Best Online Doctorate in Educational Psychology

TBS Staff Writers
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Updated October 25, 2023
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A doctoral program in educational psychology provides advanced training in psychological methods, research, and practice.

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Whether you want to work with young people or adults, a Ph.D. in educational psychology gives you the practical and research skills to help you succeed.

Doctoral students study theories of learning, lifespan development, and psychology research methods. Online doctorates in educational psychology help build strong analysis and applied research skills.

We listed the top online doctoral programs in educational psychology on this page in alphabetical order. Learn how to find the right program, common coursework and graduation requirements, and educational psychology career paths.

Educational Psychology Ph.D. Quick Facts

  • Credits Required: 63-98 credits
  • Completion Time: 3-7 years
  • Average Cost: $400-$950/credit
  • Admission Requirements: 3.0 GPA, resume, letters of recommendation, professional writing sample, statement of purpose, GRE scores
  • Key Skills Learned: Research, measurement, and evaluation; knowledge of learning and development; application of research methods, effective communication of research

Featured Online Psychology Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

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The Best Online Doctorate in Educational Psychology Programs

#1 Best Online Doctorate in Educational Psychology

Regent University

  • Location-markerVirginia Beach, VA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$17,220
  • Out-of-state$17,220
  • Retention Rate78%
  • Acceptance Rate86%
  • Students Enrolled10,365
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment92%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 Best Online Doctorate in Educational Psychology

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

  • Location-markerLos Angeles, CA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$10,992
  • Out-of-state$10,992
  • Retention Rate0%
  • Acceptance Rate13%
  • Students Enrolled2,999
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment82%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 Best Online Doctorate in Educational Psychology

University of Georgia

  • Location-markerAthens, GA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$9,790
  • Out-of-state$28,830
  • Retention Rate96%
  • Acceptance Rate45%
  • Students Enrolled38,920
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment14%
  • AccreditationYes

What Is an Online Ph.D. in Educational Psychology?

A doctoral program in educational psychology provides advanced training in psychological methods, research, and practice. Graduate students study the process of human learning, including how we understand things, communicate new information to others, and create new knowledge. They conduct original research, write a dissertation, and complete an internship or practicum to prepare for roles in psychology practice.

During a doctoral program, educational psychology students strengthen their research and analytical skills. By blending the fields of psychology and education, graduate students build the skills required for career paths in psychology, research, and education. For example, a doctorate meets the requirements for academic roles, such as psychology professor. Graduates can also work in research, training and development, school psychology, and instructional development.

Earning a doctorate requires a significant investment of both time and money. Before considering a doctorate in educational psychology, prospective students should make sure they meet admission requirements.

Some Ph.D. in educational psychology programs require a master’s degree for admission, while others admit applicants with a bachelor’s degree. Programs may expect candidates to have a psychology degree or meet course prerequisite requirements to enter the program. Applicants with a master’s degree may qualify for a fast track within their doctoral program. Admission requirements often include a minimum GPA and standardized test scores.

Choosing an Online Doctoral Educational Psychology Program

Finding the right educational psychology doctoral program can positively impact your education and career opportunities. Carefully research schools to ensure you make the right choice. Factors such as cost, program length, and delivery format can help you narrow your options and find a good fit for your schedule and academic needs.

Consider whether the program offers specializations in your area of interest? Does the program emphasize practice, research, or both? What options do doctoral students have for faculty advisors? Answering these questions can help you find the program that best meets your needs.

Accreditation for Online Educational Psychology Degree Programs

Prospective applicants should always choose an accredited educational psychology program. Regionally accredited schools and programs meet the highest standards for educating students in psychology. Accredited universities can also distribute federal financial aid to students, and they are more likely to transfer credits from other accredited institutions.

Many psychology careers require an accredited degree. For example, licensed psychologists must attend a psychology doctoral program accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) to apply for a license. The APA does not currently accredit any fully online doctoral psychology programs, though several accredited programs offer coursework partially online. Learn more about why accreditation matters in our accreditation guide.

What Else Can I Expect From a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology Program?

An educational psychology degree emphasizes research and analytical skills. During a doctorate in educational psychology, graduate students take courses in human development, theories of learning, and the instructional process. They design and implement research studies and analyze the results to write a dissertation.

Doctoral candidates focus their training through specialized courses in areas like educational technology, the psychology of motivation, and instructional design. Many programs also incorporate practicum requirements, which provide experience in educational psychology for doctoral candidates considering careers in psychology practice.

This section introduces common educational psychology courses and the requirements for earning a doctorate.

