Home < Degrees < Educational Psychology

Educational Psychology

Administrative Unit:Educational Psychology
College/School: School of Education
Admitting Plans:M.S., Ph.D.
Degrees Offered:M.S., Ph.D.
Minors and Certificates:Doctoral Minor
Named Options: Professional Educator (MSPE)

Faculty: Professors Kaplan (chair), Asmus, Bolt, Brown, Derry, Enright, Gettinger, Kalish, Kim, Kratochwill, Nathan, Puntambekar, Shaffer; Associate Professors Albers, Bellmore, Wollack; Assistant Professors Hubbard, Matthews, Rau, Steiner, Vlach; Clinical Professor McGivern


The Department of Educational Psychology offers the master of science and doctor of philosophy degrees in educational psychology. The programs for the M.S. and Ph.D. in educational psychology provide comprehensive knowledge of the field and intensive specialization in one of four areas of study and research: human development, learning sciences, quantitative methods, and school psychology.

The department provides for training in research. Many faculty members in the department conduct controlled research studies with human participants; schools and other agencies in the Madison area cooperate in facilitating such research projects. Principal research facilities include the Educational and Psychological Training Center, the School of Education's Wisconsin Center for Education Research, and the multidisciplinary Waisman Center.

Areas of Specialization 

Human Development

Advisors: Professors Bellmore, Brown, Enright, Hubbard, Kalish, Matthews, Vlach

The program in human development adopts a life-span approach to individual change. Studying development in context is an important component of the program, so that research can make conceptual/theoretical contributions to the understanding of human behavior and can address practical concerns of educators, parents, and others concerned with the developing person. A course of study provides a breadth and depth of knowledge about human development and educational psychology and encourages more detailed study in specific interest areas. Early in the program, students are exposed to general theories and issues in human development; specific developmental processes in childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and old age; as well as associated statistical methods and research practices.

In the latter part of the program, students exercise individual choice in selecting courses in subject matter that will broaden or deepen an understanding of human developmental processes. Such course work may also extend to other programs of the university in which there is a research focus in human development.

Learning Sciences

Advisors: Professors Kalish, Nathan, Puntambekar, Rau, Shaffer

This program area bridges learning sciences and educational practice. Scholarship encompasses the coordinated design and study of learning environments ranging from preschool to university education, and reaches outside of school to informal contexts for learning, like museums and after-school programs. Faculty interests include the design of technologies as tools for learning, prolonged longitudinal study of relations between teaching and learning, and the nature of knowledge in substantive domains of inquiry, like mathematics, science, and composition. The program of study emphasizes an apprenticeship model of scholarship with early engagement in substantive problems of learning and teaching. Students work in concert with faculty to develop research studies in each of the first two years of study. Courses are coordinated to promote the development of research and communication skills, so that students can become involved with important problems in educational research. As students progress in the program, they continue to work with faculty, both within and outside of the department, to craft systematic investigations of learning environments.

Quantitative Methods

Advisors: Professors Bolt, Kaplan, Kim, Steiner, Wollack 

Educational research has a strong tradition of employing state-of-the-art statistical and psychometric (psychological measurement) techniques. Researchers in all areas of education develop measuring instruments, design and conduct experiments and surveys, and analyze data resulting from these activities. Because of this tradition, quantitative methods has long been an area of specialization within educational psychology. Graduates in this area teach, serve as consultants to educational researchers, and conduct research on statistics and psychometrics in education-related fields. Within the program, the quantitative methods area offers the two major specializations of statistics and measurement.

The study of quantitative methods takes advantage of the range of resources at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and includes course work in statistics, mathematics, and computer sciences, and in other units of the School of Education.

School Psychology

Advisors: Professors Albers, Asmus, Gettinger, Kratochwill

Clinical Professor: McGivern

The graduate program in school psychology leads to a Ph.D. in educational psychology with a scientist-scholar-practitioner model of professional training. Students prepare for positions as professors in colleges and universities, psychologists in elementary and secondary schools, and with other organizations or agencies that focus on psychological services to children, youth, and families. The program is fully accredited by the American Psychological Association and the National Association of School Psychologists.

The areas of professional practice of school psychologists include psychological assessment and psychodiagnostic evaluation, prevention and intervention procedures, consultation and program planning, and research and evaluation. The program also requires study of the history of psychology, cognitive-affective bases of behavior, individual behavior, biological bases of behavior, and social bases of behavior. Applied experience and training are provided in individual and group work with both typical classroom populations and special groups, including individuals with developmental disabilities and others with special education needs. Included in the practicum and internship experience is work with families, classroom peer groups, and community and school systems.

M.S. Degree Programs in Educational Psychology with Special Emphases

Advisors: Professors Brown, Enright, Kalish

The special-emphasis master's degree program is designed for individuals who want to improve their knowledge base and skills for functioning in educational settings. The program is built around educator needs and offers a flexible blend of course work, independent study, and practicum experiences. It is designed to provide the student with an individualized program of theoretical and applied training, tailored to his or her interests, needs, and professional goals.

Master of Science for Professional Educators

The Master of Science for Professional Educators (MSPE) is a 30-credit master's degree program designed with a teaching professional's schedule in mind. Courses in the MSPE program emphasize practical strategies and applications. Participants are part of a two-year cohort learning group, completing a master's degree through a combination of technology-enhanced distance learning during the academic year and summer on-campus course work.

Doctoral Minor 

At least 10 credits in educational psychology courses are required for a minor completed by students from other programs. Students from other programs must obtain a minor advisor in the program. The minor advisor will work with the student to plan an appropriate sequence of coursework. All courses must be at the 500 level or above. A grade of B or better in each course is required.

Financial Aid 

Students are eligible to compete for UW–Madison fellowships. A limited number of teaching and project assistantships are available within the department, and prospective students are encouraged to refer to the instructions for fellowships and assistantships contained in the program application information.


For admission to graduate work, the department does not require a specific undergraduate major. However, it is preferred that applicants have completed approximately 18 credits in courses that provide a relevant foundation for further study in educational psychology. Neither certification as a teacher nor teaching experience is required. An undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.0 (4.0 basis) based on the last 60 semester hours of undergraduate course work is requisite. Also essential are a statement of purpose, Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores, and three letters of recommendation.

For more information: Department of Educational Psychology, 859 Educational Sciences Building, 1025 West Johnson Street, Madison, WI 53706-1796; 608-262-1427; ep-admissions@education.wisc.edu or edpsych.education.wisc.edu