An online PhD in education and psychology, also referred to as a doctorate in educational psychology, is designed to help doctoral candidates study and evaluate the effectiveness of education, how students learn, the psychological aspects of the student-teacher relationship, and the social behaviors that affect the learning process. Having an online PhD in education and psychology has wide-reaching benefits that extend beyond the field of education. Graduates of online doctorate programs in education and psychology are in high demand in many aspects of industry and business, as graduates have the ability to formulate employee training methods and strategies for improving company operations based on group behavioral theories. Accredited online doctoral programs in education and psychology provide coursework in the intricacies of human psychology and how they relate to teaching others, in order to prepare graduates to improve the efficiency and quality of learning both in school and in the work place. After students study these topics and complete the program’s coursework, they take a comprehensive examination over their newly refined knowledge and then write a thorough research study over a topic in the field. Online doctoral degrees in education and psychology usually take around five years to complete, including the time spent on a dissertation. By obtaining an online doctorate in education and psychology, students can prepare themselves for jobs in both education and industry, maximizing their employment potential post graduation.
About Online PhD Programs in Education and Psychology
During the course of study for online doctorate degrees in education and psychology, doctoral candidates will be expected to conduct research, take qualifying exams, and complete a doctoral dissertation. Most of the coursework and research can be completed on the internet. However, it is becoming increasingly common for online PhD programs in education and psychology to require a residency period on the school’s physical campus, during which students will interact with their professors and peers. Though coursework can be completed from the education and psychology PhD online student’s home, dissertation projects, depending on the topics selected by the student, may require visits to schools or businesses to complete research. If this is the case, professors will work with their students in petitioning schools and businesses in students’ local communities for their cooperation. The goal of online PhD degrees in education and psychology is to prepare students to be top researchers in the field, giving them the tools to make significant contributions and advancements to the way that people learn and work. The coursework of Capella University’s online education and psychology PhD, outlined below, demonstrates the requirements of online doctoral programs in education and psychology.
- Orientation to Doctoral Learning in Psychology. This is an introductory course that prepares students for doctoral-level learning, research and writing within the field of psychology.
- History and Systems of Psychology. In order to have a good grasp of the theories and methodologies behind educational psychology, students must have an understanding of how psychology has developed and functioned over time. This course explores the progression of psychology.
- Lifespan Development. As an examination of the role of social, emotional, and physical growth on human development, this course studies developmental theory and the process of growth.
- Learning Theories in Psychology. Educational psychology is fueled by theories of learning, from cognitive learning to social learning. This course examines the theories that fuel psychological approaches to learning and development.
- Ethics and Multicultural Issues in Psychology. Online PhD educational and psychology students are expected to have an understanding about cultural diversity and how it can relate to the learning environment. This course provides an overview of the multicultural issues that affects psychology as a whole, as well as the learning process for individuals.
- Data analysis with SPSS. SPSS is a data-mining and analysis computer program used in social statistics. This course prepares students to explore data with this program.
- Cognitive/Affective Psychology. As an exploration of the cognitive and emotional factors that have an effect on development and behavior, this course studies learning, perception, reasoning and other mental processes.
- Principles of Educational Psychology. As an overview of the learning theories and methodologies applied in schools and the workplace, this course studies the theories and ideas that fuel various approaches to teaching.
- Advanced Research Methods. Going beyond basic approaches to research, this course prepares students to embark upon the intensive research dissertation-level work requires.
Specializations and Concentrations:
Though educational psychology is a broad field, students seeking an online education and psychology PhD have the opportunity to narrow down their interests with specializations. Examples of concentrations within the field of educational psychology include areas of child and adolescent development, psychology instruction, and even assessment. Education and psychology PhD programs online provide a series of elective and specialization coursework in these areas to give students the freedom to tailor their education to their interests.
