Educational Psychology & Methodology Doctor of Philosophy Degree Program

Professional training in educational psychology relates human behavior, cognition, and development to the educational process as it occurs in the home, in peer groups, in schools, and in the workplace. This is a research-based program of study where students are trained to conceptualize research problems, design research strategies, and conduct studies within the broad framework of educational psychology. This training is accomplished through a course of study that provides a foundation in psychological theories of learning, human development, statistics, measurement and evaluation, individual differences and special education, and research methods. Graduates of this program are prepared to assume positions as college and university teachers, research scholars, and practitioners for a wide variety of professional careers in state and national agencies that deal with policy development and practices. This program is registered by the New York State Education Department, although it is not a licensure qualifying program.

Requirements for Admission
In addition to the general University requirements for admission to graduate study, for admission to graduate work without deficiencies in the Division of Educational Psychology and Methodology, candidates must present a minimum of 12 credits of undergraduate or graduate coursework in psychology, educational psychology, education, or related fields. Typical requisites for admissions include:

  1. At least one of the following:
    A 3.0 cumulative average in the applicant's last 60 hours of undergraduate course work.
    A 3.2 cumulative average in a master's degree program
    A 3.5 cumulative average in 9 hours of graduate study taken before admission
  2. Acceptable scores on the Graduate Record Examination (Verbal and Quantitative Tests)
  3. A well-written personal statement that reflects the applicant's knowledge of and interest in doctoral study in educational psychology, and reveals a match between the applicant's goals and the program offerings.
  4. Three letters of recommendation, including at least 2 letters from instructors or professors familiar with the applicant's previous academic work.

Diversity among student backgrounds and views is desired. To this end, the admissions committee also considers applicants' accomplishments and personal qualities as reflected in their application statements and recommendations.

Applications should be received in the Office of Graduate Admissions by January 15th.  Successful applicants normally commence their doctoral studies in the subsequent fall semester.

The Division of Educational Psychology and Methodology welcomes applications from qualified overseas students. Applicants whose native language is not English are required to submit scores on the Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL) administered by the Educational Testing Service (the university requires a minimum score of 79 (IBT) on the TOEFL test) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) developed by the University of Cambridge (the university requires a minimum score of 6.5 on the IELTS).

Program Requirements

Program of Study (66 credits minimum, plus dissertation)
Candidates in this program of study and research must complete at least 66 credits of graduate coursework, approved by their faculty advisor, that satisfy the following requirements:

A. A foundational core of 5 courses (15 credits) at the 500/600 level must be completed by all students. At least 3 of these courses must be completed within the division. This core includes one course from five of the six following areas:

  •  Development
  • Learning
  • Individual differences and special education
  • Research methods
  • Measurement and evaluation
  • Statistics

B. Required Doctoral Courses (15 credits)

  • EPSY 610 Advanced Educational Psychology: Learning and Instruction (3)
  • EPSY 623 Advanced Developmental Psychology (3)
  • EPSY 630 Statistical Methods II (3)
  • EPSY 640 Educational and Psychological Measurement (3)
  • EPSY 750 Educational Research and Design (3)

C. Doctoral Electives (15 credits) - Five courses (15 credits) at the 600/700/800 level. These courses may focus on the student’s particular interests and career goals, and be selected from any of the following areas. Note that a majority of the 10 courses listed in B and C should be completed within the division.

  • Development
  • Learning
  • Individual differences and special education
  • Measurement and evaluation
  • Research methods
  • Statistics

D. Scholarly Writing Course (3 credits)

E. Research - At least 15 credits in research must be completed by all students. These credits must be distributed in the following way:

  • At least 9 credits for Research Apprenticeships (EPSY 797)
  • The remaining 6 credits may be satisfied by a masters thesis (EPSY699), research based independent study(ies), field research experiences and/or by additional Research Apprenticeship credits.

F. Professional Apprenticeship (EPSY 780) - 3 credits

G. Research tool requirement

H. Pre-dissertation research requirement

I. Comprehensive examination

J. Dissertation

Pre-Dissertation Research Requirement
The purpose of the pre-dissertation research requirement is to ensure that students engage in the research process prior to the initiation of the dissertation process. The proposed model for implementation embodies an apprenticeship or mentoring perspective; that is, students are provided opportunities to engage in research activities in collaboration with or supervised by faculty. Most students satisfy this requirement in the context of a research apprenticeship (EPSY 797).

Specific objectives include:

  1. Development of knowledge and skills relevant to the conduct of psychological and educational research, through active participation in independent (supervised) or collaborative research activities.
  2. Supervised experience in the conduct of research, optimally including participation in all phases of the research process from question/hypothesis formulation to preparing a written report for professional publication or presentation.
  3. Provision of opportunities to develop professional credentials through professional publications and presentations.

To satisfy this requirement, there must be a product of the research experience, such as a research report, poster, a conference presentation, or a paper submitted for publication.

Because they include such products, the following research experiences satisfy the predissertation research experience, without specific approval by the Predissertation Research Committee:

  1. The "special project' for EPSY 680 (Research Project in Educational Psychology).
  2. The "culminating project" for the CAS.
  3. EPSY 890 (Research and Independent Study) if it had been approved as satisfying the "special project" requirement for the masters degree.
  4. A masters thesis done within the division.

