2024 Best Online PhD in Educational Psychology Programs

By Jill Sumstad
Edited by Briana Sukert
Updated on June 2, 2024
Edited by Briana Sukert
Ready to start your journey?
Explore online PhD in Educational Psychology programs. Find the right doctoral program to advance your career in educational leadership and administration.

If you have a passion for finding new ways to reach your students and are continuously developing your teaching methods, then you may consider pursuing an online PhD in Educational Psychology.

PhD in Educational Psychology Programs

As experienced educators, we know that educational success requires creative, outside-the-box thinking.

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Studying for a PhD in Educational Psychology can teach you how to analyze and produce new, innovative curriculum.

Universities Offering Online PhD in Educational Psychology Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Alliant International University

Alliant International University’s Doctor of Psychology in Educational Psychology program offers students two different areas of concentration in either school counseling or school psychology.

Students in both programs will take courses in developmental psychopathology, psychopharmacology, and leadership supervision. Other courses include multicultural counseling, law, ethics and equity, and professional roles.

Alliant International University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Capella University

The Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology degree at Capella University includes a concentration in educational psychology that can be earned online.

The program requires students to take seven core courses, nine specialized courses, and three research dissertation seminars. Students must also give a dissertation and take a comprehensive final exam.

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Michigan State University

Michigan State University offers a hybrid doctoral program in counseling with a concentration in educational psychology and special education.

It’s a rigorous program with an advanced, comprehensive curriculum. While a large percentage can be completed online, there are some required on-campus visits. It usually takes 5 years to complete.

MSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Regent University

Students in Regent University’s PhD in Education program can select the educational psychology concentration and earn their degrees online in a series of 8 week courses.

The program requires at least 75 hours for completion and includes courses such as qualitative data analysis, educational statistics, regression and correlation, and collaborative learning.

Regent University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Texas A&M University – Commerce

Texas A&M University – Commerce’s educational psychology PhD program is an interdisciplinary program that teaches students to conduct and utilize research and helps them improve their statistics and professional writing skills.

There’s an educational track and an experimental track. A dissertation is required for both, and there are no foreign language requirements.

Texas A&M University-Commerce is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Texas Tech University

Educational psychology PhD candidates from Texas Tech University will choose between the general studies and school psychology tracks.

Both tracks require more than 90 credits of coursework and teach students about human development, educational foundations, learning, motivation, and other pertinent topics. Students can transfer up to 30 credits into the program.

Texas Tech University is accredited with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology offers a Doctor of Education in Educational Psychology program that’s online and accepts part-time students only.

The degree takes about 3 years to earn, and students will choose between three available concentrations. Course topics include technology’s impact on learning, lifespan cognition, and technology integration.

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

University of Missouri – Saint Louis

University of Missouri – St Louis has a PhD in Education (Counseling) program with 100% evening classes and a blended PhD in Educational Psychology program. Both programs require 90 credits for completion and require students to complete a 12 credit dissertation. Six credit hours of foreign language are also required.

The University of Missouri-St. Louis is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Walden University

Students enrolled in the PhD in Educational Psychology program at Walden University learn about classic educational psychology theories and techniques and how to use testing and measurement. One great perk is that students with masters degrees in the field will be allowed to waive up to five of their required courses.

Walden is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Wichita State University

Wichita State University offers a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership with a concentration in Educational Psychology.

It’s a 55 credit program that includes 28 core course credits, 12 elective credits, and a 15 credit dissertation. Educational psychology-related electives include counseling families in crisis, brain retraining, and tutoring techniques.

Wichita State is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Online PhD in Educational Psychology Programs

Training and Development Managers in a meeting

With a degree in educational psychology, you can learn how to take theory and test it to deliver quality instruction.

You may gain a deeper understanding of learning in areas such as reflective teaching, socioemotional and cognitive development, curriculum assessment, special education, and more.

Further education may improve your teaching and curriculum design and help you command more salary. It may also lead to a career beyond the classroom in educational administration, research and curriculum design, and careers that impact instructional policy.

