The curriculum for undergraduate programs in educational psychology offers a broad knowledge base in several psychology disciplines. Bachelor's programs in educational psychology may include an option that enables students to prepare for teacher certification alongside their psychology studies. Aspiring school psychologists can pursue a master's degree and work toward meeting state licensure requirements. Doctoral programs in the field are usually highly specialized and prepare graduates to work as school psychologists, university professors or researchers. Some online programs may be offered, and certain programs may require an internship.
Bachelor's Degree in Educational Psychology
Bachelor's degree programs in educational psychology prepare graduates for careers both inside and outside of the school walls. Some programs allow students to earn state teaching certification concurrently with their educational psychology degree. Others provide students with several options for specialization, including corrections, school counseling or physical education. Applicants to educational psychology undergraduate degree programs must have a high school diploma or equivalent. Strong communication skills are necessary so applicants who participate in extracurricular activities such as speech, debate and school newspaper may be well-suited to this program. Common courses are listed below:
- Developmental psychology
- Industrial psychology
- Statistical methods and research in psychology
- Cognitive psychology
- Social psychology
Master's Degree in Educational Psychology
Master's degree programs in educational psychology typically offer students an opportunity to specialize in areas such as gifted and talented education, family studies or educational research. Students are normally required to take several classes on statistics, developmental psychology, research methods, behavioral psychology and socialization, regardless of their specialty.
To enroll in a master's degree program in educational psychology, applicants may be required to hold a bachelor's degree and their undergraduate coursework should demonstrate academic competency. Many programs require applicants to present letters of recommendation from former professors or work supervisors. A resume and a personal statement about their interest in educational psychology may also be required.
Master's degree students in educational psychology programs typically devote a major portion of their studies toward the completion of a thesis project. In addition to researching their thesis, students must take advanced coursework in human development, educational research and motivation and learning. Below are some of the common courses that can be expected in master's degree programs in educational psychology:
- Educational research and statistics
- Family theory
- Human motivation
- Theory of learning
- Human lifespan development
Doctorate Degree in Educational Psychology
Although the two degrees are usually considered to be equivalent and include the same coursework, doctoral degree programs in educational psychology may award either a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or Doctor of Education (Ed.D.). A doctoral degree in educational psychology generally allows students to specialize in an area such as research methodology, learning and development, or educational policy. Graduates are prepared for advanced research and academic careers.
Applicants need either a bachelor's degree or a master's degree, depending on the requirements of a particular program. A few programs permit students to complete the master's degree and Ph.D. coursework concurrently. Admission to a doctorate degree in educational psychology program is extremely competitive so it is essential that the student have extensive research, experimental design and writing experience.
Although most students are required to complete core classes in educational psychology systems, history and statistics, the coursework that is mandatory for doctorate degree is largely determined by their area of specialization. The following courses are popular choices for specialized classes:
- Cognitive development
- Behavioral theory in education
- Factor analysis
- Developmental psychopathology
Popular Career Options
Most people who earn a bachelor's degree in educational psychology continue their education to earn a master's degree or doctorate in the discipline. There are several career options available to those who enter the workforce, such as those mentioned below:
- Case worker
- Child services worker
- Psychiatric assistant
People who hold a master's in educational psychology degree are qualified for several research, consulting and educational policymaker jobs. Graduates often work for school districts, colleges or private research groups in one of the following capacities:
- Behavior management consultant
- Special education program designer
People who earn a doctorate in educational psychology are qualified for several careers in research, academia and childhood education. Graduates often work in the following roles:
- School psychologist
- University professor
- Research director
Continuing Education Information
Each state has unique certification and licensure requirements for educational psychologists. Some states require school psychologists to hold a master's degree or a specialist's degree before they can legally work, and many states require a doctoral degree. Educational psychologists also need to pass state certification tests.
A master's degree is an adequate level of education to work as an educational psychologist in some states, but others require a doctorate degree. The National Association of School Psychologists provides a national designation of Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) to those who complete a certification exam.
People who earn a doctorate in educational psychology may need to complete an internship before they can become licensed. The American Board of Professional Psychology awards certification in school psychology to people who hold a doctorate in the discipline, are state certified, and meet other unique requirements.
Degrees in educational psychology prepare students for a variety of careers and certifications in the field. Successful students can work in school, university or research settings.