Online Educational Psychology Degree Programs

What is Educational Psychology?

Educational psychology applies the tools, research, and methodologies from psychology to education and the process of learning. Educational psychologists observe how students learn and work with teachers and administrators to improve instructional methods. They may work directly for a school system, local government, private school, or college. 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 at least a master’s degree plus one or two years of internships and licensing requirements. The work directly benefits children, college students, and educators at all levels. Educational psychologists are particularly helpful to students with behavioral challenges or developmental delays. Prospective students seeking more information about educational psychology can check out this informative guide at Psychology.org.

Educational Psychology vs. School Psychology

The terms “educational psychology” and “school psychology” are often used interchangeably, but they don’t mean quite the same thing. School psychologists are more client-facing, focusing on individual students and their learning environments. They borrow heavily from behavioral psychology and clinical psychology and get to know students during their time together. School psychologists work at every level of learning, ranging from kindergarten through adult education.

Educational psychologists concern themselves with the learning process as a whole. This macro-level field focuses on learning systems and large-scale changes. 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. Their work is backed by empirical data and new research.

Can You Get a Degree in Educational Psychology Online?

Many psychology programs are available online and in traditional campus settings. Online degrees in educational psychology are vetted by the same accreditation processes as on-campus programs, meaning that online educational psychology degrees meet the same academic and professional standards as their on-campus counterparts. Students engage regularly with their professors and peers, watch lectures, read relevant texts, take tests, and complete projects.

Most coursework is completed remotely, but online educational psychology programs do require students to complete in-person internships and clinical hours. Most online programs allow students to complete these requirements locally. When compared to on-campus programs, online psychology degrees offer more flexibility and accessibility. All degree-seekers have access to 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?

To receive and maintain accreditation, online educational psychology programs must adhere to requirements set forth by state licensing boards. Consequently, nearly every psychology program requires some sort of internship or practicum, regardless of degree level. Psychology is especially client-focused, so it is important to ensure students gain practical experience in a supervised setting.

Practicums and internships typically become more intensive as students progress through their education. Students 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.

Some students may worry that the practicum or internship component will be more difficult for an online program, but most online schools provide ample support before, during, and after the practicum or internship. 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 should receive support.

How Do I Become an Educational Psychologist?

The first step is to choose a program that best fits your interests and career goals. Cost is also a major concern, especially when pursuing an advanced degree. Tuition rates vary by region and school. Some schools with higher tuition rates grant larger financial aid packages, reducing 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 avoid transportation costs and higher living expenses.

The second step is to complete any internship or practicum requirements. This is especially important for graduate students pursuing licensure. Licensure requirements are different between state’s, so students should contact prospective schools to ensure that their program will help meet them. Full-time learners can expect to spend between six and seven years completing educational requirements and an additional year or two for internship and practicum experiences.

Average Salary for Psychologists by Degree Level

Bachelor of Arts (BA), Psychology $78,321
Master of Arts (MA), Psychology $71,667
Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) $73,482

Source: PayScale

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Educational Psychology

To become an educational psychologist, applicants must hold a master’s degree. While there are some positions that only require a bachelor’s degree, they are rare and usually require extensive experience in education. Online students should use their four-year degree as a foundation for graduate study. Educational psychology programs aren’t that common at the baccalaureate level, but related degrees can help prepare students for graduate study. The most closely-aligned program is psychology, but some schools offer counseling or educational instruction degrees as well.

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.

Example Courses

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 & Oral Communication

This course reviews listening and oral communication styles within U.S. cultures. The class also delves into aspects of intercultural communication. The goal of this course is to provide learners with a framework for helping students with listening, speaking, and verbal processing skills.

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 environmental, 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 level, 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 & Assessment

Students planning to work with K-12 children greatly benefit from this course. Future educational psychologists learn how to tier reading instruction according to developmental ability. The course focuses on five core areas: phonemic awareness, alphabetic principle, fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary. Students learn how to use assessment frameworks to gauge skill and select appropriate materials.

