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Educational Psychology - Applied Developmental Science: Ph.D. - Doctor of Philosophy in Education

Students in the Ph.D. in education-educational psychology-applied developmental science program \work closely with faculty on cutting-edge research, preparing them for careers in academic, policy, and research organizations.

At a Glance

Program Results

Ph.D. - Doctor of Philosophy in Education

–Educational Psychology–Applied Developmental Science

Career Objective

Graduates find careers in the educational sciences in academic, policy, and research organizations. Recent alumni hold positions as faculty in psychology and education departments, while others are educational researchers in research organizations and university research centers.

Best Suited To

Students aiming toward a research career focused on studying and improving the lives of children, adolescents and even, adults. 

Program Type

  • Full Time


  • In-Person

Estimated Length

4 years

Application Deadline

December 1 (program starts the next fall semester)



About This Program

The Ph.D. in education with a concentration in educational psychology-applied developmental science (EP-ADS) doctoral program provides opportunities for students to learn how to conduct research and develop and evaluate interventions on children and youth in school and out-of-school settings.

  • EP-ADS doctoral concentration students attend classes, work on mentored research, collaborate with their research team and support the learning of undergraduates.
  • Students and faculty engage in intensive dialogue about ideas at the School of Education and Human Development and across UVA. Workshops and lectures given by outside speakers complement students' training experiences.
  • Students work in mentorship relationships with faculty and research teams on all aspects of research. Over the course of roughly four years, students learn theory and research relating school and out-of-school settings to child and youth development. Students become familiar with a strength-based perspective on youth development and learn research design methods and statistics needed to contribute to the development of new knowledge in educational and applied developmental science.

All students participate in hands-on experiences with research teams in government agencies or school districts to learn how to develop research studies that are highly relevant and address pressing questions raised by practitioners and policy-makers. Doctoral study is a rigorous process. All of our students are eligible to receive funding for four years as an integral part of doctoral study. 

Program Overview

Admission Requirements

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

  • A master’s degree is not a prerequisite for admission. The faculty is especially interested in considering applications from persons of traditionally underrepresented groups in higher education.
  • Contacting Faculty: Identification of a core faculty member with interests similar to yours is strongly recommended. It is highly encouraged that you find and read articles describing recent research conducted by one or more faculty members and directly contact them to discuss your research interests.  Please contact faculty via email (see contact information at the bottom of this page) to set up a time to talk either over the phone or in person.
  • Please also submit a resume and writing sample. When submitting a statement of professional goals, identify your specific interests in applied developmental science, your rationale for applying to this program, your long term goals, and the faculty under whom you wish to train.

A committee of faculty in EP-ADS, comprising core and associated faculty, makes decisions regarding admission. Preference is given to individuals whose application materials show potential for outstanding performance in a rigorous and interdisciplinary doctoral training program and who are likely to make significant contributions to the study of applied developmental science.

We receive many qualified applicants for our doctoral program every year, yet we are only able to admit a few students. Please include a statement in your letter of application if you would like to be considered for our master’s program in the event that you are not admitted to the doctoral program. Then, we will forward your application to the master's program admissions committee with no additional application fee and notify you if you are accepted.

Visit our Graduate Admission page for the full admission process.

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.


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.

The Ph.D. in education with a concentration in educational psychology–applied developmental science (EP-ADS) program is designed to require approximately four years of full-time on-Grounds research-intensive training. The typical program of study involves the following:

Interdisciplinary Requirements–a set of courses common to all Ph.D. students, with limited choice and substitution. Includes courses in community psychology, developmental psychology, and other areas such as family processes and education policy.

Coursework in a Substantive Area (e.g., social development, language and literacy, health, teacher education) for a 15-hour specialization, including up to 9 credits outside of education in disciplines such as economics, health sciences, psychology, or sociology.

A set of rigorous Methods Courses (including at least 5 courses in statistics, as well as several courses in research design and grant writing).

An ongoing, personalized, intensive Research Apprenticeship during each semester.

Teaching Experience at the undergraduate or graduate level.

Practitioner-Partnership Experience involving 8-14 weeks of collaborative work with nearby school districts, policy-making agencies or other organizations to experience a different perspective on applied developmental science.

Completion of a Comprehensive Exam and Dissertation Requirements

In May, each student will meet with their primary advisor and other faculty.

Course Descriptions

Information on courses that are part of the Ph.D. in Education-Educational Psychology-Applied Developmental Science curriculum can be found on the UVA graduate record website.

Program Benefits

Students in the doctoral program have rich research training experiences here at UVA and become part of a national network of new-generation education researchers. They have the opportunity to interact individually with top researchers in the field of education, attend cutting-edge statistics and methods workshops, and use research and travel funds to enhance their program experience and work. Students become researchers on day one of their program and continue to partner with faculty in a hands-on research experience that serves as a springboard for them as they transition into their careers as educational researchers.

Students conduct their own research with faculty (see research opportunities for EP-ADS students). Here are a few questions explored by students and their faculty mentors:

  • How do we best prepare preschool teachers to support reading and mathematics learning of young children?
  • How do mothers from immigrant backgrounds prepare their children for school?
  • What are the qualities of adult relationships that contribute to student engagement in learning in both classrooms and out-of-classroom settings?
  • How can we socialize youth effectively to be successful in their relationships with people from ethnic groups other than their own?
  • What are the effects of highly enriching after-school programs for children from very poor families?
  • What can adults do to improve students' curiosity, interest, and engagement in math and science learning?

Additional Program Details

Departmental fellowships and assistantships are provided to a select number of applicants each year. A typical funding package includes funding for nine months in a combination of wages and stipends, tuition and all mandatory fees, and funds to cover student health insurance costs. The University also offers a limited number of competitive fellowships for which students enrolled in Ph.D. programs may apply.

IES-funded VEST Fellowships

The School of Education and Human Development has been awarded a number of training grants from the U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences to fund the Virginia Education Science Training (VEST) program to train future leaders in education research. A limited number of fellowships are available each year and application is very competitive. All applicants to the EP-ADS Ph.D. program are automatically considered for VEST Fellowships

Visit the Fellowships, Scholarships, and Awards page for additional funding opportunities.

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.

The Program Experience

Students in the Ph.D. in education-educational psychology-applied developmental science program have rich research training experiences here at UVA, and become part of a national network of new-generation education researchers. 

The Student Experience

Faculty member Natalia Palacios speaks to the student experience in this video.

Teaching Internship

Zoe Mao, Ph.D. candidate speaks about the teaching internship.

Program Faculty

Chris S Hulleman

Chris S. Hulleman

  • Research 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
Amanda P Williford

Amanda P. Williford

  • Batten Bicentennial Professor of Early Childhood Education Associate Director for Early Childhood Education
  • CASTL Clinical Psychologist

Current Ph.D. Students

Below are some current students in this program. Prospective students are encouraged to reach out to current students via email to inquire about the program experience.

Ryan Burke

Ryan Burke

  • Ph.D. Student
Natalie Hutchins

Natalie Hutchins

  • Ph.D. Student
Analia Marzoratti

Analia Marzoratti

  • Ph.D. Student
Elia G. Ramirez

Elia G. Ramirez

  • Ph.D. Student
Dana Sox

Dana Sox

  • Ph.D. Student
Kaela Tidus

Kaela Tidus

  • Ph.D. Student
Allison Ward Seidel smiles at the camera.

Allison Rae Ward-Seidel

  • Ph.D. Student
Xiangyu (Olivia) Zhao

Xiangyu (Olivia) Zhao

  • Ph.D. Student

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 Ph.d. in Education - Educational Psychology - Applied Developmental Science degree 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).