Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and Research

The Department of Educational Psychology (EPSY) offers the Educational Psychology and Research (EPR) program leading to a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree. This program includes instruction within two specialized areas of emphasis referred to as "tracks:" Development & Learning (D&L) and Research, Evaluation, Measurement and Statistics (REMS).

The Development & Learning track for the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree program prepares students for work as research scientists in educational psychology. Graduates work in a variety of settings, but most commonly seek faculty positions in higher education. The program includes coursework in the areas of human development (with a primary focus on child or adolescent development), learning and cognition, and educational research methods, as well as completion of a data-driven dissertation. Doctoral students develop their own research agenda around a relevant development and learning topic in collaboration with faculty. Research training includes presenting research at national conferences and publishing research in scientific journals. Teaching at the University is also an integral part of our doctoral education. The PhD is typically completed in 3 years of full-time study beyond the Master's degree.

The Research, Evaluation, Measurement, and Statistics (REMS) track prepares students for careers in educational measurement and quantitative research methods. The Ph.D. program includes coursework in research methods, psychometrics, and statistical analysis. Students typically complete the Ph.D. in 3-4 years of full-time study.

  • REMS refers to the track of study that includes Research methods, Evaluation, Measurement, and Statistics.
  • D&L refers to the track of study that includes Development and Learning.

Opportunities are available each year for students to be involved in basic and applied educational research.

Graduate Admission to the School of Education

Graduate programs in education are open to students with acceptable baccalaureate and graduate degrees whose academic records indicate that they can do successful work at the graduate level. Regular admission requires a grade-point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in prior degrees. Individual departments may require additional information and may have more stringent admission requirements.

Some departments may offer special provisional admission categories to students who may not qualify under regular admission criteria. Departments that offer provisional admission require a grade-point average of at least 2.5.  Applicants must provide evidence of ability to work successfully at the graduate level, including experience in and commitment to the profession. Exceptions to established policies must be sought individually by petition to the Graduate Division of the School of Education.

See Admission in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog for more information.

Each department in the School of Education sets its own application deadlines.  Prospective graduate students should contact their departments for more information.

Graduate Admission

Prerequisites for Regular Admission

Prerequisites include the following:

  • Undergraduate grade-point average of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale
  • Graduate grade-point average of 3.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale
  • Graduate Record Examination general test scores
  • For Counseling Psychology - Completed bachelor’s or master’s degree in counseling, psychology, or a related area. An applicant who does not have an undergraduate degree in education or psychology should have a minimum of 15 undergraduate credit hours in the behavioral sciences.

    For Educational Psychology and Research - Completed bachelor’s or master’s degree in psychology, education, or a related area. An applicant who does not have an undergraduate degree in education or psychology should have a minimum of 15 undergraduate credit hours in the behavioral sciences.

    For School Psychology - Completed bachelor’s or master’s degree.  School Psychology does not have a requirement for a specific undergraduate background. 

At the first enrollment, a doctoral student reviews any previous graduate work with an advisor to identify any course work in which the student is deficient. Students holding master’s degrees in other areas should recognize that such course work may require up to a year to complete and, in some instances, must be taken before the actual doctoral course requirements.

See individual programs for specific admission requirements and deadlines.

Submit your graduate application online


In order to be eligible for admission into the Ph.D. degree program in EPR, students must first meet the admission requirements for graduate study at the University of Kansas. Admission to the degree program also requires recommendation for acceptance by the Educational Psychology and Research Program Committee.

December 15th is the application deadline for the Ph.D. program in Educational Psychology and Research. If accepted as a Ph.D. candidate, enrollment begins in the summer or fall semester following the application deadline. The Educational Psychology and Research Program Committee can review only complete applications. It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that her or his application is complete. Applicants are encouraged to email the department at if they wish to check on the status of their application.


Each EPSY program has an admissions committee composed of three to five faculty members who specialize in that particular program area. Completed applications are reviewed shortly after the program’s deadline date. The criteria for a complete application must be met, but are not the only conditions to assure an applicant’s admission to a departmental program. Program admission ultimately depends on committee members’ votes based on their perceptions of the applicant’s potential for successful completion of the requested degree program and the availability of faculty to advise and direct the applicant’s training.

Once the EPSY admissions committee has completed their review, a recommendation (to admit or deny) will be forwarded to the Office of Graduate Studies, where a final decision will be made. Applicants will then receive an official notification of the application decision by email.


1. Graduate application and application fee. See Admission in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

2. 1 copy of official transcripts of all previous college work, sent directly to Graduate Studies. The original transcript is forwarded to the School of Education to complete licensing and/or certification paperwork.

  • An undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 or higher is required for regular admission. If applicable, a graduate grade point average of 3.5 or higher is required for regular admission.
  • At the discretion of the university, an applicant may be admitted as a provisional graduate student when either the quality or kind of undergraduate preparation is deficient, i.e., the undergraduate grade-point average is below 3.0 or the student has not met the prerequisites for graduate study.

