Master’s in Educational Psychology Programs

Educational psychology focuses on how people learn. A master’s in educational psychology can pave the way for challenging, rewarding careers in school, corporate, and clinical settings. The degree also prepares students to pursue doctoral degrees in psychology or education.

Graduates from educational psychology programs enjoy exceptionally strong job prospects: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 25% growth in jobs for mental health counselors and a 16% job growth for occupational cognitive therapists from 2019 to 2029 — significantly faster than the national average growth projections for all professions.

A master’s in educational psychology can pave the way for challenging, rewarding careers in school, corporate, and clinical settings.

Our rankings below offer detailed descriptions of the best educational psychology master’s programs. This page also provides information about the benefits of an educational psychology master’s degree, what to expect from a master’s degree in educational psychology, and which jobs are available for graduates. We also discuss factors to consider when searching for the right educational psychology program.

Why Get an Educational Psychology Master’s?

The field of educational psychology traces back to the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, who detailed various strategies for improving understanding and recall. Today, educational psychologists have expanded on these foundational ideas to enhance learning outcomes in various educational settings.

Earning a master’s in educational psychology qualifies students for careers in a diverse vocational field. Some graduates secure jobs as education specialists in schools or human resource departments. Others pursue careers as school psychologists or mental health counselors. Some work as occupational therapists in clinical and home settings.

Educational psychology attracts learners with good listening skills, robust analytical and problem-solving abilities, and strong empathy. The discipline also appeals to students with a knack for scientific research.

While pursuing a master’s degree in educational psychology can be expensive, many graduates see a high return-on-investment a few years after securing a job in the field. Benefits of earning a master’s in educational psychology include:

High Earning Potential

The BLS reported median annual wages of $78,200 for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists and $113,350 for training and development managers as of 2019. As some of these careers only require a bachelor’s degree, students with the additional qualification of an educational psychology master’s degree can reasonably expect even higher wages.

Diverse Job Options

Because educational psychology focuses on how people learn at various life stages, a master’s in educational psychology qualifies graduates for a diverse array of occupations. These include human resource education specialist, K-12 education administrator, and certified Alzheimer’s specialist.

In-Demand Degree

Graduates with master’s degrees in educational psychology face strong job prospects. From 2019 to 2029, the BLS projects occupational growth ranging from 4%-25% for common occupations in the field.

What To Expect From a Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology

Earning a master’s in educational psychology typically requires 30-60 credits and takes 1-2 years of full-time study. Though many programs are in-person, some schools provide online and hybrid degree options, sometimes combined with an in-person practicum, laboratory or clinical assistantship, or internship.

This degree provides students with expertise in educational psychology and specialized skills in counseling, employee development and training, educational administration, occupational cognitive therapy, and postsecondary teaching.

A typical educational psychology master’s curriculum requires successful completion of core and elective classes along with a practical component, such as a laboratory or clinical assistantship, thesis, capstone, or practicum. Common foundational courses include cognitive psychology, human lifespan development, and research and assessment methodologies. Popular electives include giftedness and brain research, design of educational games and simulations, and training and development in the corporate workplace.

Concentration options vary by program. Examples of concentrations include school psychology, LGBTQ+ children in educational contexts, and occupational cognitive therapy for children with autism.

Admission Requirements

Educational psychology programs typically require prospective students to hold a bachelor’s degree in education, psychology, or a related area from an accredited higher education institution. Some schools only admit applicants with a teaching license or prior teaching experience.

To be considered for admission to an educational psychology program, applicants must submit materials like transcripts, GRE scores, a statement of purpose, a writing sample, and letters of recommendation. Students also usually pay an application fee.

Minimum GPA and GRE scores vary by program, but many schools require a 3.0 GPA or higher. Some programs waive GRE scores for U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and DACA recipients. A GPA above 3.5, GRE scores in the 90th percentile, and prior coursework or work experience in education or psychology usually make a student a competitive applicant.

Degree Options

Degree options vary by institution and department. Common variants of the educational psychology degree include the MA, the MS, and the master of education (M.Ed.). Which degree a student earns depends on which department houses the program. Learners completing their master’s through a psychology department, for example, tend to earn an MS.

Below, we review differences in course requirements for the three degree options:

MS in Educational Psychology

Typical MS curricula contain more STEM courses than the other two degrees. Students may take, for instance, quantitative ethnography, psychometrics, and neuropsychology.

MA in Educational Psychology

MAs tend to require more humanities courses than the other options. Students might encounter courses like art therapy, existentialism and human angst, and embodied cognition and education.

M.Ed. in Educational Psychology

Typical M.Ed. curricula contain more education courses than the alternatives. Students can expect classes such as educational theory and practice, instructional design for learning analytics, and supervision of school personnel.

The three degree types qualify graduates for similar occupations. But an MA or MS in educational psychology may provide educational benefits for learners planning to pursue careers in clinical or corporate settings, whereas an M.Ed. may offer advantages for students aspiring to work in school settings.

