Educational Psychology

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Psychological foundations of education

Young elementary age students play outside.
Assistant Professor David DeLiema's research on play-based learning was recently published in the Journal of Learning Sciences. Read more on DeLiema's research.

Understand the way people think, learn, and teach

As a student in the program, you’ll study the psychological processes critical to education. Research in our program focuses on cognitive and social-emotional development, including high-level cognition and factors shaping and enhancing learning throughout the lifespan. Our faculty and students do not just conduct laboratory experiments—we also put our research to work: in local schools on programs to improve students’ reading and science outcomes and with members of our diverse communities to help our neighbors succeed at school and work.


  • Faculty (PhD only)
  • Research scientists at universities and companies
  • Government agencies
  • Other educational settings (e.g., K-12 school research offices)
  • Human and social service organizations
  • Health care organization evaluator/researcher
  • Research and development centers

#10 in U.S. among educational psychology graduate programs by U.S. News and World Report in 2019

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Dates and deadlines


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Programs and degrees


Masters and PhD students choose between two areas of emphasis:

Learning and cognition / educational technology
(MA, PhD)

  • Study how people think and learn
  • Research how people learn with technology and design research-based technologies to improve learning

Social psychological and developmental processes
(MA, PhD)

Study how social processes contribute to the success of schools and other educational organizations


Talent development and gifted education certificate

Develop, implement, and supervise programs to teach gifted and talented students in K-12 and postsecondary schools and other settings

Educational psychology minor: emphasis in psychological foundations of education

The Department of Educational Psychology offers a minor in educational psychology with an emphasis in psychological foundations of education.


Visit the College of Education and Human Development's Finance and Funding page for information on tuition.


Fellowships and awards

Submit your application materials by December 1, and you’ll automatically be considered for Graduate School fellowships and departmental awards based on scholastic achievement. Notification of awards will be sent in March.

Graduate assistantships

Get paid to work as a teaching assistant, graduate instructor or research assistant. Graduate assistantships are available through the department, College of Education and Human Development, and the University.

Note: Applicants who complete their applications by the March 1 deadline will be less likely to receive graduate assistantships than students who meet the December 1 deadline.

Financial aid

Visit OneStop Student Services for more information on available financial aid.


Visit the College of Education and Human Development’s Awards page for scholarship information.


The Department of Educational Psychology is deeply committed to increasing the diversity of our undergraduate and graduate programs, of our teaching and learning, of our research and clinical practice, and of our outreach and service across fields of educational psychology. Visit our diversity page to learn more about our commitment to diversity and resources for supporting diversity and inclusion.

How to apply

Alumni profile

"The Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Minnesota is one of the best in the field."

Sarah Carlson headshot.

Sarah Carlson, PhD '11 Assistant professor, Georgia State University

Read more about Sarah's experience.

Other psychological foundations alumni profiles.

Faculty and instructors

William M. Bart headshot

William M. | Lab

  • Relationships among cognition, instruction, and testing
  • Gifted and talented education
  • Chess expertise
David DeLiema headshot


  • Productive failure
  • Playful learning
  • Embodied cognition
  • Spatial reasoning
  • Social interaction
Panayiota Andrea Kendeou headshot

Panayiota Andrea KendeouDirector of graduate studies, Guy Bond Chair in Reading | Lab

  • Cognitive processes in reading comprehension
  • Change of pre-existing beliefs and misconceptions
  • Technology-based comprehension interventions and assessments
Geoffrey Maruyama headshot

Geoffrey Maruyama | Lab

  • Achievement processes in schools and other organizations
  • Connections between social processes and educational success
  • Research and community partnerships in challenged communities and urban settings
Keisha Varma

Keisha | Lab

  • Cognitive processes in science learning
  • Scientific visualizations and student learning outcomes
  • Teacher knowledge development and effective teaching practice
Sashank Varma headshot

Sashank Varma Program coordinator, Bonnie Westby Huebner Chair | Lab

  • Understanding of abstract mathematical concepts
  • Cognitive bases of computational thinking
  • Cognitive science models of higher cognition
Steve Yussen headshot

Steve | Lab

  • Memory and comprehension of stories
  • Narrative exchanges between children and parents (e.g., storybook reading, reminiscence)
  • The role of culture on narrative storytelling and memory
Martin Van Boekel headshot

Martin Van Boekel

  • Cognitive biases (ie., hindsight bias)
  • Source credibility
  • Informal learning environments (ie. school-organized sports)