Earning a Master's in Educational Psychology Online

An online master's in educational psychology prepares students to analyze and better understand education and various learning processes. Graduates should possess the skills and training necessary to develop educational plans and instructional methods that improve and elevate teaching. These graduates can explore careers as instructional coordinators, counselors, school psychologists, or postsecondary teachers.

This degree leads to career options that enjoy excellent growth and salary potential. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many careers in this field, like school counselors, instructional coordinators, and education administrators, are projected to grow faster and pay significantly more than the average occupation. Below, you'll find more information about this type of program, along with funding information, application outlines, and other resources.

Why Get a Master's Degree in Educational Psychology?

While a graduate degree comes with many benefits, its pursuit can seem daunting for many. The availability of online program options, however, opens the door for more candidates and makes it easier to pursue an education. Individuals interested in earning an online master's in educational psychology may include bachelor's degree-holders looking to improve their education, working professionals seeking career advancement, and those who wish to attain professional specialization unavailable at the undergraduate level.

Many students find that a master's degree provides the best route to professional certification or licensure. Read on to learn about common reasons a student chooses an online master's in educational psychology.

Pursuing Specialization

At the undergraduate level, psychology programs tend to offer a more general exploration of the discipline. While students may see some specialization options at the bachelor's level, master's programs typically offer more plentiful and in-depth options. These concentrations allow psychology students to specialize in educational psychology and explore careers in other disciplines, like instructional design or special education.

Career Advancement Opportunities

As with many graduate degrees, earning a master's in educational psychology online can provide additional career opportunities. Since these master's programs commonly offer leadership training, graduates may access management positions and roles with desirable organizations. These careers typically offer better pay and more benefits, allowing professionals to take on more responsibility and create a greater impact.

Online Learning Technology

Innovative online learning technologies provide students with educational opportunities they might not otherwise receive. The ability to study online and from a distance expands program availability and enables students to advance their education while working. Additionally, online learning technologies allow students to limit their travel and save on certain costs.

Prerequisites for Online Educational Psychology Programs

Depending on the specific school and program, prospective students may face a variety of prerequisites for admission. The following list covers some of the most common requirements.

  • Work Experience: While master's programs may not always require candidates to possess work experience for admission, some may request experience in a teaching or clinical capacity. Even when applying to the many programs that do not require work experience, candidates with experience may receive preference.
  • Exams and Test Scores: Some schools and master's programs require each applicant to complete an entrance exam to demonstrate their readiness, but the GRE is the most common test required. This standardized test provides overall competency scores for students, which allows schools to compare candidates to each other. GRE scores remain valid for five years.
  • Coursework: The specific course prerequisites depend on the program, but many online master's in educational psychology programs require candidates to possess some training in education or psychology. This experience demonstrates a candidate's readiness to succeed in the program.
  • Recommendations: Letters of recommendation are one of the most common admission requirements for students interested in pursuing master's in educational psychology degrees online. These recommendations typically come from work supervisors or former teachers and address a candidate's readiness for the program. Most programs request three relevant letters from each applicant.
  • Essays: Application essays may come in several forms. Some programs request a general admission essay, while others require candidates to write essays on an educational psychology topic. An applicant may also need to submit an essay outlining their research or professional interests.
  • Interviews: As one of the final elements of the application process, program advisors may request interviews with leading candidates. This allows both sides to speak face-to-face; program advisors learn about applicants' interests and personalities and degree candidates learn about a program's faculty and resources. Psychology programs do not typically require interviews.
  • International Students: International students often face a different application process than domestic candidates. Programs may require international applicants to submit English proficiency exams, such as the TOEFL, to demonstrate their readiness. International learners may also need to submit documents for transcript or credit evaluations.

What to Expect from a Master's-level Online Educational Psychology Program

Each program features a unique curriculum, but many programs share common elements. For example, most online master's in educational psychology take 18-24 months to complete, with students completing online theory courses asynchronously and clinical work on location. These programs also tend to feature a similar series of milestones that students complete as they progress toward graduation. The following list outlines common landmarks.

Major Milestones

  1. Capstone Project

    Many programs include a capstone project, which requires each student to apply their training to a comprehensive project and presentation. In educational psychology, these projects often replace a thesis.

