Program Director Message

Dear Applicant,
Educational psychologists believe that the improvement of human beings is possible and that such change and the development of effective interventions can be aided by the scientific study of human learning and development, exceptionalities, and measurement.

The PhD degree in the Department of Educational Psychology focuses on the important processes of learning, development, exceptionalities, and measurement. Learning includes an examination of theories that explain and predict how humans learn in structured and unstructured learning environments (e.g., school and homes). Besides learning theory, other topics of study include learning in academic areas, conceptualizing, memory, problem-solving, problem-based learning, transfer of knowledge, and self-regulation. Cognitive development is the transformation of the child's undifferentiated, unspecialized cognitive abilities into the adult's refined conceptual competence and problem-solving skill. The study of cognitive development includes a close examination of developmental changes in the human throughout the lifespan particularly infancy, childhood, and adolescence when environmental influences are believed to exert their greatest impact. Developmental topics include language development, socialization, intellectual development and the effects of social interaction on cognitive developmental outcomes. The area of exceptionalities is the study of typical and atypical learning and development that is manifested in the full range of individual differences from children with disabilities to those with gifts and talents. Based on a foundation of evidence-based research, interventions can be developed that are effective for students with exceptionalities. Measurement is collecting information in order to make decisions about differences in learning and abilities. The study of measurement includes psychometrics, evaluation, identification, and individual differences.

Because of the flexibility within the program, our past doctoral students have examined a wide variety of topics within these three areas including problem solving transfer, expectations, self-efficacy, technology applications, educational reform, joint attention, mathematics learning, psychosocial development, enrichment programs, instructional practices with diverse students, development of expertise,, and learning in museums. All of these graduates have secured positions in higher education, research agencies, and clinical settings.

The graduate faculty who teach in the PhD program are here to advise and mentor you. We would like to help you realize your personal goals.


Susan Johnsen
Director of the PhD Program in Educational Psychology