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 three areas of study and research: human development, learning sciences, quantitative methods. The program also offers a Ph.D. in School Psychology.

The department provides 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

Professors: Bellmore, Brown, Enright, Hubbard, Matthews, Short, Vlach

This Human Development program focuses on individual development, with an emphasis on the beginning of the lifespan and formal schooling years (infancy through young adulthood). The Human Development area’s research seeks to make conceptual/theoretical contributions to the understanding of human behavior that can address practical concerns of educators, parents, and others. Special emphasis is placed on considering how diversity in personal backgrounds, contexts, and experiences contribute to the developing person. The graduate program 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 learn about general theories and issues in human development; specific developmental processes in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood; 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 developmental processes. Such coursework may also extend to other programs of the university in which there is a research focus in human development.

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Program Resources

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 Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements


Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions

Accelerated: Accelerated programs are offered at a fast pace that condenses the time to completion. Students are able to complete a program with minimal disruptions to careers and other commitments.

Evening/Weekend: ​Courses meet on the UW–Madison campus only in evenings and/or on weekends to accommodate typical business schedules.  Students have the advantages of face-to-face courses with the flexibility to keep work and other life commitments.

Face-to-Face: Courses typically meet during weekdays on the UW-Madison Campus.

Hybrid: These programs combine face-to-face and online learning formats.  Contact the program for more specific information.

Online: These programs are offered 100% online.  Some programs may require an on-campus orientation or residency experience, but the courses will be facilitated in an online format.


Minimum Credit Requirement 56 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 32 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 28 credits (50% of 56 credits) must be graduate-level coursework. Details can be found in the Graduate School’s policy:
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
This program follows the Graduate School's policy:
Other Grade Requirements n/a
Assessments and Examinations Doctoral students are required to take a comprehensive preliminary/oral examination after they have cleared their record of all Incomplete and Progress grades (other than research and thesis). Deposit of the doctoral dissertation in the Graduate School is required.
Language Requirements No language requirements.
Breadth Requirement All doctoral students are required to complete a doctoral minor or Graduate/Professional certificate.

Required COURSES

Human Development Pathway1

M.S. Requirements
ED PSYCH 709 Seminar in Research in Educational Psychology I3
ED PSYCH 710 Seminar in Research in Educational Psychology II3
ED PSYCH 712 Educational Psychology Diversity Seminar1
ED PSYCH 720 Child Development3
ED PSYCH 721 Adolescent Development3
ED PSYCH 760 Statistical Methods Applied to Education I3
ED PSYCH 761 Statistical Methods Applied to Education II3
Human Development Area Course
Select one of the following:3
Current Topics in Educational Psychology * with permission from HD Area Chair
Developmental Processes Across the Life Span
Theory and Issues in Human Development
Laboratory in Developmental Research
Seminar in Child Development
Seminar in Adolescent Development
Advanced Seminar in Human Development
Elective credits approved by HD faculty11
Master's Thesis
Additional Ph.D. Requirements
Select two (2) additional Human Development area courses from the list above. Thesis and dissertation credits (990) can not be counted towards coursework requirements, but can count toward elective credits. No more than four credits can be earned in Independent Study (999).6
ED PSYCH 762 Introduction to the Design of Educational Experiments3
or ED PSYCH 763 Regression Models in Education
Breadth coursework9
Additional Elective credits to reach a total of 20 credits after MS degree5
Total Credits56

These pathways are internal to the program and represent different curricular paths a student can follow to earn this degree. Pathway names do not appear in the Graduate School admissions application, and they will not appear on the transcript.

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. Coursework earned ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements. 

UW–Madison Undergraduate

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

UW–Madison University Special

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 ten or more years prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements. 


This program follows the Graduate School's Probation policy.


This program follows the Graduate School's Advisor policy and Committees policy.


15 credits

Time limits

This program follows the Graduate School's Time Limits policy.

grievances and appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

Any student who feels that they have been treated unfairly by a faculty or staff member has the right to complain about the treatment and to receive a prompt hearing of the grievance, following these grievance procedures. The complaint may concern course grades, classroom treatment, program admission, or other issues. To insure a prompt and fair hearing of any complaint, and to protect both the rights of the student and the person at whom the complaint is addressed, the procedures below are used in the School of Education.

