Educational psychology refers to the branch of psychological science concerned with human learning and information acquisition. Professionals in this field often work as educators or school psychologists tasked with understanding and examining the social, cognitive, and behavioral aspects of learning and education. These professionals develop educational strategies and instructional techniques to increase efficiency and promote effective classroom environments.
Most occupations require a graduate educational psychology degree — usually a master's.This guide outlines a typical course of study for educational psychology graduate programs and explores common careers, learning outcomes, and professional development opportunities.
Typical Admission Requirements:
Applicants must typically hold a field-related bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Applicants submit academic transcripts from all previously attended schools, GRE scores, recommendation letters, and a brief personal statement.
Time to Completion:
1-3 years for full-time students
Why Get a Master's Degree in Educational Psychology?
Learners may pursue a master's in educational psychologyfor personal or professional reasons. The list below outlines common benefits associated with an advanced degree in educational psychology.
- Salary Increase: A master's in educational psychologyoften leads to a higher salary. Many professionals earn a graduate degree to increase their earning potential.
- Greater Career Prospects: Most careers in educational psychologyrequire a graduate degree. Graduate students gain a broad, refined set of hard skills. A master's in educational psychology can qualify degree-holders for a wider array of professional opportunities than a bachelor's degree.
- Licensure: Requirements vary by state, but candidates for licensure usually need a master's in educational psychology or a related field. Practicing psychologists must have a license.
- Further Study: Some students pursue a master's degree to qualify for doctoral programs. For example, learners must typically earn a master's in educational psychologybefore pursuing a doctoral degree in the field.
- Personal Accomplishment: Obtaining an advanced degree in educational psychologyoften provides a sense of accomplishment.
Specific curricula vary by school and program. Prospective students should contact the department at their chosen school for course details. However, most educational psychology graduate programs include courses similar to those listed below.
Curricula for educational psychology master's programs generally explore the main components of the field, including research design and methodologies, instructional strategies and intervention techniques, behavioral management, cultural diversity, and curriculum assessment. These courses help learners integrate their psychology training and incorporate it into educational policies.
This course examines individual communication behavior within different group structures. Learners explore the stages of group development, including decision-making processes, group problem solving, conflict resolution, leadership authority, social norms, and cultural sensitivity. Students learn to identify certain groups and explore intra- and interpersonal dynamics.
Life Span Development
This course examines human development across the life span, covering social, biological, emotional, moral, and spiritual aspects. Coursework emphasizes the interplay between nature and nurture from infancy through late adulthood, exploring the psychological and social contexts that support healthy development throughout the lifespan. Students also examine several prominent case studies and contemporary issues surrounding the topic.
This course helps learners develop a working understanding of the dominant approaches to learning in educational psychology, including behavioral, cognitive constructivist, and social constructivist theories. Students examine the epistemological frameworks that support these theories and explore each theory's limitations and modern applications. The course also covers key concepts and strategies related to information and language acquisition.
Learners in this course gain an advanced understanding of the primary theories and methods related to the cognitive psychology subfield. Coursework focuses on applying these concepts to education psychology. Students explore the main concepts, themes, problems, and empirical research in cognitive psychology and apply that knowledge to case studies drawn from common professional situations.
What Can You Do With a Master's Degree in Educational Psychology?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a strong career outlook for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists, due in part to demand for core skills in the area. Professionals must earn a doctorate to practice as a psychologist, but individuals with a master's in educational psychology can secure employment in a variety of settings.
Working professionals and recent graduates with a master's in educational psychologyhave access to various avenues for career advancement. Master's degree-holders can pursue advanced studies, licensure and other credentials, and membership with professional organizations that promote educational psychology. Each path can increase salary potential and broaden career prospects.
A doctoral degree is the highest academic credential available in most disciplines. Independent psychologists must typically hold a doctorate to practice. Many educational psychology professionals pursue a doctoral degree to advance their career prospects.
Earning a doctorate can increase earning power and expand career prospects. Some degree-holders practice as psychologists, while others conduct original research and experiments to further knowledge in the discipline. Professionals with a doctoral degree can also qualify for roles in postsecondary education, including positions as college and university professors.
Depending on their employers and career goals, practicing educational psychologistsmust usually hold a license. Earning a master's in educational psychologyis the first step in qualifying for licensure. Most states also require candidates for licensure to have a certain amount of professional experience. Licensure requirements vary by state, so candidates should contact their local licensing boards for details.
Most states require candidates for licensure to have at least a master's degree in the field, along with several years of relevant work experience. Some states require additional supervised experience under the direction of an approved advisor. After meeting these general requirements, candidates sit for a written examination that assesses their skills and knowledge in educational psychology.
- American Psychological Association Division 15 This organization hosts regular events, provides grants and awards, and offers a variety of career development resources. The organization also sponsors several publications in educational psychology.
- Association of Educational Therapists This association supports therapists working in educational psychology. AET connects professionals throughout the country, sponsors local events, and offers professional development tools for new therapists.
- National Association of School Psychologists Created to support and advance the work of school psychologists, this organization offers industry-standard certifications in educational psychology. NASP also promotes research and policy development, hosts resources and publications, and disseminates the latest news in the field.