  2. Practicum

    These experiences are typically completed in the second half of a program, allowing students to apply their training to their work. Practica in online programs may take place at approved locations near a student's home.

  3. Application to Doctoral Program

    The application process for a doctoral program can start at various times, but many students begin the process in earnest during the final year of their master's program. This process may include collecting recommendations, submitting transcripts, and preparing research proposals.

  4. Licensure Exam

    Depending on the specific credential, students may qualify to take an examination for professional licensure upon graduation. While some licenses require a substantial amount of postgraduate work experience, master's program graduates may receive enough experience from their practica and clinical studies.

  5. Thesis Preparation

    Not every master's program requires students to complete theses, but those that do commonly require learners to conduct research throughout their studies. In their final semester, each enrollee must submit and defend their work.

  6. Intent to Graduate

    Before completing their program, a student must submit their intention to graduate. This allows program personnel to verify that a learner has met or exceeded all requirements for graduation.

Master's in Educational Psychology Coursework

Students can often tailor their coursework at the graduate level, but the following list highlights courses that appear frequently as foundational or core training in educational psychology programs.

Advanced Learning Theories

Students research the latest learning methods and explore how these can impact the classroom and educational outcomes. Enrollees also explore procedures they can put into practice during practica or postgraduate work.

Educational Assessment

In this course, students learn about evaluation and assessment techniques, along with how to employ them in the classroom. Learners can also critique current evaluation techniques for flaws and offer suggestions for improvement.

Adolescent Development

This course explores adolescent educational needs and the challenges faced in educating students of this age. Learners can discover methods for evaluating their clients and ways to encourage development.

Personality and Behavior

Participants explore the personalities and behaviors of learners and how their differences can impact the education process and a student's capability for learning.

Adult Psychopathology

In this course, enrollees can examine various adult disorders, researching causes and symptoms. They also explore various means of diagnosis and treatment.

Licenses and Certifications

After earning a master's in educational psychology online, graduates may choose to pursue professional licensure or certification. Some postgraduate credentials are optional, while others may be required by a state board or an individual's employer. The following list outlines common certifications and licenses available to educational psychology master's degree graduates.

  • Teaching License: For many in-school positions, like instructional coordinators and school administrators, a candidate needs a teaching license. Each state features its own requirements for teaching licensure, though most require candidates to pass an exam, like a Praxis test.
  • School Psychologist Credential: To qualify for licensure as a school psychologist, candidates need to follow their individual state's requirements. While requirements vary by state and employer, most individuals need to pass a Praxis test, possess a certain amount of work experience, and complete a series of continuing education credits.
  • School Administrator Credential: Though some states only require school administrators to earn teaching licensure, others demand additional school administrator or leadership training. Eligible candidates usually need experience and relevant training, as well.

How Much Can I Make With a Master's Degree in Educational Psychology?

Since educational psychology graduates can pursue careers in so many different fields, their salary potential varies significantly. However, for school psychologists, professionals with wages in the 10th percentile earn about $44,000 a year, while those in the 90th percentile make nearly $130,000, according to the BLS.

Earning a master's degree can grant graduates access to careers typically only accessible by industry veterans. Graduates can also leverage their leadership and research skills or their educational and development expertise to explore careers in other fields and industries. The following table highlights some of the many career options.

How Careers for Master's in Educational Psychology Graduates Stack Up Against Similar Careers

School Psychologist

Median Salary: $77,000

Job Growth: 10%-14%

These psychologists strive to improve education and learning conditions by studying pedagogical techniques and student development. They may work with individual students and families or schools and school systems. This profession typically requires a master's degree and state licensure.

Child Clinical Psychologist

Median Salary: $77,000

Job Growth: 10%-14%

Child clinical psychologists work with children in various environments, helping them understand and manage emotional and mental disorders. They evaluate clients and discuss treatment options. To qualify for this career, each candidate needs to complete a master's degree (at a minimum) and acquire licensure.

Educational and School Counselor

Median Salary: $56,000

Job Growth: 10%-14%

School and educational counselors typically work in schools to provide emotional and educational support for students, often in a group setting. Counselors help resolve problems, overcome challenges, and establish support systems in schools and at home. This career typically requires candidates to obtain master's degrees. Some employers or states may require licensure.

