The purpose of the Educational Psychology Program is to prepare students to apply psychological and educational principles, empirical methods, and research findings to practical problems in a variety of professional settings. Majors may concentrate in a content area within educational psychology that is flexibly tailored to their unique professional objectives, or follow a prescribed curriculum in gifted education. Those who choose individualized programs begin with an academic core that includes human development, learning, and psychometric assessment before narrowing their focus. Those who select the gifted specialty focus on the characteristics and needs of gifted children, methods of teaching the gifted, the development and evaluation of gifted programs, and/or research conducted in gifted education.
Graduates with individualized programs are typically employed as educational research, evaluation, or teaching specialists in universities, medical colleges, federal agencies, school systems, state departments of education, or private corporations. Those with Masters degrees are qualified to design developmentally appropriate curricula, validate tests, assess educational programs, evaluate educational products, and participate in educational or psychological research investigations. Doctoral graduates are qualified to become university professors and assume leadership roles as educational psychologists in federal or state agencies, medical schools, or private corporations.
Graduates who specialize in education of the gifted are employable as gifted education specialists in public or private schools, private foundations, state or federal agencies, and colleges or universities. Degrees in educational psychology with a specialty in education of the gifted are offered at both the master’s and doctoral levels. The Master of Education degree (M.Ed.) provides a core of courses that gives students general competence in the areas of assessment, development, and learning, and special expertise in the development of curriculum and instructional strategies for working with gifted students. The Ph.D. and Ed.D. are designed to provide in-depth study of gifted children and programs for gifted children. The doctoral degrees prepare graduates for positions in universities or public education.
Sport and Exercise Psychology
The area of sport and exercise psychology addresses the social influences and individual factors related to participation and performance in a variety of physical activity endeavors. Two major categories of investigation comprise the focus of this field: (1) how participation in sport and exercise contributes to the personal development of participants; and (2) how psychological factors influence participation and performance in sport and exercise. The first category includes such topics as self-esteem, character development, intrinsic motivation, and the ability to cope with anxiety and stress. Some topics under the second category include social support, motivation, self-confidence, goal-setting, arousal control, and mental imagery.
This program emphasizes both the research and application of sport and exercise psychology principles. The research program focuses on developmental sport and exercise psychology, an area that investigates age-related patterns and variations in psychological factors related to sport and exercise participation across the life span. Central topics include determinants of self-esteem through sport and exercise participation; motivational factors related to participation behavior and performance quality (i.e., contextual and individual factors); and social influences on physical activity participation and performance level (i.e., parents, peers, coaches). The applied aspect of the program entails opportunities for translating theory and practice to a variety of practical settings such as athletics, exercise and fitness management, injury management, and youth organizations.
The Sport and Exercise Psychology Program is committed to providing graduate students with the knowledge, skills, and experiences that provide a theoretical and practical background essential to their desired careers in research, teaching, athletics, or health and fitness. Students who pursue terminal master’s degrees are prepared for positions as teachers, coaches, or professionals in fitness or athletic clubs. Students are also well-prepared to continue into a Ph.D. program to pursue research and teaching careers in higher education through their study of the breadth and depth of the field and through ample opportunities to engage in research, teaching, mentoring students, collaborative grant writing, and professional service activities.