational psychology to enhance their knowledge and skills, or for graduate students to supplement their masters or doctoral degree programs with focused study in educational psychology. There are no undergraduate certificates offered in educational psychology.

A Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study (CAGS) is equivalent to a specialist degree, and intended to meet the educational requirement for state licensing of school psychologists. Schools in the Northeast and Eastern U.S. tend to offer the CAGS, while schools in other regions tend to offer the specialist in education (EdS) degree.

What are the different types of certificates that I can earn in educational psychology?

Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study (CAGS)

A certificate of advanced graduate study in educational psychology or school psychology provides training beyond a masters degree, but is not as advanced as a doctorate. This certificate is equivalent to the specialist degree. Some colleges and universities offer it in combination with a masters degree in education or educational psychology.

Graduate Certificate

Graduate certificates in educational psychology focus on narrow subject areas such as autism, special education, mental health counseling, college student counseling, applied behavior analysis and higher education administration. This option is a good choice for practicing educational psychologists or school psychologists who seek additional specialized skills and knowledge.

How long will I have to study to earn my certificate in educational psychology?

A certificate of advanced graduate study (CAGS) typically can be completed in 2 years and takes 30 credit hours beyond the masters degree. A graduate certificate requires 15 credit hours and can be completed in 1 year. Many graduate certificates can be pursued either independently or at the same time as a masters degree.

What types of courses will I take while studying for my certificate in educational psychology?

If you pursue a certificate of advanced graduate study (CAGS) in educational psychology, you may take courses in child development, cognition, social development, statistical methods in education, educational assessment and methods of educational evaluation. If you choose a graduate certificate in educational psychology, your courses will be specific to a narrow subject area such as autism, special education, mental health counseling, college student counseling or higher education administration.

What types of jobs can I hope to secure with a certificate in educational psychology?

A certificate of advanced graduate study (CAGS) in educational psychology will prepare you with the appropriate level of education to become a licensed school psychologist in many states. A graduate certificate will prepare you to work in a specific job or type of program, such as counseling college students or developing a program for students with autism.

What should I consider when deciding on a school to earn my certificate in educational psychology?

If you are planning to pursue a certificate of advanced graduate study (CAGS) in educational psychology to become a school psychologist, consider whether your program is on the list of school psychology graduate programs that are approved by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). Approval by NASP tells you and potential employers that your certificate program meets commonly accepted standards for the profession.

What are the requirements for admission to a certificate program in educational psychology?

A certificate of advanced graduate study (CAGS) in educational psychology requires a masters degree in educational psychology or a closely related field. Some programs require that you earn the masters degree before admission to the CAGS program. Other programs offer a joint masters and CAGS program in which you earn the masters degree first and then continue to the CAGS.

A graduate certificate in educational psychology requires a bachelors degree in educational psychology, education or psychology. Since these certificates are intended for practicing psychologists, most students will also have masters degrees or doctorates.

What about getting an online certificate in educational psychology?

For students pursuing a certificate of advanced graduate study (CAGS), an online educational psychology certificate program has a serious drawback. You will not gain the hands-on skills in an online educational psychology program that you would gain at a brick-and-mortar school. An online certificate may also not meet the educational requirements that are set by your state in order to become licensed as a school psychologist.

For professionals who are already practicing in the field, getting an educational psychology certificate online may be a fine option. If you are a professional educational psychologist, you have already developed practical skills from working with students and their families and don’t need an educational program to provide hands-on training.

Masters Degree

The field of educational psychology offers 3 options for masters programs, which include the Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MS) and Master of Education (MEd). There is also 1 additional type of degree, the Specialist in Education (EdS) degree, which is more advanced than a masters degree but less advanced than a doctorate.

The MEd and EdS degrees are intended for people who want to work in schools. The EdS degree is most commonly earned by students who want to become school psychologists, since it offers the 60 credit hours of graduate-level coursework required in order to be licensed in most states.

What are the different types of masters degrees that I can earn in educational psychology?

Master of Arts MA

The MA degree is recommended for students who are interested in doing research or in eventually pursuing a doctoral degree. In this field, there is not much difference between the MA degree and the MS degree.

Master of Education MEd or EdM

The MEd degree is oriented toward work in schools. This option is a good choice for students who are already working in the field or who want to become teachers, counselors, administrators or curriculum specialists.

Master of Science MS

The MS degree is similar to the MA degree. It is recommended for students who are interested in doing research or in eventually pursuing a doctorate.

Specialist in Education EdS

The EdS degree provides training beyond a masters degree, but is not as advanced as a doctorate. This option is a good choice for students who want to work as school psychologists.

How long will I have to study to earn my masters degree in educational psychology?

