Online PhD in Educational Psychology

Online PhD degrees in educational psychology provide students with detailed insight on how human beings react to learning or respond to educational interventions. In combining both education and psychology, these programs help students understand the mental growth and development of humans, the psychology of teaching and the social importance of educational institutions. Online doctoral degrees in educational psychology facilitate the attainability of a career as a researcher, professor, educational psychologist, or program administrator. Online doctoral programs in educational psychology assist students in nurturing their ability to perform high-level research and to integrate the theories behind learning methods into effective practice. These programs usually take around five years to complete, including the time spent working on a dissertation, during which students will take coursework, pass a comprehensive examination, and delve deeply into research within the field of educational psychology. After obtaining an online educational psychology doctorate, graduates can then apply what they have learned to both the educational and business fields. The degree can be utilized both in the teaching of students and the training of employees, as both areas require an understanding of the learning process.

About Online PhD Programs in Educational Psychology

Online PhD educational psychology students take all coursework online, using the internet, digital resources, and email communication to reach their assignment goals. Most programs contain a residency requirement, during which students must visit the physical campus to network and touch base with their professors. Some research may require the utilization of a laboratory or the participation of local schools and businesses. In these instances, professors will work closely with their students to determine the best way to fulfill research requirements. The curriculum of the educational psychology PhD online is heavily based on understanding the human learning process and research that aims to improve instructional design. The goal of online PhD programs in educational psychology is to develop educational leaders that are prepared to apply what they have learned about the human mind to both the design and improvement of educational structures in schools and businesses. With the use of courses such as the ones listed below, which are taken from Capella University, online doctorate degrees in educational psychology set the foundation for innovative approaches in education.

Year One:

  • Orientation to Doctoral Learning in Psychology. As an overview of the doctoral approach to studying psychology, this course sets a foundation for online PhD educational psychology students' future coursework.
  • History and Systems of Psychology. A study of the progression of psychology over time and within various organizations, this course provides an overview of the development of the psychological field.
  • Lifespan Development. This course studies how humans develop and change over time, and how such changes can affect the learning process.

Year Two:

  • Learning Theories in Psychology. Educational psychology is based within theories of learning, from cognitive learning to social learning. This course examines the theories that fuel psychological approaches to learning and development.
  • Ethical and Multicultural Issues in Psychology. This course studies not only the ethics that psychologists are required to employ – such as informed consent and confidentiality – but also the importance of diversity and cultural sensitivity.
  • 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.

Year Three:

  • Advanced Inferential Statistics. An in depth study of statistics, this course prepares students for future statistical research.
  • Cognitive/Affective Psychology. This course studies reasoning, emotion, perception and other mental processes, as well as the role they play in helping – or hindering – the learning process.
  • Principles of Educational Psychology. This course is an overview of the theories and methodologies that fuel instructional methods across the lifespan.

Specializations and Concentrations:

Many online doctorate programs in educational psychology offer the opportunity to specialize or concentrate in a specific content area, such as teaching, child development, assessment and evaluation, and even leadership. This gives students the freedom to tailor their education to their career goals, and offers a chance for specific studies within educational psychology.

After completing their coursework, students enrolled in online educational psychology PhD programs take a comprehensive examination, which tests the students' knowledge of the material covered. Comprehensive examinations in educational psychology contain questions that review the theories and methodologies of the human learning process, effective instruction, human development, and statistical applications. Once students pass the comprehensive examination, they begin work on their dissertations, which are thorough research studies into current and relevant fields within educational psychology. Examples of educational psychology dissertations include The Relationship Between School Design Variables and Student Achievement in a Large Urban Texas School District, which was written by Stephanie Marie Hughes, and Collegiate Student-athletes' Academic Success: Academic Communication Apprehension's Impact On Prediction Models, which was written by Kai'Iah A. James. Educational psychology is a consistently developing field, and as such, there are many topics open for doctoral student exploration.

Value and Criticisms of a PhD in Educational Psychology

An online PhD in educational psychology is an excellent choice for an individual that is interested in learning about how humans develop and learn. Individuals that want to improve education – whether for children or adults – could also benefit from an online PhD in educational psychology, as the doctorate will give that individual the tools with which to do so. As educational psychology requires work with statistics, individuals that have no interest in statistics would be better off seeking a different program. Applicants must keep in mind that all doctoral programs contain a significant amount of research. Pursuing educational psychology doctorate degrees online is a good alternative to campus-based programs for individuals that have careers, however accredited educational psychology PhD programs online have residency requirements. Students must visit the physical campus a certain number of times to fulfill these requirements, which could interfere with daily obligations. Applicants must also keep in mind that some dissertation research may require visits to labs, schools or businesses for completion as well.

Application & Admission Requirements

Online PhD programs in educational psychology typically require applicants to complete a Masters degree in a field related to psychology prior to enrollment. Applicants are expected to have maintained a grade point average of at least 3.0 during their Masters education, and will be required to submit transcripts to their schools of choice. Some accredited programs may accept the fulfillment of prerequisite coursework from students that have a Masters education in an unrelated field. Educational psychology PhD programs online seek students that have career experience in either education or psychology. Work experience in teaching, educational administration, or within the field of psychology can therefore help a resume stand out among an applicant's peers. While educational psychology PhD online programs do not generally require letters of recommendation or personal statements, they do expect students to submit resumes or curricula vitae that attest to their past experiences.

Career Options & Job Market

Graduates from online PhD programs in educational psychology have many career options. As their knowledge, skills, and abilities can be applied to both education within schools and education within the workforce, graduates can choose to enter either the school system or the business world with ease. Many graduates go on to become school psychologists, a career that has a good outlook for doctoral graduates and averages a salary of $72,540 annually. Graduates may also establish careers as professors, a position that averages $74,320 annually and boasts faster than average employment growth. Another option for graduates is that of consulting, an industry that is cited by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as the fastest growing field. Consulting is also one of the highest paying industries. Graduates from top online doctoral programs in educational psychology have the edge over their peers in these fields, and as a result, there are many career opportunities available to them.

Where to Find Information

How to Get Funding

There are many financial aid opportunities for students enrolled in online doctoral programs in educational psychology. Beyond government-sponsored loans, professional associations and other organizations often offer scholarships, grants, and fellowships for students enrolled in PhD programs. These opportunities are important, as schools like Capella University and University of the Rockies cost over $400 per credit hour for their educational psychology programs, a fee that does not include books or the costs associated with residency requirements. With accumulating prices for education, it's important to know what financial opportunities are available. Below is a list of examples of funding resources for students pursuing an online doctorate in educational psychology.

Essential Advice

  • Previous research or lab experience can really make a resume shine. Consider establishing a career related to education or psychology prior to applying for an online doctorate in educational psychology, in order to make your experience directly applicable.
  • Read Applying to Graduate School in Psychology: Advice From Successful Students and Prominent Psychologists and/or Graduate Study in Psychology, 2012 Edition to gain further insight into the world of psychologically-based PhDs and the application process.
  • Join a professional association related to the field in which you plan to establish your career. These associations have many professional development opportunities that can enhance a resume or graduate application.
  • Talk to current students and professors to learn more about online educational psychology PhD programs, course assignments, and research within the field.