Educational Psychology, PhD

for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Psychology

chair of the department: Kiel Christianson

director of graduate studies: H. Chad Lane

graduate admissions information: Mitzi Koeberlein

overview of admissions & requirements: College of Education

overview of grad college admissions & requirements:

department website:

program website: College of Education Programs

department faculty: Educational Psychology Faculty

college website:

department office: 142 Education Building, 1310 South Sixth Street, Champaign, IL 61820

phone: (217) 244-3542


Graduate Degree Programs in Educational Psychology

Educational Psychology, EdM (on campus & online)

optional concentrations: Bilingual-Bicultural Education|Digital Learning

Educational Psychology, MA

optional concentrations: Bilingual-Bicultural Education|Digital Learning

Educational Psychology, MS

optional concentrations: Bilingual-Bicultural Education|Digital Learning

Educational Psychology, PhD

optional concentration: Digital Learning

Mental Health Counseling, MS

optional concentrations:

African American Studies (available to all on campus degrees)

Second Language Acquisition and Teacher Education (PhD only)


Students entering a Ph.D. program without a master’s degree must first complete the requirements for a Master of Science (including a master’s thesis).

The Department offers admission to two terminal on-campus Master of Science (M.S.) degrees focusing on Quantitative and Qualitative Methodology, Measurement, and Evaluation (QUERIES) and Mental Health Counseling.  There is no admission to terminal masters degrees in Cognitive Science of Teaching and Learning (CSTL), Developmental Sciences, or Counseling Psychology areas of specialization.

The department accepts applications for the Ph.D. degree, from both applicants who have completed their bachelor's degrees and those who have a master's degree. Students who enter the program without a prior master's incorporate their master's class work and research into their doctoral program, and earn a master's degree as the first step toward their Ph.D (satisfying the "Early Research Project" requirement). The department does not accept applications for master's degrees in CSTL, Developmental Sciences, or Counseling Psychology.


Applicants must submit a complete application for university admission, including three letters of reference, transcripts from all schools where undergraduate and graduate degrees were awarded or expect to be awarded prior to the application enrollment term, and other items listed in the department Web site. Applicants to our doctoral program and M.S. in Mental Health Counseling apply for Fall enrollment. Current deadlines are posted on our department Web site

Doctoral candidates are admitted into one of four divisions:  CSTL, Developmental Sciences, QUERIES and Counseling Psychology. When making admission decisions, division committees consider academic performance (e.g., grade-point average, GPA), GRE scores (optional), letters of recommendation, and statement of purpose. Preference is given to those with research experience and research interests that are aligned with existing research programs in the Department.

Master’s candidates are admitted into QUERIES and Mental Health Counseling.

Grade Point Average

The preferred department standard for grade point average is 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. The University calculates undergraduate GPAs on the last two years of grades for degreed applicants and in the last one year for students who have not yet completed their bachelor's degree. Graduate GPAs are calculated on the total of all graduate level courses taken beyond the undergraduate degree.

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

International applicants must demonstrate English Language Proficiency for admission.  Please see for additional information on this requirement.

Area of Study Affiliation

All applicants to the Educational Psychology doctoral program must specify one of four areas in which they wish to study:

  • Cognitive Science of Teaching and Learning (CSTL)
  • Counseling Psychology (Counseling);
  • Developmental Sciences
  • Studies in Interpretive, Statistical Measurement, and Evaluative Methodologies for Research (QUERIES)

Detailed information about each area and about the research interests of the faculty can be found on the department Web site.

Although all Ph.D. students are admitted to a specific area of study, the actual coursework, research, and faculty often overlap area boundaries. Departmental policy makes it possible for a student to change advisers and affiliation from one area to another when interests and research foci become more clearly defined or change. Many faculty members are affiliated with more than one area of study.

Mental Health Counseling M.S. students must choose one of three areas of study for their practicum experience:

  • Mental Health Counseling
  • Career Counseling
  • Counseling and Developmental Sciences

Faculty Research Interests

The faculty's research agendas span a wide range of topics related to the study and application of psychological principles to develop and inform educational interventions and facilitate human development across the life span. Faculty conduct basic and translational research that explores the cognitive, life-span developmental, social-emotional, and socio-cultural factors that affect behavior, learning, and achievement in educational, clinical, and community contexts. They also engage in research on approaches to educational inquiry and the development of quantitative, qualitative and evaluative methodologies that underpin the development of evidence-based, policy-relevant studies. For information about specific faculty research interests, current grants, and publications, please visit the Faculty Finder.

Center, Programs, and Institutes

Department faculty are affiliated with both research centers and institutes in the College of Education and the university more broadly, including the Adult Learning Lab, the Center for Education in Small Urban Communities, the Center for Advanced Study, the Beckman Institute, the Center for the Study of Reading, the Social Development Consortium, and others.

Facilities and Resources

The Department of Educational Psychology puts a high priority on working with its graduate students to secure fellowships and other awards.

The College of Education also has many resources to assist graduate students through their academic career. The Bureau of Educational Research works with students to secure research funding. The Council on Teacher Education entitles candidates seeking a Professional Educator License and provides accreditation of professional education programs. Each student completing a degree program is assigned a graduate adviser, who is available to assist the student with planning the program of study and determining degree requirements, courses and timelines for degree completion.

Information on University resources can be found at

Financial Aid

Financial aid in the form of assistantships, scholarships, fellowships, and tuition waivers can be found throughout the college and campus. Campus opportunities can be found at the Graduate College and the Office of Student Financial AidPlease note: Graduate students employed as Staff by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are not eligible for a College of Education Award or Scholarship.

The department does not require a separate financial aid application.

for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Psychology

The Department of Educational Psychology offers many programs leading to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.).  A list of programs and additional requirements can be found on the program's website, the College of Education Graduate Programs Handbook, and the Graduate College Handbook.

Students may select a concentration in Digital Learning.

Completion of at least 64 hours beyond the master’s degree including:
Major Subject Coursework (minimum)32
EPSY 599Thesis Research (min/max applied toward degree)4-20
Independent Study (min/max applied toward degree)0-12
Research Coursework16-20
Students pursuing the Concentration in African American Studies are required to take 24 hours of Concentration courses, for a total of 88 hours.
Total Hours64

Other Requirements

Master's degree is not required for admission to the Ph.D. but is required for completion.
Minimum GPA 3.0
Residency 2 consecutive full-time (12 hours) semesters of study on campus
Early Research Requirement
Qualifying Exams
Human Subjects Approval
Preliminary Exam
Final Exam/Dissertation Defense
Dissertation Deposit