Educational Psychology

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Social psychological and developmental processes MA and PhD

Inspire positive social change by studying human relationships
and growth

The way we work, think, and play in groups and alone affects our personal success as well as the success of our schools, workplaces, and communities. As a PhD or MA student, you’ll study the social and social developmental processes experienced across the lifespan, with a primary focus on processes during the years of schooling. You’ll conduct research that makes a difference, working with members of our diverse, local communities to help our neighbors succeed at school and work.


  • Faculty (PhD only)
  • Research scientists at universities and companies
  • Other educational settings (e.g., K-12 school research offices)
  • Human and social service organizations
  • Health care organization evaluator/researcher
  • Government agencies
  • Research and development centers
First in the World Grant
Professor Geoffrey Maruyama and students from six research universities participating in the University of Minnesota’s First in the World grant take part in an icebreaker activity at the annual Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) Summit in Minneapolis.

Degrees and coursework

A master's degree is not required to apply for the doctoral program.

Master's of Arts (MA)

MA curriculum (33-34 credits)

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

PhD curriculum (72 credits)

What you'll study:

  • Social influence processes
  • Group dynamics/cooperative learning
  • Theories of intergroup relations
  • Methods of organizational change and conflict resolution
  • Action research models and engaged research
  • Impacts of disparities on educational and life outcomes
  • Social emotional development
  • Prosocial and antisocial behavior in schools


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.

How to apply

Alumni profile

"I really valued the independence I was afforded in Psych Foundations. I was able to explore my interests and do work that helped me find my current position with MPS."

Virginia Clinton headshot.

Lara Jessen, PhD '17 Data scientist, Minneapolis Public Schools

Read more about Lara's experience.


David DeLiema headshot


  • Productive failure
  • Playful learning
  • Embodied cognition
  • Spatial reasoning
  • Social interaction
Geoffrey Maruyama headshot

Geoffrey Maruyama Email | 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
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 Lecturer

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

Adjunct faculty

Murial Bebeau, professor in Department of Primary Dental Care

Emeritus faculty

David W. Johnson

Curriculum and instruction emeritus faculty

Roger Johnson