Online Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology

A master’s degree is the most common educational route for individuals pursuing a job in educational psychology. A graduate degree enables future professionals to gain state licensure and certification. While more educational psychology degrees are becoming available, the most common option is still a master’s of psychology with an emphasis in educational psychology. Both degrees meet licensing requirements. Students interested in other fields of psychology may opt for a standard master’s program since it allows them to easily change careers down the line.

An online educational psychology master’s degree allows students to enroll in the top programs without having to change residency. Courses are often available in an asynchronous format, so students can complete assignments and view lectures on their own schedules. Many students are able to maintain family and work obligations while pursuing this degree online.

Example Courses

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 in order to set individual goals for learners and monitor progress. This hands-on class allows students to practice designing interventions for real-world situations.

Psychological Services at School

This course provides an overview of the common psychological services offered in school settings. Students carefully examine the ethical, legal, and professional standards that practitioners must maintain. Learners 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 causative factors that influence mental health for teachers and students. Coursework explores how to create effective classrooms that are conducive to learning and empowerment.

Assessment of Young Children

In addition to examining the various developmental stages of newborns to eight-year-old children, this course identifies common developmental and cognitive delays. Students learn about developmental differences between individual children and how to address those differences when creating an inclusive classroom.

Aspects of Reading for Multilingual Learners

A useful course for educational psychologists who want to support ESL/ELL students, this class examines the best methods for teaching literacy to non-English speakers. The course uses the latest research and data in the field.

Online Ph.D. in Educational Psychology

Professionals who want to teach at the college level or conduct research may benefit from earning a doctoral degree. A Ph.D. in educational psychology is especially helpful to students interested in academia. The degree provides the advanced skills needed to teach others or to gain a coveted role at a research laboratory. A Ph.D. is also useful for students interested in diagnosing disorders and counseling students.

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 a school near their home.

Example Courses

Technological Impacts on Cognition

Coursework examines how computer, tablet, and smartphone technologies interact with cognition across the lifespan. Part of the class discusses how new technologies can be used to augment learning; the other part examines 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 and 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. Students 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 the 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 look over the steps for licensure in their state. In most cases, new graduates must spend at least one year interning at a school or educational organization. A few states may 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. Individuals living in places that don’t require the exam can apply directly for licensure in their state. 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 educational psychology degree programs have many career opportunities, depending on the exact degree attained and where they hope to work. 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 what strategies are most effective. The following list describes five careers students can pursue with an educational psychology degree.

  • Behavior Analyst
    Working in with teachers, teaching aids, and parents, behavior analysts develop and implement plans to improve 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 may travel to several different locations throughout the week.

  • School Psychologist

    These professionals ensure that students receive the best possible education based on their needs.

  • Educational Consultant
    Educational consultants work with school districts, local governments, or private educational organizations to develop new curricula and implement best practices. Strong relationships with teachers, administrators, and parents are important, as consultants are constantly gathering 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 Psychologist
    Educational psychologists tackle the macro level issues children and administrators face. By taking a look at overarching systems, educational psychologists make recommendations to improve learning outcomes for all students. They often conduct their own research and review recent data from 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 Director
    Training directors don’t work in schools. Instead, they 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 a specific topic, training directors enjoy varied and busy days. Most hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree, but some who work in large, international corporations may have a doctorate.

Salary for Educational Psychology Degree Holders

Salaries in educational psychology vary based on a number of factors, but are generally about the same or higher than the annual median income of $59,039. The biggest factor in how much an educational psychologist makes is the level of degree they hold and what type of licensure and certifications they have. Continuing education can also help increase annual income. Another factor to consider is location. An educational psychologist in San Francisco makes far more than one living in a rural area due to different costs of living. Experience also plays a big role; recent graduates don’t command the same salary as professionals who have worked in the field for several years. The following table includes median annual salaries for educational psychology professionals.

Position Median Annual Salary
Behavior Analyst $55,536
School Psychologist $59,419
Educational Consultant $62,834
Educational Psychologist $71,216
Training Director $84,152

Source: PayScale