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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Program in Educational Psychology


Educational psychology is the science of learners and learning and draws upon rigorous research to apply psychological principles to educational issues.  Educational psychologists are interested in understanding the factors that affect student learning, engagement, and motivation, and often consider a range of factors such as biology, individual differences, development, and social and contextual factors.  Educational psychology also involves learning the scientific methods that apply to our field, including tests and measurements, statistics, and research methodology.  Thus, the major core courses are designed to help you learn about these topics and methods for gaining knowledge in the field.

Our graduate programs are designed to prepare individuals for employment in research, teaching, and service settings.  The coursework includes topics such as development, cognition, motivational and social factors, individual differences, measurement, statistics, and research.  The Ph.D. degree in Educational Psychology with a concentration in General Educational Psychology requires a minimum of 91 hours of coursework beyond the baccalaureate degree.


Educational Psychology Major Core (46 hours)

  • EPY 6214 Educational and Psychological Statistics
  • EPY 8214 Intermediate Educational and Psychological Statistics 
  • EPY 8263 Psychological Testing in Educational and Related Settings
  • EPY 8293 Cognitive and Affective Development
  • EPY 8513 Psychometric Theory
  • EPY 9213 Multivariate Analysis in Educational Research
  • EPY 9723 Seminar in Contemporary Issues in Educational Psychology
  • EDF 9373 Educational Research Design
  • EPY 9000 Dissertation Research/Dissertation in Educational Psychology (20 hours)

General Educational Psychology Concentration Requirements (45 hours)

Required (27 hours)

  • EPY 6033 Applications of Learning Theories in Educational and Related Settings
  • EPY 6073 Personal and Motivational Factors in Education Related Settings
  • EPY 8223 Psychological Foundations of Education
  • EPY 8533 Practicum in Teaching with Educational Psychology
  • EPY 9263 Applied Research Seminar
  • EDF 8363 Function and Methods of Research
    • or PSY 8513 Psychological Research
  • EDF 9453 Introduction to Qualitative Research
  • EDF 9463 Qualitative Data Collection in Education
  • EDF 9473 Qualitative Data Analysis

Educational Psychology Electives (6 hours)

Choose any two courses in EPY in consultation with advisor.  Some recommended courses include:

  • EPY 6553 Creativity and Innovation
  • EPY 8523 Psychology of the Gifted

Psychology Electives (6 hours)

Choose any two courses in PSY in consultation with advisor.  Some recommended courses include:

  • PSY 6983 Psychology of Aging
  • PSY 6713 Language and Thought
  • PSY 6403 Biological Psychology
  • PSY 8613 Advanced Social Psychology
  • PSY 8313 Developmental Psychology

Education Electives (3 hours)

Choose one course in EDF or EDX or EDE in consultation with the advisor.

Free Elective (3 hours)

Choose one course (three hours) of free electives in consultation with the advisor.

Educational Psychology Faculty

Current Students

Our doctoral students may complete the 91-hour coursework in 3 to 6 years, depending on whether they (a) already hold a master's degree from the same program, (b) enroll as full-time or part-time, and (c) attend summer school.

Recommended Sequence for Coursework

Semester Recommended Courses to Take
1st Year Fall
  • EPY 6033, EPY 6073, or elective
  • EPY 6214
  • EPY 8223 or EPY 8293
1st Year Spring
  • EPY 6033 or elective
  • EPY 8214
  • EDF 8363
2nd Year Fall
  • EPY 6033, EPY 6073, or elective
  • EPY 8223 or EPY 8293
  • EPY 8533 or EPY 9723
2nd Year Spring
  • EPY 8263
  • EPY 8513 or EPY 9263
  • EDF 9453
3rd Year Fall
  • EPY 9213
  • EPY 8533 or EPY 9723
  • EDF 9463
3rd Year Spring
  • EPY 8513 or EPY 9263
  • EDF 9473
  • EDF 9373
4th Year Fall
  • Elective
  • Elective
  • Elective
4th Year Spring
  • Elective
  • Elective
  • Dissertation
5th Year Fall
  • Dissertation
5th Year Spring
  • Dissertation

Doctoral Students Steps Towards Graduation

When Activity Student Advisor/Committee Chair
Every semester during advising time Complete coursework Touch base with advisor with a tentative schedule and discuss potential courses to take. Review student's tentative schedule, provide suggestions, and release student for registration.
No later than the end of the first week of the final semester of coursework Form Graduate Committee

Discuss potential committee members with advisor.

Upon advisor's approval, obtain agreement of potential committee members to serve on the committee.

Approve student's selection or suggest other potential committee members.

Complete the Committee Request Form and send it to the department's academic coordinator.

Final semester of coursework (excluding dissertation hours) Take written preliminary exam for admission to candidacy Take and pass the exam.

Review student's CAPP to determine if they are eligible for sitting for the preliminary exam.

Prepare the exam questions for the committee's review and approval.

Coordinate committee's grading of student's preliminary exam and notify the student of the results.

Semester(s) following admission to candidacy Dissertation proposal

Register for dissertation hours.

Work closely with the graduate committee chair to complete the dissertation research proposal.

Upon approval from your committee chair, schedule the dissertation proposal meeting with your committee, and make sure to deliver a copy of the dissertation proposal to all committee members, the program coordinator, and the department's academic coordinator at least two weeks before the meeting.

