The doctoral specialization in School Psychology adheres to a scientist-practitioner model of training and is designed to fully integrate psychological theory with rigorous research and professional practice skills. The program is committed to training multi-culturally competent school psychologists. The PhD program is accredited by the American Psychological Association and approved by the National Association of School Psychologists.

The School Psychology program has five major goals. It aims to prepare school psychologists to:

  • Design and implement evidence-based therapeutic interventions that meet the mental health and educational needs of children, adolescents and families
  • Engage in problem-solving consultation within and across schools and community settings with families and professionals to enhance the competencies and resilience of youth and to promote healthy home, school and community environments
  • Conduct comprehensive assessments that are directly linked to interventions aimed at improving understanding and outcomes of youth, families and schools
  • Provide service delivery and to conduct research that reflects APA and NASP ethical and professional standards
  • Conduct, interpret, critique and disseminate high quality scientist-practitioner research that advances the field of school psychology
Educational Psychology PhD

The goal of the Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Psychology is to prepare psychologists, researchers and educational professionals to effectively work on the unique challenges of promoting education, learning, and mental health in urban environments. The four areas of emphasis in the doctoral program are:

  • Counseling Psychology
  • Cognitive and Developmental Sciences
  • Educational Statistics and Measurement
  • School Psychology

See the Educational Psychology Website for more information on these areas.

The Counseling Psychology and School Psychology specializations at the master’s and doctoral level are accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA).

Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation
American Psychological Association
750 1st Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002
Phone: (202) 336-5979
Website: American Psychological Association Website

Admission Requirements 

Application Deadlines

Application deadlines vary by program, please review the application deadline chart for specific programs. Other important dates and deadlines can be found by using the One Stop calendars.


To be considered for admission to the program applicants must complete the Graduate School online application, and satisfy all UWM Graduate School admission requirements in addition to the following program requirements:

  • Submission of scores on the General Test portion of the Graduate Record Examination; test taken within last five years. (Not required for the Cognitive and Developmental Sciences area of concentration.) 
  • Undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0; graduate GPA of at least 3.5 required.
  • A letter outlining the applicant’s academic and professional background, declaration of Area of Concentration (Counseling Psychology, Cognitive and Developmental Sciences, Educational Statistics and Measurement, or School Psychology) as well as specific research interests and goals for the PhD program.
  • Three letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with the applicant’s intellectual achievement and potential.
  • Applicants to the Cognitive and Developmental Sciences concentration must submit at least one sample of their academic writing. You may add additional materials that highlight your professional and/or academic skills.

Credits and Courses

Core Educational Psychology Requirements

All doctoral students are required to complete 36 core credits in the areas of Psychological Foundations, Urban Foundations, and Research Methods. In many cases, students entering with a Master’s degree will have completed some of these courses. Courses taken during Master’s preparation may be counted in meeting the core requirements. Elective credits are taken in consultation with the major professor.

Psychological Foundations Core: Students must take 12 credits minimum of psychological foundations (social, cognitive, affective, or biological basis of behavior); students without ED PSY 631 and ED PSY 640 must take these courses as part of their 12-credit minimum.

Urban Foundations: 3 credits minimum.

Research Methods Core: 15 credits

All doctoral students must show documentation that they have acquired research skills needed for dissertation work. To fulfill this requirement students must successfully complete 13 credits of coursework in the area of research methods at the 700 level or above, including ED PSY 724 and six credits at the 800 level or above. Students should consult the specific requirements for their area of specialization for additional requirements, as the requirements for each area of specialization may exceed those specified here.

Psychological Foundations Core
ED PSY 631Cognition: Learning, Problem Solving and Thinking3
ED PSY 640Human Development: Theory and Research3
Select two of the following:6
Contexual Determinants of Motivation
Social Cognition in Educational Psychology
Cognitive Development
Personality Theories and the Educational Process
Human Development: Study of Infancy and Early Childhood
Human Development: Study of the Adolescent
Human Development: Study of the Adult
Oral Language, Cognition, and Literacy
Cognition: Theory and Research
Social Psychology of Group Differences: Race and Ethnicity
The Psychology of Achievement Motivation
The Multicultural Family
Immigrant Child in Developmental Perspective
Urban Foundations
EDUC 701Critical Issues in Urban Education3
Research Core
ED PSY 624Educational Statistical Methods I3
ED PSY 724Educational Statistical Methods II4
Select 7 credits from the following:7
Techniques of Educational and Psychological Measurement
Techniques of Educational Research
Multiple Regression
Psychometric Theory and Practice
Item Response Theory
Structural Equation Modeling
Advanced Experimental Design and Analysis
Multivariate Methods
Analysis of Cross-Classified Categorical Data
Survey Research Methods in Education
Instrument Development
Seminar in Measurement and Evaluation:
Seminar in Statistics and Research Design
Qualitative Research and Field Studies in Education Settings
Total Credits29

Core Concentration Requirements

All students must complete core courses in their area of concentration. Minimum credit requirements vary with the area of concentration due to accreditation and certification requirements.