Whether the following types of research experiences satisfy the predissertation research criteria is considered less clear-cut:

  1. EPSY 697 (Independent Study in Educational Psychology).
  2. EPSY 797 (Research Apprenticeship).
  3. EPSY 890 (Research and Independent Study) completed for purposes other than to satisfy the "special project" requirement for the masters degree.
  4. Research products (papers, conference presentations, posters) that were co-authored.
  5. Research done in affiliation with one or more faculty members.
  6. A masters thesis done at another institution or outside of the division.

In these less clear-cut situations, students are to submit their product to the Predissertation Research Committee, together with a written statement of their own contribution to the research project. The faculty supervisor is to provide a written confirmation of the student's role. It is not required that the student be the sole or first author of the research paper or other product.

Comprehensive Examinations
The comprehensive exam in Educational Psychology and Methodology is composed of two sections, one for Learning/Development and the other for Methodology. Each section of the exam will be offered once a year. (Typically Learning/Development is offered at the end of January, and Methodology is offered during the summer.)

Each section will be comprised of three essays completed in a 2-week (14 calendar days) period from the day the questions are released. It is expected that each essay will be a well organized, thorough and thoughtful synthesis and constructive analysis of the relevant literature, including current literature. Evidence of wide reading and substantial knowledge is required. It is anticipated that each essay will be of approximately five or six typed pages, double spaced, plus references. The topics of the essays of each section of the exam are listed below.

  • For the learning/development section of the exam, the questions will be drawn from the following areas:
    • language
    • learning/cognition
    • social development
    • general issues (such as stages, theories, nature-nurture, history, application)
  • For the methodology section of the exam, the areas/questions will be:
    • statistics
    • measurement
    • research design
    • integration of the above areas

Grading for each section of the exam
Each of the three essays will be graded on an 8-point scale by at least two (and so far, always three) examiners who compare and, if necessary, reconsider their ratings until satisfactory inter-rater reliability is achieved.

The student must: 1) pass at least two of the three essays (that is, achieve at minimum a 4.5 rating as determined by the arithmetic mean of the scores provided by the readers for each item); and 2) obtain a passing average of 4.5 over the whole exam (that is, achieve at minimum a 4.5 rating as determined by the arithmetic mean over all questions and all readers) to pass the exam.

A student who fails either the learning/development section or the methodology section, will need to retake that entire section of the exam.

Students are allowed to participate in the take home comprehensive exam in each area a maximum of three times; that is, if the student fails the learning and development and/or methodology section of the exam at the first attempt, he/she may attempt the failed section(s) two more times during regular testing periods. If the student fails a section of the exam a second time, he/she may have one more attempt. Failure to submit essay responses, after getting the exam questions, is considered a failure on the exam.

Joint preparation is not allowed - Students may not engage in joint preparation. Sharing answers, using past answers, or providing past answers is unethical.

Research Tool Requirement
To fulfill the research tool requirement, three options are available to students:

  1. A student, with the advice and consent of the advisor, should take and pass (with a grade of B or higher, B minus is not acceptable) at least one course (minimum of 3 hours) covering an area of research methodology appropriate to the student's research focus. It is incumbent on the student to present a supporting rationale to the advisor. A list of divisionally approved courses, which will be reviewed and revised periodically, will be made available to faculty and students. If the student wishes to take a course not on the current list, he or she may petition the Research Tool Committee for approval.  The course designated as the research tool may be also counted as one of the doctoral sequence courses, but students should note that neither EPSY 630 (Statistics II) nor EPSY 750 (Research Design) may be counted as the research tool.
  2. Students may make a proposal and carry out a specific project, or series of projects, on aspects of research methodology. The proposal must spell out in some detail the research competencies he or she anticipates will ensue from this work. Such work will often entail demonstrating ability to use the computer to carry out various data analyses. Satisfactory interpretation of results will be part of this requirement. The Research Tool Committee will deal with each student who chooses this option on a case by case basis.
  3. Students may choose to author (or in some cases) to co-author an article on some aspect of either statistics or research methodology. The paper should be written as if to be published, and will generally entail close supervision by one or more faculty. This proposal is to be submitted to the Research Tool Committee for approval.

Professional Apprenticeship
Doctoral students are required to complete one semester (3 credits) of an apprenticeship relevant to their professional goals. This apprenticeship is ordinarily served as an instructor of an undergraduate course in educational psychology. In special circumstances, and after consultation with the division director, other apprenticeships may be arranged as test and measurement consultants or as academic advisors to masters students. Apprenticeships are closely monitored by faculty, and there is a regular seminar for apprentice instructors.

Full Time Study in Residence
Students in this program are not required to study on a full-time basis.

Admission to Candidacy
A student is admitted to candidacy for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Psychology upon achievement of the following:

  1. Satisfactory record in course and seminar study; at least a B (3.0) average in all resident graduate courses applicable to the degree;
  2. Satisfactory completion of research tool requirement with at least a B grade (B minus is not acceptable);
  3. Satisfactory completion of the comprehensive qualifying examination;
  4. Satisfactory completion of the pre-dissertation requirement;
  5. Final approval of the dissertation proposal.

In general, the Ph.D. dissertation serves multiple purposes, which might be broadly classified as follows:

  1. A substantive and original contribution to knowledge, grounded in the discipline of Psychology, with application to Education.
  2. A demonstration of mastery of a body of techniques and methods which render one's conclusions defensible on methodological grounds.