Online Educational Psychology Master’s degree suits busy working mom of five

Author: Kealy Moriarty

Last Updated:

Category: Feature Story | Educational Psychology

The flexible asynchronous format of the online master's program in Educational Psychology allowed teacher and mother of five to earn her graduate degree while continuing an already busy schedule.

online student Lori Hughes at graduation

UT’s online program provides options

Through the Educational Psychology online graduate program with a concentration in Applied Educational Psychology offered by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, alum Lori Hughes earned a Master of Science degree in 2019. Lori, a mother of five and elementary school teacher in Jefferson County, knew in-person classes were not an option for her; however, she wanted to pursue a master’s degree.

I could fit my coursework into my daily life with the online option.

— Lori Hughes, ‘19, MS, Educational Psychology, Applied Educational Psychology

UT’s online programs enable individuals like Lori, who already have several life commitments, to pursue degrees while balancing their work and family schedules. During the program, Lori was juggling her responsibilities as an elementary school teacher, a wife, and a mother of five, including a child with special needs.  

“Climbing those mountains and finding so many successes in myself and my work mark my proudest accomplishments while pursuing this degree,” Lori said.  

Earning a master’s degree is a prestigious accomplishment in its own right and being able to achieve this higher level of education while juggling the complexities of her existing schedule merits an even higher level of recognition.

Q&A with Lori Hughes on her experience as an online student 

What brought you to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville? 

I was interested in pursuing a degree in Educational Psychology. The online option was perfect for helping me obtain this degree.  

What led you to pursue a Master of Science in Educational Psychology with a concentration in Applied Educational Psychology at UT? 

I teach elementary school and have always been fascinated by psychology. The degree was a great fit for my personal interests and my career.  

What personal circumstances led you to pursue online learning instead of a traditional in-person program?  

I am a classroom teacher, wife, and mother of five (one being a special needs child). I could fit my coursework into my daily life with the online option.  

How was your experience as an online student in UT’s MS Educational Psychology program? 

I loved this program! I learned so much and grew as an educator and student.  

Can you share a bit about how you grew as an educator and as a student? 

As an educator, I am able to apply concepts that were presented in my courses. I approach my interactions with students, coworkers, and parents with a different lens than I previously used. As a student, employing the perspectives I gained from this graduate degree helps me be a better educator and coworker for my grade level, school, and district.  

What did a typical day/week look like for you while balancing your classwork, personal life, and career? 

I would finish my workday at my school and then move on to caring for my family. I was able to spend my evenings and weekends working on my coursework.  

How were you supported by the University, professors, advisors, mentors, etc., throughout your online program?  

The program directors and professors were always very understanding and accessible during class time and outside of those hours.  

What advice would you give future students pursuing an online MS degree in Educational Psychology, Applied Educational Psychology? 

Just keep pushing! There are days when you will feel overwhelmed; however, it will all go by quickly. In the end, you will be incredibly proud of your accomplishments! 

How has this master’s program prepared you for clinical work? Has it broadened your areas of specialties or enhance the ones you already have? 

Yes, it has. To be honest, I can better understand my students and my own children. So much that I learned during this program has benefited me in the classroom and as a professional. 

What are your future career plans, and how will this master’s degree help you achieve your long-term goals? For example, how has this degree allowed you to advance in your career? 

I want to pursue a degree in school psychology when the time is right. As a classroom teacher, I attend Individual Education Program (IEP) meetings and admire the wealth of knowledge that comes from school psychologists. I want to understand students on that level, gainfully inform parents of their child’s learning abilities, and aid classroom teachers in supporting their students.  

Looking back, what do you feel are some of your proudest accomplishments while working on your online graduate degree? 

This degree pushed me out of my comfort zone. I have a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts, and the Master of Science required me to approach my research and writing differently. Therefore, I feel like I had to work harder than many of my cohorts to be successful in this program and grow in a lot of academic areas. Climbing those mountains and finding so many successes in myself and my work mark my proudest accomplishments while pursuing this degree. Notably, I felt like overcoming all those hurdles and mountains was noticed when I was chosen as the Student of the Year for my program. That award, to me, represented more than my abilities as a student. It also represented the persistence and dedication I found in myself to reach that culminating moment.  

two women sitting at picnic table near a cherry blossom tree

Learn More

Would you like more information about the master’s program in Educational Psychology? Take the first step by completing and submitting a Request Information form on the program page.