An MA or MS degree typically takes 2 years to complete and requires 36 credit hours. An MEd degree also requires 36 credit hours, but can take 3 years to complete, due to practicum and internship requirements. An EdS degree typically requires 4 years of study and includes 60 credit hours after a bachelors degree. This degree can also be pursued after students earn a masters degree, in which case the EdS can be earned in 2 years, or 30 credit hours of study.

What types of courses will I take while studying for my masters degree in educational psychology?

Depending on the focus of your masters degree in educational psychology, you can expect to take courses in child development, cognition, social development, statistical methods in education, educational assessment and methods of educational evaluation.

A specialist degree in education will include a 1-year internship during the third year. A masters degree in education may also include an internship or practicum. In addition, MA and MS programs often require you to complete a thesis.

What types of jobs can I hope to secure with a masters degree in educational psychology?

A masters degree in educational psychology will qualify you to work in a school system developing curricula, establishing testing programs, and conducting training programs. You will also be able to work for a state government agency evaluating educational programs or for a university assisting with research about learning. Corporations also hire people with masters degrees in educational psychology to develop and manage training programs.

Some masters in education programs are intended for teachers or other professionals who are already working in schools. The specialist degree in education is a professional degree designed to qualify you to work as a school psychologist. You can also use the specialist degree to do other work such as curriculum development, educational evaluation and managing training programs.

What should I consider when deciding on a school to earn my masters degree in educational psychology?

If you are planning to pursue a specialist degree in education to become a school psychologist, choose 1 of the graduate programs in school psychology that is approved by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). A specialist degree program that is approved by NASP meets commonly accepted standards for the profession.

For masters degree programs, there is no professional association accreditation. However, if the school you are considering also offers a doctoral program accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA), that will be an indicator of the department’s quality.

What are the requirements for admission to a masters degree program in educational psychology?

A bachelors degree is required for admission to a masters degree program in educational psychology. You can apply with a bachelors degree in any subject, although degrees in psychology or education provide a strong foundation.

What about getting an online masters degree in educational psychology?

For most students, an online educational psychology masters program or specialist degree in education program is not recommended. Your education in counseling and diagnostic skills will not be strong. You may also not qualify for licensing in your state with an online educational psychology masters degree.

An alternative to the completely online educational psychology masters or specialist program is the hybrid online educational psychology program. In a hybrid program, some classes are offered online, while other classes are held in a traditional classroom.

Doctorate

A doctoral degree is the entry-level requirement for many jobs in psychology outside of K-12 schools. It is also required to open your own private practice as a psychologist.

There are 3 options for doctoral degrees in educational psychology: the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), the Doctor of Education (EdD) and the Doctor of Psychology (PsyD). PhD programs are oriented toward academic research, whereas PsyD programs are oriented toward clinical practice. EdD programs are meant for students who want to have careers in schools.

What are the different types of doctorates that I can earn in educational psychology?

Doctor of Philosophy PhD

A PhD is a research-oriented degree. This option is recommended for students who plan a career in conducting research or teaching at the university level.

Doctor of Education EdD

The EdD degree is similar to the PhD, but has an emphasis on professional training in the field of education. This degree is a good option for those who want to work in schools.

Doctor of Psychology PsyD

The PsyD degree is oriented toward practice as a psychologist. It is a good option for practicing educational psychologists or school psychologists who want to advance their training and job opportunities.

How long will I have to study to earn my doctorate in educational psychology?

Obtaining a doctorate in educational psychology can take as little as 4 years or as many as 7 years, depending on the doctoral program you are pursuing and your previous educational background.

The PhD or EdD degree can be completed in 4 to 7 years and requires 60 credit hours beyond the masters degree, or 90 credit hours beyond the bachelors degree. The PsyD degree takes 4 to 7 years or 90 credit hours beyond the bachelors degree. If you already have a masters degree, the PsyD program takes 3 to 4 years to complete and requires 60 credit hours beyond the masters degree. If you want to practice as a school psychologist, you will need to complete a 1- to 2-year internship after you complete your doctoral degree. EdD and PsyD degree programs typically integrate the internship into the final year of the doctoral program.

Additionally, doctoral degrees require comprehensive exams, which are taken after coursework is complete. Students must also complete a doctoral dissertation, as well as other requirements specific to the program and university, such as presenting at a conference or publishing an article.

What types of courses will I take while studying for my doctorate in educational psychology?

While studying for a doctoral degree in educational psychology, you can expect to take courses in statistics, cognition, learning, human development, child psychology and effects of ethnicity and culture on development and learning. Depending on the specialty or concentration of your doctoral program, you can also look forward to courses in counseling psychology, school psychology, and additional courses in human development, research and statistics.

In a PhD program, you will also conduct independent research, write a dissertation and take research-related courses in educational statistical methods, techniques of educational research, test theory and experimental design and analysis.

