Educational Psychology Graduate Programs and Schools in California [2023]

Educational Psychology Programs in California

California is a destination for people on vacation, as a place to live, and as a place to get an education. And there’s lots of reasons for this! California has beautiful beaches, sunshine-filled days, and recreational opportunities at every corner.

From an educational standpoint, California shines brighter than most states, too. With its extensive public university systems, affordable in-state tuition, and robust online learning programs, you have the flexibility to get your degree when and how it works best for you.

Of course, none of this does you any good if there aren’t high-quality educational psychology programs to choose from. Luckily, California has a large selection of master’s and doctoral psychology programs to help you realize your career goals. Below is a list of four of popular options for studying educational psychology in the Golden State.

California State University Northridge

California State University Northridge is one of 23 schools in the California State University System. As such, the school, though smaller than some other colleges in the system, benefits from articulation agreements allowing you to easily transfer your credits from another CSU school to Northridge.

CSU Northridge was founded in 1958 to expand educational access to students in the northern reaches of the greater Los Angeles Area. Today, more than 38,500 students take classes at Northridge and enjoy a wide selection of degree programs. This includes nearly 70 bachelor’s degrees, 73 master’s programs, and two dozen doctoral programs. CSU Northridge also offers nearly 20 teacher credentialing programs.

Educational Psychology Program Information

At Cal State Northridge, you can enroll in a Master of Arts in Education with an emphasis in Educational Psychology. But that’s not where the specialization ends. You can choose between two sub-specialties as well:

  • Early Childhood Education
  • Development, Learning, Instruction, and Evaluation

With these emphases available, this program caters to students who want to improve their effectiveness as classroom teachers or advance their careers into administrative positions. Likewise, this MA program is excellent preparation for a doctoral degree in educational psychology.

The specific coursework you must complete depends on the sub-specialty you pick. For example, the Early Childhood Education track includes courses in human development, working with families, and current practices in early childhood education.

Meanwhile, the Development, Learning, Instruction, and Evaluation track focuses more on instructional design, psychological foundations of education, and motivation in learning.

In either case, you must complete 30 credits to graduate. This includes a culminating experience – either a thesis or a comprehensive examination. Both options are worth three credits each.

To apply to CSU Northridge as a graduate student, you must already have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Additionally, you must submit official transcripts that denote your undergraduate GPA.

You must also submit an application to the Educational Psychology Department and participate in an applicant interview. Other materials (e.g., letters of recommendation, an essay, and a resume or curriculum vitae) might also be required.

California State University East Bay

Like Cal State Northridge discussed above, California State University East Bay is one of nearly two dozen schools in the California State University System. Its location in Hayward, California, offers students in the greater Oakland area with easy access to higher education. However, CSU East Bay has multiple campuses and an extensive online campus to improve educational access.

Founded in 1957, CSU East Bay is a public, co-ed university that offers dozens of degrees and programs for bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral students. With an enrollment of less than 15,000, CSU East Bay is one of the smaller schools in the CSU system.

The small student body means small classes, too. This, in turn, ensures you have more meaningful interactions with your professors and enables you to learn more about educational psychology on a higher level.

Educational Psychology Program Information

The master’s program in School Psychology from CSU East Bay incorporates studying educational psychology principles and learning clinical techniques for school-aged populations. While this degree emphasizes school psychology, you can pursue many different occupational paths, including working in private practice, preparing for a marriage and family therapy program, or pursuing a doctorate.

This is a full-time, three-year cohort program, meaning you progress through each class with the same set of classmates. As you do so, you will learn skills related to family interventions, behavioral assessments, and professional development, to name a few.

You will also participate in multiple field experiences that enable you to apply your classroom learning in a school environment. You will have the opportunity to work with students, parents and guardians, and classroom teachers.

Additionally, you can gain practical work experience at the Community Counseling Clinic, where you will work with individuals, families, and couples who need help with day-to-day struggles like anxiety and depression. An experienced practitioner supervises your work at the clinic and during field experiences.

The application procedure is extremely involved. In addition to applying to CSU East Bay and to the School Psychology Department, you must also:

  • Complete the following prerequisites with a B or better:
    • Theories of Learning
    • Statistics
    • Abnormal Psychology
    • Human, child, or Adolescent Development
    • Psychological Tests
  • Pass the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) or provide evidence of similar mastery (e.g., achieve a qualifying score on the ACT or SAT)
  • Submit official undergraduate transcripts
  • Submit a personal statement, three letters of recommendation, and a resume

Select applicants will be chosen to participate in an applicant interview as well.

