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University Bulletin
Graduate Degree Programs

Educational Psychology (EDPSY)

Program Home Page

RAYNE SPERLING, Director of Graduate Studies
101A CEDAR Building


Degrees Conferred:

Ph.D., M.S.


The Graduate Faculty


The Program

The graduate program in Educational Psychology focuses on the study of learning, instruction, and measurement across the life span. The learning and instruction emphasis applies the study of cognitive psychology to research on learning and instruction in applied settings like schools. The course of study provides a strong foundation in psychological theory, principles related to instructional applications, and quantitative methodology. The measurement emphasis applies cognitive psychology and theories of measurement to test design, instrument construction, scale analysis, and measurement theory. The Educational Psychology program emphasizes the use of rigorous quantitative methodology in the scientific study of learning, instruction, and measurement in applied settings. Typically this program prepares individuals for professions in universities, research institutions, government agencies, and industry. Individuals interested in more clinical applications of psychology, such as counseling psychology or school psychology should contact those specific graduate programs in the University.

Admission Requirements

Applicants are required to submit scores from the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) verbal, quantitative, and analytic writing. Successful applicants typically score above 500 on both Verbal and Quantitative on the GRE, or above 153 on Verbal and above 144 on the Quantitative sections of the revised GRE. Typically applicants have at least a 3.0 junior/senior grade-point average (on a 4.0 point scale) and broad undergraduate background including college level mathematics. Exceptions may be made for students with special backgrounds, abilities, and interests. Applicants with a master's degree will be required to show strong performance in their graduate program. Applicants will also supply letters of reference and a written statement of their professional goals. The requirements specified here are in addition to the Graduate Council requirements stated in the Graduate Bulletin.

Applicants must hold either (1) a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or (2) a tertiary (postsecondary) degree that is deemed comparable to a four-year bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution. This degree must be from an officially recognized degree-granting institution in the country in which it operates.

The language of instruction at Penn State is English. All international applicants must take and submit scores for the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or the IELTS (International English Language Testing System), with the exceptions noted below. The minimum acceptable score for the TOEFL is 550 for the paper-based test, or a total score of 80 with a 19 on the speaking section for the Internet-based test (iBT). The minimum acceptable composite score for the IELTS is 6.5.

International applicants are exempt from the TOEFL/IELTS requirement who have received a baccalaureate or a graduate degree from a college/university/institution in any of the following: Australia, Belize, British Caribbean and British West Indies, Canada (except Quebec), England, Guyana, Republic of Ireland, Liberia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the United States, and Wales.

Master's Degree Requirements

Students in the master's degree program are required to take 30 credits, including core courses EDPSY 421, 450, 475 and 505. The 30 credits must be at the 400 level or higher, and at least 18 of those credits must be at the 500 level or higher. Students will also take at least one foundational course in educational theory, philosophy, or individual differences. The remaining credits will be taken in a way to develop the student's area of specialization, in consultation with the student's adviser. The program offers two pathways, M.S. with a thesis, and an M.S. without a thesis. Students wishing to go on to the Ph.D. are required to complete the M.S. with thesis.

Doctoral Degree Requirements

Students in the doctoral degree program will select a major emphasis in either learning and instruction or measurement. Students in the doctoral program must complete the core courses as listed in the master's program. All students must also have at least one advanced-level course in learning and in measurement. Students will also have three courses spread across the foundational areas of educational theory and history, philosophy, and individual differences. Students must pass a candidacy examination to enter into the doctoral program, assessing their mastery of the content in the core courses. Students must also pass a comprehensive examination assessing their areas of specialization near the end of their doctoral studies. Students are also expected to develop and defend a theoretically based scholarly research proposal that will become their dissertation project. The doctoral program culminates in the production of and defense of the student's dissertation that is expected to be a publishable quality independent research study. All of these requirements are specified in more detail in the student handbook and/or the Graduate Council’s doctoral degree requirements (

Doctoral Minor

At the doctoral level, a minor is also possible in EDPSY. Like all doctoral minors, it requires at least 15 credits of work within the program; the specific requirements for the doctoral minor in Educational Psychology are EDPSY 421, EDPSY 450, and EDPSY 505, plus at least two other courses in EDPSY, in consultation with the minor adviser. The minor adviser should be a member of the Graduate Faculty and should be appointed to the student's doctoral committee as early as possible. Anyone interested in the minor should talk to a faculty member in EDPSY.

Student Aid

All applicants are considered for Graduate Assistantships that are available in the program. Typically these assistantships provide tuition waiver plus a stipend.


Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 699 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.



Last Revised by the Department: Spring Semester 2014

Blue Sheet Item #: 42-05

Review Date: 02/25/2014

Faculty linked: 6/9/14


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