Online Doctorate in Educational Psychology – PhD Programs

Educational psychologists use their knowledge of emotional, cognitive, and social processes to improve learning. They have completed extensive studies and research in psychology and education. Many educational psychology degrees also now integrate technology into their programs as research into how technology can facilitate learning is becoming increasingly important.

There are two types of degrees aspiring educational psychologists can pursue — a doctor of philosophy (PhD) or doctor of education (EdD). While the two degrees do have some overlap, there are some distinct differences.

An EdD is a professional degree for educators pursuing leadership roles such as a school principal or a district superintendent. A PhD, by contrast, is for professionals who want to teach at the college or university level, want to perform educational research, or otherwise want to work in academia. Typically, EdD degrees take less time to complete than PhD programs.

An online doctorate in educational psychology allows professionals in this field to complete an advanced degree without sacrificing their career in the process. Most online programs are designed with the working professional in mind and allow students to complete their studies at their own pace while still employed. Some programs even structure dissertation and research projects for working students and encourage them to use real-life problems they face as educators as the subject of their papers.

Continue reading to learn more about online doctorates in educational psychology. Included below are profiles on online EdD and PhD programs, admission requirements, and typical courses.

Typical Admissions Requirements for Online Doctorate in Educational Psychology

Online doctorates in educational psychology allow professionals to complete additional studies without having to relocate or stop working. Students can complete the majority of their work on their schedule and at their own pace.

Admission requirements for online doctorates in educational psychology can vary based on the school and the type of program. The majority of the programs require applicants to hold a master’s degree, preferably in a related field. Some programs, such as the one at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology profiled below, will substitute work experience in lieu of a master’s degree.

As doctorate programs are very rigorous, students should ensure they have competitive GPAs from both undergraduate and graduate coursework. Many programs require applicants to submit a scholarly writing sample. It is preferable that this writing sample be published, but sometimes a thesis completed as part of a master’s program will suffice.

Requirements for most online doctorates in educational psychology programs include:

  • Official transcripts
  • A conferred master’s degree, preferably in a field related to education or psychology
  • An application fee
  • A completed application
  • A personal essay
  • Scholarly writing sample
  • Letters for recommendation
  • Current resume
  • Proof of work experience

It is uncommon for doctorate programs to require GRE test scores, but it does happen from time to time, so candidates should check with their desired school to find out if it is necessary or not. 

Courses in Online Doctorate in Educational Psychology

Students will encounter a variety of courses in an online doctorate in educational psychology programs. They can include:

  • Foundations of Action Research in Education
  • Leadership Theory and Strategic Operations 
  • Evaluation and Assessment of Learning Programs 
  • Transformational Leadership and the Learning Organization 
  • Strategic Planning and Resource Allocation 
  • Policy Analysis and Ethics in Education 
  • Leading Culturally Responsive Learning Communities 
  • Organizational Dynamics and Human Behavior 
  • Quantitative Research Methods for Practical Application 
  • Qualitative Methods for Applied Education Research

In addition to required coursework, doctoral students are often required to complete a dissertation or research project, which can take a year or more to complete. Some programs require students to pass a comprehensive examination as well.

Residency Requirements & Internships – Online Doctorate in Educational Psychology

Online doctorate in educational psychology programs vary in their internship and residency requirements. Residencies are typically held on campus, although some may be virtual, and are an opportunity for students to network with faculty, other students, and professionals in the field. These intensive programs help provide students with in-depth education on a particular aspect of educational psychology. Residencies can help students complete their dissertations and can be a significant step in professional or career development.

Internships are not typically required by an online doctorate in educational psychology program. However, if a student wishes to become a licensed psychologist, they must complete a supervised practicum, internship, or related work experience. The number of hours varies by state, so candidates should check with their local board to ensure they have the necessary qualifications.

For example, in Washington the requirements to become a licensed psychologist are:

  • Have a doctoral degree in psychology
  • Complete 300 practicum hours, of which 100 hours must be in supervision 
  • Complete a 1,500-hour pre-internship
  • Complete a 1,500-hour internship as part of the doctoral program
  • Complete 1,500 hours of supervised work experience post-graduation
  • Pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology
  • Pass the Washington State Jurisprudence exam

Featured Online Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Programs in Educational Psychology

Regent University – School of Education

The online doctor of philosophy (PhD) in education (educational psychology) at Regent University School of Education is a research-intensive program. Graduates of this program will have an in-depth knowledge of developmental psychology theories, have strong leadership skills in the field of education, be able to confidently publish research, and have the expertise to teach at the college level. 

Careers for graduates include university faculty, curriculum developer,  and educational assessment specialists. This program takes a minimum of five years to complete. Students are required to take summer courses, including intensive residencies. Since this program is offered online, students can complete their doctorate without putting their careers on hold. In total, students must complete 75 semester credit hours of coursework, including 15 hours of dissertation research.

  • Location: Virginia Beach, VA
  • Duration: Five years
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $799 per credit

Michigan State University – College of Education

Michigan State University College of Education offers a doctor of philosophy (PhD) in educational psychology and educational technology. Ranked number six in the nation for top educational psychology by US News & World Report, this prestigious program trains students to evaluate human learning and how technology can support teaching and education. This program is primarily aimed at educators, although it can also be a good fit for technology professionals who want to move into education. 

