What is Educational Psychology?

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Updated August 4, 2020

The question of what is educational psychology has been making the rounds in the news recently, and for good reason: the field is now at the center of a debate about whether or not American public schools are doing everything necessary to properly educate students. Educational psychologists have continued the debate, but it is one that needs more voices; in order to do that, more people need to be educated on what the subfield of education in psychology actually is.

Resource: Top 30 Most Affordable Online Master's in Educational Psychology Degrees

The Field

Educational psychology is the field of understanding and applying theories of human development and psychology to the science of learning; subspecialties in this field include gifted learners, learning disabilities, student outcomes, and more. By identifying and research individual learning styles, educational psychologists can tailor the learning process in a group or in school settings in order to better serve the student. It is a field that is currently in the forefront of educators' minds, underscoring the fact that it has now become clear that not all students learn the same and other learning methods are needed in order to achieve the global goal of educating every person on the planet.


The goal of this field is to empower educators and individuals in applying basic principles to education across a variety of diverse settings; this is highlighted by the need in America to deliver learning methods to a wide range of students that both enables and empowers them to pursue their educational dreams at the university level. Because there is no one specific way that people learn, this branch of psychology focuses rather on what are the different ways people learn and the motivation behind the desire to become educated. The field also has a global goal of understanding what might hinder people in the process of learning and then finding solutions to the problems that present themselves in that space.

Research and Career Opportunities

This field has a variety of opportunities for both educational psychologists and the teachers that employ the research they deliver through publications. Psychologists in this field can work in education settings from kindergarten through college, working as teachers or professors. They can also work behind the scenes of education, helping to create new curriculum requirements, classroom programs, and instructional materials for traditional, online, and other distance education modes of education. Research is also a highly valuable career, one that many educational psychologists undertake; these psychologists work to ensure that learning is at the forefront of every educator's minds and publish articles on new advancements in learning technology.

Educational Requirements

The requirements for becoming an educational psychologist are more comprehensive than most specialties in psychology. A student must earn an undergraduate and a graduate degree in the field and earn subsequent experience through internships in order to get a job in the field. Although licensure is not currently necessary for educational psychologists in America, it is highly recommended that students interested in the field become a part of a professional organization and embark on research opportunities while still in school; these are great additions to resumes and enable students to become a part of a growing network of professionals just like them.

What do educational psychologists do? How can I become a professional? These are questions that often follow the question of what the field is; but by taking a look at this blog post, students will be able to understand the field and determine if it's the right fit for them.

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