Educational psychologists study how people learn. Their research primarily aims to understand student needs and assist in effective curriculum development. Educational psychologists often collect data to analyze successful and unsuccessful aspects of learning programs. They may work as independent consultants with schools, districts, or curriculum development teams.
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What is Educational Psychology?
Educational psychology applies the tools, research, and methodologies from psychology to learning and pedagogy. Educational psychologists observe how students learn and interact with teachers and administrators to improve their instructional methods. They may work directly for school systems, local governments, private schools, or colleges.
Educational psychologists may also function as consultants for schools. These psychologists regularly confer with teachers, administrators, parents, students, and other professionals to ensure students receive a quality education.
Most educational psychologist roles require a master’s degree, along with 1-2 years of internships and licensing requirements. The work directly benefits children, college students, and educators at all levels. Educational psychologists assist students with behavioral challenges or developmental delays.
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Educational Psychology vs. School Psychology
While some use “educational psychology” and “school psychology” interchangeably, the two fields hold key differences. School psychologists focus on individual students and their learning environments in more client-direct roles. They borrow heavily from behavioral psychology and clinical psychology, becoming acquainted with students.
Educational psychologists concern themselves with the learning process as a whole. This macro-level field focuses on learning systems and large-scale changes through evidence-based research. In addition to coaching teachers to become more effective in the classroom, educational psychologists also work with school administrators to consider changes to the curriculum.
Frequently Asked Questions About Educational Psychology
What do educational psychologists do?
What qualifications do educational psychologists need?
Requirements for educational psychologists may vary among employers. Some states require educational psychologists to hold teaching licenses, and other states may require them to hold psychology licenses. Generally, each candidate must hold a graduate degree in educational psychology and complete internship hours.
How can educational psychology help teachers?
Educational psychologists help teachers assess learning needs and adjust instruction to provide the best student outcomes. They use data collection tools to measure progress and apply that data to then assist teachers in creating effective instructional programs. They may specifically help teachers working with students with learning disabilities or work with general school populations.
How much do educational psychologists make?
Earning potential for educational psychologists can vary based on location, experience, education, and employer. According to data from PayScale, educational psychologists earn a median income of $72,882. PayScale data also indicates that pay increases with experience.
Can You Get a Degree in Educational Psychology Online?
Online degrees in educational psychology undergo the same accreditation processes as on-campus programs, so online education psychology degrees meet the same academic and professional standards as their on-campus counterparts. Distance learners watch lectures, read relevant texts, take tests, complete projects, and regularly engage with their professors and peers.
Learners complete most of their coursework remotely, but online educational psychology programs also require enrollees to complete in-person internships and clinical hours. Most online colleges allow students to complete these requirements locally. When compared to on-campus programs, online psychology degrees offer more flexibility and accessibility. Degree-seekers can access quality programs, regardless of location. In some cases, online education is more affordable than an on-campus program.
Are Practicums and Internships Required in an Online Educational Psychology Program?
Online educational psychology programs must adhere to requirements set forth by state licensing boards to receive and maintain accreditation. Consequently, nearly every psychology program requires some sort of internship or practicum, regardless of degree level.
Practicums and internships typically become more intensive as students progress through their education. Learners in a bachelor’s program may need to complete a semester of experiential learning, while students in master’s or Ph.D. programs often spend a year or more working with clients.
Many online schools maintain relationships with sites for completing required hours, making it easy for learners to review a list of options and pick one that suits their interests. Even students located across the country from the school’s location can receive support.
How to Become a School Educational Psychologist
Aspiring educational psychologists can start by choosing programs that align with their interests and career goals. Tuition rates vary by region and school. Some schools with higher tuition rates grant larger financial aid packages to reduce overall costs. Students should also expect additional costs for room and board, living expenses, textbooks, and transportation. Those who pursue a bachelor’s or master’s in educational psychology online also avoid transportation costs and higher living expenses.
Next, each candidate, especially those pursuing licensure, should complete internship or practicum requirements. Licensure requirements differ among states, so students should contact prospective schools for specific information. Full-time learners can expect to spend 6-7 years completing educational requirements and 1-2 years for internship and practicum experiences.
