Educational Psychology

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Social psychological & developmental processes M.A. & Ph.D.

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 Ph.D. or M.A. 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 apply what you learn to further the development of groups and organizations as well as individuals, particularly in educational and related settings.

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.

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

Degrees & coursework

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

Master's of Arts (M.A.)

M.A. curriculum (33-34 credits)

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)

Ph.D. curriculum (72 credits)


  • Faculty (Ph.D 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

How to apply

"I want to help all students feel socially and emotionally equipped to learn."

Lara Westerhof headshot

Lara WesterhofPh.D. student

Interests: How social and emotional factors affect student learning and development

Work: Partnerships with local non-profit organizations, including a job training program for low-income adults and a network of afterschool programs for urban youth


Geoffrey Maruyama headshot

Geoffrey MaruyamaDepartment chair
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

Adjunct faculty

Murial Bebeau, professor in Department of Primary Dental Care

Emeritus faculty

David W. Johnson

Curriculum & instruction emeritus faculty

Roger Johnson