Program Contact

Dr. Margareta Thomson
Educational Psychology Program Coordinator
Program Contact

Irene Armstrong
Graduate Student Services Specialist

Program Area of Study

Educational Psychology

Ph.D. in Teacher Education and Learning Sciences (TELS)

The Educational Psychology Program Area of Study (PAS) allows students to examine and evaluate psychological principles in a variety of education settings across the lifespan.  Specifically, we focus on psychological principles that encompass: (1) cognition/metacognition; (2) motivation and self-regulation; and (3) human development, identity and social processes.

Please note: If you are interested in applying for this program, please use the Apply Now button. If you have any questions, please contact either Dr. Margareta Thomson, or the Director of Graduate Programs for the Ph.D., Dr. Jessica DeCuir-Gunby.

Program Description

Consistent with the mission of Division 15 (Educational Psychology) of the American Psychological Association, the mission of the Educational Psychology program is “to create scientific knowledge and theory relevant to education and psychology, to extend the applications of psychological knowledge and services to all aspects of education…and to inform educational and social policy.”

The Educational Psychology PAS is designed for students and professionals interested in psychological principles in a variety of educational contexts and organizational settings. The purpose of the program is to produce graduates who have knowledge of a wide range of theories applicable to teaching, learning and motivation, insights into ways to effectively support human development, and skills to critically engage in and evaluate educational and psychological research. Students will enroll in coursework that will allow them to develop their specific research and professional interests, as well as further their understanding of general principles of educational psychology.

Educational psychology students’ deep understanding of psychological principles, combined with their strong methodological training in laboratory and field-based research, uniquely position them for competitive leadership roles in schools, colleges, universities, government agencies, public or private institutions as educators, researchers and scholars. Graduates from the program are currently in careers as university professors, research evaluators in private organizations, educational assessment/measurement specialists, classroom teachers and educational entrepreneurs.

Please note: If you are currently enrolled in a master’s degree program in our College of Education and are interested in pursuing a Ph.D., you must formally apply to the program through the Graduate School.

Program Handbook and Course of Study

The Program Handbook provides details about the master program and
the PhD program coursework, timeline, and requirements. Please see the handbook—HERE.

Additional note:  All doctoral degrees in the College of Education require a minimum of 72 graduate
credit hours beyond the bachelor’s degree. Most doctoral programs in the College of Education
require a minimum of 60 graduate credit hours beyond an approved master’s degree.


Course descriptions can be found in the university course catalog.

Core Courses (9 hours)

  • EDP 504 (Adv Ed Psyc) or EDP 704 (Theories of Research in Ed Psy)
  • EDP 582 (Ad Dev) or EDP 575 (Lifespan Dev) or PSY 786 (Cog Dev) or Equivalent
  • EDP 723 Motivation in Education

EDP Electives (15 hours)

Courses are to be chosen within EDP, as well as other programs throughout the department, college and university. Students are encouraged to take special topics courses within EDP, when offered. Special topic courses include:

  • Metacognition & Learning
  • Self-Regulated Learning
  • Creativity & Critical Thinking
  • Game-Based Learning
  • Critical Race Theory
  • Identity & Education
  • Social Psychology of Education
  • Emotions & Education
  • Beliefs & Conceptual Change
  • Self & Self-Views,
  • Qualitative Analysis in Educational Psychology
  • Research Interventions

Research Methods (15 hours)

College Core (6 hours)

Diversity Scholar Leader Course

Leadership & Change Scholar Leader Course

Department Core (6 hours)

Teacher Education Course

Learning Sciences Course

Dissertation Research  (9 hours)

NOTE:  For doctoral students either part-time or full-time who are working on their dissertation:

Writing the dissertation requires a major commitment of time and effort on both the part of the doctoral student and the faculty advisor. There should be consultation between the student and the dissertation chair about what is expected to be accomplished, and how much time is to be invested before the student registers. The College of Education strongly recommends that students who are registering for dissertation research (895) or preparation (899) register for at least 3 semester hours per semester, when appropriate.


Margareta M. Thomson, PhD
Educational Psychology Program Coordinator

DeLeon L. Gray, PhD
Associate Professor

John L. Nietfeld, PhD

Jessica T. DeCuir-Gunby, PhD

Christy Byrd, PhD
Assistant Professor

Affiliated Faculty

Dr. John Begeny, PhD
Professor, Department of Psychology
North Carolina State University

Dr. Elan Hope, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology
North Carolina State University

Dr. Kristin Hoffmann, PhD
Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Teacher Education and Learning Sciences
North Carolina State University

Admission Requirements

  • GRE scores
  • Resume or CV
  • Personal Statement (career goal/aspirations, research interest/focus, other relevant experiences)
  • Recommendations from three individuals attesting to scholarly aptitude and motivation
  • Sample of professional writing (preferred but not required)

Additional Info

Our faculty works with other EDP-oriented faculty in the triangle and triad areas (UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke University and UNC-Greensboro) in a variety of ways. For instance, we have several as members of the Center for Developmental Sciences at UNC-Chapel Hill. In addition, faculty from UNC-Greensboro have served as guest lecturers in EDP classes, as well as served on several EDP students’ dissertation committees. Also, several EDP faculty have given research presentations at Duke University. EDP students have even taken courses at UNC-Chapel Hill, while many UNC-Chapel Hill students have taken courses at NC State. EDP students are expected to continue the dialogue between the campuses, as well as help create collaborative opportunities for faculty and students.