A student walking across the UVA Lawn with the Rotunda in the background

Educational Psychology - Applied Developmental Science: M.Ed. - Master of Education

Transform the lives of children and youth at the intersection of science and human development. Designed specifically for students interested in learning how developmental processes influence learning, performance and behavior.

At a Glance

Program Results

M.Ed. - Master of Education

Educational Psychology-Applied Developmental Science

Career Objective

Our students work as educators, researchers, practitioners, and consultants, in settings such as schools, research and policy organizations, consultancies, academic research centers, community-based organizations, nonprofit youth-serving, or health-related agencies.

Best Suited To

Anyone who is interested in transforming the lives of children and youth at the intersection of science and human development.

Program Type

  • Full Time
  • Part Time


  • In-Person

Estimated Length

  • Full Time: 1 year
  • Part Time: 1.5-3 years

Application Deadline

  • February 1 (priority deadline) 
  • May 1 (final deadline)

Semester of entry: summer



About This Program

The M.Ed. in Educational Psychology – Applied Developmental Science (EP-ADS) program provides strong faculty mentorship, hands-on learning and a 200-hour, six-credit internship experience.

Coursework focuses on the development of children, youth and adults in their social contexts, takes a strength-based approach to improving the lives of children and youth, and relies on rigorous research design to examine questions relevant to practice and policy.

We value the varied perspectives that come from students who have worked with children and youth in a variety of countries and programs.

Program Benefits

  • Advisors provide individual mentoring to students as they refine their interests and career goals; students work closely with their advisors to select courses, select a comprehensive exam topic and choose an internship.
  • Internships in our program offer students the opportunity to learn about research and development from leaders and practitioners in the field. Students can conduct research at the Center for Advanced Study for Teaching and Learning (CASTL), the Youth-Nex Center to Promote Effective Youth Development or in other research organizations. They may also apply their knowledge and skills to work in community organizations or school districts.
  • The program is rigorous: we will challenge students to think broadly about development so that they will be able to solve real-world problems, and to make a difference in the social contexts of children, youth and/or adults in their future work.
  • Departmental funds ranging from $1000-$4000 are awarded each year to assist a few exceptional students with tuition costs.

Program Life
Students spend their days attending small classes, reading about engaging topics, reflecting and writing about contemporary issues in education, discussing research methods with other students and faculty and participating in research studies and programs designed to promote the positive development of children, youth and adults.

Opportunities for Engagement in Research
Students who are interested in pursuing careers in research or academia can elect to join a research lab for the duration of their program. They learn about active research from their secondary advisor and contribute to data collection and analyses. These students often contribute to research products such as conference proposals for the School's research conference or other regional or national conferences. Highly motivated students with strong writing skills may also contribute to writing empirical papers. Read about a recent paper written by one of our program graduates with the support of her faculty mentor.

Opportunities for Work with Children and Youth
Students who are interested in working in a school or youth program will intern for a local organization such as City Schoolyard Garden, ReadyKIDS, Boys and Girls Club, or Young Women Leaders Program. Our part-time students who are practitioners will reflect on what they learn here as they try new strategies to motivate and engage youth in their classrooms or programs.

Program Overview

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements that apply specifically to this program are listed below. 

  • College transcript(s) (Official scores and transcripts will be required on acceptance of an offer of admission).
  • Resume or CV
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Statement of professional goals
  • When submitting a statement of professional goals (typically 500 - 1000 words), applicants should identify their interests in educational psychology and applied developmental science, their rationale for applying to this program, and their long-term professional and academic goals.
  • Application fee. A fee waiver is available for those who qualify. See information on fee waiver eligibility and steps for applying here.

Visit our Graduate Admission page for the full admission process.

Information for Current UVA Undergraduates
If you are a current UVA undergraduate interested in a direct admission option into this program, please view our Direct Admission Option page.

Graduate Admission

Application for admission is made to the School of Education and Human Development Office of Admission & Enrollment. For more information about the graduate admission process, please visit our Graduate Admission page.


Applied Research Track

Students in this track express a desire to contribute to conducting research and advancing knowledge in the field of applied developmental science in their career. They are interested in participating in systematic data collection and study that contributes to describing, explaining and/or optimizing developmental trajectories.

Job options for students who graduate from this track include work as research analysts (at organizations such as WestEd, American Institute of Research, and Child Trends), research assistants at universities, or data analysts for school systems. Students who plan to apply to doctoral programs that emphasize research should also select this track. Many students from our program are admitted into highly competitive doctoral programs in related fields, such as educational psychology, clinical psychology, cognitive science, and school psychology.

Applied Professional Track

Students in this track want to deepen their knowledge and skills, and reflect on their own practices promoting the well-being of, or working directly with, children and youth. Knowledge and skills gained in the program will be applied to optimizing positive development for individuals and groups across cognitive, social-emotional, and physical domains. Students may select courses that allow them to focus on a specific population or developmental range (e.g. early childhood or adolescents).