Comparing Educational Psychology to Other Education Degrees

A master’s in educational psychology offers an alternative to a general master’s in education. This degree provides students with expertise in educational psychology and specialized skills in counseling, employee development and training, educational administration, occupational cognitive therapy, and postsecondary teaching.

General education programs attract individuals seeking teaching jobs that call for a master’s (e.g., special education), and K-12 teachers in states that require a master’s to retain teaching certification. Educational psychology master’s programs, on the other hand, appeal more to potential learners interested in other education-based careers.

Below, we compare important distinctions between the two programs:

Master’s in Educational PsychologyMaster’s in Education
Length1-2 years full time1-2 years full time
Credit Load30-60 credits30-60 credits
Types of ClassesCognitive psychology, counseling theory and practice, psychology of agingInstructional theory and design, reading instruction and development, philosophy of education
Student DemographicsCollege graduates and K-12 teachers looking to pursue a career in educational psychologyCollege graduates and K-12 teachers who seek a career that requires a master’s degree or who live in a state that requires a master’s to retain K-12 teaching certification
Common CareersSchool psychologist, certified autism specialist, mental health counselor, corporate training and development specialist, postsecondary teacherK-12 or postsecondary teacher, school administrator, standardized testing specialist, career counselor
GoalPrepare students for doctoral programs in psychology and education or careers in clinical, corporate, or school settingsPrepare learners for teaching careers, school administration, or doctoral degrees in education

Popular Educational Psychology Courses

Curricula for educational psychology programs typically offer core courses like cognitive psychology, human development in infancy and childhood, and research methods in educational psychology. These classes provide students a foundation of important concepts and practices in the field.

Educational psychology programs also offer electives to help students specialize their knowledge. Common electives include the psychology of aging, intelligent tutoring systems, and test anxiety.

Below, we describe five popular educational psychology courses:

Popular Courses

Cognition and Learning

This class explores topics in cognitive psychology, such as perception, memory, and language, with a focus on the relationship between cognitive processes and the brain. Students also learn about the research methods used to investigate these topics in psychology and cognitive neuroscience.

Lifespan Human Development

In this course, enrollees explore how different life stages affect human cognition. Topics include life-span development (prenatal through old age), the adolescent brain, and age-related personality change.


In this class, learners acquire advanced knowledge about psychometrics — the psychology of measuring mental attributes (e.g., intelligence, motivation, and interest) and corresponding behaviors (e.g., performance on the GRE). Through hands-on experience, students learn to design and analyze standardized tests.

Research Methods

This core class focuses on developing the prowess needed to conduct ethically and scientifically viable research in educational psychology. Students learn to examine published research to pinpoint limitations of past studies, then adhere to the IRB proposal process as they design and conduct new experiments.

The Psychology of Aging

Typically offered as an elective, this course teaches students about how aging affects learning, personality, and cognitive abilities. The course also explores the perceptions about and the role of the elderly in society.

The Master’s Practicum or Thesis

A master’s in educational psychology typically requires successfully completing a thesis, capstone, practicum, or laboratory/clinical assistantship. Some programs allow students to choose whether they do a thesis, a capstone, or a laboratory/clinical assistantship.

Master’s students in educational psychology programs can further increase their earning potential by completing an internship, earning a doctoral degree, or obtaining industry-specific certification.

A thesis requires students to address a research question in a lengthy scholarly paper — master’s candidates might explore some aspect of John Dewey’s philosophy of education, for instance. A capstone project develops solutions to real-life educational challenges. For example, a student might examine how best to conduct implicit bias training for the employers at a local organization.

A practicum gives learners hands-on experience assisting a teacher or school administrator with educational activities, such as teaching, grading, or standardized test design.

How Much Will a Master’s in Educational Psychology Cost?

The total cost of an educational psychology master’s degree depends on tuition and fees, relocation/commuting expenses, and course materials.

Of these, tuition is generally the most significant financial burden. Public schools are generally more affordable than private institutions. However, state residency can substantially impact the cost of tuition at public schools: Out-of-state tuition typically costs $10,000-$20,000 more per year than in-state tuition. Online programs sometimes charge in-state tuition to all students, regardless of state residency.

A school’s reputation and ranking can also entail a higher cost of tuition, especially at private universities. Some schools may offer tuition waivers for teaching or research assistants, which often come with a stipend. Alternative means of financing an educational psychology master’s degree includes financial aid, grants, fellowships, and loans. The link below provides additional information about how to finance this degree:

Jobs for Master’s in Educational Psychology Graduates

Earning an educational psychology master’s degree qualifies learners for a variety of occupations, including work as postsecondary education administrators, training and development managers, and occupational cognitive therapists. The median annual wages for these careers range from $84,950 to $113,350.