This program is offered in a hybrid format. The majority of the classes can be completed through distance learning with a one-semester on-campus requirement. The hybrid format is designed for professionals currently employed in leadership roles in education and need additional education. Admissions to this program are highly competitive. To be considered for this program, candidates must submit official transcripts, GRE scores, proof of a completed master’s degree, three letters of recommendation, a professional and scholarly goals statement, a writing sample, and a completed application.

  • Location: East Lansing, MI 
  • Duration: Five years
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $1,234.50 per credit

Featured Online Doctor of Education in Educational (EdD) Psychology

University of the Southwest – College of Education

The doctor of education (Ed.D.) in educational psychology at the University of the Southwest College of Education can be completed 100 percent online. Targeted for adult working professionals, this three-year program can be completed while still employed full-time. The unique blend of academia and hands-on practical work allows participants to tailor their dissertation to solve problems they are currently facing. Graduates will have the knowledge of how adults and children learn to be able to make meaningful contributions to improve education. 

The low tuition rates even include textbooks, virtual health care, and a laptop. Students can opt for a pre-set course of study or customize their program based on their interests. Admission requirements include having a master’s degree, three years of experience in the field, two letters of recommendation, a current resume, and a statement of intent. 

  • Location: Hobbs, NM
  • Duration: Three years
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $799 per credit

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Graduates of the online doctor of education (EdD) in educational psychology and technology at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology will have unique expertise. The combination of psychology and the ever-changing field of technology trains students to evaluate instruction and learning and then make decisions about technology implementations that can improve learning outcomes. 

This program emphasizes real-world application, providing students with real-world situations, and asking them to bridge the gap between research and practical applications. Students can choose from a concentration in higher education learning and technology, k-12 education learning and technology, or instructional design. While this program is primarily online, students must travel to campus for two three-and-a-half-day residency courses. These residencies focus on special topics, integrating emerging technologies, and new research methodologies. 

  • Location: Chicago, IL
  • Duration: Three years
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
  • Tuition: $1,537 per credit

Professors to Know in Doctoral Programs in Educational Psychology

Kelly Torres, PhD

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Dr. Kelly Torres is the department chair for the Department of Educational Psychology & Technology at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She earned her doctorate in educational psychology-learning and cognition at Florida State University.  She also holds two master’s degrees: one in curriculum and instruction for English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) and the other in educational psychology-learning and cognition. 

Dr. Torres’s primary research area is in the implementation of technology to improve student outcomes. She holds several professional memberships, including the American Educational Research Association, the College English Association: Caribbean Chapter, the Comparative and International Education Society, the Eastern Educational Research Association, and the TESOL International Association.

Jennifer A. Schmidt, PhD

Michigan State University College of Education

Dr. Jennifer Schmidt is the Educational Psychology and Educational Technology program director at the Michigan State University College of Education. She is also an associate professor of educational psychology. She earned her PhD from the University of Chicago.

Dr. Schmidt’s primary area of research interest is adolescent motivation both inside and outside of the classroom. One of her current ongoing projects is examining how science “feels” for female and male students and then working on changing those feelings through teacher education and classroom interventions. The overall goal of the project is to foster interests in all students, regardless of their gender.

What Can I Do With a Doctorate in Educational Psychology?

Once a candidate has been awarded a doctorate in educational psychology, they can pursue a variety of careers. Here is a list of typical places where professionals in educational psychology may work.

Colleges or Universities

Many university professors, particularly in colleges of education, have earned a doctorate in educational psychology. They teach undergraduate and graduate courses on teaching methods, how students learn, and teaching techniques to future educators. Responsibilities include lecturing, grading coursework, meeting with students, and supervising assistant teaching staff.

Educational psychologists are not limited to teaching and can often be researchers instead of educators. The research they perform can include how students learn, how new teaching methods can affect student performance, the effect of cognitive issues on learning, and more. Completed research is often published in scholarly journals and can influence how education is delivered across the world.

Primary and Secondary Education

Doctorates in educational psychology are often required to work in the highest levels of primary and secondary education administration. It is a desirable degree among superintendents or chief education officers. These roles require professionals to have a keen understanding of human behavior, education, and how to create effective learning environments. Administrators also need to be able to read, understand, and apply new research to provide their school or district with the best possible education.  

Private Practice

While private practice is not a common place of employment for educational psychologists, there are many professionals who pursue this line of work. Educational psychologists who work in private practice will need to be licensed psychologists to diagnose clients and provide therapeutic treatment. They may work with children who have cognitive, emotional, social, and behavioral problems that can interfere with learning. 

Kimmy Gustafson

Kimmy Gustafson


Kimmy Gustafson is a freelance writer with extensive experience writing about counseling careers and education. She has worked in public health, at health-focused nonprofits, and as a Spanish interpreter for doctor’s offices and hospitals. She has a passion for learning and that drives her to stay up to date on the latest trends in healthcare. When not writing or researching, she can be found pursuing her passions of nutrition and an active outdoors lifestyle.