Azusa Pacific University

Azusa Pacific University offers you many advantages for your studies, not the least of which is a small campus with just 8,000 students. The intimate atmosphere on campus – which is just outside of Los Angeles – helps you with small class sizes and a small student-to-faculty ratio. The small school atmosphere also helps you meet new friends and experience diverse cultures.

Azusa Pacific emphasizes relationship-building between students and professors. You will learn from professors that are experts in their fields and offer mentorship opportunities to deepen your understanding of the material you’re studying.

Speaking of studies, you can choose from dozens of bachelor’s degrees, nearly 50 graduate degrees, and many doctoral programs, credential programs, and certificates, too.

Educational Psychology Program Information

The School Psychology graduate program at Azusa Pacific University is unique because you can earn two degrees plus multiple credentials in a single program. Depending on your degree choices, you will need to complete 66-89 units of study, which likely requires about three years of schooling.

If you choose the Educational Specialist Degree with Master’s and Credential, you will earn a Master of Arts, an EdS., and national certification as a School Psychologist. You can optionally add the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) specialization or the Clinical and Educationally Related Mental Health Counseling specialization.

In other words, upon graduating from this program, you will have a robust set of skills and a deep knowledge of educational psychology and school psychology, and you will have the professional credentials to immediately seek employment in public and private schools and other education-related organizations.

While the coursework requirements are different for each track, you must take basic courses in the following to get started:

  • Counseling Theories and Techniques
  • Disabilities in Children
  • Academic Assessment and Intervention
  • Community, Family, and School Collaboration
  • Child Psychopathology Assessment and Treatment

Admission to this program requires that you submit a graduate application for admission and a $45 non-refundable application fee. You must also provide a five-page autobiography, two letters of recommendation, a resume or statement of experience, and proof that you have satisfied the Basic Skills Requirement.

Additionally, you must have proof of Certificate of Clearance that verifies you have completed a background check.

University of California Riverside

The University of California Riverside is one of ten schools in the University of California System that stretches from one end of the state to the other. Cal-Riverside is among the most highly recognized of UC’s campuses, as evidenced by its top five rankings for social mobility, Hispanic enrollment, and financial aid programs.

UC Riverside is a large school with more than 26,000 students. The school caters mostly to undergraduates – nearly 23,000 of its students are pursuing a bachelor’s degree. However, while the graduate school is small, it offers many different degree options for advancing your studies and attaining your career goals. This includes the well-regarded Ph.D. program in educational psychology discussed below.

Educational Psychology Program Information

The Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from UC Riverside is a 60-unit residential program that requires five years to complete. During your time in the program, you will take advanced classes, conduct independent research, and gain teaching experience as well.

Some of the key courses you will take include:

  • Cognitive Development
  • Advanced Educational and Psychological Measurement and Evaluation
  • Educational Psychology
  • Principles of Academic Behavior Intervention
  • Introduction to Quantitative Methods

Two study tracks are available in this program. The first, Cognition, Instruction, and Student Learning, might be most appropriate if you wish to work with special populations, like gifted students or special education students.

The second track, Quantitative Methods, focuses on educational psychology research and is perhaps more appropriate if you intend to establish a career in educational research.

In addition to coursework, research, and teaching, you must pass written and oral qualifying exams. You must also defend your dissertation and gain the approval of your dissertation committee to graduate.

You can apply to this program by completing an online application. To do so, you must first have an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution and a 3.0 cumulative GPA or higher. You must provide the following as well:

  • Undergraduate and/or graduate transcripts
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A statement of purpose and personal history
  • A writing sample
  • A CV or resume

International applicants must also provide evidence of English proficiency.

Work Opportunities in California

As noted in the introduction, California is a destination for all sorts of people pursuing many different dreams. After you have completed your educational psychology education, you can also fulfill your dream of working in California as an educational psychologist.

Much like the extensive university systems in California offer you ample opportunities to study when and where you like, the state’s vast network of school districts and related educational organizations might offer you the ability to pursue your dream job.

For example, with a master’s degree or doctorate in educational psychology, you might find employment with one of the more than 1,000 K-12 schools in the state. Though the needs of each school are different, employment might be possible in curriculum and instruction, administrative positions, or school counseling positions.

If you are ready to move on from working in a school setting, you might find employment with an educational consulting firm or with the state department of education. Though these work opportunities don’t have the same level of contact time with children, you can nevertheless help shape the future of children by lending your expertise in educational psychology.

For example, you might work as a consultant to help direct the development of future state educational assessments. Likewise, you might work with educational testing companies to develop improved assessments for college admissions. With an advanced degree in educational psychology, the possibilities are virtually endless!

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