A master's degree is typically the minimum requirement to work in educational psychology, but earning a doctorate deepens your knowledge of learning and behavioral theories and hones skills in qualitative and quantitative research. A doctorate may also increase earning potential and give graduates a competitive edge in the job market. Practicing educational psychology may require additional certification or licensure, depending on the state and your specific position.

Psy.D. vs. Ph.D. in Educational Psychology: What's the Difference?

There are two types of doctorate programs in educational psychology. Research-based Ph.D programs require a dissertation where candidates conduct original research and present findings to a panel. The Ph.D caters to students wanting careers in research or education. A Psy.D., on the other hand, focuses on developing clinical skills and typically includes an internship requirement. A Psy.D is ideal for students who want to pursue a practice-based career such as educational psychologist or instructional coordinator.

What to Expect in an Online Educational Psychology Doctoral Program

Online educational psychology doctoral programs vary by school. Key components include delivery format, length, costs, and whether the program requires an internship or dissertation. You should also research admission requirements to ensure you qualify. With a wide variety of available programs, students should carefully examine all factors of a program to make sure it's the best choice for their needs.

Admission Requirements for an Educational Psychology Doctoral Program

Admission requirements for educational psychology doctoral programs vary by school. Most programs require that applicants have at least a master's degree in education or related field. The minimum GPA requirements vary, but the average is around 3.0. Applicants must submit official transcripts from previously attended schools, and programs typically require GRE or GMAT test scores. If you don't have GRE scores, you should speak with an advisor to explore your options.

If you are unsure of a school's requirements or have additional questions, contact an admissions advisor before applying.

Other admission requirements for earning a doctorate in educational psychology online may include a personal essay, personal or professional references, work experience, and in-person or virtual interviews. If you are unsure of a school's requirements or have additional questions, contact an admissions advisor before applying.

Sample Courses for an Online Doctorate in Educational Psychology

The curriculum for an online doctorate in educational psychology usually covers topics such as lifespan development, theories of learning, ethics in psychology, statistics, and human motivation. Doctorate programs in this field focus on advanced and specialized courses in learning and cognition.

Doctorates typically incorporate research, so students develop key skills in analyzing data and developing effective instructional methods. This gives doctoral students higher-level skills sought by potential employers. Below are examples of common courses students take during an online doctorate in educational psychology program.

Human Motivation

This course examines theories regarding the motivations driving human behavior, such as emotional versus physical motivations. Understanding what motivates individuals to learn helps educational institutions develop effective curriculums and learning environments.

Ethics and Standards of Psychology

Ethical issues may arise across all areas of psychology, including educational psychology. This course provides an overview of ethical dilemmas psychologists face and the tools available to mitigate or prevent those issues. Students also explore professional standards to ensure they practice with integrity.

Lifespan Development

This course examines human development across all life stages. Coursework also examines how genetic and environmental factors may impact development and cognition. Students explore techniques for mitigating obstacles and creating positive learning environments.

Qualitative Methods in Educational Research

Learners in this class explore qualitative methods and theories as they apply to the field of educational research. Coursework covers skills required for collecting and analyzing data, allowing students to practice techniques in simulated scenarios. Students also learn how to use their research to draft professional research papers.

Theories of Learning

This course provides a comprehensive overview of current research and theories in human learning. Coursework explores popular theories in areas including behaviorism, constructivism, gestalt, cognitivism, information processing, and humanism. Students also explore theories of cognition regarding topics like language and memory to understand how individuals learn and retain information.

Online Doctorate in Educational Psychology Completion Time

A variety of factors impact the length of an online degree, including the number of credits, full- versus part-time enrollment, and internship or dissertation requirements. The average online doctorate in educational psychology requires 60-69 credits and takes 3-7 years to complete. In general, coursework is completed in 2-3 years, but completing the dissertation or internship could take an additional 1-4 years.

Delivery format can also affect a program's length. Online programs typically use a self-paced or cohort learning format. A self-paced program allows students to move through coursework without adhering to a schedule, generally facilitating a quicker pace. A cohort learning program, on the other hand, typically requires students to follow a set schedule as a group. A cohort program may also require either in-person or virtual group participation.

Internship and Research Requirements for an Educational Psychology Doctoral Degree

Most online educational psychology Ph.D programs require a dissertation, an internship, or both. A dissertation entails selecting a faculty-approved topic, conducting original research, and presenting findings to a panel of school officials. Students typically conduct dissertation research outside of regular coursework at their own pace and may take anywhere from 1-4 years to complete this work.

Many schools assist both traditional and online students in finding internships.

Most educational psychology doctorate programs require an internship in addition to or in place of a dissertation. Internships typically last at least one term but may be longer. The internship must be approved by faculty and typically includes a final report and evaluation by the employer. Many schools assist both traditional and online students in finding internships. Be sure to verify the details of this requirement before enrolling in a program to ensure you can successfully complete all graduation requirements.

Career and Salary Outlook for Online Educational Psychology Graduates

Individuals with a doctorate in educational psychology primarily work in the education industry. Some common positions include school counselor, educational psychologist, instructional coordinator, college professor, and sociologist. Successful educational psychology professionals possess strong critical thinking, research, data analysis, and math skills. Job requirements involve working with students, teachers, parents, and district officials, making strong interpersonal skills crucial.

Assessment and Educational Researcher

These professionals study academic institutions to determine the effectiveness of curriculums. Primary tasks include conducting research, analyzing results, and designing solutions to ensure schools meet their objectives. Becoming an assessment and educational researcher may not require a doctorate, but employers typically prefer candidates with research experience. Holding a doctorate may also increase your earning potential.

Median Annual Salary: $64,088

School Psychologist

School psychologists address learning and behavior problems in schools. Key tasks include designing and implementing performance and evaluation plans to foster student success. Working as a school psychologist typically requires either a Psy.D or a Ph.D. A license or certification is also required, but the specifics vary by state.

Median Annual Salary: $79,010

Instructional Coordinator

Instructional coordinators review curriculums and course materials to ensure they meet institutional standards. Other primary tasks include developing procedures for delivering curriculums and training teachers on effective techniques for implementation in the classroom. A master's degree is typically the minimum requirement; however, holding a doctorate may increase your earning potential and lead to career advancement opportunities.

Median Annual Salary: $64,450

Postsecondary Teacher of Psychology

These professionals teach students at the college level on the history and current theories of psychology. They may be responsible for curating curriculums that adhere to legal regulations and current industry standards. Other tasks include maintaining student records, grading assignments, and administering exams. A doctoral degree and some work experience are typically required to work as a postsecondary teacher.

Median Annual Salary: $46,530


Sociologists work in a variety of industries, including education. They observe how socio-cultural factors impact people and organizations. Primary tasks include conducting research through surveys, interviews, data analysis, and observations. They help leaders determine whether they are meeting objectives or need improvement. Becoming a sociologist requires a master's degree, but some employers may prefer candidates with a doctorate.

Median Annual Salary: $82,050