Online Master’s and Doctorate Degrees in Educational Psychology

Last updated: June 2020

If you’re thinking about earning a graduate degree in educational psychology, one of the first thoughts that may come to mind is: which one?

The right answer for you will depend on a host of factors. Key among them are:

  • What your desired position or job title is
  • Where you hope to work and with whom
  • If you prefer the theoretical or practical side of educational psychology

Regardless of what educational path you take to enter the field, you will gain insight into how children, adolescents and even adults absorb and retain information.

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Note: see this guide for a general overview of online master’s degrees in psychology.

Online Master’s in Educational Psychology Programs

You could earn a Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MS) or a Master of Education (Ed.M.).

An MA/MS degree may be a good choice for students who wish to pursue a doctorate degree later. An Ed.M. program tends to be geared toward people who are interested in becoming educational psychologists, administrators or other practitioners.

There are numerous master’s in educational psychology degree programs available online. See some options below:

Ball State University

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 30 credits
  • No on campus requirement

Admission Information

  • Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree
  • GPA Requirement: 2.75 minimum GPA
  • No GRE Required
  • Personal statement and two professional references

Capella University

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 50 credits
  • No on campus requirement

Admission Information

  • Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree
  • 2.8 minimum GPA
  • No GRE Required
  • Essay and recommendations

Eastern Michigan University

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 30 hours
  • On campus (online for out-of-state students)

Admission Information

  • Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree
  • Minimum GPA of 2.75-3.3
  • GRE: Minimum of 50 percentile
  • Two letters of recommendation and a writing sample

Oklahoma State University

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 36 credits
  • Mix of campus and online courses

Admission Information

  • Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree
  • 3.0 minimum GPA
  • GRE: Minimum combined score of 280
  • Personal statement and three letters of reference

Purdue University Global

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 52 quarter credit hours
  • No on campus requirement

Admission Information

  • Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree
  • 2.5 minimum GPA
  • No GRE Required

Texas A&M University

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 36 hours
  • No on campus requirement

Admission Information

  • Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree
  • 3.0 minimum GPA
  • GRE Required
  • Personal statement and two letters of recommendation

The University of Tennessee Knoxville

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 36 hours
  • No on campus requirement

Admission Information

  • Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree
  • No GRE Required
  • Writing samples and three rating forms from professors or supervisors

University of Alabama

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 30 credit hours
  • No on campus requirement

Admission Information

  • Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree
  • 3.0 minimum GPA
  • GRE currently waived

University of Georgia

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 34 credit hours
  • No on campus requirement

Admission Information

  • Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree
  • 3.6 minimum GPA
  • GRE required
  • Statement of purpose and three letters of recommendation

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 32 hours
  • Online program isn’t accepting students currently

Admission Information

  • Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree
  • 3.0 minimum GPA, but 3.5 preferred
  • GRE required
  • Personal statement and three letters of recommendation

University of Memphis

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 36 credit hours
  • No on campus requirement

Admission Information

  • Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree
  • No minimum GPA
  • GRE required
  • Personal statement and three letters of recommendation

University of Missouri

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 33 credit hours
  • No on campus requirement

Admission Information

  • Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree
  • 3.0 minimum GPA
  • No GRE required
  • Personal statement and three letters of recommendation

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 33 credits
  • Students in certain states may not be able to take all the courses online

Admission Information

  • Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree
  • 2.75 minimum GPA
  • GRE required
  • Writing sample and three letters of recommendation

University of North Texas Online

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 33 credit hours
  • No on campus requirement

Admission Information

  • Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree
  • 3.25 minimum GPA needed to waive GRE requirement
  • GRE required if GPA is below 3.25
  • Personal statement and two letters of recommendation

Online Ph.D. and EdD in Educational Psychology Programs

Postgraduate degree programs in education and educational cover the psychology of teaching and learning in great depth. Graduates gain knowledge and skills that can be applied to roles in research, educational services and more. An online program can benefit you if you live miles away from the school offering it. Explore some online postgraduate degree programs in education and educational psychology:

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Fordham University

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • Credits Needed: 50 credits
  • On Campus Requirement: 2 campus immersions

Admission Information

  • Previous Degree: Master’s
  • GPA Requirement: 3.5 minimum for master’s degree
  • Standardized test scores required
  • Essay/Recommendations: Statement of purpose and two letters of recommendation

Johns Hopkins University

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 90 credits with bachelor’s; 54 credits with master’s
  • No on campus requirement

Admission Information

  • Applicants must hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree
  • 3.0 minimum GPA
  • No GRE required
  • Personal statement and three letters of recommendation

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University of Dayton

Program Overview

Program Requirements

  • 60 credits
  • Attend two on-campus immersions

Admission Information

  • Master’s degree required
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • No GRE required
  • Personal statement and two letters of recommendation

What is Educational Psychology?

As the name implies, educational psychology straddles both education and psychology. Its core mission is to apply evidence-based approaches to identifying the most effective ways to help all students learn. That includes addressing not only their intellectual and academic achievements, but also tending to their social and emotional wellbeing.

Educational psychology encompasses and crosses many disciplines and subjects. It might involve researching the best ways to teach reading to youth who have dyslexia or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Or how to incorporate technology so that students can make the most of remote online learning. Or tailoring instruction to fit students from varied cultural, socioeconomic, or linguistic backgrounds or sexual and gender orientations.

A common aim of educational psychology is to help each and every student—from the brightest to the middling learners to those who struggle—reach their maximum potential.

What Does an Educational Psychologist Do?

Educational psychologists support both students and teachers. They might work in schools, universities, hospitals, research centers, and elsewhere. Their main job is to assess the learning environment, prevent problems, intervene when issues arise, and develop strategies to promote best practices in education.