Comprehensive examinations follow coursework and test online PhD education and psychology students’ newly developed research skills, statistical knowledge, and knowledge of human growth and development. After students pass the comprehensive examinations, they work on a detailed research project known as a dissertation, which explores a research subject relative to contemporary educational psychology. Past dissertations in the field of educational psychology include Factors That Predict the Use of Metacognitive Strategies in the Middle School Classroom by Amy Eloise Myers and Trends in College Student Retention : Identification of Latent Student Classes with Relation to Retention Statistics by Alexis Leigh Neumann. As educational psychology is a developing field, there are many potential research topics that can serve as a contribution to the progression of education and psychology.
Value and Criticisms of a PhD in Education and Psychology
Online PhD programs in education and psychology provide excellent opportunities for individuals that are interested in understanding the learning process and the effect of cognitive and affective processes on human development. Individuals that want to improve the field of education could also benefit from pursuing education and psychology doctorate degrees online. An online doctorate in education and psychology would not be recommended for students that are not interested in research and statistics, because educational psychology requires the use of both. Online PhD education and psychology programs are an excellent means of obtaining a PhD for students that work or have other daytime obligations, provided that they can meet the residency requirements of their program of choice. For students that cannot request time off to visit the physical campus to attend residency symposiums, night classes are a better alternative. In the field of educational psychology, statistical analysis and research often require the use of computers, software, and other digital resources. Students that obtain an online PhD in educational psychology will therefore be ahead of the curve, as computers and the internet are the media which they will use to access their coursework.
As in all doctoral programs, students seeking an online education and psychology doctorate should be highly motivated and self-disciplined, as the degree will require a large amount of independent study and research. Potential students should also have the ability to devise experiments and conduct research that will allow them to gain insights into how students learn and the factors that contribute to the learning process. The best programs require a completed Masters degree in a field related to psychology, with a maintained grade point average of at least 3.0. Past coursework in child development and psychological assessment is recommended by top programs. Many schools request the submission of two recommendation letters and a statement of purpose as well, though those requirements vary among programs. Work experience in teaching, psychology or assessment has the potential to give applicants the upper edge over their peers.
Career Options&Job Market
With advanced skills in research, learning processes, and human development, graduates from educational psychology doctoral programs have the opportunity to establish a career in their field of choice. Some graduates decide to work in schools as school psychologists, a career that has a good outlook for doctoral graduates and averages a salary of $72,540 a year. Other graduates may choose to consult with companies on their training practices and procedures. Postsecondary teaching positions are another option for graduates, with salaries averaging $74,320 and a faster than average employment growth. Consultation is the fastest growing field, and provides yet another opportunity for graduates. Having a doctorate degree in education and psychology allows graduates to find employment in a wide number of fields ranging from education to commerce and industry.
Where to Find Information
- American Psychological Association
- National Association of School Psychologists
- Graduate Study in Psychology, 2011 Edition
- Applying to Graduate School in Psychology: Advice From Successful Students and Prominent Psychologists
How to Get Funding
There are many fellowship and grant opportunities for graduate students studying educational psychology. The pursuit of financial aid is an important step in a student’s educational career, as the costs associated with graduate education can add up quickly. For example, Capella University charges $470 per credit hour for its education and psychology program. Most courses are there to four credit hours, which multiples that cost. Capella also has a residency requirement, which adds travel expenses to that cost as well. MUST University charges $200 for their educational psychology program, which is cheaper compared to Capella, but does not include enrollment fees and other assorted expenses. For this reason, applying to financial aid is necessary for many students. Below is a list of resources on fellowships and grants for students enrolled in graduate psychology programs.
- Esther Katz Rosen Fund. A fellowship that supports research dedicated to the advancement of knowledge on gifted and talented students.
- Lightner Witmer Award. An award that recognizes the achievements of academic and professional school psychologists.
- APAGS/Psi Chi Junior Scientist Fellowship. A research grant for students enrolled in their first semester of their second year in a research-based graduate program, such as psychology.
- Experience in teaching, educational administration, or psychological research will give your application the edge over your peers.
- Joining a professional association will expose you to great professional development opportunities that will stand out on your resume.
- Read and compare various programs in education and psychology to see which ones will work best for you. Contact professors to learn about their research experience and interests.
- If you have any other questions about applying to PhD programs in education and psychology, call the admissions departments of universities. They are there to help you.