Job options for students who graduate from this track may include: leaders of youth programs (e.g. academic, mentoring and/or recreational programs), educators (licensed teachers may return classrooms with specialized skills; others may choose to work in alternative schools such as Montessori or charter school settings), or social entrepreneurs who develop new programs designed to foster healthy development.


To learn more about specific courses taken as part of the completion of this degree, visit the Graduate Record website. These webpages represent the official repository for academic program requirements. 

Required courses fit into two categories: substantive courses on developmental science and methods courses in education science.

  • Substantive courses in developmental science offer students a broad understanding of child, adolescent, and lifespan development.
  • Methods courses provide instruction on the qualitative and quantitative tools that researchers use to answer questions about child and youth development.

Internship experience. Students must complete a 3- to 6-credit field experience internship. The goal of the internship is to provide students with an in-depth experience of some aspect of educational psychology and/or developmental science. Interns are expected to work cooperatively or under the direction of a supervisor for a minimum of 200 hours. Almost all students conduct their internships over the fall and spring semesters. Both the supervisor and a program faculty member develop an internship plan and evaluate job performance and any final products. Students have engaged in a variety of internship experiences. Some students select an internship focused on improving their research skills, while others seek to gain experience in an educational setting with youth. The program coordinator helps each student find an experience that matches their interests and career goals.

Comprehensive exam. Students must pass a comprehensive exam prior to receiving a masters degree. All comprehensive exam questions include issues that pertain to developmental science. The goals of the exam are to:

  • Give students an opportunity to read, evaluate and synthesize a body of empirical literature on a topic of their choice.
  • Give faculty an opportunity to evaluate students’ ability to understand, evaluate and synthesize a small body of empirical research.

Comprehensive examinations are administered during the last semester of the program at a time set by the advisor and student. The examination must be taken at least one month prior to the date when all materials must be approved to enable graduation.

Educational Psychology-Applied Developmental Science Course Descriptions

Information on courses that are part of the M.Ed. in Educational Psychology-Applied Developmental Science curriculum can be found on the UVA Graduate Record website.

Additional Program Details

In 2024, the UVA School of Education & Human Development is ranked #8 for best graduate schools of education in the country by U.S. News and World Report.

The school is ranked #17 in educational psychology for graduate schools of education.

Student and Alumni Spotlight

Alumna Jessica Harris is seated in front of a laptop next to a middle school student. They are both smiling at the camera.

Owen (one of the youth bloggers) and Jessica Harris working together on a project at Empowered Players rehearsal in 2019. Source: Empowered Players

Why Access to Youth Theatre Matters

EP-ADS alumna Jessica Harris, founder and artistic director of Empowered Players, shares tips and strategies for running a rural youth performing arts program, and about how applied development research is embedded into that work via the Youth-Nex blog. Empowered Players (EP) is a Fluvanna-based non-profit in VA designed to make a difference in the community through the arts. Their mission is to uplift the human spirit through access to quality arts experiences, youth empowerment, and community service through free and accessible K-12 theatre education and programming.

Read More

Supporting Emerging Artists & Youth Development Globally

M.Ed. in Educational Psychology-Applied Developmental Science student Joyce Chow writes about why using art as a tool for empowerment is important for young people. Joyce is a founder the nonprofit organization I AM Art House, which helps promote positive youth development and emerging artists globally.

Read More

Program Faculty

Nancy L Deutsch

Nancy L. Deutsch

  • Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs
  • Linda K. Bunker Professor of Education
  • Director, Youth-Nex
Tanya Evans

Tanya Evans

  • Research Assistant Professor
Lieny Jeon

Lieny Jeon

  • Jane Batten Bicentennial Associate Professor
Jamie J. Jirout

Jamie J. Jirout

  • Associate Professor
Natalia Palacios

Natalia Palacios

  • Associate Professor
Sara Rimm-Kaufman

Sara Rimm-Kaufman

  • Chair, Department of Education Leadership, Foundations and Policy
  • Commonwealth Professor of Education
Naila A. Smith

Naila A. Smith

  • Assistant Professor
Beverly Sweeney

Beverly Sweeney

  • Assistant Professor of Education

Contact Us


As a member of the State Authorizations Reciprocity Agreement (SARA), the University of Virginia (UVA) is authorized to provide curriculum in a distance learning environment to students located in all states in the United States except for California. (34 CFR 668.43(a)(6)& 34 CFR 668.72(n)). Although California does not participate in SARA, it allows students to enroll in out-of-state programs.

Upon completion of the M.Ed. in Educational Psychology program at the UVA School of Education and Human Development, graduates may be eligible for initial professional licensure in another U.S. state by applying to the licensing board or agency in that state. Please visit the University’s state authorization web pages to make an informed decision regarding which states’ educational requirements for initial licensure are met by this program. (668.43(a)(5) (v)(A) - (C))

Enrolled students who change their current (or mailing) address to a state other than Virginia should update this information immediately in the Student Information System as it may impact their ability to complete internship, practicum, or clinical hours, use Title IV funds, or meet licensure or certification requirements in the new state. (34 CFR 668.402).