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 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 coursework 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 coursework 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 applied behavior analysis, cognitive-behavior therapy, social-learning theory and ecological–behavioral–systems theory. 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 coursework, 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 coursework.

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.

Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress

To make progress toward a graduate degree, students must meet the Graduate School Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress in addition to the requirements of the program.

Master’s Degrees

M.S., with available named option Professional Educator (MSPE)
M.S., with available tracks in human development, learning science, quantitative methods, and school psychology

Minimum Graduate Degree Credit Requirement

M.S.–Professional Educator named option: 30 credits
M.S.–human development, and quantitative methods track: 33 credit
M.S.–learning sciences track: 36 credits
M.S.–school psychology track: 55 credits

Minimum Graduate Residence Credit Requirement

M.S.–Professional Educator named option: 30 credits
M.S.–human development, and quantitative methods track: 27 credits
M.S.–learning sciences track: 33 credits
M.S.–school psychology track: 52 credits

Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement

At least 50% of credits applied toward the graduate degree credit requirement must be completed in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide.

Prior Coursework Requirements: Graduate Work from Other Institutions

M.S.–Professional Educator named option: No credits from other institutions are allowed to count toward the degree.

M.S.–all other tracks: With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Prior Coursework Requirements: UW–Madison Undergraduate

No credits from a UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to count toward the degree.

Prior Coursework Requirements: UW–Madison University Special

M.S. Professional Educator named option: No credits taken as a UW–Madison University Special student are allowed to count toward the degree.

M.S.–all other tracks: With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison University Special student. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Credits per Term Allowed

15 credits

Program-Specific Courses Required

Contact the program for information on any additional required courses.

Overall Graduate GPA Requirement


Other Grade Requirements

The Graduate School requires an average grade of B or better in all coursework (300 or above, not including research credits) taken as a graduate student unless conditions for probationary status require higher grades. Grades of Incomplete are considered to be unsatisfactory if they are not removed during the next enrolled semester.

Probation Policy

The Graduate School regularly reviews the record of any student who earned grades of BC, C, D, F, or Incomplete in a graduate course (300 or above), or grade of U in research credits. This review could result in academic probation with a hold on future enrollment or in being suspended from the Graduate School.

Advisor / Committee

Every graduate student is required to have an advisor. To ensure that students are making satisfactory progress toward a degree, the Graduate School expects them to meet with their advisor on a regular basis.

An advisor generally serves as the thesis advisor. In many cases, an advisor is assigned to incoming students. Students can be suspended from the Graduate School if they do not have an advisor. An advisor is a faculty member, or sometimes a committee, from the major department responsible for providing advice regarding graduate studies.

A committee often accomplishes advising for the students in the early stages of their studies.

Assessment and Examinations

Contact the program for information on required assessments and examinations.

Time Constraints

Master’s degree students who have been absent for five or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.

Language Requirements

Contact the program for information on any language requirements.

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 coursework is requisite. Also essential are a statement of purpose, Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores, and three letters of recommendation.

Knowledge and Skills


  • Students will acquire a strong foundation in current and past theories, research findings, and methodologies in their program area.
  • Students will become acquainted with the implications of human diversity (in terms of individual abilities and orientations and sociocultural backgrounds) for research and practice in their chosen field of study.
  • Students will develop critical thinking skills that promote rigorous evaluation of strengths and limitations in existing theory and research.


  • Students will learn the fundamentals of research design, data collection, and data analysis through participating in ongoing research or conducting their own research project(s).
  • Students will be able to identify key features of high-quality research or program implementation/evaluation in their chosen field.


  • Students will develop writing and oral skills needed to effectively communicate results of scientific research to academic, professional/practitioner, and lay audiences.
  • Students will communicate effectively in collaborative work or consultation settings with professional colleagues.
  • Students will become skilled communicators of issues in their research and program area for learners in formal classroom and informal learning settings.

Professional Conduct

  • Ethical Conduct
  • Students will learn how to conduct research or program implementation/evaluation in accordance with ethical standards established in their field of inquiry.
  • Students will know how to prepare materials required for review by boards overseeing the ethical conduct of research and program implementation or evaluation.

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