Other Requirements

In addition to the requirements listed below, please refer to the program handbook for each concentration.

Students Entering Without a Master’s

In the School Psychology concentration, students entering without a master’s degree in School Psychology must complete the following:

ED PSY 751Professional and Historical Issues in School Psychology3
ED PSY 752Developmental Psychopathology3
ED PSY 755Cognitive Assessment: School Age Children4
ED PSY 760Academic Intervention and Alternative Assessment3
ED PSY 851Assessment and Interventions: Personality, Social and Emotional Functioning3

School Psychology Concentration

ED PSY 732Cognitive Behavioral Intervention Strategies in Education 13
COUNS 805Consultation Strategies for Counselors and School Psychologists 13
ED PSY 851Assessment and Interventions: Personality, Social and Emotional Functioning 13
ED PSY 952Pediatric Psychology in Urban Settings 13
ED PSY 955Advanced Therapeutic Interventions 13
ED PSY 960Evidence-Based Practices in School Psychology: Prevention & Intervention 13
Educational Interventions 26
Total Credits24

Additional Requirements

Advising and the Major Professor

Upon admission to the doctoral program in Educational Psychology, students are assigned a temporary advisor in their area of emphasis (e.g., Counseling Psychology, Cognitive and Developmental Sciences, Educational Statistics and Measurement, or School Psychology). This person is available to discuss initial course selection and provide general advice about the program. After beginning the program and before filing a Student Academic Plan, students should seek a Major Professor. The permanent Major Professor may—but does not have to be—the same person who is the temporary advisor. Students must select an advisor in their area of emphasis. Selection of a Major Professor is by mutual consent between the student and the faculty member. Students should notify the Training Director within their emphasis when the Major Professor has been selected.


The student must meet minimum Graduate School residence requirements of one continuous academic year of full-time graduate studies at UWM. This can be satisfied by completing at least 8 graduate credits in each of two consecutive semesters, or 6 or more graduate credits in each of three consecutive semesters, exclusive of summer sessions. Residence credit cannot be earned at the master’s level.


Students in the Counseling Psychology and School Psychology concentrations are required to complete practicum requirements to become licensed.


Following Practicum, students in the Counseling Psychology and School Psychology concentrations are required to complete a year-long internship in order to be licensed.

Publishable Paper

Students are required to work with faculty to have a “publishable” paper within 30 credits of admission to the doctoral program. This may be their master’s theses and/or master’s papers, where original research is generated or a critical review of research is developed. It may also be a collaborative effort, such as publishing a chapter or article with a faculty advisor or other faculty collaborator.


Counseling Psychology and School Psychology students must complete 9 credits in the Department of Psychology. The minor will be optional for students in Cognitive and Developmental Sciences and Educational Statistics and Measurement, based on consultation with an advisor.

Doctoral Preliminary Examination

The Doctoral Preliminary Examination is taken at the end of a student’s coursework. A description of the Preliminary Examination is provided in the doctoral handbook corresponding to the student’s specialization area within Educational Psychology.

The Preliminary Examination consists of a written component and, in some specializations, an oral component. The purpose of the Preliminary Examination is to determine whether the student demonstrates understanding of coursework and related bodies of knowledge and is qualified to proceed with dissertation planning. A minimum of three faculty members in the specialization area shall participate on a student’s Preliminary Examination.

Proposal Hearing

A doctoral student qualifies as a “doctoral candidate” upon completion of the doctoral Student Academic Plan, successful completion of the Doctoral Preliminary Examination for the PhD degree, and successfully passing a dissertation proposal hearing. The hearing is open and the date, time and location must be announced by the Doctoral Coordinator. Each member of the committee must sign the doctoral dissertation proposal hearing form, and indicate approval or disapproval. A simple majority of all committee members is required. No absentee ballots are acceptable.

Dissertation Defense

The candidate must write a dissertation that demonstrates the ability to pursue independent research. The candidate must pass an oral exam in defense of the dissertation.

Exit Requirements

Contingent upon satisfactory completion of program requirements, passage of the preliminary qualifying examination, and successful oral defense of the dissertation, the Chair of the Department of Educational Psychology will give final approval of the PhD in Educational Psychology.

Time Limit

It is expected that most students will complete all degree requirements within six years of initial enrollment in the doctoral program. All requirements MUST be completed within ten years from the date of initial enrollment.