Common Courses for an Online Doctorate in Educational Psychology

  • Lifespan Development: Students explore developmental milestones that occur in the prenatal, childhood, adolescent, adult, and late-adult stages of life. They examine the impact of genetic and environmental factors on human development, as well as strategies and interventions used to promote and sustain healthy developmental processes.
  • Human Motivation: Educational psychologists must understand what forces drive students’ behaviors in order to support academic achievement and social and emotional development. This class provides an overview of the diverse historical and contemporary theories behind human motivation, with a particular emphasis on children and adolescents.
  • Theories of Learning: The best educational psychologists understand the full range of how student learning takes place. This class covers theories of learning, including constructivism, behaviorism, cognitivism, gestalt, information processing, and humanism. It also reviews theories of cognitive processes, such as language and memory.
  • Psychology of the Exceptional Individual: Educational psychologists often work with students who deviate significantly from the norm in behavior and achievement. This can mean counseling students with physical or learning disabilities, or it can involve working with exceptionally gifted or talented students. The course emphasizes the importance of inclusion and diverse learning environments.
  • Ethics and Standards of Psychology: To prepare students for the realities of their profession, many online Ph.D. in educational psychology programs feature coursework on ethics and professional standards. Students confront the ethical dilemmas that often arise in academia, individual counseling, and when working within diverse communities. This course also introduces students to ethical questions they may face if a client becomes involved in the legal system.

How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online Doctorate in Educational Psychology Program?

Earning a Ph.D. in educational psychology online usually takes 3-7 years, but this can vary depending on a few factors.

The first stage in earning your doctoral degree is completing required coursework. Students often take these classes as part of a cohort, meaning they learn alongside their peers as they progress through the program together. However, some programs may be self-paced, allowing students to proceed at their own speed. Most full-time students finish their coursework in 2-3 years.

The second stage of earning a psychology doctoral degree is completing a dissertation. Generally speaking, students work with a faculty advisor on their dissertations, but they do the majority of their research and writing independently and at their own pace. When finished, students defend their dissertation in front of a faculty committee. Most full-time students complete the dissertation process in 1-4 years.

Paying for Your Online Doctorate in Educational Psychology Degree

The first step toward earning an educational psychology Ph.D. online is completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA connects eligible students with various kinds of financial support, including grants, loans, and work-study opportunities.

Students do not need to pay back federal grants or work-study wages, but they do need to repay loans. However, federal loans have relatively low interest rates, and the federal government may also forgive all or a portion of a loan if a student works in public service for a set period of time.

Many states and private organizations offer scholarships to students based on academic achievement, community service, or financial need. Teachers looking to transition to a career as an educational psychologist may also qualify for discounted tuition or tuition reimbursement, depending on the program and their employer.

Finally, students can apply for private student loans. While these loans can be helpful in financing a part of the total cost of education, students should avoid taking out private loans to cover the majority of their tuition and other expenses. Private loans typically have higher interest rates than federal loans, and private loan organizations usually do not forgive loans for public service.

Educational Psychology Jobs

A Ph.D. in educational psychology helps prepare graduates for a variety of careers. While many work directly as researchers or academics, a doctorate can also lead to opportunities as training and development managers, school psychologists, or student development directors.

Educational psychologists can also work in private practice or pursue roles in instructional design, educational coordination, or counseling. Learn more about the typical salaries and job outlooks for common educational psychology careers.

Training and Development Manager

Training and development managers oversee an organization’s human resources. They conduct assessments to determine training needs, design programs, and manage training and development specialists. They also evaluate programs and instructors, manage training budgets, and update current training programs. A background in educational psychology helps training and development managers create programs and instructional methods.

School Psychologist

School psychologists use their understanding of human behavior to support student learning. They may help students address emotional problems, design and implement plans to boost academic performance, or collaborate with teachers and administrators to develop broader teaching and learning strategies. Many school psychologists hold a doctoral degree like an online educational psychology Ph.D.

Postsecondary Teacher in Psychology

Postsecondary teachers instruct and advise students at colleges and universities. They also conduct psychological research or publish articles in educational psychology. While a master’s degree may be sufficient for jobs at community colleges, most 4-year schools require a doctoral degree.

Instructional Coordinators

Rather than working with individual students, instructional coordinators design, implement, and assess school curricula and teaching standards. Instructional coordinators often need an advanced degree, and online educational psychology Ph.D. programs can help students develop the skills and knowledge necessary to create strong learning experiences for students.

School Counselor

School counselors support the academic and social-emotional development of students. They evaluate a student’s abilities or aptitude through various assessments; work to address issues that affect school performance; and help administrators create programs and policies meant to curb bullying, drug use, or other problems. School counselors usually hold an advanced degree.

Behavioral Disorder or Mental Health Counselor

After earning an educational psychology Ph.D. online, some graduates may work exclusively with students with behavioral or mental health conditions. These professionals often collaborate with schools and educational organizations, but they may also work at treatment centers or in private practice. These positions typically require an advanced degree.


Frequently Asked Questions About Educational Psychologist

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