Educational psychology is a broad field of study that involves research in social, cognitive, and emotional learning processes. The discipline seeks to better understand the underlying operations at hand in human development and education across the lifespan. Researchers in this field look to improve our knowledge of the way in which these processes intersect with how we learn. They also work to improve instructional strategies to better assist others in learning.
At the master’s level, students in educational psychology may choose to concentrate in school psychology, special education, or quantitative methods in education. Irrespective of the chosen focus, a graduate student will deepen his/her understanding of established theories and concepts in the field, alternative approaches, stages of development for all ages, and various obstacles that inhibit learning.
Why a Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology?
While a graduate with a bachelor’s in education has the preparedness to secure jobs working with youth in afterschool programs, early childhood education, or assisted living organizations, master’s degree holders can go into counseling, teaching, research, and other positions that require an advanced degree in education psychology. Moreover, those with a master’s degree will typically earn higher salaries and be on track for continuing their education with a doctorate in educational psychology.
Getting Into an Educational Psychology Master’s Program
Your application for a graduate school educational psychology program should show the graduate admissions office that you are a committed and successful student with a strong desire to advance your knowledge in educational psychology; having a preliminary plan for how to accomplish this goal will only boost your chances of acceptance. The statement of purpose is a great opportunity for communicating this information, as is the personal interview. Generally, requirements for master’s in educational psychology programs include:
- Undergraduate GPA of 3.0
- Minimum number of about 18 undergraduate credits in education or related social sciences.
- GRE scores
- Personal interview
- Statement of purpose
- Three letters of recommendation
Inside an Educational Psychology Master’s Degree Program
Programs vary, but most take about two years to complete. Many online graduate programs in educational psychology provide students the opportunity to complete course work in one year. By the same token, some students will need additional time to complete their master’s thesis, especially if they are simultaneously earning professional certificates. Some programs actually have a time limit on how long it takes the student to earn his/her degree.
Courses you might see on a master’s of educational psychology syllabus include ‘Integrative Project for Master’s Degree in Psychology,’ ‘Psychology of Race and Ethnicity,’ ‘Lifespan Development and Ethics,’ and ‘Multicultural Issues in Psychology.’ Master’s students are often expected to hold teaching or research assistantships; these positions can be used to finance program tuition costs. In addition to course work and the responsibilities of an assistantship, master’s students must begin researching for their thesis early on in the program. Most departments require that students complete a thesis, give an oral defense, and pass comprehensive exams.
What’s Next for Educational Psychology Master’s Degree Holders?
Common jobs for master’s in educational psychology degree holders include community college instructor, research assistant, or test developer. While the master’s degree does not qualify graduates for professorships at universities, they can find work as kindergarten and elementary school teachers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that teachers at this level earned a median salary of $51,380 in 2010.
The next steps for degree holders who want to continue their education include, but are not limited to, doctorate programs in general or clinical psychology, certain exams, and licensure prerequisites for counseling, as well as post master’s certificates in health psychology, gender diversity, and even industrial organizational psychology.