PhD in Learning Sciences and Policy

Become an educational researcher who studies the forces and systems that shape learning across contexts.

The PhD in Learning Sciences and Policy (LSAP) program produces nationally competitive research scholars who have the training, track record, and vision to become leaders in understanding and promoting educational change.

​Our students work at the intersection of research and practice, collaborating with faculty mentors on research programs that explore education in real-world learning environments such as K-12 classrooms, museums, community organizations, online and cyber environments, and university classrooms.

We believe that understanding learning, teaching, and organizations is best undertaken as an interactive system, and that an integrated and coordinated interdisciplinary approach is best suited to understand, design, and implement educational change.  

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Program Facts

Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)





Time Commitment



5 years on average

Enrollment Term


Application Deadline

December 1

Admissions Requirements

No GRE Exam is required

Program Overview

Our training follows a professional mentorship model where students work closely with a faculty advisor. Most students are supported by faculty research grants and most work as part of dynamic and collaborative research groups that include multiple faculty, graduate students, post-docs, undergraduates, and research staff. LSAP students are immersed in the fundamentals of being a research scholar, including presenting their work at national research conferences, publishing peer-reviewed research articles, developing and testing educational innovations, participating in writing research grants, and peer reviewing. Our students go on to pursue research careers in both university and non-university settings.

Dynamic Learning Experiences

Key features of the LSAP student experience include:

  • Immersion in rigorous interdisciplinary research and training experiences from their first day in the program
  • Integrated coursework that covers the fields of learning sciences, policy and organizations, and learning in the disciplines (e.g., mathematics, science or literacy)
  • Full funding through research assistantships that will allow students to work alongside active researchers on funded research programs.
  • Rigorous training in quantitative, qualitative, and mixed research methods
  • Access to Pittsburgh’s rich talent pool of analysts and research in education policy and learning including research scientists at Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC), policy specialists at the RAND Corporation, scholars at Carnegie Mellon University, and education reform specialists at the Institute for Learning

Collaborate with Faculty

Our program brings together three kinds of faculty expertise into a collaborative research and training environment:

  1. Learning sciences across PreK-16 and informal learning environments
  2. Learning in the disciplines (e.g., mathematics, science or literacy)
  3. Education policy and organizational change.


Students complete a series of milestones aimed at preparing them for a career as an education researcher. The milestones engage them in authentic research activities including writing a proposal for a research study, writing manuscripts for submission to journals, and reviewing scholarly literature to establish the contribution of a research study.

View Program Curriculum


Preference is given to candidates with a Bachelor’s degree plus work experience and/or an advanced degree.

View our PhD program admissions requirements.

Upcoming Info Sessions

General Info Session (Virtual)

June 3, 2024 | Noon-1 PM

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Career Pathways

Our program produces nationally competitive research scholars who are leaders in understanding and promoting educational change. Our graduates typically work in the following areas:

  • University faculty
  • Researchers at research firms
  • Leadership in not-for-profit organizations