Online Bachelor’s Degree in Educational Psychology
To become an educational psychologist, each applicant must possess a master’s degree. While some rare positions only require a bachelor’s degree, they usually require extensive experience in education. Online students should use their four-year degrees as a foundation for graduate study.
Since most schools do not offer educational psychology programs at the baccalaureate level, related degrees, such as psychology, counseling, and educational instruction, can help prepare students for graduate study. Students who want to learn more about coursework, concentrations, and the differences between traditional and online learning can take a look at this comprehensive guide at Psychology.org.
Teaching Through the Arts
This class examines art-based teaching techniques to help students learn. Topics include developmentally appropriate art, habits within the studio, and how to use art field trips and experiential learning techniques to engage young learners’ minds.
Listening and Oral Communication
Learners develop a framework for helping students with listening, speaking, and verbal processing skills. Enrollees also delve into aspects of intercultural communication.
Multicultural Human Development
Based mostly on theoretical frameworks and research, this course discusses prenatal development, birth, infanthood, childhood, and adolescent development. Students examine factors related to hereditary, cognitive, physical, sociocultural, and psychosocial development. Learners must have at least sophomore status to enroll.
Peer Leadership Development
Developed specifically for students planning to work in leadership development at the high school or college levels, this course covers leadership theory, developmental theory, and interpersonal and intercultural communication skills. Professors ensure that theories taught throughout the semester translate into practical situations.
Reading Instruction and Assessment
Students planning to work with K-12 children greatly benefit from this course. The course focuses on five core areas to tier reading instruction according to developmental ability: phonemic awareness, alphabetic principle, fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary. Enrollees learn how to use assessment frameworks to gauge skill and select appropriate materials.
Online Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology
A graduate degree enables learners to gain state licensure and certification. While more institutions continue to offer different educational psychology degrees, a master of psychology with an emphasis in educational psychology delivers the clearest path to a professional role in the field. Online and on-campus degrees both meet licensing requirements. Students interested in other psychology fields may opt for a standard master’s program to change careers more easily in the future.
An online educational psychology master’s degree allows students to enroll in the top programs without having to change residency. Colleges often deliver these programs in an asynchronous format, in which degree-seekers can complete assignments and view lectures on their own schedules. Enrollees can maintain family and work obligations while pursuing their degrees.
Behavioral Interventions at School
This class covers evidence-based interventions to tackle behavioral, emotional, and social challenges. Students learn how to gather and assess data to set individual goals for learners and monitor progress. This hands-on class allows students to practice designing interventions for professional situations.
Psychological Services at School
Learners receive an overview of the common psychological services offered in school settings. Coursework explores ethical, legal, and professional standards for educators. Degree-seekers also become familiar with the various roles and responsibilities of school psychologists.
Mental Health and Wellbeing at School
Students examine the principles governing our understanding of mental health, specifically within the context of the educational environment. The class covers factors that influence mental health for teachers and students. Coursework explores how to create effective, empowering classrooms.
Assessment of Young Children
Along with examining the various developmental stages of newborns to eight-year-old children, this course identifies common developmental and cognitive delays. Students examine the developmental differences between individual children and how to address those differences when creating an inclusive classroom.
Aspects of Reading for Multilingual Learners
This course, useful for educational psychologists who want to support ESL/ELL students, examines the best methods for teaching literacy to non-English speakers. Faculty members apply the latest research and data in the field.
Online Ph.D. in Educational Psychology
A professional who wants to teach at the college level or conduct research should earn a doctoral degree in the field. This degree provides the advanced skills needed to teach others or to gain a coveted role at a research laboratory. An aspiring professional interested in diagnosing disorders and counseling students should consider a Ph.D.
Earning a Ph.D. in educational psychology online allows professionals to continue working full time while pursuing higher education. Online doctoral students can often complete clinical hours and practicum requirements at nearby schools.
Technological Impacts on Cognition
Coursework examines how computer, tablet, and smartphone technologies interact with cognition across the lifespan. Classmates discuss how new teachers can use new technologies to augment learning, along with examining how technology can aid or impair learning, cognition, memory, problem-solving, and emotions.