Educational psychologists may be called to:

  • Teach human development, learning, or educational psychology at a university
  • Supervise faculty development at a university
  • Conduct institutional research
  • Staff development for a university
  • Designing training programs for businesses or governments
  • Human resources development

Educational psychologists who end up in research positions study and analyze instructional methods, childhood development, learning habits, motivating factors in learning and more. Their research can go a long way in informing best practices and interventions in the field of educational psychology.

What is the Difference Between Educational and School Psychology?

The distinction between these two terms, if any, are small. For example, those practicing psychology in Ohio or Kansas have licenses for school psychologists but not for educational psychologists. It works the other way in California, with licenses for educational psychologists but not school psychologists.

Historically, the title of a school psychologist was often reserved more for the hands-on practitioner as opposed to an academician. But today, the terms today are often used interchangeably.

More sharp differences exist between a school psychologist and a school counselor. The former often has broader responsibilities, going beyond direct counseling and intervention, which is a major focus of a school counselor’s job.

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There is also a big difference between a school or educational psychologist and a child psychologist. The latter is usually a clinician with a doctorate degree who specializes in child development and psychology.

Educational Psychology Requirements

If you’re interested in earning an advanced degree in this field, it helps, but is not necessary, to have an undergraduate degree related to educational psychology. Many master’s programs require a 2.75 GPA or higher. Admissions to Ph.D. or EdD programs tend to be more competitive, with minimum GPA or 3.0 or above.

Master’s Degree vs. EdD vs. Ph.D.

It usually takes two to three years to earn a master’s degree in education psychology. Part-time students may take as long as five years.

An EdD degree can require two to three years to complete if you already hold a master’s degree. If you have a bachelor’s, it may take four to five years to become a Doctor of Education.

A Ph.D. can take a similar length of time as an EdD. Those with a master’s degree may need two to three years to earn a Ph.D. You may need an extra year or more if you have a bachelor’s degree.

A master’s degree often can take you to jobs not only in schools and universities, but to nonprofit organizations, software firms, and private companies.

A Doctor of Education or EdD could qualify you to work as a mental health practitioner. You also could design programs to improve learning outcomes or serve in education leadership roles like superintendents.

Similarly, a Ph.D. in educational psychology could open doors to jobs that would allow you to improve student learning outcomes and wellbeing on a larger scale than at a single school or institution. You could teach at universities or concentrate on research into education methodologies.

Tips on How to Choose a Degree in Educational Psychology

So, you’ve decided that you want to pursue a graduate degree in educational or school psychology. Your next step is to pick the right program at the university that’s best for you.

It boils down to what interests you and what you want to do. Would you prefer to work one-on-one with educators, students, and families? A master’s degree can help with that. Are you more interested in investigating theories about educational methodologies and advancing new practice ideas? That likely will require a Ph.D. or an EdD.

Other factors to consider before you settle on a degree and the program include:

  • Quality and reputation of the program. Your degree is only as good as the school you attend. How competitive is the program, judged by admissions rates? What percentage of the students eventually are licensed by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) or other entities?
  • Cost. Graduate school can be expensive. Take a look at your budget and research financial aid and grant options either within the school offering the program, or outside of it.
  • Faculty and concentrations. Does the program focus match your interests? How well does the school match students to appropriate internships?

Why Get a Master’s in Educational Psychology?

A master’s degree in educational psychology may help you step into leadership roles more easily than with a bachelor’s degree alone. It also will shorten the time needed to earn a doctorate if you decide to go that route later.

An M.S. or M.A. will allow you to practice psychology in a wide variety of settings, including schools, businesses, and healthcare organizations. You can opt for certain concentrations, such as industrial psychology, clinical psychology, or counseling psychology. A master’s degree can also put you on the path to becoming a researcher, consultant, or executive.

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Salary

So, how much do educational psychologists make? Pay is dependent on a variety of factors. For example, if you’re an educational psychologist working in an elementary school, your pay may differ from a colleague working in a post-secondary setting, namely a college and university.

Still, many have managed to land jobs that pay roughly double what the typical American worker earns, according to salary data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The annual median pay in 2019 for college and university professors and instructors in psychology $76,620. That compares to median annual earnings of $39,810 for all U.S. workers.

FAQs

Before you make your mind up about pursuing a master’s or postgraduate degree in educational psychology, make sure you thoroughly research what each program you’re considering has to offer. Here are some questions that can help you think through your decision and know what to expect when it comes practicing in the field:

How long does it take to get a master’s in educational psychology?

Plan on 2-3 years to finish your master’s degree. But if you’re enrolled part time, it could take 5 years or longer. Some master’s programs can take as little as three semesters to complete.

How long does it take to get an EdD or Ph.D. in educational psychology?

Both of these are doctorate degrees, signifying the highest degree for an academic discipline. It can take you as long as six years to earn a Ph.D. or an EdD More typically, it may take four to five years to get a doctorate if you enter the program straight after earning your bachelor’s degree. If you already hold a master’s degree, it may take another two to three years to complete a doctorate degree.

How much does an educational psychologist earn?

Salary depends on the work environment and experience. An education psychologist working as a professor at a university may earn $76,620 on average per year according to the BLS in 2018.

Where do educational psychologists work?

You can work in a wide range of fields, with a multitude of different job titles. Potential employers include schools, colleges and universities, academic testing companies, mental health clinics and hospitals, juvenile justice courts, and researcher centers. Depending on your degree, you could qualify to become a chief academic officer, academic researcher, college professor, or school administrator or counselor.

What is the role of the educational psychologist in schools?

It’s safe to say that educational psychologists fill a critical role where the need may exceed available time. Here’s just a sampling of their job description: