Educational Psychology - Doctoral Degree (Ph.D.)


Are you interested in adolescent development? Language and cognition? Motivation and learning? Partnerships between schools, families and communities? Our Ph.D. in Educational Psychology focuses on learning theory, human development, and research design and methodology. You'll work with your faculty advisor to design a program that meets your interest. You'll also collaborate with a professor to conduct original research and, for your dissertation, you'll design and carry out your own research under the guidance of your committee. Our program requires a minimum of 63 hours beyond the master's degree. You can include a maximum of 30 semester hours from a master's degree

You must hold a master's degree, and we expect you to have taken coursework in learning theory, theory of development, research methods, basic statistics and foundations of education. If you successfully completed the doctoral track of our M.S.Ed. in Educational Psychology, you've fulfilled that requirement. You'll also need to submit:

  • Your test scores (GRE or MAT)
  • Three letters of recommendation from knowledgeable professors, employers or supervisors
  • A 10-to-20-page academic writing sample in the domain of education or social science.
  • A three- to four-page essay that describes your career goals and interests in educational psychology, the origins of those interests and how our program would advance your goals

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During your program of study, you will:

  • Set and attain individual goals for professional growth and development
  • Demonstrate knowledge of research methodologies
  • Demonstrate knowledge of theory and expertise in a domain within educational psychology
  • Demonstrate effective communication and presentation skills, both oral and written
  • Demonstrate knowledge and application of ethical standards
  • Demonstrate evidence of successful internship experience
  • Design, conduct and analyze an original research study in educational psychology using current technologies

Our students have opportunities for assistantships, both working on research projects funded by federal and private agencies and teaching college-level courses with assistance from faculty mentors. Financial support is available on a competitive basis.

Our degrees open professional doors. Recent graduates of our program hold faculty and research positions at colleges and universities throughout the country; serve as educational consultants and grant writers; and work in school districts as evaluators, teachers and administrators.

Our mission is to prepare you to become a leader in your chosen profession through programs of study grounded in engaged learning experiences. As you develop original and creative thinking and research in the areas of human development, learning and motivation, you can connect this knowledge with sociocultural, historical and philosophical foundations of education, instructional technology, special education, teacher education and more. Our award-winning teachers and scholars bring core expertise in areas including adolescence, parenting, language development and cross-cultural research. You can enroll parttime or full-time; all courses are offered evenings or weekends

See the course sequence for the recommended sequencing and upcoming course rotation. 

  • Core courses (27 hours)
    • ETR 522: Educational Statistics II 
      • ETR 521 is a prerequisite to this course but does not count toward the degree. The prerequisite can be waived for students who have taken a course similar to ETR 521 previously or who can demonstrate the necessary statistical expertise.
    • EPS 524: Ethnographies in Human Development and Learning within Educational Settings
    • EPS 701: Professional Practices in Educational Psychology
    • EPS 710: Seminar in Lifespan Human Development 
    • EPS 713: Advanced Educational Psychology 
    • EPS 715: Education and Human Cognitive Processing
    • EPS 718: Research Seminar in Motivation and Education 
    • EPS 723: Design of Research on Human Development and Learning in Educational Settings 
    • EPS 739: Fieldwork Methods in Educational Research
  • Electives/cognate (18 hours)  
  • Internship (6 hours)  
  • Competency exam requirement 
  • Dissertation (minimum 12 hours)  

= 63 hours beyond the master’s degree 

Educational Psychology Ph.D. and Ed.D. Notable Alumni

Northern Illinois University offered an Ed.D. in Educational Psychology until 2014 when we started granting the Ph.D. in Educational Psychology.

