Educational Psychology Ph.D.

Our society faces a number of critical educational issues these days:

  • How to make learning meaningful and authentic
  • How to develop critical thinking and creativity
  • How to support the application of learning in real-world contexts
  • How to effectively educate special populations, including minorities and gifted students
  • How to foster self-directed learning
  • How to effectively assess student learning

All these issues fall under the purview of Educational Psychology. Educational Psychology is the study of human learning and motivation. It encompasses investigations of cognition and the brain; the influence of affect, goals, and interest on learning; the role of assessment in learning; the psychology of teaching; the effectiveness of instructional interventions; the relationship between cognition and technology; the social psychology of learning organizations; and methods for conducting educational research. It addresses such issues in school contexts, work contexts, and everyday contexts such as the home or museums.

The Ph.D. program at UNC prepares individuals to become leaders in addressing these issues. Students are trained in the art of reading, writing, and empirically researching such issues through coursework and collaboration on research projects with faculty members. Our program is flexible, and we help students design a course of study that best suits their needs. Faculty members take pride in mentoring students and building lasting professional relationships with them. A Ph.D. in Educational Psychology will prepare individuals to, among other things:

  • Teach and conduct research at universities
  • Work at research centers
  • Serve as training consults for businesses
  • Lead professional development efforts for schools and districts
  • Work in state departments of education
  • Work in other educational institutions such as the Educational Testing Service

Read the School of Psychological Sciences Student Academic Integrity Policy

Learn more about the Educational Psychology Society

Frequently Asked Questions about the Ph.D. Program

  • What are the application requirements and how do I apply?

    Applications may be downloaded or submitted online.

    Admission to the Ph.D program in Educational Psychology is a two-step process. First, the applicant must apply to the UNC Graduate School. Upon evaluation for the minimum admission criteria by the Graduate School, the candidate's application is forwarded to the Educational Psychology Program for faculty review.

    Applications must include the following before review by the program faculty:

    The Graduate School requires a Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score that is less than five years old, transcripts of all previous undergraduate and graduate work, and three letters of recommendation.

    In addition, the Educational Psychology program requires that you submit a curriculum vita or resume and a two-page statement describing your career goals and your intended area of specialization. This Personal Statement should clearly articulate why you have selected our Educational Psychology Doctoral Program, the types of research that you are interested in conducting while in the program, how your interests align with faculty expertise and research programs, and your post-PhD career goals. Your Personal Statement and CV or resume should be sent to Grad.ApplicationMaterials@unco.edu.

    Please complete our Recommendation Request Form to request letters of recommendation from three professional references.

    Applications are evaluated case by case with the following preferences:

    1. GPA of 3.5 or higher (last 60 hours of coursework);
    2. GRE scores that meet and preferably exceed the Graduate School minimums (140 Quantitative; 146 Verbal Reasoning; Combined score of at least 297; Analytic Writing 3.5);
    3. recommendations that indicate high potential for success in a doctoral research program; and
    4. goals that fit well with our program.
  • How many students are admitted each year?

    There is no set number of students admitted.

  • When do I need to apply?

    The deadline for applications for the fall semester is January 31st. All materials must be processed by the Graduate School and received in our office by this deadline. Applications received after this deadline will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Although students may enroll any semester following admission, they are strongly encouraged to begin their program in either the summer or fall term in order to enter the proper sequencing of courses.

    Apply now to the UNC Graduate School.

  • How much will it cost?
  • Can I complete an M.A. Degree en route to the Ph.D.?

     Yes. Students may apply for admission to the Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and complete their M.A. in Educational Psychology on the way to the doctoral degree. The application process and the admission criteria are the same as for the Ph.D. program. Once admitted, students will complete the 30-credit M.A. program. Students must complete all program requirements (including Comprehensive Examination) for the M.A. in addition to the minimum 67 credit hours required for the Ph.D. Students must be conferred with the M.A. degree prior to admission to doctoral candidacy. 

  • Are courses taught online?

     Some courses are taught online, but not all.

  • Are courses taught in the Denver Metro area?

    Some courses are taught in the Denver Metro area, usually in a condensed format over several weekends. Timing of these courses often varies with time of year and instructor availability.

    Note:  The program does not include K -12 teaching certification or counseling certification. 

    For other questions, please contact the Graduate School at 970-351-2831.