If you are always coming up with new ideas about teaching methods and want the ability to enact real change to guiding principles and policy, then this degree can help you achieve that.

Within educational psychology PhD programs, you can study specializations in areas such as curriculum and instructional design, educational leadership and administration, educational policy, school counseling, distance learning, and higher education.

Other specializations can include instructional systems and learning technologies, reading and language arts, measurements and statistics, and so much more. Your specialty may not only set you apart in your field but also make you a better educator, researcher, and administrator.

Just as when earning an online PhD in Forensic Psychology or an online PhD in Behavioral Psychology, when you earn your online educational psychology PhD or Doctor of Philosophy degree, the opportunities to which you can apply your new knowledge are vast.

Educational Psychology Careers and Salaries

Educational Psychology Careers and Salaries

Online educational psychology doctoral programs can open doors outside of the educational realm in fields that you might not have considered, such as homeless education liaison, youth care coordinator, department analyst, or investigative specialist.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are some of the careers a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology may qualify you for:

Careers Annual Median Salary
Training and Development Manager $115,640
Elementary, Middle, or High School Principal $98,490
Postsecondary Education Administrator $97,500
Management Analyst $87,660
Postsecondary Teacher $80,790
Clinical, Counseling, or School Psychologist $79,820
Social and Community Service Manager $69,600
Instructional Coordinator $66,970
Training and Development Specialist $62,700
Career and Technical Education Teacher $59,140

This list is not exhaustive in the least, but it may give you an idea of the variety of careers you could pursue in educational psychology PhD programs. Those who hold a PhD are often eligible for higher salaries as well.

PhD in Educational Psychology Curriculum and Courses

Training and Development Manager meeting with colleagues

Some of the doctoral courses and seminars in online educational psychology doctorate programs include:

  • Contemporary Educational Problems and Educational Psychology: This course covers current perspectives on educational issues and solutions.
  • Psychology of Morality: You’ll look at how judgment formation impacts a developing student’s ability to learn.
  • Adolescent Psychology: You’ll study the specific emotional and cognitive development of this age group and its impact on learning.
  • Motivation and Emotion in Education: This course explores how engagement and persistence can be developed through affective, cognitive, physiological, motivational, and expressive components.
  • Research Methods and Trends in Educational Neuroscience: This course covers current research methods and how to translate this research to educational practice and policy making.
  • Teaching Educational Psychology in College: You’ll study methods for advancing theory in learning and performance.
  • Doctoral Research and Ethics Seminar: You’ll explore the ethical issues in the field of research as well as current methods.
  • Readings in Educational Psychology: This course covers contemporary literature that explores cognitive development and language, the impact of culture and community, and motivation.
  • Non-Dissertation Research: You’ll learn about a DiP—dissertation in practice—or capstone project.
  • Dissertation Research: This includes everything from topic approval to PhD research until graduation.

These courses take a deep dive into some fascinating components behind learning.

Admissions Requirements

PhD in Educational Psychology students studying together

While admissions requirements vary, the following is a list of typical requirements:

  • Master’s degree. Some universities may enroll you in the doctoral program if you enroll for a masters program with them.
  • GRE or GMAT, if required. A lot of universities have begun waiving this requirement, but it is still required by a number of schools.
  • Letters of recommendation. Letters from former professors, academic colleagues, and professional references are usually preferred.
  • Transcripts and statement of purpose. Transcripts of your past education as well as a written statement of purpose are often required when pursuing an educational psychology PhD program.

Requirements for admission may vary from school to school, so you may want to pay extra attention to the requirements and deadlines for your top picks.


PhD in Educational Psychology Programs Accreditation

A school’s accreditation status may be a factor to consider when trying to decide on a program.

Regional accreditation is a peer review process. Organizations that have already received accreditation review institutions of higher education to ensure they are meeting pre-defined criteria or standards for quality. The rigorous standards are what ensure that you receive quality instruction.

A university or college with full accreditation allows you to apply for federal financial aid. Most employers often require degrees, including masters and bachelors in psychology online or on campus, from accredited colleges and universities as well.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

PhD in Educational Psychology Programs Financial Aid

There are many financial aid options that may help fund your degree if you qualify, from federal aid with FAFSA to state aid programs within your college or university’s state.