The person whom the complaint is directed against must be an employee of the School of Education. Any student or potential student may use these procedures unless the complaint is covered by other campus rules or contracts. The following steps are available within the School of Education when a student has a grievance:

  1. The student should first talk with the person against whom the grievance is directed. Most issues can be settled at this level. If the complaint is directed against a teaching assistant, and the student is not satisfied, the next step would be to talk to the TA's supervisor, who is usually the course professor. If the complaint is not resolved satisfactorily, the student may continue to step 2.
  2. If the complaint does not involve an academic department, the procedure outlined in Step 4 below should be followed. If the complaint involves an academic department, the student should contact the chair of the department. The chair will attempt to resolve the problem informally. If this cannot be done to the student's satisfaction, the student may submit the grievance to the chair in writing. This must be done within 60 calendar days of the alleged unfair treatment.
  3. On receipt of a written complaint, the chair will refer the matter to a departmental committee, which will obtain a written response from the person at whom the complaint is directed. This response shall be shared with the person filing the grievance. The chair will provide a timely written decision to the student on the action taken by the committee.
  4. If either party is not satisfied with the decision of the department, they have five working days from receipt of the decision to contact the dean's office (at the number below), indicating the intention to appeal. If the complaint does not involve an academic department in the school, the student must contact the dean's office within 60 calendar days of the alleged unfair treatment.
  5. In either case, there will be an attempt to resolve the issue informally by the associate dean. If this cannot be done, the complaint can be filed in writing with the dean's office. This must be done within 10 working days of the time the appealing party was notified that informal resolution was unsuccessful.
  6. On receipt of such a written complaint, the associate dean will convene a subcommittee of the school's Equity & Diversity Committee. This subcommittee may ask for additional information from the parties involved and may hold a hearing at which both parties will be asked to speak separately. The subcommittee will then make a written recommendation to the dean of the School of Education who will render a decision. Unless a longer time is negotiated, this written decision shall be made within 20 working days from the date when the grievance was filed with the dean's office.

Questions about these procedures can be directed to the School of Education Dean's Office, 377 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall, 608-262-1763.

State law contains additional provisions regarding discrimination and harassment. Wisconsin Statutes 36.12 reads, in part: "No student may be denied admission to, participation in or the benefits of, or be discriminated against in any service, program, course or facility of the system or its institutions or center because of the student's race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, disability, ancestry, age, sexual orientation, pregnancy, marital status or parental status." In addition, UW–System prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression. Students have the right to file discrimination and harassment complaints with the Office of Compliance, 361 Bascom Hall, 608-265-6018,


For the Ph.D. program, the department offers assistantships to incoming students.

  1. Acquire a strong foundation in current and past theories, research findings, and methodologies in their program area. Use critical thinking skills to synthesize existing knowledge, evaluate strengths and limitations in existing theory and research, and identify issues in need of additional inquiry - including conceptual and methodological approaches available to address these issues.
  2. Demonstrate a knowledge of and sensitivity to human diversity in terms of individual abilities and orientations and sociocultural backgrounds.
  3. Retrieve, evaluate, and interpret professional and scientific literature; use this information to develop or adapt theoretical frameworks and derive testable hypotheses or predictions for their own research / program evaluation projects.
  4. Learn to design realistic and feasible research or assessment projects in their program area and to prepare necessary protocols that are sensitive to the backgrounds of individuals who are the focus of their work.
  5. Conduct independent research and analyze and interpret resulting data.
  6. Create clear and concise reports of their research or program evaluations that are appropriate to the intended audiences, which may include fellow scholars (via scholarly journals), practitioners (via practitioner journals or reports), and lay audiences (via online or other published reports).
  7. Communicate effectively in collaborative work, instructional activities, and/or consultation settings with students and professional colleagues.
  8. Conduct research or program implementation / evaluation in accordance with ethical standards established in their field of inquiry.