Mental Health Counselor

Median Salary: $48,000

Job Growth: 15%+

Mental health counselors work with clients dealing with emotional, behavioral, and/or mental health concerns. Counselors help patients cope with and understand their issues, providing treatment and management plans. For employment, a counselor must earn a master's degree, and some states require licensure.

School Social Worker

Median Salary: $46,000

Job Growth: 10%-14%

School social workers evaluate and support the social and psychological development of children and students. These social workers may work with families and school systems to provide improved support for their clients. For employment, each candidate needs at least a bachelor's degree, though some employers and state licenses require candidates to hold a master's degree.

Marriage and Family Therapist

Median Salary: $50,000

Job Growth: 15%+

Marriage and family therapists evaluate and treat various disorders, conditions, and issues within marriages and families. This treatment may come in group settings or one-on-one. These therapists may diagnose conditions and develop treatment plans for their clients. Typically, this profession requires a master's degree, and licensure may also be needed.

Counseling Psychologist

Median Salary: $77,000

Job Growth: 10%-14%

Counseling psychologists provide support services to their clients, evaluating and administering management plans for various issues. Counselors may help clients overcome and adjust to personal and educational problems and concerns. This career typically requires a master's degree. Some states may require licensure.

Special Education Teacher

Median Salary: $61,000

Job Growth: 5%-9%

Special education teachers support students with physical and mental handicaps. They develop and provide educational strategies to teach their students and help with their development. Typically, these teachers need a bachelor's degree, though some require specialized training or an advanced degree.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, O*net

Paying for an Online Master's in Educational Psychology

While paying for school can be challenging, online programs may reduce the cost involved with graduate study. The ability to study remotely can result in the following:

  • Reduced online tuition rates
  • Shorter study times
  • Accelerated online programs
  • A decrease in travel or relocation costs

In addition to reduced time and costs, online students can benefit from several financial aid resources. For example, most distance students can still access federal financial aid, grants, and scholarships.

Scholarships for Online Educational Psychology Master's Students

Scholarships represent one of the most common forms of financial aid for learners at all levels, rewarding eligible students with funding and access to resources. Some scholarships target recipients based on their demographic profile or their location, while others seek out candidates dedicated to specific careers. The following list includes a few scholarships available to educational psychology students.

Professional Organizations and Resources

Joining a professional organization can provide benefits for members at every stage of their careers. These associations offer access to valuable resources and information, host industry events, grant access to mentoring opportunities, and support educational and professional development. While educational psychology candidates and professionals can find a variety of supportive organizations, the following list outlines some of the most popular.

  • American Psychological Association: APA supports the psychology industry and its professionals, promoting the improvement of industry conditions and the application of psychological science. Members can benefit from educational opportunities, access to research, and a large professional network.
  • American Mental Health Counselors Association: AMHCA represents its members by acting as a united voice and advocate. Members can access research, continuing education opportunities, industry events, a career center, and industry news.
  • American School Counselor Association: ASCA strives to improve the work done by school counselors. Members can gain access to professional development opportunities, as well as industry news and publications.
  • International Association for Counseling: IAC works to help the development of counselors around the world and reduce suffering for people who need their help. The association supports the industry by advancing research, promoting education, and advocating for better policies and initiatives.
  • American College Counseling Association: ACCA represents counseling professionals working in higher education. The association supports its members by providing access to job boards, research, and industry events.
  • Mental Health America: MHA dedicates itself to promoting mental health needs across the country. The organization works to improve professional development, educational outcomes, and access to care for those with mental health issues.
  • National Association of Secondary School Principals: NASSP serves as the united voice of principals in secondary schools. The association helps professionals develop and advance their careers, advocates for the profession, and provides training and support for future professionals.
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: SAMHSA fights against mental illness and substance abuse by working to establish better public health efforts, increase the amount of publicly available information, and improve professional training.
  • The School Superintendents Association: AASA represents school leaders across the country, providing research and information and advocating for better policies and initiatives.
  • American Foundation for the Blind: AFB works to improve conditions for the visually impaired and supports professionals seeking employment in the field. It also offers access to research on special education and drives initiatives for better services.