You do not have to pay off any student loans until you receive your degree. Some funding even allows you to defer your payment up to a year, allowing you time to look for employment.

There are also scholarships, grants, and tuition waivers that you may apply for. These may take a little more digging to find, but you do not have to pay back any funding you receive from these options.

What Can You Do with a PhD in Educational Psychology?

College Professor teaching in a university

Whereas an online masters in educational psychology is worth it for many students, a PhD in Educational Psychology online may open doors to many more career paths. You may work in higher education in a variety of capacities, from teaching and research to administration.

You can also work outside of higher education, in the business and nonprofit sectors, as a coordinator or analyst. Knowledge of educational theory and practice is especially in demand right now as we transition into the technology era and learn more about distance educational philosophy.

How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD in Educational Psychology?

The timeline varies for colleges and universities, but it can generally take 3 to 5 years to complete a PhD program. Most universities and colleges require a PhD dissertation, but this can sometimes be replaced by a dissertation in practice or capstone project.

A dissertation requires researching, presenting a dissertation proposal to a committee, creating, and conducting original studies. In some cases, it also involves piloting your ideas with practical application. Some may finish their dissertation in several months while others take years.

What Is the Difference Between a PhD in Educational Psychology vs. School Psychology?

School Psychologist talking to a teenager

Educational psychologists receive training to understand all types of students and are focused on analyzing and researching group student performance in a district, school, or other entity.

They also tend to study more about the learning process itself. They consider how the brain works and how students’ cognitive and socioemotional abilities affect learning processes and outcomes. On the other hand, a doctorate in school psychology focuses on the needs of young students from pre-school and kindergarten through high school.

School psychologists also use classrooms, parents, and teachers to identify students’ complex learning needs. Their focus is on the individual learner and improving their social and academic performance.

What Is an Educational Psychologist?

An educational psychologist applies scientifically based research methods to collect data that will ensure the best classroom performance. Their primary goal is to improve educational practices. This involves critical and reflective thinking.

Overall, you may become equipped with practical theories for effective instructional methods. In short, an educational psychologist understands learning on a deeper level and, with logical, science-based approaches, applies these theories to practice.

What Does an Educational Psychologist Do?

As an educational psychologist, you may perform a myriad of tasks to achieve instructional excellence.

You may conduct research, continually stay abreast on new theories and emerging trends, and coach teams to apply these instructional theories. You may ensure that a school, institution, training program, or other entity is teaching their students in the most effective manner.

How Do I Become an Educational Psychologist?

Psychology Professor with his student

The first step to becoming an educational psychologist is to start looking at programs. You may read about the professors who teach in those programs and even reach out to some to get a feel for how they teach.

Being highly selective may allow you the chance to learn under a department that presents the most current theory and has professors who have experience applying the theories that they teach.

After you have selected a university or college to apply to, you may begin the admissions process. You may also start reaching out to former professors, colleagues, and professional acquaintances for letters of recommendation.

Then, it’s time to sit down and write your letter of interest. You may research the program and explain why that particular school appeals to you. You may also want to demonstrate what you bring to the program.

Is a PhD in Educational Psychology Worth It?

Management Analysts in a meeting

Yes, a PhD in Educational Psychology is worth it for many students. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, education, training, and library jobs are set to grow at 5% over the next 10 years, faster than the average for all occupations.

Common educational psychology careers in this field include postsecondary education administrator, postsecondary teacher, training and development manager, and instructional coordinator.

Getting Your PhD in Educational Psychology Online

Getting Your PhD in Educational Psychology Online

If you consider yourself a critical thinker who finds educational theory fascinating, then an online doctorate in educational psychology might be a degree you should explore. You may enact real change in the educational environment and help shape the future of education in this country.

We need more people who know how to apply science-based theory to our current educational system. If this is something that appeals to you, then you may start by looking for an accredited online psychology degree program that fits your personal schedule and goals.

Ready to start your journey?