Review the student's dissertation proposal, provide suggestions for edits and revisions, and approve it for the proposal defense meeting.
Semester(s) following admission to candidacy Conduct dissertation research Work with the committee chair to obtain IRB approval for your dissertation study, collect and analyze the data, and complete the dissertation. Consult with student on an as needed basis to (1) assure the research protocol is being followed, (2) discuss preliminary findings with the student, and (3) review and provide suggestions for edits and revisions.
Final semester Apply to graduate

Enroll in LIB 9010 (free course to submit your dissertation).

Apply online via myState for graduation (check Academic Calendar for last day to apply).

Remind the student to adhere to the College, Library, and Graduate School timeline for document submission.

Suggest a timeline for dissertation final defense.

Final semester Dissertation defense

Upon approval from your committee chair, schedule a final defense meeting and make sure to deliver a copy of the dissertation proposal to all committee members, the program coordinator, and the department's academic advisor at least two weeks before the meeting.

Ensure that all faculty and graduate students in the program and the public are notified of the date, time, and place of the meeting.

Ask the department's academic coordinator to announce the defense to the department.

Complete the Report of Examination Results/Candidacy form and send it to the department's academic coordinator (check Graduate School Calendar for last day to report).

Final semester Commencement

After your defense, make corrections and submit the dissertation to the Dean’s Office for the Dean’s signature on your title page.

Turn in the final dissertation copy with signed signature page through the LIB 9010 course through Canvas.

Attend graduation, march with the student, and hood the student.
Final semester Alumnus/Alumna status Provide the Alumni Association with a forwarding address. Stay connected with your student.

Prospective Students

Applicants to the Ph.D. program must apply via the Graduate School:  Completed applications are then reviewed by the Educational Psychology faculty admissions committee.  When applying via the Graduate School website, make sure you select the "General Ed. Psychology" option from the drop-down menu (see screenshot below), you would otherwise be applying to the wrong program area (and your application fee cannot be refunded).

Ph.D. application screenshot

Application Materials

The following materials are required by the Educational Psychology graduate programs:

  • Personal Statement or Statement of Purpose
  • Official transcripts from all universities attended
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Resume or Vitae
  • GRE scores (verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing)*
  • Other materials as required by the Graduate School (e.g., English test scores for international applicants)

*Applicants for Fall 2022 or later admission are no longer required (but strongly encouraged) to submit GRE scores.

Application Deadlines

Starting Fall 2022, the program will switch to fall admission only.

  • Early Admission**: February 15
  • Regular Admission: August 1 (for domestic students) and May 1 (for international students)

**All applicants who apply by our early admission deadline are given full consideration for assistantships.

Financial Assistance

Students in the M.S. and Ph.D. programs in Educational Psychology may receive financial assistance through assistantships. 

Assistantships may be available from the department and via other related units on campus.  Some students have obtained assistantships outside of the department in other areas including the Dean's Office, Student Support Services, Department of Human Sciences, Research Curriculum Unit, and Social Sciences Research Center.

If awarded, the assistantship includes a tuition waiver (both in-state and out-of-state tuition) and a monthly stipend ranging from $720.00 to $1000.00 depending on the placement.  All "early admission" applicants are given full consideration for assistantships, but priority would be given to applicants for the Ph.D. program.

Students must be enrolled full-time (i.e., 9 credit hours) and complete 20 hours per week for each assistantship.  For more information regarding university assistantships, please go to the Office of Graduate Studies website at:

In addition to assistantships, some students apply for financial aid to assist them in meeting the financial demands of graduate school.  To obtain more information about financial aid, please visit the Office of Financial Aid website at  

For the most current information regarding tuition and fees, please visit the Account Services website at

Career Opportunities

One of the primary career paths for our graduates is in higher education institutions, and we are proud to report that, in the past decade, 100% of the graduates from our Ph.D. program have secured jobs in this field.  Our graduates have been hired as faculty members, researchers, and academic administrators at universities and colleges across the country and around the world.  Below is a list of our alumni who have generously granted us permission to share their employment information and current positions, showcasing the career paths and achievements of our graduates.  We greatly appreciate their contribution to our efforts to showcase the success of our program and its alumni.

Alumni Name Graduate Year Current Position Employer
Katerina Sergi, Ph.D. 2021 Research Assistant Professor Social Science Research Center (SSRC), Mississippi State University
Jianling Xie, Ph.D. 2020 Assistant Professor of Psychology College of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Houston-Downtown
Kasia Gallo, Ph.D. 2018

Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology

Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology, and Foundations, Mississippi State University

Shane T. Warren, Ph.D. 2013

Deputy Director for Research Development

International Research Development, International Institute, Mississippi State University

      Note. We are in the process of contacting more alumni and waiting to hear back from them. We will update this list as we receive more information.

As a Ph.D. student in our program, you will have access to a range of resources to help you prepare for a career in higher education.  Our faculty members are active researchers and experienced educators who can provide you with mentorship and guidance on developing your research agenda, teaching philosophy, and professional network.

Whether you are interested in pursuing a career in research, teaching, or administration, our Ph.D. program can provide you with the skills and training you need to succeed in higher education.  Join us today and take the first step towards a rewarding career in academia.

Contact Information

Elaine Wei, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Educational Psychology