Master’s students in educational psychology programs can further increase their earning potential by completing an internship, earning a doctoral degree, or obtaining industry-specific certification.

Licensure for K-12 teachers with a master’s degree includes certification in early childhood special education and gifted and talented education. Aspiring counselors can obtain certification as a national certified counselor (NCC), a licensed professional counselor (LPC), or a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC). Future occupational cognitive therapists can seek certification as a registered occupational therapist (OTR), a certified autism specialist (CAS), or a certified stroke rehabilitation specialist (CSRS), among other options.

Below, we provide information about five careers for graduates from educational psychology master’s programs:

Jobs for Master’s in Educational Psychology Graduates

Mental Health Counselor

Mental health counselors provide therapy for people struggling with mental health. They work in schools, mental health centers, prisons, or private practices. Commonly used therapeutic approaches include talk therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and group therapy.

  • Required Education: Master’s degree
  • Job Outlook (2019-29):+25%
  • Median Annual Salary:$46,240

Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists help patients with disabilities, illness, and injuries develop or recover everyday skills. Job duties for occupational therapists with an educational psychology background may include performing memory exercises to improve word recall in stroke victims and enhancing cognitive functioning to facilitate recall in Alzheimer’s patients.

  • Required Education: Master’s degree
  • Job Outlook (2019-29):+16%
  • Median Annual Salary:$84,950

Training and Development Manager

Training and development managers direct educational workshops and programs for an organization’s employees. Typical duties include ascertaining the needs for employee training; designing and implementing training workshops and programs; and keeping training manuals, online learning modules, and course materials up to date.

  • Required Education: Master’s degree preferred
  • Job Outlook (2019-29):+7%
  • Median Annual Salary:$113,350

Postsecondary Teacher

Postsecondary teachers with a master’s degree instruct learners at two-year colleges and professional schools. Typical job duties include preparing lectures, assignments, and exams; teaching classes; meeting with students during office hours; and grading.

  • Required Education: Master’s degree
  • Job Outlook (2019-29):+9%
  • Median Annual Salary:$79,540

Postsecondary Education Administrator

Postsecondary education administrators — like admissions officers, registrars, IRB administrators, and associate deans — oversee student or faculty affairs at colleges, universities, and professional schools.

  • Required Education: Master’s degree
  • Job Outlook (2019-29):+4%
  • Median Annual Salary:$95,410

Explore Education Careers

Choosing the Right Educational Psychology Graduate Program

While our rankings are a good place to start when looking for schools, other factors to consider include regional accreditation, industry-specific accreditation, and certification preparation.

Prospective students should prioritize regionally accredited universities. Schools with regional accreditation have been audited to ensure they meet standards of academic excellence. A seal of approval from industry-specific accreditation from agencies like the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) signifies that a program adequately prepares a student for jobs in the field.

Many educational psychology jobs require professional certification, and often students are only eligible for this certification if they graduate from a programmatically accredited department. LPC and LMHC licensure, for example, requires a master’s from a CACREP-accredited school, while OTR certification requires a master’s from a program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education.

Professional certification also typically requires specific credit requirements, so students intending to pursue these careers should verify that each prospective program’s curriculum meets these minimum numbers. A 30-credit master’s in educational psychology may suffice for OTR, CAS, and CSRS certification, depending on concentrations. NCC licensure, however, requires 48 graduate credits, and LPC and LMHC certification requires 60 graduate credits.

Should You Get Your Degree Online?

In their quest for the right educational psychology program, prospective students may consider online programs. Today’s distance-learning options tend to deliver the same high-quality education as their brick-and-mortar alternatives. Earning a master’s remotely often provides greater affordability, convenience, and flexibility.

At some schools, online tuition is the same or lower than in-person tuition. For example, public schools may charge distance learners in-state rates, regardless of the student’s residency. Students choosing an online educational psychology program can also save on relocation, commuting, and campus activity fees.

There are two online course formats to consider: The synchronous format provides an immersive learning experience, with real-time lectures and class discussions that simulate the experience of being in a classroom. The asynchronous format offers course materials through discussion boards, pre-recorded lectures, and assignments that can be completed on a more flexible schedule. This structure requires more self-sufficiency and time management, but can be ideal for students who work full time.

Frequently Asked Questions

What degree do you need for educational psychology?

Though some positions may ask for only a bachelor’s in the field, many careers and professional certifications require an educational psychology master’s degree.

How long does it take to get a master’s in educational psychology?

A master’s in educational psychology can be completed in 1-2 years of full-time study; part-time students tend to finish in 3-4 years.

What do educational psychologists do?

With a master’s degree in educational psychology, students qualify for a multitude of career options, including human resource education specialist, school psychologist, and certified autism specialist.

Is educational psychology in demand?

Yes! Educational psychology jobs are in high demand. The BLS projects a 4%-25% growth in common educational psychology jobs from 2019-29, on pace with or higher than the national average projected growth rate for all occupations.