Educational Psychology

The University of Iowa’s College of Education offers two degree programs for those interested in understanding the psychology of education and learning: a Master of Arts (without thesis) in the Learning Sciences (which is pending approval*) and a Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Psychology. The programs provide opportunities for engaging with research in learning, the design and implementation of learning innovations, and learning technologies. While the program of studies for these two programs share a number of courses, each propels students to different goals.

The M.A. in the Learning Sciences (pending approval) has a more applied focus. Students completing the master’s program are prepared to apply the findings of learning sciences research to the solution of problems in a broad range of educational contexts. The M.A. in Learning Sciences is available online.

The Ph.D. program in Educational Psychology is a research program, drawing further on the theories and practices that are grounded in Educational Psychology and the Learning Sciences. The doctoral program encourages and helps students acquire the depth of knowledge and sophistication of methodology necessary for original research contributions in those fields.

*Pending approval of M.A. in Learning Sciences for Fall 2015. In the meantime, please submit applications for the M.A. in Educational Psychology.

Program Overview

Students enrolled in the Ph.D. program occasionally may be advised to change their objective to a Master of Arts degree, with or without thesis. Please refer to the description of each program for information about how they differ. View our admissions statistics.

Each of our programs is designed to help students master the core content and methods of educational psychology. The doctoral program encourages and helps students acquire the depth of knowledge and sophistication of methodology necessary for original research contributions to the discipline. Students completing the master's-level program are prepared to apply the findings of educational psychology's research to the solution of problems in a broad range of educational contexts. The M.A. is designed primarily as an end in itself, for students who want this level of graduate preparation. Those who are interested in a Ph.D. should apply directly to that program.

The subject matter of the scholarly discipline of educational psychology is teaching and learning, particularly in formal settings such as schools. Educational psychologists study important topics such as intelligence, learning styles, child development, classroom learning, learning and technology, and motivation in educational settings.

Educational psychology is characterized by empirical research and theory typical of the social and behavioral sciences. Although our ultimate concern is with real problems in education, our approach tends to be more abstract and theoretically oriented than that of educational scholars who are more immediately concerned with practical questions of curriculum design.