Students in an EdD program will take courses in education policy, research, practice and ethics. An EdD program may also require an internship, a practicum and a dissertation.

In a PsyD program, you will complete a doctoral dissertation, a clinical competencies examination and a year-long internship.

What types of jobs can I hope to secure with a doctorate in educational psychology?

With a PhD or EdD in educational psychology, you could become a professor or administrator at a college or university. You could work in the training department of a corporation or government agency in a managerial position. You could also work for a school district designing curricula or conducting evaluations, or start your own business as a private consultant. With a PhD in educational psychology, you would also be qualified to do research.

With a PhD, EdD or PsyD in school psychology, you could work as a school psychologist providing assessment, diagnosis, consultation, program planning and intervention services in a preschool, school, university or in private practice.

What should I consider when deciding on a school to earn my doctorate in educational psychology?

Accreditation by Professional Associations

Consider whether your doctoral program is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). If you are pursuing a doctorate in school psychology, check to make sure the program it is on the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) list of approved school psychology graduate programs.

Accreditation from 1 of these professional associations tells you that a doctoral program meets commonly accepted standards for the profession. Also, some federal government agencies will only hire psychologists who have graduated from APA-accredited programs.

If you are unsure what accreditations a particular school has, you can look them up in the U.S. Department of Education’s Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.

Licensing for Psychologists and School Psychologists

If you plan to become a practicing psychologist or school psychologist, make sure that your school meets your state’s educational requirements to apply for licensing. You can check your state’s requirements for licensing psychologists in the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) Handbook on Licensing and Certification Requirements. And for school psychologists, you can check your state’s licensing requirements in the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) list of credentialing requirements for school psychologists in each state.

What are the requirements for admission to a doctorate program in educational psychology?

Admission to doctoral programs in educational psychology requires prerequisite coursework in psychology. If you do not have a degree in psychology, you may be required to take courses in the social sciences, education, statistics and measurement prior to being admitted to a doctoral program. Many students who apply to a doctoral program in educational psychology have a bachelors degree or masters degree in psychology.

A masters degree is not usually required to apply to a PhD program in educational psychology. For an EdD program, a masters degree or specialist degree in education and experience working in school psychology may be required for admission. Some PsyD programs require a masters degree in educational psychology or a related field. Other PsyD programs are open to students with only a bachelors degree, which does not have to be in psychology.

Applicants to most doctoral programs in educational psychology are required to submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Psychology test or from the Miller Analogies Test (MAT).

What about getting an online doctorate in educational psychology?

Because of the amount of personal interaction required in studying psychology, an online educational psychology PhD or EdD program is not a good idea. You will not be able to learn counseling and diagnostic skills. With an online educational psychology degree, you may also not qualify for licensing in your state. The American Psychological Association (APA) has not accredited any completely online educational psychology PhD programs, and some states require psychologists to hold degrees from APA-accredited programs in order to gain licensure.

One possible exception is the student who is already a professional psychologist, and who needs additional education or knowledge in educational psychology while maintaining a full-time job. In that case, an online educational psychology degree might be a reasonable choice.

There are also a few hybrid online educational psychology programs, which offer some classes online and some classes in a brick-and-mortar classroom. These programs tend to have a concentration or specialization in educational technologies as a subject area.

Licensing Information

What else should I keep in mind when considering studying educational psychology?

Counseling Psychologist Licensing

If you plan to practice as a counseling psychologist rather than teach or conduct research in a university, then you will need to become licensed in your state as a psychologist. To become a licensed psychologist, some states require that you hold a doctoral degree from a program accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA).

In addition to the degree, you will need to complete an approved internship, pass a licensing exam and have 1 to 2 years of professional experience. You can check your state’s requirements in the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards’ (ASPPB) Handbook on Licensing and Certification Requirements.

School Psychologist Licensing

If you plan to become a school psychologist, you will need to become licensed in your state as a school psychologist. Licensing requirements vary by state, but in general, you will need a qualifying education, an internship and a passing score on the National School Psychology Examination.

For the education requirement, some states will accept a masters degree or specialist degree in education from any accredited school psychology program. Others require graduation from 1 of the programs on the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) list of approved graduate programs in school psychology. Some states will accept the Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) credential as a route to state licensing.

You can check the states’ credentialing requirements on the NASP website.

Questions & Answers

Select a category to find answers to your questions

Resources

What are some other resources that can help me learn more about pursuing a degree or certificate in educational psychology?

Bureau of Labor Statistics – Psychologists

Bureau of Labor Statistics – Education Administrators

Bureau of Labor Statistics – Instructional Coordinators

Bureau of Labor Statistics – Counselors

O*NET OnLine – Clinical, Counseling and School Psychologists

National Association of School Psychologists

American Psychological Association – Careers in Psychology

Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards

Psi Chi – The International Honor Society in Psychology