Skip to Content

College of Education

Educational Psychology & Research, Ph.D.

The doctoral program in educational psychology and research at the University of South Carolina offers two concentrations- educational psychology and educational research.

As a doctoral student in education psychology concentration, you will develop an understanding of both the psychological factors that influence human learning and their relationship to the educational setting. This program is ideal for anyone who wishes to teach or conduct research in higher education, as well as people who are, or wish to become, responsible for classroom learning in other areas of education and industry. 

Doctoral students in the educational research concentration will build core competencies in measurement and statistics, evaluating programs, research design, test construction, and analyzing data with computer statistical packages. This concentration will prepare you for fields like academia, consulting, and clinical practices.


What kinds of work will I be able to do with this degree?

Our program will prepare you to work in various roles such as a professor at an institution of higher education, a researcher at a research or evaluation center, or as a consultant in a state department of education or a school district.

Perhaps most importantly, your training will prepare you to be a strong researcher who can produce high-quality education research that can be published in top-tier peer reviewed journals, who is competitive for being supported by grants, and could influence educational policy and practice. Former graduates of our program are now working at institutions such as University of Virginia, Baylor University, Winthrop University, University of Texas at Austin, and Old Dominion University, among others.


What kinds of research will I be able to do with this degree?

In order to train you as a strong researcher, you will be actively involved in cutting-edge research with faculty who are conducting research aligned with your interests.  Possible research topics include motivation and emotion, children’s self-regulation, science conceptual understanding, bullying and peer relations, student-teacher relationships, survey design, program evaluation, assessment, and hierarchical linear models.

Our faculty are very productive and publish articles in top-tier journals such as Journal of Educational PsychologyContemporary Educational PsychologyJournal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, Developmental PsychologyLearning and InstructionJournal of Psychoeducational AssessmentJournal of Applied MeasurementStructural Equation ModelingMeasurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development, and Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics. In addition, our faculty have an outstanding record of securing federal grants from various organizations including the Institute of Education Sciences, National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Justice, and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.


Who is eligible for this program?

You can apply for this program right out of a bachelor’s program or after you have already completed a master’s degree.

  • Post-baccalaureate admissions: If you enter the program with a bachelor’s degree, you will complete a minimum of 60 hours in the Ph.D.
  • Post-master’s admissions: If you enter the program with a master’s degree, you will complete 42-60 hours depending on the master’s degree earned.
    • Those entering with an M.Ed. in Educational Psychology and Research or an equivalent degree could complete the program in as few as 42 additional hours.
    • Those who have completed a master’s degree in another field will complete a minimum of 60 hours in the Ph.D.


What is the typical coursework?

Educational Research Concentration
Your coursework will include research approaches and tools for survey design such as:

  • structural equation modeling
  • hierarchical linear modeling
  • item response theory
  • research design
  • constructing cognitive instruments


Educational Psychology Concentration
Your coursework will include foundational topics in our field such as:

  • development (child, adolescent, and/or adult)
  • learning and instruction
  • cognition
  • motivation
  • topical seminars (e.g., bullying, transition to adulthood)


What about research funding, assistantships, fellowships, and scholarships? 

We will work with you to identify funding support, including assistantships, fellowships and scholarships. Our faculty regularly obtain grants from regional, state and national funding agencies to help support our students. In addition, the USC Graduate School and the College of Education offer several fellowships and awards to support graduate students and their research. The Graduate School and the College of Education also offer travel grants for presenting roles at regional and national conferences.  


Where is the program located?

The University of South Carolina is in Columbia, the capital city of South Carolina. Columbia offers the perfect balance of student-friendly, homegrown, college-town feel and big city attractions and opportunities. Housed in the College of Education, the Educational Psychology and Research program is designed to challenge and inspire students interested in acquiring measurement and statistics expertise and studying the biological, psychological, and social factors that influence human learning, growth and development.

We have a flourishing community of more than 6,400 graduate students seeking to become scholars, researchers, administrators, teachers and experts in various professions. USC is transforming our state and nation, building healthier, more educated communities through a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary research. Our urban, 200 year-old campus provides a beautiful setting for learning.


What is the application process like?

There are two deadlines for a Fall semester start date and one for a Spring semester start date:

Start in a Fall semester: Apply by December 1 (priority), April 15 (final)

Start in a Spring semester: Apply by September 15


To apply, you will need the following required documents:

  1. Graduate Record Exam (GRE)
  2. official transcripts
  3. personal statement (this must include a discussion of your fit with the program, including which program faculty member(s) you want to work with and how their research aligns with your interests)
  4. resume
  5. three academic letters of recommendation

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.