Community College Leadership

  • Michelé Smith, Ph.D., 2020, Vice President of Workforce Solutions/Associate Provost for Curriculum, Harper College
  • Amy Diaz, Ed.D., 2013, Vice President of Academic Affairs, GateWay Community College
  • Purva Rushi, Ed.D., 2005, Executive Director of Strategic Planning and Accreditation, Triton College

Government & Politics

  • Aldo Rodríguez, Ph.D., 2018, Director of Language Policy, National Education Administration of Uruguay
  • Litesa Wallace, Ed.D., 2013, State Representative for Illinois’ 67th Legislative District

Institutional Research & Assessment

  • Schwartz, Ph.D., 2017, Director of Assessment and Visiting Professor of Research, Concordia University Chicago
  • Lisa Mehlig, Ed.D., 2013, Executive Director of Assessment/Outcomes & HLC Liaison, Rock Valley College
  • Judith Murphy, Ed.D., 2003, Research Analyst, College of DuPage (retired)
  • Cheruta Wertheim, Ed.D., 1998, Research & Evaluation Unit Head and Senior Lecturer, Beit-Berl Academic College, Israel

K-12 School/District Leadership

  • Julie Esparza, Ph.D., 2015, Gifted and Talented Program Coordinator, Roselle School District 12
  • Kelly Talaga, Ph.D., 2015, Project Manager, Naperville Community Unit School District 203
  • Janel Grzetich, Ph.D., 2015, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Minooka Community High School District 111
  • Anna Strati, Ph.D., 2015, Anna has a accountCoordinator for Data and Evaluation, Glenbard Township High School District 87
  • Jolie Burns-Casey, Ed.D., 2004, Special Education Division Chair, Tinley Park School District 231
  • Gongshu Zhang, Ed.D., 2003 (deceased), Chief Accountability and Research Officer, Guilford, NC County Schools

Nonprofit Organizations

  • Neil Naftzger, Ph.D., 2018, Principal Researcher, American Institutes for Research
  • Iwona Lech, Ph.D., 2017, Digital Humanities Postdoctoral Research Associate, Language and Culture Learning Center, University of Illinois Chicago
  • Diana Zaleski, Ed.D., 2012, Instructional Resource and Professional Development Director, Illinois Education Association
  • Angeline Stuckey, Ed.D., 2010, Executive Director,
  • Karen Barbee-Dixon, Ed.D., 2001, Chief Operating Officer, Habilitative Systems, Inc.

University Faculty

  • Sean Tikkun, Ph.D., 2018, Assistant Professor, Curriculum and Instruction, North Carolina Central University
  • Jenn Jacobs, Ph.D., 2016, Assistant Professor, Sport and Exercise Psychology, Northern Illinois University
  • Matthew Lange, Ph.D., 2015 (deceased), Associate Professor of Psychology, Lewis University
  • Solanlly Ochoa Angrino, Ed.D., 2012, Associate Professor, Social Sciences, Pontífica Universidad Javeriana, Bogotá, Colombia
  • Joyce Laben, Ed.D., 2012, Instructor, Educational Psychology, Northern Illinois University
  • Elena Lyutykh, Ed.D., 2011, Associate Professor of Research, Concordia University Chicago
  • Stacy Kelly, Ed.D., 2008,Professor, Special Education, Northern Illinois University
  • Martha Strickland, Ed.D., 2006, Associate Professor of Education, Penn State Harrisburg
  • Jerald Thomas, Ed.D., 2004, Professor of Education, Aurora University
  • Peg Gallagher, Ed.D., 2003, Associate Professor of Nursing, Saint Xavier University
  • Clara Fitzpatrick, Ed.D., 2002, Adjunct Professor, Humanities, History and Social Sciences, Columbia College Chicago
  • Jill Cole, Ed.D., 2000, Professor of Education & Department Chair, Wesley College (retired)
  • Deborah Pumo, Ed.D., 1997, Professor of Nursing, Illinois Valley Community College
  • Kathleen Covalt, Ed.D., 1996, Instructor, Northampton Community College, Bethlehem, PA

Other Fields

  • Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D., 1996, Psychotherapist, Labyrinth Counseling, Naperville, IL

We want to keep in touch!

Program alumni are encouraged to contact the Educational Psychology program coordinator, Lindsay Harris, Ph.D.,, with updates about their current positions.