3. GRE (general test) scores: Institution code, R6871; Major Field code, 3403.  The GRE should have been taken within five years of the application date, and scores should typically equal or exceed the 50th percentile: 150-151 on Verbal and 149-150 on the Quantitative sections.

4. The letter of intent should include the following:

  • Track of interest: D&L - Development and Learning or REMS – Research, Evaluation, Measurement and Statistics.
  • Indicate whom you would like for an advisor and why.
  • Describe your career goals.
  • Describe how you see your career goals relating to this degree program; that is, describe how you see this program preparing you to meet your career objectives.
  • Describe past work or educational experiences related to this degree program.
  • Describe what skills/competencies and experiences you hope to gain in this program.
  • Describe any past research experiences and accomplishments.
  • Describe one research topic/issue that you would like to pursue in this program.
  • Please provide additional information concerning your background, experience, goals, or accomplishments/awards you believe are pertinent to your application

5. Résumé.

6. 3 letters of recommendation from individuals in a position to evaluate the applicant’s qualifications for graduate study.


The Applied English Center (AEC) maintains a check-in process for international students and non-native speakers of English. This process serves to confirm each student's level of English proficiency and determine whether English courses will be included as a requirement of the student’s academic program. In order to graduate, students who are required to complete AEC courses must meet KU’s English proficiency standards as demonstrated by their performance in AEC coursework and evaluations.

  • Students who demonstrate English proficiency at the waiver level or who have earned a degree from one of the specified English-speaking countries listed in the policy are not required to check in at the AEC.
  • All other international students and non-native speakers of English who gain admission to campus-based programs are required to check in at the AEC upon arrival on campus.

It takes approximately eight to twelve weeks to process requests for visa documents to enter the United States for incoming international students. These requests cannot be processed unless all documentation has been received. Please consult the KU web site for International Support Services for important information.

Ph.D. Degree Requirements

Area of Focus

Students in the Ph.D. degree program select a track—D&L or REMS—on which to focus their studies.

Program Core Course Requirements

All doctoral students must enroll in at least one course at or above the 800 level in each of the following program core areas. Examples of courses commonly chosen to meet these requirements are shown below.

·    Learning and Instruction 
Example: EPSY 807 Theories and Research in Human Learning

·    Applied Human Development
Examples: EPSY 800 Development during Youth and Adulthood
EPSY 806 Issues in Human Development

·    Research and Evaluation
Examples: EPSY 902 Research Methodology in Education
EPSY 816 Evaluating School Programs
EPSY 812 Meta-analysis

·    Measurement and Assessment
Examples: EPSY 822 Educational Scales, Questionnaires and Sampling
EPSY 921 Theory and Applications of Educational Measurement
EPSY 922 Item Response Theory

·    Statistics
Examples: EPSY 810 Regression Analysis
EPSY 811 Analysis of Variance
EPSY 926 Hierarchical Linear Modeling

School of Education Core Course Requirements

Under School of Education policy, all Ph.D. students must complete “EDUC 800: Education as a Field of Scholarship.” This course must be taken during the first year of a student’s doctoral program.

Specialization Courses

All students must complete 8 courses (24 credit hours) in addition to the program and school core requirements. These “specialization courses” should complement a student’s growing research focus and agenda. At least two of the 8 courses must be taken from academic units other than EPSY. Students consult with their advisers to identify courses that support their major area of study.

Dissertation Credit Hours

During the dissertation period, students must be enrolled continuously with a minimum of at least 6 credit hours each semester (excluding summers), until the student either graduates or reaches 18 credit hours post comprehensive exams.  Students may begin enrollment in dissertation hours the semester in which they pass the oral comprehensive exam.

Additional Ph.D. Requirements

Research Skills

Doctoral preparation in the Educational Psychology and Research program implies a strong emphasis on developing strong research skills. Accordingly, every doctoral student must demonstrate these skills by completing three projects or demonstrating competence in three skill areas. Examples of such skills include:

·    the submission of a scholarly paper to an appropriate professional organization,

·    the development of a position paper on an issue related to the field of educational psychology and research, or

·    the application of statistical procedures to a dataset.

Supervised College Teaching Experience

All Ph.D. students in EPR are expected to have college teaching experience. This experience is often gained through Graduate Teaching Assistantships.

Ph.D. Residence Agreement

Doctoral students must be enrolled full-time for at least two consecutive semesters during their doctoral training. Consecutive full-time enrollment for two semesters can be attained from Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters.

Comprehensive Examination

Following completion of the majority of the specialization course work, a student must complete and pass a written preliminary comprehensive examination and then a comprehensive oral examination.  The candidate, in consultation with his/her advisor, assembles a comprehensive examination committee. The program advisor and the exam committee define the nature of these examinations. During the semester in which students plan to take their comprehensive exams, they should begin enrolling in dissertation hours.


Upon passing the written and oral portions of the comprehensive examination, doctoral candidates, in consultation with their advisors, assemble a dissertation committee. For information on post-comprehensive enrollment and general information about doctoral programs, see the Doctor of Philosophy section in the Graduate Studies portion of the online catalog.