Ethical Standards in Educational Psychology
Here, students dissect the ethics and standards that govern educational psychology and the use of educational technology. Doctoral candidates must understand the rules and laws of both disciplines, along with how they relate to their work on micro and macro levels.
Educational Research within Urban Contexts
This class introduces students to the multidisciplinary frameworks and methodologies used to research schools, families, and communities in urban areas. Enrollees also review how the process of learning varies when compared to other cultural and locational contexts.
Qualitative Inquiry in Education
This course covers each step in the process of collecting qualitative data, including conceptualizing a study, gathering data, managing incoming information, and interpreting results. Topics include ethnographic, historical, and narrative methods.
Theories of Educational Psychology
This class builds on prior graduate and undergraduate coursework by closely examining critical theories in educational psychology. Students examine existing research regarding achievement, motivation, assessments, teaching styles, and learning across the lifespan.
Required Licenses and Internships to Become an Educational Psychologist
Although some positions require only a bachelor’s degree, most jobs in educational psychology require a master’s degree and a relevant license. Depending on the role, some employers may require a doctoral degree. After completing a graduate degree at an accredited school and finishing practicum requirements, students should explore their state’s steps for licensure. In most cases, new graduates must spend at least one year interning at a school or educational organization. Some states require two years of interning.
Several states also require candidates to apply for certification through the National Association of School Psychologists. Candidates may take the national school psychology examination at three different points throughout the year. Graduates planning to work in public schools may need additional certification from their state’s department of education.
Careers for Educational Psychology Degree-Holders
Graduates of online education psychology degree programs can explore many career opportunities, depending on degree and location. Some educational psychologists prefer to work in K-12 settings, while others focus on supporting college students. Regardless of location, educational psychologists often meet with teachers and administrators to enhance teaching and learning. They also frequently observe classrooms to gain a sense of the most effective strategies. The following list describes five careers students can pursue with an education psychology degree.
These analysts work with teachers, teaching aids, and parents to develop and implement plans for improving student behavior. They create curricula that encourage positive behaviors and therapeutic environments. Some behavior analysts are former teachers with bachelor’s degrees, while others hold advanced diplomas. Most work regular school hours, but some may also travel to several different locations throughout the week.
These professionals work in schools to ensure students receive the best possible education based on their needs.
Educational consultants work with school districts, local governments, or private educational organizations to develop new curricula and implement best practices. Consultants constantly gather information about how changes in the curriculum may benefit learning outcomes. Some consultants have bachelor’s degrees, while others pursue higher education to obtain senior positions.
Educational psychologists tackle the macro-level issues faced by children and administrators. By observing overarching systems, educational psychologists make recommendations to improve learning outcomes for all students. They conduct research and review recent data in the field. Educational psychologists work in primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities, and adult learning centers. They must possess at least a master’s degree and a relevant license.
Training directors oversee ongoing training and continuing education opportunities for companies, nonprofits, and governmental agencies. Whether creating a training curriculum or bringing in professionals to teach about specific topics, training directors enjoy varied and busy days. Most directors hold bachelor’s or master’s degrees, but some who work in large, international corporations may possess doctorates.
What Does an Educational Psychologist Make in a Year?
Earning potential varies based on several factors. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports clinical, counseling, and school psychologists earned a median salary of $79,010 in 2018. This data also includes psychology professionals outside of education.
PayScale reports that educational psychologists earn more when they hold a Ph.D., rather than a master’s degree. Other factors, including location and specific employer, also influence earning potential. Most psychologists serve as self-employed, independent consultants, with elementary and secondary schools as the second-most common employment industries.
Educational psychology encompasses a range of roles and job duties, with each position offering a different salary potential. The table below outlines median salaries for different positions commonly taken up by educational psychologists, including behavior analysts, school psychologists, and educational consultants.
Distance learners enrolled in online courses can also participate in internships, however these opportunities may be difficult to find. This guide outlines the benefits of participating in an internship, as well as how to find one.
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