Doctoral Degree in Educational Psychology: Program Overview

Essential Information

Doctoral degree programs in educational psychology emphasize studies in learning development. Degree options include Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.), and Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degrees. Students in these programs may pursue specializations such as school psychology, special education, educational policy or educational research. Students study educational psychology at levels ranging from preschool to college, and they may learn to work with many different populations, such as gifted children and adults learning to read. Prior to graduation, students must fulfill course requirements, pass comprehensive examinations, meet an internship requirement and defend a dissertation.

Many programs admit applicants with bachelor's degrees, while others accept only students with master's degrees. Some programs require applicants' degrees to be in psychology. If the student's degree is in another field, they must complete prerequisite courses in psychology prior to enrollment. Previous academic performance plays a major role in the admissions process.

Doctoral Degree in Educational Psychology

In these programs, students learn how individuals process and remember information, as well as how they learn to spell, read, speak, write, solve problems, understand science principles, and think critically. Students also gain an understanding of the factors that affect the acquisition of such skills, including family situations, social influences, culture, personal experiences, motivation, learning disabilities, behavioral problems, attention problems, and developmental delays. Students are taught to conduct and interpret assessments on topics including personality, goals, learning style, and knowledge. They design plans to cultivate talent and remedy problems. They are also trained to implement intervention strategies, such as modeling, reinforcement, and self-regulation.

In addition, these programs train students to be competent researchers who contribute important findings to educational psychology. Students learn about research design, qualitative and quantitative research methods, psychometrics, statistical analysis and information presentation. Possible research topics include the teaching of different school subjects, the impact of adult-child interactions on children's learning, children's understanding of grammatical structures, and the effects of hierarchical systems on education. Possible course topics include:

  • Educational psychology theories and methods
  • Ethics of educational psychology and development
  • Individual learning strategies and skills
  • Educational inquiry and evaluation
  • Comprehension and composition
  • Instructional theories and technology

Popular Career Options

Graduates may seek employment in academic institutions, government agencies, research organizations, private businesses or non-profit organizations. Possible occupations include:

  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Educational program development
  • Educational administration
  • Consulting

To summarize, doctoral degree programs in educational psychology provide comprehensive training in learning processes and student development.

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